Fireside Chat with Brad Coffey, HubSpot - Transcript

BizOps Meetup July 12, 2018 featuring Brad Coffey, HubSpot

Brad Coffey, HubSpot's Chief Strategy Officer, joined us for our Strategic BizOps Meetup on July 12th.  Brad shared great stories from his 10 year journey at HubSpot. He covered a broad range of topics from operations to product and pricing to business strategy.  There are lots of great takeaways and lessons learned.  Here is the the audio and transcript of the entire fireside chat with Brad.  I hope you enjoy :)

 

Alex Laats:  My name is Alex Laats. I’m the CEO of Rekener. We co-sponsor these Bizops Strategy Meetups every quarter or every half a year, depending  on how busy we are.. But this is our 7th meetup, and we are really pleased to co-sponsor this event with Greg Hoffmeister and the T-3 team. Let’s give  Greg and the T-3 team a round of applause. Thank you Greg and team, we really appreciate it…

We are totally psyched to have Brad Coffey here. I think Brad epitomizes the person who starts in ops and grows to a point of having an extraordinarily strategic impact on a business which has had extraordinary growth. Brad started with a computer science degree at Amherst, he then went on to earn his MBA at Sloan. While he was at Sloan, he hooked up with the guys at Hubspot, became the director of operations and 10 years later, here he is as HubSpot’s Chief Strategy Officer. In those 10 years, Brad really expanded his role being responsible for business operations, go-to-market strategy, product pricing, packaging, strategic partnerships, investments and acquisitions. So when I say the epitome of someone who has taken an operational role and turned it into strategic, I can’t think of a better example. So, please let’s give Brad a big round of applause.

Awesome! So we’re going to start at the beginning of Brad’s time at Hubspot. He has a ton of great stories.  Let’s start with the first one, which is, how did you get started with Hubspot and how did you even hook in there in the first place?

Brad: Thank you. I thank you guys for having me here and everyone for coming, this is really great. So, I met Brian and Dharmesh sort of through the MIT alumni network. Their office was right across the street from school so I would go and hang out at Hubspot TV on Fridays. I’d just kind of crash and hang out and I fell in love with the company and what they were doing. I fell in love with their idea. Stuff that I would think about and do, in my free time, was stuff that they were thinking about and working on, which was a lot of fun around technology and social media at the time. So, I joined and I was working for free. I was like, you tell me and I will do anything. They had me work for Mike to create content. I must have written the worst whitepaper Hubspot has ever seen; it wasn’t even a whitepaper, it was about like the death of advertising, it was like a puke yellow background PowerPoint presentation. But thankfully, they were also implementing Salesforce for the first time. As naïve as I was, I assumed that you could set it up and that sales would use it exactly how you designed it and they would log every call and every email they did. Sure enough I got enough of them too, but that actually served sort of as the backbone of my career at Hubspot really, understanding exactly how the business worked by working on some of those core systems right from the beginning.

Alex: So, when you got in and you started doing that, did they decide to call you director of operations?

Brad: Well, first thing they needed to do was decide to pay me…

Alex: So did they decide to pay you? They must have.

Brad: I was like I was free, but we got there eventually…

Alex: When they did pay you, what was the role during that phase of your career when you were director of operations? How did it start? How did that evolve?

