Introduction

A high-growth, SaaS CAD startup based in Boston contacted DANA Associates in anticipation of securing $5M in Series A funding. Developed specifically for technical use cases, their software solution serves engineers across industries like aerospace, automotive, energy, and education. The software suite enables users to create rich visual assets with clarity and precision within a single micron, making it the trusted, go-to software for some of the biggest brands in the industry.

Originally part of a larger corporation with over three decades in on-prem CAD software, the company was spinning off and pivoting to a SaaS model with fresh infusion of capital and newly installed leadership. The new CEO engaged DANA Associates to find a Vice President of Sales who would be responsible for redesigning their selling strategy, and restructure and build a team to aggressively grow market share.

Challenge

The software was already widely used as a one-time purchase made by individual engineers—which meant they bought it once and rarely upgraded. The company’s biggest challenge was to change their approach to the market by converting the revenue model to a B2B SaaS offering and sell into enterprise-level industrial manufacturers.

This strategic shift in the company’s business model required a complete overhaul of the sales model. The company needed a recruiting partner who genuinely understood the SaaS market and the complexities of hiring a sales leader willing to roll up their sleeves and close deals. Plus, they needed and expected their recruiting partner to work quickly.

Solution

To kick-off the discovery process, we conducted a series of phone conversations with the CEO to define our partnering goals. We involved the CEO in a thorough needs-analysis, capturing organizational subtleties, company core values, and their particular start-up culture. We then met in person with the leadership team, including the company’s lead investor. Together, we finalized hiring objectives and determined the ideal candidate profile.

To move the focus beyond the basic job specifications, the DANA team discovered, and advised, the company to consider a senior sales leader who could serve both as a player-coach to build and lead a team while also selling by example. With an agreement in place, we got to work and within the first week of engagement DANA presented three candidates from our network.

We screened and interviewed candidates for relevant experience and sales performance history as well as potential cultural fit, impact, and ability to build the new sales team. Each one of the three candidates we presented had experience building and leading teams, while at the same time, proven success closing enterprise deals simultaneously. Our initial discovery work, advisory services, and candidate evaluations led to our client making an offer. Just twelve days from the start of the candidate search process, one of our three accepted the position at the company.

Outcome

Today, the company has a completely new sales department spearheaded and built-out by the new vice president of sales who we identified and placed. She has delivered on, and exceeded, company expectations for building and managing a team and making her individual sales quota. She hit 113% of her plan during Q1 of 2020, and in a matter of months, has brought the pipeline for license sales from $0 to $1.2M, including delivering 126 new logos in a single quarter. Furthermore, the company hired three additional sales reps and plans to hire two more shortly, along with a systems engineer, and an individual to manage licensing, onboarding, and invoicing. Most importantly, the company’s long-term strategic vision for its SaaS model is successfully on its way.

From our client regarding the VP of Sales:

A strong and patient leader who is always available to mentor others and is extremely customerdriven. She understands how to leverage the CEO effectively and her ego never gets in the way. She is comfortable working with clients—getting to know each one personally, building good business relationships, and closing. She also took on the task of cleaning up our “data nightmare” and turned our CRM it into a fully automated sales and marketing tech stack. The new hire is a strong, great leader, teacher, and mentor. Tough but charming.

Regarding working with DANA team, the CEO stated:

Tom is the rock-steady, knowledgeable, charming guy who is easy to talk to and every interaction with him has been terrific. I love Denise. She is strong and extremely good at what she does. She works quickly and has an uncanny ability to get candidates to the table fast, which indicates her very strong relationships and network. Denise bleeds her mission, it is not just a job to her, it has become a part of her, which is important for a boutique firm like DANA because she does everything with an incredible amount of passion that’s necessary to be successful.

About DANA Associates

DANA is Boston’s leading executive search firm specializing exclusively in placing sales professionals. From C-level, VP’s and directors to managers and AE’s, we build cohesive teams for start-ups, mid-sized and global companies with headquarters or regional offices in New England.

For over 35 years, our reputation has been built on an immersive, field-tested methodology that predicts the best outcome for both clients and candidates.

If we don’t make an impact, we’re not doing our job.

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