Director of Sales Operations: Mo Miller of SimpleNexus
Morgan Miller jumped onto Sales Operations Demystified to share his knowledge and experience in Sales Operations.
Check out all the other episodes of Sales Operations Demystified here.
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Host: Welcome to another special episode of the Sales Ops Demystified podcast. We are joined by Mo Miller, and I’m super excited to move on today because Mo actually has a background in sales. I would say about 50% of the people who in the podcast do and 50% don’t and I always love getting people’s insights when they’ve actually been on the frontline. It’s normally a very interesting proposition. So Mo, welcome to the show.
Mo Miller: Thanks for having me. It’s great to be on.
Host: Let’s kick off with the first question. How did you first get into Sales Ops because I know that you had extensive experience actually selling and then it seems like you shifted over in the last three years or so at SimpleNexus, so tell us the story?
Mo: Yes, I’ve been in and through Sales Operations role for the past three years or so. One year at SimpleNexus and a little over two years before that at Canopy. Overall, as a Sales Operations manager, and then now as a director of Sales Operations. I’m coming up on three and a half years in total tenure and in that role. with that said, I also spent time in a startup right out of college. So jumped in, got my feet wet.
My first official salaried job after working and got myself through school was in a startup called Zang. In that startup, we wore tons of different hats. Business Development is the overarching thing but everything from initially getting my boots on the ground and being the first non-developer. We had two and a half developers there at Zang that we had access to, was purchased idea by a larger holding company and they basically bought a side project from their developers.
With that in mind, there was not actually a product to go to market with. We went through a rebrand, I was a project manager. Got things up and running, build out the sales process, built out the collateral built out the pitch, and really, in three to six months time we went to market, started to sell and then eventually hired a few people on my team to build that out and to start selling. What I didn’t know is that I was doing Sales Operations but really, this was wearing a lot of different hats and didn’t really get to focus on that operational side of things that I really liked because we had to start selling and get up and running. Long story short, eventually, Facebook shut us down for privacy concerns and the changes with privacy in Facebook and we didn’t keep up with some of the demands that they had from a privacy standpoint. We had to shut down, start back up and it was an awesome experience. We were able to grow the startup and become profitable, pay back the initial investment and become a profitable little startup off the bat but really didn’t grow and didn’t expand fast enough. It was a great taste in both Sales Ops and startup but it wasn’t really operations at that point.
I went back to selling. Sold in two or three different AE positions and got my startup Canopy about three years after that. At Canopy was an AE, got the chance to be boots on the ground again in a startup be one of the four initial salespeople there off the bat. One person took right off it wasn’t what they were looking for. It was three of us to start and going in there, there was very little sales. I think we were below 20,000. Then growing after over a year, in selling, we were over $1,000,000 in sales and that little sales team that [unintelligible 00:04:39] had done a lot. We doubled in size, there were six AEs and they’d asked me to switch over to Sales Operations.
Didn’t know what Sales Operations was, come to find out it’s everything that I’m doing now and love. That was my intro into Sales Operations was really having those experiences selling and learning what a salesperson does and is from a daily basis and really getting a shot in a tech startup to get up and running with my Sales Operations career.
Host: Why did you choose to move into Sales Operations versus staying as an AE?
Mo: I wanted to effect more quotas than my own. I think Sales Operations sometimes gets a bad rep because maybe it’s somebody who doesn’t understand the salespeople, does things on a cadence that they don’t like as salespeople or they’re building things, there’s request from salespeople, Sales Operations, build it, takes back to the sales team. There wasn’t a feedback loop and so what they built is subpar doesn’t work or there’s people who don’t understand the selling motions and/or there’s people as well who just don’t want to handle an individual quota. I think in sales or operations, you’re able to effect quotas across the whole team. If you can increase everybody’s productivity by 5, 10, 15, 20%, that’s way more than you doing a hundred percent of your number.