Brad: It started from the Salesforce foundation. The company was only 5 or 10 people at the time and I found that there was no one in that role. We had a couple of sales reps, a couple of people handling customers, and a couple of people doing marketing. There was comparably nobody who would figure out how to take a lead that was coming out of our website, get it to our sales person, close that deal, and have the lead become a customer and then measure how well that is all going. A big part of what I found both interesting and hopefully Hubspot found a little valuable was, understanding how those pieces work together. We became a very monthly oriented cadence; we had a 30 to 45-day sales cycle and so every month and it’s still true today, we would have to measure, how was every single sales rep doing, how are our customers doing, who is leaving, who is sticking around. Being one of the only people who knew how to poll that data, turns out to be really really valuable. When we were fundraising or having a board meeting and our founders, one is the technical founder, Dharmesh, and the other Brian was a sales rep, neither of them were ops people and so they dragged me into those conversations and say, “hey Brad, this is a great question, what is our productivity per rep”.  And I’d say, I can figure that out for you, give me a sec. So, that’s really where it started. Understanding those pieces and then just trying to get better and better about it all the time. We were a very data-oriented company from the start, I kind of joke about assuming sales reps would log their emails and log their calls but they actually did, which turned out to be very, very valuable and so we could see which segments were performing the best, which reps were performing the best, we could understand why. There is this really interesting take with two of our very first sales reps. One rep was, Dan Tyre, he’s in Arizona now. My first experience with him was when I showed up at Hubspot and everyone’s sitting down, some engineers in a corner with headsets on, and Dan’s standing up at his desk, yelling into his phone. I was like, who is this guy and all I hear is, “you are going to love it… you are going to see so much growth…and if you don’t, I am going to eat my HubSpot t-shirt” I am like, wow, what did I walk into. And then there was this other rep, Heidi Carlson, who was next to him and what was really interesting they were both equally successful. If you think about how much business they closed every month, they are both equally successful, but if you looked at their funnels, it was actually completely different. So we tried to send them each 150 or 200 leads a month. What Dan would do is call every single one and with that infectious energy he’d convince every single one of them to do a demo, every single one of them! He would do what we called inbound marketing assessment and he ended up doing a ton of those, converting a huge percent to demos. As he worked through it, a lot of them weren’t great fits and he’d have a much tighter funnel and close, maybe 10 customers a month. Heidi was the opposite, she was very discerning, she would find the ones she wanted, go really deep with them, get them on the phone, and ends up doing probably a third to a half as many demos as Dan, but then close just as many customers. I just found that very fascinating, and part of me thought, these people are like, I shouldn’t care, one way or the other. The biggest difference was Heidi would work 35 hours a week and Dan would work 90; and I was like, oh, actually we need to have more people look like her and how can I actually make sure I incentivize Dan and people like him, to make sure their shapes of their funnels…...

I found that stuff fascinating, and it sparked a lot of my curiosity and energy into this space.

Alex: Yeah, that’s a great illustration of productivity. And, what was the method to the madness? Were you the best excel person on the planet? Did you do everything in Salesforce? What were your tools of the trade at that stage, and how far did Excel take you before you had to do other things?

Brad: It was pretty good, I think the best thing that we did was customize Salesforce in the backend to do SaaS subscription business. What we would do is, every single month, we would do this snapshot of all of our customers and that was really successful. I count how many snapshots I took, exactly how many customers I have how much they are spending at the beginning of the month and what they were spending at the end of the month. So suddenly I could do revenue retention numbers and customer retention, and stamp more and more stuff onto that. Once you had that view on the customer side, we could do pretty deep analysis throughout our entire Salesforce. I think what worked well for me was I knew enough of those pieces so that I could understand our unit economics, not just at a high level, like taking my total sales and marketing spend divided by the number of customers over the lifetime total value, but actually break it down into individual segments: how many leads I got, how many employees, how many sales reps that I’m sending those leads to, how much I was spending on both of those things compared to the actual dollar value they’re spending with us and the retention number. And I think just having that foundational model allowed me then to iterate off a bunch of stuff. I spent a lot of time kicking over rocks and being curious; it took a lot of iteration to get there. I remember the first day that we hired this guy, Ryan Beale, which you wouldn’t think was a problem except we had Corey Beale before that, and all of my excel models were based off  VLOOKUPs by last name. Basically we had the choice of re-doing everything or firing him! It was a couple of late nights when I really wanted to go with Option B. Overtime we got there and it scaled just in time for me to hand it off to David McNeil, who is here somewhere. That really did work well and I can share other examples of the kind of data and analysis that came from that one core understanding of what our funnel looked like both on the sales side and how successful those customers were.

