This article is part of our Community Manager Advancement Day series on resilience.

HubSpot is the customer relationship management (CRM) platform for scaling companies. Since the beginning of COVID-19, communities and organizations alike have been forced to pivot, and focus on resilience like never before.

As a result, growth itself has been redefined. Today, growth not only means driving revenue. It also means building trust, listening to your customers, and being resilient in times of adversity. In her keynote speech from CMX Summit 2020, Yamini Rangan shared HubSpot’s new framework and a 5-step playbook for resilient growth that can be applied to any organization.

About Yamini

Yamini is HubSpot’s first Chief Customer Officer. She oversees the marketing, sales and services teams and focuses on reducing friction for customers. A tech industry veteran, she was previously the CCO of Dropbox and VP of Sales Strategy at Workday. In 2019, she was named one of the most influential women in business by San Francisco Business Times.

A New Framework for Growth 

Today, organizations need a resilient business model that can bend without breaking, especially when faced with challenges. For community professionals planning for 2021, here are the key elements of resilience that we’ll unpack below:

Helping is the new selling. This a fundamental shift in company-customer relationships. “Helping is the new selling” resonates with both HubSpot’s purpose and community-building: navigating what is happening in the market, supporting customers in tough times, and not just selling.

Everything comes down to trust. Opportunities for growth exist, even in tough times. Customer loyalty comes from trusting a business and knowing that they care about the customer community.

The Growth Promise represents how HubSpot views growth, and reflects the company’s commitment to its community of customers.

Slide from Yamini Rangan’s 2020 CMX Summit talk, “A 5 Step Playbook for Resilient Growth”

A 5-Step Playbook for Resilient Growth

Yamini’s playbook for HubSpot is a valuable tool that any organization can use to grow during challenging times — whether temporary setbacks, or a global pandemic. These five steps can be applied to your business or organization to create resilient growth, allowing you to bounce back from anything!

1. Unify decision makers. 

“This is the brain trust that we have created. A set of leaders within the organization that can make quick decisions.”

HubSpot lacked decision-making agility. Like many companies, the people in charge of managing the customer experience were spread across different departments: Customer Success, Marketing, Product, etc. But decision makers diffused throughout an organization can slow down critical projects during a pivot.

To address this, HubSpot brought together cross-functional leaders from different departments to create a team that can act decisively. This flywheel team brings together all the different stakeholders that touch the customer experience to make decisions. (A “flywheel” is essentially a virtuous loop with customer delight at the center, and is an alternative to the traditional marketing “funnel.”)

Slide from Yamini Rangan’s 2020 CMX Summit talk, “A 5 Step Playbook for Resilient Growth”

2. Identify growth opportunities. 

“Everything that we see today in the business environment and in terms of the resilient growth that we are looking for comes down to trust. Do you build trust with your customer? And do you build trust within the community?”

Growth opportunities can be found through both qualitative feedback and quantitative analysis. A listening tour can be a great way to start identifying growth opportunities qualitatively. 

Gather feedback from employees, customers, and partners, and ask them, “What are the biggest growth opportunities? What do you think are the biggest challenges that are stopping us from getting to those opportunities?” You’ll get key insights that you can implement into your strategy! Using a listening tour, Yamini received valuable ideas and realized that many customers had similar and overlapping feedback.

HubSpot’s Growth Framework (below) helps quantify the effectiveness of its growth strategies. The Growth Framework is a set of recommendations based on the HubSpot Growth Grader assessment. The Growth Grader rates businesses on four stages: Attract (marketing), engage (sales), delight (customer success), and fight friction. This framework also considers the maturity of the strategy—Initiating, emerging, accelerating, or disrupting. Finally, each stage of maturity has a “North Star”  metric to focus on.

Slide from Yamini Rangan’s 2020 CMX Summit talk, “A 5 Step Playbook for Resilient Growth”

3. Align GTM strategy.

“You’re going to get bombarded with opportunities: ‘We need to improve systems, we need to improve data, we need to improve this process. We need to have better pricing.’ All of these different signals you’re going to be getting across your organization. Now, you can kind of spread yourself thin and try to approach all those different opportunities or you can say, ‘No, I’m going to start articulating through the go to market strategy.’ ” 

After gathering stakeholders and assessing growth opportunities, codify an aligned strategy. In HubSpot’s case, establishing an aligned three-year GTM strategy enabled them to maintain customer-centric processes.

To create your strategy:

  • Define success and what winning looks like for your organization.
  • Decide where to play. What strategic choices will you make regarding which market opportunities to pursue (and not pursue)?
  • Learn how to win. What’s your competitive advantage to help you win in your chosen market?
  • Measure impact. How will you measure success?

This strategy will help the organization focus on its priorities — and decide what to say no to. The below framework will help you take this long-term vision to the operational level.

Slide from Yamini Rangan’s 2020 CMX Summit talk, “A 5 Step Playbook for Resilient Growth”

4. Build systems excellence.

“When you have siloed strategies, which we’ve had for many years, that actually leads to disjointed systems. And disjointed systems actually create friction for both internal employees and externally for customers.”

In other words, you need excellent systems to create a delightful customer experience. And to create excellent systems, you need a systems roadmap.

A systems roadmap answers the questions of:

  • What are our biggest priorities from a systems foundation perspective?
  • What do we need to enable in our future go-to-market with systems and processes?
  • How do we prioritize as we build for the future?

These questions will help you decide what’s important. Systems excellence is critical to moving your strategy forward.

5. Measure what matters. 

“Revenue retention is the ultimate metric in SaaS, which is churn minus the downgrades that you have plus the upgrades that you have. It actually tells you, ‘Are you keeping your customers? Are you continuing to provide value for your customers?’ Because if you are, they’re staying with you and they are continuing to buy from you. That’s the ultimate measure.”

Measure key metrics to track progress and create accountability across the organization.

Both leading and lagging indicators are important. A leading indicator is a predictive indicator, while a lagging indicator comes later as an output. From a sales perspective, deals created is a leading indicator, while annual recurring revenue is a lagging indicator. Ideally, you’ll want to measure a combination of leading and lagging indicators. 

Two critical indicators for SaaS companies are overall churn, and revenue retention. These are essential to measuring whether you are providing value to your customers because they demonstrate whether they’re continuing to buy from you, or not! Below is a snapshot of some of the key metrics HubSpot measures at each stage of their flywheel.

Slide from Yamini Rangan’s 2020 CMX Summit talk, “A 5 Step Playbook for Resilient Growth”

In a year like 2020, “growth” might not show up on your balance sheet. “Growth” might just mean you weathered the storm.

Check out all the videos from CMX Summit 2020 here

Leave a Comment