Sales Operations Manager: Kelsi Hansen of Workfront

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Kelsi Hansen jumped onto Sales Ops Demystified to share her knowledge and experience as a Sales Operations Manager.
Sales Operations Manager

Kelsi Hansen jumped onto Sales Ops Demystified to share her knowledge and experience as a Sales Operations Manager.

We discuss Kelsi’s theory of sales operations, her journey to becoming a sales ops manager and Workfront’s current tech stack.

Check out all the other episodes of Sales Operations Demystified here.

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Transcript:

Tom Hunt: Hello everybody and welcome to Sales Operations Demystified again. Sorry, what's that Josh? For the first time ever, we're joined by a remote guest. Kelsi, how are you?

Kelsi Hansen: Doing good. How are you doing?

Tom Hunt: Really, really great. This is a whole new experience because, Kelsi, I don't know if you've seen or heard some of others. It's been myself, Henry, and someone sat here next to us, but we actually realized that, yes, we can get great guest doing that, but actually there's probably a lot of other great sales operations people in the world that we're not able to bring to London. I'm really happy that you're here.

A couple of piece of admin before we do kick off. We have now been live on iTunes, so if you Google Sales Operations Demystified or just even sales operations on iTunes, you could see the podcast feed with the five episodes that we've done so far. That actually went live today, so I'm super excited about that. Henry sends his apologies. He had to go to an event, didn't he, Josh? Henry went to an event. He's actually the Sales Manager of Ebsta. He has a real job, he can't just sit on webinars and podcast everyday.

Kelsi, first of all, I want to thank you so much for coming on at that short notice. I'm super excited because we're going to see- I've also been through your link in profile. We've had some people on who've had seven years selling and then shifted over into sales operations, but you've taken a slightly different journey. I'm sure we're going to get into that over this talk.

What I'd like to start off with, Fe will let me, we have a set of questions we like to move through. We'll be moving through those. If we see anything super interesting, we'll dive in and can talk more about. First off, I'd just like to start off with understanding more about Workfront and then your journey before you joined Workfront as well.

Kelsi Hansen: Yes, absolutely. Workfront, we sell, it's called, an operational system of record. That's our goal, is to make that at every company. Every company needs to know what's going on at their company. We sell to enterprise companies. I'll give an overview of what Workfront sells and my journey before I started at Workfront. Sales ops was something that I really got lucky and stumbled into a little bit more.

Tom Hunt: How?

Kelsi Hansen: I didn't have a particular journey there. In college, I was very focused on doing something medical, anything up until our last semester when I decided I wanted to go into that direction. All I knew was I want to do something with data analytics and also work for a tech company. I was hired for a bunch of different companies. When I got hired at Workfront, I actually got hired into the CX operations role. Was started in that and my EVP of my department got fired a week into me working there. They consolidated CX and sales for a brief minute.

I got put under sales operations and mentioned to my boss that I really liked using Salesforce and felt pretty comfortable using it. He did this whole test to see my aptitude for Salesforce, and then sent me to training to be a Salesforce admin. About five years ago, my journey in sales operations started with me being a Salesforce admin.

Since then, I've steadily picked up knowledge in sales operations industry and every year focused on certain areas of what that I wanted to learn. Once I got really competent in that, I moved on to the next thing. Now at the level that I'm at, I try to incorporate conferences as well as networking with other sales ops experts so I can figure out what the best in class sales operations professionals are doing.

Tom Hunt: Nice. That should be interesting, right? You actually came in customer service.

Kelsi Hansen: Yes.

Tom Hunt: We've had a couple of people on the podcast who've actually said that, in reality, there should be just one operations department for marketing, customer service and sales. It's interesting that when your boss got fired, that they actually combined for a short period of time, sales and customer success. Is that right?

Kelsi Hansen: Yes.

Tom Hunt: Now, are they separate teams?

Kelsi Hansen: Yes. About a year or two after I went to sales ops, the CX ops, they split it again and it's been separated ever since, which I think makes a lot more sense for our company as a whole really to have that distinction.

