Sales Operations Best Practices: Kirsty Charlton of Signal AI

Kirsty Charlton of Signal AI jumped onto Sales Ops Demystified to share her sales operations best practices.

We discussed:

  • How Signal deal with sales rep churn
  • What is Signal’s current sales tech
  • Who inspired Kirsty in Sales Ops

Check out all the other episodes of Sales Operations Demystified here.

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Transcript:

Tom: Hello and welcome fifth episode for Sales Ops Demystified. On this very special very episode we're joined by-

Kirsty: Special guests.

Tom: -official mascot.

[laughter]

Say hello to everybody.

Kirsty: Treat as a member of the team.

Tom: We'll see Josh in the background. Hello, Josh and most importantly, Kirsty. If you've ever watched an episode before you've probably heard about Kirsty especially loved food with Alex. Kirsty last night or every month or every two weeks.

Kirsty: Every month.

Tom: Every month holds the sales ops. What's the name, the actual name [unintelligible 00:00:51]?

Kirsty: London Sales Operations Meetup.

Tom: London Sales Operations Meetup and how many members have you got there?

Kirsty: 180 now.

Henry: 180 and there was about 50 people last night?

Tom: It was a big one last night, wan't it?

Henry: Yes, it was really good.

Kirsty: Standing [unintelligible 00:01:04].

Tom: Daily?

Kirsty: Yes.

Tom: What did you learn, Henry?

Henry: I learned about Red Amber Green for tracking opportunities it gives, I think it gives a sentiment about opportunities and forecasting. I think it's a really effective way as well as using opportunity stages. Using those very simple Red Amber Green lights on opportunities. Yes, I think [unintelligible 00:01:30] interesting. There was also Jay who used to work at IBM and now works at Taxify that was seriously interesting hearing him talk about the differences between working at a massive company like IBM and working at very small starts up [unintelligible 00:01:47] the differences between the two, it's really tremendous.

Tom: We'll do a little call to actions before you even start. If I google London Sales Operations Meetup, will I get to meet the page?

Kirsty: Yes.

Tom: Okay, cool. If anybody's interested in London, I know you record the talks about that.

Kirsty: Yes, just the audio.

Tom: Okay, someone could if they're in New York could still attend one? Say they're a member to the meetup, can they get the audio afterwards?

Kirsty: Yes, I also sent out to all members out there.

Tom: Sweet. If anybody is interested higher recommended from pretty much everyone we've had on the show. Some admin before you start any questions, Josh is on the chat. You may notice there might be a slightly crisper picture and audio because we've invested in some new equipment. Slides are down in the corner. Again, the slides are not true there's not no real content on the slides just some bullet points that we're going to be chatting through. We have now actually standard eight to 10 questions that we're going to be asking every guest. You should see some continuity without those.

This I think we believe a based on feedback is going to give more engaging talk because we have the same questions every time which we believe are the questions that people actually really care about. Anyone [unintelligible 00:02:58] before we start?

Henry: Nothing from me.

Tom: Cool. Okay, welcome Kirsty. I think what;s interesting is that we asked Alex last week and we had a great time with Alex. Alex is very very good. He'd already recommended you actually co-run the meetup.

Kirsty: Yes.

Tom: But then one of the questions we offer at the end is, who's a sales ops ninja do you recommend that we speak to? He said you again.

Kirsty: Did he? That was very kind of him.

Tom: Yes, you have to speak to Kirsty. I'm really excited about the talk. I'm only going to hand over to Henry to kick it off. Maybe talk about how you-

Henry: Yes, I think maybe Kirsty needs to introduce yourself, exactly what your role is, what company do you work for, what you do day-to-day?

Kirsty: Yes. I'm head of sales operations at a scale up company called Signal. When I joined about nine weeks ago it was reaching the end of the startup phase. It's been a bit of transition with doubled team in six months. Yes, the company's now about 130 people. It was 60 when I started. A lot of growth and a lot of that but most of that's coming from the commercial team. Hiring sales reps and [unintelligible 00:04:09] management that needs to come with it.

Tom: Really interesting. How many salespeople?

Kirsty: We have 37, I believe globally. In that time we've opened an office in New York as well and we're also got feet on the ground in Asia now as well.

Tom: You're a head of sales operations? You are responsible for sales operations?

Kirsty: Yes, I started up as manager but now because it was just me and it was a new role for the company but now we've grown the team to currently three but we're hiring two more people.

Tom: The management, the 37 salespeople is that just reps or does that include the management team of the sales team as well?

Kirsty: Well, that I work with?

Tom: Yes.

Kirsty: Yes, I report directly to the CRO who our VP of Sales also reports into.

Tom: Interesting, nice.