Just the ability to grow a team, be able to lead that team, and help with everybody’s overall productivity is really my passion.
Host: Got it. Can we zoom into the growth of a SimpleNexus, what’s the size of this Sales Operation function versus the size of the sales function?
Mo: Currently, I am a Sales Operations team of one. I also have responsibility into the marketing team with some marketing Ops tasks and functions. Then a little bit into the CS side as well. Building that revenue operations brand and function here at SimpleNexus, I’d like to say that I’ve got 100% of my time is spent in Sales Operations. Then 30% of my time is spent in marketing and 20% of my time is spent in CS and so doesn’t really fit. I’m really trying to work out what that looks like long term and how do we build out to revenue operations team here over time.
With that said, my goal in Sales Operations here is to support two account managers and the do upsells, five account executives, and then various other seats on the bus. We have a national director of account development. We have a solutions engineer. We have two ADMs and there’s a few other seats with business development, et cetera. I have small touches on everybody. Then also we’re growing the team. We have an additional few account executives. We’re hiring basically in all areas. By 2020, we should have around 10-plus quota carriers with the ADM doubling as well. I’m really looking to build my team and grow my team in 2020. Right now just trying to lay a good foundation for the AEs that are here and in startup [unintelligible 00:08:52].
Host: Got it, what the current tech stack?
Mo: We have moved off of with HubSpot. We were using HubSpot Sales, HubSpot Marketing. We’re now using Salesforce and [unintelligible 00:09:06] for that little sales and marketing functions.
Host: Just out of interest, why did you make that transition?
Mo: We were having a lot of data integrity issues. There’s just been a few instances where we bit off a lot of data and that got into the system over the last year or two years, predating even when I was here as well. The duplication and being able to sort through the data from an account-based level and to be able to market to accounts on the enterprise level. I think HubSpot can be a great tool but I don’t know if it’s a great tool for enterprise-only sales team. We don’t have any mid-market. We don’t have any SMB. At SimpleNexus, we have 15 of the top 25 largest mortgage lenders as our customers and we’re actually going down market and just continuing to get not just those named accounts but also the whole enterprise space.
Thousands of accounts to sell into and trying to work through those and be very strategic and work from account-based marketing and account-based efforts from enterprise AEs. We’re not looking to do high-touch, high-volume tons of sequences and just blasting out marketing. We’re trying to be very strategic and simplistic in our marketing efforts to do mostly branding in that regard and to get us out in front of the specific people we need to at a specific time in a specific way.
Host: What else in the tech stack?
Mo: We also use ZoomInfo that gathers prospects. You have to go very wide and deep in each of our prospects. We may do 10 demos to one account and so reaching out as wide as we can in an organization is huge so we use ZoomInfo for that. Then we also use Calendly for scheduling and then we use Drive for phone system, Zoom for demos and the Adobe Sign for contracting and actually making the money. That’s kind of the build-out of everything if I’ve remembered everything correctly.
Host: Sure. Now shifting to your relationship with the reps, what are you currently doing to make even more productive?
Mo: We’ve only been in Salesforce without any Beta users. We’ve been in it for about three and a half months and then with Beta users about two, two and a half months and then with everybody in the system, all hands on deck moving forward, it’s been just a little over a month and so the huge thing on my end is making sure that Salesforce has a tool that they can use. We’re knocking down as many barriers, getting rid of those pinch points, trying to eliminate problems and trying to make it so we can automate as much as possible in their day to day and make things more simple. Rolling up my sleeves and really working on the data quality and the day to day efforts of what they’re doing.
Host: Good. Can you share a time where you’ve had to try like find the sales team to do something that may not have been in their direct interest in how you manage the relationship and how you managed to persuade or influence them?