Alex: That’s awesome, and it’s also awesome when you can make a VLOOKUP joke and a lot of people laugh! Just beautiful. Moving forward in time a little bit, you ended up gaining responsibility over product, pricing, packaging. Was that something that came from the ops job or was that something that came from the evolution of the Hubspot business?

Brad: Well,over time I ended up in a really interesting role because I knew the data and the systems and how they worked. I would get pulled into board meetings and into our executive team meetings. One role I found really successful, we call it a chief of staff role now, I was  working with whatever operation role at the time, but there was something very magical around doing a lot of the reporting, plus actually owning the agenda for our executive team meetings, and then owning a few things that fell thru the cracks, like pricing and packaging. I was kind of in the middle, a little bit of Switzerland, everyone has an opinion and somebody needed to make the decision right? And what was really powerful was I didn’t have a huge group of folks that would report to me or own a big part of the company, but I found I could get a lot done. If there was somebody not doing it the right way, the first thing I would do is run a report, and say hey, here’s this report and you are at the bottom of it the list. It turns out sales reps really care about their comp, they also care about not being the bottom of the list, they are quite competitive that way.  That was always the first tactic and if that didn’t work, my second tactic was like, Joe, these things really aren’t working, why don’t you come and present to the executive team on how are you going to fix that thing? And what I would always do at the same time is back channel and say, I don’t want you to embarrass yourself, why don’t we review what you are going to present and I will give you some advice and feedback on what I think people are going to ask about. In that way I could basically convince them to make the changes exactly the way that I want. And so, then they are presenting it and they are locked in to making those changes, right? And if that didn’t work, I would actually change the pricing and packaging or the way people are paid and that was the hammer that I could really drop at the end of the day.

But I think that allowed me to branch out. I think something that was very valuable was that I was running the reports and legitimately helping in some of those presentations because I was pulling the data that they would present. I could then have an eye towards what I thought would be helpful and valuable. That was the big part of what got my foot in the door.  

We have a little bit of a saying around Hubspot which is ‘no uninspired compromises’. I believe as companies get bigger and bigger, it’s easier to say no to things. So anybody with a sufficiently bold idea may end up watering it down until they can get enough people on board. We try to avoid that by naming people, typically low in the organization, to be in charge as the designated responsible individual (DRI). Their job is to make bold decisions and that was big. That’s why I owned pricing. We found we were just sitting in conference rooms staring at each other, a lot of navel gazing. One time we spent all day, wrote up on the whiteboard what we were going to do, and we literally signed it.  Then in two days we came back and our CEO said, I don’t think this is right. That was the day we decided to assign one person to own it. So a bunch of stuff I had picked up earlier in my career was just stuff that someone needed to be the decision maker on. I actually applaud Brian Halligan our CEO. I remember the first time when I got pricing, our head of sales at the time, went to Brian and said he had a pricing issue. I think a lot of leaders at that time would have listened; instead Brian just stopped him in his tracks and said wait, why are you telling me about this. I told you Brad is in charge of pricing now. Go talk to him. That was hugely empowering for someone junior in the org. There were a few key moments like that along the way that really helped.

Alex: And there was some moment where your title changed. Was that later?  Or was it like, don’t worry about the title, just do the job and the title came later?

Brad: Yeah, I had a bunch of different bosses in that job. I think they didn’t know what to do with me for a while. The big turning point for us was, figuring out and getting the unit economics; that was one of the most important things HubSpot ever did. We had a lot of help; we were raising our Series D from Sequoia and they taught me a lot about how to do that analysis in different segments. So through that basic analysis, we could do things like run a correlation between our retention and what part of the product people were using or our retention and sales reps performance. We had sales reps we thought were our very best because they closed a lot of deals, but it turned out that they were over-promising.  We looked at it one time and there were always some people at 130-140% of quota and we thought they were the best, but they had really high churn. Then we looked at it one rep who was 95-100% of quota, but had never lost a single customer… Woah! What if our business looked like that. The big change was after looking at that we came up with our first strategic piece of paper, we called it MSPOT at HubSpot. It came from Salesforce’s V2MOMs. I thought, I’m going to copy that but came up with my own name. Literally, just translated the letters over to our version of it. That was really important and kicked off a multi-year effort to go up market for us. The strategy was “Mary-MOFU-Monetization”  (you have to have good alliteration to make it very memorable), we went slightly up market and wanted to focus on the middle of the funnel, which was email marketing automation tools, and ended up acquiring Performable, David Cancel’s company, probably you know him. And then we changed our pricing very dramatically for the very first time. When we acquired Performable and did a bunch of those changes, I moved over to product and worked for David, trying to bring some of the rigor that we had in our sales funnel and productizing that more and leaning more into automation and engineering. I think those are kind of some of the big steps where my title changed and I started to do more things.

