Nicholas Gollop jumped onto Sales Operations Demystified to share his knowledge and experience in Sales Operations.
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Interviewer: Hello, and welcome to a very special episode of Sales Ops demystified. We’re joined by Nicholas Gollop, who has over eight years experience in sales operations. At five different companies. We have Kimberly-Clark, Salesforce themselves. [unintelligible 00:00:22] Beamery. And now just joined Eugene [unintelligible 00:00:26] welcome.
Nicholas Gollop: Thank you. Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Interviewer: Can we kick off by understanding how you first got into sales operations?
Nicholas: Right. I think there wasn’t a specific day that I decided to join sales operations. I just eventually was dragged into this area. My first real like professional experience was in Kimberly-Clark, but that was more focused on marketing operations and brand management. We had Salesforce back then. It was a different sort of application for Salesforce, it was more sort of management of assets and management of competition between different service providers. It was very, that’s the interesting thing about Salesforce, I think you can have it work in multiple different ways.
The first actual contact was a bit before that before Kimberly-Clark, but my actual first professional experience was with that and the marketing operations side of it was a lot more focused on managing budgets and making sure that we had all the invoices correctly signed and paid. We had to do all the focus groups with the different people to understand the key and size and packaging. Sort of, it was really a well the idea of Kimberly-Clark is a fast-moving consumer goods company. It was very focused on the actual people interaction of the marketing operations and Brand Management. It was an interesting experience because we don’t have lead management.
We don’t have case management, it was more of a very human interaction interface. Then from there, I basically moved to Salesforce, focusing specifically on business operations. I started as a business operations specialist but quickly moved on to the actual sales operations side of it. I started leading the entire sales operations team in Brazil, because Salesforce back at the time was around 80 people eight zero, [crosstalk] back in Brazil. So we basically had nothing, no structure, no actual operations in the region. So I just decided to take that on.
Interviewer: With that said, you know, push you into doing that you saw that there was a need for this role. And then you went and did it?
Nicholas: Yes that’s pretty much it. Just decided to actually focus on that. That’s something that I had experience, I could actually our volume so I went down the path and started focusing on the data quality side of it, the end size and also building the structure for reporting which we didn’t have and reporting directly to the sales CEO but the President of Salesforce in Brazil and later became the general manager for the entire region. We became not only Brazil but what we called LACA, just Latin American Caribbean and basically build all the structure for the reporting. Build all the funnel conversions from starts of the lead [unintelligible 00:03:37] cycle.
The actual bringing in of the leads into the system and then converting them to qualified leads and then from qualified leads to sales to opportunities, stage one, stage twos and then on. Then from that, the entire funnel of sales, making sure that we had all– not only the data quality side of it but make sure that quotes were correct, the products were correct and we were actually tracking that correctly. It was an interesting experience because Salesforce is a– was a small company.
It felt like a startup but at the same time have the backing of Salesforce globally so we did have some [unintelligible 00:04:15] to do lots of things but that experience in Salesforce was more of a front end-user, not a power user but not as an administrator or developer, something like that. It was more of the using the tool and deep-diving into it. From there, went to [unintelligible 00:04:33] and joined the sales operations part of the business but it was focused on Salesforce to make sure that the entire sales commercial process was flowing through the system correctly, also tracking everything correctly.
We had a regional team to take care of Brazil and also the entire Latin America. It was a very similar role but at the same time more focused on the sales part, still at Salesforce part and then I’d decided to actually branch out and started helping with data insights, deep-diving into the data side of it, and just decided to come to London because Brazil, I didn’t think would be the best place to be. I decided to come to London and I’m here today so I joined Beam Ray where I was also inside the go-to-market strategy, pretty much taking all the strategy of the company and driving the company forward through data, through structuring the data because we didn’t have anything at the time and building Salesforce operations from the ground up. We had [unintelligible 00:05:42] Salesforce instance.
Interviewer: Have you always use Salesforce?
Nicholas: Yes, I’ve always used Salesforce mainly. I’ve used Pipedrive a few times and SugarCRM and Microsoft Dynamics, I’ve used twice just to test it out because it’s interesting to see what the competition brings to the table,
but mainly focused on salesforce.
Interviewer: In the last month or two you’ve moved to run celebrations at [unintelligible 00:06:08]
Nicholas: Exactly that brings us to today.
IntervieweR: Yes. That brings us to today. Current takes that [unintelligible 00:06:18] deal share for the [inaudible 00:06:21] .
Nicholas: Currently for the marketing engine we have part up which we’re using to basically track and score all the leads and then we have Salesforce on the on the sales side. We have financial force for revenue recognition and we have exactly for compensation. We are now starting to acquire different tools like [unintelligible 00:06:43] to actually integrate with the lead scoring and also lead cycle but we also have lean data to do the routing and attribution. I’m starting the process of evaluating CDQ tool, which we would eventually be bringing into organize the subscription management.
