Feb 26, 2022
🧪 Mark Znutas: Hubspot, VP of GTM Strategy and Operations
Play • 11 min

Meet Mark Znutas, Vice President of GTM Strategy and Operations at Hubspot. The 3 go-to-market motions that drive revenue at Hubspot. Getting people aligned on strategy at different time horizons. Why Mark is focused on scale now. How to use the scientific method. Adding value before extracting value through product-led growth.

18 insights. 6 rapid-fire questions. Read the transcript.

What are 3 ways that your team converts your market into revenue?

I think we actually have exactly three ways of converting our market into revenue:

1) Through a direct sales team. We have an inside sales go-to-market model, driven predominantly through volume of customers. We have over 150,000 customers at HubSpot.

2) Through our partner channels. Our partner channel converts our market to revenue by reselling HubSpot software, and then also providing services to a growing ecosystem of HubSpot prospects and customers.

3) The newest channel that we have at HubSpot is our product team. So we have about a little over 15% of our new business comes through a product-led sales motion and that's new at HubSpot over the last five years or so.

So, those are three primary ways that we convert our market into revenue.

What are 3 hard problems that you recently overcame?

1) The hardest one that I've overcome is defining HubSpot's long-term go-to-market strategy across an organization of now almost 6,000 people. Getting people aligned on concepts and making sure that they understand where the organization's going is part of my job. And it's hard, especially at that size and scale. 

2) Creating a strategic planning process at our size and scale. We have a longterm vision. We need to translate that into an annual plan and getting that done is really hard. You have different teams across marketing, sales, customer success that have different interests. We need to make sure that we're prioritizing the right set of work to hit our plans in the near term, but also set ourselves up for growth longer term. And then we need to make sure that we have the resourcing and the budgeting to support it.

3) Building a team. In 2019, I was in a go-to-market strategy role and an individual contributor, and now my team's over 30 people. So building that team out has been definitely a hard problem to solve, but one of the most rewarding ones for me, for sure.

What are 3 roadblocks that you are working on now?

1) Leveraging our systems to drive scale. We've got this incredible machine at HubSpot, but one of the criticisms that I have with our growth has been it's been fairly human centric, you know? You have to add a sales rep or a CSM to keep growing your install base. So we're really focused on leveraging systems and automation to drive scale. So we can scale from having 150,000 customers to 400,000 customers over the next few years. so that's one big one for us. How do we use our systems to really get outsized leverage? We call it nonlinear growth so that we separate our revenue growth and our headcount growth.

2) Demand generation at our size and scale. We have a freemium go-to-market motion. We have well over a million software sign-ups per year, but we're starting to see that there's limits on how to generate that demand through organic search and paid search. We need to start to think about new channels, like virality and partnerships, to drive growth in our demand engine over time. That's a big one that we're working on.

3) All about scale. Kind of ties back to my first point about systems, but we want to make sure that we continue to deliver a really great experience for our customers as we scale to hundreds of thousands of customers. We have a great experience for our customers today at our size and scale. We want to make sure that we don't lose that, and break that, as we start to grow our customer base pretty fast.

What are 3 mental models that you use to do your best work?

1) The scientific method. It’s one that I love and that I talk to my team about all the time, and they probably think I'm a broken record. My observation here is that Growth teams and Product teams are actually really good at using the scientific method. They observe customers, they form a hypothesis, they experiment, they analyze the results, they draw a conclusion. I don't think we do enough of that on the go-to-market side. My team has really focused on driving go-to-market innovation at HubSpot. So I use this scientific method framework and mental model all the time. It's super helpful for me to frame up a problem and have a somewhat objective way of evaluating an outcome and proposing a path forward. So that's one.

2) Playing to Win. It’s a book and mental model that our CEO Yamini Rangan introduced me to. And it's really a way of thinking about developing strategy. That Playing to Win framework is first, defining where to play. So, who's your target market? Second is developing a strategy for how to win. How do you actually win in that target market? And then third, how do you build a management system so that you can define where to play and how to win? So that Playing to Win framework has been a powerful one that I've learned from Yamini over the last two years.

3) The Horizon Investment model. And the concept there is that you want to think about making investments on your product team or your go-to-market team in several different horizons. A simple way of thinking about it as in three horizons. you've got Horizon 1. And that's your immediate-term bets you want to make. And really the goal there is to hit your short-term targets. Horizon 2 is your medium-term bets. And then Horizon 3 are your big, more speculative bets. And I think companies that continue to innovate really think about a distribution across those three horizons and aren’t too focused just on Horizon 1 or Horizon 2. So I like that mental model and way of thinking about just how to allocate investment.

What are 3 techniques that GTM teams need to try?

1) Product-led growth. I love the concept of adding value before extracting value. And that's one of the things that we talk about all the time with our freemium go-to-market motion. We try to add value for our customers. They can try our software before they buy it. It's been really powerful for us to have less reliance on our sales and CS teams and more reliance on really scalable motions to delight our customers. So that's one.

2) Chat-based go-to-market. That's been really powerful for us. One observation that we've made is that people want help in real-time today. You don't even want to wait 10 minutes. They get an email, a response. If you have a question from a vendor that you're working with, you want that answer in real-time and we've seen this be really powerful for not only our customers, but for HubSpot. So we've moved our support team to be chat-based and the value for customers is that they get answers in real time. The value for HubSpot is we can have one chat agent working with five customers, rather than just on one phone call. We've moved into chat-based sales, selling our starter product tier, which is our entry level tier, without a long sales ...

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