A Formula One Sales Model

Tim is the Senior VP of Worldwide Sales at Acquia. Tim oversees Global sales and pre-sales organizations.

I’m going to talk about all the mistakes that Acquia made over the past five years so that hopefully you won’t make the same mistakes.

Acquia is the fastest growing privately held company in the world. We have 4000+ customers, 470 employees, we’re global, and we’ve raised roughly $68.5 million dollars. We sell products and services around Drupal, the platform driving integrated digital experiences for content, community and commerce. We build products specifically for Drupal – the largest open-source community in the world.

In each stage that we grew, we made some mistakes though:

In 2009, we were 100% inbound marketing and inside sales. Our assumption was that with a very large installed base of Drupal users, that users would come.

Lesson Learned – Our lesson was that we needed a massive content engine to drive inbound leads. We should have concentrated much more up front on our content engine. We should have invested in building this up front and decided to build a content engine.

In 2010/2011, we built up our content engine and inbound marketing engine. We assumed that we would be able to scale this to infinity… until we couldn’t.

Lesson learned – we relied too heavily on inbound marketing in a market that was mature enough to support a traditional enterprise/outbound function. In early 2012, we began to explore the lessons and learnings of Aaron Ross and Predictable Revenue.

In 2012/2013, we got our pipeline goals back on track. Our new assumption was that we were entering a mature enough phase of the market that we could simply hire lots of Enterprise sales people in the field and scale similarly to how we scaled the inside sales model.

Lesson learned – remote and Enterprise sales people require lots of support, extremely intense onboarding, and we created a culture that lacked accountability between the field and inside teams.

About halfway through 2013, we hired a lot of inside sales people. However, what we realized fairly quickly was that our inside sales people lacked training and accountability.

Here’s what we’re doing now and what we would suggest for your:

– break apart inbound and outbound sales quotas and generate incentives around generating successful leads

– create mid-market team and enterprise teams

– carve out verticals for different reps, for example: life sciences, higher ed, non-profits, different geographical regions, etc.

When you create a successful sales model, make sure to clearly define your SDR and ISR Responsibilities. For us, the responsbilities are defined below:

SDR Responsibilities

– pipeline generation

– quality opportunities

– territory focused

ISR Responsibilities

– Pipeline generation

– high % of qualified opportunities

– assist with deal closure within territory

– prepare to move into quota carrying role

There is a culture of accountability created by the different responsibilities and incentives for the SDR and ISR teams.

Finally, you also need to have a clear sales process with multiple validation points. For example, we have validation discovery letters that we use to ensure that we’re validating across different points in the sales process. By having multiple validation points, we can ensure that we’re moving leads effectively through the pipeline.


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