Tom Hunt: Why for your company?

Kelsi Hansen: Sorry. What was that?

Tom Hunt: Why for your company, if that makes sense?

Kelsi Hansen: I just think they're such different roles. CX and sales, they're both working with our customers, but CX operations does a lot more involved with the consultants, CSMs and their data that they're looking at is a little bit different than what we're looking at as far as sales operation goes. Yes, I think that we have different priorities. We both have the priority of keeping our customer database and keeping them happy.

Tom Hunt: Do the customer service team have-- Are they responsible for renewals and upsells, or is that the sales team?

Kelsi Hansen: The sales team is responsible for that.

Tom Hunt: Cool.

Kelsi Hansen: [unintelligible 00:05:57] upsells.

Tom Hunt: That makes sense because Ashley here at Ebsta almost tweaked in the customer service team have renewal and upsell targets. It's quite interesting whether you place on the customer service [inaudible 00:06:11] sales can actually then customer success becoming sales team almost.

Kelsi Hansen: Yes.

Tom Hunt: That doesn't make sense that you could have operations for the revenue generating department which in your case is just sales, right? Cool, got it.

Kelsi Hansen: Yes.

Tom Hunt: It's by accident then that you got into that?

Kelsi Hansen: Yes, stumbled into it and figured out this is exactly what I love, so I got really lucky.

Tom Hunt: You did say before that, you were looking to working for something to do with data analytics.

Kelsi Hansen: Yes.

Tom Hunt: Which I think it leads quite nicely into the next question which is about what you think makes an awesome sales operations person.

Kelsi Hansen: At Workfront, our sales operations is commander's intent is what we call it. It's to enable sales to hit their number by providing the tools, data, and support necessary.

Tom Hunt: Nice.

Kelsi Hansen: We consider sales our customer because they are.

Tom Hunt: Interesting. Could you just say that one line again. I thought it was really good, about how you define what sales op does.

Kelsi Hansen: To enable sales to hit their number by providing the tools, data and support necessary.

Tom Hunt: Nice. We haven't had anyone come on and give such a concise description before. When you said [unintelligible 00:07:40] your customer. We had been talking about it actually about how other people have [unintelligible 00:07:48] they have felts operations [unintelligible 00:07:51] by the head of sales or the [unintelligible 00:07:53]. Now, what you're really saying is that you're there to enable your customer, right?

Kelsi Hansen: Yes.

Tom Hunt: That's great. It's interesting approach. To the question then, someone who is in sales operations what are the key skill or the one most important skill that you think makes a really good sales ops person.

Kelsi Hansen: Along with what I was saying with our commander's intent, I don't know if I want to have a couple of things, but I think we want somebody who believes they are on the same team as the sales rep and wants to help them to succeed and have the skills to help them do that. Obviously, more of those skills, what are those skills that we're looking for. It's somebody who's strategic, who's able to paint a picture and is a questioner. I think sometimes in sales operations, we can get stuck doing the same thing, or in sales I should say. We should be asking like, "Why are we doing these things? How can we improve what we're doing?" That could be extremely helpful to have.

Tom Hunt: Yes. I really like the first part, but I'm not sure how you would screen for that in an interview. The first part with how you need someone who wants to serve the sales team. In an interview, let's say you're hiring for a new sales ops person, you could just ask them if they want to serve the sales team. That's not probably very effective. Do you have any question you ask for them to answer or anyway you could tell if someone is lying.

Kelsi Hansen: The questions that I would ask in interview are; how did you help the sales organization? What have you done? I'm hiring a data analyst for now and that's one of the big questions is, what have you done? Can you give me a specific example of how you would have helped the sales organization specifically? Just wanting to see if that's their number one thing, that should be something that they should be able to speak to.

Tom Hunt: Yes. They should have a really good example straight away.

Kelsi Hansen: Yes.

Tom Hunt: Yes, exactly. Okay, nice. Cool. I think that is really important actually. I think Henry would also agree that-- each salesperson has their number and, as I said, the sales operations team has to be able to somehow increase their likelihood that they're going to hear that number. The reason a business would invest in a sales operations team is that the sales people would then be more likely to hit their number. That totally makes sense.

