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Director of Revenue Operations: Kory Geyer of 6sense

Kory Geyer jumped onto Sales Operations Demystified to share his knowledge and experience in Sales Operations.
Check out all the other episodes of Sales Operations Demystified here.
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Tom: Welcome to another very special episode of Sales Ops Demystified, we’re joined by Kory Geyer of 6sense. Now, Kory is someone who has very extensive experience across sales operations and now revenue operations at companies such as Appirio, if I’m saying that right.

Kory Geyer: You got it.


Tom: Close to five years there running sales operations, and now more recently at 6sense. Let’s dig into this. Kory, how did you originally get into sales operations?

Kory: Yes, definitely, Tom. First of all, I’d like to say thanks for having me. I think this is such a great forum, it’s so easy to find podcasts on sales and how to be a good sales rep, how to be a good sales manager. It’s very difficult to find good podcasts on people that support sales such as this so thanks for putting this together. I spent the first 13 years of my career in IT consulting, various roles, carrying a bag, sales management, running a practice, actually being a consultant so all kinds of different roles inside of IT consulting. I definitely knew that business.

Then at Appirio, which is now owned by Wipro. They’re a large top salesforce consulting firm. They were looking to build a sales ops and enablement function. While I didn’t have any direct experience, they liked my background in both sales and in consulting, so they gave me a chance, and the rest is history.

Tom: Awesome. That was a new role that you joined, you weren’t working there before. They were recruiting, liked the fact that you had a sales background and that you had this business experience and thought that was a good combination to bring you in.

Kory: Yes, they were new to sales operations and enablement. They didn’t have a formal function like many growing organizations, they’re doing it in pockets, cross to finance and marketing and other roles. They liked the fact that I could work cross functional because I knew the business so well.

Tom: Got it. Then because you were there for I know five years, right?

Kory: That’s correct.

Tom: There were [unintelligible 00:02:14] the sales ops team, when you joined and then when you left, how many people in the operations, sales ops team and how many reps or AEs were you as a whole team?

Kory: At Appirio, when I left, there was nine people in sales operations and enablement. We had two people dedicated mostly on enablement and then the other six people focused on operations, crossing line a little bit into marketing ops in the sense of sourcing a lot of different marketing data, helping to maintain data. That was across 80 quarter reps and then we also in consulting you have a role that’s focused on account management, it’s paired up with the reps too, they also carry quota, so altogether about 120 people.

Tom: Nice, and then the move to 6sense, would that have a tie to the revenue operations role? Or it was, “Okay, cool.” Was there a rationale in shifting from sales operations to revenue operations?

Kory: I think if you watch what’s going on, whether you want to call it sales operations, marketing ops, rev ops, rev acceleration I think is the new term I’m hearing now. That there’s definitely going to be a blend across the entire revenue cycle. Especially in the B2B space when you think about B2B account base which is all what 6sense does, we have a platform for account-based sales and marketing.

It’s a very grey area when it comes to what is sales versus what’s marketing, what’s success. It just kind of logically made sense. We are also starting the function. Whether you want to call it sales operations or rev ops, we’re starting the function. I report to the head of sales and that was kind of by design because we have been doing a lot of onboarding, doing a lot of ramping. We want to build a lot of systems, sales activity type systems.

The person that helped hire me was my former boss at Appirio who’s our CMO. There’s definitely a tie there. Then we don’t have official revenue office, CRO today so we’re small, we’re a highly collaborative team. I report to the head of sales, have a data line to marketing, as well as a data line to head of customer success. This makes sense logically. We had a couple of other people that do support, digital and demand and marketing ops that are starting to fold and roll under me.

Tom: Got it, and how many people in the ops team versus how many reps again the same question?

Kory: Up until two months ago, it was just myself and a contractor, tech support. Now I recently hired two additional people. One person to focus on enablement. We’re doing lots of onboarding, so he’s highly focused on onboarding both BDRs as well as AEs. Then the second person really focused on the tech stack. We have open roles, we’re hiring more.

In terms of reps, we have 20 Quota carrying AEs that are out in the field today. When I started that was nine people so we’ve doubled that in eight or nine months. Then we have, obviously, our customer success team as well as pre-sales altogether. It’s about 40-45 people. Then we are hiring a SaaS team camp, I’m looking for good talent, a little bit of advertisement, but we’re looking to double all those roles well in the next 12 months.

Tom: Got it, and you mentioned where you have a resource focus on tech stack. Could you outline the 6sense approach to sales technology?

Kory: How much time do you have? We have lots of tech. We’re a B2B SaaS company, so we like our technology, our salesforce, sales cloud, all things sales. We have built a custom Salesforce app for customer success management. That’s managing all of our customer adoption plans, our use case management, things like that.

