Sr. Director Revenue Operations & Enablement: Marc Runyan of Nitro, Inc.
Marc Runyan jumped onto Sales Operations Demystified to share his knowledge and experience in Sales Operations.
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Tom Hunt: Welcome to another very special episode of Sales Ops Demystified. We are joined by Marc Runyan, who currently is directing our revenue operations and enablement at Nitro Inc. Marc has over 10 years experience in roles related to sales ops at a variety of different businesses, so we are going to jump into that now. Marc, welcome to the show.
Marc Runyan: Hello, this is Marc?
Tom: Cool. The first question. How did you originally get into sales operations?
Marc: Sure. I formally have a degree in learning and enablement and training and ended up doing sales training, product training, skills training, building out things like TAS sales methodology for sales companies. Then found myself working as a curriculum developer for Salesforce and learned quite a bit about Salesforce and the tool and the systems.
When I moved to a larger company as a sales trainer and as a manager of sales training, it’s a good opportunity in sales ops to start up that department, but quickly found there are a lot more to do than just sales training in terms of enablement. Learn a lot of time with tools, enablement, analytics, compensation. Learn all about these different things and the enablement possibilities got bigger than just focus on the training aspect of it.
Tom: Got it. You combined a background in learning and also a more technical skillset in Salesforce development. That got you into the role and then since then, you’ve broadened out your skills.
Marc: Yes. No, that’s exactly right. I think it’s– uses both, lots of different sides of the brand. I get to do a lot of training, I work with people. Then I get to do a lot of systems and analytics as well, so it’s fun.
Tom: Got it. Do you enjoy those different parts equally or do you prefer one?
Marc: Depends on the day, but I enjoy them equally at different times, for sure. I think that I’ve grown to learn and love analytics, systems and process, and making sales reps’ lives easier and more efficient. That part of it as well, the operations and process piece.
Tom: Got it. Can we focus on Nitro at the moment? What’s the size of the sales organization that you’re currently supporting?
Marc: Well, it’s probably about 50 globally, including our BDR teams and support teams.
Tom: Then how many in the operation side if it? Just yourself or do you have multiple people?
Marc: Right now, we have six. I used to have the [inaudible 00:02:44] team report in to me. We have six, but a lot of it’s one enablement person, someone is focused on compensation, forecasting, someone’s working on CPQ and processes and integrations, and then a Salesforce administrator. Then I have a global person who sits in Europe that supports the global timezone.
Tom: Go it. Then, do you report into the VP of sales?
Marc: No, I report to the CEO currently, and oftentimes, I reported in to the CRO.
Tom: Got it. Okay, cool. What is the current sales techs that you’re using at Nitro?
Marc: Salesforce, clearly. Also, I have the marketing operations team under me since it’s [inaudible 00:03:28] operations. She manages all the Marketo and the front end of that piece. Then, we use SalesLoft for emailing for the reps for personalized emails, touches, cadences, if you’re familiar with that tool. We use DiscoverOrg, we also have DataHog and InsightSquared for reporting and analytics, and other data cleaning tools, smaller tools like demand tools help us keep it clean. It’s generally about it, those are the key tools.
Tom: Got it. Do you currently have any active projects focused on data quality in Salesforce? Do you actively do things or do you react to challenges you have with data?
Marc: No. When I came in about a year ago, there was a lot of things that needed to get done. You have to really prioritize cleaning and different organizations have different cleaning problems. I was lucky enough in this situation, I didn’t have a huge duplicate problem, for example. We do have a lot of leads and there’s a lot of fields. There is some work going on right now and actively set up some prevention.
Primarily, the number one cleanup item we’re doing right now is flipping to address [inaudible 00:04:51] and the Salesforce new address module to keep that clean because the address is on accounts. The number of employees are really the backbone for keeping your systems clean. If you don’t have good addresses on accounts, good emails, good domains, it’s really hard to keep things clean, so we’re flipping over to that new module.
