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November 23, 2022
Over the last five years or so the sales tech market has exploded, with a rising number of tools getting added to the already crowded market. There’s just so much tech out there that it can be an overwhelming experience for any buyer.
While there is this proliferation of sales tools that we are seeing across the tech stack, the reality is half of the sales teams fail to see user adoption and a clear ROI from these investments.
According to a recent survey of 330 sales professionals, 86% of reps get confused about which tool to use for which task. 82% of sales leaders say that trying to get reps to use the provided sales tools feels like a second job.
So what components should we look at in a modern sales tech stack to drive more efficiency across the organization?
Is there a list of top priorities revenue leaders must look at to lock in more revenues?
Let’s find some answers to these questions with our guest today – Don Otvos. Don is the VP of Business Development & Alliances at LeanData and has also been the VP of RevOps there. He is a highly valued leader who helps companies establish operational solutions that produce repeatable performance and sustainable results.
Let’s hear it from Don!
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[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to the latest episode of The Revenue Lounge. So over the last five years or so, the sales tech market has exploded with the rising number of tools getting added to the already crowded market. There’s just so much tech out there that it can be overwhelming experience for any buyer.
[00:00:16] While there is this proliferation of sales tools that we are seeing across the tech stack, the reality is half of these sales teams fail to see user adoption and a clear ROI from these investments that they’re making. According to a recent survey of three 30 sales professionals, the major finding was that 86% of the reps get confused about which tool to use for which task.
[00:00:37] 82% of the sales readers said that they’re trying to get reps to use the provided tools, and it just feels like a second job for them. So what component should we look at in a modern sales tech stack? What would drive more efficiency across the Ord nation if there is a list of top priorities for every leaders, what should they look at to lock in more revenues?
[00:00:57] So let’s find some of these answers to the questions today with [00:01:00] our guest, Don Otvos. Don is a VP business development and alliances at Lean Data, and he is also been the VP of Revenue Operations before this. He’s a highly valued leader, one who helps companies establish operational, so, That produce repeatable performance and sustainable results is one of the best brains when it comes to any operation space.
[00:01:19] And he is got an interesting background where he used to be in inside sales and then he was in solution engineering and then move into sales operations. We’d love to know more about him for himself directly. So Don, thank you so much for joining us today. So nice to have you here.
[00:01:32] Thank you for having me.
[00:01:33] Yeah, we’re delighted to talk to you today. So let’s just get started with a little bit about your background. You can just take us through your career journey. How did you start your career? Yeah, that would be great. Yeah. Yeah. So my, so when I started, you know, I was in sales, so you know, my first role I think while I was still in college, I was working at a telemarketing firm that contracted to startups to follow up on trade show leads.
[00:01:59] And I think the [00:02:00] first client that I worked with was actually Cisco Systems way back in 1990. You know, I was, before they even public, I remember one of the things that we were celebrating was when Cisco went public. In 1990, and I had no idea what that meant, but, you know, we were following up on trade show leads, uh, in a contract, uh, role.
[00:02:17] And, uh, from there, I, I, I joined a couple of, uh, you know, went into more networking hardware companies, doing sales, doing channel sales, um, you know, managing inside sales teams. And I, I kind of grew and became an ae. And I think in 2009 I was at a company MuleSoft, back when it was pretty small. And, uh, the VP of sales I was working for there, his name is Phil Bradley.
[00:02:40] It was my second time working for him. And you know, this is back in 2008, 2009 when it was in, you know, we were the starting in the, the back in the recession, if you remember. Um, and you know, we had a layoff and uh, I got let go and Phil told me, he’s like, I’m not gonna be a reference for you if you take another sales job.
[00:02:58] And I was like, what do you mean? And he’s [00:03:00] like, I really think that you’re missing your calling. I really think you should go into sales operations. Yeah, that’s what we called it back. That was sales ops. And I was like, okay. And he’s like, cuz you’re the guy. Everyone turns to whenever they need something done in the Salesforce, whenever they need a report run or upload a list of leads or you know, slicing or dicing information, setting up a dashboard.
[00:03:19] He’s like, you’re an ae. And he is like, you’re a mediocre ae. You’re not great. You’re not the best, but you’re not the worst either. But he is like, you really should probably pursue your passion and I really think your passion is sales ops. And so he set me up with a, with a recruiter that helped me find a role.
[00:03:33] My first role for sales ops was at a company called Yammer. If you don’t remember Yammer, it was like Slack. Before Slack. It was kind of an enterprise, you know, internal messaging system. It got acquired by Microsoft or one point. One point something billion back in 2012. But when we started, and when I started there, it was 2010, they had just bought Salesforce.
[00:03:54] They just needed help getting things set up. And I, I got hired, I was like, okay, great. Let me, let me help you do this. And [00:04:00] that was really my first role. And then, you know, the rest is kind of history. From there, I just kind of grew into different ways of, of working with sales operations, you know, and then part of it has always been me trying to help others, right?
[00:04:11] Like I’ve always tried to help others in their career and heading in the direction if they have a passion for doing sales ops. You know, it’s something I love to talk about. And so, you know, from there, when I went to SalesLoft, I went into a solutions consulting role. And that was really because I didn’t wanna move to Atlanta.
[00:04:27] So Kyle Porter, you know, SalesLoft CEO really wanted me to do sales ops. I’m like, you should probably have somebody in Atlanta do sales ops. He’s like, well, I still wanna hire you. How do I have you join our company? And so they really needed somebody to kind of tell the story of using SalesLoft as a customer, which I was.
[00:04:43] And, uh, so we thought that would be a good idea if I started the solutions consulting team. Cause they didn’t really have anybody to kind of, uh, do a buddy call with the sales team to kind of tell the story of, well, what is it like to be a SalesLoft customer? Uh, what is it like to use the platform? And so that’s what I kind of did, started that [00:05:00] team.
[00:05:00] And then when I went back into the revenue operations function, that’s when I joined Lean Data. Did that for two and a half years. And then just recently moved into the partnerships team because again, you know, partnerships is a big direction for Lean Data as we’re heading into 2023. And so the reason I got asked to do this was, you know, I have a very good understanding of the tech stack being understanding how lean data fits and works with other technologies.
[00:05:22] And so understanding how to leverage that and kind of drive our partnerships is really what I’m doing today and what I’m working on. That’s amazing. And the best part of your story that I like is that you’ve been into the sales role yourself before you became a sales ops person, and that just gives you so much of color and empathy about the role and what it means, like Yeah.
[00:05:43] So that’s, that’s amazing. I mean, there are very few people who come from that background and they’re not able to have that user empathy. And I’ve really noticed in our conversations as well, in, in past, the way you think about tech stack sales process and the, we look at like designing your sales ops [00:06:00] function.
[00:06:00] I mean, it comes from that background. So lovely story there. Yeah. So like, what I always try to do, and you’re right, you nailed it. You know, I, I try to come from the angle of I know that as a salesperson what I wanted to do was make money, right? I didn’t want to have to be burdened with having to do manual.