Brad Coffey Alex Laats Strategic BizOps Fireside Chat

Alex: It’s fascinating, listening to the stories, it’s clear that you were moving into the product but you were intensely involved with strategy.  So now you are in the strategy phase. Is that a common thread that goes thru all 10 years that you have been at Hubspot or is there something different from your current role that is all about strategy?

Brad: I think one of the things that I always tried to do from the beginning is from this great piece of advice from when I was consulting. I remember so distinctly, I was meeting with my boss, and he said

Brad, you are going to go work on developing this project plan with Mary. I said, great, I am going to schedule time with Mary this afternoon, no problem. He was like, what do you mean you are going to meet with her this afternoon? I said, yeah, we are going to come up with the plan, right? He said no, what you need to do is come up with the plan yourself. And there are two major benefits to that, one is, it’s a lot easier for Mary to react to something already written down than to hand her a blank sheet of paper.  (That’s a good point). He said the other big benefit is you’ll learn your own assumptions; you’ll try to figure it out and then when you show it to her she thinks three parts are broken, but hopefully the other parts are right, and you’ll figure ‘why did I think that was true’. You’ll learn and get better about it, like a way to test and practice.

I carried that through to HubSpot. And I remember one of my early mentors, Mark Roberge, who ran sales, he’s a professor over at HBS now, had very similar advice:

When you get asked for a specific report, like can you give me the productivity per rep, by region or something, a lot of people tend to say, no problem, I’ll do it.  What you should do is wonder why I asked for that data. And understand that I’m trying to figure out where we should staff next and actually staff in the areas that people are being successful, it shows there is demand… okay I get that.  Then you do the analysis and check yourself, like is he actually asking the right question, is it enough to say, I want the productivity per region? I probably want to know the tenure of people, because we have already staffed a bunch of junior people into an area and their productivity is going to be down. What questions would you actually ask, what data would you do?

So, I always show exactly the data that he or Brian or anybody ask for, but then I would say I actually think you asked the wrong question; this is the question I would have asked, and actually this is my answer, and in fact, based on that, here’s what I would do.

Especially where I  mentioned the Mary-MOFU-Monetization, it was a methodical assault on our retention. We didn’t have great retention then in 2009, we had about 70% customer retention, only about 75% revenue retention. It’s hard to grow the business when a third of the customers are leaving every year. It’s not easy, so we had a methodical elimination of retention and a lot of that was not just running the analysis to learn ‘if people use product X they are sticking’, or ‘if they use Y, they don’t’. But it’s like, how can I get more people to use X? Oh, I know, I can train the sales team and compensate them on retention and not just new sales. I can require onboarding to give my service team a shot to get that part of the product set up. Oh, I can find a way to actually build on setting up that thing that I want them to set up, and so there was a bunch of things to do throughout the organization, it doesn’t just stop at the analysis, but how to turn that into action that is actually going to drive the business and measure the impact of that overtime.

Alex: That’s awesome stuff. So, one of the things that when you look at Hubspot now, public company, pushing towards 500 million dollars annual revenue, it looks awesome, right… And a lot of people here are relating to a lot of the Salesforce issues, the data issues, they are trying to get more strategic, but a lot of businesses have silos, and those silos sometimes make it feel like you are hitting your head against the wall. Was there something really great about the way Hubspot set up from the beginning that made that a non-issue or was there something that you guys did to make it a non-issue that you could then improve your ability to scale as you have?