Then we also do a lot of prevention methods, a lot of the health check dashboards, missing these fields, making things required. We do some validation rules and things. We’re constantly trying to keep it clean, but the most active one right now is just getting our addresses all cleaned up because then we can match to DMV or match to DiscoverOrg and get some great data around our accounts.
Tom: Got it. It’s your team, they’re responsible for data quality in both Marketo and Salesforce.
Marc: Yes, absolutely.
Tom: Got it. Shifting on to working with the 50 sales reps you have, do you have any– from your background in training and people, any tips for influencing people or working with people to do new stuff that maybe they wouldn’t actually want to do?
Marc: I think you always have to show the value. You have to show the value and you have to gain respect and credibility with the sales team in whatever sales ops role you’re in. That comes with– it’s a [inaudible 00:06:20] time and you do need to be reactionary and help people solve things. Oftentimes, you’ll be in a situation where the business needs sales reps to enter data [inaudible 00:06:31] , that’s just the constant.
If you can show the value of doing so, adding this field or adding that data point downstream or show how to reduce clicks– There’s a lot of things I have done in the past where it’s like if you enter the data in at the beginning in the right address, well, you’re not going to have to enter it two more times when you get to CPQ or you get the opportunity. It’s a lot about automating it and showing the value to the reps.
I do believe that you can build systems in Salesforce that really will help enable reps and a lot of times you get trapped in this. Management wants people to do this in that field. There’s a balance there to make it happy for the rep to be able to do stuff and be able to automate and reduce the number of clicks and reduce the number of fields.
Tom: Got it. You might have requirements from stakeholders that you’re going to buffer and maybe tweak to pass on maybe not the full extent to the reps either by saying no to stakeholders or by automating stuff in Salesforce.
Marc: Exactly. A lot of times, I’ll get a request from a manager at marketing, “We need reps to enter this data,” and I’ll say, “Well, no. Let’s look at alternatives. Can we append the data? Can we have sales ops do it? Can we have them enter one field and then from that one field derive a couple more fields?” Anything you can do to automate and reduce the steps for reps because look, it’s always going to grow.
You want to keep that in the back of your mind at all times. Once reps understand that you’re on their side doing that, then you get a lot of credibility as well.
Tom: That’s it, right? If they see you as on their team representing them in front of the rest of the business. Is there anything else you guys are doing to make the reps more productive apart from trying to get rid of unnecessary data entry?
Marc: I think that we constantly try to build reports that help them out. Things that can help them self calculate compensation, for example. We don’t want to necessarily have them going to look at their comps and Excel and doing some crazy stuff. Let’s try to figure out how to take that off their plate and to get them comfortable with it. Let’s look at tools. There’s other tools for append tools on leads so they don’t necessarily have to go find out if that phone number’s valid or not valid.
Let’s try to append the right phone number. Let’s look at one of those cool tools today. They were looking at helping with territory planning, helping to prioritize accounts, contacts so that they’re taking away some of that kind of burden. Any of those little things helps.
Tom: Got it. Is there anyway you can measure the increased productivity by all the staff? Can you somehow calculate the amount of time they’re spending selling versus doing admin?
Marc: It’s a good question. I haven’t actually tried to sit down and do that. I think that there’s a click reduction intuitively, you can look at it and go, “Well, they went from five clicks to two clicks.” I haven’t really operationalized it to that degree. There’s certainly times where I’ll pull reports or territory report and I’ll spend two hours, but on a new hire who’s doing territories, to have them prioritize their accounts, that takes a few days and you have to teach them how to do it.
If you can hand deliver it, you take away a lot of that extra time. It’s a good question, I don’t have a good solid way to make that quantitative.
Tom: No one’s really– I don’t think anyone’s come back and given a good way to measure that is maybe episode number 47 I think and we haven’t had that yet, so if anybody does have a good method, reach out. Onboarding salespeople, do you have any tips to reduce ramp time?
