Interviewer: Hello and welcome to another edition of Sales Operation Demystified and we’re joined by Jonny Day of Crowdcube.
Jonny: Hello, Good afternoon.
Interviewer: Head of sales operations?
Interviewer: This is fantastic. Also as a customer-
Interviewer: -we’ve had one other customer on the sho do it’s going to be super interesting. We haven’t actually had any person the last five have been remote. This is great to have you back to have someone back in the room. We’re going to go through the normal nine questions. If you have any questions if your watching live, feel free to ping him a chat and we will answer them as well as we can. Jonny, how did you get into sales operations?
Jonny: It’s been a bit of a strange one for me. Actually, I’m from a digital marketing background-
Jonny: -so I spent the best part of 8 to 10 years working in digital marketing. Basically, there was a requirement in the business to move into sales operations.
Interviewer: You were doing digital marketing at Crowdcube?
Jonny: I was doing digital marketing at Crowdcube. Basically, we decided to rein back off digital marketing activity because we wanted to focus more on B2B and then there was a requirement specifically to focus on supporting sales team, sales enablement, CRM and they just wasn’t anybody in that role. Really, we’ve just literally today put a new job role up for someone to come and work alongside me at Crowdcube because–
Interviewer: In sales operations?
Jonny: In sales operations because we’ve seen the value that it can generate. Interestingly, when I started doing this probably about 18 months ago, there wasn’t any jobs out of sales operations. Whereas now, if you go on LinkedIn, there’s loads.
Jonny: There’s definitely a requirement and a recognition of the value of data in sales operations and the importance that you need your sales guys out and about. They need to do admin but they also need people supporting them on sales enablement side of things.
Interviewer: In the last 18 months, you’ve seen more demand for the role?
Jonny: Yes. Definitely.
Interviewer: This make sense if you going to furnish more about around the topic. But I’m struggling to understand why?
Jonny: I think because there’s always the challenge between sales and marketing. Originally when I moved into the sales team, I was still actually reporting into the CMO. I’m from the world where back in the days I was having to manipulate manage Google feeds. That wasn’t all automated so I’m quite kind of data savvy. Basically, you’re in a situation now, where you going to keep your data really solid and robust for the sales guys so you can monitor the pipeline. You then need to keep the data really robust so that when you get to year end you can do your connection between pipeline and revenue.
Then you also need to keep it really tight for relationships with third parties and partners. You also need to keep it great for the marketing guys because a huge about of retention is driven off the data. So you end up in a situation where if you don’t have great data from the sales guys you then everything slowly starts to crack and fall over. That’s the requirement is reinforcing, training and educating.
Interviewer: Do you think then that the reason is much bigger now than I would say two or three years ago just because there’s more data?
Interviewer: That’s why?
Interviewer: That makes sense to me. That’s probably only going to become more of a requirement in the coming years, right? As we get more data alongside?
Jonny: More and more of the big platforms, I mean if you’re a Salesforce user or a HubSpot user they’ve got incredible [unintelligible 00:03:59] on top of the platforms. You don’t have to be a data guru. In the same way, as if your using DbVisualizer or something like that, where you’re getting into the sequel and down in the detail. There are all those benefits but there’s also that connection between analytics and data analytics, web analytics, Google analytics and then sales analytics. The requirement is pushing all towards.
Interviewer: So no plans to move back into marketing any time soon?
Jonny: Not at the moment.
Interviewer: That may be. Okay. Fantastic. Let’s move on to question number two. What do you think makes an awesome sales op person?
Jonny: It’s a good question. I think you have to be quite– you obviously have to be passionate in order to be good at anything. You have to have that kind of mastery of 10,000 hours. I don’t think I’m there yet but–
Interviewer: How many hours do you think you have?
Jonny: Getting close. Maybe halfway there, I’d say.
Interviewer: In sales operations?
Jonny: In sales operations specifically. For me, the way I tackled it originally because I moved from marketing into a B2B role. Then B2B means CRM management which is a huge part of sales operations. For me where the connection really came was using third-party data. There’s a huge amount of value. There’s a huge amount of businesses that provide data. That’s fine but the way you use and execute that data then obviously enables your sales team to grow. Because what they’re really crying out for is sort of that inside sales piece which is how do I make sure my sales guy who spend years and years training on delivering conversions through signing terms, shaking hands, closing deals.