Henry: [unintelligible 00:04:55] Just talk to you about how you manage people at distance. How you can get the best out of them.

Kirsty: Yes, it is with difficulty really, we also use slack a lot. Which is really useful but what's really challenging in the situation is there's five new sales reps over there, all completely new to Signal and there's no one leading them that's [unintelligible 00:05:16] worked at Signal because our president over there is new as well. We're really trying to give them as much love and attention. We've brought them over here for our kickoff in January [unintelligible 00:05:24]. They all came over, I spent two weeks here and did loads of onboarding. Spent lots of time with the product team, the marketing team.

Henry: Is that the culture of the business?

Kirsty: Exactly, yes. Our CEO [unintelligible 00:05:36] a few weeks ago and he met the people that we've hired since that kickoff, their difference in who they-- the culture company how they fit in. If they had a problem knowing who to go to get the answer with [unintelligible 00:05:49] from now on every hire we make in America, we're going to bring them over to London for two weeks just for them to make those connections and get absorbed in the culture as well.

Henry: I think it's the best thing to do and I know obviously Salesforce do that when you recruit.

Kirsty: Really, yes.

Henry: [unintelligible 00:06:04] I'm pretty sure people will go to San Francisco for at least two weeks for onboarding [unintelligible 00:06:08] as well. It makes sense. It gets people on the same wavelength.

Tom: Yes.

Henry: And it's an investment in your staff as well. [unintelligible 00:06:18]

Kirsty: Yes, it gets them onboard a lot quicker.

Henry: Yes, absolutely.

Tom: How did you get into sales operations?

Kirsty: Well, I've learned over at [unintelligible 00:06:26] there doesn't seem, it's traditional I guess is starting as the Salesforce administrator [unintelligible 00:06:31] but I came from a very very different background. I did applied science at University and ended up as a chemist in GlaxoSmithKline. I was analyzing finished goods and signing them off for sale. Anything intravenous [crosstalk].

Henry: Finished good from Finland?

Kirsty: No, as in manufactured goods. Anything that was injected intravenously, there are 17 different products we were testing all the time.

Henry: That's vastly different to what you do now.

Tom: [crosstalk] I actually also study chemistry. You have to [unintelligible 00:07:08] which I think is what we're getting into.

Kirsty: Exactly. I actually almost feel like all roads have led to this actually and I'm definitely now if like found my career. I started at GlaxoSmithKline and then I was offered a place on a graduate scheme in London. I deferred

Tom: In science or in?

Kirsty: No, in research. I deferred it for a year and then came down to London to start the Graduate scheme which was working in quantitative research so actually a lot of parallels again. I was basically-- It was them-- We have a big database and I was working with various brands. It was all shop of data. We were looking at that huge database and pulling stories and working out why certain brands were growing, why other ones weren't.

What plan strategy could they used it to further grow their brand? Again, very similar it's just analytical research science. I stayed in research for a while and then I'd always been really interested in well, I really thought sales would be the worst job in the world. I had said many times I would never work in sales. Then actually working in a more commercial environment was quite interested in it. I moved into the sales team as a consultant for the software that we were selling and was very involved in pitching and redesigned the proposal deck. I was very involved in all other big bigger value deals. It's basically the pre-sales world.

I got a lot of exposure to the sales side there. Then my friend basically got a job at Signal mentioned about the sales ops role that was going. This is my first sales ops role.

Tom: I think that was nine months ago.

Kirsty: Yes, May the first, I started here.

Henry: Do you think it's been a steep learning curve? What do you think you already have the skills necessary, it was kind of a straightforward?

Kirsty: I think yes, a bit of both really because learning I've always worked for most companies until I started working here. Making the shift to a start-up was incredibly different, you can imagine. Yes, and it was awesome, vastly more exciting in my opinion. Because we're not chasing a 2% or 3% growth or chasing 100% growth all the time. Also, with it being a new role, being able to make one change you can immediate see the impact.

Henry: Yes, I suppose last night Jay was talking about working in IBM and how it was extremely structured, everything is extremely structured you work with a certain framework and I suppose you were the one defining the framework at Signal.

Kirsty: Yes, exactly. I think because it's a smaller team as well I know that previous companies where I've worked the [unintelligible 00:09:32] Sales Operations role, it's been a hugely reporting, basically running numbers, been a admin role really and but here because it's so new and it's all exciting and it's not new to me. It's new to my manager at the time. We grew and we just identified what needed doing. That was a priority really.

Henry: Super interesting.

Tom: The next question on the list is about what you think makes a awesome sales op person? I think we've touched on already, if you'd like to elaborate.

