Tom: Hello and welcome to another very special episode of the Sales Ops Demystified podcast. Nicholas, welcome.
Nicholas Zorilla: Thank you, Tom. It's an honor to be part of the podcast. The webinar, it's amazing.
Tom: Thank you. Nicholas Zorrilla of Flashpoint has approximately three years experience in sale operations but has a data analysis qualification from General Assembly, Salesforce admin certified, and also InsightSquared certified. We've got some good stuff to work with here. Let us kick right off. Nicholas, how did you get into sales ops?
Nicholas: That's a good question. Going back to my undergrad, I got a degree in sports marketing. I didn't know what sales operations was. In my first role in a corporation called Cablevision, I was a sales assistant. I learned a lot about how sales did their day to days, how they did their processes and their flows. They took me on a lot of their calls, and I spoke with clients and understand the flows of the day-to-day for salespeople. That gave me a good understanding how business works as a salesperson. My next role was at Integral Ad Science as a sales ops associate.
Tom: Cool. You got this kind of experience as a sales assistant. Were you actively looking for roles in sales operations or did you get headhunted or--? [laughs]
Nicholas: I love to use the tool Glassdoor, that's my tool for- prospectively for new roles and what not. Honestly, I was just looking for the next title. Sales operation, still didn't know what it was. I was just like, "Why not? Just apply to it," because the company, Integral Ad Science, sounded cool. It was ad tech. It was technology and I was like, "I'm young, let's go. Let's go to the city. Let's enjoy ourselves." I was like, "Why not?" I took a chance and I got the role, got an interview, and it was great.
Tom: That was about three years ago?
Tom: Cool. Okay. Interesting. Some people find their way through like, they are doing sales and then they-- someone gives them some spreadsheets to analyze, other people find their way through finance but it seems like you found your way almost completely randomly.
Nicholas: [laughs] Seriously, it was what I consider it like, right time and the right place and I got into the role, I met some great people, I had a great mentor and they introduced me to Salesforce. I was like, "This is amazing. This technology, this tool." The whole community, when it comes to Salesforce, and I felt like with sales operations is built in as Salesforce.
You need to understand how to use the tools but at the same time understand how the sales works. How does customer success work? How do you work with marketing? I think that's what it was like when I saw at Integral, and I was like, "I'm not letting this go. I want to keep this going. This is where I want to see my career to go." And then--
Tom: The first time that you created a Salesforce dashboard you were like-[crosstalk]
Nicholas: I was like, "That's it. I'm done. I got this."
Tom: Got it. Then you were at Integral Ad Tech for just over a year, right?
Nicholas: I was like about two years.
Tom: Okay, cool. Now you've transitioned into another sales ops role?
Tom: Cool. At Flashpoint.
Nicholas: Yes. Currently, I'm at Flashpoint as the senior sales operations analyst. A lot that I do is speaking with leadership, speaking with a lot of stakeholders from a lot of different departments from customer success, marketing, product, sales. I feel like sales ops is like the center of the hub because we own the system and we do a lot of the processes but also have to have a stake at the table to understand what's really going on because we're the ones that implement the systems and the tools.
Tom: Got it. On that point, current sales ops tech back at Flashpoint.
Nicholas: Yes, so definitely Salesforce is our CRM. We're trying to make that our single source of truth. We want everyone living in it from all the different teams. We use InsightSquared as our reporting and analytics tool. Excuse me [coughs]. We have a Linkedin sales nav for prospecting and for the sales team. We also use Showpad as an engagement tool and also for our quote creation, we use Conga.
Tom: Yes, Awesome. You've just completely rattled them off there.
Tom: Nice. It seems like you know this tech inside out. You mentioned about having Salesforce as the one source of truth. How are you dealing with data quality, and are you solely responsible for making sure that the data in the Salesforce is good?
Nicholas: For me personally I like to make the system as simple as possible for our users so. If the sales are inputting opportunities, how do they create products, and how to create a quote? We try to simplify it as much as possible. We have using Showpad how to use some training documentations, how to make it as easy as possible. Because at the end of the day, it's a part of the job, and they're viable for what they're doing in the system but also for me, I got to make sure that I'm checking it. Like so I build reports scheduled for me to see on a daily or weekly basis as opportunity creation, account creation. What's really happening. Are the territories correct? I like to see that everything's validated for what's going on in the system.