He wants more time sat in a room. In our business to with entrepreneurs and less time having to do manipulating data, filtering inbound, managing lists. He wants somebody to do it for him so that he can just crack on. We’re using a lot of third-party data to drive growth. With technology, we’ve got a fantastic data partner we work with them an extra [unintelligible 00:06:15]. They help us to make that data smarter. That might be using dates to filter when we might contact people, drive automation.
Jonny: We then starting to use machine learning. Using attributes and leading indicators of who to contact when and why. There’s loads of possibilities. Well, for me its really important for sales operations person. I also think it’s just a requirement now to be for one of a better word, you need to be commercially minded because I work in the start-up and we are striving to get profitability. Everything we’ve done this year in terms of our sales model directly links back to revenue. We sat down for three weeks in January and just said, “Right, this is how much money we made, last year.” Then we reversed engineered everything up from the revenue.
Being able to go into that detail is really important. Then for me, it’s just the age-old thing your cross-collaboration. Working with product managers like
we’ve got a Salesforce admin so I work very closely with her, working with product so that they know what you might need from an engineering [unintelligible 00:07:31] requirement. Working with our legal team, finance everyone wants help guidance and support. The more that you can help and guide them the more that you move towards that ultimate sort of model which is customers in the middle and everyone is providing support. You’re helping enable them optimizing improving them to do that.
Interviewer: Nice. Just to jump back to the data piece, I understand that the business need for you guys. Crowdcube raises funds for the start-up of small businesses and from the crowd. There’s a massive list of investors and you then you want to try and get the best small business of start-up to lift. Then you guys could take a cut from both sides or just the–
Interviewer: You essentially one, you’re like data players to understand all of the good small businesses start-ups in the– [unintelligible 00:08:23] Is it the UK?
Jonny: Yes. We’ve got an operation in Spain and we do raise finance for businesses in Europe but obviously, there’s regulatory issues. But broadly speaking UK market is still massive.
Interviewer: You essentially need to get a picture of all the good business that may want to raise finance and then you want to choose the ones for your salespeople to go I speak with, right? After that, your job is making your sales even more effective to go and find the good ones?
Interviewer: All right. Cool. Got it.
Jonny: The way I always come back to it is that concept of everyone likes to think that their brain is better than a machine. But actually, if you teach the machine in this instance, it’s actually just to do with repetition and building and building and building. So that a salesperson comes in every day in the works there. In front of him in his CRM, it’s great. Well, it’s Monday, I know on Monday I’ve got three meetings, I’ve got two hours where I can set aside sometimes and do some admin and then rest of the time, I’m doing this, this and this because my diary is populated unless [unintelligible 00:09:27] on ground zero and then you just keep on working forward in that way.
Interviewer: Don’t make them think they come in and they just have to like they have become a machine whether it’s doing what they told by their [crosstalk].
Jonny: You’re there to optimize your sales team which if some people might think you’re making them look good then that’s good.
Interviewer: How many people in the sales team did you run?
Jonny: We have two or three people in our partnership’s team. We have two or three people in our inbound team. They sit very closely with our partnerships functions. Then we’ve got five or six guys in our outbound team.
Interviewer: Cool. there’s you and soon to be, so we can actually plug the job role here or have you filled the job role yet?
Jonny: Yes, it’s literary–
Interviewer: You have filled it.
Jonny: No, no I haven’t filled it, I only went out this afternoon.
Interviewer: Let’s plug it, how can people find the job role, do they to go–
Jonny: If you just go to crowdcube.com and search for careers, it’s on the careers page.
Interviewer: Nice, if you want with Jonny at Crowdcube in sales operations, go to their site, go to career section and check out the job description. Anyway, cool, moving on, do you think sales experiences is a necessity to be effective at sales operations?
Jonny: Fundamentally no, I don’t believe it is. I think to have a empathetic understanding of what salespeople skills are and aren’t is obviously valuable. I don’t believe that you need to have done sales to be good at sales operations specifically because like I say I think a lot of it is to do with being logical, ordered, structured, comfortable with process, having the ability to say no, prioritization. All the things that in a way a sort of a good product manager does. That they’re able to say, “Look, we can build technically anything,” or engineers say, “We can always build what you’re asking.” It’s just a case of time, money, where does it sit in the road map, what’s the prioritization.
I don’t believe you have to be a salesperson.
Interviewer: A salesperson.
Interviewer: You essentially were in sales before?
Interviewer: Not like in your digital marketing role, your goal when you’re marketing is to sell something. I guess you’re just not doing it in person is more in command as opposed to one to one.