Kirsty: Yes, I think from my experience anyway, obviously, attention to detail, you need that to be a sales operations person, but I think specifically talking from a startup perspective, you just need to be willing to get stuck in with everything because-- I was laughing the other day because on the one hand, I was helping find strategy for our American office and then the next minute I was pulling two reps apart that were squabbling about who got the lead.

So it's just such a variety of levels of projects and sometimes it's just really in the weeds and sometimes it's really high level, which is what keeps it really interesting.

Tom: Who got the lead in the end?

Kirsty: The right person, obviously, we used DESA to decide that.

Henry: Exactly and your very strict processes.

Kirsty: Yes, exactly, foolproof every time, of course.

Henry: There's no like fringe cases?

Kirsty: No, never, no gray areas. So yes, willingness to get to stuck in I think and also organization. I think having sales ops can very easily become a dumping ground. What makes a good sales ops person in my mind is someone who gets stuff done, which sometimes means that you just become that go-to person. So you know if something needs doing, Kirsty will get it done and sometimes you to be willing to get stuck in, but be aware of what's actually going to add value and move the needle.

Henry: Do you document all the changes that you carry out? Like a CRM platform, they're meant to document everything you do, so that if they were to get hit by a bus, people can come in and understand what's been done.

Kirsty: We try to use Trello a bit for that in terms of projects that are currently being worked on, that are completed, what's been marked and parked. When I first started here, I did use to keep record of things like that and then as you can imagine.

Tom: Too much.

Kirsty: Yes.

Tom: A big question that I find fascinating actually, that we bring up every time is the point about needing sales experience, so you didn't?

Kirsty: I didn't have a number, no, I was working very closely with sales reps.

Tom: In the previous role, okay, cool. Do you think it's necessary?

Kirsty: Sales experience?

Tom: Yes.

Kirsty: I don't think so because you should be working so closely with the head of sales. I think it helps obviously because you can be more sympathetic to their workflows, what's likely to work, what's likely to be rejected, what's likely to be adopted if you're more sympathetic to their world. I think what's been really key to my role is I've always worked so closely with the head of sales and seeing as they're experts at that, you should be giving each other advice and sounding ideas off each other anyway in my opinion.

Henry: So you need to be an expert in your field, you're an expert in the operations of sales and they're an expert in sales.

Kirsty: Exactly, yes.

Henry: Makes sense, being really good at a particular subject.

Kirsty: Very often what makes you a very good sales rep would not make you a very good manager or a team player.

Tom: If it weren't for one characteristic, sorry to put you on the spot, that you need to have to be good at sales that wouldn't necessarily help you in sales operations?

Kirsty: It sounds negative, but we always say the best sales reps are quite inherently selfish because they're just so focused on their number and getting to that number that it makes them not a team player. So to move from just being focused on your number-- I mean sales is a team sport, we all get that, but the single-minded people who will do anything to hit their target at the end of the month or quarter. Moving from that role into a role where actually it's other people that are accountable for your number and it's purely a team is such a hard shift.

Henry: How can you get the right characteristics for salespeople? Do you help interview salespeople on the way in?

Kirsty: Yes.

Henry: So how do you get the right characteristics in a salesperson that means they are a team player and they obviously can hit their number at the end of the quarter?

Kirsty: I think it's about focus and prioritizing, it's always about moving the needle at the end of the day, being aware of that. If you've gone one rep smashing it and then sixteen not, then obviously, that's terrible, so you need to have someone that's willing to help. You need to have a mix of people in the sales team, don't you?

Henry: Sure, and how do you analyze the activities of someone who's a very good sales rep and actually try get those things they're doing on to the not-so-good sales reps? How do you do that?

Kirsty: That's a great question actually. We're trying to do that at the moment, we are trying to work out, for example, what's our best cadence, what's our best touchpoints, activity reassures. Do we just need to hit the [unintelligible 00:14:30] should we be supplementing that with emails and sms's is something that got demoed today.

Henry: Is that an sms from Salesforce?

Kirsty: We had a demo with a tool called Groove and it's all built into their cadence.

Tom: Everything is secure, you can create them using Groove, they will go, email, phone, they'll remind you to phone.

Kirsty: They can actually even add them on LinkedIn for you, they can automatically add them.

Henry: Sounds great.

Kirsty: Yes, it was pretty cool. We were quite impressed by it actually.

Tom: That actually leads us quite nicely on to our next question, Henry?

Henry: What's your current tech stack for sales?

Kirsty: We are reviewing at the moment, we have a lot of tools. Obviously Salesforce, but then we have a really good tool called InsightSquared which sits on top of our Salesforce and that visualizes everything pretty much in real time. So that's actually where our CEO lives now, he doesn't actually have a login for our Salesforce anymore.

Tom: Does he know how to use the dashboard in Salesforce?

