Priya Vin jumped onto Sales Operations Demystified to share her knowledge and experience in Sales Operations.
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Interviewer: Hello, and welcome to another very special episode of the Sales Ops Demystified podcast. We are joined by Priya Vin of Domain Tools who is currently the Revenue Operations Manager. She has a background actually in sales. If you preferred to dig into this, have a remit that sits over [unintelligible 00:00:30] marketing success and sales. These are couple of things that I want to dig into in this recording. Priya, welcome to the show.
Priya: Thank you for having me.
Interviewer: Let’s kick off with the first question. How did you initially get into sales operations?
Priya: It was actually by accident. When I moved to Seattle about six years ago, I started my role in sales development. Most people will call them sales development reps, account development reps. My background in school is in statistics. It was really– It was very different from what I was doing in school. It was my first introduction to sales. My first introduction to sales course. I learned a lot. I’ve been in that sales role for about a year and a half. Then I had the opportunity to move to the analyst role at the company that I was with. That’s where I learned everything I know about Excel, data visualization, just working with large quantities of data.
When I was looking for my next career move, I was like I love working with data but I miss the energy that sales teams bring. I think just the energy and the positivity. I was like what if I find something that I can combine both with? Sales Operations hadn’t even crossed my mind. I think it was still such a new concept then. Honestly, it was by accident. I had a recruiter reach out to me and being like, “Hey, would you be interested?” I was like “Sure. Why not?” I went to do an interview with this company. No expectations. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.
As soon as I finished interviewing, I was so excited because it was exactly where I wanted to take my career. I loved speaking with the people I interviewed with, talking to them about ideas and processes, and how to improve sales in general at their company. I got on board. It was a brand-new role for them. I was the only person doing it. It was the first time I accepted the sales operations. A lot of learning on my end. Google ended up becoming my best friend. I realized early on that if I had a question, other people had asked that question before. Everything I learned, I had to Google or YouTube or join the Salesforce community. It was definitely a steep learning curve. Now I’m the project operations here at Domain Tools. When I first joined, it took me some time to figure out what’s the difference between revenue operations and sales operations because, in my mind, I thought they’re the same thing.
I’m still learning, I’m still trying to figure out where to take my role specifically, but I’m really happy, the journey that I came through because it was definitely windy but I got where I wanted to be.
Interviewer: Got it. You have this passion for numbers and data or you had experienced that. Then you also had experience in the actual selling part and then you’re colliding these two things together?
Interviewer: Got it. Just give us an idea right now Domain Tools. What’s the size of the operations team and then how many reps or how many people are you supporting?
Priya: The way we’re structured is, I report to our finance department. My manager, he’s the director of business, intelligence and revenue operations. He rolls up the CFO. We roll up to the finance organization. We also have a sales side. We have our sales operations manager, and he reports to our Senior Vice President of Sales as Marketing and account management.
The reason we have it structured like that is because we don’t want to have those roles siloed where sales operations is only looking at sales, we wanted to get more of a holistic picture. How does our operational work from the top of the funnel all the way to when they become a customer and renew or expand? We’ve separated ourselves out from sales in general. We’ve got about five or six sales reps, we’ve got four SBRs.I think we’ve got 9 or 10 account managers. Then we’ve got about four or five people in marketing.
Interviewer: Got it. You’re saying that the separate sales operations team is separate to you guys, and they roll up to the sales leadership, you guys roll all up to the finance leadership?
Interviewer: Okay, awesome. Did you see each other stepping on each other’s toes or you were together?
Priya: [laughs] Well, sales operations, the person who’s in that role has only been in that role for about three months and so it’s a new role for our company. That was our biggest fear before we hired for this role was how do we ensure that there’s enough work for everyone without stepping on each other’s toes and we’ve been very lucky where we’ve established those lines. I think the biggest reason we have those lines established is because we have open communication. Our revenue operations team and our sales operation team, we meet every week to talk about anything on our list. I always got an ongoing document that we add to any situations that arise. I need roadblocks that we’re potentially facing and so it’s just been great open communication. Excuse me.
Interviewer: Got it anyway. Can you share more about the sales tech stack that you guys are using at Domain Tools?
Priya: Sure. Salesforce for our CRM we use outreach. It’s our sales engagement platform on primarily where SDRs are using to communicate with prospects, LinkedIn sales navigator, discover or tech market, web ads, and DocuSign.
Interviewer: The second and the third final ones, I wasn’t aware of. Can you share them again?
Priya: Do you mean tech target WebEx [unintelligible 00:07:36]
Interviewer: Yes, tech target.
Priya: I’m sorry.
Priya: Tech target is a new one for us. We actually purchased it to understand purchasing behavior of our prospects, understanding budget cycles when is the best time reached out, when is the best time they’re going to be purchasing, what else we use primarily for all of our meetings with our prospects, any demos that we do, we utilize the best and the DocuSign is our electronic signature platform, so any contracts I need to go through, and renewals I need to go through we really to utilize DocuSign.