Jonny: Yes, in a sense.
Interviewer: As you actually said before, you are quite commercially minded or you must be if you [unintelligible 00:11:53] marketing. You understand the process of buying?
Interviewer: Do you have sales experience?
Jonny: I have worked in sales before.
Interviewer: Fair enough, nice.
Jonny: I think everyone has, if you’ve ever worked in a shop or even if just working in a restaurant and someone says, “What’s the special or what’s the recommendation?” There’s an element of selling in there.
Interviewer: I read a book called To Sell Is Human I think by Dan Pink and that was his point like literary. If you’re going home to your spouse and you want them to cook dinner. You go ahead and act really happy and then give them a present and then you want to ask them to cook dinner, that’s selling.
Interviewer: But not necessarily for sales operations.
Jonny: The way I think of it or believe that I see it is a good sales ops person understands what did I say? They understand the heartbeat and the rhythm of the company which is a third of what you need to be good at. Because if you buy into what a company is trying to achieve then you kind of buy into the scenario that your CEO has put forward. The ideas and the future and the goals of the business so that’s a third of what you need. The next third is your ability to understand the sales guys and what they’re trying to achieve. Their commercial goals and understanding peoples motivations.
Because a lot of what salespeople do is read the room, is this guy going to be a hard ass, is he going to be a bit more relaxed. Does he want to know the details, does he already know what’s going on and he wants to negotiate straight away, it’s just understanding that. Then the last bit is understanding the tech stack and what’s the actual– No engineering project is ever perfect, no marketing stack is perfect, no sales stack is perfect but what’s your future vision for what you wanted your sales environment to look like. What do you think perfect might look like and then you can strive to get towards it.
Interviewer: Which is a great link to the next question, what is your current sales ops tech stack?
Jonny: I would describe it as a bit of a hybrid between sales and marketing actually. We’re a Salesforce customer and we have been for about four years.
Interviewer: To quickly jump in here, do you use Salesforce for the entrepreneur side and for the investor side?
Jonny: No, it’s just for the–
Interviewer: Entrepreneur side.
Jonny: At the moment, just on the entrepreneur side.
Interviewer: Where does you investor, I don’t know if you can say this but what tool do you use to manage your investor database?
Jonny: Our investor data historically has lived in our own admin system.
Interviewer: Okay. Cool.
Jonny: Which is in our CRM, it’s kind of a–
Jonny: It was an originally purpose-built tool and they’ve lived in there and then we’ve got a different marketing platform that runs that. Salesforce customer, we’re an Ebsta customer, of course, so that’s in the stack there. We use tools like Creditsafe to just ensure that we’re working with the UK more often than not, UK limited company and we can, from a compliance perspective check their credit score. We’re a DocuSign user because we send our agreements and terms and measure engagement with entrepreneurs.
We use HubSpot on the B2B side of things which is an interesting one because actually, HubSpot used to be a B2B marketing platform. As it’s built and grown, it’s very much moved into the same realms as being a CRM platform with an app exchange in the same way as Salesforce. You end up with a slightly confusing data’s architecture.
Interviewer: I don’t understand why you’re using, because I thought Salesforce was being used for the entrepreneurs. Now you’re saying HubSpot is the B2B side, help me understand.
Jonny: Originally, Salesforce was put in our Exeter team and our sales team in London and it was being used as a CRM. That was before we actually really considered having a CRM in the business on the investor side. It was originally put in to help the journey because Crowdcube has a sort of relatively distribute office structure. In that, we’ve got sales partnerships team up in London because a huge number of the entrepreneurs that we work with are here. We then have a sort of onboarding campaign success launch team down in Exeter and they’re supported by legal compliance completions.
Then we’ve got an engineering team in Cardiff. In order to offer entrepreneur delight from very high touch one to one trust building up in London, we have to make sure that the information is clear and concise. That when they get passed to somebody that they might only speak to over the phone or Hangouts or online there’s a clear transition between the two. That’s why Salesforce was originally put in and basically in time, we’ve seen the value of building that architecture stack around the entrepreneurs. I actually consider ourselves as a three-sided marketplace because we have investors, we have entrepreneurs and we also have our partners.
Interviewer: What do they do?
Jonny: Our partners fall into then two buckets, we have campaign support partners who help get companies marketing ready. They might help with brand development, they might help connect them with lead investors and then we also have affiliates basically.
Interviewer: That you provide your entrepreneurs.