Kirsty: Yes, but I think that he prefers InsightSquared because you've got your chart in InsightSquared, you've got a dashboard, it's got all the correct filters on because, like any Salesforce, if you forget to put a certain type of filter on or not to see and just the sales. You can end up with 16 different numbers for the same metric.

Everything in InsightSquared, we know if you're going from the dashboard, it's got all the correct filters on, so you can click into the chart and then you can add lots of filters, you can change the time zones, you can click into certain deals, you can get right into all that detail right in InsightSquared. So it's a really good tool for just digging through data and visualizing it out really clearly.

Tom: Big up to InsightSquared.

Kirsty: Yes, drop them in there. So we use InsightSquared for the visualization, which is a great management tool. We also use SalesLoft for our prospecting and then we use Gong, which is a call recording software powered by AI, which is great, but we're not getting full value from it at the moment.

Tom: So that can analyse voice [unintelligible 00:16:33]?

Kirsty: Yes, so it integrates with your calendar so every call that's in your calendar, it's got a screen share link into it. It will just automatically join and it records the screen and the audio and at the end of every call you get an email and it analyzes you against that because they've got thousands and thousands of dead-- millions of dead points and it tells you where you are against best practice. So did you ask enough questions, did the conversation flip enough, if you spent too long talking on this particular topic, for example.

Henry: Because I used to work in that kind of space and the problem with voice recording and transcription analysis is that sometimes you have to have a machine do all the listening for you and give you some results because otherwise there's just too much information. You can't listen back to calls to see how good they were, it's a waste of time, you need a machine to do it for you.

Kirsty: And it gives some recommendations as well. So we had bad words programmed in, so things like "Sort of, like" you know, all of those filler words and we have a rep who has done some of this sales learning before and she's always said to all the reps that she's trained, you can never ever sit on the fence, if someone asks you how much something costs you have to have conviction in what you're saying because otherwise, the prospect is never going to trust--

And she got her first Gong call recording emailed out to her and in a 20 minute call she had said, "Sort of," 17 times and she was horrified and then the next call that she did, she said it twice just because she was more aware and that's all automated coaching, that's not her manager having to sit and listen to the call and give her feedback on it, it's all done automatically by the [crosstalk]

Henry: Does that tie into Salesforce as well? So can you see that against the lead or the opportunity or whatever stage it's at?

Kirsty: It links to Salesforce in that what's really nice if you're ever searching for calls, say I want to listen to for example when a new rep starts and I want to give them caller recordings every recording is time stamped with everything from Salesforce. So I could look for a call that was at trial kickoff stage, for example, has now gone onto closed one and has a value of over twenty thousand pounds associated with it. And it was by a certain rep or in a certain industry, you can apply any filter you've got in Salesforce you can apply, which is really useful.

Henry: Any other technology?

Kirsty: We're looking to bring in a dialler because Gong can only integrate with softphones not hard phones.

Tom: What's the difference between a soft and a hard phone?

Henry: Hard phone's a physical phone softphone could be a web phone or a computer program.

Kirsty: LinkedIn Sales Navigator, obviously, and we use cloudingo for our screen share. We use DocuSign, we've now built that right into our process so from Salesforce you, just click to generate the order form, it's all done automatically and then you can send it to DocuSign.

Tom: So you click a button and it will ping out the order form?

Kirsty: On every opportunity, you just hit the button and as long as all the addresses and everything are correct, it flags anything that's not correct and it comes to me, I approve it, finance approves it and the rep can just send it out.

Henry: [unintelligible 00:19:49] also do products similar to that.

Kirsty: It just made the whole process so much more streamlined than it used to be with Word Docs getting edited and--

Henry: You've also got full audit control haven't you?

Kirsty: Yes.

Henry: Yes.

Kirsty: Yes.

Henry: Good.

Tom: Nice.

Henry: What’s your favorite? Of everything that you use?

Kirsty: Maybe say Gong because of the added value that it can bring. We’re very aware because one of [unintelligible 00:20:14], for example, is build a library, but we just never done it. We have never given it the time it really deserves, so we’re going to get this dialer in, and then do a full relaunch of it internally to make sure everyone’s using it and everyone’s getting value from it, and then do the, yes, have it all in the process.

Henry: Because a sales rep, a brand new sales rep can walk in and actually benefit from that day one.

Kirsty: Yes.

Henry: Actually understand it.