We’ve noticed that type get wet signatures on documents takes time and people are not in the office or they may be traveling or they’re on vacation and sometimes we have to wait a week for them to come back, but if we’re able to just electronically send it to them, regardless of whether they’re on a work trip or on the beach or wherever, they can open up their phone, look through the document electronic and sign it, send it back and we’re good to go.
Interviewer: Awesome. Is your team is responsible for data quality and Salesforce always, that same sales operations teams?
Priya: That is a great question. Data quality is always an ongoing topic for us. Especially who’s responsible for me in a [unintelligible 00:09:13]. We’re really trying to create and use the model, if it’s not in Salesforce, it didn’t happen. We used to run into a lot of issues where people wouldn’t trust the data we had in Salesforce. When we would meet with go-to-market leadership and we would discuss numbers, whether it would be the quarterly goals or the ARR or our customer count, everyone had their own numbers.
It was so frustrating trying to figure out where did person A pull their numbers from, where did person B pull their numbers from, where do we pull our number from. We finally realized because no one trusted the data, people would download things into Excel, manipulate the date their own way and come up with a number. The amount of meetings we had was just incredibly frustrating I think for everyone in that position.
We were talking about it and we’re like, is it on sales operations, is it on revenue operations or is it on the individual teams? I think the solution that we came up with was that revenue operations and sales operations would be the spot checkers, they would be the gatekeepers of what goes to finance, what goes to leadership that’s ready to– The data that we could pull or invoices that need to be sent out. At the end of the day, it’s still on the individual teams and their managers to ensure that quality data goes in.
We needed a way to ensure that teams were actually inputting the right data and the best way to do that was to show their managers, “Hey, here are our quarterly numbers for Q4,” and they’d be like, “Wait, we are missing $200,000. Why is that?” We would be like, “Well, good question. It’s because person XYZ forgot to put this in there.” To have [unintelligible 00:11:12] data that showed them this is what people are inputting, this is the data we’re collecting, really gave an idea of what to talk to their team about in terms of data quality and what should go in, what shouldn’t go in. It was very helpful, but we wanted to put the emphasis on the teams instead of it being on our lap.
Interviewer: Got it. Actually, are you guys directly interacting with the people in the sales team or is that the other sales ops team?
Priya: Primary, the other sales ops team, which is why it’s so nice to have weekly meetings with them because the way our office is structured, we have a– We’re kind of separated, we sit more on the front of the office with the engineering team, whereas sales is forced to the back of the office and we don’t get to see them a lot. If there’s any issues happening or people are facing roadblocks, I want to say people are the most comfortable coming and saying, “I have a problem.” Unless we go directly and ask them. To have representation on that side is key because we’re all on the same page when it comes to revenue operations and sales operations, it’s really easy for us to go through and talk about what’s happening with the sales and account management SDR teams.
Interviewer: Got it. You’re saying don’t directly work with a sales function?
Priya: We do and we don’t. We do because we’re I guess the gatekeepers of everything. The ones that are out there creating processes, the ones that are out there creating different [unintelligible 00:13:09] for tools to use with the sales team but the people actually sitting there is sales operations. Is that the sense?
Interviewer: Yes. Awesome. From your work with the sales operations team, what are you guys doing at the moment to make the sales reps more productive?
Priya: We’re transitioning to Lightning and it is a big project for us. It’s taken us almost a year to make sure we transitioned properly. We all know people don’t like change, especially sales folks. They don’t like change. They’re set in their ways, especially if they’re been there for a while and so any new tool or process that you bring in is a big deal. We wanted to ensure that transitioning to Lightning would be as smooth as possible. With that, we’re trying to automate as much as we can. The last thing we want is to make more admin work for our reps. More burden on them to fill out X amount of fields. If you can automate it, we’re going to automate it.
We really want to stop silos, the different stages we have in our sales operations or sales path. Instead of right before opportunity gets to close one, reps will be scrambling to get 50 different fields filled out. It takes a long time, especially if you’re trying to close out like five opportunities on one day, that’s a lot of fields you need to fill out. What our plan is, each state is going to have maybe two to three key field requirements and you only have to focus on those few fields at each stage. By the time you get to close one processing you maybe have to fill on who their billing contact is and the products are correct and you’re good to go. You don’t have to scramble trying to find PO number or PO notes or used case or whatever the case may be. It’s already done and it’s very siloed, so you’re not worried about having to do everything all at once.
Interviewer: Good for you, you fancy trying to give time back to yourselves, right? So they can do it most of the time like failing.
Priya: It’s an ongoing issue for that reps have time to do their job but are still getting the information we need from them.
Interviewer: Yes, this is like the big dilemma, isn’t it? You only give them more time but you also need a certain amount of information. How did you pitch implementing to lightening to the sales team?
