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Gabriel Marguglio July 21, 2020 27 min read

How to Adapt Your Sales Strategy in Times of Crisis (HubSpot)

david weinhaus martech masters sales process in crisis


This week on MarTech Masters, Gabriel chats with David Weinhaus from HubSpot about adapting your sales process in times of crisis and what your sales teams should be prioritizing to find the right prospects.



Listen to the Podcast version of this episode:

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  1. About David and HubSpot (0:45)
  2. Principles of the Sales Process (4:00)
  3. Selling Change, Solutions, and Yourself—Be Intentional (5:32)
  4. Being Aware of Your Sales Process (6:32)
  5. What is Project Lion? (7:56)
  6. Sales Prospecting (9:34)
  7. How Has the Sales Process Adapted to Current Events? (11:24)
  8. Growth Oriented People and Businesses (18:47)
  9. How to Quickly Understand If a Prospect is a Good Fit (19:37)
  10. Care Efficiently (19:59)
  11. What Should Salespeople Prioritize? (20:51)
  12. Believe In What You Are Selling (22:49)


Mentioned Resources




Episode Transcript

Gabriel: Welcome back to Martech Masters! Today, I have David Weinhaus. He is the global head of partner sales enablement at HubSpot and this is such a pleasure. We've been working with David, David has been one of our mentors—my personal mentor from the Lion Program—but why would I continue to talk when I have the man himself that he can introduce himself? Hey, David. Thanks for doing this.


David: Hey Gabriel! I'm happy to be here, I'm a big fan of Nextiny and Martech Masters and excited to talk today. 


Gabriel: That's awesome. Why don't you tell us a little bit more about yourself, what you have been doing at HubSpot and some of the latest things that you've been doing with the Lion Program.


About David and HubSpot (0:45)

David: Yeah, sure. So, I can give you my background first for those on the call that I haven't met or worked with before. I lead partner sales enablement here globally for HubSpot. We have several thousand partners who resell HubSpot but even more interestingly, that they resell HubSpot is they resell services related to HubSpot that they themselves offer. 

So, a lot of our partners they're either new to sales or they're new to selling this type of a service which is not I mean there's some transactional elements to the sale but I call it more of a consultative type of a strategic sale, so I help them understand a sales process help them understand both conceptually as well as very tactically some things that they can do to better serve their clients and better represent the value of both HubSpot and their services. 

I've been doing this in this role for about five years, I've been with HubSpot for 10 years total. I started with HubSpot in the direct sales funnel, I sold directly to customers I also sold to  I also sold through our partner channel as well.


Gabriel: So, you mentioned something that that actually I see is one of the biggest values of the Lion Program and all the different programs that you put for partners over the years, is the concepts that you that you teach, finding the gap and the three sales sale like all these things that not a lot of people know about. If you have been in sales for years you might know some of these concepts but you might not know how to apply them, so I believe that that's a lot of value. 

Let's touch base on some of those things on on our talk today because I believe that there's value in some of those concepts and and resources that people can can actually tap into, and also I believe that this helps agencies understand how they can sell not only software but also the their services but then also understand you know how software companies can build you know partner programs that are successful by educating and promoting and helping their audience. I believe that that's one of the things that you do and it's of huge value. 

So, a little bit going back to what you do and the people that you help on a daily basis, tell us a little bit more about the Lion Program, and also these are trying times and and all we always go back to that, okay these are trying times people are trying to adapt. You can call it pivot, adapt, and many other things but, at the end of the day, you know, if you're a salesperson, if you're a sales team, if you're a sales director you have to adapt to the changes of what's going on right now, and you have probably seen teams adapting and trying to adapt these days, tell us a little bit about what you've seen out there on some of the trends of what seal sales teams have to be doing these days that is different to what they did before.


Principles of the Sales Process (4:00)

David: Okay, so, I heard a couple questions in there, one is just kind of the principles that we teach like the first principles that stay evergreen whether we're in a pandemic or whether we're not in a pandemic and I think those are actually the more important ones so I'd like to talk about those first if we can, and then we can go to talking like how we might tailor things in light of unusual circumstances.

