Ground Up Podcast

Help Scout’s Next Phase of Growth

Tim Thyne on how Help Scout scaled its self-serve model and how a product-driven company gets comfortable with the idea of “sales.”

John Bonini John Bonini on January 25, 2018 • 2 minute read

Like most successful product-driven companies, Help Scout was tentative, at best, about the idea of sales.

Its self-serve model had worked so well, amassing around 4,000 customers in its first four years. With the kind of traction, trepidation around “sales” is inevitable.

But if they were to continue scaling at or above that rate of growth, they’d need to embrace the idea of sales.

But how?

In late 2015, HubSpot alum Tim Thyne joined and, with a little luck and through flat-out necessity, came to oversee the customer success function, Help Scout’s version of sales.

In Tim’s two-and-a-half years with the company, he’s learned how to navigate that change in order to help propel Help Scout’s next phase of growth.

Our recent conversation chronicles those growing pains as Help Scout continues its growth and elevates their overall positioning in the market.

As usual, I’ve included a couple of my favorite soundbites below.

On the hesitation around selling

“There was hesitation to build a sales team.

Help Scout was, and still is, a product-driven company. We had three or four thousand customers at the time I joined, and we really didn’t have a sales team. It was all self-serve.

With that said, we had (and still have) a phenomenal support team. And if you looked at the work that support was doing–other companies may have classified that as sales or customer success.”

On evolving to embrace sales

“We’re just getting over the hump.

It’s hard to say where the impression comes from. I think it’s a lack of insight into what sales does today.

If you’re coming to a company that’s beginning to embrace sales, I think the best thing you can do is not just start working with customers, but help other people in the organization realize what you’re helping people with.

Once we broke down that barrier and provided them more insight into the problems we were working on and how we work with customers, we started to break down that assumption of what sales is.”

About the author
John Bonini
John Bonini is Director of Marketing at Databox. He's passionate about building brands that tell great stories. Connect with him on Twitter @bonini84.
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