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Sales Ops Demystified: Natasha Neller and Kimberley Warman of Austin Fraser

Natasha Neller and Kimberley Warman jumped onto Sales Operations Demystified to share their knowledge and experience in Sales Operations. In most cases, sales operations manager job descriptions are not always the same. It varies from company’s experience level on their niche and their target individuals. Check out this video and learn more about it.
Check out all the other episodes of Sales Operations Demystified here.
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Interviewer: Hello and welcome to an extra special episode for the sales ops demystified podcast. It’s special for two reasons. This is the first time we’ve ever had two people live in the studio.

Natasha: Sales ops sandwich.

Interviewer: The second reason is all for the first time we’ve had a recruitment company here and we were just discussing before about the challenges of sales ops or almost maybe the non-existence of sales ops departments in recruitment companies. We had a very interesting story here because Natasha and Kimberly actually created the sales ops department in Austin Fraser their recruitment company. Welcome to the show.

Natasha: Thanks for having us.

Interviewer: We’re going to kick off with the first question, how do you guys get into sales ops, it’s quite an interesting route that Austin Fraser and you guys have taken.

Kimberley: Sure, do I go?

Natasha: Yes.

Kimberley: I’ve been with Austin Fraser for nine years this year. I actually came in through the sales route straight from university. I actually have a workforce for Fraser and they’re no different. We’re quite a progressive company so I’ve worked up from a training level to a senior level. We’ve got into a team leadership group, we had quite a small team of three people. About 18 months ago I transferred internally to our central services function. Essentially I was project managing some quite key business projects. That included things like our GDPR project. That was actually a good opportunity for me because it allowed me to interact with every stakeholder in the business.

I learned what was working for them, not working for them, spotting opportunities whilst delivering that project I suppose equally things like absolute integration from a systems point of view and some other tools along the way. That was quite a good start and got to start to understand, hang on here where’s the opportunities where’s the gaps like what’s causing the effect on how we’re working collectively as a business. Then I suppose when you came back from maternity leave we started to work more places together and I’ll let you pick up from there.

Natasha: Thanks. I’ve been at Austin Fraser for seven years. I’ve done a number of jobs so joined in learning developments, set up the learning development function then set up the people and culture function and decided, “Hey let’s set something else up. It’s just what I did.” I stepped away from the people in culture focus and I had a hunger to get back into more of a commercially focused role as well. Similar to Kim, I came back from maternity last year, was handed lots of lovely projects and realized the theme across these projects is sales operations. It’s actually how are we maximizing our sales tools. How are we actually using them effectively? Are they fit for purpose.

Just controlling them, maintaining them all of that stuff is what was handed to us. We’ve been unofficially working on it since well September really officially together and then put the business case together for this new financial year to have a sales ops function. Hi, we were born on the 1st of March.

Interviewer: You got officially recognized by the business on the 1st of March of this year and you have the financial year budget signed on.

Natasha: Yes. We’ve got five key objectives for this year that would take us to the end of this financial period which this year is a short period because we’re moving our financial periods very confusing. By the end of this October, we’ve got quite a lot of stuff to do.

Interviewer: You’re hiring for a–

Natasha: At the moment for this financial period we’ve got to sign up for one person which is a graduate replacement. Anyone out there who wants to join us, we’re looking for an analyst to join us and help create return on investment basic reporting structure across our whole business.

Interviewer: Is there a job description for that, that we can share.

Natasha: Totally.

Interviewer: It will be linked somewhere below this video/audio. Cool. One question about that, so you guys were doing sales operations projects together they weren’t labeled that. How did you realize that actually this was sales operations? Do you Google you’re doing forecasting and you’re sales forecasting and then you saw this stuff about this is actually sales operations?

Kimberley: I think it is this [unintelligible 00:04:17] I think I’ve been set up in doing project stuff for 18 months but I suppose through that work I’ve been speaking to suppliers and they’re going, “Hey guys, we can get some training or we should maybe look at this in a different way.” I didn’t actually know what sale side operations was to be completely honest and it wasn’t until really we kicked off a big BI project. We started opening the can of worms and going around this and routes reading different things. That’s when we started to learn this is a thing.

