Qualtrics: Scaling an Inside-Sales Organization

By James Lattin, Kirk Bowman, Maryanna Quigless
2014 | Case No. E503 | Length 17 pgs.
CEO, Ryan Smith and the rest of the founding team at Qualtrics grew the company to 350 employees and an estimated $50M in revenue through an inside-sales model. After ten years of bootstrapping however, the company took on $70M in funding from prominent venture capital funds. With this milestone, the team faced a new inflection point in the company’s growth. To support the next phase of evolution, Smith brought in John D’Agostino as the new Head of Worldwide Sales. Smith and D’Agostino needed to increase revenue without negatively impacting the company’s strong foundation. The Qualtrics leadership team faced several options for the future of their sales organization. It was up to Smith and D’Agostino to decide—how should they organize the sales team to face the challenges of Qualtrics’ next phase of growth?

Learning Objective

This case presents an overview of how a company can achieve scale with an inside-only sales model then challenges the reader to contemplate whether an inside-sales model can scale in the face of a diversifying customer base and product set. Teaching goals of this case include: • Entrepreneurial sales organization strategy • Options for sales-team evaluation and incentive structures • Sales process techniques (top-down vs. bottoms-up sales) • Scaling of sales organizations; constraints and opportunities during times of extreme flux • Planning for change in a growing company Through the case Qualtrics faces several phases in its evolution- concept, first product, initial traction, scale, and then significant investment. The sales team is an engine through all of these phases. This case teaches the readers about the benefits and challenges of entrepreneurial growth from the perspective of the sales organization.
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