When Emmanuelle Skala started her new job as the VP of Sales and Customer Success at DigitalOcean she couldn’t help but remark at what a rare company she had joined. For more than a decade she’d been a part of fast growth companies. But all of them had relied on large sales team and expensive marketing budgets to fuel that growth. The five-year old cloud computing company was an exception. They’d landed more than 500,000 customers, hired hundreds of employees and raised $300 million in funding—all without a sales team.
Spend enough time in the technology industry and you’ll realize what an echo chamber it is. The same buzzwords are thrown around day-after-day at conferences hosted in the same event centers that are populated by people that all look more or less the same. Naturally companies employ many of the same strategies for growth, and this makes DigitalOcean’s success all the more surprising. But it didn’t prevent the team from eventually having to hire a sales team to “go bring in new logos”. At some point even companies that do manage to build a Field of Dreams have to go out and find new customers on the path to IPO.
With three previous VP of Sales positions under her belt, Skala was well acquainted with the challenges of building and scaling a team. Unlike the previous companies she had worked at, many of DigitalOcean’s customers were self-service, and primarily engineers. It became immediately clear that hiring a team of SDRs and setting them loose was going to hurt their brand and relationship with potential high-value prospects.
However, DigitalOcean did have a unique advantage. When Skala joined there were millions of members in their community and more than 500,000 active customers. Instead of building out an SDR team and executing an outbound strategy, Emmanuelle decided to look at capturing more value from the existing signups and potential customers.