Natasha: We realized there was such confusion around who owned what, who was taking accountability for what who was driving what. We realized there is no one doing that actually, let’s look at this. Hang on the themes our sales tools, our sales tech stack.

Kimberley: Driving efficiency.

Natasha: Yes driving efficiency to measuring it. If we get to a point where we’re looking to renew a contract with a supplier, it’s like, “Do we need this? Has it worked?” It’s been gut-feel historically. We definitely got some stuff from that, “Let’s go for it.” Whereas now, I guess, bring us here over the last couple of months, we’re able to pull out. “Actually, this is what we’ve got from it. This is what’s worked. This is our recommendations”, so then we can make informed decisions as a business whether we’ll renew a tool or not.

Interviewer: On that point, where’s the current sales tech stack?

Natasha: Which country?

Kimberley: I think, as Neller was alluding to, we’ve got quite a [unintelligible 00:05:38] quote from a common ground perspective, we use Bullhorn CRM which is equipment-specific.

Interviewer: For everybody?

Kimberley: Correct.

Interviewer: How many countries are we in and how many people we’ll just–?

Kimberley: We have three countries and we have 152 sales staff, 200 staff, and how many office locations?

Natasha: We’re in three countries. We’ve got three offices in America, we’re just about to open two more over the next six months. We’ve got three offices in Germany, which we will be hopefully opening up in the next 12 months or so. Then we’ve got Reading in the UK as our headquarters for the whole UK.

Interviewer: Sure. For the ratio, I’ve been trying to track the operations personnel to salespeople ratio. Because you’re one of the highest at 1 to 75. I think we’ve had before 1 to 80. He was actually a guest, I think he was Mattias, he was on the chat. There’s two of you, there’s 155 salespeople–

Natasha: Currently, soon to be– Well, as staff–

Host: Soon to be 400?

Natasha: Yes. [laughs]

Host: We’re going to grow our sales department, aren’t we?

Natasha: Yes. Let’s hope so.


Kimberley: We’re growing very quickly.

Host: Over the three countries, Bullhorn is used throughout?

Kimberley: Correct.

Host: What else?

Kimberley: We also globally use Broadbean, which is a parsing tech tool. InsightSquared is our BI tool. Then we’ve got a few different ones country to country. Obviously, in Germany, we use Ebsta, we don’t use that anywhere else. We’ve got things like SourceBreaker in the US and the UK, but not in Germany.

Host: What does SourceBreaker do?

Kimberley: SourceBreaker is quite a cool deposit technology, it’s like smart searching. It just basically allows you to do one wider-reach search of candidates and leads, basically, and will allow you to compare job flows through your systems. It’s just more of an argument tool, a wider-reaching tool so that you can catch people quicker and faster. It’s quite cool.

Natasha: Obviously, as of last week, globally, we now have Audro as a service tool.

Host: The video thing?

Natasha: Yes.

Host: Can you talk a little bit about that? It’s pretty cool.

Kimberley: It’s very cool.

Natasha: Yes. I guess, the way of the world, everything is becoming more video, even our internal comms. For those of you who follow us on Instagram or on LinkedIn would have seen yesterday, we did our second all-hands comms which our CEO talks to every country, every office, live, and we actually broadcast it live. If anyone else, externally, wanted to see it as well.

Host: Nice.

Natasha: Which is pretty cool. The way of the world, the way our business is going is more video, so we decided to consider video recruitment tools that we could utilize with clients and enable them to have that service when they’re recruiting. After much consideration, we went with Audro who are amazing.

Host: Were you guys driving that?

Kimberley: Yes, we owned the project from start to finish.

Host: This is your baby?

Kimberley: It’s our first baby.


It’s our first child together.

Natasha: Our first child. Where it came from originally was– Our CEO who is one of our co-founders, Derek Simpson, he was tapped up by Audro, classic BD, and he was like, “I know this is something we need”, but he was like, “What do I do with this? Where do I go with it?” He’s our CDO, he hasn’t got the time to deal with this. Again, another reason for the sales operation function like ours. Hello.

Host: Bringing on the dream team.