Marc: Having a good setup and good role base– I’ll call it role based, depending on if you’re a BDR if you’re an AE, a good curriculum, meeting the right people, getting the tools, that all goes hand in hand with onboarding. The thing that I’m doing now that I’ve found interesting is working backward from their ramp and when the quota starts and the activities.
Then asking ourselves, “Okay, in week one you need to learn these three tools, and then you need to show me that you know these tools by sending out 20 emails or downloading 20 contacts. Then every week, you’re going to do so many activities, so many emails, eventually, you’re going to have to create an opportunity.” Week by week, map it out for them so the reps can track their progress.
Hopefully, by the end of the six weeks or whatever it is you decided is that ramp time, they’ve done those things, and then their pipeline starts building. The reps, it’s not just a fluff, “Hey, meet this person and sales ops and talk about Salesforce.” That’s really quantitative. We’re here, the steps you’re going to do that we’re going to help you with to actually get you to get your selling.
In the end of the day, sales reps really want to– they want to be successful and they want to sell. Anything you can do to help them do that and you got to have meetings, you got to send out emails. It’s just the way it is.
Tom: Cool, so not bringing people in and doing like two weeks of training. You’re bringing people in and have a few hours. Then as time goes, give training as they’re actually doing their roles.
Marc: As they do it as a role– CPQ is a great example. You do need to do a quote on day one or create opportunity on day one. It may take you two, three weeks. Show thema lot of create activities. Show [inaudible 00:12:16] get emails, get really comfortable with that. Then come back in for a few hours a session and show them how to create an opportunity. Then once they get opportunities, show them how to build a quote. They’re not going to–
You’ll be lucky to find somebody who creates an opportunity in the first couple of weeks, maybe renewals rep or something. I am taking it a little bit more of a [inaudible 00:12:34] . Can we afford? Is it two-week ideal? To fly somebody in to do a two-week onboarding session? That’d be great. I don’t know that we can afford that anymore. It’s one person, right?
It’s great for them to meet people, but that’s a lot.
Marc: Sometimes they forget, I also find is another tip on that. You give them a big week or two-week long training and then a month later, they were so overwhelmed. They’re like, “I forget how to do any of that stuff,” because they’re not using, so it’s better to do it– I like to do more real-time.
Tom: Can we talk about the forecasting process? What the sales ops team’s role in that? How are you currently forecasting for this or next quarter?
Marc: We set up all the systems to do that. We’re using a system called DataHog right now. It’s very similar to the old school Salesforce. There’s multiple different ways of forecasting. The reps give an override number and most likely a best case commit type number, and then the managers do an override on top of that. That’s not that different. What’s important in all that is we also have some trending.
Which we show the managers and have that front and center so that they can see that trending by rep, by region and they can put a predictor on that given the trends year over year, quarter over quarter. Then that just rolls up to the management team. Our team is heavily involved in that and working with managers to get there.
Tom: Got it. You guys are ensuring the data is working and you present that to the management teams, and then that rolls up to the sales leadership and the CEO?
Marc: Yes, basically correct. Then the sales managers have an opportunity to use the data we use. To get their own override judgment on that.
Tom: Because they know more about the deals, they know the reps. If there’s one rep who they know is super optimistic, they’ll reduce that rep’s forecast.
Marc: Yes. If they know somebody who has a tendency to bring in a bunch of new deals because they can convert leads fast towards the end of a quarter, they may account for that. There’s different variables that I think– A lot of these systems are great at showing prediction and what’s going on and doing data entry, but there’s still a human element to an art to some of the forecasting I believe.
Tom: Then metrics. From your over 10 years experience in sales ops, what has been a sales a metric that you have found insightful?
Marc: Well, there’s a lot of metrics out there. I do think that it’s important to benchmark meetings. A lot of people [inaudible 00:15:27] email sent or phone calls, but being able to look at and getting a consistent cadence for reps to be showing past meetings that they have, and then also future meetings to show where there are. Look, face it. You can send out all email to the world, you don’t get a face-to-face interview.