In terms of data visualization we have heap which is a tool to basically allows to see interactions with the platform from the user side as he track usage and also understand patterns of behaviors. We’re in the process of also skewing down a few things that we don’t need but also bring to the table things that will actually add value.
Interviewer: Moving on let me just have an understanding of the amount of salespeople on the side of your team so that I can understand the ratios.
Nicholas: Currently, on the sales team we have 27 people split between the account managers and the front end sales team which is a new business. But one of the things that I thought was very interesting about judo is that we have a unified view of what Salesforce should look like mostly. Many companies that I’ve worked for we have different sorts of tools integrating into Salesforce and sometimes they’re not native. The integration process can be very hard not very smooth most of the time.
They always had a view of if you’re if we’re going to get something that integrates with Salesforce if there isn’t a native tool then we’ll have to evaluate with more care. But if there isn’t one like power, for example, we should definitely go with that which is in much cleaner view of the operations and makes life a lot easier in my opinion. The reason why maybe if we go with something like CDQ we would eventually go with the native solution.
Interviewer: How many people in your know sales ops team?
Nicholas: Sales ops is two people. Me and we have a currently a new marketing operations manager who’s taking care of the part of side.
She also has lots of experience in terms of the actual scoring, two years of experience and she now takes care of the initial funnel side of the panel.
Interviewer: She in the sale actually before you joined?
Nicholas: There were. Actually, there were two. One was also head of sales operations. She was taking care of pretty much the same structure and there was one before her.
Interviewer: [unintelligible 00:09:28] on data quality management and flow. What do you guys [unintelligible 00:09:32] maintain good data on the inside sales force or some part of that?
Nicholas: We have an interesting way of doing that. We do this in a platform where we store data and we store information on companies, on private and public companies. We found a way to harness that information into Salesforce. We have that-
Interviewer: All available data is since outsourced or [inaudible 00:10:01] working on customers?
Nicholas: We have all the data there and we have a way of constantly reaching that data. It’s part of the integration that we’re building with the backend API which constantly feeds that information into Salesforce and allows us to take more for decisions.
Nicholas: That is a big part of our data quality. That works very well. I’ve seen and worked with different tools in the past like clear bit, for example, there also this prospecting enrichment platform but having something natively done in-house is really- [crosstalk]
Interviewer: [unintelligible 00:10:44] I guess for you, [unintelligible 00:10:44] make your job harder or easier on a change having this massive amazing database thing in you Salesforce?
Nicholas: Oh, easier for sure. Absolutely, the idea of having reliable data that we know is already checked is actually correct is something that I’ve never done before because it was always around the third party [unintelligible 00:11:05] and that makes the life not only easier but we can actually rely on data a lot more and the checks that we have to run are not that often because the data is correct.
Nicholas: That’s the point here.
Interviewer: Do that then give you more time to invest in other initiatives to your best having to do so many data quality projects?
Nicholas: Yes. There is also the second side of data quality. The first one is the systems coming in, bringing in the information and the other one is from the sale side.
Nicholas: The data quality side is never over in sales operations ever. We always have to keep tracking what people are doing, how people are doing, how people are filling in the information if you feed any information at all, to be honest. The direct answer to that is no. It will always have [unintelligible 00:11:59] [crosstalk]
Interviewer: Okay, can we switch now to probably [unintelligible 00:12:04] over there from your eight years experience working with salespeople what are the good ways to get a sales team or a salesperson to do something new from your process or tour that they might not want to do? How do you go around getting salespeople to change behavior?
Nicholas: That I think from the three things that I think sales operations is actually based on which is data quality, enablement, and the actual processes. Those basically the three main pillars or sales ops. That is by far the hardest one because it’s really hard to show the value that you’re trying to add it to the day-to-day of the sales rep. There’s no actual exact map or science behind that. I try to always show value in terms of what you can actually achieve from that. How it implements your new process for example with validation rules will allow you to insert data in a specific way but then we can basically say if you have a sales rep working on a specific territory, specific industry I usually ask them so how would you do that if you don’t have the data.
How will your job be easier without the data? My job is to make your job easier, technically. Once we get through that barrier and I think going back to [unintelligible 00:13:33] because it’s by far the best example we have a team that actually understands that concept and that the system is there to not hinder their performance to actually make it better and make life a lot easier. The end goal is pretty much that. If you don’t help it, it can’t help you back.
Interviewer: With that understanding, we’re already there if you [unintelligible 00:14:02] what you’re doing?
Nicholas: There’s always a constant job of still working that through. We have a very cautious team. They’re very good people in terms of they know what they can achieve with the system that is in good shape but there is always the constant work on making sure that they’re always aligned with the process.