Natasha: Yes. We brought it alive. After considering other, I guess, suppliers, we’ve gone with Audro because it’s just so easy. What I love about it is it’s two elements. One, is they’re offering a video interview, you can do it for a private conference room if you like for candidates and clients with no need to sign up to anything. What we also love is capture, which is basically a business development element where you record yourself and you send it via LinkedIn or you send it on email. Today, we’ve had our first deal off the back of it in one week.

Kimberley: In less than a week.

Host: The ROI is looking good.

Natasha: Yes, loving them.

Kimberley: We’re like, “Keep going.” [laughs]

Natasha: At the moment, we’ve got a variety of tech that is global and local. I guess that’s off the back of, historically, if you are head of sales in that country, you’ve had a lot of autonomy to just buy what you want, when you want because it’s sat within your budget. I guess with the creation of us, we’re now going, “Cool. Do we need that? How are we using it? What’s working? What’s not working? Actually, are you the best person to make that decision now, or are you a key stakeholder?

Kimberley: To add to that as well where the guys at sales aren’t actually really busy. We’ve got large teams now. We have seen more of a focus to be able to go, how do we get more out of it. That marginal gains need to go, if we can get 10% we’ll squeeze 10% more out of that. Actually what’s the knock-on effect from the bottom line which is obviously a massive value add from a business, from efficiency and the profitability point of view.

Interviewer: If you 150 sales people and you’re making 2%.

Kimberley: 100% yes.

Interviewer: Big gains. Moving on from video to data quality, how are we currently doing with that?

Natasha: Good question.

Kimberley: I think data quality is actually a really interesting topic. I think is that our business no one’s specifically owned it. You’ve got 50 strong central services team like the finance, commercial and legal and the sales talent L&D. Everyone in their own pockets have been responsible or accountable for quality. We haven’t really looked at it from a holistic business perspective.

Interviewer: Until now.

Kimberley: We put it in our training, we have quite a vigorous training. We have the saying if it’s not tract, it’s not fact and that’s the funny thing to try and drive that behavior. What I find quite interesting about data quality is that it all comes back to what does good actually look like and that can vary massively depending on who the individual is, who the business is, who the team is and I suppose having looked at a lot of stuff and tried to read on it, I’ve never found an answer to what good looks like it. It’s always been what is important.

It’s us going through that process with the right people commercial marketing sales to define what good looks like and then we can get to that point where we can police that a little a bit more.

Natasha: That is one of our big projects for this year and next year. We’re about to literally just this week have commenced one of our biggest objectives which is just CRM reviewing so as a sales ops team we need to present to the exec team at the end of this financial period what our recommendations are for the CRM and those things connected to it.

Interviewer: Then switching away potentially switching away from Bullhorn?

Natasha: That is one option. Not the preferred. No just because it is embedded and it is recruitment specific and it’s like it’s a market leader. It hasn’t been reconfigured for many years we currently have four instances so we don’t have a global CRM. We have one for each country which is now as we’re growing is massively limiting our ability to offer a global approach to a client that’s just horrendous. Option one, a different CRM, option two is we stay as we are but we clean it up with more of an AF best practice or standard if you like and then OC is we bring them together.

Kimberley: Quite big decisions to be made.

Natasha: Big decisions. We’ve got between now and October to research that cost that come up with timelines and everything else. The joy of presenting that to the exec team in October and I get along with that. That for me is as we then start that project, the quality is going to be coming into that what our salads are, what should be our configuration, what is mandatory. What’s the level that we expect. If you speak to a client, what’s the minimum you should put on the database with the guys on that call.

Interviewer: You’re going to be driving that project once it gets approved, it’s going to be yours.

Natasha: I don’t know if I want to say that live on the podcast. I think we will be the drivers behind that but there are a number of key people. For example, our commercial and legal team are actually starting to build a quality team. Our commercial and legal team have contract to care which I guess is the aftercare for all our contracts that are working for us and clients. Then we play a big part in this. We’ve also got our VP of Finance who is just about to move to America. Just his financial and analytical mind he’s going to be a key project team member as well. [crosstalk] Yes, and I just think for anything that is to land you need to do it as a collective otherwise it won’t.

Interviewer: I want to focus on influencing salespeople. Almost every interview I do someone will mention how important it is to develop soft skills that can get people to do things. You guys just brought out this video tool and it seems like adoption’s going well. How did you do that?