Priya: Good question. It was a lot of trial and error for us as I mentioned before. You processed a tool that you bring in, people will have a hard time adjusting to it just because it just [unintelligible 00:16:21] their day, right? It means taking more time out of their day to learn something that they may or may not care about. For initially, we were just telling them what to do and have maybe in-person training sessions and the feedback was we weren’t taking their ideas into consideration, we really weren’t–
It felt more like us forcing them versus there being an initiative for them to change for behavior. What we realized was we needed to gradually introduce new ideas to them. When we were planning a transition to lightning we’ve actually started mentioning this to them almost at the beginning of the year and standouts, team meetings, emails. Any type of communication that we can do basically, we over-communicate that, hey, we’re trying to change to lightning.
It’s coming, be prepared. Now it’s gotten to the point where they’ve heard it so much they’re like, okay, when are you going to do it? Just do it, you’ve been telling us for the past year, but we also have started doing more team focused meetings and getting a couple of representatives from each team to be our champions and testers and basically have their buy-in. Making sure that their team voices have been heard any processes or any roadblocks or new ideas that they have. We want to make sure we implement in lightning. That way, when we do roll it out, it really is for the rats more so than for us because the life in us especially [unintelligible 00:18:10] we transition because it’s pretty, no one cares. It’s really what’s in us for them? How is it going to make their work easier? How is it going to benefit them? We’re really trying to focus our transition to this is how your work will always be easier, this is how you’re going to reduce your admin time and this is how it’s going to benefit you on closing more deals because actually that’s what we want.
Interviewer: Got it, your team is responsible for the forecasting process?
Priya: Yes, but it’s also an effort from five different teams. It’s revenue intelligence, sales operation, finance, leadership, products and sales– Excuse me, sales operation teams. Certainly, forecasting will start a few months before the new year and will forecast a few years out and it’s constantly an ongoing process.
Our team is responsible for capturing the data that is in salesforce which goes back to why data quality is so important for us. It’s because if we can’t capture the right information on what we’ve done in the past, we’re not going to be able to capture what we did properly. One of the biggest things is pipeline management. If we want to forecast, Hey this is how much we’re expected to close in Q1, Q2 or Q3 of next year.
We want to make sure that our pipeline is absolutely accurate. We don’t want all opportunities to have the close state of Q4 of 2018 and when we look at Q1 of 2019 or Q2, we may only have $20,000 in our pipeline because we know at the time, correct. We know that we’re not going to have a $8, $9 million closing in Q4. If we did that it would be fantastic but this space from [unintelligible 00:20:13] data. We know that’s not the case and things are going to get pushed out.
The last thing we want is for us number four, we want to have $20,000 in our pipeline when in reality it’s so much more.
Interviewer: Got it. Can I ask a question on KPIs? From your experience in selling on your [unintelligible 00:20:35] what’s really the cycle sales KPI that you’re measuring?
Priya: I would say one of the biggest ones for us when it comes to existing customers is comparing what our previous error is versus what we’ve closed excluding expansions. It’s because I think when you add expansions on top of your goal, I think it’s a very inflated number. We noticed that initially, it’s great, our numbers look so great, oh my gosh we’re doing so well. Look how much we closed this year versus last year but then when we actually broke it down to look at– Well, last year we had $3 million of error that we needed to close. This year we only ended up closing $2 million of that $3 million. That caused a completely different picture because we can have another $2 million on top of expansion or as expansion revenue. When you compare apples to apples it tells a completely different story and that’s really helped us narrow down. Are we renewing at the same rate, an increased rate or are we actually renewing at a decreased rate and just adding a larger expense on top?
Interviewer: What do you call that metric or that strategy for measuring?
Priya: We call that previous era versus growth era. I honestly don’t know if that’s the standard term that’s what we call it internally in [unintelligible 00:22:21]
Interviewer: Listen, the final question who in the world of sales and revenue operations has inspired you?
Priya: As I mentioned when I first got into this role I had to learn a lot of things myself but when I moved to Domain Tools, my [unintelligible 00:22:43] is always early. The amount of stuff he knows is ridiculous and any time I have any questions or get stuck on anything, he [unintelligible 00:22:58] knows the answer. It’s so great to have someone like that be my manager to learn from, to just get so much experience.
Interviewer: Got it. Do you have his name?
Interviewer: Wesson. [crosstalk] I think you mentioned his job title earlier, right?
Priya: Yes, he’s director of revenue operations for business intelligence.
Interviewer: Got it. Awesome. Okay cool. I’ve got a couple of things you like [unintelligible 00:23:32] if you like. The motto that you’ve used. I can imagine it having a great impact on this quality if it’s not in salesforce it didn’t happen and you just get people repeating that in the office and you just drill that in and fear you get the behavioral change. Interesting metric that I’ve never heard before. Tracking previous era versus growth era and then but it can help you tell how well your renewals are performing, what’s in it for them when you’re trying to do something new for the sales team, is really trying to communicate to them what they would get out of the thing you’re doing. Priya, thank you so much for your time and thank you for coming on.
Priya: Thank you so much.
[00:24:27] [END OF AUDIO]