Brad: I would say we were a very siloed business at the beginning. It has gotten a lot less so and it’s made a lot of the types of things I just described dramatically harder especially as we have moved to more of a freemium business. We were very analytical and data driven from the beginning; marketing would produce leads and there was SLA on the number of leads that needs to be produced per rep and there was an SLA from the sales side that they would follow-up on those leads in 24 hours. Part of my job was to referee and decide what are the right numbers and who’s right? Same thing with sales; sales needed to sell the customers but they needed to sell high quality customers, so it wasn’t enough to kind of sell it and throw it over the fence and hope they’d stick around, but they needed to have expectations. It was very clean in the early days, because we had Hubspot on the marketing side, we had Salesforce for both sales and services and product was separate. I would say it has gotten dramatically harder now, because we have moved to a freemium business, it is like when the marketing ends, the product begins, and then the product is now in charge of actually producing leads for sales and actually the best way for sales to communicate to those people is not the emails and calls but actually  engaging with them in the product and so it is a lot harder as we have tried to scale and we have tried to do new things.

Brad Coffey Alex Laats Strategic BizOps Fireside Chat

Alex: Sounds like the ops team in that role of referee was kind of playing a silo-busting role from the beginning. A lot of times in these meetups, we talk about how ops can be optimally set up in order to play that Switzerland role, break down silos, provide the data. It becomes such a critical role and yet it is often unclear, where does ops report? I mean, you had a case where you were able to have this impact, but I am not sure everybody finds themselves in the business where they can have a path to that. If you were teaching at Harvard Business School and to help these guys understand how best to set up businesses for maximizing the value of ops and data, what would be the advice?

Brad: In the early days it was just me, and then we had 2 or 3 other mini-me’s. And as we grew out, I was very centralized and that didn’t work great actually. What would happen is, Mark who ran sales or Jonah who ran our services at the time, they would have a thing at the top of their list and they would try to funnel it to me, and their things weren’t on the top of my list. There was friction, where it was like, oh, I know you really need to do that staffing analysis, like the example I gave earlier, but actually we have this retention thing, I am actually going to do this analysis first. And that didn’t work. Where we ended up over time was actually putting more ops people into a lot of those organizations, so that they could respond, but then making sure that we had a strong relationship amongst all of us, across the whole business. So we’d hang out together, we’d share data and we do training together. We still had a small centralized ops team because there is a value to being Switzerland in many of these cases, like when you have pricing and packaging decisions, or sales rep compensation, because so much of it was based off some of the real levers that you can have in SaaS business, and you didn’t want to solve for sales, solve for services or solve for a specific group. So, I don’t know if that is great advice except for say, you should try to make sure that the data is accessible by as many people as possible. And I would avoid trying the kingdom build, I don’t think that gets you anywhere. I found that throughout my career I could have a really big impact without having dozens of people work for me, that was never the goal. And as long as you can provide unique value and have strong bias for action, those are the people that I really relate to.  There are some people in our career who want to stay away from an ugly problem. I want the person who says, okay I am going to jump on top of that thing and it is going to be a miserable couple of months as we figure this thing out, but I am going to come out the other end. I’d say “What! You solved that thing? I bet you could solve all these other things that I have going on too.” So, you should say yes to opportunities, even if they are ugly, and I don’t think you need to kingdom build, but if you provide value you can have a big voice.

Alex: Alright, that’s awesome, I got to ask all the questions and I had the pleasure of meeting with Brad a couple of weeks ago and we got to talk through all these before and it was just as fun then, but this time, I am going to turn it over to you with questions.

Question 1 (Culture): So, I read the Hubspot culture code and the Netflix culture code. How do you build that into the culture?

