What Is Sales Operations? A Chat Rory Brown of Kluster Intelligence
Rory Brown jumped onto Sales Operations Demystified to answer the question… what is sales operations? And further share his knowledge and experience in Sales forecasting and planning.
Rory is the CCO and Cofounder of Kluster Intelligence, a sales operations planning and forecasting tool, we dive deep into Sales Ops at Kluster and Rory’s definition of Sales Operations.
Check out all the other episodes of Sales Operations Demystified here.
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Tom Hunt: Thank you everybody for joining the fourth sales ops demystified. The first two were just me and Henry Channing and then the third one was Arthur we had Justin on from [unintelligible 00:00:14] Corp and we found that format more engaging. I think we enjoyed that more. It’s also as a result of what people are saying, they enjoyed it more as well. Today we have a very special guest. We have Rory Brown of Kluster Intelligence.
Again, we’re going to be running for about 30 to 45 minutes. We have an idea of the topics that we’re going to be covering but if you have anything you want to ask either Henry who’s also experienced in sales ops and Rory, then just ping in the chat. We have Josh here in the room who will be passing those questions through to me.
Henry Channing: If there’s anything super specific, we’ll come back to you afterwards [unintelligible 00:00:53]
Tom: Sure. Then moving forward as well, we’ll be having a guest, someone who has real actionable sales operations experience on every week Thursday 5 PM. If you have registered for one of these, you’ll probably get an email from me asking if you’d like to register again. We might get some kind of solution where if you’ve registered for one, you get invited to all of them in the future. [unintelligible 00:01:14] Josh?
Tom: I think we’re probably going to get started and the first point that we’re going to go into like an intro into Rory, what I’d like to say first is that I really like the way you describe what your business does on above the fold on the homepage. I’m quite aware that that is more marketing but if you could, take us through what Kluster Intelligence does first and also your experience related to sales and operations and then we’ll dive into the questions.
Rory Brown: Yes, sure. I think what you’re referring to there’s a home page where it says will you hit the target next month, we already know. Essentially, we built a really smart reporting tool kit for Salesforce and that is designed to take the data that sits in there and manipulate it and display in different ways that will basically help us understand how to forecast more accurately, how to forecast further ahead, how to create revenue more consistently. More importantly, it’s all fueled from the very salespeople that are putting all the data into our CRM. It’s about giving them value, giving them visibility, giving them an understanding of how their business works that they never had before, and also that’s a huge impact on the quality of reporting you get at the top.
Henry: Got it. How do you access your products? How would I access your products?
Rory: Just to log in through the webpage [unintelligible 00:02:39]
Tom: Then your journey [unintelligible 00:02:42]
Rory: My journey. Prior to Kluster, I’ve only worked for one business. I worked for a sales training and recruitment company called BMS, I started there at 21 through to whatever it was and grew a team in London of about 12, 15 people. I was really a sales manager.
Tom: Did you start off as a sales manager?
Rory: I started off as a salesperson and then became a sales manger.
Tom: What were you selling?
Rory: Recruitment training to sales businesses.
Henry: You earned your stripes and you moved your way up to be a sales manager?
Rory: Yes, through the greasy pool.
Tom: How long were you signed for?
Rory: I was signed for five, six years.
Tom: Only then did you move into management?
Rory: Why? The opportunity came up, we needed an office in London, I flew in.
Tom: You were selling in a different location.
Rory: Yes, we moved locations and then I was one of the first people there and I would hire a team [unintelligible 00:03:47] a group in London, yes.
Tom: They were like, “Rory, you need to get to London and set up a sales team”? Is that essentially what happened?
Rory: That’s it. It all happened quickly. I never left London since.
Tom: If you were selling for six years, did you say, before you came to London, and then how long were you managing?
Rory: I was managing for three or four years and then me and my business partner started Kluster.
Henry: What inspired you to start the business? Was it because you could see that you weren’t being able to use the data that you got in your CRM or what was it?