Natasha: There’s two things. The first thing that we’re really lucky to have and we can’t rest on it is our background. We’ve both done recruitment, I’ve been in it 12 years Kim’s been in it 9. Kim’s obviously done it. She’s been amongst the troops with the guys. I think that helps us massively we speak their language. Also when we look at something we go well doesn’t work. We’re not coming at it from an analytical or a project manager or BA perspective. We’re coming from a sales perspective.

Interviewer: You have credibility in their eyes because you’ve done it for like eight years.

Kimberley: I think fundamentally having worked in sales for quite a long time and the way I see our role it’s ultimately to make their job easier and more efficient so they have more opportunity to make more money. That’s all they care about, right? Sales people care about making more money.

Interviewer: You talk their language.

Kimberley: Talk their language yes.

Natasha: Obviously I think about what so– I think my strapline on my LinkedIn at the top is about enabling our salespeople to be the best that they can be. If to the best for them is I’m going to make the most money, cool. Some people that’s not their driver. Some it’s about they genuinely want to be the best and deliver the best service or whatever. I feel like anything we do in sales ops should not be limiting. You said earlier it’s about removing, improving.

Kimberley: What does it add? What does it improve or what does it remove are the three key questions that anything that we onboard we need to go how does this enable us to raise the bar because we are constantly a type of company that we love to raise the bar often.

Natasha: I think also it’s about also I guests because I’ve done L&D and Kim’s obviously trained stuff as well. That’s a big part as well. How do you learn something? How do you bring the audience on board? Again we’ve got that experience which is great. You said their adoption’s gone well yes we’re having some wins from it after week one but actually, we know there could be more. Even today before we came, the last thing we did was we pulled all the leaders into a room we booked to meet in, 30-minute meeting with all the leaders. We had a really open conversation we go cool we’ve had a week. Is the usage where we want it to be? No, it’s not where we all agreed.

What more do you need from us? What more do you need from the supplier? What’s stopping you from pushing this out? Just asking the questions, they came up with some really valuable feedback on things that we can learn and also telling us what more they would need for us. Also then them going, actually we probably should do some more of this ourselves. Don’t shy away from– If stuff is not working, just have a conversation about it. We could have left it another week but catch it while, what’s that saying catch it while it hot?

Kimberley: If we’re taking [unintelligible 00:17:10] example we’ve been really keen to take everyone on a journey from starting with the top down, so that we agreed very clear like how do you want to use it. What do we want to get out of it? What’s it going to offer to our candidates, our clients, our communities our consultants. Really having those conversations top down so we can articulate that in the right way from a training point of view or from a management point of view and just make sure that everyone’s on point with the message and why we’re trying to use it.

Natasha: We already had in our mind why would you use it and what we think it should be but it’s about then engaging them and they ought to come up with something that will improve it.

Interviewer: Do you currently have a process for onboarding new consultants?

Kimberley: I think we’re really fortunate where we have a solid L&D team.

Interviewer: This was your work right?

Kimberley: Yes. Slightly.

Natasha: It has changed a lot now since I do it but we’ve got some really great people in there now they’re just smashing our parks.

Interviewer: If I joined it before and I have a structured program.

Natasha: Yes, absolutely.

Kimberley: If you’re a consultant you’d have a welcome week or specific onboarding plan. Most of the people we recruit into the business are salespeople and if you were a sales ops person you’d have a slightly different onboarding plan. From a sales perspective, they didn’t have quite a vigorous training schedule if you like. We call it S1. That’s really like all the technical elements in their role or the seven elements and their role. Like how you pitch, how you converse with a client, objection handling for example. It just doesn’t just stop there. It is all practical. They have a bit of an apprenticeship pack if you like. Make sure they explain their competencies they work on with their manager.

They have a mentor on desk or a manager to support that.

Natasha: Before we went live, I guess we were talking about a recruitment business and having a sales operations function with a recruitment business where maybe we’ve kind of been late on the uptake of a sales ops function in comparison to other sales organizations. We obviously were saying that a lot of the sales companies we’ve heard on here or at the meetups that we’ve been going, they’re not recruitment businesses. Sales ops seems to be one of the first functions that they’re bringing in for I guess where we’ve maybe not done that. One of the things we absolutely do is invest in the people side. We’ve had L&D from the word go basically as a business. It’s very mature L&D offering.

