As a go-to-market leader, advisor to scaling businesses, and early-stage investor, Channing Ferrer, VP of Sales Operations and Strategy at HubSpot, is well-versed in the world of tech startups. “Solving a problem through data alone may not be possible in a startup, as accurate data can be hard to come by,” he says. “You’ve got to blend industry knowledge, business acumen, and context when making decisions.”
These are wise words. Channing’s robust experience is just one of many reasons Underscore is thrilled to have him as a Core Partner to Underscore portfolio company Apploi.
What’s a Core Partner? Core Partners work closely with Underscore VC to help source investment opportunities and/or advise portfolio companies. In return, Core Partners receive “Core Allocations,” a portion of Underscore’s returns on the company via an interest grant in our Core Fund. That means incentives are aligned for productive relationships—at zero cost to our founders.
These partners are tremendously valuable. In this brief Q&A, Channing shares insights from his many years of leading sales teams.
Focus to Succeed
Q: What’s the most important piece of advice you’ve received, and why?
A: Success is a set of choices. Make sure you are clear on what you are selecting to do and not to do. I have learned through experience and feedback that narrowing down your focus often leads to a better result. Earlier in my career, I often made this mistake until I listened to the feedback, practiced clear omissions, and focused on just a few topics. This concept applies to both personal and professional goals.
KPIs and Risk-Taking
Q: What’s one thing you think all startup founders should understand?
A: Listen to Peter Drucker…specifically, “What gets measured gets managed,” and, “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” Make sure you have clear KPIs and measurements that align with your strategic objectives. Make sure you’re comfortable taking risks and trying new things. When you combine these two thoughts, you end up with clear KPIs for your experiments, learning from your failures, and growing your business.
Keep Your Leaders Aligned
Q: What’s one important thing you’ve learned about leadership?
A: Leadership is all about the people around you. Start with hiring great people. Then give them a job that maximizes their talents and keeps them motivated. I have been most successful when I have been able to lean into a strong leadership team around me. When I see gaps in this leadership team, I move quickly to fill them or make adjustments. As a leader, I am responsible for keeping this team aligned and motivated.
A Highlight as a Core Partner
Q: Can you share a highlight from working with Apploi?
A: Accurate data is sometimes hard to come by in a startup or scale-up environment. You may have one superstar sales rep who is crushing her number. But does this mean all reps will crush theirs? (Probably not!) Make sure you blend industry knowledge, business acumen, and context when making data-driven decisions.
At Apploi, when we were exploring how to build the 2022 sales plan, we had limited data to lean into (being a startup). So we worked together to determine how best to leverage the data available and blend it with other contextual information to make educated, data-driven decisions. Trying to solve a problem through facts and data alone may not be possible.
Interested in our Core Partner program? Learn more about the Underscore Core and our programs here.