Jonny: That sent us the deal [crosstalk] and-
Jonny: -introduce us and that might be corporate advisers, we’ve got a very strong relationship with Grant Thornton. We’re in the process we’re just signing some terms with a very large UK bank. We have a requirement to fulfill their needs internally for internal uses and also externally for customers in the company.
Interviewer: Do we get all the tools?
Jonny: I think so, the other one that we use which is super, super smart which I’m actually really enjoying is we also use like I said third party data providers. What we’re actually doing is taking third party data, we’re then placing it into Salesforce and that essentially puts in our CRM. We then connect our CRM to LinkedIn Sales Navigator. There is now a functionality within LinkedIn Sales Navigator to create advanced searches that uses the data from your CRM. We’re basically leveraging third-party data to say, “This is the data we already know about and this is the data we don’t know about.” Which then means that we don’t, as a sales team, spend time all looking in the same place.
Interviewer: You’re saying that when a salesperson is searching LinkedIn Sales Navigator they can see that data from the CRM from the third party provider?
Interviewer: Okay. Cool.
Jonny: Which is similar to something that Ebsta does as well for us.
Interviewer: You mentioned a tool that you use in those score, is there something doing that for you or is that just the integration [crosstalk]?
Jonny: That’s just the integration and then basically we use a third party data agency who takes things like web data and our CRM data. Then we’re basically building machine learning models in the data warehouse externally. Then using things like Tableau to visualize some of that and building trends and pooling data together which we can then put back into things like Salesforce or HubSpot to then execute.
Interviewer: What’s like a core insight or advantage that you could prove or use for machine learning on a data like a thing that someone like me would understand.
Jonny: For example the most important thing for most people when buying something is relevancy, timing and context. We’re trying to use data to make sure we speak to the right person at the right time, and that we use some structure, either from the data we’ve got or as part of the research function of outbound team member, to connect those pieces together.
That then means, if someone’s interested in raising finance, there’s no point me ringing you up the day after you’ve just completed your first VC round because you probably say to me, “I’ve had the most stressful six weeks of my life, I’ve just got the line, the signature on the dotted line, I’m still recovering from the champagne that we popped last night, I’m not interested in raising finance right now.” For us, it’s about connecting with those people at the right time.
Interviewer: They are making salespeople more productive in the process.
Interviewer: We have a question or maybe multiple. Jack, how do you deal with the implementation of sales methodologies? I’m not 100% sure what Jack means by that. Did that make sense to you Jonny?
Jonny: It’s a very good question. One of the reasons for hiring this new person is actually because we need to do a better job of documenting sales methodologies. For that very reason, it’s quite easy for me to come up with lots of concepts and ideas, but we almost always need someone who can then turn some of these ideas into reality, document them. Then the most important thing really is about making sure that people sit down in a room, and then you train them and educate them and bring them on that journey with you so that each day they feel like they’re upscaling and training and learning and developing.
Actually, interestingly, when I started this role we were paying for Ebsta, and some of the team were using it, some of them were and some people did understand what it did, some people didn’t. Actually, Wayne came in, I said to Wayne, “Look, I told everyone how great it is, but I’m going to organize a session, can you just come in and walk people through the product.” Then the penny drops because somebody else is saying it so that I think is a real advantage in terms of implementing our sales methodology.
I would also say we’re actually in the process of engaging with a third party to try and develop more of the coaching side of the sales skills. Me in my head of sales, we often see it as a good salesperson needs to be able to do 50% operational keeping systems updated and then 50% of their job is learning how to become a master of selling. It’s a constant balance because I’m saying, “It’s not in Salesforce is not happening.” And he’s saying,” I need to sit down with them and train them on how to close the deal and negotiate and all those things.” I hope that answers the question on methodologies.
Interviewer: Hopefully, Jack [crosstalk] going to follow up. Do you use the specific platform for the onboarding of reps?
Jonny: No. Not at the moment. I know, there’s obviously some pretty cool ones. In fact, one of our old Crowdcube employees actually went off and set up an onboarding platform called [crosstalk].
Interviewer: For salespeople?
Jonny: For anybody, actually, could personally, but we were actually in the process like saved trying to pull this documentation together. For a long time, we were using like a Google site, and just trying to populate information that was getting lost in emails, and just trying to bring it into some semblance so that if you’re a new sales guy, instead of it being, “Hey, here’s your laptop, it’s a big city out there off you go.” We’re trying to make sure that we’ve got an onboarding process, which is session on Salesforce, session on LinkedIn, the session on HubSpot, a session on how that merges with Ebsta, a session on data analytics, session on reporting, all that sort of stuff.
