Our goal at Building the Sales Machine (BTM) is to enable sales leaders in the tech community to help and learn from each other. We’re all in this boat together, trying to help revolutionary companies disrupt the norm. To make people’s lives easier, better, more fulfilling. We’ll aim to bring some of these great teams, leaders, and strategies to life through our articles, meet-ups, speaking events and interviews.
For today’s Q & A, we’re publishing the second part of our chat with Mark Kosoglow, the VP of Sales of Outreach.io, a powerful sales automation platform. Prior to that, Mark was the Founder of the Mercenary Sales Group, and Regional Sales Director of The School Specialty Planning & Student Planning, managing a $14mm annual business.
What role do you see lead-gen playing in your organization?
We are an Account-based sales shop. We don’t need no stinkin’ lead gen. We identify the accounts we want, find the people we need to talk to, throw them in Outreach, and earn the right to get meetings with them. Sales killers want to hunt their own meat, throw the spear, skin the carcass, and BBQ that bad boy on open flames. Hunters do their own lead-gen. They don’t think it is too hard. They know it’s the best part…it’s finding the hoof prints in the snow. That’s when you actually get to start the hunt.
How do sales and marketing interact in your company?
We don’t have any marketing. We get our customers to tell us their stories, we document them, then we use them to show our prospects what they say about us and our results.
How do you strike the balance between analysis paralysis (trying to measure too much), and flying blind (not measuring anything)?
We take each role, look at what are the key responsibilities/functions of that role (should be no more than 5 — we like 3), then we think about what would make us the absolute best at each of those functions. We find a metric that measures it, then that’s all we talk about until we become masters. Then, we re-evaluate and add a new one to the board. If your people are working on more than 3 things, then they are working on none.
Whats the most effective short term and long term motivation techniques you’ve seen someone use?
We like to have TVs up that show the key metrics (see above how we come up with those) we are working on for all to see. We use Ambition to play personalized anthems when someone achieves a daily or weekly goal. It’s sounds a bit corny, but done well (with a great tool like Ambition), it becomes the bedrock of accountability, competition, and celebration. That’s for short term. For long term, you have to have a clear career development doc that is based on merit, not on tenure, and that kicks in no matter if the “position” or “promotion” is available. People need to see the next rung on the ladder as well as the roof the ladder is leaning on.
What role do sales operations and field enablement play in your organization?
Sales Ops is the most important sales function, in my mind. You have to have processes, metrics, and infrastructure in place or your sales team will be all over the place and you’ll fail to capture what is getting your results. As a sales leader, you can waste time doing reports and dashboards in SFDC or you can hire someone to do it better than you while you coach your team and assist in closing deals. That’s a simple choice.
How important is your sales technology stack to your sales organization?
Our tools are our lifeblood. All the stuff Sales Ops does for us is based on what our tools can accomplish when used by a sales rep. Sales tools are as important as your pitch and how your reps talk to prospects. Tools facilitate geting that pitch on the books, presenting the pitch, following up the pitch, and moving it to close. Sales is impossible today without tools, and your competition will crush you if you have cheap point solutions that provide success resources to help your people become masters at getting results with them.
If you could fix one challenge on your sales team today (with the snap of a finger), what would it be?
Better, faster, bigger lead sourcing. As I mentioned, we don’t use lead-gen. We source accounts, then prospect the DMs in those accounts. If I could find 1000 accounts along with all the DMs and contact info in 30 minutes, my team would be unstoppable. I’m dreaming, but you asked for one challenge, so there ya go!
If you’ve built out a training team, what was the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
No training team. But not sure if we’ll have one soon because we believe the best teachers are the do-ers. We have our performing SDRs train the new guys. We use Peer Programming (see above) and the top performers at each function to share the workflows they helped to create, which the whole team uses. The best way to really understand something is to teach it, so why deprive your people of the opportunity to teach something?
Do you believe you’ve built a metrics driven environment? Whats an example of something you’ve done that other organizations may not have thought of?
We are extremely metrics driven. Not sure what we have done that others haven’t, but we have begun to abandon sales activity as a key metric. With Outreach, activity is a given and so voluminous that not much insight can be drawn from it. My reps, literally, do the work of 5 reps. So what is most important to us is the quality of the activity. We use a metric called QSOs (Quality Sales Objectives) that measure the rate of positive outcomes from massive amounts of sales activity. This lets us know where the ship is sailing — to treasure island or cutthroat island. When you have great people, great processes, great training, and great tools, the ship is sailing. Our challenge is making sure it sails to the best harbors.
What interactions / meetings should managers be having with their reps and why?
We like weekly group sitreps (situational report) and monthly 1:1s. This gives us a chance to learn from each other and be transparent and accountable in the group setting — so people can see others are failing, learning, and succeeding. 1:1s give privacy to build trust to really hone in on how to help someone.
As a teenager, Mark watched videso in the back of a storeroom on a 7″ black and white TV to learn how to sell shoes at the mall. The experience offered a great foundation in sales. After that Mark ran a small business, Nittany Notes, with 200+ employees and learned the hard way how to be organized. Then Mark moved on to Great American Opportunities, where he created a highly profitable sales territory from one that had been dead for a decade. He learned the value of hard working and grinding it out. After that he moved to School Specialty Planningto manage 12 salespeople across 9 states, and cemented his sales philosophy.
Currently Mark is the VP of Sales at Outreach.io, where he is building a sales team with, by far, the best, smartest, hardest working people he’s. ever worked with. You can find him on Linkedin here, and on Twitter here.