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Senior Director of Global Sales Operations: Kendall Grant of Fastly

Kendall Grant 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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Interviewer: Hello and welcome to another very special episode of the sales of the demystified podcast. We’re joined by Kendall Grant who is actually the first person we’ve had on who has sales operations experience at Google which I’m super interested in. Since then he’s also been running sales offset to other businesses fastly and any park. Kendall, welcome to the show.

Kendall: Thank you. Happy to be here.

Interviewer: Before we kick-off, looking very smooth.

Kendall: [laughs] Thank you. It is Halloween here in the States we have our annual costume contest and they do a good job of writing I suggest because we always donate to a charity for everyone that dresses up a certain amount.

Interviewer: Fantastic. I want to kick off with the first question about how you actually got into the profession.

Kendall: That makes sense. I think there’s a lot of former people in sales [unintelligible 00:01:00] the people in my network that I know we are a bunch of either like burnt out or reformed consultants or bankers or salespeople. I was a former consultant and then I went to Google and I did sales there, moved into products side after that as a product expert at Google. Then after that finally into a sales office. From there I found sales office pretty interesting because I got to do a lot of different things. I like the ability to be an all-around athlete and not only look at sales numbers but also do processing program management things like that.

Kendall: Got it. Google was the first place where you actually had a role of sales operations?

Kendall: Yes. That was the first place. Yes. I was on the Central America sales team looking at a lot of the overall business planning and strategy for the Americas. I also did a stand for [unintelligible 00:02:03] for work for business there on the operations side.

Interviewer: Got it. You didn’t join Google into sales overall. You moved internally into that.

Kendall: Exactly. Yes. I did sales there for about two years and then did mobile product expert role for about a year of really doing a lot of analytics on that side and then going through to sales office after that.

Interviewer: Got it. What made you want to switch from sales and then to [unintelligible 00:02:35] then to sales operation side? Why did you not just stay in sales?

Kendall: I think sales at Google it’s a little bit different. It’s more account management. If you’re responsible for a big number right when you have to go you’re not going out on a cold calling and prospecting people even though it’s still sales. As we’re getting deeper in the number of accounts that you have and I think, for me, I just wanted to do more and find out what else is out there.

Where it’s like, I do love talking to people, I do love talking to customers, but I don’t find the joy in that every day. Because we have such big accounts and talking to the same people over over and over again. You build very, very deep relationships. After a while, for me, it’s like, “Okay, I think, I’ve built some relationships here, but what else can I do,” I want to see more parts of the business.

I was very interested in going to mobile products at that time at Google, because [unintelligible 00:03:30] started coming up with Enhanced Campaigns, which basically switched all AdWords to be mobile products. Looking at it, it’s like doing a startup within Google. It’s like, okay, you need to make this big product change. This is the team that’s going to lead it. How do we do that change across the board right, since it’s essentially a new product we’re rolling out that affects all of our advertisers [inaudible 00:03:50]. I found that very interesting and rewarding.

It’s the hardest I think I’ve ever worked in my life. One of the hardest times that worked in my life, like taking calls at all crazy hours. It was definitely rewarding. Then after that, it was like, “Hey, seems to span if you have your take over, you want to go back into sales, you want to go into sales office, things like that.” I was really sold on the sales ops job. They really wanted an analytical background that I had for the Central America’s team. I already knew some people on there that I worked pretty closely with, so it seemed like a good fit.

Interviewer: Got it. Then if we fast forward to today at Fastly, can you just give us a sense of how many people there are in operations and then how many reps that you guys are responsible for?

Kendall: I think at Fastly, I’m on the operations team. We have two sides of the house. We have our sales ops team. Then we also have our client services ops team and we’re all rolled up into our VP of field and services operations globally and so on. On my ops team, we have five folks, including myself. We have a sales enablement team of three people now. Then we have a client services team of three as well, client services and ops team. We support about 100 plus folks worldwide. That includes sellers, account managers, technical account managers and also the CF the client services side of the house.

Interviewer: Got it, awesome. Your current tech stack?