We do try and do that but it could be better.
Interviewer: This person is going to be helping you with that.
Jonny: Yes. Also, interestingly, our sales at our Salesforce admin, so our old Salesforce admin was more interested in moving into a developer role because she was more that way inclined whereas our new Salesforce admin is very focused on wanting to help train and support and upskill sales guys, which is just perfect, because then you’ve got that other voice helping to support your iteration of the [unintelligible 00:24:32] of thinking.
Interviewer: What is your favorite [unintelligible 00:24:36]?
Jonny: I can’t use Ebsta, can I?
Interviewer: No. You can’t.
Jonny: It sounds silly but not to be brainwashed by the cult that everyone knows is our friends at Salesforce. They’ve got some pretty interesting technology that we just weren’t using and actually, we’re paying for.
Interviewer: For example.
Jonny: We were finding that we were building technology with a dev agency and it turns out that for our partners, for example, we can spin up a whole partner community. We can really put ourselves in the middle of that part.
Interviewer: To [crosstalk] with new examples.
Jonny: Yes. Part of the benefit of that is that we can then get partners, to through pool logins submit leads into the system, they can track leads, we can then because we’ve got quite a long sale cycle, but how much money they’re making into that system and feed that back into them. We can then also build products because we can fire up a community. Our product team can say, “Right, fire me up a product community, for your partners, fire me up a product community for entrepreneurs.” We can do that all within our existing stack. We just weren’t using it, but we were paying for it.
I think it’s just about making sure you really understand all the things that you’ve got on offer. We also didn’t realize that we’ve had some challenges between in the speed of growing, as everyone does, a couple of our systems not working perfectly. We actually have a resource that we’ve paid for with Salesforce that we’ve never utilized to build some integrations for us. Again, I think in terms of what’s my favorite tool, well, I think it’s going to be Salesforce, because-
Interviewer: There is so much stuff there.
Jonny: -there is so much stuff there that we just weren’t using and actually if you push Salesforce, then the possibilities are pretty massive, actually. I’ve got a friend of mine who works in sales ops over a company called Alpha FX and they’ve built some really cool stuff with just Salesforce as a stack. I think whilst it is a bit of a cold, as we all know, and you get bought in and if you spend the time, the power of it can be pretty good for helping to scale I think is nice.
Interviewer: How do you deal with data quality? And if you mentioned the theorem, Salesforce admin, how does your role crossover with this person?
Jonny: We’re in the position where we currently using classic, and we’re obviously going to have to migrate over to lightning, which is potentially a pretty large bit of work. We’re just trying to divvy that up between us. We use two platforms. One of them is called Cloudingo, which is a Salesforce data, sort of checking, manipulation, and management tool. Again, it’s quite a lot of technical conflict in there but using something like Cloudingo.
Interviewer: I think that we had Jake Orea from [unintelligible 00:27:51], anything I heard he was- I think I was told he raving about guessing is really good.
Jonny: It’s pretty powerful once you get it set up, right but it is complicated and it’s obviously easy to break things at scale.
Interviewer: Who is it, you or the Salesforce admin who’s responsible for?
Jonny: Ideally, the Salesforce admin, but I suppose in my– as I’m growing, I’m busy learning. For context, our Salesforce admin left, we then on-boarded an agency to pass over to and then our new Salesforce admin has only just joined and I was basically bridging the gap between that. I suppose I was lucky enough that I’ve– I’m not too scared of breaking stuff so I taught myself Salesforce administration in a very short period of time.
Interviewer: So you’re Salesforce admin?
Jonny: Not quite but I’m studying at the moment, so that I can a understand what’s possible, but also just so I can do the odd bit myself. The other tool that we’re using, which is, it’s actually not really out yet, it’s being released in July. Again, it’s more of the marketing side, but it’s a company called Distil.ai and it’s actually built by the team at Beg who we work with. They basically enable us to enrich data and take data out and add value to it and then put it back in. They’re the ones who are helping us to turn third-party data into enrich data, customer data platform designed for. It’s cool for marketers, but there’s a bit of a blurring here between B2B marketing and marketing sales.
Interviewer: They essentially take an email address and then give you the LinkedIn profile. Is this how you mean by data enrichment?