[00:06:19] Things. Right. Um, now I also know that, you know, doing some of those manual things is required because we gotta have, you know, be able to accurately report on things. And so the mantra that I’ve always had is like, whatever we can do to automate things for the sales rep, let’s do it. I wanna minimize the burden on a salesperson as much as possible so that I can free their time to sell.
[00:06:46] Because that’s what they wanna do, that’s what they’re good at, and that’s what’s gonna make them money. And so I’ve always viewed my role in Rev is, you know, what are the things that I can do? What are the pieces of tech that I can bring into our tech stack? That [00:07:00] can help make our sales teams lives easier and still be able to provide me the reporting and the analytics that I’m gonna need to be able to drive the business and be able to share with my exec team to help our decision making process and, and, and deciding of what directions we want to go with leading the sales team.
[00:07:19] And so that’s always been the angle, you know, that I’ve taken with Revs. Yeah. No, that’s amazing. So, just curious to understand, what was the most challenging part of transitioning from sales to Revs, uh, or sales ops at that time, as you mentioned, the functional scholar differently. Oh, what was the hardest thing?
[00:07:39] God, it was actually pretty easy for me. It was kind of a natural flow. I felt like the biggest challenge was convincing a company to give me a chance to do this role, having no experience. Right. So like my biggest challenge was like, well, okay, I’ve done sales for, you know, over a decade, how do [00:08:00] I leverage that into doing something that I’ve never done before?
[00:08:04] Right. And I was very lucky in that the person that I interviewed with when I got the job at Yammer, David Sax, he’s one of the PayPal mafia, you know, he’s pretty well known person. He was the one that co-founded Yammer and he interviewed everybody at the time. Anybody that joined the company, he interviewed them because it was such a small company.
[00:08:23] I think we’re like 30 or 40 people at the time. And so, you know, I met with David and you know, it started off, he’s like, have you heard of Yammer? Right? I think is what the question he asked me. He’s like, well, what do you know about Yammer? And we had actually used Yammer at, at uh, MuleSoft. And I was like, well, we use it at MuleSoft.
[00:08:41] Here’s what I like about it. Well, and here’s what I hate about it. And then I be, I went on to like, tell him everything I didn’t like about the platform and like ways that I thought they could change it. You know, how can I make how you, you should be monetizing it differently. You should be doing this, you should be doing that.
[00:08:53] And then, you know, I, I only had a half hour with him and then like our half hour was up. He is like, well thanks. I gotta go on my next meeting. We’ll be [00:09:00] in touch. And I was like, wow, I blew that interview. There’s no way they’re gonna hire me. And they hired me. And I, I went back and asked David, I’m like, why did you hire me?
[00:09:08] And what he told me was, you were so passionate about Yammer as a user and the fact that you had such a deep understanding of our platform and knew who our product worked and, and how we wanted to monetize it and what we wanted to do. He’s like, I almost didn’t care what role you wanted to do. I just wanted you in the building.
[00:09:27] I just wanted you to be on the team because you had such a passion for the product. He’s like, if you wanted to do sales op, great. Here, go do sales ops. And so that’s, that’s how I got my first role in sales ops. Um, and when I got there, I was very lucky. They had just bought Salesforce and no one had touched it.
[00:09:42] They hadn’t done anything with it. So I really had a clean slate, which I think really helped me because I think a lot of times in. In, in someone joining in a rev function, they’re cleaning up somebody else’s mess, right? A lot of startups, the leaders don’t have the foresight to hire somebody in Rev [00:10:00] quickly.
[00:10:00] They always wanna hire a VP of sales First. It’s like, oh, we gotta get a VP of sales. Well, VP of sales comes in and maybe they aren’t as thoughtful about process and, and doing the right things and setting up the right tools and revs stack. And then, you know, revs is an afterthought. And then a year later, two years later, all of a sudden they’re trying to hire a revs person and they gotta go back and clean up all the.
[00:10:20] I was lucky that I didn’t have that situation at Yammer. They had just bought Salesforce. They’re like, Don, figure it out. And I’m like, I shut everybody outta a Salesforce. I’m like, let me put stuff together, some basic processes and you know, op stages and how we’re gonna do this and I’ll roll it out to you guys and we’ll run with it.
[00:10:34] And that’s what I did. And we went from $0 in ARR when I first started. You know, they were just collecting credit card. Everything was online, it was credit card, not very good for B2B sales. Our first actual enterprise contract I think was 40 K with Nationwide Insurance. And that was like in May of 2012.
[00:10:52] And two years later, you know, when we sold to to Microsoft, we were on a 80 million run rate. So to go from zero to 80 million in two [00:11:00] years was pretty impressive. And it was all built on the rev processes that I put in place. So I was like, well, maybe I’m good at this Rev thing. I know what I’m doing. And so, you know, that’s kind of, you know, how I grew from there.
[00:11:11] Yeah. Well that’s an amazing story. I, I did not know that background. And yeah, zero to 80 million in two years. So that would’ve been. A beast of a rev system. But I mean we were growing phenomenally. You know, what we put in place was at Yammer. It’s an amazing story. I don’t know if anyone’s written a book on it yet, but if anybody does, you know, I’m happy to talk to them about why.
[00:11:29] I think you know, what we did there was was so incredible. That was a great story. It was an amazing success story. You should write that book about Revs at Yammer. I guess that will be a best. I mean, you’re talking about 32 x growth typically in two years. Typically you see like a five to 10 x growth for even if you look at a D two D three or a D three D two curve as well.
[00:11:49] But yeah, 32 x and two years is like pretty, pretty awesome. Yeah. Well and it set a high bar for myself personally, right? Because then I, like the next companies I would go to is like, well, why aren’t we on this growth track? Like how come we aren’t [00:12:00] growing this fast? You know? I kind of had to like temper myself because it was like, okay, not everybody is like Yammer.
[00:12:05] Like you know, we, you know, I gotta figure, a lot of it was luck. Luck is a big part of success and we were very lucky at Yammer and that we were the right tool at the right time, at the right place. But I’ve taken the lessons that I’ve learned at Yammer as part of growing my own career in Rev. Uh, cuz there’s a lot of things that we did then that I still do today.
[00:12:24] No, that’s amazing. So tell me a little bit about that initial learning curve that you had, right? I mean, that was your first role in Rev and you were having a clean slate is a brand new like CRM system. Like the company was just transitioning into B2B sales. And it was not like you’d done that role before.
[00:12:40] I mean, you’re just like learning on the job. So what was your go to learning resource and how did you evolve yourself to support that 32 x growth from two and a half million to an 80 million ARR? Yeah. I mean, that would be amazing for our listeners. Yeah. I mean, and again, back then there weren’t anybody that were really sales apps was a , no.
[00:12:58] DevOps at that [00:13:00] time. . Right? Right. And so a lot of what I did back then was just really listen to people at my organization. Right. I was really lucky in that Yam had just a, a bevy of an amazing workforce. Like, you know, the people that we hired were just, they’re all rock stars. I mean, everybody that was there, just amazing team.
[00:13:20] And so a lot of how I learned was listening to, to the people around me. So, you know, I was lucky that I got connected internally with engineering folks that understood what I was trying to accomplish on the sales side. And helped drive things around data, you know, using data and leveraging data to really drive the decision making process.
