Sales VP Spotlight: Tripling Revenue with Shane Cough of OpFocus


How do you jump into a new role as VP of Sales and immediately increase revenue?

This was the challenge facing Shane Cough, the VP of Sales at OpFocus, a Massachusetts-based consulting company that provides Salesforce, Pardot and Marketo consulting, application development, and managed services.

Cough has more than 18 years of experience in sales, marketing and business development roles across SaaS, CRM, and services. In his career, he has moved up the ranks quickly from Business Development Manager to Director of Sales to VP of Global Sales and Development.

But when he joined OpFocus as the VP of Sales just 10 months ago, he was facing a bigger challenge than ever before:

“Our goal is to triple the size of the business in terms of revenue in less than three years, by the end of 2016,” Cough explained.

In this exclusive interview, Cough shares how he quickly acclimated himself to the new role, built a scalable sales process and got his team on track to reach their aggressive revenue goals. Learn how he’s achieved all of this and thrived in the high-pressure role of Sales VP.

Pushing for Growth

Cough explained that the aggressive goal of increasing sales revenue by 3X is even tougher at OpFocus because the company has limited resources to invest.

“We are a self-funded company,” Cough noted. “That growth is not easily achieved without a massive investment in marketing and sales resources. The fact that we are on track is a testament to the team we have in place and the demand for Salesforce consulting in the marketplace.”

To hit that tough goal, Cough immediately focused his attention on hiring the right salespeople who could contribute to sales growth.

“My biggest challenge is in finding, onboarding and retaining team members who can contribute at the same level to support that growth,” he explained.

Cough said the first few months on the job are a challenge for every new Sales VP. In between hiring new reps and the many other responsibilities he was juggling, he quickly had to learn how to balance all of his competing priorities.

“It was hectic,” Cough said. “As a player-coach, I was managing a pipeline of my own, getting to know my team, looking for additional talent and above all — trying to figure out a go-to-market strategy and sales team organization and process structure that would scale to meet the goals of a rapidly growing business.”

Quickly Scaling Sales

Once he had hiring under control, Cough shifted his focus to building out a powerful sales process that would guide every rep on his team. He believes sales reps need the right structure in place to succeed.

“The key to success in leading a growing and successful sales team is building the right foundation in terms of organization structure, team members, training, sales process/cycle definitions, marketing collateral and CRM tools,” he said. “You also have to be open and willing to make changes to that foundation as the market realities change.”

He focused his efforts on four areas specifically:

  • Go-to-market strategy
  • Sales process
  • Organization structure
  • Solution packaging  

“OpFocus had grown by taking on projects of all different sizes and building a reputation as ‘can-do’ consultants who could take on the toughest tasks,” he said. “This was a great starting point, but we didn’t just want the hardest jobs and we needed to move past the smallest of projects if we were going to scale without adding an army of salespeople. So, we’ve adjusted what we’re chasing, how we’re chasing it, and what we’re delivering for solutions to support larger and more strategic deals.”

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Tracking Success Metrics

Part of Cough’s success is due to his focus on running the business by the numbers. He said that OpFocus is lucky to be in a high-growth market, but they can’t take it for granted that business will always come to them easily.

“I’m always looking at the top of the funnel,” he said. “Are we getting enough quality leads from all of the areas where we expect and need them? To support scale we need to drive up the average deal size, so I’m continuously looking at that and average sales cycle, as well. On a day to day basis, I’m looking at pipeline size, deal velocity and forecasting on both a monthly and quarterly basis to ensure we are on track.”

Cough explained that OpFocus uses a combination of QuickBooks, InsightSquared and Salesforce Analytics Cloud to get the insights into the data that they need.

“For sales numbers, I am in InsightSquared every single day,” he revealed. “It sits open in my browser from the time I open my Macbook until I leave the office. We have historically measured the business in terms of bookings, revenue, utilization and billable hours. As we grow, we are more and more looking at the business in a more sophisticated way — customer satisfaction, profitability by project type, sales by solution type, year-over-year growth, etc.”

He said that he believes every Sales VP should track their own success metrics consistently, and be held to a high standard.

“I think a Sales VP should be measured in two ways,” Cough said. “One: accuracy of predicting outcomes. Two: retention of revenue-generating talent.”

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