Rory: It was a mixture of challenges that I had as a manager getting visibility of, how the hell we’re going to land and how we were performing and the one-to-one with the salespeople where you’re a bit scratching around for a spreadsheet of how they perform and what the key metrics are and then one’s a bit getting a calculator, rustling around. Also, I had a lot of confidence because my business partner was an actuary. He did mathematical modeling in a big insurance face brain. You get the rest of the story.
Tom: One topic that has come up a couple of times is about how having actual sales experience and then coming into a sales operations or management role, and I have a couple of questions to ask. When you were a salesman manager, did you find that you were doing sales operations tasks?
Tom: Do you think that your six years of sales experience helped you in that operations and management role?
Rory: It’s a really good question. I think coming through the sales route gives you the empathy when you’re going backwards and speaking to the salespeople. It doesn’t necessarily give you the technical nous. You’re in there understanding the problem and feeling for people, but you’re not necessarily that well-equipped to quickly produce and distribute a solution. It’s a bit of a catch-22 really coming through that angle, I’d say.
Tom: You have part of the skill set but then you wouldn’t necessarily have this other part.
Tom: The guy we had last week, correct me if I’m wrong, Henry, had never been a salesperson.
Henry: Yes, I don’t think Justin’s been a salesperson. He was in sales ops and then moved to sales management. I think some distancing yourself from salespeople to be a sales manager is quite important. I think the same relationship means having the sales operations. Sales operations is the intermediary between a sales manager and a salesperson, Rory, the connection on that, so they can sometimes be the shoulder to cry a lot of times.
Tom: For you, right now, you essentially have all three roles?
Henry: Yes, more squished into one, yes.
Tom: I think that, Henry, do you have any more questions about Kluster or Rory’s journey?
Henry: No, I think it’s really cool.
Tom: We have three points that we like to discuss, quite tech-focused, I think, so we’ll move through them. Josh, do we have anything? No, no questions yet. Henry, I’m going to pass it on to you.
Henry: Where your sales data can tell you about the right technology to employ, it’s quite a broad topic. How do you do it at Kluster? What are you doing with data in sales? How can you use that easily? How can people watching this take something away and actually use their data to their advantage to make more money? [unintelligible 00:07:22] in a sense.
Rory: I’m thinking it is a broad topic. The first thing I think before we get into anything nitty-gritty, it’s understanding what mold your business is currently in. Are you the scrappy, plucky, growing business where getting revenue as fast as you can is what it’s all about? Are you at the beautiful stage of building this wonderful, predictable, repeatable process-led engine that’s polished and when you present to investors all your key metrics are trending in the right direction, or are you a mature or PE-backed business trying to grow 6%?
Tom: Which are you?
Rory: Which one do you think? The first one I mentioned [unintelligible 00:08:02]
Henry: No need for perfection early on? Is that what you’re trying to say? Try and get the basic fundamentals, the framework correct and then it’s easier to scale from that?
Rory: Correct, yes,.I think what I just said, it’s bearing in mind what mold you’re in right now. If you are the plucky business trying to get revenue, you’re going to be employing tech to help you sell faster and that’s it. It could be the sacrifice of polished processes, but if you’re in that middle stage where you’re about building this repeatable process, then the tech you employ might be quite different because that the aims of the business at that point are quite different.
Henry: If you had just your CRM and you had limited time, limited funds, what’s the first thing that you would do?
Rory: Good question.
Henry: Is it tech or more technology or should you spend time and effort to get your CRM correctly configured, maximize that, and then bring on other solutions?
Rory: I think, yes, good point. I think the first bit would be if we’re talking about Salesforce, which most of us are on, it’s about setting up a really slick easy way of using it. Move your deals through the stages, set up how your leads work, set up how your contacts work, make it easy, don’t over complicate it, you only need a few salespeople.
Henry: Some businesses use accounts, contacts, and opportunities for their entire sales process and some use leads then convert it through to opportunities, accounts, contacts. How does a business decide what to do and where? I think it depends on the business, correct me if I’m wrong, maybe the sales cycle and who you’re selling to. How do you decide these things?
Rory: Well, for us we split it very easily and leads are marketing-driven, contacts are open-driven, pretty simple, but as you see, I’ve seen very different permutations of that and it totally depends on how you want to structure as a business. I’ve seen people that because it comes from HubSpot as a CRM, they’ve got rid of leads totally and they just work on contacts and then they ignore the lead object completely.