Interviewer: Making salespeople more productive. What’s something that you’ve done previously that has managed to boost productivity of the rep?
Nicholas: I think automation. Automation is by far the best way to go and I always try to look at automation as being the go-to strategy for any sort of operation and any sort of tool that we have. If it can be automated, then great. I always try to find these gaps in the day to day where an automation could actually help in bringing more value.
Interviewer: [unintelligible 00:15:09] anytime?
Nicholas: Yes, absolutely. Very basic, we have opportunities lifecycle, right? It starts from the first stage. Instead of having to, for example, inserts– when you close a winning opportunity, for example. There are multiple things that you should do technically on the account when it becomes a customer. You should be filling in specific fields that are related to a customer when it converts, changing the account type, for example, of a customer. You can change that all through workflows and process builders.
We can actually build a sequencing where when you close one of the opportunity, the only thing you need to do is work the renewal, because the renewal will be automatically generated. The account will be converted into a customer, automatically bringing in the new fields on automatically with a different record type, with a different page layout. These are small things, but actually help the sales rep not have to manually inputs same things, also decreasing the margin of error.
Interviewer: You are investing upfront either with your time or the time of a developer to reduce, to shave off a few minutes opportunity [unintelligible 00:16:23]
Nicholas: Yes. That’s the general idea. I’ve never actually worked with a developer, I usually just gathered knowledge throughout different things. When I joined Beamery, I didn’t really have the developer knowledge, part of it. I managed to gather that with the Salesforce community with reading articles and reading the actual logic. I understand coding a bit-
Interviewer: You are actually still there building automations?
Nicholas: Yes, I build the automations, I build the process builder, I build all the workflows, all the validation rules. I know exactly where to check and that’s, I think, is the art of it. If you see a user who has an error when adding a product, for example, an opportunity and you know how it behaves, and you know the back end of it. It’s a lot easier to tackle the issue and solve the issue, and faster because instead of having to go to a developer or anything like that, you just do it yourself.
Interviewer: It’s interesting because we’ve had people in our interview that have come from sales, and I wouldn’t say a technical– Have been a sales person and then worked more on the sales side, but then I also have had a few people [unintelligible 00:17:34], technical people, it’s interesting how these two different archetypes and both have that strength, right? Do you think that ultimately a good sales Ops team would need both of these archetypal personalities? What do you think?
Nicholas: Well, yes. Answering short, yes, I think so. What I
try to see myself not being extremely technical even though I have lots of technical knowledge. I have been focusing because a technical knowledge you can learn from reading and from learning coding. You can get that easier, but the business side of it is the challenging part because you need to be with people that you relate to and people who actually teach you. You can actually have to experience the business from a top-down way. It is important. I’ve been through that setting where I didn’t need the technical side, but I needed the actual business side of it, but definitely, we need both sides, ideally.
Interviewer: Assuming Judo [unintelligible 00:18:51] and you then have to go hire someone for your team. Would you look for someone with sales experience?
Nicholas: Yes, I would because I also have sales experience. I was also an Account Executive while ago. I know the pains but being process-driven and technical at the same time I knew the value that salesforce could bring. I also was there encoding data at the same time because I knew the value it brings. You also need to be on the front end and if you can get the backend experience also great but we need someone who’s been there and lived through the battle that is outbounding sales and inbound sales. I would definitely look for someone with sales experience, but I would also need someone who’s very focused on technical side cut.
Interviewer: Moving on to forecasting at Judo, are you responsible for building the sales forecast or you just give the Head of Sales the tools to do that?
Nicholas: It’s a bit of a mix. Currently, at least when I joined, we had an understanding of the forecast. We were using the forecast categories. It was well structured. Judo had just come from a sales process rebuilding, and that was for me one of the best things because for a company that size go through a sales process rebuilding was a new one for me. That was good because they had all the processes there. They understood at least the path that they should follow. There were little brushes here and there that’s fine that’s part of it, but the forecasting was part of it. We just didn’t have dash force.
We didn’t have a clear view of the new process within forecasting so
I built the actual roles to replicates the initiatives that you’d always try to pursue, and then translated that into the dashboards and gave the COO the visibility that he needed plus individual visibility for each person. That is all done through Salesforce, which some people don’t. Some people do it via Excel sheets or anything like that. I usually tend to prefer to keep everything within Salesforce, especially now that lightning has the capability of easily adding quotas into Salesforce before had to be done by a Data Loader and was a mess. A mess [crosstalk].
Interviewer: You’re saying that your Salesforce house, everything comes in through Salesforce through the data the salespeople are giving, then filter that through these reports and I suppose that you can show for this year?
