Sales development breaks through growth hacking barriers

Breaking through the growth hacking barrier

Growth hacking is all the rage. Growth hacker rock stars speak to packed audiences of startup entrepreneurs, all hoping to launch their own rocketship of viral adoption. One CEO even claims he doesn’t need salespeople anymore.

Their results are impressive. It’s critical for all of us in sales and marketing to understand their methods: find what behaviors drive user growth and retention, continuously test messages and methods to drive those behaviors, measure everything you can. (Want a great place to start? Try the postings at and

But, it’s also important to understand that, in B2B software, growth hacking hits a ceiling.

It’s simple, if your product is strategic to your customer’s business, they’re going to need a relationship with you. This may be true for a number of reasons, depending on your product. It may be because of the price, the business processes involved, or the education and training required to be successful.

Need examples? How about Salesforce? Then Yammer. And now, of course, Box. Don’t forget SugarCRM — created to compete against Salesforce, at the start of our list.

Need more examples? Look at Brendon Cassidey’s list: Talkdesk, Zenefits, Showpad, Zendesk, New Relic. (He’s fueling TalkDesk’s growth now, after having done so at EchoSign, LinkedIn, and others.)

Stages of B2B software:
1) Make fun of products that need enterprise salespeople.
2) Hire lots of enterprise salespeople.

Many of these companies started out mocking the sales force of the existing companies in their space. They bragged that “Our product is so simple a manager can just buy it with a credit card.” But those same companies then went on to build massive, high-caliber, enterprise sales forces.

Basically, it boils down to this: If they are betting their business results on your solution, they’re going to need more interaction with you than filling out an online form. Tactical products can fly below this bar, relying on arms-length marketing and online transactions.

But if you’re going to get past the growth hacking barrier, you’re gonna need sales.

Meet growth hacking’s productive twin: sales development

This doesn’t mean going back to 1985, three-martini lunches, or it’s-all-who-you-know. Sales has been changed in the last ten years by the new world of digital marketing and new ways of finding prospects. More recently, these changes have converged to create a new understanding of the importance of sales development.

Sales development is the new bridge between growth hacking and sales. High-energy sales development teams work marketing leads using email and the phone. and, using the insights from the marketing team, they add their own leads through proactive prospecting. Then they get the conversation to the point that more experienced salespeople can engage to create the B2B relationship that opens the door to strategic products.

Sales development makes both marketing and sales more effective. Direct, human follow-up gets more out of marketing’s leads. And by weeding out dead leads, the traditional sales force wastes less time on dead ends. But, we can still do better. Most sales development teams don’t have the tools to leverage the data-driven discipline of growth hacking (as we’ve written about here).

Because, once you break through the ceiling, only the sky should be the limit.


Chris van Löben Sels
director, business development & marketing

We’re building a tool that takes sales development to a new level of effectiveness.  Sound interesting? Contact us to join the beta for Selligy Pursuit.