So, let's talk about first principles first. So one like I guess fun fact about me is I never thought in a million years I was going to be a salesperson, when I was growing up and even earlier in my career, and I think part of that is I had a misconception about sales, which is how can you charm someone like and buddy up to someone into buying your product right, and that's just not really me like I'm pleasant enough to talk to you but my my secret weapon is not like charm, that's not who I am you know. 

I have other things that I do really well but you know that's not my secret weapon. And I always thought that was kind of sales but as I was kind of progressing in my career even before HubSpot when I when I owned a small business, I realized that you just got to sell like you have to sell and that selling is not just like tricking someone into buying your product or charming them, it's about figuring out who you should be sitting with like who's the right person to spend time with, understanding their problems and then seeing if you match up well with their problems or not. 

And to me that is sales but it's also a business and it's how business and how sales is done these days even though a lot of folks still practice kind of traditional sales message methods which is you know how can I get to my number by any way possible you know by any means or tactic. I think today you still want to get your number we're all in sales but you want to do it in the right way and the people that do it  the right way are more successful. 

So, those are a lot of the principles that we teach in the class. 


Selling Change, Solutions, and Yourself—Be Intentional (5:32)

David: You mentioned the three sales which are simply kind of being more deliberate with your sales process. It's selling change, and then selling your solution, and then selling yourself, and there's kind of steps that go along with each one of those. And it's also about being very intentional as you go through the sales process. 

So, understanding again how they need help.

"It's not about doing a song and a dance and a pitch, it's about understanding what the requirements are, why it's important for them and then how you can actually help do that."

And it sounds really easy it sounds like common sense but the-yeah you're nodding your head no-the the hard part is the execution of doing it so we do a lot of practice with each of those things as well.


Being Aware of Your Sales Process (6:32)

Gabriel: Yeah, I believe that's the hardest part is getting used to communicating at the same time you're trying to actively listen to what they need but also have a strategy of what you need to gather as information in order to decide is this a good fit or not. Can I help them or not? Is there a challenge here that they have that I can solve and then and then move forward?


David: The problem is like we're in a sales process and all of a sudden like we find ourselves just talking about our solution, and it feels like we flipped a switch and we totally missed it where we were asking questions and now all of a sudden we've been talking for three months and we're like "I'm trying to sell this person on my services like what the heck just happened here?"

Then I got a little bit of pain, all of a sudden I took the cheese and now I'm three minutes later and they're they're kind of nodding but I can tell their eyes are glazing over and somehow i've just put myself in a hole and how the heck did that happen and how can I how can I recover and how can I avoid it next time so that's not the way I sell, the way I sell is it happens much more naturally and continues to be a conversation not a pitch.


Gabriel: And of course practicing is part of all of that because we're human beings and we're so used to doing that and so used to saying "hold on I can help you with this one thing that I have, this shiny thing" and that happens so many times and I believe that the training that you get from practicing and practicing with other people that are having the same problem and with people like you that can coach you that's huge value. One of the things that you've introduced in the program is prospecting together. Do you want to talk a little bit about that and the value of that?


What is ‘Project Lion?’

David: Yeah, so I should say, so Gabriel you've mentioned this Lion Program a couple times. Yes. So, as part of our sales enablement we have what's called Project Lion. I'm gonna tip my hat to Dan Tyre who's my partner in running the program as well as Steve Vaughn who helped us come up with the name who's a HubSpot channel account manager or sales person in Dublin, and we started this program because HubSpot is known we have great training the HubSpot academy is awesome, there's tons of on-demand learning and we put together some very good on-demand programs around sales but you know what we realized and we knew we just hadn't done anything about it is you can only learn sales so much from watching a video and then going out and practicing it. 

So, we introduced these boot camp concepts which run over eight weeks of time, they build each session builds on each other and if there's some learning we do some instruction but it's really a lot about doing…there's a lot of role play, there's a lot of expectations between the class to actually put what you're learning into practice and then come back to the group and talk about how it went and celebrate successes and learn from potholes and so it's this ongoing eight week boot camp and we call it Project Lion because lions hunt as a pack and these are group programs they're not one-on-one training and there's a lot to be gained from learning not from just from instructors but from your peers and supporting each other. 