Kendall: Our current tech stack, we use a lot of different tools. Obviously, Salesforce like everyone else. We do use DiscoverOrg or Zoomifo. DiscoverOrg by Zoominfo now. I know that we had Datanyze. I know that Datanyze, Zoominfo bought Datanyze and DiscoverOrg bought Zoominfo. [unintelligible 00:05:37] we signed with them to do the old DiscoverOrg package. We use CEQ in Salesforce, used to be [unintelligible 00:05:43] We have that. We use Outreach IO for emails. We have Loopio for RPs. You slack internally, very slack heavy culture here.

We use Domo as our business intelligence tool. We had exactly four commissions and then we used LinkedIn Sales Navigator, also for prospecting. Then we currently have Eloqua, but we are switching to Marketo and that switch will hopefully happen by the end of the year.

Interviewer: Got it. Pretty comprehensive every other tools there. Now I want to talk about that quality. Is that your responsibility or your team’s responsibility to make sure that everything is shipshape in Salesforce?

Kendall: Yes, definitely. That’s a shared responsibility we take along with marketing ops.We typically [unintelligible 00:06:33] comes into play and we’re doing our territory management and quota allocation at the beginning of every year. We need deep in it right now, where it’s like you want to swell the accounts. We want to split up the territories. You want to cut the regions, make sure we have balanced territories, so we can assign quota rationally. We’re doing that right now. We’re looking up a lot of the data in that process. We’ll also work with marketing ops as far as on the inbound side to say like, “Hey, how do we enrich a lot of [unintelligible 00:07:00] get in and get accurate data on that.”

We use a combination of several or MV space for that as far as to enrich things. Then, obviously, for people we get at events and things like that marketing will also enrich that data and make sure that that data is accurate as well what we currently have in Salesforce. It’s a shared responsibility and we also rely on the SDR themselves too. When they see something in the past that doesn’t look right, they always come back to us and we can fix and correct that data. We definitely take the initiative there and usually are the first [unintelligible 00:07:33] that need data touches to make sure that it is clean and it is accurate for us.

Interviewer: Good. That was going to be my next question about working with sales people and getting them to do stuff that you want them to do. Do you just say if you see anything strange or weird, just let us know and we’ll pick it up?

Kendall: Yes, that’s what we usually do. You just say like, “Hey,” we tell them like, “Hey, we’re probably about– We aim to be the old 80, 20 rule. 80% accurate, get most of it, but you know your patch is better than us.” Especially now we see a lot of consolidation. Like, for example, in the media space. We’re like, I’m not on the tip of the spear saying like, “This new, big media conglomerate brought all of these companies.” We expect our sellers to know that. That’s their business and that’s their [unintelligible 00:08:20] like, “Hey, [unintelligible 00:08:21] company bought this other company [unintelligible 00:08:23] the year.” We can either make the appropriate parent child relationship or mark that company as out of business.

Interviewer: Got it. Then moving on [unintelligible 00:08:34] staying with the sales people. Do you have initiatives around productivity at the moment? What are the things that you’re doing that drive their productivity?

Kendall: Our big initiative at the moment now is we want to decrease lap times and then you can get people productive and sooner get them to close their first deal sooner. One of the big initiatives, we’re in [unintelligible 00:08:53] right now that will roll out on next year at our sales kickoff is

[unintelligible 00:09:00] something we never had here before. We’re using a consulting company for that. That’ll help us do these workshops with products and with product marketing and sellers. To design like where our target customer profiles get really deep more granular [unintelligible 00:09:19] personas. Then get sales input and being like, “Hey we’re taking a customer with customers like this.” This is how we can walk through the fast and sales process and standardize that for each vertical that we have.

Interviewer: Got it. The real focus on ramp time getting people in and then cooling straightaway. If you wouldn’t mind so we’re going through this as well at the same time while I working on SDL ramp time. What do you expect the average period to get someone from joining to actually hitting their numbers?

Kendall: That’s a very good question. It’s different for all industries. At [unintelligible 00:10:02] we are very technical. We’re an edge cloud. We [unintelligible 00:10:07] nutritional CEN and [unintelligible 00:10:11] bomb detection Media Shield optimization and other products. Everything we sell is typically with the sales engineer that’s heavily involved. It involves TLC. We have a very technical product.

