From the Sales Trenches: Q&A with Jeetu Mahtani


Share on LinkedIn

This continues our series of front-line sales interviews, featuring quota-carrying sales reps as well as their managers and leaders (see a sample of previous interviews here, here and here). Jeetu Mahtani runs Hubspot‘s international sales division, on both the direct and partner/channel sales side. He will be running Hubspot’s European office in a couple months, with headquarters in Dublin, Ireland.

How did you get started in sales?
My background is mostly engineering and operations, and I got an MBA with a specialization in IT and Operations. After the MBA, I got into consulting and although I wasn’t in an official sales role, I was selling others to hire me based on my capabilities and the services I could provide. I’ve always enjoyed solving customer problems, by digging into their challenges and issues, and asking a ton of questions.

At some point in my past few roles, by my curious nature, I was asked to become a sales engineer. I eventually felt I was influencing the sale significantly and made the move to selling direct.

I’ve also run a company in the past, so I love being a business owner. Most of my family had run their own business in Hong Kong, China and Africa. In some ways, I see sales as being as close as possible to running your own business. You really control your own destiny, your recognition within the company, and how much money you bring home.

What are some of the keys to a productive sales engineer?
In general, it’s understanding the customer’s problem. Every customer is unique, so key to go into their business and dissect their business, see if your solution fits into their business. The worst thing an SE can do is assume the product fits. You should assume nothing, go in with an open mind, probe deeper, see where problems and challenges are, and address some of those challenges. Get customers to see how the solution fits, if in fact it does.

How technical should the sales rep be?
At Hubspot, some of our best sales reps are technical to a fairly deep level. Obviously you need to find a balance, you’re not going to always find great sales talent that are also really technical. But to shorten your sales cycle and provide answers quickly, you want to be seen as a trusted advisor to not just sell a problem but educate and challenge them, to get them to rethink their business and get them to consider a different way of doing something.

Sales reps should get their hands dirty, demo the product effectively from the end customer’s standpoint.

What are the differences you’ve seen between selling domestically vs. overseas?
We haven’t changed our sales process. It’s the same sale process we use domestically vs. other parts of Europe. We have changed the level of probing we do. We change the words, and more gradually get to the point where we have trusted advisor status and ask the tough questions. The path to get to trusted advisor takes longer in Europe I think, because it takes a relationship selling approach more often. In the US you can move more quickly.

What’s different now vs. when you started in sales?
When I started six years ago, most of the direct sales people were mostly about pitching. They usually attempted to differentiate themselves on product features, pricing, and sometimes relationship. That probably worked six years ago, but with the Internet where everything is fairly social and open, what worked six years ago is definitely not going to work today. In some ways, with Facebook and LinkedIn becoming so mainstream, it gives customers the ability to look up your product online, and see both positive and negative feedback. They can look at the salesperson’s profile on LinkedIn, for example, to see what kind of recommendations are being given.

The same applies for the salesperson to use social to their advantage. I think there’s been more focus on balancing between the buyer and seller. It really gives both the opportunity to do deeper research and homework before taking the next step.

What best practices are you using to manage your team?
One of the big drivers at Hubspot is that the whole sales & marketing team is incredibly data and metrics driven. One of the things we’re seeing, is in the past it was mostly sales managers being activity driven, purely a numbers game. How many dials, connects, etc.

Moving forward one of the things that works really well is that we take it to a deeper level from a data standpoint. Now we’re measuring deeper into the funnel by saying, yes, you got a connect, but how many of them moved into a discovery call, how many of those moved into a demo, and finally a paid customer. By looking at different parts of the funnel, different conversion rates, we can identify where the problem may be.

Maybe they’re not doing a great job of qualifying, or probing deeper. Maybe they’re not really ready for a demo.

Great sales managers also get away from pure pipeline management, and more into a sales coaching role. They’re doing more role-playing, for example, to help improve skills.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here