Sales Ops Demystified: Katyusca Barth of Intralinks
Katy Barth jumped onto Sales Operations Demystified to share her knowledge and experience in Sales Operations.
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Tom: Welcome to another episode of Sales Ops Demystified. Today, we’re joined by Katyusca who has extensive experience in sales operations, currently at Intralinks. I’ve just been through your LinkedIn profile and there seems to be a lot of experience that wasn’t labeled sale ops but actually I think would be, yes, we’re nodding. That was in the previous company that you were working at which was DHL. Actually, I’m seeing a lot of experience here also in different markets as well because you used to live and work in Brazil.
Katyusca: Yes, exactly.
Tom: Fantastic. Awesome, Katysca, welcome to the show and let’s kick off. Question number one, how did you get into sales ops?
Katyusca: It’s a good one. Actually, as you said, I grew up in Brazil. We start work quite early there. My first sales job I was 15 and I was doing cold calling.
Katyusca: Yes. I was in cold calling for a telecom company. We were a very small office, focus on BMEs. After a while there the supervisor left and I started doing graphs and reports. All of a sudden, I was helping design our Java-based CRM home-made. [chuckling] That was quite interesting. That was a long long time ago.
Tom: Was that when you were 15?
Katyusca: Yes, I was 17 by then.
Tom: Would you say that you were active in sales operations since you were 17 years old?
Katyusca: That’s correct.
Tom: You’ve got to be the youngest or the earliest starting sales–
Katyusca: I was a very old teenager. I really like spreadsheets.
Tom: Surely you had cold call targets for sales. Were you doing that in your spare time or how did you fit in that way?
Katyusca: I started as a high school internships. It was doing it as part-time at afternoon and then I went to university. I was doing marketing at the time and I started doing it full-time. I decided to leave marketing. Wasn’t for me. I decided to go to Sao Paolo. I moved to São Paulo, started studying international relations. I got my first and proper corporate job at DHL. I’m going to skip the part that I was packaging boxes, [unintelligible 00:03:05] and I’m going to go straight to the inside sales one. I was an inside sales position for a year and this crazy guy sales director at the time said to me, “I think you would be good at sales operations.”
Even though I had that experience before, I wasn’t really aware that that was what we was really. I went in a little bit blind and I then really figured out one month in the CRM left admin and I had to figure it out [unintelligible 00:03:43] on my own. Then the proper bake sales office job started. I went to sales enablement for a while. That was about the time that I decided to leave DHL and funnily enough, a old client of mine from the Express Center talked to me about this Interlinks company and had no idea what SaaS was. My knowledge of M&A market was close to zero [unintelligible 00:04:19] rooms, nothing but I did know sales processes.
The team there in Brazil gave me a lot of freedom to be creative and change processes and risk some stuff. That led me to move to Boston to our headquarters in a deal desk position, then that led me to London. For a year I was a BA in our corporate system solutions team. Then this crazy French guy LaRon [unintelligible 00:04:54] our SVP of Sales anemia, didn’t thought that I would be a good idea for me to leave to leave sales ops team and here we are.
Tom: Here we go. Right now how many people are in the sales ops team?
Katyusca: In my team, I have two amazing analysts [unintelligible 00:05:13] and Cristina.
Tom: Shout out to [unintelligible 00:05:14] and Cristina if they’re watching [unintelligible 00:05:18].
Katyusca: Yes, and globally we have about 10 people in the team. Straight sales operation, sales enablement, big auto groups. We have quite an extensive sales excellence team led by our amazing Wayne.
Tom: Okay, cool, you’re leading the global sales ops team?
Katyusca: The AMIA sales ops team.
Tom: AMIA, okay, cool, then there are around 10 in sales ops globally?
Tom: Got it, cool, how many sales people is the AMIA team responsible for?
Katyusca: All-in-all it’s about 80 people in the sales organization.
Tom: The ratio of 3 to 80?
Tom Actually what I should do with every guest I should get that ratio and we should try and we should and work out.
Tom: Anyway, awesome. Your journey, I guess, ever since you were 17 you’ve essentially been doing sales ops stuff and then that experience helped you move into that role more and more formally later in the career. Cool.
Tom: Great, okay, what do you think makes an awesome sales ops person?