Next question, and I think it's going to be quite interesting because of your background. Do you think that having sales experience is actually a prerequisite or necessary to being effective in sales operations?

Kelsi Hansen: Coming from someone who knows sales experience, I would say the answer is no that I've been able to succeed in sales operations. What I do think is necessary is the ability to empathize with the sales position because it is a really hard role and they have a lot to deal with. Me personally, I try to stay very open-minded and really actually listen to their concerns so I can best help answer them and make their lives a lot easier.

We try have lunch and learns where people tell us what they wish we would change, and we also try to get the opinion of sales reps or sales managers whenever we roll things out, just to make sure that it's actually going to benefit and help them.

Tom Hunt: To empathize, for me, that means to really understand these people and understand what motivates them, what they like and dislike and how they work.

Kelsi Hansen: Absolutely.

Tom Hunt: It's almost like a parallel that as a business or even like a marketer, I have a marketing background, for me to be able to serve our audience, I have to really understand them, right?

Kelsi Hansen: Absolutely.

Tom Hunt: The parallel there is, obviously, that the salespeople are essentially your customers. So, the more you understand them, the more effective you can be in sales operation. Great. How are we doing Josh? Any questions on [unintelligible 00:12:11]? That's actually quite a bit into the next question. I'll bring that in after this question. Next question is about tech stack and technology. At Workfront, what are we currently utilizing?

Kelsi Hansen: Our tech stack, we have Salesforce as CRM, DataFox use for accounts pouring, which is huge, obviously. DiscoverOrg we may use to make sure our data is super clean.

Tom Hunt: I haven't heard of that total before. What does that do?

Kelsi Hansen: DiscoverOrg, what we use it for might not be exactly what it's used for. It gets you all charged for, not every single company but a lot of the companies, but also what we use it for a lot of is the employee count. We find that it's a great employee count. That's what we use to make sure our data is clean in Salesforce.

Tom Hunt: Got it. It can give you all jobs and employed members of account that you have in Salesforce. That's really good.

Kelsi Hansen: Also, our sales reps use it to find-- If it gives you the work chart, then you can know who you're going to speak to at the company.

Tom Hunt: Do you know how they do that? Do you know how they get that data?

Kelsi Hansen: We use a couple things. We use the DiscoverOrg with the org chart, we can actually import that into Salesforce, or they use LinkedIn, retox them through LinkedIn.

Tom Hunt: Nice. Anything else?

Kelsi Hansen: As far as tech stack goes, is that what you're asking?

Tom Hunt: Yes.

Kelsi Hansen: We use Outreach for prospecting and Tableau for all of our reporting, and [unintelligible 00:14:07] for reporting as well. We may have a couple others, but those are the ones we primarily use. We had like clone backup to make sure that if anything crashes, then we have something to go to get the data.

Tom Hunt: The question is from someone on Facebook, right Josh? You just listed out a lot of tools then, once you're bringing a new one, is there an effective way you use to train people on your tool or you just give them the tool and let them do their thing, or would you-- I think you mentioned lunch and learns. How do you go about bringing new tools to them team?

Kelsi Hansen: We try to make sure there's a lot of face time around the new tool [unintelligible 00:15:05] We work a lot with our sales enablement team. Enable, it does a lot more of the training [unintelligible 00:15:12] and we just make sure that we let them know all the differences of the tools. When we do roll out new tools, we have team meetings around them, very specific, not one on one but smaller groups to just go over the tool, express the benefits, and make sure it's a easy to use as possible, we've dissected it to make sure that it's easy to use and sales reps can see the benefit of it. Then we do follow-up meetings. Our sales enablement team is really really good. They have a lot of trainings online.

Tom Hunt: I was going to say about that. How many people are they in the sales enablement team?

Kelsi Hansen: I believe there's between six and eight, I can't really remember.

Tom Hunt: Then the amount of people in your team?