[00:13:42] So, you know, folks like Derek, uh, steer, who’s a CEO of Mode, him and I worked very close together when I was in Robs, Peter Fishman, who’s the founder of Mozart Data, another guy on the engineering team at at Yammer that I learned a lot from. You know, these were guys that took a very data driven approach to [00:14:00] everything that they did, and they were more than happy to work with me and bring that data decision making process to sales.
[00:14:06] And that’s really where I, I learned a lot. Um, the other thing was just learning from my own users back, back in 20 10, 20 11, 20 12, you know, premium was kind of the big thing, right? And so people would use something for free and then they could buy a premium version of it. So, you know, that definitely permeated into sales tools.
[00:14:26] I think one of the first tools that we used, I got turned onto this, you know, my users were using something called Yesware and I’m like, well, what’s Yesware? You know, and this is again, remember this is back in 20 10, 20 11, you know, before the days of outreach and SalesLoft Yesware was kind of that in, you know, mail inbox, sales engagement platform that helped, you know, tee up your emails to send out that help.
[00:14:52] Automate a lot of the processes around prospecting that were done manually. And so, you know, and people could use it for free and then if you hit a certain, [00:15:00] you know, cap, you had to like buy it. And so all of a sudden all these people coming to me like, Dom, we need to buy Yesware. We, we need to buy Yesware, we need to buy Yesware.
[00:15:06] And I’m like, okay, what is Yesware? So I had to go in. I’m like, oh wow, okay. Yes. Where’s kind of cool? And I think, yeah, we were one of, yes, where’s first customers? You know, back in 2011? And it was a great tool. Like it was something that really helped streamline an a’s day to day process and the days before, you know, outreach or SalesLoft even existed.
[00:15:25] Yeah, I remember using it back in 2010 myself. I was also an AE when I started off in SaaS. Yeah. So that was one of the first tools you used outside of Salesforce back in 210. Yeah. Interesting. So I think one thing stood with me where what you mentioned is the team that you had there, right? The leadership team, different stakeholders that you serviced in your central role in the op function.
[00:15:46] They were very data driven. So how do you convince an organization if you’re starting as a ops person, to have that data driven mindset, how that culture of data driven way of working can be inculcated? Yeah, I mean, that can be a [00:16:00] challenge, right? I think, uh, thoughtful leaders understand that data drives a lot of decision making processes, not just around sales, right?
[00:16:10] I think really good leaders are hungry for data to help drive their decision making process. And so if you have the right sales leadership, um, you know, they’re going to be keen on, you know, acquiring data around what their team is doing. And so, you know, I’ve always tried to. Present that with whatever tools that I have, even if it’s just a simple report or, or dashboard in Salesforce, you know, it can help you put together data points to show your management, you know, what directions you need to be heading or you know, why certain things are happening.
[00:16:46] Where are deals getting stuck, you know, working backwards from a number to understand, okay, if we wanna be at a million dollars, we’re gonna have X number of meetings. If we need X number of meetings, we’re gonna have to make y number of calls. And kind of that working backwards from a [00:17:00] number, you know, really simple things that you can do and then demonstrate success around it.
[00:17:04] And then once you’re able to do that, you can then expand into doing more things. I think one of the first things I did when I got to lean data is bring on a data and analytics person that was dedicated to our sales team, and that person almost immediately was like, I need a data warehouse. You know, I want to be able to extract all the data I can from our CRM.
[00:17:24] Manipulate it externally and then present it in Tableau to be able to influence and put out the reports and dashboards that are gonna help speak to what our decision making is going to be. And so that was one of the first things that we did at Lean Data. But I’ll tell you, there are tools out there that you don’t have to be a data expert in order to do those sorts of things.
[00:17:44] I think there are platforms out there today that you can get as part of your rev stack that’ll help you make those decision making processes based on the data that you can get from your CRM and have it presented in a way that that makes sense to your sales team and to your [00:18:00] executive team. I think you, you touched on a very interesting point around activity tracking or activity led selling.
[00:18:05] Where do you think it becomes more critical? Is it like high volume sales process or even for consultative sales process with longer sales cycles, activity tracking would be important. Where do you see the whole opportunity there? Yeah, I mean, it’s important across the board, right? Any sales process is, you know, If it’s transactional, certainly it’s going to be probably easier to understand.
[00:18:29] If we have a less than 30 day sales cycle, it’s gonna be very easy for you to to generate a lot of data very quickly. If you have a longer sales cycle, obviously what becomes more important is the activity of the reps that are working those deals. So things like how many meetings are they having? Do they have a meeting on the calendar for a future opportunity?
[00:18:48] Right? How many people are they working with? Are they multi-threaded? In an opportunity for the longer sales cycle and you’re only talking to one person? That’s probably not a sale that’s going to be closing [00:19:00] anytime soon. If you have a long sales cycle and you see an opportunity where there’s only one person engaged and it’s gonna close in 30 days.
[00:19:07] As a revs person, I’m gonna tell you that you’re probably incorrect. That deal’s not gonna close in 30 days. Cause you’re gonna be able to, to drive the data to understand, it’s like, well we know when an enterprise deal closes, there’s at least seven people involved in the sale. It’s gonna sit in a certain stage for a certain number of days.
[00:19:26] You know, you’re gonna be able to, to look at, to glean those data points, to be able to understand, uh, of the opportunities that are in your pipeline. Where do they sit? How do they measure up against that? What does an ideal closed one opportunity look like? And then compare the existing opportunity against that and know if you’re doing well or if you’re doing poorly.
[00:19:45] No, I think bang on, I think it becomes even more important as sales cycles increase and yeah, the whole sales velocity formula can be answered if you know the background data around what people are doing with. I think that data is captured. A lot of [00:20:00] those questions can be answered and sites can be extracted.
[00:20:03] So moving on from data to stack, and I know you’re of the best when it comes to Tech Stack evaluation, you build robust Tech stack in all your organizations and you, and I’ve interacted before and I know this of you and I’ve also seen some of the other Rev ops teams, so definitely found you to take great calls there.
[00:20:20] So what advice would you give to some of the folks who would be building their tech stack, right? What, how do they start putting together a tech stack? What sort of, without naming the solutions, but what kind of category of solutions you’d probably recommend the tech stack can be built out. What could be the top pain points they can focus on once they have a CRM?
[00:20:38] In place. The number one thing that I look at is I wanna be able to get the best of breed of what exists in the tech stack, right? I don’t wanna put all my eggs in one basket. I don’t want to go all with one vendor. Um, you know, obviously a lot of vendors that are out there became very good at one thing, but in order to justify their valuations, [00:21:00] they have to expand and get their, you know, tentacles into other things to drive their valuations higher, right?
[00:21:06] I try to steer away from those vendors cuz they’re generally good at the one thing that they were good at. They’re not as good at the other things they end up getting their hands dirty with, right? So, you know, if you focus on looking at getting just the technology that they’re good at and making that kind of the keystone of looking at the best of breed of what’s out there, you can really put together a good tech stack.