Mo: Yes, I think I’ve had a lot of that over the past three-plus years. My seat on the bus in Sales Operations is Sales Operations manager, director of Sales Operations, whatever title you have in Sales Operations, you’re truly facilitating. You’re trying to get more out of the team. I think the important part is to think of yourself as a leader and not just the data guy or not just the back end person on the sales team but truly like a chief of staff and helping the VP in sales, CSO, whoever you report to or work with as a direct manager. To really get buy-in from the AEs, EDMS, whomever you have on your team.
One thing I try to do is just really listen, you don’t necessarily have a one on one with salespeople but getting the post of all of your reps. It cannot be we grew from that original three AEs all the way up to 30 AEs and an overall sales staff of 75-80 people and just knowing every single individual, caring about them, helping them as much as I can. I think that’s where the buy-in comes is the day to day grind. You’re grinding, they’re grinding, they’ve got this demanding quota, month in or quota, quota over a quota, month over month that they need to hit and just knowing that if they need something you’re working on it, you’re behind it, you’re updating them and you’re shadowing them, you’re seeing what they’re doing, you’re seeing their problems, you’re trying to fix them. The buy-in is the easy part if you’ve done all that groundwork.
Host: Got it. Now shifting into onboarding, you mentioned you were going into sales team. or you are looking to go to the sales team. Do you have a specific onboarding schedule in place at the moment or r is that something that you’ll develop as you bring these people on?
Mo: We’ve been building an onboarding recently. We have someone who’s way more than a solutions engineer here, but they’re equal parts sales onboarding, solution engineer, product expert, working with the product team and building one of our key new releases and features that we’re selling on the sales team this year. They kind of wear a lot of hats and she in her role owns that first week of onboarding. First week of onboarding is bringing them here to headquarters.
We only actually have one of our account executives here in house and where we’re located is Lehi, Utah. With that said, the remainder of our account executives and most of our sales team is actually all over the nation. I think we’ve got nine people all over and there are I think seven people here between the ADMs, the 180, the two account managers, myself and our CSO. The rest of the team is all over Ohio, California, Arkansas, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina.
I think the big thing is with that account-based effort and with reps that are enterprise account executives tenured in our space, they know the mortgage industry and our onboarding is really getting them to understand SimpleNexus, our value proposition and how they could leverage their current network and people they’ve sold to in the past to be able to get up and running here. That first week if they’re in Missouri, North Carolina or South Carolina, they come in, they’re in house for that whole first week and it’s all in, they are learning about the ins and outs of the product, demoing our tech stack, getting them to set up on systems, and much, much more and then various checkpoints in week two, three, 4 so that whole first month they’re being helped and guided and, we’re polishing this over time and getting better at this and then truly trying to make it a more scheduled plan moving forward where specific things happen in week two, each times three, four, et cetera.
That month two, they’re truly starting to hit the ground running and beginning to prospect and work and demo fully in that second month.
Host: Got it. Can we talk a little bit about the forecasting process? You built out the forecast, and then share that with the CSO or what’s the process?
Mo: SimpleNexus is a little interesting. They grew for six or seven years before they took on any funding. I came on board a year ago this month and they had just taken on their first round of funding, a $20 million round from Insight Venture Partners to grow the team. I think they were 45 people at that point. With that 20 million, they were able to grow and be able to leave a comfort zone and grow to 110 people, as I’ve mentioned earlier. With that said, Insight, we have the access to their sales center of excellence. I’ve really learned a lot from what they do and how specifically the commit process and the forecasting process is very detailed in the summits that I’ve attended, and then the work that I’ve done with their sales centers of excellence.
We’ve just really taken the data and the information they’ve given us in spreadsheets and in scorecards and commit upside pipeline reporting, et cetera. They’ve got a cadence that they preach that we’ve really bought into. Weekly commit call with the AEs, none of this is rocket science, but a weekly commit call with the AEs from the manager, one on one talking about each key deal and then each deal that has even an upside or ought to have a
say if they have an upside
for this quota. Then I sync up with the managers of each team weekly as well. We have those calls for roughly 45 to 60 minutes of walking through the entire commit and upside and net new commits, net new upsides, what slid, what’s still there. Talking through what slid or what we could pull in from pipeline.