Tom: The lead is almost like a different CRM.
Henry: Well, we were using accounts, contacts, opportunities and finally because we’re an ISV, so the way all of our customers are linked into our own sales force. However, we have moved to using leads again, mainly because I think it’s slightly easier for us to divide up between teams and probably scale a bit faster using leads. It gives us clarity of roles, meta-reporting is slightly easier, I find, so that’s why we decided to go that way. I’m not saying it’s super easy, I’m not saying it’s 100% right, it’s just I think it’s the right way to go [unintelligible 00:11:04]
Rory: It will never be a 100% right, will it? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that is, so we should probably get that out of our heads. [laughs]
Henry: It’d be interesting to see people watching what they employ, if they’re doing account-based or if they’re using leads, that would be quite interesting to know that split.
Tom: Cool. Anything else on this one?
Henry: [unintelligible 00:11:23] talk all day.
Rory: [unintelligible 00:11:24] feel free to carry on.
Tom: Okay, he’s back. Looking at the technology, I guess using the data that you have gained, what technology do you choose and how would you then employ it?
Rory: I’m a big fan of using metrics in the sales funnel to work out what technology do you need and it can be quite common people to think, “Well, I’ll look at the worst conversion rate of my entire contact close journey, and I’ll focus on that.” Actually, what I think is more powerful is if you’re able to get that data at the salesperson level, what you’re probably looking for is the greatest spread in terms of a conversion rate between each salesperson. If you’re a qualifications op and you’ve got a difference between someone who’s converting 10% and someone who’s converting 65, that, for me, is where you start the focus because the process is utterly, totally off.
Tom: That’s a big opportunity.
Rory: It’s a big opportunity.
Tom: You’re saying if they’re looking at the overall conversion from top to bottom, you can look at the data in a slightly different way and find a salesperson who is potentially underperforming and then that’s an area where you can look to optimize?
Rory: Yes, I think, for me, it’s where there’s the greatest gap on a metric between two salespeople because that tells you that the interpretation of what that process is is too open, i.e, it’s probably not a process. It’s tending to what each individual thinks it is, and that’s your opportunity to create a process which will then- you only got 65, right? If you can get 65, so you can get 10 to 65.
Henry: You need to understand, why is that person leading 65%? You have to understand it in detail, and that’s why people use things like call analytics trying to understand as a sales call happens, how many sales are happening on the call, understanding all that data. I think, is that something you do earlier on or do people only do that when they’re optimizing when they’re trying to eke out those extras? Are we talking about small businesses or larger businesses?
Rory: It’s a good question. This is the big challenge of this discussion, isn’t it, in that I’m not sure what the audience are? I’m guessing we’re probably all in SaaS-tech-type environment.
Tom: Actually, we should profile the audience. If anybody would like to share their industry, you can. I wouldn’t assume anything, though.
Rory: For me, I think that’s the greatest place where technology could be employed because I think technology is built by a building process which is so good for the business and its long term health, and that, for me, is the greatest opportunity to put a process in place.
Tom: Have you seen that in Kluster and how that [unintelligible 00:14:29]
Rory: Oh, goodness, you’re preempting.
Tom: Where you’ve seen maybe- I, obviously, don’t think I’m a salesperson but maybe a process that you’ve implemented that has had a- or one of those stages that has had a good result? [unintelligible 00:14:45] put you on the spot.
Rory: No, it’s fine. It’s quite obvious actually, and it’s one of the first discussions we will have with our customers is we’ll walk into the on-boarding and we’ll see right from the sales management to the salespeople, what is an opportunity? Just wait and watch the debate unfold. It’s amazing how many people haven’t got that the entry criteria for an opportunity lit. Of course, everything after that is short because it means that [unintelligible 00:15:14] using the stage is different as well.
Henry: Yes, you got to have a process that’s clearly defined in the business and also you’ve got to keep qualifying, maybe discussing every [unintelligible 00:15:24] on the market to keep qualifying for those sales businesses. Every single stage, they should be reevaluated.