[00:21:32] The basics that you need. You know, our CRM obviously, I know you don’t want me to name anything. I’m a huge Salesforce fan. That’s everything I’ve ever done has always been around Salesforce. Uh, you wanna look at sales engagement, obviously that’s table stakes. You will probably want to look at forecasting.
[00:21:49] You want to look at sales engagement forecasting, call analytics, right? You wanna be able to be recording the meetings and phone calls that your team are making and be able to drive analytics around, [00:22:00] you know, for coaching, right? You might wanna have a coaching platform for sales enablement. You want a marketing platform.
[00:22:06] Obviously you want a customer success platform, obviously. I think those are probably the biggest pieces that I look like. Everything else is kind of ancillary to those things. I think if you have those five things, you know, you’re on your way to, to putting together something that’ll work from a rev ops perspective, end to end.
[00:22:23] Yeah, so, so that’s about an organization with CS getting started for a matured organization with let’s SeriesC company getting towards an IPO. I think the tech stack is a lot more complex, right? I mean, there could be 15 or 20 different categories of solutions out there, and as you mentioned, right?
[00:22:39] I mean, a lot of people choose to work with specialists, so they’ll go for one feature. From a particular vendor and then another feature from another vendor because that’s what they are good at. So that basically means CRM that the tech stack is more complex in a lot of solutions, interacting with the , interacting with the users, exchanging information between each other.
[00:22:59] So what are [00:23:00] the typical pain points that arise because of this complex tech stack, and how can automations navigate these pinpoint as they emerge? Yeah, so I mean, that then becomes a challenge, right? So if you’re looking for the best of breed, you know, everything’s touching your CRM, you need to start worrying about things like API, you know, API calls, making sure that your sync works properly, understanding what you’re using as a source of truth, uh, when you’re looking at a particular data point, making sure that that information is mapped properly across different pieces of your tech stack.
[00:23:32] And then really having a. Platform that orchestrates everything within your CRM, right? So making sure you have something that allows, like a signal that comes from one vendor can flow through your CRM to turn into an action on another vendor, on the other side of your, of the other side of your tech stack.
[00:23:51] When you have that kind of rhythm and flow end to end across marketing, sales, customer success, support, [00:24:00] that’s really where you’re gonna be the next, you know, you should be on a track to be high growth because then you, you have everything working, everything’s humming. You should definitely apply for an Op Stars award next year at our at Lean Data’s op Stars event, because that’s really where you’ve proven that you’re able to do everything.
[00:24:18] Yeah, I mean, that’s one Covid award, I would say that’s the Oscars for Revs that one should aim for. Yeah. So moving on to, I mean, data. I think, uh, there’s one point that I did not cover when we were talking about data in general, data hygiene, right? I think that that becomes like a sore thumb for most automations, right?
[00:24:36] I mean, you’ve got a CR in place, you’ve introduced a lot of tools, and user adoption is like a number one pain point. Even for a, an established player like Salesforce, I think there are companies who are like now solving for that by offering a different UI or offering digital adoption solutions and things like those.
[00:24:51] And in general, I mean, apart from CRM, there are data hygiene issues that happen because of multiple different reasons of teams being scattered, people working [00:25:00] in silos, remote work just added to the complexity and that whole digital data communication that’s exploding in front of us, right? Last five years, there are so many number of channels of interaction that have opened up beyond just email and calendar meetings, right?
[00:25:11] So what it means is that CRM, maintaining that hygiene and CRM is even a bigger c. So what would be your advice to the organizations out there in terms of how to deal with that data hygiene problem? Yeah, I touched on it a little bit, right? Like, you definitely wanna make sure that you have a single source of truth.
[00:25:28] You know, typically that’s gonna be your crm, but you can’t have other tools that are gonna fight for that, right? Like, some tools are gonna wanna, you know, may maybe for example, you know, maybe you have an SDR that’s gonna make an update in your, you know, they learn that somebody has a new phone number, right?
[00:25:42] So they’re gonna update that in their sales engagement platform because that’s where they’re operating day to day. Well, you wanna make sure that that change makes it back to Salesforce because, or your CRM, Salesforce, um, you know, is your source of truth, right? So you really gotta make sure that those kind of mappings and syncs are.
[00:25:59] [00:26:00] Properly. Because at the end of the day, you know, if you’re using your CRM as your source of truth, you want all that data to be current and valid. Um, and obviously you wanna make sure also you have a really good enrichment solution because the data that is in your CRM should be where you’re driving all your other actions from, whether that’s marketing or you know, SDR activity and a sales engagement platform.
[00:26:23] Obviously, you know, if you’re already in a sales engagement from a AE perspective, that data I would hope is bulletproof. And then obviously as it flows through to a CSM, the CSMs are gonna engage with that customer. And you want that data to be solid as well. So data and the data quality ends up being foundational across the board.
[00:26:42] So making sure that you have a single source of truth, making sure that the fields in your CRM are homogenized. And what I mean by that is, you know, And this is basic stuff, but like I’ve seen it such a mess, right? You know, like state field, you know, you have a code that you [00:27:00] use. Do you spell out the state?
[00:27:01] Is it California all spelled out or is it ca? Because if you don’t do that, all of a sudden you’ll see C A L I F, you’ll see ca, you know, you see ca l, you see all these different things. So if you’re trying to run report and analytics, well you have California five different ways and if someone doesn’t know that, you’re gonna be reporting on things inaccurately because you don’t have that data.
[00:27:23] Homogenized in a way to know, hey, when somebody runs this reporting in our CRM state is the two digit, two letter postal code that the post office uses. Okay, great. Then you just make it all that it’s very basic things like. You wanna make sure are, are, are, you know, documented and that everyone’s adhering to it, so that when you do that reporting, you know, all your reporting is accurate and correct.
[00:27:50] Otherwise you’ll have gaps and you don’t wanna have gaps. You wanna make sure everything’s bulletproof. That’s important. And what about adoption? A lot of data that CRM needs, it needs manual update [00:28:00] from the reps, right? Or for that matter, anybody who’s a user within the CRM system. So how do you solve for that?
[00:28:06] Well, yeah, I know what, okay, so like, one of the things I, drives me crazy. I mean, it drives me crazy in a good way, right? Like I, I know that reps are horrible at adding people to the CRM that they’re talking to, right? It’s invariable that SDR sets up a meeting. The person with the meeting was like, oh, these two people on my team, they’d be good to add.
[00:28:29] Those two people get added to the meeting. They aren’t in the database, they aren’t in CRM. There’s a follow up email. That follow up email gets cc’d to people internally. Those people don’t make it back to the CRM. So you have sales reps that, again, their job is not to add stuff to CRM. I wanna automate that.
[00:28:47] And so I’ve always looked for tools that exist, that connect to the mail server and say, okay, look here at this domain, here is everybody that your company is talking to, and here are the [00:29:00] ones that don’t exist in your CRM. Do you want to add them? Yes. No. Right? And you start doing that. And then again, if you have a really good enrichment process, you should be able to just add that person’s email and, and have, have the process set up so that.