You can do some deals via email, but likely, you need to talk to a customer. It’s a good predictor to see if you can convert those to opportunities. It seems so simple, but getting a whole sales team to get consistent and log their activities and log their meetings can be challenging. You want to be able to automate that so that there’s not a whole bunch of a manual process. There’s all kinds of other things too, like sales velocity, time and stage, conversion rates, but it depends on the types of [inaudible 00:16:17].
If it’s an inbound team, it’s going to be about conversion and lead conversion. If it’s an outbound team, it’s going to be more about meeting creation and contacts and customer engagement with us. I know you guys do a little bit of that too. [inaudible 00:16:31] customers responding or emails and engaging in our conversation? Because if it’s just one-sided, it’s not going to– we need to get the customer engaged and talking to us back. This I’m sure you know.
Tom: Got it. Yes. A final question is, who in the world of sales ops have taught you the most?
Marc: I don’t know. When I first started over 10 years ago, and as I was starting the training and a VP of sales ops– I remember reporting in to VP of sales ops at the time. I think he came back from the sales background and MBA background. I came from a learning background, so we really gelled really well on who did what. I did systems part and I did that [inaudible 00:17:13] management while working with the sales.
He really showed me about everything I know on that. I got to do a lot of different things in that growing company, so that was very excited.
Tom: What was his name?
Marc: His name is Alex [inaudible 00:17:25] .
Tom: Shout out to Alex. We do have a question here from Zach. How do you approach the process of filtering leads from marketing to sales?
Marc: It’s always a good question. A lot of people do lead scoring. That can get complicated. A lot of times, I do my best to get visible and send them direct to the rep if I can. There’s been a big movement I think in the last five, 10 years about, “Okay, let’s do smaller amounts of lead forms and less fields on the lead form.” Well. Well, the downside– you got to append that on a lead, the downside of that is accuracy getting it to the reps. If you can get the leads directly to the rep– which is one of the things I’m working on now, it’s a lot nicer than have them go to a queue and getting that list. We’re in a situation where we want reps to respond to every lead, I’m starting to have them convert leads quickly to contacts rather than let them sit too long.
It’s those kind of things you really got to monitor. Got to keep on it, get a good dashboard, get the leads directly to the rep.
Tom: Right now, all the leads coming in through Marketo are being filtered to a rep?
Marc: More or less. We got some that we put on hold per se and go through nurture program and then bubble up to reps.
Tom: Then one final. Zach’s very active today. It is quite a broad one. How do you measure success in sales operations?
Marc: It’s always a great question, especially when you’re doing sales enablement. It is important to have kudos from the sales team, and have that respect. When people go ask the sales team, “How you’re doing?” It’s great for them to say, “Great. We like those guys and girls.” Then, also, if you look back— I like to look for meetings as a great example or activities.
If we set up systems and then create more meetings and create more activities and implement those and gain adoption, I will certainly look at that and say, “Well, opportunity creation has increased because of that.” Efficiency, it’s a hard one, as we mentioned earlier. If you can figure out that one, and show on how much time we’re saving. Measurement, it’s a little bit more anecdotal. That’s important as well.
Tom: Well, these are the things that I picked out, that I particularly enjoyed. A number of times you mentioned about the relationship with sales reps. You really have a great handle on that. the important thing you said right at the end though was that you really want the sales team to be like, “Yes, we like these guys,” when asked about sales ops, and so getting the respect to them, it’s a really good measure of success.
You also said earlier about you wanting to show them that you’re on their team and you need to show them the value when you’re trying to get them to adopt process. I thought that was really important. Self calculated comp is something I haven’t heard before. That’s really, really interesting because it takes the doubt or the questions out of the rep’s mind during the month.
They can quickly go and calculate where they are and it’s transparent for everybody. I think that’s powerful. Then the final point was about the onboarding and not lumping training at the start where reps will just forget, and actually bring them out through the journey. Those are my insights. Thank you so much for your time Marc.
Marc: No problem. Thank you. It’s fun.
[00:21:12] [END OF AUDIO]