Katyusca: I was thinking about that before this. I think for me it comes down to the right balance between analytics and business mindset and business acumen. I feel that if you have only the analytics part, you’re not going to be as successful. You need to understand the clients, you need to understand what it takes to win the deal, otherwise the process you build and the reports you make will not connect with the team and you’ll not add value if you don’t really understand what’s going on with the business. I think it’s that fine balance between having that analytical and process-oriented mind set and that deep understanding of the business.
Tom: I think we’ve heard it before where you really need to get into the numbers but you also need to see the bigger picture [unintelligible 00:07:22]. You have any tips on how to do that or is it just something you got used to?
Katyusca: Yes. I was lucky that my journey allowed me to do that because I had sales jobs in between, but I’ve always been very curious. When I moved to Boston and doing Deal Desk, there was part of our business that we didn’t have in Latin America because our market was just smaller and didn’t really have the need for it. I jumped in, I sat down with the sales guys, I was listening to calls to understand the entire line of business that I didn’t had experience before. It’s about being curious. You don’t have to do it yourself but you need to be curious about it and really understand it.
Tom: I find that in marketing you can as a marketing team stay away from micro-sales conversations and you think you know what the customers like or the profits one. Actually you never really know unless you’re sitting in conversations. So I guess it’s the same as sales ops, right?
Katyusca: Exactly. I feel very strongly about that. I really need to be connected to the team and understand what’s going on in front of clients.
Tom: Do you like a mandate that your analysts go and sit on sales calls, for example?
Katyusca: Yes. I ask them to do that, I ask them to be on the QPRs with them and understand how are they approaching their territories and really being client meetings if possible at least once in a while. Obviously not of every other day but at least once a quarter if possible go to a client event, talk to some clients. I definitely encourage them to do that.
Tom: Got it. Do you think that sales experience is necessary for sales operations?
Katyusca: I don’t think it’s a requirement to be a good sales operations professional to have been done sales before. I do feel that you need to understand the sales process very deeply and our clients. How our clients make decisions. This is crucial information for you to do a good job as a sales operations professional. I don’t think you need that experience necessarily yourself, but it’s a married relationship for me. You need to understand what’s going on.
Tom: Do you think that your sales experience has
has helped you?
Katyusca: Yes, definitely.
Tom: Let’s say me, and I’ve had a little bit of sales experience, but let’s just pretend I have had none then I wanted to take on a sales ops role here at ABSTA, what would I do to make sure that I understood the sales people or understood the process? What are the actual actions I would take?
Katyusca: Good question. Obviously, it would depend on how mature it is and what ease exactly you need to take on terms of building a sales operations but it’s literally I would say sit down listen to cold calls, read contracts, try to do a quote yourself see what that looks like. It’s really like just having that sense of what’s going on and what are they experiencing so that those numbers and those tables will make sense to you.
Tom: Got it. Actually, live and breathe the sales process before I try and improve it or make changes.
Tom: Cool, what is your current technology stuck at Interlinks in the sales ops world?
Katyusca: We use Salesforce as our CRM. We have quite a lot of applications in the ecosystem like Zora. I thought about mentioning High Spot which is an interesting one with a cool tool for a proposal and pitch and stuff really cool. We also use for our internal communication with the sales team et cetera. From my analytics perspective, we use OBIEE and I float around with Power VI which is something that I find very interesting for data visualization.
Tom: The Power VI?
Katyusca: Power VI, yes, it’s a Microsoft based one so everyone has it, no one really uses it. I’ve been using it. I’m really really excited about the Tableau acquisition by the way. I’m jumping out of my seat. I’m really looking forward to see what Salesforce is going to come up with because Tableau is a really powerful tool. Power VI mimics Tableau and has some features. I’m really excited about that acquisition.
Tom: When you heard it did you literally jump out of your chair?
Katyusca: I literally just jumped up. I was sending to my team like this is the biggest news of the year. I was really excited about that.
Tom: Any others?
Katyusca: We have Slack which is, you asked me my favorite tool, right now Slack is one of my favorites. Really cool collaboration tool, fast communication. It’s a really powerful tool for me in terms of collaboration. [crosstalk]
Tom: Sorry, continue.
Katyusca: An interesting one I started at using recently is Tableau, it’s a time management tool. It’s been giving me a lot of perspectives to understand where the time is going where I’m spending more time. A really cool tool.
Tom: That runs on your computer and then you can see at the end of the day if you’re on Facebook for like 2 minutes?