[00:29:15] With just the email, you should be able to enrich that record and know, okay, here’s the person’s name, here’s their title, here’s where they live. You have all that information that comes from your enrichment, your enrichment partner, um, so that you then have all that information available in your CRM, uh, for reporting.
[00:29:32] So for marketing, right? Cause now if, if I know that my sales team is talking to five different people and only one of them is in my CRM, that’s a problem. But if I can automate adding all the other people that they’re talking to, associate them with the opportunity, have them available for marketing, and then, you know, when the deal closes, one, you know, I have all those people, we know what the conversations were, I can hand that off to a customer success person so that they have the context of knowing, okay, here’s everybody we were talking with, [00:30:00] uh, during that sales process.
[00:30:01] It makes that customer journey, you know, much more seamless and it makes it a much more improved experience. You know, once that person becomes a customer. And then longer term, hopefully becoming a renewing customer if you’re on a SaaS model. Yeah, I think it’s so fundamental, but you’re right, a lot of organizations miss some of these basic things, whether it’s about data or it’s about automation of rep activities or buying committee members they interact with.
[00:30:26] So yeah, I mean there are some low hanging fruits that can be plugged early on as the revolve function is set in these automations. So moving on to the automation track, where do you think are the best opportunities for automation when it comes to like driving sales productivity? Which are some of those favorite features that, that you typically focus on?
[00:30:43] Yeah, I mean that one I just described is one. I really like that one. I have worked hard at Lean data again with our data team to drive what I call like a deal health score. Uh, cuz you know, a lot of times when you see something sitting in the pipeline and it’s not [00:31:00] moved, you know, and you see all these deals that are closed loss.
[00:31:03] Well, why did they close loss? Oh, they went dark. Well, it was sitting there without any activity for three months, I guess. Yeah. They went dark because you weren’t engaged with them. Right. I really want to be able to understand that when I have a close lost deal, that it was close lost for a good reason, not because of a lack of interaction with the sales team.
[00:31:23] Right. Ideally, you know, your close lost opportunities are a gold mine for your product team to understand, well, where are we losing deals? Right? Winning is easy when you lose, you wanna know why and you wanna be able to go through those opportunities in a way of knowing that okay, this was a, it was a well engaged opportunity from from end to end.
[00:31:47] You know, we were talking to the right people, we were doing the right things, but we lost the. Why? Then you start really getting into the nitty gritty of helping your product team. Again, this is something Revs can do to help [00:32:00] product, right? Well, it’s like everyone says like, well, what can revs do to help product?
[00:32:03] Well, you can go in and you can be, okay, look, I know that my sales team is well engaged with all of our opportunities. Here’s the data that proves that, okay, of all the close lost opportunities that we had, where I know o i is really, really well engaged, here’s why we lost. And then you can go through and be able to provide that to your product team to, to say, here’s why we’re losing deals.
[00:32:22] And I know it’s valid because I don’t have reps that are closing lost deals because there was, you know, went dark. I hate that You should, if there’s one thing you should do, there’s one thing you take away from this. Remove went dark from your close lost reasons because that’s, that’s BS there went dark is not what happens.
[00:32:41] Like you lose engagement. There’s a reason why and you need to understand why you can’t close at one because you know, you left it sitting there with no activity for three months. You know that those drive me crazy. That’s one way that we can drive using data to help other parts of the organization, you know, have an understanding of what’s [00:33:00] happening in a way that is, is not requiring a salesperson to have to manually do something.
[00:33:06] You’re right. That basically is a good segue for us to move on to the next, next question, which is largely on forecasting, right? I think you pointed out that there’s so much of wealth of information that you can get in CRM to draw some of these meaningful insights, whether it’s for the product team or for finance team.
[00:33:22] And I think finance team, when you look at it, they love forecasting, right? Especially as the company’s growing, getting IP ready, I think forecasting becomes even more important. But there’s so many ways in which that can go wrong, right? I mean, I respond to like hundreds of sales leaders in the last 12 to 18 months as I was starting nectar.
[00:33:39] A lot of people mentioned to them that forecasting is still a big challenge and various reasons that I heard from them, right? I mean, pipeline is bloated. They don’t know the reality, what’s going on or prospect has left the company, move on to a new role or the market is, uh, forcing budget cards, etcetera, which is probably the trend right now going on.
[00:33:57] So leads into a lot of uncertainty. Internal, [00:34:00] external, macro, micro. So how can technology help in driving accurate forecast? And in your experience, how have you solve for, for it and uh, what you like to share there in terms of like organizations aiming for getting better at forecasting? Yeah, so one of the things that we do internally, you know, one of the processes that we’ve set up, we divide our, our sales team into two segments.
[00:34:21] We have enterprise and commercial, and then within those segments we have two segments. There’s a large enterprise, emerging enterprise, and then we have mid-market and emerging co. Um, and so when we do our announce, we, we know that each of those four segments behave differently, right? Uh, emerging commercial, obviously much more transactional.
[00:34:40] Probably maybe you are engaged with just one or two people at the company, right? Short sales cycles, large enterprise, completely different. You know, uh, longer sales cycles, you have to be engaged with a lot more people, so you know, they behave differently, right? So what the data team has done is they look at the a closed one opportunity.
[00:34:59] What is [00:35:00] the behavior of a closed one opportunity? You know, when it moves through each of the stages, how long does it stay at that stage? And then when it moves to the next stage, and then the next stage and the next stage, what are the number of days in stage? What does a healthy opportunity look like?
[00:35:14] So when we measure our pipeline, what are the things we’re trying to understand? Is the deals that are open, are they behaving the way a closed one deal should behave? And if they’re not, We wanna understand why, right? Um, and if the why is because we aren’t staying engaged with the people we’re talking to, or we don’t have the number of people we know we need to be engaged with, that’s a flag for our sales managers to work with the sales rep to say, look, we need to engage with more people.
[00:35:47] Here are the type of personas that we know need to be engaged at this stage. Why aren’t we engaged with them? Or if we are, you know, it just helps you drive to the point of understanding, you know, why things aren’t moving forward. And that’s [00:36:00] such an important analysis to do, right? Because once you’ve done that, you have a much better handle on knowing how well is your sales team performing, right?
[00:36:11] Let’s say you have somebody with a million dollars in pipeline. You say you have two reps, a million dollars in pipeline. If you have one, if that, if one rep has all their deals are healthy, you know, they’re all behaving like a closed one opportunity should, I am not concerned about that rep. But if I go to the other rep and none of it is behaving the way a closed one opportunity should, you know, that’s really where I have a concern.
[00:36:32] So, you know, challenge is to really identify, you know, within the pipeline where are the opportunities that are not behaving the way a closed one opportunity should, based on the stage it’s in, based on the type of opportunity it is, whether it’s new or renewal or upsell, uh, and based on the segment of the business that it’s in, right?
[00:36:54] You, you really need to get that granular to understand and get a grasp on the [00:37:00] pipeline that you have and whether you’re on track to, to be, you know, you’re gonna hit your number or you’re gonna miss it. And then once you get that down pat, you can really understand from a sales team at a higher level, you know, is my sales team.