Kirsty: We can say that here is a 30 second snippet, which is us doing some great objection handling. Put that in that folder. Here’s a demo, here’s some negotiation discussions. The other thing that Gong can do actually, which is really cool is- because it recognizes all the words, we can set up various trackers. We’ve got our common objections set up as trackers, and every call that that objection is brought up in, it pings an e-mail to the product team. They get an alert so they can see that. It helps us build business cases because it also charts it over time, so we can say over time, “Look, X% of calls they keep mentioning this particular feature that we don’t have. We know that it is on the road map, but this is how many people are asking us about it,” and then we can link it to what’s been closed last.

Henry: That’s very intelligent. I take it, so if you’re going to work, this is a bit technical, but you have to have stereo sound? Would it be left- you talked about left and right in the stereo?

Kirsty: Yes.

Henry: One side would be the prospect, and one side would be the user?

Kirsty: Yes.

Henry: I take it you can’t do it in mono, can you? You can’t split up the voice, so I would think. If you’ve got phone systems that deliver in stereo, I think you can use Gong. I think, that’s awesome news.

Kirsty: Right. I’m not sure, but I do know that it manages to pick up who’s talking. Obviously for a shared line it's very obvious it just knows who’s- because it does that through Join.me, but our dialer also integrates within it. It knows, because it shows through a little picture where the conversation flips and who’s talking when.

Henry: Right.

Kirsty: I’m not sure about the stereo mono thing. No.

Henry: Very cool. We have another question. Do we have any questions online yet?

Tom: You can continue and I'll take a look.

Kirsty: Another tool actually that I was going to mention is- which is a really simple one, it’s not a Sales Ops one, but obviously in Sales Ops you end up organizing quite a lot of events, and we always like to try and get a few knees up in the calendar, and I thought everyone used Doodle. Have you used Doodle before?

Henry: No, I haven’t used it.

Kirsty: It’s great. I started using it to work, and we’re having a team night out tomorrow. It’s a free tool. I just go to Doodle.com, I think it is, and you just put in the dates. You could do it, and then you just send it to anyone you want, and they come in and take which days they can do, and they can say, “I can do a [unintelligible 00:22:35],”and put it as orange instead of grey. It makes it so easy to organize events outside of work time. I really recommend it.

Henry: The Tech team in our business, they were doing some quizzes with the entire team, the entire business about products and there were like 30 questions on the quiz, and the- - I can’t remember the name of it. It’s an amazing piece of technology.

Kirsty: Right [laughs].

Tom: Correct.

Henry: With [unintelligible 00:22:59].

Tom: [unintelligible 00:23:00].

Kirsty: Tune in next week.

Henry: Yes

Tom: We have a question actually related to the scale-- Bringing on all these sales people, you know the onboarding process? What are a couple of things that you’ve done that have been really effective with the onboarding process for these sales people?

Kirsty: Good question, see, because that was one of my first projects, was reducing the [unintelligible 00:23:20] time, so we were hiring people and finding that some of them were taking six to nine months before they make their first sale. Which is when it’s not a huge enterprise deal, and our average lead- our average deal length is about three months, isn’t great. We took a really close look at it, and I brought in an onboarding program as a company we’ve got-- because we’ve hired so many people as a company. We’ve actually brought in a fortnightly cadence, and every two weeks, for example, I run a sales onboarding session for anyone that started in the last two weeks.

Tom: Oh really. Right.

Kirsty: Marketing do one, the different product teams do one, all the success teams do one.

Tom: Every two weeks.

Kirsty: Every single new employee gets put through that two-week cadence. That’s all of the company onboarding, and what we do is that we supplement that with sales onboardings. We try split it like morning and afternoon, so the first two weeks, three weeks that somebody’s at Signal, in the Sales team anyway, they have their morning, afternoon training session every day-

Tom: Nice.

Kirsty: - and it’s on a different topic.

Tom: Every day?

Kirsty: Yes, and we now have a set plan. Then we have a buddy scheme just for the onboarding period of three months’ probation, or it might be extended, they have a buddy and they have to have a weekly hour. Go out for coffee, chat, even if you think there’s nothing to bring up, still go out because something will come up. It’s not to train them or to manage them, it’s just purely to answer questions around the culture. Our Head of Engineering is an example- that we have a 10 o’clock stand-up in the engineering team. In a lot of companies you’ll find it’s not very compulsory, you can turn up a bit late, but for our VP of Engineering that is a really important meeting and if you’re not going to be there for 10, you need to tell him that you’re going to be late or tell someone so that they know where you are and that's just a cultural thing.That’s just the kind of thing that you will learn from your buddy, so we have a buddy scheme.

I’ve actually introduced tests, which just create a bit of emergency. I guess quite normal. You have a bit of a demo test- so before your reps start doing discovery calls or demos, we have a discovery call test and we have a demo test. I’ll just pick a LinkedIn profile of someone in their territory that could be a prospect and then they go and do the research, run the discovery call with us- with one of the reps. That gets passed, they use what they learnt in the discovery call for the demo, and then they do the demo test. Then the final test that we do is- you have to pass all three of these to pass your probation- is a written test all about our product, our competitors, and why our personas find particular features added value.