Katyusca: No, it’s actually I insert it. You can create projects or whatever it is that you want to track. Then you enter the time so there is a timer option. I’m using that and it’s been very interesting because you had a perception this is taking too much time. Just by doing this exercise I realized that things that I don’t necessarily perceive that is taking a lot of time are the ones actually taking more of my time. It’s a scary but interesting exercise.
Tom: Do you give any of the sales team like enablement tools?
Katyusca: What do you–
Tom: Stuff to help them call people or stuff to help them email people.
Katyusca: We’re doing some pilots with outreach. A lot of Salesforce beta applications really. We try to empower them as much as possible. We are in our transactional which is the vast majority of our business is quite hard to get in so we have to use different sources. It’s hard to come up with a very automated tool but we do our best to integrate as much as possible with the data available in the market. We have to do some maneuvers a little bit to make that happen.
Tom: Got it. Favorite tech tool is Slack.
Tom: What we’ve been doing everyday is whenever a deal closes or anything we’ll feed that directly into Slack everyone can see it. [unintelligible 00:15:12] Do you do that?
Katyusca: We do. We do it more organically. We don’t have necessarily integration. We are using some integrated features in Slack but we use Aha for innovation and stuff like that. We’re creating that culture of sharing that information. We have AMIA channel that people are talking about people who is coming in. I find it very exciting and its more approachable. People can have information on the spot. I really like it.
Tom: Awesome, how do you deal with data quality?
Katyusca: That’s the question, isn’t it? Data quality for me is my top three priority this year especially. Obviously, we’re not the CRM admins ourselves but we are a very important piece of the puzzle of the data quality. The way I see our role me and my team we’re the ones looking at the data on a daily basis. We’re the ones closer to the field to really understand the data input because that’s the key for me is understanding how the data is getting into the system. I see my role as this ambassador for the field talking to the people who are making decisions in the configuration of the system so it’s as friendly as possible so we can have quality data.
It’s a challenge. I was thinking about this question and I remember my first CRM admin position back with Siebel, we had a huge adoption problem at the time. Sales team didn’t trust the system, DHL had some pretty strong KPIs. It was a very KPI driven sales organization and people were arguing they didn’t trust the KPIs et cetera. Because my previous role was as an account executive myself, I used that experience and we did a comprehensive cleanup. I changed a bunch of stuff. I made processes that didn’t make sense and I remade them. It was a very laborious and took time. We could really clearly see the results. A year or so after, our territory planning process has improved significantly.
The level of discussions that we had to have with the field about their KPIs reduced significantly. To me one of the most important things you can do as an organization is making sure that your data inputs and the people who are in the field talking to clients it’s as friendly as possible for them, so you can have quality data to look at otherwise it’s not going to make sense.
Tom: You’re essentially linking the sales team and the people, I assume they’re in IT, who are managing all of the Salesforce admins?
Katyusca: I try to do that, to the best of my ability, yes. Not always easy.
Tom: Would a sales person march up to IT and be like, “Change this field.”?
Tom: You’re like, “No, don’t do that come to me first.” Cool, what would you say is your biggest challenge in the role?
Katyusca: I think right now one of my biggest challenges, and I don’t think I’m alone on that one, is, obviously, Interlinks is a global organization but our mother ship is in the US. It’s natural that the processes are created based on that US experience which doesn’t necessarily always apply to the complexity of the AMIA markets. This is definitely one of my biggest challenges now making sure that what we are consuming makes sense to our markets. I try to build the relationships that I’ve made when I was in the US and I keep those relationships going like knowing the right people, talking to them regularly to make sure that I’m on top of what’s coming so I can influence decision a little bit.
Hey, like this might not work for this and this situation or this market or this currency. I try to do that to the best of my ability but that’s definitely a challenge. I think it’s a natural thing. It’s never going to go away entirely but I try to do my best to stay ahead so our team here have some quality work delivered to them.
Tom: You’re saying that the challenge of managing the relationships with your American stakeholders?
Tom: Cool. Do you like– Sorry.
Katyusca: Making those decisions, helping make those decisions and influence those decisions, it’s the challenge.
Tom: You go over there every year for team events?
Katyusca: Yes, I try to go. I went two times this year. I try to, but I don’t wait to go there. I have regular one-on-one with people. I keep them on the low. I try to talk to people as much as possible so I know what’s going on.