Tom: How would you then- does it not really matter what the definition of an opportunity is as long as it’s consistent across the organization and everyone understands?
Rory: Well, it means the business is consistent across the people that are using it. That’s really what all that matters.
Henry: The business can forecast effectively.
Rory: That’s right, one of the knock-on effects, for sure.
Tom: Do you think there’s going to be a difference between how Ebsta classes an opportunity and how Kluster classes an opportunity?
Rory: I definitely think there will be.
Henry: Yes, I think so.
Rory: I’ve been asked before, what do our other companies in our sector class an opportunity? I said, “Well, it’s really not relevant to your business.” Well, what is important is that it’s aligned within our business and then that’s what matters. Don’t look to other people who call them opportunities. It’s less important, I would say.
Tom: Is that one of the first things you did at Kluster if you’re building a sales process is have a clear definition of that?
Rory: Yes, what is an op? The first question.
Tom: Has it stayed the same inside?
Rory: Yes, it’s evolved, but it still has the same fundamentals. That consistency will be there from the off, whereas I’ve been into mature businesses where it’s still not there, and it just wreaks havoc across the sales funnel.
Henry: We may have a question.
Tom: What are some- Justin and I don’t know if that’s Justin from last week, what are some of the best metrics that provide coaching opportunities for younger sellers? That’s a good question.
Rory: [crosstalk] There’s quite a few. Again, I like to focus on the funnel if the data’s okay and it’s there. The first thing I would look at is things like conversion rates between each stage of your funnel to know where their bottlenecks are and we take that very visual. You can then coach on that particular issue, go back and see if the metrics improving.
Tom: Is there a specific one that especially with the younger sellers, you will see that they might need to be optimized or do they not matter if they’re young or old?
Henry: I’d say if they’ve been coached correctly, I think it would be easier to mold. Yes, it’s all about good coaching, I think it’s giving the confidence and the process to stick to.
Tom: [unintelligible 00:17:50] I think the question he’s asking if they had a younger seller and an older seller, is there a point in the funnel where a younger seller would probably need more coaching or not?
Rory: I would say what you’re going to find with younger sellers is that the way that you coach them automatically, you coach them top-down, so they’re going to be struggling more at latter stages of the funnel than they are at the top. Metrics you might want to be looking at is when you start to get into pricing negotiations, that part of the funnel, what is the key metric around that particular area which is typically later [unintelligible 00:18:27]?
Henry: They might not be doing is so often, so it might happen less often, those kinds of discussions.
Tom: They need more coaching. Has that answer your question, Justin? Well, we’re talking about opportunities and how it’s really important to have that clear definition. Is there anything else that’s really important or any other definition or process that’s really important to have defined or it’s every stage in the process needs to be fully defined?
Henry: I think every stage needs to be fully defined?
Tom: The whole thing has to be fully defined.
Henry: No, because everyone hopes for perfection, but you won’t get it.
Tom: It’s a journey to get there. That’s a key stage is to have an opportunity for input?
Henry: Yes. It’s part of your qualification. What’s your criteria?
Tom: At each stage?
Tom: [unintelligible 00:19:17] so what’s the qualification criteria?
Rory: Once you start analyzing the pipeline if you know it’s being created at the consistent point that you know what you’re looking at in terms of coverage and how fast you’re booking it and all these metrics and you’re planning ahead and spotting gaps, you know it’s reliable because, at least, it’s been created in unison. If it’s not, you can’t rely on that information as well, and it becomes very challenging to hit target, basically.
Tom: Let’s move on to a final point. Interesting. Henry? Henry, tell me more about this.
Henry: How to build credibility with the team using data? Well, I think, so is this in relation to bringing technology into a business for them to then see benefits?
Tom: It’s driving salespeople adoption of new tech, exactly.
Henry: Well, they’ve got to see the value in it, haven’t they? Salespeople, traditionally, hate any kind of change in process and sales ops people are normally driving those kind of changes within a sales team, so they have to see value coming from it.
Tom: What I want to pick up on here is, define the word “value,” is it value for the business or value for them and the paycheck?