Interviewer: You think that’s more common in recruitment companies?

Natasha: Yes. From my experience, you start a recruitment company [crosstalk] you get into talent acquisition consultant who normally covers both L&D and talent acquisition. Once it gets bigger they then split those two. That seems to be what I see a lot. It’s about developing the sales guys to be the best sales guys they can be no matter what tools they’ve got.

Kimberley: I think what I love about the L&D function is not just the onboarding piece. We have programs from the duration of that individual’s career. Be it that, “You’re a trainee, then you get to consultant, then you get to senior, principal leadership training [crosstalk] that’s the whole way through.”

Interviewer: Our recruitment company is really good at this. We do have a question from the audience. Let me just get that up. “Hi, guys,” from Liam.

Kimberley and Natasha: Hi. [chuckles]

Interviewer: Hi, Liam. How are you? If you have any questions, anybody watching, just ping them in the chat. Summary, recruitment companies normally have the onboarding pretty much nailed down. One more question there?

Natasha: Not for every recruitment company, but I definitely get the impression that something by the name [unintelligible 00:20:44] Obviously in Fraser nails it.

Interviewer: How long would you typically expect it from someone joining to them being 90% productive?

Kimberley: I think we try and get people up and running in three months, but from experience, I’d say for someone to be really good at their trade, it takes 12 to 18 months. I think the beauty of it, and it’s probably the same for other sales business, you can go as quickly or slowly as you need to, but I think that three month is cool. let’s get you contributing and trained, et cetera, but actually to be at that next layer or level from a senior point onwards, you need to have 18 months on.

Interviewer: Sure. You currently have 155 salespeople in 3 countries.

Kimberley: Yes.

Interviewer: What are you doing to try and boost their productivity?

Kimberley: Good question.

Natasha: Purely from the sales ops perspective?

Interviewer: Yes, just what are you two doing.

Natasha: I guess there’s been so much that we’ve been looking at. If I take a step back, the first thing we were going to do is go, “Okay, what tools have we actually got, who are our suppliers, and what can we get from our suppliers that we’re not already getting.” For example, I know a number of our suppliers actually offer us free training and free consultancy to come and enable us to maximize those tools that we’ve never done before. We’re starting to have conversations, build those relationships with suppliers because you never have them. We’ve been working with them for years.

Ebsa is an example of that where we’ve had you guys for years and we’re just plodding on, but actually, what more could we be learning from you to maximize that tool, and then actually pass that knowledge onto the sales guys in whatever format that is appropriate. Whether that’d be passing it out on to L&Ds that it is literally gospel when it’s in there forever, whether that’d be one-off workshops.

Already, for example, with Audro, we’ve done that basic training to roll it out. We were already talking about once people are up and running with it, in six weeks time, there’ll be a sales ops-led short shop training sessions maybe that are with the sales leaders so we can partner up and do it.

I guess maximizing our tools, utilizing supplier information and supplier knowledge is a big one. Running training sessions ourselves. It’s also about knowledge. At the moment, a number of our sales tools, we just use. LinkedIn Recruiter is one of our most costly tools that we have across our business. Everyone uses it. Everyone knows you get business from it, but up until sales ops are put together, or actually the months before we put together, Kim for the first time actually pulled off the dashboard and shared it with people to show what key things are great in terms of how we’re using it, but also what we’re not doing.

I think that’s the thing is information. As a leader, I can then make a call on actually what can I do with my guys to drive this. For example, our email response back from people is lower than actually we’d like it to be or lower than the recommended amount from LinkedIn, which again, what’s that supposed to be? Do we even know what that is? For me, it’s those three.

Kimberley: I think that’s where there’s that disconnect between sales and LD, it’s been before. It’s like cool, sales, they’ve only have implemented it, they do sales, but L&D training but actually what information are we capturing and feeding back so we can catch trends early so we can loop that back into L&D, so we can loop that back into sales so actually it doesn’t become an issue. We can catch it early and we can deal with it earlier basically.

Interviewer: Will you say though a core part of your role is going to these tools, understanding actually what’s happening in the data, no one’s doing that before, and then using that to make decisions to make people more productive?