Tom: I don’t want to be horrible to Americans, I don’t want to be prejudiced but maybe they wouldn’t understand what it’s like or they wouldn’t understand what Europe is like however 50 completely different places versus 50 different states. They do have their differences but are largely uniform in terms of currency and–
Tom: I can imagine that being frustrating.
Katyusca: I honestly don’t think is in a malicious way. It’s hard when you’re in the day-to-day trying to get stuff done and you’re going to talk to the person right next to you, “Hey, what do you think about that,” and, “Okay, then,” and then you validate it and you move on. It’s just a natural thing so I try to stay top of mind. I try to remember just make sure that you’re talking to us and you know what’s going on here.
Katyusca: Yes, definitely.
Tom: Metrics, do you have a single metric that you can judge all sales users by?
Katyusca: I don’t believe so, no. No, I don’t think there’s a one single metric. Obviously, depends on what industry you’re in and how complex is your sales cycle. You have more or less. I think metrics are a crucial critical indicator for us. I think we would go blind if we didn’t have them but I don’t think that it’s all there is. I think there always have less not so easily measurable element. We’re talking about people. People that are not clients. It’s not a all black and white thing.
I think if you spend way too many hours with your numbers and your spreadsheets and your trend lines, you lose perspective of the people and the clients and what’s going on. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of metrics, I love them. I try to get them standardized as much as possible as simplified as possible so people can truly understand them and but I think you need to also be mindful of the people element and keep perspective. Otherwise, yes, the numbers don’t tell the whole story, never.
Tom: Interesting perspective actually. We haven’t had that before but, okay. Well, I’m going to push on this. Right now at your business, if you could only use one metric to judge your reps, what would you choose?
Katyusca: One metric? I would say I cannot make up my mind on that one.
Tom: Okay, what are the options?
Katyusca: I would say definitely, people they are talking to, like coverage of the territory especially for the key accounts. I think we’re finding that being more targeted and more specific about who we are talking to is being much more effective than trying to cover everything so being more strategic about your territory, I would say that would be one of the key metrics for me. We’re building some dashboards around key accounts, crucial people to talk to because, obviously, a lot of what we do is dependent on the market. The sales team can only go so far if deals are not happening, deals are not happening, but if they are talking to the right people that will take the advantage, we’re going to have the advantage there if we’re talking to the right people.
Tom: One kind of metric not just about salesperson activity but salesperson activity with specific target accounts. Cool, we haven’t had that before. Awesome, okay, final question. Who taught you the most about sales operations or who’s inspired you? You mentioned quite a few people at the start.
Katyusca: Yes, I have to mention to two people, two very important people. Jose Estrada was the sales director who first told me that I would be good at this. He not only said that he literally spent time with me going over data stats, teaching me how to put a report together. He didn’t have to do it, I was a junior analyst, he was the director, and he did that.
Tom: [unintelligible 00:25:48]
Katyusca: Yes, he’s currently in San Francisco at Salesforce and I saw him a couple of years ago. He’s always going to inspire me. He’s an amazing guy and I wouldn’t be where I am, if wasn’t for that, that moment where he said maybe we should do that. I need to mention my pal, my mentor Greg Hetrick. He’s our amazing corporate systems director and he is such an innovator. He can make sense of really complex processes and make them easier to understand and connect the dots that no one will. He teaches me a lot. Every day I learned from him. I keep telling him to move to London but he won’t.
Tom: Is he in the US?
Katyusca: In Boston, yes.
Tom: He should definitely come over.
Katyusca: I know yes. Definitely it’s a constant learning experience and having this– he’s not in sales operations by the way but he has this process oriented mentality and he can make sense of things and that to me, it’s a crucial skill set for what we do to be able to see and anticipate issues. I constantly learning from him and it’s a really good thing to have.
Tom: Fantastic, okay, to summarize things I picked out. There’s the analytical versus the strategic mindset that you need in sales operations. There’s try not to focus too much on numbers because you’ll lose touch with what’s actually going on. With what your customers and what your sales people are feeling and what’s working or not and then that metric thing about not just looking at activity or emails sent or phone calls made but those metrics versus the strategic account that you’re trying to engage with. Fantastic. Thank you so much, Katyusca for–
Katyusca: Thank you, Tom.
Tom: Your wisdom it’s been an absolute pleasure.
Katyusca: Absolutely. Thank you so much for inviting me and yes thank you.
[00:28:11] [END OF AUDIO]