Tom: Yes.

Kirsty: That’s something that everyone in the company ended up doing.

Tom: Sounds pretty comprehensive.

Kirsty: Yes.

Henry: It’s similar to what Justin does.

Tom: Which is?

Henry: [unintelligible 00:25:46] test.

Tom: They have?

Henry: Yes, they have a test process and I think theirs is only two stages. He’ll probably correct me.

Kirsty: [chuckles]

Henry: Yes, it’s definitely worth doing, isn’t it?

Kirsty: Yes, and well, the proof’s in the pudding, because we had one of our reps sign a deal in his second month. Last month.

Henry: That’s really good.

Tom: No.

Kirsty: Yes.

Henry: Really good.

Kirsty: That’s not everyone though [laughs].

Henry: He didn’t inherit it from--

Kirsty: No, he didn’t. He prospected it himself. He did very well, yes.

Henry: Impressive. How do you deal with data quality, and how does your role crossover with Sara and [unintelligible 00:26:18]? You do work closely together?

Kirsty: Yes, we do. Our head of CRM role that sits underneath me now. He used to sit in the marketing team which didn’t- it just meant that he was the gatekeeper for the CRM, which is crazy when it’s a sales force tool. He’s moved into our team now, and we work really close, and you don’t see- because of my background as well, I’m not a sales force admin person, so I really need someone in my team who is an expert in that and can be a gatekeeper. We work really closely together. It’s generally me- It’s working out any way that it can. It tends to be me having ideas and then he tells me how we can get there [laughs]-

Henry: Right.

Kirsty: – and keeps me grounded because, “No, that stuff won’t work because of x or y.” [laughs]

Henry: Isn’t a sales force admin meant to ask why?

Kirsty: Exactly.

Henry: To bring it up three times.

Kirsty: Yes, he’s very good at that.

Henry: You can keep an answer for each time. He might consider you’re [unintelligible 00:27:08].

Kirsty: Earned three tickets [laughs]. Yes, because we don’t really do tickets anymore.

Tom: That’s a [unintelligible 00:27:13]. We have a question about recommended sales enabling tools. We mentioned SalesLoft?

Kirsty: Yes.

Tom: You have a question if would you recommend, or any are there any others that you know?

Kirsty: In terms of tools. How do we really use one? We’re actually hiring a sales admin person. So we’re going to bring someone in to do that, and someone with experience in our buyers is going to be really key. Knowing- understand the world of our buyers and understanding our product positioning.

Henry: Sure.

Kirsty: Yes. I don’t use any particular tools.

Henry: How do you deal with data quality in your organization?

Kirsty: Yes, and that’s a big project. Yes, we’ve actually got quite poor quality at the moment. We’ve bought data from sources over the years. We’ve got a lot of duplicates in there, so we’re trying to explore two options. One, is the tech answer to it, so we’re currently looking at various different data providers that we just want to have a proper relationship with but that really integrate with our sales force.

Henry: Yes.

Kirsty: As we go, we can clean up the data. Secondly, we’ve actually made another hire. It’s almost like a data-entry role, and he--

Henry: Data analyst role.

Kirsty: Yes, we’ve called it Sales Ops analyst, but he’s coming in purely just to clean our data, input data, and make sure the reps are all there. Just because it got to that point where it’s slowing down our productivity and it’s creating quite a lot of friction. Especially in our new office in America you can imagine they’re all starting from scratch, and we’re just throwing everything at it really, just trying to get it sorted as possible. We’re using- exploring different technologies, we’re reviewing around eight different tools or something at the moment, we’ve had reps [unintelligible 00:28:49]. It’s been quite a coordinating task, but we’ve got a couple shortlisted that we’re pretty confident, but our key requirement of those providers is that it has to integrate. Everything has to be in sales force. That needs to be our point of truth.

Henry: I think [unintelligible 00:29:05] last night was talking about getting sales reps back into sales force without having too many tools to get them to focus because sales force can offer a lot, and sometimes plugging another tool, it isn’t the answer.

Kirsty: Yes. Exactly.

Henry: That’s true.

Tom: We have an interesting question. I’m not sure it’s related to sales force, maybe sales management. How long do you test a new sales strategy before you stop doing it if it’s not working? I’m not sure if that’s relevant. If not--

Kirsty: Yes, well actually I have a little bit of opinion on it because, from my previous manager in my previous job, he was our VP of Sales and Marketing and he always said, “Managing a sales team is like managing a football team, and there are so many parallels.” He would use it all the time as an analogy. That’s so true. That makes sense. He would always say, “Just stick to strategy.” Don’t knee-jerk, right? Give it a quarter and it’s not working and change it. Use data to see maybe why it’s not working. Can you tweak it? I'm not saying that it's enough- terrible. It's collapsing on its knees and you should firmly stick with it. Don't change it. There's not many quick wins in strategy. It's more like a shift that you guide, isn't it?