Natasha: Drive decisions, drive behaviors basically. There’s so much more we could be doing. I guess reality is we’ve been going officially for three months, and in that three months, we’ve had a lot of other stuff to be doing. I think once we’re up and running and we’ve got some of these big projects off our plate, I guess the BAU stuff for me, like how regular we’re sharing ROI on all our tools and reports and everything, what information and what education are we giving, I think that we need to map all that out still. Ask me that question again in 18 months and I’ll be able to say loads more.

Interviewer: What are the KPIs that you’re currently focusing on?

Kimberley: That was a wild question, by the way. I thought that through this morning I was like, “Woah.” I think the KPIs, we layer it I suppose. We did the investigation, didn’t we, a few months ago. Where with things like [unintelligible 00:25:40] we worked out 180 different metrics we capture from all the spreadsheets that we got from people. I suppose part of that process for us was going what’s important.

I suppose what our CRO, we’re working on some of this stuff but we’ve now got layers, like our high-performing teams, we talk a lot about yield per head and deal per head, which is obviously how many deals per head is a sales contributing, and yield is how much have they billed in sales to divide across the teams. That’s what we determined a high-performing team and they talk about that a lot.

Natasha: They’re the two top level figures that you’ll hear your brand directors talking about, your CRO, all the cheeses that we talk about.

Interviewer: There’s yield per head and deals per head.

Kimberley: Deals per head. The reason those two is that yield is obviously a value, so the higher the value, the higher the performance. Deals is about consistency. You could have a consultant which has done $25,000 for example, but one deal and that’s great, but is that consistent? If they’re doing two deals up $20,000, it’s quality and volume basically.

Interviewer: You get that data per team level so you’d have that for your team of four consultants, you’d have the yield per head and deals per head for that team.

Kimberley: We’ll probably include their manager as well.

Interviewer: Really nice. You have a leaderboard for the teams.

Natasha: That is not included in that social report that we’ve–

Kimberley: Yes, you’re right, it is.

Natasha: Our CRO became CRO probably a year ago. I guess with him moving into that role, there’s been a lot of change around what we’re reporting, what KPIs we’re going to look at. Our actual new standardized KPIs were really only released probably this financial year, but we’re in the making with him and our brand directors for quite some time. It’s the first time we’ve had standardized KPIs across our whole business that go top-down the first time in 12 years.

Interviewer: Wow. Is that data is shared with the individual teams?

Kimberley: Yes. It’s quite transparent.

Natasha: Our CRO sends that report. That was what the business asked us. What about Austin Fraser is they listen to the feedback. We do best companies to work for and we do our own engagement surveys, and actually what’s our company doing, what’s our company performance has been– We want to know the what’s to know. We’ve started to deliver new sales reports actually. Our CRO did the first one last month?

Kimberley: Last month, yes. Then we’ve got things like end-of-month meetings where we’ll present what team has done well because there’s a little bit competition. Everyone wants to be up there really. It’s good from a transparency perspective and performance perspective.

Natasha: The relatively new report is contribution isn’t it? Where it showed each individual team and what percent they can contribute to the whole business, which was really nice.

Interviewer: And a leaderboard.

Natasha: Well, kind of. It was a leaderboard, wasn’t it? It was a leaderboard.

Interviewer: We have a question from Liam. Is the relationship in sales of product and operations crucial? If so, what’s the best way to unite these teams? Now does that make sense? Can you read it?

Natasha: Sales product and operations. Product are our people Liam.

Interviewer: Connecting sales which you offer your people, and then operation of your products. It’s kind of all the same thing with you guys.

Kimberley: Do you mean people as in internal staff?

Natasha: Sales team, and I guess product, I’m interpreting that as our candidates. Liam, do you mean as in our tools like the products we’re working on or do you actually mean the people?

Interviewer: Let’s give Liam a chance to clarify. If not, we’ll try and tackle it after the final question. Who have taught you the most about sales operations?