Henry: I think ultimately it’s their paycheck.
Tom: Actually, the word “value” is another way you can describe it. It’s subjective for activation, that’s it. How can they see that this tool is going to make them more money? I’m not saying that all salespeople think like that.
Henry: Well, I think if you can get salespeople to earn more money, the business will therefore benefit [unintelligible 00:20:53] so they work hand-in-hand.
Tom: How are we going to use data to do that, Rory?
Rory: It’s just about making it accessible and visible. Again, for me, salespeople are in a world where they’re constantly being told what to do to hit this KPI and to follow this process. Management still hasn’t caught up with the modern way the salespeople think and who they are and how they act and what they’re after in life, so it’s still a little bit disconnected, and it’s very top-down. One thing you can do to build credibility and to bolster a new initiative is to visualize the improvement. This is going back into the metrics and the data and saying, “Right, we employed this technology six months ago and adoption’s been okay to good.”
This part of the funnel we’re looking to tackle, we had 200 grand a week dropping out when we started, we’ve now got 120 grand a week dropping out. 60 grand a week is staying in your pipeline between you because of this tool. Make it visual, make them realize and then just as you say, top it right up to their commission at the end and say, “That’s £10,000 extra comms you’ve been earning over the last six months, so congratulations.”
Tom: Bring it back to the commission.
Rory: Yes, I think so. It depends on your business, it could be about bringing on more clients and delivering more value or whatever it is that-
Tom: That people get excited about, not always commission.
Henry: Have you ever taken on some technology in Kluster that’s made a radical difference?
Rory: Yes, we’ve got quite a decent tech stack.
Henry: What does it look like, your tech stack at the moment?
Rory: We’ve got Outreach, we do a lot of order campaigns and sequences, which are either outbound campaigns, which are a little bit more value-prop-led or we do inbound.
Tom: [crosstalk] phone campaigns, sorry to jump in. I’m quite interested as more of a marketer, how do you get someone who has no idea who you are to start engaging through however you’re doing it and for those outbound campaigns? I’m not going to share the secrets. What has been working? What do you say or offer in the email to get people to engage?
Rory: I think it’s got to be very value-led, you’ve generally got to give them a bit of information on an email or on a video or in a direct mail, handwritten note or in a voicemail where they’ll think, “Flipping heck, I might try that.” As soon as you’ve got them thinking that, then you follow up more credibly, credibly, you back that up with more value. Eventually, they’re going to think, “I want to speak to this person at some point because they know quite a few things.”
Henry: How many touchpoints are in your traditional campaign?
Rory: It could be 16+, easy.
Tom: You’ve got Outreach.
Rory: We’ve got Outreach, we use video art.
Henry: You post nice videos, yes.
Rory: Now, we’re looking into one called TwentyThree, which is like a UK-based competitor.
Tom: [unintelligible 00:23:58] to that, correct me if I’m wrong, but you can record one video and then you put custom stuff into it, is that right?
Rory: Well, we just use the free version of it.
Henry: Yes, you can do things like you can on a webinar, you can share your screen, do a quick demo, but the benefits are from- we used it briefly, if you’re in Gmail, you can just drop it straight into it through Gmail, you just click one button and it’s in there.
Tom: Just do a quick little video, chuck it in, bang.
Henry: It’s actually quite useful, it’s quite a good tool. I don’t know what the [unintelligible 00:24:29] stuff is.
Rory: Lots of fancy stuff, call to actions and [crosstalk]
Tom: There is video stuff out there where you can record one video and say the name of the business or the name of the person you’re reaching out to and then have like a mail merge but in video. That, I’m not sure if [crosstalk] Henry, go ahead.
Henry: I think I’ve heard of that solution, but it’s not quite like that, it’s about speed. You can spend two minutes making a video for one prospect, you probably wouldn’t do 20 in a day, you might do 3 or 5. How many would you expect people to do?
Rory: We’re hyper-personalized, so actually, we do a video per person, but that’s just our approach, we’re not volume-led [unintelligible 00:25:07]
Tom: Video art, Outreach.
