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Case Studies

Series A SaaS Company Building Their Go To Market Capability

The Client

  • Our client was an emerging Big Data/Analytics SaaS company that had just raised a significant Series A round.  A primary use of the proceeds involved building out their go-to-market capabilities.

  • At the time they only had a mid-level sales leader in a player-coach role, a mid-level Account Executive, 2 BDR’s, a sales engineer and less than $2 Million in ARR.  The aggressive plan was to scale to a team of 25+ sales folks within the next 9-12 months.

Situation & Challenge

  • The company was committed to rapidly building out their sales team but, didn’t really have several foundational elements in place quite yet.  The sales process and marketing messages were still forming, sales enablement assets were few and the career path and comp plan were TBD. This challenge was compounded by the fact that it was a particularly complex and technical sale and they were selling at senior levels to enterprise clients.

  • For a range of reasons, the executive team was not willing to pay base salaries that were competitive with the market.  They were philosophically looking to share more of the upside with those that over-achieved on their quota. However, at their early stage, determining and defending quotas and OTE was much more of an art form than a science.  It would be difficult to convince a highly marketable candidate to take that leap of faith to join them over the many other opportunities in the market where the base salaries were higher, and the quotas and OTE were determined based on richer historical performance/data and more mature sales processes.

  • In order to establish a high performing culture, the client was disciplined about only hiring former student athletes that went to highly competitive universities and had achieved high academic cumulative averages; thus, further narrowing the pool of potential candidates.

  • Another big hurdle was that their offices were 35 minutes outside of Boston, and not accessible by public transportation.  The majority of the BDR’s and Inside Sales Reps that they wanted to hire would be living in and around Boston, and increasingly fewer of them have cars and those that do much prefer working in the city where there are plenty of other high performing SaaS companies.

  • Across Sterling Point’s 10 Dimension Opportunity Assessment framework this was clearly going to be a challenging search assignment.


  • The first thing we did is detail what we saw as their biggest challenges in quickly securing a high performing sales team.  Fortunately, the veteran executive team acknowledged these challenges, made the building of this capability a top priority and were willing to work closely with us to overcome the challenges.

  • As with any search engagement we did a deep dive to more fully understand and leverage all of the company’s strongest assets and develop a compelling employee value proposition.  

  • Critical assets included the executive team’s prior track record, their financing, their passion for the company’s prospects, equity participation and the product’s performance to date (a few marquis clients, compelling use cases, impressive third-party validation)

Key elements of the Sterling Point plan and approach included:

    • Spending extra time to build out, document and gain full consensus across the executive team on a much more comprehensive candidate specification.  This enabled us to collectively be quicker and more decisive when we identified high caliber candidates that met the mark.

    • Implementing an interviewing process that was thorough but particularly streamlined and roles were well defined.  It also involved getting certain executives on the front lines at times to help to excite and close certain more senior candidates that may be more difficult to close on the opportunity.

    • It also involved setting up dedicated weekly time slots for interviews, and formally reviewing our collective performance against hiring goals in a structured way each week where we would collaborate as partners, keep each party accountable to the plan and continually improve.  

    • An important part of this process was the significant amount of time Sterling Point took on the front end of the process to get candidates more fully educated on the client before they talked to the first representative of the company. As the company’s Big Data/Analytics product was such a critical selling point, this involved Sterling Point providing candidates with an investors’ deck type review of the products performance, ROI and positioning.  The effect was that their first client interview was really like their second interview and the by the ‘third’ and final face-to-face interview candidates were more often ready to receive an offer. Net effect being a much more quick, efficient and informed process for both the client and the candidate.

    • The powerful combination of having consensus around a more a more detailed specification, a streamlined process, dedicated interview time slots, executive involvement, regularly reviewing progress against plan and the collective commitment to being decisive allowed us to either make offers on the spot or within the next business day.  As speed is a critical element in any sales process, we were able to secure these candidates and minimize the risk of losing them to the market.

Accomplishments & Results

  • We were able to secure more than 25 key hires for the client within the next 9 months.  The majority of the hires were BDR’s and Inside Sales reps, but key hires also included a few Enterprise Reps, sales engineers and customer success managers.

  • The ratios of submitted candidates to successful hires began at 4 to 1 and within a few months was down to 2.5 to 1.

  • The company was able to achieve its aggressive revenue targets (4X growth in MRR within 12 months)

  • They went on to a very successful follow on Series B round (raised $15MM,  2X their Series A) within 14 months of when Sterling Point was first engaged.  

  • Over time they built an internal talent acquisition team, but Sterling Point was still relied on heavily for enterprise AE roles, sales engineers and leadership roles across sales, marketing, and customer success.  

  • The Series B was their last round of financing and they were eventually sold to a Global 100 ‘strategic’ for north of $300 MM within 5 years of their Series A.

Posted By

Sterling Point