[00:37:15] You know, are we missing our number because we’re not performing well or are we missing our number because we don’t have enough pipeline? Right? Because if you’re performing well up against the opportunities that you have, the, you have a bigger issue of, of pipeline, which is top of the funnel, right? Then I would be able to go to the marketing team and be able to say, look, I know the sales team is performing on all cylinders.
[00:37:41] What if you get an opportunity into their pipeline? I know I can track it to close one. We need more opportunities at the top of the pipeline, right? You can make that argument to the marketing team and, and you can back it up with data and that’s really how you can really drive that. Be [00:38:00] being able to provide those kinds of insights from a Revs perspective becomes a critical, you know, piece of your organization and, and you become an, a valuable member, uh, of being able to provide decision making data to your executive team.
[00:38:13] No, I think, again, the answer lies in data, right? I mean, if you have the right data, then all of this is possible. But if you haven’t set your function in a way to enable this data collection, then I mean, you’ll be just shooting in the dark, right? So, yeah. Yeah. . So that’s why I think, going back to fundamentals that you initially mentioned, that it’s so important to get that initial data automation and the CRM setup, right?
[00:38:38] That you have that data coming in, whether it’s in CRM or you export it, or to data warehouse, and you can do all sorts of analytics on top of it, but I think the underlying data needs to be there. So moving on to, uh, the productivity aspect, right? I mean, when you look at, uh, some of the sales reps, so what are the typical leading indicators that you look at?
[00:38:56] Uh, which gives good indicator of a rep becoming productive or [00:39:00] not? Oh yeah. So again, like I, and we talked about this, uh, before you, you work backwards, right? Like if I know, if, like say I’m a rep, like say, I’m gonna take this from an AE perspective. If I know that to be at my quota, I need to close a million dollars this quarter, right?
[00:39:17] I know there’s probably a multiplier of that number that I need to have in my pipeline in order to close that million dollars, right? I strive to make that multiplier as low as possible, right? I wanna make sure that whatever is in someone’s pipeline is going to track to close one. So I personally , you know, from a Revs perspective, tightly manage that that multiplier.
[00:39:40] Because I, you don’t wanna be in a situation where you have to have a six x your pipeline. You know, I don’t wanna have a $6 million pipeline to close a million dollars, cuz that means I’m doing a lot of activities that are gonna result in not a closed one deal. Right? Um, so if I know I need a million dollars, I know I need a multiplier of that to get there, I’m gonna back up and say, okay, in order to get to that [00:40:00] closed $1 million, how many meetings do I need to be having in a quarter?
[00:40:04] And then how many phone calls and emails do I need to be sending in order to get to that number of meetings? How many people do I need to have engaged at each opportunity, right? Um, and then if I know I need to have meetings with those people so I could start working backwards to know, okay, I should be sending, you know, X number of emails, I need to be making x number of calls.
[00:40:24] I need to have x number of meetings a week in order to get to this million dollar closed number. Um, and I, I can know that if I’m not doing that level of activity, I am not going to make my number. And it’s very easy, you know, for me from a Revs perspective, to look at folks activity levels and go, you know, this person’s not gonna make their number.
[00:40:46] Or I can see where people are highly engaged and their deals are healthy. Well then I know that they are gonna make their number. You know, it’s very easy to, to do that. If you’re not making your number, how many meetings are you having? Are you having enough meetings? You’re not, okay, well, how many emails are you sending?
[00:40:58] You’re not sending enough emails. Well, how [00:41:00] many calls you’re making? You’re not making enough phone calls. You know, a rep is in control of, you know, they may not be able to control, you know, a closed one opportunity, right? Things closed, lost, as I said, for very valid reasons. And you absolutely wanna inspect and understand why.
[00:41:19] But the things a rep can control are the number of phone calls they’re making a day, the number of emails they’re sending a day, and how many meetings they’re having per day. You know, that is absolutely in their control. So if you have a rep that that is not in control and is not executing on those three things, You may wanna question if, if that rep is in the right role, right?
[00:41:42] Uh, because those are the three things they can drive. If they’re making the phone calls, if they’re sending the emails and they’re having the meetings and things aren’t turning into opportunities, or they’re not closing deals, you know, that’s really where a sales manager should be able to understand, okay, great, you’re doing all the right things.
[00:41:58] You have the [00:42:00] will, you know, they might be missing the skill, right? So then you could start coaching them, start understanding are they doing the right things when they’re on the meeting, are they sending the right message? Are they using the right use cases when they’re selling? You know, that that’s really where it’s more subjective.
[00:42:15] But they gotta be doing that basic work of making the calls, send the emails, having the meetings to, to even know if those soft skills in selling are resulting in the right things. And so that’s, that’s really what I try to drive with an ae. You know, man, control what you can control. You’re the one that can make phone calls, send emails, and have meetings.
[00:42:35] You, you absolutely need to make sure you’re doing the most you can around that every single day in order to get your close one number up. Yeah, that’s super important to get that going. I remember one of your interviews that you mentioned that a tool needs to be as invisible as possible, so it does not interrupt the daily workflow of reps.
[00:42:55] So what do you mean by that? When you said that in that interview, and if you can elaborate, how does [00:43:00] this help drive productivity and adoption? Yeah, so I mean, what, and I think what I was trying to say there was there are so many tools, right? There’s so much in a tech stack, right? As a sales rep, I’m probably not gonna engage with every single one of them.
[00:43:16] And so if I as a rep am not gonna engage with it, I need to make sure from a rev perspective that I can demonstrate the value that tool is bringing the organization. And so if I have something that can do automation, for example, and never have to involve the sales rep, those are the kinds of tools I want, right?
[00:43:35] I have something that’s gonna bring value to the organization that I don’t have to have the rep engaged with, uh, that can draw, that can do analysis, or provide data or help me, you know, make those reps productive without them even knowing that it’s happening. You know, that those are the kinds of tools you want in your organization, right?
[00:43:53] Um, and again, it falls back to those things where, you know, I have, rather than asking the rep to [00:44:00] log every call or asking the rep to log every email or every meeting, you know, we should, we should deploy things that are gonna automate that for them, right? So that when I wanna run a call analysis or an email analysis, or a meeting analysis, Like I can have something that can tell me everything the rep did without the rep having to rely on them to log everything in sale, everything in their CRM, right?
[00:44:24] Those are the kind of tools that are really gonna drive productivity for your organization because you’re removing the responsibility of having to track that information to the individual rep, and youre centralizing it in a way that you can report on it reliably from the data that you have on the mail server, from your phone system and your CRM.
[00:44:45] Interesting. So I know you’ve been very close to solutions where we drive pipeline for the reps, and it did talk about pipeline cover. I think a six x pipeline cover means that you’re running a very inefficient sales organization. So to maintain like [00:45:00] a, a good pipeline cover, let’s say a three x or a four x, which probably is near ideal, what should be the pipeline mix?