Tom: Got it. I think I had two things. First is you're actually trying to make it easier for them to do the right thing but then you're still checking that they are doing the right thing and ultimately it's their job to do it but also you're accountable for making sure that the information is good.
Nicholas: Yes. Because it's a partnership between me and sales, me and customer success. Because we all want to do what's best and try, at the end of the day, bring revenue into the business, and how do I simplify that?
Tom: Nice. After you're doing that, you may have to get sales to do like something extra that they may not have wanted to do. How do you get buy-in from them to do the thing when it's just going to take them away from selling?
Nicholas: That's a great question. I could give an example. When building out a new custom function area, like a custom object, how to build in process, offer like opportunities or accounts, I like to have specifically the sales beta-tested so they can really find the bugs because I'm knowing the system. I know how to use it in and out, so I really need to understand how they use it and how they can find the problems with it so we could have discussions and have those open meetings that, "Okay."
At the start, I show them, "Okay. This is the how-to. Here you go for a week, come back to me in a week with any bugs or any issues that you have." That really brings in buy-in so they could also talk to their other colleagues and be like, "Hey guys, it's really simple to use. Here you go. This is how the process works." Because a lot of people, it's easier to talk to your peers and they understand what your day-to-day, what your grind is and how we're supposed to add again the sales and the revenue to the business.
Tom: Got it. You're almost like using sales people as your personal salespeople for the new process. Does that make sense?
Nicholas: Yes, that really does make sense. Like, I'm selling to them if that like makes sense because it's a partnership between us and them.
Tom: You're selling to the first beta-group and then you're relying on them to sell to the rest of the organization.
Nicholas: Yes, because I think once I get the buy-in from them, it's really easier to have a broader meeting with the sales team to be like, "Okay guys, this is how we do it." Then they could also like the other salespeople that have beta testing, they could talk upon these issues that they saw before.
Tom: Then some of the salespeople that didn't get invited into the beta group are probably going to be like, "Can I be in the beta group next [crosstalk]."
Nicholas: Yes. Then it's like, here we go, we get more people on. It's awesome to see these things. It's like one person and the next person, so it's cool to have that interaction with the sales team. Because I could understand a lot of people don't understand the system and all they're supposed to be doing is like, "Okay. How do I do data quality? How am I creating an opportunity?" I'm trying to simplify as much as possible.
Tom: Yes. What's the kind of way of keeping people at Flashpoint in sales operations versus actual sales reps.
Nicholas: We're a team of three right now on my sales Ops team, but we have about 50-- I'm sorry. Are you talking about how many users in Salesforce or how many on the sales team?
Tom: Sales team?
Nicholas: Okay. About 50 in sales.
Tom: Nice there. 50 to 3 ratio.
Tom: I'm trying to collect the ratios from every people we-- I think that's about mid-range. I think that is about right. Do you think that's about right or do you think you need more people in the sales ops team?
Nicholas: I think because I have a little digression right now. I went to a conference for InsightSquared. It's a revenue ops yearly conference that they have specifically for sales ops and how they transition to RevOps. I heard on a panel was that they'd like to have one sales operations to 25 salespeople.
Nicholas: That's like the ratio that I've heard. Right now I feel like we're in a good place at Flashpoint because we have that synergy with sales, and we also in conjunction working with business operations, and they're like on the front lines with sales and they could come back to us and we could collaborate. It's pretty cool that we have right now.
Tom: Yes. Let me just check on the chat. I see we have a question here from Zac. What are the few key things to consider when building a new sales process?
Nicholas: For me, I think it's really getting to talk with sales first at the beginning. What is your issues with the system or what can we simplify? Once I understand their workflow and how they're doing their business, then I could build something in Salesforce. Because I feel Salesforce is really like, you can build it, there's not one best answer. You could do a lot of different things in Salesforce that can do this sales process to build it for them so it's easier for them.