We heavily use our own platform, 6sense. Just to break that down quickly. Territory Planning when we hire a new rep. Trying to figure out what are the right accounts to go after, that’s 6sense. All the firmographics that we’re doing. Doing programmatic contact buys as part of a large sales or marketing campaign. We do that as well. Display Ads falls under 6sense. Then all the of account intense segmentation that we’re doing is 6sense sales intelligence, notifying sales, letting them know what’s going on inside that account. Then also, all the sales orchestration, getting all that intel that’s going on and then sending that over to SalesLoft. We use SaleLoft to be able to kick off cadences for BDRs and AEs.

That’s 6sense, mentioned SalesLoft we’re using that for prospecting outreach, running all those cadences. We do have a Seamless– If you’ve heard of Seamless AI for one-off contact research at the BDR level. We’re looking into other solutions for that as well. LinkedIn Sales Nav, I think that’s table stakes anymore. Gong, we have gong. Gong, by the way, was probably one of the easiest adoptions I’ve ever got. That’s another side story. Had a lot success with Gong for recording and enablement and coaching.

We just implemented Lessonly for sales learning management, onboarding, tracking, coaching, onset of a learning management system.

We do have a tool called Media Fly that’s an ROI calculation value story tool. We also are in the process of implementing Uberflip, LeanData and Salesforce CPQ. I told you, how long do you have? At the end of the day, our sales leadership team understands the value of technology. A lot of it comes down to what’s the highest priority need and really making sure there’s a strong sponsorship there for this technology stack, both on the management side as well as the rep side, early on during the evaluation process of these technologies as well as even piloting early on.

We look at lots of different technology. We’ll mention that looking forward, we are starting to explore, like how can we get more disciplined around deal management, deal health, deal analytics, strategic account planning, things like that. That’s in the horizon. Three to six months out, we’ll start look at those types of solutions. .

Tom:  Got it, A very comprehensive tech stack. Moving on to data quality, I assume that fits with your team, the data part and salesforce. What are you currently doing to maintain or improve the data you have in CRM?

Kory:  We’ve built quite a culture around data hygiene at the sales level. We have the luxury of our own platform because we are a data company. We’re a Big Data and AI company, so all of our reps, when they’re interviewed they understand the value of data. That kind of starts at account contact level trying to help maintain that data. That’s the first and foremost thing.

I think you’ve had other people on your podcast talk about the importance of that and I would totally agree. Also, then from a back-end standpoint, we do have a tool. There’s lots of tools out there, but we use Cloudingo for account merging and converting and that type of thing.

We are also in the process of trying to figure out get a data team going. Whether that is a full-time data analyst we hire internally, there’s other solutions out there. There’s a company called DataBees that were researching. It has a whole set of data analysts out there that you can hire on demand. That is also something we’re looking at from the back-end standpoint.

Tom: Got it. I really like what you said about building culture around data hygiene. Moving on to the way you work with the sales team. I guess the question is, how are you able to build the culture and incentivize the sales team to do that work which could be viewed as for you not necessarily for them?

Kory:  What I like to do is really get to the actual rep to be involved in the evaluation process. I’ll pick on Gong, I mentioned that one earlier. When we were evaluating that, there’s lots of different solutions when you look at recording and enablement solutions of recording those calls.

Gong made it very easy, demoed all the reps. We stood up a pilot. In fact, when we ran this pilot for 30 days, all before any type of contracts getting signed, we had our sales reps coming back to us saying, “We cannot turn this off.” I realize that’s maybe exception to the rule, it’s hard to get that with a lot of solutions, but if you think forward to something that reps hate, like configure, price, quote, building estimates, all that stuff. When we’re looking at rolling that out, we’re going to take a similar approach. Trying to really get a couple reps that are senior reps, reps that are really light in the organization and trying to get them to actually help deliver the training, help talk about why they’re excited about this solution, so that’s first and foremost.

The other thing I would say is constant communication. Now, we have the luxury that we hold all sales [unintelligible 00:12:34] calls every single Monday. We’re always doing a little bit of a showcase into a given process or given a technology that we think needs more attention, as well as always sending out Slack updates. Here’s a good example of how rep got benefit out of using this solution, just that constant drip of communication.

Tom: Cool. Then what are we doing to make the reps more productive at the moment?

Kory: Well, I mentioned we’re really trying to onboard lots of reps. Maybe start there, we’re just onboarding. We’re in the process of building out a comprehensive like typical 12-week type onboarding program. A lot of that does involve self-paced training, so we’ve taken a lot of content that we’ve created really in the last six months, various group camps we’ve held and those weekly calls we’ve held where we just record them, and we’re chucking those up into self-paced learning content that reps go through, as well as making sure we have clear milestones.

At this point, we want you to do role play and certification on this topic, or have this many calls reviewed by your manager. Really identifying clear milestones, most importantly, getting those tracks, so that way, their manager’s reminded, “Hey, it’s time to do A, B, and C.” We’ve found that really it’s that manager interaction that we can help facilitate enablement that really drives the best productivity.