[00:45:06] Like when you look at inbound versus outbound versus let’s say the rep generated pipeline, what should be the ideal ratio that you recommend? Yeah. So, you know, in, in my past what I have seen is inbound versus outbound. It really depends on your model, right? Like, that’s kind of hard to to know, right? If you have a really strong inbound flow, well then you don’t need as much outbound, right?
[00:45:28] You need something. But you know, you probably can rely on a lot of what’s happening inbound if you have a strong inbound model because of the way that your business operates. Um, I, I try to, to model it to say, you know, 80% of a rep’s pipeline should be things that are either inbound or, or they’re driven by their SDR, right?
[00:45:49] Because obviously you’re gonna have a pre-sales team that’s gonna be doing a lot of that front end prospecting and outbounding that’s gonna drive pipeline for them. 20% should be stuff that they drive themselves, [00:46:00] right? Cause there’s still gonna be some element of an AE doing their own work to be able to drive some of their own pipeline.
[00:46:06] And I think that’s really important. And so like an 80 20 balance for that is probably something to strive toward. Because again, you know, if it’s a a lower number, if it’s like 5%, well then that means you’re gonna have to hire a lot more SDRs. SDRs are expensive, so you wanna try to get that balance so that you’re not overspending and hiring too much of an SDR team and keep your AEs busy against what they can do themselves on top of what they’re doing day to day to drive their own pipeline to close.
[00:46:36] Yeah, I think it’s definitely interesting, the 80 20 model and I think inbound outbound, I do agree with you. It’s dependent on your sales process, business model, what’s working. I mean, there are some businesses who naturally have like a great inbound motion, whereas there are certain businesses, it’s so complex.
[00:46:50] Or it could be like a new category, right? Where customer doesn’t know and is not searching for your solution. So you have to go and do outbound. Yeah, education, awareness, community [00:47:00] building. So yeah, I think it, it also depends on the business model. But yeah, in 80 20 with like rep being responsible for 22% of pipeline is I think is a good start for our mentions to model that pipeline cover.
[00:47:11] Uh, it’s been great chatting with you so far on Rev. So that’s end of our section one, but we want to make sure that we cover some rapid fire questions in our section two before we let you go. So there is my favorite part. There are like same set of questions we ask every guest. So let’s start with question number one.
[00:47:28] There name one book that you already loved in the recent. . One book Founding Sales by Pete Kaan started the modern sales professionals community for Revs. He found, he founded a company himself, talent bin. Then he sold it and he was an engineer and he is like, I wanna fix sales for, for startups. And he wrote a book about it and it’s a fantastic book if you’ve not read it.
[00:47:49] Yeah, I have read it. I am a big fan of Pete’s work. . Yeah, yeah. I’m part of MSP as well. , yeah. Yeah. There you go. So, yeah, that’s a great recommendation. Question number two, what’s the favorite part of working [00:48:00] in sales ops? Uh, favorite part of working in sales ops. I mean, especially in startups, you know, just knowing because of the fact that we touch so many different parts of the organization.
[00:48:09] I love that. Right, like you’re not just interfacing with sales, you’re interfacing with, like I said, product finance. You’re talking to the ete, you’re talking to marketing, you’re talking to all these different parts of the organization, and everything that you’re doing is driving the business in a way, you know, driving everything forward in the business in a, in a positive way.
[00:48:28] So you know that everything that you’re doing has an outcome that is going to drive the success of the company. I think that’s what I love the most. So if I ask you favorite part, I need to ask you the least favorite part as well. So what would that be? I don’t know, there’s always little things that go wrong, right?
[00:48:43] Least favorite part is like when something has gone wrong, that, that again, like in that, in that sense of remaining invisible, right? Like, I know it’s wrong, but then no one else sees it, but I know it’s wrong and I want to fix it. You know? And then it’s like, those kinds of things really frustrate me. So like having [00:49:00] to like, you know, whack those moles, you know, whack a mole, uh, you know, uh, when it, when it, no one else knows that something is wrong.
[00:49:07] Um, but you do, uh, I hate that . Yeah. It’s a heavy burden to live with and then Yeah. Until that’s fixed are taken care of and yeah. I mean, being in Rev op you get exposed to a lot of data, a lot of things, a lot of issues. So yeah, it’s quite natural to see some of these things pop up. Yeah. So who’s your go to Rev leader that you personally look up to and why?
[00:49:30] Oh, rev leader. I love Pete, right? Pika, Angie, you know, when I got introduced, so it’s funny. Um, I could tell my Pika Andy story cuz it’s actually kinda a cool story. So, Pete and I connected via First Round Capital. First Round Capital approached me I think in 2014. Um, they had heard the story about me at Yammer and they wanted to tell it.
[00:49:54] They were like, this is a great story. We’d love to do it. We’d love to interview you and do this article in our blog. And so there’s an [00:50:00] article out there if you go look at the first, first round blog and I think it’s called a Sales Operations Done Right or something like that. Um, and they did this really long article about my history, you know, of what I did at Yammer.
[00:50:10] And in the midst of doing that, um, they were like, Hey, you should really meet Pete Ka Angie. Uh, he just sold this company and he’s an engineer, but he’s really trying to understand and figure out sales for startups. And so I met Pete and Pete was like, oh yeah, I’m gonna have this dinner. We’re gonna do this dinner, and I’m bringing all these rev ops people together and we’re gonna talk Rev ops and you know, people, they aren’t gonna have to reinvent the wheel, right?
[00:50:30] Cause everyone runs into the same problems and we’re all gonna share like what things are working, what things aren’t. And so he got us together for this dinner at the first round office. And again, this is like back in 2014, I wanna say 20 14, 20 15, um, that dinner, there were like 20 or 30 people that were all revamps, all in San Francisco.
[00:50:48] That is what turned into Modern Sales Pros. So if you look at Modern Sales Pros today, it’s like 15,000 people on this mailing list. That whole thing started from 2030 people at the [00:51:00] first round Capital office having dinner with Pete cuz Pete just wanted to get a bunch of sales op people together to talk about talk shop.
[00:51:06] You know, and so that really, you know, from a leadership, you know, when you look at a leader, you know, he really created a community that has now blossomed into this amazing, uh, thing that is modern Sales Pros that I just absolutely love and am forever grateful for in the ways that it’s helped me and the things that have led, you know, to, to the successes that I’ve had in my career.
[00:51:26] Yeah, lovely. A great story there. I was not aware that , it used to be a 2030 member community back in 2014. Yeah, it was like 20, 30 people. We had dinner in the first round office. It was like a big square. Like we all sat in a circle and I think we broke into groups and it was like, tackle this problem, how would you do it?
[00:51:44] And then talk about what you do at your company and tell someone else you know, how to solve the problem. And then you could bring problems. You could be like, well, here’s a problem I’m running into, and then someone else could talk about how they solved it. You know, that’s really how that the whole, how the whole modern sales format, modern Sales Pros format got started.
[00:51:59] Yeah. [00:52:00] Awesome. Yeah. So moving to the next question, what’s an advice that you received from someone that has stayed with you? . Wow. Okay. Um, I, I think if I go back to my story about Phil Bradley, right, and, and how he identified that, uh, you know, I was in sales, but I needed to make a shift, right? I was, you know, mid-career.