Jonny: It depends. Those things are possible and we have done stuff like that. We’ve actually, without going off into a massive tangent, we actually built an entire engine to do finding companies which we, I actually named it. It’s called Sahara. The idea was there was millions of grains of sand, millions of companies. The idea is that for crowdfunding, we found that there’s a lot of companies which have a certain profile, certainly as they get bit bigger, It’s about finding similar companies with a similar– Because we ultimately trying to find companies with web traffic, social following, brand validation position in their market and market fit. All those sorts of things.
We basically built a sort of data whacking tool to try and do that. We can then run those things, enrich it and with data that we want, first of all, third party data, and then try and inject it into Salesforce, and that can drive email, that can drive this building.
Interviewer: This new tools coming out is going to help you do that?
Jonny: Yes. We’ve been working on integrating it into our Salesforce back end. We’ve also been using that tool to create our own scoring system using the Ebsta Score.
Interviewer: [unintelligible 00:31:05]
Jonny: We can talk about and all that.
Interviewer: Biggest challenge–
Jonny: We’ve got questions.
Interviewer: James, is there a way of improving recruiting and hiring practices and how do you go about supporting the sales teams? Which way do you want to tackle this?
Jonny: Is there a way of improving–
Interviewer: For reps, I think.
Jonny: Right. I mean in terms of our sales guys.
Interviewer: For reps.
Jonny: For reps. We obviously try and do as much as we can in the interviews to try and screen. We have two or three interviews with people. We go off for a few beers maybe with people to see what their soft skills are like as well as their introduced environment hard and soft because in our world, we can’t speak to someone in the marketing department or someone in the finance department. Have to speak to CEOs because ultimately, they’re the ones who make the decision on finance. We try and have a really clear understanding of soft and hard skills when it comes to hiring reps.
We then do all of the sort of standard interview processes. With the right interview structures, you can get from people their ability to sell back to you.
Jonny: I think it’s all about organization and planning, right? If you’re busy, you run into an interview with not a lot of preparation, you’ve not really spent time on really understanding what you’re trying to get out of the interview, what you’re trying to get that individual to prove to you, then you really will go down that doing like them yes, no, maybe and then you’ll sit on the fence or we’ll go one side or the other.
Interviewer: Prepping, preparation.
Jonny: Preparation is always going to be key. The best bit of advice I ever got was if there’s one thing that you want is what do you want that person to prove to you because they’ve obviously proved something on the piece of paper that made you select them for a phone interview. Then once they’ve been through the phone interview, you’ve given them something that– You’ve given them the time to meet them face to face. What do you want them to prove to you? I think is super critical. This hundred and one books about– That Google have done tests on around, removing subjectivity, all those sorts of things.
Interviewer: Then the second question about, how do you have supporting your sales?
Jonny: There’s a couple of threads to that. In one sense, it’s supporting them in terms of listening what their challenges might be on a day to day basis and can we solve that with technology because in the same way, as in the marketing environment. I mean, there’s pages and pages and everyone’s seen the big diagrams of retention tools, marketing tools, and the perfect sales stack. That’s starting to happen in the sales environment. Understanding their challenges and seeing whether you can support it with the tech is one thing. We’ve got ahead of sales.
Really listening to what he wants to spend less time on and where he wants to spend more time and can I help him to do that? Can I optimize his ability to be out in meetings is critical for me? Whether that’s sort of inside sales list building, using technology to provide me with the answers to what he’s looking for, is really important. On the partnership side of things in our business, it’s about making sure that we’re– Again, we’ve got the right technology in place to help them scale and grow. Because our board, aren’t necessarily bothered that we’re losing money. They’re interested in us growing.
My school of thought every day is am I helping our sales team to grow and am I helping them to generate more money? The closes are closing. I suppose that ties into my last point which is our inbound team. We’ve designed it in a way where we specifically want them to come in every day and think about, I’m going to be given deals and I’m going to work on them. Whereas the outbound guys need to go and find them through networking, through events speaking on panels. Supporting them in that way is really important.
Then I suppose the last piece is just then knowing that if they’re running out the door and something’s broken, I can fix it for them. Will try and help to fix it. Is always good, right? Everyone likes to feel that they’ve got someone supporting them in their day to day job. Builds a good culture.
Interviewer: What is your biggest challenge in the role and how do you overcome it?