Tom: I need to be consistent over a period of time and try and tweak within [unintelligible 00:30:18]

Kirsty: Iterative. Learn as you go.

Henry: What do you think the biggest challenge in your role is?

Kirsty: Personally for me, it's-- We have problems with the data. We have problems with finding GDP or finding contacts. Trying to make the reps stay as more streamlined and get them selling as much as possible instead of researching and doing admin and managing trials. All of those things are issues. We'd love to have pre-sales growth here. Personally for me, it's just meetings and juggling. I'm in like five to six hours of meetings a day.

[laughter]

Henry: You've got full time work.

Kirsty: I manage people as well. It's pretty much about prioritizing. I think what really helps is just always- and this is how we've structured our team. We're all now tied to the revenue number. Our job is to make obviously the process more efficient. Have the best process in place. Ultimately it's about hitting those quantity in annual targets and having a strategy for next year. Always keeping focus on, "Is this moving the needle? Is it adding value? Is it removing friction?"

Henry: Do you think tying sales up to the number of the team, that's the way it should be structured? Do you think you should--?

Kirsty: I do. I think especially if you've got-- As an individual contributor, if you get- given a checklist of things to do to get to your bonus, you can smash all of those things. Has any of it quite landed? Has it been implemented properly? Have the reps adopted it? That's the most important bit. I think Jay said the same thing last night. I was glad to hear it actually. That's how his team has always been structured as well.

Henry: This is a question out my head. How do you test the effectiveness of-- When you put a piece of technology, how do you actually prove its value in business? Is it super clear once you've installed it and a month later the same value from it? How do you actually track how effective a new piece of technology is?

Kirsty: We actually sometimes bring things into Saleforce. As soon as we got linked into sales navigator, I said that was quite a hard win for me internally to get across the line so--

Henry: It's expensive?

Kirsty: Yes. It's the price. I really wanted to bring it in for all of the reps. We just didn't have the budget for that originally. I brought in just for the STRs. Obviously the lead source dropped down so every time someone got contact from sales nav in Salesforce they indicated it. That made it really easy for me to go to the FD and say, "Look at all these contacts we've got," and just show how effective it was. Also you get usage stats from the team sales nav. It made it quite easy for me. Two months later, we were allowed to bring it in for the whole team. I always try to-- [crosstalk]

Henry: [inaudible 00:32:58]

Kirsty: Our company is very data driven. Our CEO is very data driven. Obviously our FD is. Yes. As long as you've got data to back up.

Henry: You are a data business effectively, aren't you?

Kirsty: Yes.

Henry: You are a data business yourself, so you appreciate the value of the-- I guess.

Kirsty: Yes.

Henry: What is your biggest challenge? You just [unintelligible 00:33:19] It's the--

Tom: Priotization.

Henry: The priotization of your time. That's why you're just being really regimented organizers. How you [unintelligible 00:33:29]?

Kirsty: Yes. Exactly. Just prioritizing. Keeping on top of what's important and what isn't. I'd say to you the key challenge that we have at the moment is hiring the right people and the right [unintelligible 00:33:40] The onboarding process as well has helped us to Identify-- It sounds quite brutal but if someone is not quite right for the role, we can identify that so much easier now and either work with them to try and work out where the problem is or help them find another option.

Tom: Not giving them help at all.

[laughter]

Kirsty: Yes.

Henry: Do you have a single metric that you judge [unintelligible 00:34:07] by?

Kirsty: Yes. I've got forecasting accuracy. To me that shows deal control and deal management and relationship management. If you can accurately say when a deal is going to come in, even if it means you're going to fall short of your target, instead of having [unintelligible 00:34:28] and just overforecasting which a lot of reps can do. I guess if you haven't got a huge amount of pipeline and sometimes there is pressure to forecast things a bit earlier than they should. I think reps that can generally get within 10% of weather forecasters start the month. That shows to me that they're probably doing-- It also means that in terms of knowing where to focus, that's how I am. Reps that can visualize that funnel and they're, "I need to focus on top of the funnel this month because in three months time, I'm not going to have any pipeline."Just having that control of moving the deal through the stages and being able to accurately predict when they come in to me shows-- Also awareness of-- As George said around the Red Amber Green not chasing deals that aren't going to come in. Like having this awareness of when the deal isn't the right fit for us or the customer and getting out of the pipeline early on.