Rory: Salesforce, we use [unintelligible 00:25:15], which is a very cool tool.
Tom: What’s that?
Rory: Well, it’s Webex, a dialer, a coaching tool all built into one, it’s really slick. We use Kluster for our reporting and checking out followers on track. What else do we use? We’ve got HubSpot on the marketing side.
Tom: Nice, so you’re connecting HubSpot and Salesforce.
Rory: Yes, it’s been a joy.
Tom: For our listeners benefit, we’ve been wrestling with Pardot and Salesforce and the connection is quite good, but [unintelligible 00:25:45] that’s a long story. Maybe we should do that, we should do one on connecting marketing CRM to marketing automation because I think that’s– Would that fall under sales ops? It’s a combination of sales and marketing.
Henry: I think it might be marketing. I think marketing.
Rory: I think more and more, it will involve sales ops because that initial technical integration is where the whole the M and R sales and marketing divide can starts to happen. If everyone’s not involved in that connection, then you set the theme off on that foot.
Tom: I’m new to the sales op space, but the trend I’m seeing is that people are actually saying it shouldn’t be just like sales ops, marketing ops, customer success ops. It’s actually potentially one team. What are your thoughts on that?
Rory: Rev ops.
Tom: Rev ops, what do you think?
Rory: Rev ops is already quite big in the States. What you see in the States with the bigger companies, you’ve got your sales ops, your marketing ops, you CS ops and then your rev ops managers, all three teams but they all work in a team rather than working in the sales team and the CS team and the marketing team, they’re a hub.
Henry: Would rev ops then be looking at the technology and saying, “Okay, the sales ops team are using this type of technology, marketing are using this,” is there anything they can use across the board, a singular platform? Because, otherwise, you get pockets, different teams using different technology in the business, that means different think sets, which isn’t always the right thing to do, is it?
Tom: Wouldn’t they ideally all be using Salesforce or not?
Henry: You guys are using HubSpot.
Rory: CS typically would be using things like Gainsight and Totango and these sorts of things. Marketing, obviously, marketing CRMs, so they are quite separate.
Tom: HubSpot now has three products for marketing, sales I believe and customer success, is that right?
Rory: I didn’t know they had a CS product.
Tom: I think they do, I’ve been on their site. Josh, can you quickly go into hubspot.com.
Henry: How customized is your Salesforce?
Rory: Fairly, yes, we’ve got a lead workflow, a contact workflow, and an opportunities workflow, and they all intertwine. The most technically difficult has been the HubSpot integration, that’s bringing up Salesforce lists with all the stuff we want to see based on the HubSpot activity. There’s been more work on that than anything else.
Tom: I’m just going to jump in here quickly. This is for the audience, you can actually just go into hubspot.com, but HubSpot do have three products, SalesHub, MarketingHub, and ServiceHub, which I think that’s quite interesting, right? That’s something I’m seeing more and more of, it’s quite interesting, I think, because if that is the case, then we’re called Sales Ops Demystified, but maybe we should be called Rev Ops Demystified. What do you think?
Henry: I think Rev Ops Demystified is catchy. if you have a limited budget, where do you spend your money first? If you’re going to go out to the market, looking at the app exchange for sales force products, what are you getting first? If you have a sales team, what do you give them first? Do you give them a dialer, do you give them online integration, what do you do?
Rory: That’s a good point, as a start, we use RingCentral. Yes, telephone is pretty important still, even but bar the obvious, I think top of the funnel is where we’d look first. For us, even though we’re quite targeted and we’re not after volumes and volumes of content, we’re quite keen to add them to Salesforce as quickly as possible, so tools that cut corners and the stuff that salespeople have to do manually like adding a contact and filling out their information and checking if you’ve already got them and all that annoying stuff.
That’s probably where I’d go first because when you’re new, you haven’t got much money to spend, and your salespeople are literally going to define if the business makes it or not. At that point, if you can free up their time in the biggest way possible, that’s what I would do first.
Henry: It’s about making those big gains to start with and then optimizing later.
Rory: Yes, the optimizing comes much later.
Tom: Getting them on the phone or on email or on video.