Brad: It’s interesting… If no one has read the Netflix culture code, it’s amazing, and I think my biggest thing for some of that culture is realizing something is going to go wrong. For example, a sales rep is going to sell a bad deal; and, if your solution is to make a rule that reps are not allowed to sell those types of deals anymore, then you end up with a list of rules where really what you should do is educate and give context as to why that’s a bad deal. You should take the much longer, much harder road to say, hey guys, we are trying to grow a sustainable business here, we can’t over-promise our features, in fact we are going to do a training to remind everybody of that, and maybe we would do some reporting on the backend to see if anyone sells those types of deals again, and tell them not to. It’s harder but you end up building a much more sustainable culture and then for that rep instead of responding with I am not allowed to do this, I am not allowed to do that, this is the only the thing that I am allowed to do, they have learned from it.  They still have the flexibility to push and get better and you haven’t weighed down your systems with all of these structures, rules, approvals and checks, instead trust people to do it. We will look and report on the backend. I think that was my biggest lesson as we did some of the culture code stuff.

The other thing I would say just generally about this is, you should write down your culture. Dharmesh, one of our founders, owns our culture code and he is constantly writing and updating it. And the other big benefit is once you write something down, it allows your employees to call you on it, so it’s like, hey, you guys said you are going to be transparent and that doesn’t seem very transparent the thing you just did. So, they will call you on it, and I think it is actually extremely healthy, it is important and it is one of the main benefits. Dharmesh does it in a great way where he humbly says some of these is what we aspire to be, we are not perfect yet, we haven’t quite gotten to some of these yet; but it’s great to talk about it and have a goal.

Question 2 (Freemium): Hey Brad, thanks for taking us on the journey of where Hubspot was and where it is now. What was the role that freemium pricing played? Hubspot was one of the first to use it and also a lot of other companies are doing the same thing. You said around 2010, you were struggling with pricing and you spoke a lot about that. So in today’s world, what role does freemium have to play?

Brad:  So we were 100% inside sales for the longest time. We would generate leads off our website. Our sales team would call them back, do an inbound marketing assessment, help them  learn what they could do better about their website, benchmark against other customers, and talk about the software we have that can help. It was a really good sales process. And then we made a big decision in about 2014 whether or not to go up in the enterprise on the marketing side, or to stay in this SMB mid-market play and go wide. So we chose that.  It was one of those opportunities where we looked at the sales landscape and no one had a free CRM at the time; everyone was on Salesforce, still kind of are. Salesforce is an amazing company. But we thought a CRM is basically storage and storage is free, so can we just offer this thing for free? I had been nurturing that idea, like kind of planting the seeds for a while, then one day Brian and Dharmesh called me into the conference room and they were like, Brad we’ve got this idea, we came up with this ourselves, this is brilliant, what about if we offer this for free? I’m like excellent decision.

The other really interesting lesson I learned from when we were in freemium was when we went to multi-product we decided to spin up a bunch of small teams. We gave them a ton of independence so that they could learn and could try to find product market fit themselves. And so we started the free CRM which was very close to our core product, but we had one team on how to disrupt Hubspot if you are doing it on your own. They said we’d build a WordPress plug-in off of WordPress that did a bunch of HubSpot stuff and so they did that. They wrote it in PhP and  found product market fit with this solopreneur blogger person who had no money, and they had a different brand, called LeadIn at the time. So, they’ve got some product market fit, but a type of person that we don’t have any other products to sell to, even if we did have other products, the person had no idea that we had those other products, because it is a completely different brand. And worse, if they did somehow find our other product and want to use them together, they are on completely different stacks and didn’t work together. So we actually needed to reign a lot of that in over time, and we wanted to keep it independent, give a lot of ownership and let folks find their own way but we placed a few more guard rails, like you have to be on the same platform, you have to go after our same target market ... we called it the One Hubspot initiative. Now all our products are sold by the same sales rep, supported by the same support team, try to bring that together, but shifting to freemium was very, very hard. A lot of lessons learned, a lot potholes that we stubbed our toes on, but it’s been transformative for our business. About a third of our business outcome is from freemium, which is from zero 3 or 4 years ago, and so it has been a big change for us.

Question 3 (Absence of data): Thanks for speaking Brad. So you have spoken a lot about using data to develop ideas and to guide your strategies. I am curious about the scenarios at Hubspot where you might have encountered a situation where you didn’t have all the data. In those scenarios how do you validated your ideas or your assumptions.