Kimberley: This is also an interesting question. When we first started this, and I didn’t actually officially work for you, I worked for our director Peter [unintelligible 00:29:50] . I had a little internal source of frustration because I couldn’t actually share my experiences with anyone because though I had been very lucky to work for them, really great sales managers, some great people directors and I’ve learned a lot through those relationships. No one’s done sales ops in our business. You think nobody can probably answer me. That’s when I started looking out for communities. That’s where I found the sales ops network. That’s where I found your podcast. What I do is always connect with the individual, follow the company and then I see lots of content and that kind of content and reading pieces is a good validation for me in going to those events.

Interviewer: Thanks for Henry there.

Kimberly: Thanks to Henry.

Natasha: We learned from Henry at the meetup.

Kimberly: He told us to come on.

Interviewer: He did? [crosstalk] That’s good. I remember. How about you?

Natasha: Kim does all that and tells me.

Interviewer: She can actually summarize this.

Kimberly: Come along.

Natasha: This is why we’re here. I’ve never done sales operations. I’ve gone full circles. Before joining sales I was actually an actuarial assistant. Before that was a fund administrator many, many moons ago. I got out of data and now I feel like I’ve fallen back into it. I’m really driven by my gut and I’ll go and find the answer. I use Google a lot. Just reading books. A lot you’ve recommended to me book-wise.

Kimberley: What’s been really refreshing though is that every meet-up that we’ve gone to or things that we’ve read or heard, is it in line with how we feel. It’s more like a validation piece. It’s like, “Okay, we’re not just making it up. We are talking some sort of sense. It’s not just like up here.”

Natasha: Listening to some of the sales ops podcasts that were done previously, it was very refreshing. I was like, “We are totally doing the wrong thing.”

Kimberly: We’re on the path.

Natasha: We’re on the right path. We should keep going with this. This is definitely what we should be doing in this business. You are our source of development.

Interviewer: Thanks so much.

Natasha: No pressure [laughs].

Interviewer: Clearly the big thing is also values as well because you have funding signed off for a department that never existed before.

Kimberly: If you were to look at it in simple terms we’ve been sales operation partners but not necessarily done sales operations. What’s really great about our relationship and how we work is as Neller was saying earlier is we’ve got 16 years between ourselves at Austin Fraser. We know the business like the back of our hand. We’ve experienced different areas of the business. It really is about knowing the business, knowing the culture and then fitting the pieces into the puzzle which we’re really, really good at.

Natasha: Also really comfortable at having difficult conversations. To get that backing to have this department, I sat there and said, “For you to achieve the aggressive growth plans you’ve got, you can’t do it on gut feel. You need to do it on data-driven decisions and you need to have access to that data.” It’s just not sustainable. We are amazing and the success we’ve had– Not me as in me, as a business. We’re amazing too. Austin Fraser is amazing and I think if we’ve got to where we’ve got on the systems as they are. If we can literally just clean up a little bit and have a– Already Kim’s improved our configuration massively. We can pull out more information. I was thinking if we’ve done that in such a short period of time I’m so excited to see where we can go with the sales ops function.

A testament to Kim’s work for the first time in the seven years we’ve had inside squares of the iTool a CEO logged into it. He actually used it and he didn’t use his own method of counting daily emails. He used the dashboard that Kim set up for him. If you can culturally change the mindset of the founder and CEO, you’re nailing it.

Interviewer: Okay. Cool guys. Thank you so much for coming on. That was pretty long. One of the longest but that was good.

Kimberly: We like to talk when it’s the two of us. That’s okay.

Interviewer: One more question, you mentioned a book. I actually couldn’t find any books really around sales operations. What are the books like?

Kimberly: I say sales operations book for me, I take a lot of learning from different perspectives. One of the ones I’ve been reading is the book by Beth Comstock. It’s called Imagine it Forward. Beth Comstock was the ex CMO of GE. The whole book’s around her innovation journey and lots of bits and pieces, really, really good book. I’d recommend it.

Interviewer: Nice.

Natasha: It talks about change

Kimberley: Which fundamentally is a lot of what we do.

Natasha: I appreciate sales ops functions are different in every business. Ours is about bringing change.

Kimberly: Positive change.

Natasha: Yes.

Interviewer: On that note, we will end there. Thanks very much guys.

Natasha: Bye.

[00:34:52] [END OF AUDIO]


Natasha Neller and Kimberley Warman of Austin Fraser

Natasha Neller and Kimberley Warman of Austin Fraser