Rory: How much selling time do they have? Anything that moves that percentage up is actually good.
Henry: Because I think you’d be surprised just how much time salespeople spend just simply trying to find someone to call [unintelligible 00:30:09] I think if you can reduce that time and make them be effective, then it’s worth it.
Tom: One thing we were talking about actually is, is there one metric that a sales operation team can use to define a sales team and do you think, I just had an idea then, it could be time selling? Like NFL for England Rugby [crosstalk]
Henry: It comes back to rugby, so, Eddie Jones.
Tom: Who’s Eddie Jones?
Henry: The head coach for England Rugby. His single metric he has across the team, so forwards and backs, is how quickly players get up off the floor. He has one metric he can judge everyone by.
Tom: Time on the floor?
Henry: Yes, it’s how quickly they can get up because if you’re on the floor and you’re playing rugby, you’re no good to anyone, but if you’re on your feet, you can make tackles, you can pass balls. It’s a simple metric across the board that everyone can easily understand, and it’s something I’ve heard that he prizes quite highly.
Tom: He probably has a team or he can somehow measure that quite easily, maybe there’s someone just timing it, I don’t know, but how would you do this with a sales team?
Rory: He’ll have upped his stats. [crosstalk] Well, we’ve got a CRM with dates in it, so we’ve got no excuse, really.
Tom: Will someone then have to go to LinkedIn to, I don’t know? Is it going to be possible to do this?
Rory: Yes, I would think the easiest way, given a sales ops job is to understand these issues, shadowing, you’ve got the time to do it, shadow your sales team, watch them, time it. Yes, time it.
Tom: Maybe we should start doing that.
Henry: I think we’ve got another question.
Tom: It’s a big one, Justin Knuckles. How do you best measure success and keep sales professionals engaged in enterprise sales situations where the sales cycle is 12+ months and just need one key sales per year and that could exceed quota? That’s a great question, Justin.
Rory: Yes, awesome question.
Tom: Anybody experienced with these big deals?
Henry: the super-long sales cycles.
Rory: Traditionally, and we’re going back to commission schemes earlier and these people that Justin’s talking about, it’s a long time until they realize their paycheck, sometimes they can start and it’s a year before they get their first commission check. If you’ve got trust in your sales funnel and you can take it all the way back to opportunity, prior activities, engagement, all that sort of stuff, what’s quite controversial but what you can do is you can set up commission schemes or subbed commission schemes based on metrics that are much higher up the funnel and you can celebrate and gamify those metrics as if it was revenue.
Tom: Add a number of opportunities?
Rory: A number of opportunities added, pipeline added, qualification calls attended, people engaged in a certain campaign.
Henry: [unintelligible 00:33:14] add to commission structure.
Rory: Add to commission structure. It doesn’t have to be commission structure, just linking it to the culture of what’s celebrated and what gets the early finish in the pub and what gets the pat on the back.
Tom: Have you done that at Kluster?
Rory: I’ve seen clients do it, and they’ve actually been using Kluster as their recording mechanism.
Tom: Nice, awesome.
Rory: It’s quite controversial, but I think it works really, really well because what you’re doing is you’re driving the right behavior at a point in the funnel, which is a point if you drive that, rewarding when it’s already happened is too late, you want to reward all the good stuff that happens more frequently.
Tom: Especially if it’s a year before someone might get a commission. That’s a really good answer. Have you ever seen that before in any [unintelligible 00:33:56]?
Henry: No, I think that’s a great idea. I guess it’s unique to every business. If you’ve got short sales cycles, then it could be quite [unintelligible 00:34:06]
Tom: Thank you very much, any more questions, Josh? No, we’re good. Have we covered–? No, I think we’ve kind of diverged away from [crosstalk]
Henry: How to build credibility to drive adoption.
Rory: Make it visible. Show them results and show them results at a personal level. “This is how much extra you’ve made because you employed this technology.” If you’re trying to build credibility before, then it’s a different conversation, what you want to try and get from your vendor and they should have this, the expected return for an individual contributor.