It’s all-around times rather long especially for big deals. It is [unintelligible 00:10:29] seller I’ve been running to get a seller till I feel good. If you think about [unintelligible 00:10:32] in the past if you’ve been a nine-month of ramp time for sellers to feel comfortable we’ve heard. Actually, I started measuring it. We’re still thinking what metrics you want to use for that. Typically, it’s like nine months here. If you work in one of our product features about a six month ramp time I would say. We’re hoping that the sales playbook we want to do is we have very senior sellers here that have worked in the CRM business with that [unintelligible 00:10:57] for a long time.

You want to take all that knowledge, I want all out of their heads and disseminate that to the rest of these boards. If somebody starts new, they can just have that playbook in front of them saying, “This is how I sell fastly. This is how I should pitch fastly. This is who I should be targeting. When I find this scenario in [unintelligible 00:11:13] and stuff like that this is how I should handle it with my sales engineer.” That’s our main focus of these playbooks. Where it’s like, we want to give people a path to consume all this knowledge in an easy task to always reference that going forward.

Interviewer: Got it, I like that time like a circle of knowledge from the whole organization and then push it into the [crosstalk]

Kendall: Exactly, yes. [unintelligible 00:11:37] people on this CEM business here that have been here since the start of [unintelligible 00:11:41] even before [unintelligible 00:11:43] I was working the industry. It’s like, how do we get that internal knowledge that they have and put it back into other people’s brains?

Interviewer: Got it. Moving on to the forecasting process, did that fit with your team?

Kendall: Yes, forecasting took [unintelligible 00:11:59] we currently use Salesforce forecasting, we do weekly forecasts, that’s what we do. We always forecast new business, that new business that comes into the company and then we also forecast renewals and upsells and downsells. We look at our current customer base, you’re handling that, we know, “Okay, do we see a big re-rate coming? Do we see a big upsell coming?” We want to know about that as well, so we track that on a weekly basis for all teams.

Off my sales ops leads we back of each of the teams that they run and we roll that all out and we put that stuff in the demo, so we trackback sales and is the management committing to us, “Where we do look at each quota?” We also have a team commit. Where is a team committing to us outside of the manager, outside of the managing commit? Is it three metrics on that, that we look at.

Then we also have a monthly, we call it a senior forecasting call when we sit down with our finance DTEs and then we sit down with our senior managers, our senior VP to look at this holistically. “Hey, for this quarter, what are the big deals that we’re looking at? Then also what are the big re-rates that we need to get ahead of, [unintelligible 00:13:08] just to make sure that deal desk is involved, we have a good path to figure out and how do we want to handle these customers coming up for more.

Interviewer: Just quickly jumping back to the three kinds of forecast you have. You have the rep commits I believe and then you have a top-down forecast, is that right?

Interviewer: Yes, what do I mean by that? We have a rep roll up that we have so they give us a commit we call the team commit, and then we ask the manager separately. “All right, basically, to find a team commit, what is your sense of a team, you’re with them every day, is that high or low?” We track the separate managers commit where it’s like, “Okay, managers we want to hold you accountable.”

We realize, some reps might be always enthusiastic, some reps might be shy and so we ask the manager, you need to also submit your commit separate of the team. We usually see that either be tested a little bit or they might push it a little bit more and say, “Hey, this is actually going to be the forecast,” and obviously we have our quota. We need to really get that as well saying, “Hey, are we actually forecasting to quota or not?” Obviously, if not we begin to figure out how do we close the gap there.

Interviewer: Cool. Then you have that times three for new business re-rates and then there was something else upsells?

Kendall: Yes, upsells. Rerates and upsells are the same but that’s based on your renewals. We have to look at the renewals and then we also look at that [unintelligible 00:14:25] and then we also look at the new business as well.

Interviewer: Got it, a pretty robust forecasting process. Got a bit of a curveball for you here. You had approximately eight years experience in sales ops now or slightly more than that?

Kendall: Yes [inaudible 00:14:40].

Interviewer: Okay, in those eight years which sales metric gets you the most excited or not excited but is the most insightful for you or the most interesting?

Kendall: The most insightful, the most interesting. That’s a very good question. I think one of the metrics that I also get is everyone looks at, “Hey, this is the actual win rate,” or it’s like, “This is actually the closed deals plus the won deals.” The won deal divided by whatever is closer with [unintelligible 00:15:25]. I actually like looking at that de-weighted, but also I want to see what deals are actually still open let’s say in later stages. Let’s say we have a five stage stat. Let’s say stage three or greater. That gives me a better approximation of, “What did we actually win? Are actually moving deals?”