Tom: Yes, I think that’s super. I think you’re giving the tools to the manager to help improve productivity. That’s so nice, obviously, at the team scales, it’s going to be hard for the sales ops team to improve productivity of 50 of their reps, so that’s a really nice point. Can we quickly talk about forecasting? What is the forecasting process at the moment, and what is the sales ops team role in that process?

Kory: Yes, we have three different sales teams, field teams. They meet weekly as a team led by their manager. Through the manager’s responsibility, trust that data that’s getting entered into the forecast, we use Salesforce collaborative forecasting as a solution. The manager does have the opportunity to provide their own override from a week to week standpoint.

Then we do meet the following Monday as a leadership team to review that and challenge each other. That is the current quarter. We’re starting to look at, for our future quarters, how we can actually just be more predictive from a pure data standpoint. We had a lot of success in doing this at a period where we would triangulate things like pipe coverage that we have for that period, quarter coverage, attainment rates, and triangulate different metrics like that to come up and predict within plus and minus 20% a future quarter. Oftentimes, it’s hard to rely directly on the deal data for future periods.

Tom: Got it. Then next, I want to talk about the KPI that you’re measuring. Actually, the question I’d like to ask is, from your extensive experiences in sales ops, what has been a really valuable or insightful metric?

Kory: There’s been some really good ones. I’ve listened to a lot of the podcasts from other guests you’ve had, some really really good ones. We’re not doing this today, but I love the one where a guy, [unintelligible 00:16:20] you had on was talking about measuring the individual attainment rates by reps at the manager level. The count of reps [unintelligible 00:16:31]. That was great insight.

One big one that we’re focused on, we’re seeing a lot of value on from a ramped rep perspective is deal velocity. We’ve done a lot of analysis on our various stages. We have a methodology similar to Medic. We sit there and say, “Okay, from stage zero, all the way up to stage two which is qualified, we know that the best deals go through an X amount of days, and then each stage on forward.” We can track all that.

We actually put that directly into the forecast app, so when you’re looking at that deal, you can actually have the manager analyze that as well as we’re notifying reps when deals “become a risk”, purely off velocity. You can imagine it’d be even more powerful if you would combine that plus relationship health, like activity flow back and forth, we’d start to get really powerful.

Tom: Got it. You’re saying that the manager, during the forecasting meeting, can see the velocity of each deal in the forecast and therefore ask questions based on the fact that you know, if a deal hasn’t got to stage two in seven days, then it’s unlikely to get stage three.

Kory: That’s right. That’s correct. Just to mention one or two on the onboarding side too, because that is really important for us. I think a lot of companies that are growing right now is, another guest you had on talked about some onboarding metrics. A couple that we closely like to watch is time to first feel that they source. The key part of that is that they source because obviously, a rep could come in, that’s replacing their recent termed rep, take on some active deal cycles, and they can close us pretty quickly and they’re already halfway down the cycle.

A deal that they actually sourced themselves is not new. Then the second metric is the time it takes them to reach to their fully ramped quota for that first quarter. Take a simple example, let’s say a fully ramped quota per rep is 100k, how long does it take them to get to 100k? When you combine those two metrics, average them out, that’s a good way to look at ramp time.

Tom: Got it, and so that is, you come in, take all of the ramping reps and then rank them I guess by those two metrics, and then these people here may need a bit more work on– Nice.

Kory: Yes, definitely.

Tom: Okay, cool. The final question, who in the sales ops revenue ops as well, has inspired you or taught you the most?

Kory: Well, I would say in terms of really helping me understand the space and really take the time and patience to coach me is Chris Heineken. Chris was head of sales at Appirio. He’s also the guy that took a chance on me. Chris really taught me that you really need to make everything simple. Us as folks in operation, we like to get into the nitty-gritty and everything else and Chris is really an expert when it comes time to communicate and try to get adoption, make it as simple as possible. He was always working with me on that.

Chris has now went on to start his own company after Appirio and having a lot of success. I would also say, probably moving forward, I’m really interested in just all the innovation that’s happening around enablement and productivity and a couple of leaders I think that are in that space that I closely follow, that I’d love to get facetime with is a guy, Cory Bray. He’s wrote lots of books and has lots of content on enablement, as well as Eli Cohen, SalesHood book, and he has a whole company around enablement at this point.

Tom: Fantastic. Let me pick a few things. There might’ve been the first time we had the word culture around data, or culture of data quality or data hygiene, and that really sums up. Well, the majority of people ask that question about how everybody is responsible for data quality. You do that by having this culture or this belief that everybody has to do that. I like that little point. Including reps in procurement of new tools, and [unintelligible 00:21:17]

Then the final point was about, instead of potentially trying to improve reps individual productivity, give the managers or equip the managers with the tools to facilitate the productivity for their reps. I think that’s a powerful strategy as well. Kory, thank you so much for your time.

Kory: Thanks, Tom. Appreciate it.

[00:21:48] [END OF AUDIO]