And plus we're fierce yet graceful so we call ourselves “Yes and” Is our motto and so we have some fun with the name project lion as well. So I think Gabriel your question is about one of the things that we do to support each other which is this kind of group prospecting. 


Sales Prospecting (9:35)

David: So Dan's class focuses more on on prospecting than I do but I've been part of helping his curriculum and things like that, and one of the things we've devised is this lion prospecting pairs, which means, you know, sales can be kind of a solitary activity particularly when you're getting to the meetings right? 

You're trying to schedule appointments you're picking up your phone and you're getting rejected- Yeah exactly it like sucks! So we said what if we could just use Zoom and use like this partnership to call with someone. So you know first I'm on with Gabriel, Gabriel picks up the phone he calls, I hear his half of the conversation or the full conversation if you use an air call like Gabriel is and got some cool technology, and then I go and he hears either half of my call or all of my call depending on what I'm using. 

We talk about it in between and we hear things that we like and we support the other person or we hear things we might have been different and we learn from the other person and that's why I love sales is because you're constantly working on yourself and your skills and it's hard to do Alone, it's much better when you do it with other lions. 


Gabriel: Definitely, definitely. So going back a little bit about so you talked a little bit about the the concepts that are important and why it's important to train people not only on the concept itself, this is how you can actually find pain or find a gap or or understand first what you need to address instead of just talking and talking, but also you know we we've talked about the Project Lion and how people can help each other and and the value of that. 

Let's go back a little bit to what's happening today and how these things even though all those concepts will help you no matter what there are some different situations and we need to adapt to those situations. What have you seen out there that has been working or things that you would recommend during a crisis? 


How Has the Sales Process Adapted to Current Events? (11:24)

David: Yeah, so it's interesting and my answer is different now than it would have been a few months ago right? A few months ago it's very much about like checking in with how people are doing just being really open to whatever people want to share with you and maybe sharing what you've been hearing as well and being an information chair and a person that cares and is on the phone with them about their business. 

I think now that we've entered this phase of life at least for now and people have gotten over the initial kind of adjustment period I think it's a little different. In fact I've heard from my lions that if you lead with the pandemic now or Covid, it's oftentimes seen as exploitative, that it feels scripted and they've been hearing this you know now for a couple months and you know things have changed. So I think part of this is being human, if you find yourself using a script I'm okay with scripts to help people like get their practice in and help them get going, but if you over rely on script you can get into trouble and now is a good example of that. 

So, I still think the underlying principles are the same, we want to understand how their business has been going recently. You know I think it's okay to thread what's going on in the world as part of that and how it's affecting their business, but I think the introduction to the business now is a more a broader positioning Statement that might be something like in our case of agencies that that sell you know inbound and HubSpot related services it might be "Hey Mr. Prospect, you know I'm calling today because I've been speaking with companies who are you know taking an opportunity right now to pause and sharpen their strategy because there are still growth opportunities now but even more than that they know other growth opportunities are going to explode or really increase down the road as things start to change and they want to be really well positioned for that. 

I have some ideas from talking with others and I can share those but I'm also really calling because I want to understand how things have been going for you and I don't know if that's been your outlook or not but I'd love to chat with you about what's going on." 


Gabriel: So instead of going at it like ‘I want to know, I just want to make sure that you are heard and I'm here for you’ instead of going on full on COVID strategy. And again it's all about being human right not using strategies but actually being human and connecting as a human being threading it in the conversation as part of well maybe things have changed or things have been changing but there's also opportunities, and actually from talking to a lot of people and and from doing sales myself, we have seen that, that some people completely disregard that conversation we're not talking about that, but in the middle of the conversation things are like okay because of this now we're gonna do this differently or we're gonna change the way we do it or yeah we might not be able to go to your office right now but we'll do the video shoot tomorrow or later or whenever the crisis happens, so we've seen that too. 

The conversation changed from the first days which was only about listening, only about understanding, now it's more okay taking action, finding opportunities. And also we've seen that some industries have suffered so much they are not in a position to move with anything. Some industries have had to adapt a lot and some industries are exploding they're growing incredibly so also it depends on the industry that you're talking to right?