Kelsi Hansen: They're 11 of us in sales operations.

Tom Hunt: Nice. How many salespeople approximately?

Kelsi Hansen: About 180.

Tom Hunt: Great. That's really cool. I don't think we've had anyone on the sales team that [unintelligible 00:16:25] you before. Fantastic. Quick question from Dave on the chat about the lunch of learns. In terms of information transfer from the sales team to you guys but also from you guys to the sales team, what do you discuss on those events?

Kelsi Hansen: On the lunch and learns?

Tom Hunt: Yes.

Kelsi Hansen: With lunch and learns it's more of a venue for us to learn what it is-- We have sales reps coming from different companies who've used either Salesforce or other things and so we're working through that, they're telling us, "Hey, we used this at a different company and we really like how we did things at a different company," or, "This is something that's really really hard for us. We [unintelligible 00:17:10] figuring this out." More of the learning is on our side about what their needs are, what they're having issues with.

We use our software at Workfront to prioritize and roll out everything and find out on my team who's going to be working on what. We have sales all hands meetings we have every six weeks, we have a sales operations time spot or whatever that we [inaudible 00:17:40] and everybody know what [inaudible 00:17:45].

Tom Hunt: Shout out to Workfront for facilitating that process. Favorite tech tool of all time related to sales ops?

Kelsi Hansen: Definitely, Salesforce. We can't live without it, and I would not work for a company that did not.

Tom Hunt: Really? That would be like a significant part if you were to ever go to a different company, that would be a significant part of the progress?

Kelsi Hansen: Yes, absolutely. I think Salesforce is an extremely powerful tool. If you do it correctly, there's an immense amount of value that can be brought to your organization.

Tom Hunt: Have you been to [unintelligible 00:18:24]?

Kelsi Hansen: Yes, I have.

Tom Hunt: Did you have a great time?

Kelsi Hansen: I had had great times. It's gotten a little big when not going into the massive crowd. It's a very great conference. I think they do a really great job.

Tom Hunt: Amazing. From every marketing and branding standpoint, it's just amazing what they've done. It's admirable. Josh, how we're doing with the questions? Cool. Next, interesting, data quality. I would deal with this. Here's a confession, we have [inaudible 00:18:57] previously with Workfront. How would your [unintelligible 00:19:00] with the CRM [unintelligible 00:19:05] for the [unintelligible 00:19:06] for quality role?

Kelsi Hansen: You broke up a little bit. I'm going to answer what I think you're asking about how to deal with data quality. I'll answer that in two ways, one for the consultant company that I do for Amplified, something that's for everybody, and then what we also have done at Workfront specifically. With Amplified, I've had the opportunity to help companies clean up their CRM data. I think a huge part of that is instilling best practices to ensure that duplicates stop coming in in the first place and then instilling the right tools to enrich what you already have in Salesforce or in whatever CRM you're using, database.

At Workfront, we undertook actually a massive data project. Started by making sure we have processes set in place for duplicates being created, and then we make our sales reps actually submit requests to change like employee account address, account name, things like that. We [unintelligible 00:20:10] that to sales operations. Sales operations has the final say on what the data says, it's really critical.

After we did that, we identified what our [unintelligible 00:20:27] was and we did as huge data cleaning for our target segment. [unintelligible 00:20:36] but the results have been really just staggering because once you have you clean database, it really helps salespeople to be more effective because they [unintelligible 00:20:45] on what am I supposed to be working, why do [unintelligible 00:20:49] whatever? We really really make sure we put a lot of emphasis on that and that our target segment is really really clean.

Tom Hunt: One thing is first, have best practices for putting data into your CRM or Salesforce to reduce likelihood of duplicates? Then after that, make sure you have tools and processes in place to make them quality. What are the tools thing you guys use to maintain that?