Then from there, I take all that data that the manager boiled up to the Sales Operations team and then with the CSO as well in that call. We put those all into our reports and get those out to the team. Then we meet weekly with the revenue team, which is the C-level as well as the finance team and then the sales management. We’re working through those deals at a high-level each week.
All the top deals are getting touched weekly. Then we’re talking through commit and upside, pipeline, growth week over week. We’re talking through the commits and the upside deals that we have for this quota. The cadence that Insight lays out, you start to talk about next quota as this quota wraps up and continue to just focus on the commits for the quota. You are building your pipeline and your upside and commit in the beginning of each quota and then at the end of each quota you’re looking towards the next quota. It’s a great process that we use and just [unintelligible 00:21:11] week over week with that cadence and we’ve really bought into and it’s worked well.
Host: Awesome. Then penultimate question, what is a key sales metric that you’ve used recently that have been very insightful?
Mo: One thing that we’ve done recently is trying to– as we were going to go double the ADM team and grow that sales support function to just really build pipeline for our 2020, we retooled their comp plan and focus them on the KPIs such discovery calls, SALs or Ops created by the account executives from those discovery calls set-up by ADMs and then they’re close-one deals. We really have focused in on three specific KPIs.
Everything in their comp plan focuses around those, everything in from the AE side and what they needed to succeed from that help from an ADM that’s all within those three KPIs and we’ve really run to that process and tried to build that out on the ADM side. I would say those are three things that we’re really focusing on right now.
Host: Got it. For the discoveries, the opportunities when they’ve discovery from the close-one from those discoveries.
Mo: Yes, and I think oftentimes that’s a little further down the pipeline than an ADM looks, but we’ve really tried to, in that enterprise cell, we’ve really tried to get the ADM to stay in the cell longer and be driving all the way to close-one deals. As I mentioned, there are so many demos that need to happen. What really matters is that solid discovery, many demos, and eventual opportunities and an eventual close-one. There’s a lot that has to happen in between there and the ADM is helping out on a lot of that trying to drive those KPIs.
Host: Totally makes sense with a complex sale. Awesome. Then final question, who do you know or who have you worked with that has taught you the most about Sales Operations?
Mo: I worked with originally my VP of sales who transferred me over to Sales Operations and really he got me running is Ted Ferrin at Canopy. He brought me on as an account executive there and gave me a shot in both that account executive role at a young startup and then up in an operations role where as a Sales Operations manager, I really didn’t know too much about what I doing. I had to really learn a ton from him and learn his work cadence and inputs from the operational side that he was running for a year and a half before I started to help with that and then take that over time.
Host: Shout out to Ted.
Mo: Shout out to Ted.
Host: Awesome, so, let me just share what I really liked about that conversation. Your rationale for moving Sales Operations I never heard before it’s about impact really, just you doubling your quota in a month versus you enabling five-eight double that quota, I thought that was super interesting. It’s actually a great sales message for Sales Operation. You can come here and impact everybody’s quota.
I think we’re done here, I’m going to getting to post. Oh, yes so, then when we talk about sales reps, getting the post of the sales team and then the word I really liked with caring about how that’s your job or that’s a sale operation is really having to understand these people and knowing them and caring about them and that’s how you get a buy-in. Finally, how you guys have aligned your metrics to judge the SDR team based on your sales process. You haven’t just taken what the best practices or what some guru says, you’ve actually understood that our sales process is like this and therefore, we need to incentivize them all the way to the end, and therefore we’ll give them the Commission on their close-one deal and the opportunity. Those are the things I really liked. Miller, thank you so much for giving us your time today.
Mo: Thanks for having me and let me be on again if you have some more questions.
Host: Thank you.
[00:25:48] [END OF AUDIO]