Interviewer: Got it.

Kendall: It gets a bit more nuanced where it’s like, “I know our win rate is high after this stuff.” We just close, but we could see on smaller teams where it’s like, “This person only has one or two deals that they actually move through this corner, so their win rate’s 100%.” That’s not really true. They have all this stuff out here sitting in let’s say other stages like negotiation or evaluation. Something out there that hasn’t moved [unintelligible 00:16:14]. If you take in some of the stuff that’s open and what stage they’re actually in, that would be just the true, for me, a better sense of what are we actually winning. Our win rate could just inflate it because we’re not moving deals through or we’re moving deals out.

Interviewer: Got it. You’re saying that sometimes the win rate metric can be limited. [crosstalk]

Kendall: Yes, exactly. Especially, [unintelligible 00:16:37] dropped in the [unintelligible 00:16:39], a lot of the sweet deals opened and opened and opened. It’s like you take some kind of that into consideration. You have a better idea of like, “This is what we’re actually winning, this stuff here, that stuff’s open.” There are some things that happen like this. We need to be able to move that at some point in time.

Interviewer: We should probably give this new metric a name or did you already have a name for it?

Kendall: I don’t have a name for it. I think I’ve heard this metric on part of the Modern Sales Pro Group run by [unintelligible 00:17:06] up in San Francisco. I think I heard it from one of his talks or maybe they’re talking to somebody in that group. I’m definitely not taking credit for that metric, but I did find it very, very interesting.

Interviewer: Fair enough. I just wrote down true win rates. That’s what I’m going to be calling it going forward. Awesome. My final question is about who in the sales ops game has taught you the most?

Kendall: That’s a very good question since I think I’ve learned a little bit along the way. I definitely think my former sales ops manager, a girl, Maggie [unintelligible 00:17:49]. [unintelligible 00:17:51] consultant. I was a former consultant, and so they were really good about the big picture. How do we move, already Google has tens of thousands of cell phones and how do we do change management and move toward a $10 present a business plan for 10,000 people in front of executives [unintelligible 00:18:08] mark.

It’s really good about framing and checking the story, and presenting that and looking at and they were always good about, “Hey, your [unintelligible 00:18:16] show a number yards when you show number in contents, right?” We’re always looking for patterns, is what will make any sales successful. It’s like do we see a pattern and how do we scale out those best practices? That’s what we always want to focus on and sales off to make people more efficient.

I will be always working with them on that. I’ll just be that top of mine and I think it was always pretty smart about, “Hey, you see some slides, that you see somewhere else and some other presentation, always have that slide and take that and use it for your own strength.” A lot of people do a lot of different decks. We don’t expect everyone to have the greatest deck but if something resonates with you, you should keep that in your wheelhouse. Always feel free to look at other slides and incorporate that into your presentation.

I find that very useful. I think working out [unintelligible 00:19:02] here at fastly and I just learned a lot from him. He always talks about, here we’re doing the stuff they don’t teach you in the school. It’s like, “Hey, how do we act fastly when we’re growing super rapidly. Probably this year, we have big plans for the future. How do we do that? Change management? How do we do the planning when we have a lot of stuff unknown?

How do we actually make those trade-offs? It’s a lot of stuff behind the scenes where it’s like, “How do you build those relationships with the sales leaders and build that trust? Also, how do you have that frank conversation of, “Hey, we need to invest here. We need to invest here and these are the trade-offs,” and lay it out on the table so we can have that honest conversation of what’s best for us.

Interviewer: Awesome. That was a really good like fast-paced download of self, of wisdom. Thank you so much, Kendall. Here are the things I particularly like and obviously the new metric that we may give credit to model sales pros, but we’re calling true win rate. Which is not just taking into account the actual win rate because maybe the salesperson is keeping bills here and not closing them out. The full [unintelligible 00:20:14] post that process sounded really robust and having weekly for both new business and rerates/ upsells from the three different points of view. I think it’s something so detailed, in my words, robust.

Then finally the point of other playbooks and documenting the wisdom or collecting the wisdom, documenting it and then trying to feed that to these people so they can get in and hit the ground as fast as possible. Kendall, thank you very much for your time.

Kendall: Thank you.

[00:20:54] [END OF AUDIO]