MuleSoft’s Steve Hallowell Shares Smart Programs for Kick-Starting Revenue Growth
Stephen Hallowell has been part of three category-defining companies that have generated a combined total of $6B in market value. Steve’s expertise spans sales and marketing and he specializes in scaling high performance sales organizations. He currently serves as VP, Sales Enablement & Operations at MuleSoft, and we are extremely fortunate to have him as an advisor to Rekener. We recently tapped Steve to host a webinar for our growing BizOps community titled ‘Getting Unstuck: Overcoming Barriers to Revenue Growth,’ and in the process had a chance to interview him for the BizOps Blog.
Stephanie Fox: You’ve been part of two companies that broke the mold — Responsys and now MuleSoft. Along the way, both organizations encountered challenges as they sought to scale their businesses. Did you see any common barriers to revenue growth, and if so what were they?
Stephen Hallowell: I saw common barriers at these companies as well as at others that I’ve been involved with. Typically the barriers center around one or more of the following issues: demand scaling; customer readiness; and uneven account executive performance. The demand scaling issue means a company isn’t scaling inbound demand as fast as they can scale sales headcount, which can quickly turn a team used to swimming in leads into one facing a demand shortfall. With a customer readiness issue, only a small portion of the market understands the value of your offering, which often means you aren’t communicating that value in ways the market can make sense of it. And if only a few of your sales reps are killing it, uneven AE performance suggests a lack of a repeatable sales process and ineffective messaging. These and other issues make it nearly impossible to reach, educate and win over the customers you need to support ongoing revenue growth.
Stephanie: When you recognized that accounts weren’t expanding the way they used to, how did you figure out what was happening?
Steve: What it really all comes down to is getting across the chasm, a model many of us have heard about over the years and remains relevant today. Selling to innovators and early adopters is much different than selling to early majority buyers, late majority buyers, and laggards. This means that what might have worked for your company in the past isn’t necessarily going to work as your company starts selling to the mass market. These buyers don’t recognize the problem your solution solves. You have to educate them before you can even think about touting your capabilities and closing the sale.
Stephanie: How did you and your BizOps team help these companies get revenue growth rolling again?
Steve: BizOps really stepped up and used data to make the case that change was needed. They showed real leadership by helping our colleagues in Sales, Marketing and Product see the patterns we were seeing, and we collaborated on possible causes and solutions. We used data to shine a bright light on what was working and what wasn’t. We then quarterbacked a cross-functional pilot team to test our proposed solutions. And to help promote the program’s success, we found champions who exemplified how changes were having a positive impact, and we celebrated those individuals and their successes to keep the momentum going.
Stephanie: What advice do you have for Sales and BizOps leaders who may be struggling with a slowing pace of revenue growth at their own companies?
Steve: Lead with data. The best place to start is with a clear understanding of the facts that illustrate what’s going on. Once you’ve got everyone’s attention, remember that crossing the chasm has to be a full company effort. Sales and BizOps can’t go it alone. Marketing and Product have to be part of the journey. Work together as a team to hone your value proposition, because it’s got to be crystal clear why customers should change the way they work today and use your product. Refocus your qualification process to target and qualify only those customers in the mass market that have the ability to buy now. Restructure your sales process to establish an insight-driven model that helps the customer recognize and prioritize the problem/opportunity before focusing on your company’s capabilities. Nail your messaging for content and campaigns, and ensure each and every account executive knows how to talk to customers. If you lead with data throughout the process, you’ll be on your way.
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Steph served as Rekener’s Community Manager and CMO. A Rekener co-founder, she was previously Senior Director of Marketing at CCC, a $300M+ recurring revenue business, and served in marketing leadership roles at Vertical, @stake, Informio, DotContent and Meridian. Her first recurring revenue role was as an inside sales rep selling real-time stock pricing subscriptions.
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