Jonny: Biggest challenge is at the moment time in the day. Quite a lot of what we want to achieve is quite technically advanced. We’ve always been at the forefront of using big data and using automation. That age-old challenge of automation versus personalization. How do we triage the right business or the right person that’s coming into the right person inour sales team? Like I said, we need to speak to the CEOs. Using our own data to say, “Right, we’ve got an inbound from a company. Darren is absolutely stacked at the moment, but he’s the best person to take on this company because he worked with these integrate companies last time. I think personality wise, he’s going to build a strong relationship.” Connecting the right people is really important and triggering things in the right way is is is massively critical. Like I said I think it’s just two hours in the day is the toughest one and prioritizing. We have short term goals like any business. We’ve got sales targets to hit, and we’ve got thresholds that we need to work towards but you also have to be planning for the future. Quite often in a startup, you shoot for the short term and forget the long term. Then you either miss targets or you build a scenario where you can’t scale because you haven’t built the tech stack to enable you to scale.
You can’t automate emails because you haven’t tagged and categorize your data correctly. You can’t segment it quickly, which means you can’t automate. That for me is where sales operations is building its real bedrock in those teams is scaling is basically to do with getting more revenue and more quickly with the same or a very small amount of extra resources. That’s where I see my challenge at the moment.
Interviewer: You have a new person joining, right? You’re going to have double the time of the day.
Jonny: Hope so.
Interviewer: Do you think or do you have a single metric that you would use to judge poor sales reps?
Jonny: I mean, if I was being really critical, it’s got to be revenue, right? Because there’s a lot of data now in your world and there’s a lot of fuzzy metrics. You can measure people on conversion, and they might be an amazing converter. The revenue doesn’t come out the bottom or they could be really busy and they could be doing lots of calls and having lots of meetings, but the revenue doesn’t spit out the bottom. I think it’s got to connect to revenue. If you understand your revenue, then you can work back.
If you can work backwards from revenue then it means you can say to somebody, “Thank you but you may be not right for this company, or we think you can move you into this team, you’d be more valuable executing here than over here.” It’s just about being honest with yourself and your staff around making sure that everyone’s thinking commercially because we don’t see ourselves as a business development team and a partnerships team, and sales operations. We see ourselves as a commercial function that lives and dies together. If we’re all in agreement with the decisions, sometimes they’re difficult to make, then everyone is on the same page with where growth comes from.
In our board’s eyes, that’s got to be through revenue growth. It doesn’t necessarily have to always be positive revenue growth, but revenue growth means you’re growing.
Interviewer: Are they closing the deals?
Jonny: Pretty much.
Interviewer: We can add a bonus question here because I’m super interested actually. The Ebsta Score, can you tell us how you describe it and how you’re using it?
Jonny: Yes. For anyone who’s used to a lot of the sales platforms out there that exist, quite a lot of them you have to go in and tell it what you want to use based on the attributes and the fields and the values that you’ve created. How you want to spit out some sort of score and lead scoring and that kind of stuff, which is prone to issues, it requires a lot of testing, it’s quite fiddly and quite time-consuming.
Whereas for me the Ebsta Score ultimately is a direct measure of engagement because we’ve recently, with help from Wayne, connected up our Ebsta platform at the back end straight into our G Suite, which means less problem in terms of onboarding because we’re not having to say to someone, “Follow these instructions. download this. add this.” It’s a little bit fiddly, I mean it’s fine but it’s much easier just to say, “Right, we’ve added you as user on Ebsta. Everything’s being sucked out of the back end. It’s being injected into Ebsta.”
That’s a real bonus for us and the score for me, it’s just– It’s very clear cut because we have a measure of total engagement, which is the Ebsta Score, which is inbound and outbound activity and then you can then drill down into the last activity day, 7, 30, 60 and 90 days. You can start to obviously profile whether engagement is going up or engagement is going down. From our perspective, if it’s a lead level in Salesforce, you’ve got a very clear indication without having to go into Chatter, look at Tasks.
If I just create a single report in Salesforce and I run all of my active prospects, let’s say, and I’ve got a sales team of 10 people. These are the ones that are actually being worked on and these are the ones that are probably going to progress and start to generate revenue before these ones because this one’s got a greater than 70 on the Ebsta Score. Which means the level of communication backward and forward is very high.
Whereas these lower score numbers or no scores means my salespersons are either just out of that and therefore there hasn’t been enough time for the score to develop or what they told me in our one to one is actually rubbish and that deal is not really going anywhere because there’s no engagement. It’s a good way of not checking up on people but being able to monitor what’s going on and then–
Interviewer: And quite an easy way, right? Because you could get that data from other places or by talking to salespeople but then it’s not as reliable and it would probably take it out longer then just creating that one report.