Brad: That’s a good question, I would say what happens, I find a lot, especially in pricing conversations quite frankly, is you get a group of people together, they’ll all have opinions and you will argue about it, you won’t make a decision and you will go off and two months later you will come in and have that exact same conversation again. What we’ve tried to do when we notice that pattern happening is say what is the right process here. I will use pricing example… how should we price this product, you think it should be one way, I think it should be another way, okay let’s do a couple of things. We should talk to some customers,  let’s interview 10 customers and go on a journey together. That’s what I talk about; you have to go on a journey together with that person you are arguing with - talk with a bunch of customers together, do competitive benchmarking together, do the financial modelling together, and just making sure you are checking off those boxes so that you have as much information as you can together. Yes, you know what, there are going to be occasions where at the end of it, it’s inconclusive, especially as companies bigger. I talk with the COO all the time JD Sherman, and it’s like, dude, the stuff that gets to our desks, those are the hard questions. In those cases, someone needs to make a call, and I think our leadership team does a really nice job of empowering people to make the decisions and then occasionally make the call. The other thing that we do, is have a  sole concept of sailing ships. We argue profusely about an idea, and then once that decision is made you have to line up behind it in one way or the other. It’s amazing how powerful that is.

Alex: Last question…I hate to do that but we’ve going some of you guys are probably tired of standing.  Brad will be hanging out for a bit

Question 4 (Eliminating Bias): Thank you, again, thanks Brad for speaking. So, in strategy, obviously you are dealing with a lot of data and you are trying to make a point, and you are trying to argue for the best next steps. Can you talk about, maybe give us a few examples and your opinion, how do you combat bias in your decisions when you are working with multiple executives, multiple stakeholders and you are going through those conversations with data, so before approaching those conversations, how do you eliminate the bias, of looking at the data but also the bias of whom you are speaking with?

Brad (Solving for the Company): I think there can be a lot of ownership bias and the instincts to want to dig in, especially if you get a lot of competitive people, myself included. I dig my heels in, maybe in the face of other data. I would say one of the things that we do out of the gate is we talk a lot about trying to solve for the company first, team second and then yourself third. It almost never happens at Hubspot where someone puts themselves first, but a lot of times people would put their teams first and it is like kind of a tricky situation, like imagine I run a certain team, an agency team and it is like, oh, we need to decide how many leads we give them versus how many leads to give to these other ones. It is like, well it is my job as the manager to stand up for my team and to argue for them and to defend for my team; that is what I am supposed to do in this situation? I think it is a very natural thing to want to do and they feel that’s the right thing to do for their folks. Actually it’s not.  We should be solving for the company even if it means life is going to be a little harder for your team, or they are not going to get quite bigger budget as they otherwise could. So, we try to talk about that out of the gate, and make it very clear that the expectation is we are all on the same team, all trying to solve for our company. And that makes it easier to then look at the data together and say hey, we made some assumptions here, were those assumptions are right? I find it less-combative when you’ve set some of those ground rules.

Alex: Thank you and great questions everyone and thank you Brad. We have another 35 minutes, so please hang out. If you have any more questions Brad will be hanging out for a bit.   Let’s give Brad a huge round of applause.

Brad: Thank you guys so much…

Rekener Strategic BizOps Meetup July 12, 2018

Add new comment

Your comment will appear soon!

Alex Laats

Alex is CEO and Founder of Rekener. Previously, he served as President and Chief Operating Officer at ZeroTurnaround and as President of the Delta Division of BBN Technologies. At BBN, Alex co-founded RAMP and AVOKE, both recurring SaaS businesses. Alex’s companies have generated $500M in liquidity events and more than $1B in sales. He’s been working on cracking the code on recurring revenue businesses since 1999 when he started an application service provider (remember those?) called Informio.

Subscribe

Get the best BizOps content delivered to your inbox twice a month.

Got Great BizOps Content?

If you'd like to be a guest author, drop us a line.