Because that's why I feel when it comes to sales processes, how do we beginning from the opening discovery and opportunities to close one, and let's take them on that journey? Salesforce implement that using lightning what path. We could put in like, "Okay, this is what you should be doing at discovery, this is what you should be doing our prospecting, this is what you should be doing at procurement. " This is how we drive that process. [coughs]
Tom: Got it. How are you guys currently onboarding salespeople?
Nicholas: [laughs] In a daily world, we want them using Showpad, so they could ramp up quickly. We understand that sales is always changing, new products are always coming in, so we like-
Tom: [inaudible 00:11:22] I was checking out Showpad. I havent heard about this. Okay, cool. Is that a tool that enables you to create or enables you to scale sales teams through bringing people through onboarding flows?
Nicholas: Yes. It's like content, we bring into the content, what are we selling? What's the products we were offering? Our service. It's all in one place. They could see videos, they could see decks. They could build a deck. It's integrated with Salesforce. The synergy is all there, the API is like, you could have it all in Salesforce and they could just log in to Salesforce, having that single source of truth again and they could check what's going on in Showpad.
I know for me that it's not just okay, you go on Showpad and you're good to go. I like to sit down with new sales people, building dashboards for them in Salesforce and InsightSquared and really go down to the metrics so they understand what they're looking at. Because from one organization might be different from ours.
Tom: Got it. You're as well of giving them all this stuff to work with, you're like, have one-on-one time with every rep talking through. How long do you expect from someone the first day to someone mega letting them loose in the world and being productive?
Nicholas: That's a good question. I feel because outside of the systems, they know what they're doing when it comes to closing deals and whatnot. I think that say if it was a 30-60-90, as time goes, they'd be like, "Okay. Afternoon 30 days, I'm starting a quote in the system. How do I quote multiple quotes onto one opportunity?" I could understand that could be confusing, but as they've ramped up 60 to 90, they're like, "It's go time. We're good to go." They're moving.
Tom: Just for people in the audience, what's the approximate price point, just so people have an understanding of where we are for selling Flashpoint, say, for an annual contract?
Nicholas: It's a wide- from 90K to 500K. [unintelligible 00:13:27] big range of that.
Tom: Okay. Slightly high-end. There's a sales cycle. It's longer than 30 days?
Nicholas: Yes, yes, yes, yes, the sales cycle. Because we're a private and public sector, it could take a longer time with our sales cycle. It could be six months to a year. It does take a lot of time.
Tom: Cool. Got it. How are you currently trying to make, or how are you making your sales team more productive at the moment?
Nicholas: I think I'm going hone on making everything simplified because I think with easier layouts, easier processes, it's simple for them and it's simple for me. Then we can borrow that up to leadership and they could see actionable data points like, "Okay, we're doing good over here, how do we transition to somewhere on the other side that we have some functionalities that are more custom, how do we bottle that up so it's no longer a bottleneck that the sales team are unable to just go out and sell?"
Tom: If you have to summarize how you're making yourself more productive right now is simply by simplifying processes, by cutting complex steps out.
Nicholas: Yes, because you could see, and not just in Flashpoint, a lot of different orgs that I talk to other people, that they have too many fields that aren't being used, too many validations that don't make sense. Having that audit from let's say, the accounts all the way down to our custom objects to understand, "Okay, we don't need these processes," having those maybe month-to-month conversations with the stakeholders to be like, "Hey, do you still need this process? No. Okay. Let's fix this up. Let's optimize and streamline it for better use of the users."
Tom: You're just ripping stuff out, and that just makes everything much more simple. Okay, is that expect again. What are some of the changes or shifts that you've seen in the role of your experience? I guess for your two roles and over the past three or four years, have you seen anything change during that time?
Nicholas: Definitely, I'm going to again with the conference I was at at Ramp, they'd seen that. It's not just sales operations now, it's a transition to revenue operations. I feel like revenue again is sitting at the center, like they're the hub, but they also have people from customer success, marketing sales, sales enablement under one business unit that could really talk to all the different departments.
