This is the 2nd in a series of interviews we are conducting with Inside Sales Executives on metrics, methods & strategies for inside sales teams.
HubSpot's vision is to provide a (killer) marketing application and provide great advice to small businesses enabling them to leverage the disruptive effects of the internet to "get found" by more prospects shopping in their niche and to convert a higher percentage of prospects into customers.
Tell me about your inside sales team. How many reps do you manage?
Right now we have an 18 person team: 15 reps, 2 sales managers and a recruiter. We will have a full time trainer starting in October. We add 2-3 new sales people a month.
That's quite an aggressive hiring strategy, what are some strategies for attracting top talent?
One strategy we employed is that we hired above our target profile on the first couple hires. We took on a few all-stars and weren't concerned about fitting their experience levels and compensation into our normal plan. They took the risk of "sales quality" off the table, helped us figure out our sales process, and evolved into mentors for our future hires.
We also try to differentiate ourselves from other companies that are hiring. For instance, if you are hitting quota you can work at home 3 days a week. This has allowed us to attract talent from a wider geography. The fact that the entire job is following up on inbound leads with no cold calling helps a lot.
Sourcing talent is the most difficult job. I have assessed over 500 candidates in the past year. Although we run ads, we have not made one hire off the job boards. The quality is just not there. LinkedIn has been our most successful channel. I have over 700 connections that I can use to network to top sales talent.
You are inbound marketing mavens. How many inbound inquiries do reps get monthly?
On average 500 per month, but only about half of these make it down to a sales rep. Right now, the other half is manually scrubbed to a degree and with some automation by crawling their website.
One of our biggest challenges is hiring fast enough to keep up with this volume of leads. We use this manual scrubbing process not to filter out "bad leads" but to focus our sales team on the best possible leads.
How many times is a lead touched before it converts to an opportunity? What is your conversion rate?
On average, 1.5 times, but the variance is high.
The connect-to-qualification ratio approaches 1. Typically prospects have been following our blog for months and have attended a webinar. We have a relationship before we even talk to them.
Does "inbound marketing" work for enterprise software companies?
Every company should make inbound marketing a piece of their strategy. They need a diversified attack. There is a significant imbalance in how much time/energy/effort many companies are putting into inbound marketing. The percentage spent on inbound should be significant regardless of whom you are selling to.
Keep in mind CTOs/CIOs are all over the web keeping up on trends, innovation, etc. Even non-technical execs are on the web. They are definitely spending time on the web somewhere. Even if they are reacting to links from friends, subordinates, colleagues, etc. they are all online.
As a VP of Sales, you are a prospect for many companies. When you have a problem, how can potential vendors let you know about their solutions?
When I have a problem I go to Google and I read up on everything that is there. I go to Technorati and subscribe to sales blogs, for example, and read about the problems being discussed there.
I might also post a question on Linkedin and look at the responses that come in. Problems are solved not during "normal business hours" it is closer to 1AM on a Saturday than 1PM on a Monday. Late at night when the emails and phone calls are not flying is when I can really focus my attention on strategic decisions.
Note to readers: We will be publishing the 2nd Part of this interview next week.
You can also find the Q2 '08 Inside Sales Executive Interview with Silvana Sears here.