[00:52:20] I was 37 and he saw in me that I wasn’t doing something that I was really passionate. Or not that he identified that I really needed to pursue my passion as my career, right? He understood that I had a really strong passion for sales ops and I wasn’t identifying that I needed to make a career change in order to pursue that.
[00:52:42] So, you know, understanding what your passion is and, and being able to follow it in a career, um, I think is the best advice that anybody could give you. And it doesn’t really apply to sales ops, it could be anything. Here’s a story I could tell you. So one of the companies I worked for back in [00:53:00] 2000, I, I went to work for this company called Extreme Networks.
[00:53:03] They were the first company that came out with gigabit ethernet. And when I went to interview, I met with the recruiter, I forget his name, I should really remember this guy’s name cuz it was a great piece of advice. One of the questions he asked me in the interview process, he’s like, if you had all the money in the world, let’s say money wasn’t an issue, but you had to work 40 hours a week doing something, what would it be?
[00:53:26] and I was like, gosh, I don’t know. I, I would probably play hockey all day, right? Like, you know, I, I would play hockey. Yeah. And he was like, that’s a really good answer. And then I was like, that’s really, but why do you ask that question? I always ask the question back, right? And he says, I ask that question as part of the process because he would watch for people that say, I want, I want to go start my own company.
[00:53:49] I want to go be the president. I wanna be the VP of sales. I wanna be the cro. He told me like, people that answer the question that way are, are diluting themselves and they’re not [00:54:00] self-aware. Because if money wasn’t an issue, you wouldn’t want to go start your own company. You wouldn’t wanna go be the president or the CEO or the VP of sales.
[00:54:09] You’d wanna go do something that you love. Right. And so he always used that question as an indicator of whether somebody was, was delusional or self-aware of the direction that they were heading in. And so, extreme Networks went on to be a very successful company and ended up becoming a 20 billion company, became very successful.
[00:54:29] People that were there early, did very well financially, including him. And I wanna say years later, I found him on, on LinkedIn. I reached back out to him and I’m like, oh. Because in the interview process I asked him, I’m like, okay, well tell me what would you do? You know, obviously recruiting isn’t something you would do full time.
[00:54:47] And he says, I’d, I’d write science fiction, right? I’m like, oh, right. Science fiction. That’s very interesting. So years later, after, you know, after Extreme became very successful, I tracked him down. He was writing science fiction books. He had just finished his [00:55:00] second science fiction book. So, you know, pursuing your passion, you know, aligning what you do day to day with what your passion is, you know, the more you can do that, I think the more happier you’re gonna be.
[00:55:11] And I think that’s really the, the, the thing that I learned from that, you know, interview. The thing that I learned from Phil Bradley is, you know, if you don’t love what you’re doing, stop doing it and go do the things that you love. So are you still trying to play hockey when money’s not a concern? so, so pandemic kind of shut that down.
[00:55:32] Um, and then I’ve kind of gotten old. I, I need to get my hip replaced. I have a bad hip, so I can’t really ice skate right now. And so I gotta go get my hip replaced. Once I get my hip replaced, I, I’ll try to get back on the ice. Yeah. Yeah. So if it’s not hockey, what’s going to be for you? Oh my gosh. If it’s not hockey, what do I enjoy doing?
[00:55:50] Uh, well, the other thing I started doing in pandemic, it was funny. I had done my family tree, right? My mom didn’t really know her dad’s side of the family. And I, I did my family tree like 15 years ago, [00:56:00] and I found that I really enjoyed doing it. It’s like a puzzle, right? And you gotta find all the different clues to get all the pieces put together.
[00:56:06] Um, and then during pandemic, um, you know, uh, I started Donut at Lean Data and Donut is this thing in, in Slack. It’s kind of cool. If you’re not using it, check it out. It’s a free service. And then if you, if you get too many people in it, you gotta pay. But it’s really worth it if you, if you like it and it just randomly pairs you with someone else in the company.
[00:56:24] Right? And so I started Donut at Lean Data because I started right when the pandemic started and I didn’t get to know anybody in person. So I’m like, man, I wanna get to know people. So I started Donut. So in doing donut, I, I, whoever I got paired with, I would offer to do their family tree. And so for fun, I do family trees, so I’ll just.
[00:56:42] Yeah. And so like the first person I did, like, I found out that her, her mom went to high school with my dad. You know, things like that, you know, all these little random things I’d find out about people, uh, that they didn’t know about their own family. It’s been a lot of fun for me. And then, you know, being able to share that with people and then have them share that with their family, you [00:57:00] know, knowing what their history is, where they came from, you know, what their background is.
[00:57:03] Uh, it’s, it’s been, it’s been a fun thing. I’d probably do family trees. Yeah. That sounds fun. And that’s first of it’s kind. I have not heard that before. Yeah. So that’s a very interesting hobby to pursue. So Don, we are there at the last question now. What would be the parting advice you’ll give to our audience, especially for the folks who’re starting the career in or would want to like become a VP RevOps in future, just like you did.
[00:57:26] What would be one piece of advice to them? You know, I would say be flexible. If you look at my background, if you want my job, you know, I’m in partnerships now, but, but you know, everything I’ve done has led up to, to a lot of the success that I see today is because I’ve been flexible in, in doing different things.
[00:57:44] I, I enjoy working at startups, so I, I’ve never really specialized in any one thing. You know, what I try to specialize in is having a broad view of understanding the revs function from end to end. You know, knowing that it’s not just [00:58:00] sales, it touches all these other parts of the organization as revs, you really own the customer journey, you know, making sure that it’s an amazing experience from the moment they become a.
[00:58:10] Marketing lead through becoming a renewing customer. Um, you know, if you make sure that those handoffs, you know, from a, from a Rob’s perspective, making sure that those handoffs are seamless. Everyone always has good context of understanding. You know, when they be, when they get handed off to another part of your organization, they have the full context of what they’re, what they’re doing, what they’re trying to solve for, you know, what, what is it they’re, they’re trying to accomplish using your product or service.
[00:58:32] You know, that, that, having that broad experience and, and being able to work with different parts of the organization, you know, that has really led up to, you know, being able to do what I do today. Um, so, you know, Not having to specialize. I mean, obviously if you want to go into a larger company, you do, you do need to specialize.
[00:58:50] So again, find the thing that you really enjoy doing if you wanna specialize in something, um, so that you can leverage that into being happy and being able to be specialized in that [00:59:00] role. Um, so, you know, I I’d say be flexible. You know, just know, know that, you know, day to day is you have to be able to, you can choose to be happy in what you’re doing, right?
[00:59:11] Um, and, and to be able to find that happiness, you gotta have that flexibility, uh, to, to see the light, uh, to be able to, to stay positive. That’s really what I would say is, is to have, have that flexibility to adapt to whatever’s happening in your organization. Yeah. Dawn, it was amazing to talk to you today.
[00:59:28] Thanks for being so candid and sharing such great insights for our listeners. It was so much fun. You have a good day ahead and thanks again for being on the revenue launch. Yeah, my pleasure. Thank you.
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