We all have this synergy and alignment. That's what I saw from when I was an Integral Ad Science where sales ops and now tech. I'm still in sales operations, but we recognize and building new functionality and dashboards to say that this is revenue operations and how do we optimize that. That was like the shift from sales ops to the new future or just the evolution of operations.
Tom: Is there a separate marketing operations team and customer success operations team at Flashpoint, or are there just people in those teams that you can work with?
Nicholas: For me, because I role up to the senior director of marketing and sales operations, we also have me as a sales ops analyst and then we have someone else as a marketing operations.
Tom: Got it.
Nicholas: There's the three of us, but also we have customer success that I could talk to one on one and be like, "Hey guys, I see that you're on the accounts, what can we optimize? What can we fix up here?" We have that synergy and just being open to talk to not just sales but to everyone, because there's a lot of people that are in Salesforce.
Tom: Your team or you're either directly reporting, he's essentially a director of revenue operations?
Nicholas: You could say, yes. You could say because his title is sales and marketing operations.
Tom: Got it.
Nicholas: He's very smart, he understands processes, he has an engineering background so he can understand code, and then also can sit at the table when it goes to market and stuff like that.
Tom: Sounds like a legend.
Tom: What KPI then are you currently tracking?
Nicholas: For us, we would like to what we call the funnel. We want to see how many for marketing, how are the leads coming in and the handoff from marketing to sales and what's the time to close one and then also when it comes to on the other end, when customer success takes over and that we have a customer and that they're talking to them and then when it also comes time to renewals. I think that's the KPIs were looking at from the funnel top-down.
Tom: All the way through.
Tom: If you had to choose one KPI or if you could only have one, just to measure the sales team, which metric or KPI would you choose?
Nicholas: I would say opportunity creation.
Tom: Interesting. In terms of dollars or in terms of number of opportunities?
Nicholas: In terms of dollars and moving through the stages because in InsightSquared, you could check velocity and see time.
Tom: Okay. Cool. If the value of opportunities created but also their velocity through the different stages of opportunities.
Tom: Awesome. Cool. Final question - we might already have the answer this - is who's taught you the most [inaudible 00:19:09]? You don't have to say your current director but you can if you want.
Nicholas: I would say it's a three-prong attack. At integral, I met like she was my mentor Erica Perez at Integral. She was the sales operations manager. She took me under her wing. She taught me so much about processes, how to even use DemandTools, which I think has been bought out by-- I forgot, someone else, but it was a powerful tool.
Nicholas: Yes, Validity, there you go. She really taught me how Salesforce works and also the operations. She really like let me be a part of those conversations. Then as I moved to Flashpoint, before my current boss, Rob Smith, who was also a sales operations manager. He really taught me that there isn't not one answer in Salesforce, but to keep learning and teach yourself. I think through that, that's how I was able to like receive my Salesforce admin certification because I learned on my own Salesforce. Then currently my boss right now, Justin Rogers. He's, like you said, the legend, or we call him the robot
Tom: The legend. Really he's a robot because he can read code.
Tom: Awesome. I've actually written this down. Also, Nicholas, thank you so much. Here are the things I like. This has been echoed across a few different interviews, but sales ops it's the hub of the business. Obviously, when I'm talking to sales ops people, they're also going to be like, "Yes, sales ops it's a hub." But is the truth. Sales ops is the hub of the business.
The part you said about influencing salespeople to adopt new processes by having a test group and then getting them to spread the message I thought was really neat. Actually, the point about productivity was probably the simplest one we've ever had simplified to that question just to get rid of stuff that you may not be using all that might not be adding any value. That just makes things more similar, faster, and more productive. There you go.
Nicholas: Seriously, that's like-- To me, it's just like easy; it's easy fidelity for me. All the jobs are easier.
Tom: Everyone is now going to start rushing sales ops. They're going to be deleting all these [unintelligible 00:21:29] in all these fields
Nicholas: [laughs] Not to me, please.
Tom: Nick, thank you so much for coming on
Nicholas: Thank you, Tom. It's been an honor. Thank you so much for having me.
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