Kelsi Hansen: We use a combination. We came up with what we felt was the best tools to [unintelligible 00:21:29], I should say. That's what we use tools like DiscoverOrg for, as well as the combination DiscoverOrg, DataFox, LinkedIn and figuring out what of these is the best. Then we also have a tool called Cloudingo, that will pull up duplicates and [unintelligible 00:21:48] according to the characters that you put in there. I think [unintelligible 00:21:53] do a lot of for DiscoverOrg or DataFox.

Tom Hunt: Yes. We're going to have to quick shout out or we're going to have the link to-- What's their name? Discover--?

Kelsi Hansen: DiscoverOrg and DataFox.

Tom Hunt: DiscoverOrg and DataFox, they sound really good. That sounds good. Let's move on to next question. Actually we have one from James [unintelligible 00:22:15] on the chat. In my experience, sales operations is different in many companies. What is your definition? Well, we've already been through that, which was your awesome, concise sentence. Could you just repeat that one more time, Kelsi. I really like that.

Kelsi Hansen: Yes. Our commander's intent is, our goal is as a sales operations team is to enable ourselves to hit their number by providing the tools, data and support necessary to be successful.

Tom Hunt: We're going to tweet that out later. Does your definition include contracts and deal desks, that's stuff no one wants to know? I'm not sure what that last part means. Does that make sense to you, Kelsi, when they asked you if your definition of sales ops includes contracts and deal desks?

Kelsi Hansen: Yes. I don't think that's necessary because we don't include that at Workfront. Deal desk is entirely separate--

Tom Hunt: Okay, cool. At Workfront anyway deal desks and contracts wouldn't sit within sales operations?

Kelsi Hansen: No, but we work very, very closely with them and have [unintelligible 00:23:23].

Tom Hunt: Cool. What do you think is the biggest challenge in your role?

Kelsi Hansen: I think the biggest challenge in my role is balancing everything that the sales operations is supposed to be doing. I think that sales operation wears a lot of hats and we're always getting pulled in a million directions where people's priorities are. That's a lot of what I do as consultant, is to help companies come up with their sales operations practices, whatever their priorities are.

[unintelligible 00:23:59] occupied the company that I started actually came up with its sales operations framework that detailed what we believe, the priorities that every sales operations team should be. I've used that playbook at Workfront to help identify what our goals are every year. It's helped me make the decision to segment my team in a specific way to [unintelligible 00:24:21]

Tom Hunt: Nice. Is that playbook available online?

Kelsi Hansen: The small operation playbook?

Tom Hunt: Yes.

Kelsi Hansen: It is not available.

Tom Hunt: It is not available online. Someone is going to have to go on the final trial [unintelligible 00:24:35] Kelsi's email if they would like-- I'm assuming you can get that by email on you Kelsi. Okay, cool. Kelsi's email will be revealed. Actually, Josh, you can put it on the chat.

Awesome. Balancing different directions. Who's pulling you in different areas? Obviously, the sales team are like, "Kelsi, come and help me with my Salesforce report."

Kelsi Hansen: Obviously, just even in a sales organization that's big, there's so many people who have done their priorities about what is the most important thing. Just because somebody has what they think is a priority doesn't mean that it really is a priority of sales operations. Then, obviously, also as sales operations we work a lot with the other operational departments in our company.

Marketing ops has a lot of initiatives that they think are really important. CX operations has a lot of initiatives they think are important. Our partner team has initiatives that they think are important. If it doesn't really fit into our top eight, then it isn't necessary. Or to our sales operation playbook, then it's something that we'd be working on.

Tom Hunt: We keep coming back to sentence that all that activity that you're prioritizing, your part against that mission statement that we went through earlier, right?

Kelsi Hansen: Absolutely.

Tom Hunt: Is that the core of the playbook?

Kelsi Hansen: Yes.

Tom Hunt: Great, makes sense. I'm learning so much.

Kelsi Hansen: [inaudible 00:26:09] commander's intent.

Tom Hunt: Another question from Dave, who handles the contracts and the follow-up?

Kelsi Hansen: The contracts and the follow-up?

Tom Hunt: Yes.

Kelsi Hansen: That would be deal desk. It does all that.

Tom Hunt: Got it. Are they part of the sales team?