Jonny: Yes. Absolutely and then for me on the opportunity level, for us, we convert from lead into opportunity, create account and contacts in Salesforce. It’s a way of us measuring their progression through our process because they’ve gone through our process at the top of the funnel and they’re moving into another process and because our sales cycle is quite long, understanding their ability to progress from handover to go live, because we only generate revenue once they’ve successfully founded, it means we want to know where they are in our process.
Interviewer: Quickly on that. Once they’ve signed the contract, they go from sales to the success team?
Interviewer: Cool. Okay.
Jonny: Yes. We’ve actually recently created quite a clever scoring system. We have a prioritization score and a what we call a launch readiness score. The prioritization score uses Ebsta and an app guys at Distil are using that score and essentially mixing it together with a whole another of number of factors from third-party data sectors that we know tend to perform slightly better than others, merging that together using engagement and then pushing opportunities and saying, “These are the ones that we think should be a higher priority because they’re moving ahead.” Then we couple that with a, what we call a launch readiness score which is how much of our process is then completed.
You might be super engaged but you’ve actually not started the process or you might be not very engaged but you’re busy working on doing things-
Interviewer: The video is ready.
Jonny: -and we can see stuff, we can see progress. They’re not uniform together but they can be worked independently and then we merge that as a single score and then that helps us to move people through our pricing.
Interviewer: For every week, you can review all the– What do you call that single score?
Jonny: It’s just called a blended score.
Interviewer: Call it the Crowdcube score.
Jonny: Crowdcube score, yes.
Interviewer: So you can review that on a weekly meeting and then the bottom four you prioritize and be like, “Look, we need to get these guys to do X.” or?
Jonny: Yes, because if they’re an opportunity they can generate us revenue and if they’re live, they definitely closer to generating us revenue.
Interviewer: Got it. Nice. Okay. Final question. Who has taught you the most about sales operations?
Jonny: I’ve done quite a lot of because I was quite new to it and I know the role was quite new. There isn’t a huge amount of information about sales operations. I’ve done some reading.
Interviewer: What have you read?
Jonny: There’s a– I might even have it here actually [unintelligible 00:45:25] written down. There’s a book on Amazon, which is like if you want to go for the very, very basics, which is by a guy called W.W. Chee. I listened to that because it gave you a really solid foundation.
Interviewer: What’s it called?
Jonny: It’s called the Basic The Sales Operations Collective.
Interviewer: I will link to it below on the blog post.
Jonny: Yes, it’s called W.W. Chee. There’s another book I’ve just started listening to call Predictable Prospecting, which is obviously about building forecasting models and pipeline development and using data. I then couple that with, like I said, we’re in the process of bringing on an agency to work with some coaching and development and helping our sales guys to master their craft and they have a series of books and they are trying to make the people think about sales, selling as a science and books by a guy called Jaco Van Der Kooi, he’s a Dutch guy, and the reason for that is because selling has changed. Gone are the days where you’re just solutions selling.
It’s got to be a little much deeper. The word of mouth referrals are super important as a validation, social validation, and that kind of thing. It’s kind of a connection that collection of traditional sales stuff with new sales methodologies. Obviously, because I’m from a marketing background I’m thinking and reading in the HubSpot, Salesforce blog world and on those ecosystems and forums and that kind of thing. I think that kind of thing gives you a bit of a rounded data analytics, sales and then operations piece and I’m also very lucky in that we have got great head of partnerships, who I sit next to, who is a really good sounding board, who’s got a really good FT, who’s also interested in big data and data analytics.
He’s very strong on the financial side and we have a strong chief commercial officer. The connection between all of us means that we’ve all got our own skills that then amalgamates together and that’s what is super useful for us.
Interviewer: Fantastic. Okay. That was the longest episode of Sales Operations Demystified of all time. That was pretty deep.
Jonny: Sorry about that.
Interviewer: No, no, it’s really good. There’s some stuff that we definitely have not discussed before. Jonny, thanks very much. What we’ll do is I’ll link to both Crowdcube and Jonny and also we’ll link to the job description below. If you search for after Sales Ops Demystified, you’ll be able to find this episode and find those resources. Jonny, thank you so much for joining.
Jonny: You’re welcome.
[00:48:20] [END OF AUDIO]