Nicholas: Yes, exactly. We have role-based forecasting. That’s all organized now, which wasn’t. Now, we have the roll-ups. Basically, the director is they can see their subordinates right below them. Then the COO can see all the directors, which are the roll-ups of [unintelligible 00:22:17]. He has a clear view of that. We’re moving to a concept that if it’s not in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist, which I think is vital to move forward. Everything is now based on the data quality if it’s not there, we don’t care and it’s just doesn’t count, which is one way of going.
Interviewer: Did the COO, have the results before going?
Nicholas: With the new sales process? No, a few were broken. That’s the thing with sales ops people. What I’ve seen back in the past, basically are people who want to do things their way. I want to do this my way, I don’t care about anything else. I think, Well, technically, you shouldn’t, because it’s not your way, it’s the business way. If you do things your way. If you eventually leave, the person who’s picking out from you is going to have the nightmare of a job to actually figure out your logic.
If you build something towards the business logic, and you understand the business, because the business is going to be there, if you leave or not, then it’s a lot easier. I tend to build things that are going to last a lot longer than I do. Everything is built with that concept in mind. I’m building things that will last based on roles on people, for example, because people live and the dash would break and that is the common thing that I see.
Interviewer: Even if or when you leave the process is still there.
Nicholas: Yes, that’s the idea. I know that I had a last to my entire life at [unintelligible 00:23:51] but again, the point is, we need things to be saleable and last, that’s the thing.
Interviewer: Metrics, which in your eight years career, which sales-related metric have given you the most insight?
Nicholas: There are multiple I think. There’s the back end side of the KPIs as metrics, which I use to score data quality, which is what I call “clean your room.” Which basically allows me to have a view of all owned accounts and opportunities that are either stalled with age, that haven’t moved through the pipeline in X amount of time, no activities since X amount of time, so you can basically build correlations between ages and activities.
That is one that’s very handy. The breakdown of the entire business in terms of not only closed one, but what we are actually expanding on. We have one, the business is great, but then we still have customers. How do we actually track that? How do we track the expansion? How does track contraction? How does track churn? [unintelligible 00:25:09] et cetera and win ratios. Then, what is the win ratio? Depends on the company and how you categorize win ratio. These are very high-level things that I think are very interesting. Then if we can drill that down by industry, depending on the business they have verticals, then you can drill down that into these specific verticals and that would be very helpful.
Interviewer: If he has a [unintelligible 00:25:33] one, metric.
Nicholas: One or a combination of two maybe.
Interviewer: Okay, we can do it. I’ll take two.
Nicholas: Transactions and win ratios I think.
Interviewer: Number of total–
Interviewer: Then the percentage [unintelligible 00:25:53] Forget the [unintelligible 00:25:54] I’m not [unintelligible 00:25:55] Win ratio is you take the total amount of opportunities and then
Nicholas: One over total close. We don’t consider [unintelligible 00:26:05] for that. There are multiple things that we can look at. For forecasting, there are a few, but then if you’re looking at the business, then there are multiple that you could actually look at. Number of activities that tracks for performance, for individual people, stall pipelines so you can know exactly what is sitting where, for how long. I think if you can track the number of transactions versus the number of win won opportunities or loss, and the reason that you’re losing them, I think that that is really key, to understand why you’re losing and why you’re winning as well.
Interviewer: A final question is on who in [unintelligible 00:26:46] lot at Saleops would you really like to take for lunch?
Nicholas: I think there is two sides to that question. One is the person I have never met and the other one is a person who actually helped build the foundation of
my knowledge. I would definitely like to see how he’s doing, we haven’t spoken in a while but most of the things that helped me get into this area and actually opened my eyes, my perception about sales operations came from a person who’s still back and working at Salesforce but if I could, I would definitely like to take out, I think Keith block.
He’s the former COO, current co CEO of Salesforce. He has an interesting story, he’s been in Oracle forever then joined Salesforce back in 2015 or even more than that.
I joined the CEO, then one of them started this model of becoming co CEO with Marc Benioff and for you to reach that sort of level he must be really impressed with you.
Interviewer: [laughs] Yes, you must be pretty impressive. He worked with us right here as the Salesforce. Do you know what his role was at Oracle?
Nicholas: He was VP of operations, of operations in general.
Interviewer: That sounds good to me. Okay, cool. Here are the things I liked. I haven’t heard thee three ways of working at Salesops, it takes quality process and enablement, that’s what you said. That’s a really interesting way of splitting down everything in sales operations. Your point about building stuff based on business logic, not just the way you want to run Salesforce, I think it’s so important, right? Because you are trying to build something that’s going to outlast you, I think might not actually be that great for you but it is the best thing for the business and that’s why it could be a good thing for you because your boss or the business know that you’re actually build something sustainable.
Nicholas: Yes, that’s true.
Interviewer: A few things. Thanks so much for your time.
Nicholas: Thank you very much. It was a huge pleasure to be here.
[00:29:05] [END OF AUDIO]