How Has the Pandemic Changed Industries? (15:13)

David: Absolutely. I was looking at the HubSpot COVID-19 stats before I came on this call just because I knew we were going to talk about I knew we were going to talk about it and you know there was a dip and now it feels like things are not quite back to where they were but they're they're trending up you know knock on wood, hopefully things continue in a positive direction. 

But there are some industries that have increased from where they're at so for instance, construction is one of them, is the biggest one actually I think construction and then it was maybe software and computers. But construction was leading it by a mile and I know this personally because I'm trying to find someone to give us a quote on like maybe building a sunroom add to our house and I can't get someone out here because I don't know if it's that people are spending more time at home for whatever reason, but people want to invest and so it does good to do both intentional about what industries you're going to go after if you're able to do that but also to do a little homework because you know for a business like construction I might say in my statement, I might say "we're talking with companies including construction companies who are back getting overwhelmed with demand surprisingly they've been you know, was slow for a while but now they're getting overwhelmed and they want systems in place to how to better capitalize that and also keep the wave going even when things might change. 

But if I was talking with another company, a professional services company they're kind of down the middle, they're not like travel who have been really really hit by this and they're not like construction who are seeing their business you know really uptake, but they're kind of in that adapt category I might say "we've been working with firms who have had some you know headwinds but they're fighting through them they are adapting and they don't just want to adapt they want to do things the way they've always done it they want to take an opportunity to do things smarter than how they did it in the past. 

So as we as we start to come out of this you know they're not going to go back to like they were, but they're going to they're going to looking to make some smart and strategic changes in their business, and I can share with you what I've seen from other professional services firms and I'd also love to hear how you guys are thinking about your business in the market, how you want to come out of this and maybe there's an opportunity for us to have an interesting conversation together." So I would very much tailor it to who I think I'm going to be sitting across from.


Gabriel: That's awesome, that's awesome. And yeah that what we've also seen is even though some industries have been paused or things are slowing down right now, people are okay but three months from now six months from now things are gonna change and I gotta be ready and my website has to be ready or my processes have to be ready or you know I need to do something to capture that business or to be ready for whatever my business is going to be. 

So not just for companies like me or like ours or agencies or software companies I believe that all industries are adapting and they're thinking either we're growing right now or what are we gonna do to get the business when it's available when we can do that. 

So that's also thinking about the future we've been we've been selling a lot of that, it's like right now people are paused therefore they have time and they have money so let's make it happen now let's redo the website let's get some videos or whatever it is implement technology to get better processes in place or things like that so definitely. 


Growth Oriented People and Businesses (18:47)

David: I would agree I mean part of like those statements that I just kind of went through. 


"I'm trying to find growth-oriented people and businesses. They may not be growing right now, but that's okay. I want them to be growth oriented so they're looking towards the future, they're looking toward growth and toward positive change." 


You know if those statements fall flat because people have more of a scarcity mindset or they're more fearful and not that those aren't fair emotions to have but I'm looking for businesses who can address those emotions but continue to be looking forward, think about the future, think about how to grow and if I get in front of the right person we can have a great conversation if I'm not in front of those people I want to leave them with a positive experience but I don't want to spend a ton of time.

Quickly Understand if a Prospect is a Good Fit (19:37)

Gabriel: And that's the other thing, it's like it has to be a good lead a good fit in and you want to get to that resolution is it is it a yes or no as quickly as possible and that's another thing that we've learned through your programs is it doesn't matter if it's a bad fit you want to know that as quickly as possible so you don't waste time and you don't waste their time either, right? 


Caring Efficiently (19:59)

David: Absolutely. 


"I think the big challenge of sales nowadays is to care efficiently. We want to care about people and we want to care about our prospects, and even folks that won't turn into our clients. We can extend a little caring, but the challenge is we don't want to be putting too much of our energy into caring." 


You know, it's best when we care for folks where there's a fit and there's an opportunity to work together. If we're in front of someone that doesn't have that mindset doesn't mean we can't be friendly we can't give them a tip or two, can't give him a nice referral, but let's let's get in and out of there in like 20 minutes you know and maybe we'll get a referral out of it, maybe we'll give a referral out of it, we'll leave someone with a smile and then let's find people that we can care about that we can also help as well. 