Henry: If you’ve got a team of salespeople and you’ve got salespeople that have been there a long time, how important is it to get those, and they might be the most successful salespeople, getting them to use the technology and them see value in it as well? Don’t let them not use it, that’s really important, right? Because you’ve got to drive that behavior, the younger salespeople have to see the older salespeople or more experienced salespeople using the technology to their advantage and then they will follow suit. Does that ring true?
Rory: Yes, I think that’s a very difficult one, and it’s really hard, as you say, for someone who is doing really well revenue-wise for the business, to convince them this is important, but then you want to take a huge step back and ask them, “Okay, what are you actually doing here, why are you at this business? If you’re here because you’re entwined with our values, you want it to flourish, if it’s going to flourish, we need a predictable model, and if that’s going to happen, you need to lead by example.”
Tom: Have you had that discussion?
Rory: I’ve had this discussion before, I’m sure the discussion happens across the land.
Tom: I really like that.
Rory: People can be afraid to have that conversation with senior salespeople. Then you’ve got to ask, if you’re afraid or you can’t have it and they’re not rational about the conversation, do they embody what the company’s about and should they be there?
Tom: That’s really nice. I love how you brought in the value to that before going into why you need the process, that’s really nice. We need probably to wrap up in the next few minutes. Henry, do you have any other questions on your sheet?
Henry: I think here’s a couple of questions. Who in a business is accountable for good data? You know data is critical to making good business decisions, good reporting, all those good things.
Rory: The easy answer is to say, everyone, but there’s different layers within that. The responsibility comes from the top in that they’ve got to create an ethos and a culture where people recognize the importance of this and going back to my previous comment, where the right behaviors are celebrated. Not just patting the person on the back who’s made the most money. You could have made an absolute shambles, fast enough to get there and everyone’s thinking, “Well, I don’t need to do that.” I think the responsibility, ultimately, comes from the top.
Henry: Also, when it comes from the top, it’s things like at a sales meeting, not having a sales manager who’s downloaded and Excel sheet with numbers in it and then made a graph, it’s about reporting in the systems that everyone’s using day-to-day with live data?
Rory: Totally. I think we’ve also got to remember that as we’re all pretty much employing, 6% of our sales work force are millennials now. These people are very educated, they’re very capable, they have a sense of purpose, and they want to master their craft, so there is still an awful lot of responsibility if you are a salesperson, for goodness sake, be a modern salesperson and don’t just throw your toys out the pram because someone else was doing something different.
Henry: Do any businesses have amazing data or does everyone suffer?
Rory: I think everyone’s got amazing data, colorful.
Henry: They just don’t know how to use it or–?
Rory: Yes, I think it’s a really interesting question. Every potential client we speak with will say, “Our data on sales flow isn’t very good.” Ultimately, when you get in there, maybe one in nine are right, but the rest, actually, it’s very, very usable. They’ve just been saying that as a way to put off the inevitable building a neat process. There’s a lot about CRMs [unintelligible 00:38:26] are so good, they’ve got timestamps, they’ve got change data, they’ve got all this micro data going on that we can use to our advantage. There’s an awful lot more in there than you think.
Henry: There’s almost too much data to crunch through?
Rory: Yes, your job as sales ops is to organize it and to make it when it becomes visualized that it tells a story that everyone can get behind and that reimburses the whole process.
Tom: Nice. Cool. That’ll bring us to the end of Sales Ops Demystified, number four. If anybody would like to talk to Henry, we don’t really talk much about Ebsta here, but Henry is there, that’s his email. Also, if anybody is interested in, I guess, data in the sales process, if they’re interested in that, they’d potentially be interested.
Rory: If you want to forecast best or you want to report better [crosstalk] most useful.
Tom: Then email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Rory, there was a couple of really big insights there and I’m trying to remember them. There was the one about bringing the commission higher up the funnel and there’s one more, and then the value thing I really liked, two great little nuggets that I’m going to bring out right below the video. Thank you so much for your time.
Rory: You’re welcome, pleasure, thanks, guys.
Tom: We will be distributing the slides and recording to everybody who has attended. Thanks so much.
Henry: Thanks, guys.
[00:39:52] [END OF AUDIO]