Kelsi Hansen: No, they're not. They're part of finance actually.

Tom Hunt: Got it. Okay. Here's an interesting question. Is there one one single metric that you think is best to assess sales team or a sales program?

Kelsi Hansen: I don't think there's one single metric that you can use to judge all sales users by. I think, ultimately, attainment is the most important thing. I think there are a lot of factors that go into that. I don't think if a rep has a bad quarte it means they're a bad sales rep. It just might mean that we have an opportunity to coach and look into other data like philosophy, win rate, our sales price, pipeline metrics, different things like that to help coach them to be more successful. Ultimately, if they're aren't hitting the numbers, they're not fulfilling their responsibility as a sales rep.

Tom Hunt: That's the headline, [unintelligible 00:27:27] you can then dive in to other data points-

Kelsi Hansen: Yes, absolutely.

Tom Hunt: -potentially cash. What I'm really getting from almost every interview we do is how data-driven sales operations is. You want to listen to a salesperson's opinion, but actually you're then going to go and look at all of the data behind their actions.

Kelsi Hansen: Yes, absolutely.

Tom Hunt: Then you start to coach. Awesome. Final question is about who taught you what you know and if they [unintelligible 00:28:01] a lot of things.

Kelsi Hansen: The person that I've learned the most from is my current boss, who's been my boss actually the entire time at Workfront, [unintelligible 00:28:15]. He has definitely been my mentor. When I talked about my journey about being a Salesforce admin and learning different areas of the sales ops. He's been my mentor the entire time and has really helped me learn what a best-in-class those operations should be doing. We've been able to make that journey together as well [unintelligible 00:28:38]

Tom Hunt: Sure. What is his role in the business?

Kelsi Hansen: He is the director of operations, so I report to him.

Tom Hunt: He's been in the game for a while?

Kelsi Hansen: Yes. He's probably been in sales operations for 10 years.

Tom Hunt: Josh, how we doing? Any more questions on [unintelligible 00:29:06]? Cool. We have one more from Facebook. Do you have separate onboarding process? Do you use any software or technology to more efficiently onboard new salespeople?

Kelsi Hansen: Do we use any technology to more efficiently onboard them, is that what you're asking?

Tom Hunt: Yes.

Kelsi Hansen: I don't actually work a lot with onboarding process with the sales reps. That's more of the sales enablement. I know that they have a piece called Bridge, I think that's what the tool is called. You just [unintelligible 00:29:47] the different classes or areas that a sales rep needs to do or hire or whatever, something like that. They've built that all out, but that's our sales enablement team that does that.

Tom Hunt: We're going to link every piece of software that you've mentioned in the notes. Well, that was [unintelligible 00:30:10] the game. You've clearly learned a lot about what sales op is [unintelligible 00:30:16] playbook. I really like that and we're going to tweet that out later. It's super impressing to have somebody who hasn't necessarily come from a sales background and they're taking a very analytical, and I would say, thoughtful approach to sales operation. Any more questions before we go? We're good? Awesome. Kelsi, thank you so much for giving us your time.

Kelsi Hansen: Yes, absolutely. It's been a great conversation.

Jay: If anybody's listening on the podcast, Kelsi's email is kelsihansen@workfront.com. You can now see it on the slides if you're walking along with us. If you would like to know anything more about the sales operations playbook or Workfront, you can drop Kelsi an email.

As always, if you'd like to learn anything more about ebsta you can drop Henry, who's not here today an email at, I should know, Henry's email address. At henrypeacock@ebsta.com. Kelsi, thank you so much for joining us.

Kelsi: Yes, absolutely. Thank you for having me.

[00:31:31] [END OF AUDIO]

Quotes:

"Ability to empathise with sales reps and listen to their concerns to better help them." - Kelsi Hansen
"Ability to empathise with sales reps and listen to their concerns to better help them." - Kelsi Hansen
Tom Hunt

Tom Hunt

Tom Hunt is Ebsta's Head of Marketing, he is passionate about sales tech, puppies and efficient teams.
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