What Should Salespeople Prioritize? (20:51)

Gabriel: Of course of course of course of course. So anything that salespeople should prioritize these days considering all these changes and and considering the basics that they always do should they do more of this more of that less of this less of that tell me more about that. 


David: So, I've been big recently on just building solid habits. I think I think we're at an interesting time in sales but also in the world in general where it's not just like about crossing your t's and dotting your i's and I mean you always need activity so I don't want to take activity for granted, but I think it's also about I don't know I don't know I should say it's about your citizenship but I think it is about kind of your membership in this larger community without getting a little you know too warm and fuzzy on you. 

I mean, one of the things that I encourage people to do is to do some reading, do some conversations. I'll tell you I have some good sales books to recommend and I love sales books but I'm not reading sales books right now. 

I'm reading books on leadership or books on biographical figures. I read a book on Churchill which was great that guy's a great order and people trusted him and people loved him and it wasn't just because he had the fanciest words it was because he backed up his words with action. 


"In sales, we can learn a lot from modeling ourselves after people who we see in society, who we emulate, or we admire whether they come from history or current times. I think doing those things and thinking about them can help us make better salespeople, care more about our prospects, and be someone that people want to do business with." 


So I have a bunch of sales things that I can say too but I think you know kind of now that's where my head is at is take an opportunity to better yourself as a person, the better person you are the better salesperson you're gonna be. Yeah I'm gonna give a shout out for that.


Gabriel: And being human right? At the end of the day people don't buy a product don't buy a company they buy you know from human beings and it's-


Believe in What You Are Selling (22:49)

David: Absolutely. And make sure this is probably a little bit too taken for granted for me: 


"Make sure you believe what you sell in, believe in what you're selling. I definitely do this for HubSpot." 


Before I was at HubSpot I did not believe what I wasn't selling and I lasted, well I realized that about month seven and I lasted till about month 10, and those were not a fun three months- those were not fun seven months either, but if you feel like you're misaligned, like you're not excited about what you're selling and the company that you're selling for, this world needs good sales people a lot of people need good sales people so first try to make it figure out what's not working and see if that can be amended or corrected… maybe you don't know the product well enough but if you can't like that's what you need to get energy as a sales person and you need energy in this game so make sure you're selling something you're spending your time like feeling like you're making the world a better place not just pushing something to you know because that's your number. 


Gabriel: I love that I think that passion comes through and it is very different from what you started talking in the beginning. People that are that just like can you know trick you into liking them it's completely the opposite is it's just caring about something and really the passion comes through without you even thinking about it. 

You can be an introvert that never talks about anything but when you're passionate about something, it'll come through right? So it is important to know the product or know what you're selling but knowing is not as important as feeling and understanding and really caring about something right?


David: Absolutely, and that confidence can't be blind either so as much as I love HubSpot I know it's not a fit for everyone. If I wasn't out there you know zealously promoting it to everyone I wouldn't be doing my job Either. I'm very confident in it for the right prospect so my job is to convey the value of HubSpot But first I want to make sure I'm in front of the right prospect and then you know get out of the way because I'll run through walls if I feel like it's someone that we can really help.


Gabriel: Definitely definitely. Thank you David this has been great. Anything else you want to share with us?


David: No I mean thanks for having me on. I assume most folks are familiar with HubSpot if you're not. We have great software including starting at the free level depending on how big your business is up through starter and professional and enterprise. We also have a great partner program if you're either a marketing agency, sales consultancy, or professional services companies that are looking to Help your firms, your clients drive more leads or customers.

Folks can connect with me on LinkedIn just mention that you heard me here on Martech Masters so I know where the request is coming from, not like one of these from you know the ether out in the LinkedIn world that you've never heard of that I've never heard of before. And I'd be very happy to connect with those. 


Gabriel: That's awesome. Thank you David again for your time today and thank you for the great partnership over the years. we have learned, I have personally learned so much from you and the program, I really appreciate everything for everything you do for all of us. 


David: Awesome and right back at you Gabriel I love what you guys are doing and thanks so much for having me on today.


Gabriel: Awesome thank you David, have a good one and stay safe okay.

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