Henry: I was thinking earlier today about the Red Amber Green. I think that actually allows a salesperson to use their gut sometimes on a deal. Every salesperson has a gut. They can truly understand if a deal is going to fail. Their gut tells them. You've always got to leave some of that down to a salesperson. I think the Red Amber Green allows the sales users to be able to put that into a system to be able to say this is at that stage and not just rely on the opportunities they just--

Kirsty: Yes. It's like a qualitative layer on the quantitative stages. Yes.

Henry: Really interesting. You do fully use that across all the opportunities.

Kirsty: We do now. Yes. Even InsightSquared, for example, [unintelligible 00:36:02] from Salesforce, they'll say, "Here's the Green forecast." Then basically Amber is [unintelligible 00:36:06] for a month.

Tom: Every month, you look at forecasting accuracy for every rep.

Kirsty: Yes.

Tom: You'd speak to them if they were consistently--

Kirsty: Yes. I'll speak to them but that also means that you can-- If they give a number of a 100 grand for the month, you know whether it's going to be hard because some reps do the opposite. They will not commit anything.

Henry: [unintelligible 00:36:31]

Kirsty: Yes. We had a deal that closed last week. Until the day it closed, it was forecasted for the end of May. [laughs] Just because they want pipeline visibility. Yes. Obviously by tracking that you--

Tom: Why would a rep not want to do that?

Kirsty: Underpromise, overdeliver is better than overpromising and underdelivering, which is true but you've got the whole team doing that.

[laughter]

Tom: [unintelligible 00:36:53]

Kirsty: Yes. Exactly. [unintelligible 00:36:56] reason.

Tom: [unintelligible 00:36:58] Yes. If you had to take any sales operation person to lunch--

Kirsty: If I had to?

Tom: In London, who would it be?

Kirsty: I feel like I have to say Alex though, don't I? He said me [laughs]

Tom: No. No you don't. Don't say him.

Kirsty: I've been very lucky to-- Purely by chance, when I was interviewing Signal, I think it was the day I was meant to meet the CEO for my final interview. He was busy talking to investors, so he didn't have time. He was going to be a bit late. They put me in a room and then just asked someone to come talk to me to keep me busy basically I felt bad. It just happened to be this lady who-- It was kind of relevant. She was our head of operations and scaling. She's worked I think three different startups now, three-- like exiting. She is effectively our kind of COO. Now really that's the role that she has here. She was very intelligent. In the interview process, I said-- I told her I was successful. I asked if she could be my mentor. The first day on the job [unintelligible 00:38:04] could you be my mentor? Fantastic. Ever since, we've been meeting up fortnightly. She comes from this very operations heavy aspect. She just approaches things so differently to how I do. It can be generally just whatever I've got coming up that week putting together a strategy. I'm even thinking how big the team needs to be or anything like-- I'm really not even thinking it was relevant for her. She generally has a quite different perspective on it and very much encouraging me to take a step back and think about things differently. Think about it from a bigger picture standpoint. I think probably my experience and my career, I have to get quite on the details. It's a good practice trying to take a step back and not do that.

Tom: Should we give her a shout out.

Kirsty:Yes. Emily Brenna. She's amazing.

Henry: Why do you think you'll be the business in nine months [unintelligible 00:38:54] about nine months more.

Kirsty: I think America is hopefully going to really take off. I'm going to be spending quite a lot of time over there in the coming months. Yes. Hopefully [unintelligible 00:39:09] probably with a bigger team I would imagine.

Henry: Yes. I think that will happen. Any more questions?

Tom: That's it.

Henry: That's it?

Tom: Cool. Kathy, thank you.

Kirsty: Thank you.

Tom: Each one of these [unintelligible 00:39:28] monthly review and forecast accuracy. We don't do that, do we?

Henry: No. I think as James was talking last night. We don't do much forecasting because we're not quite at that stage yet. There is a perfect time to do it. I think using the rag is something we can hopefully start doing so we can start the forecast with some accuracy.

Kirsty: Yes.

Henry: It's really good.

Kirsty: Let's see how it goes.

Henry: Yes.

Tom: [unintelligible 00:39:59]

[laughter]

Cool. We have [unintelligible 00:40:02] on Wednesday. Actually [unintelligible 0040:03] we will be back on Thursday next week. Five PM. Thank you very much for watching.

Henry: Thanks guys

[00:40:21] [END OF AUDIO]

 

 

Quotes:

"Having a proper integration and relationship tool that integrates with your CRM can help with data quality."  -Kirsty Charlton

"Having a proper integration and relationship tool that integrates with your CRM can help with data quality."  -Kirsty Charlton

Costin Botez

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