Today’s Q & A will be with Ryan Burke, the Vice President of Sales for Invision (they are hiring), the world’s leading prototyping, collaboration & workflow platform. In the five years prior to that, Ryan was the VP of Sales at both Moontoast, and Compete. Let’s get into the Q & A:
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1) What traits do you look for in a sales person?
It’s always evolving, and very dependent on both product and market. I think there are two ways to look at it: 1. The fundamental, foundational traits that should be natural to any good sales rep and 2. Additional attributes specific to your market or model.
From a baseline perspective, I want to see creativity and drive. What is the gutsiest thing someone has done previously to open a door that was closed to them? How creative did they get in preparing for our interview? There are always the standard approaches to prospecting or researching, but I want to talk to the person that tracked down a prospect at a conference, or found one of our clients in their network to speak with before even walking in my door.
2) Best tip for sales teams that are scaling?
If you think it’s too early to hire sales operations, it’s probably too late. For any team that is rapidly scaling, the numbers and processes are everything. Back when I had a five-person team, I considered hiring a sales operations lead, but thought it was too early. By the time I had grown to a 15-person team, I found myself playing catch up. Operations is the lifeblood of any sales team. If you are going to over-invest in any area, make this your priority.
3) How do you get buy-in from the people you manage?
I make my team a part of the process. From forecasting calls to training sessions, even to compensation or performance plans, I bring people into the fold and do it early. Part of the reason people are drawn to early stage companies is so that they can do things beyond just hitting their numbers. At InVision, we let people bring their ideas to the table right away, and use it as an opportunity to help them grow. In turn, it helps me lead because people have been part of the process that I am now managing them into.
4) How important is your sales technology stack to your sales organization?
The sales stack is key, and builds on the need to have strong sales operations. The two go hand in hand. For tools, you must be diligent about the evaluation process since there are so many competing tools out there, with most feature sets overlapping now, or in the future. Evaluate them for what they can offer you now, but also where they will be in six and 12 months.
It’s crazy to see this space evolve from where it was a few years ago; now, there are many choices. To start, focus on the basic business questions: How can I track performance to help me make decisions (reporting tools), how can I scale my prospecting efforts (list creation, outbound sequencing tools, etc.)? At the end of the day, you need to keep it simple and intuitive, and try to build around your core anchor systems. We build everything off of Salesforce and Gmail and go from there.
5) What do you think of cold calling? Should sales teams still be using it?
The phone is back. We introduced phone touches into every source of our outreach, from cold prospecting to inbound lead requests. The phone touchpoint is just one in a series of touches, and they should all build off each other. Nothing is truly ‘cold’ anymore. Buyers are informed, time strapped, and cagey – and you should treat them as such, with warm, personalized touches that add value. Always have something interesting to say, don’t waste their time with lengthy sales speak, and make it easy for them to respond. Picking up the phone is a part of that process.
Ryan Burke is an experienced senior sales and business development executive, specializing in scaling early stage companies and driving enterprise level sales. He is currently leading all sales efforts for InVision – a innovative prototyping and collaboration platform that is changing the way companies design user centric products. Prior to that, he was a member of the senior management team at Moontoast, an early stage startup in the social advertising space. There he managed both the enterprise and inside sales functions, selling to clients including Toyata, P & G, GM, and Microsoft. Before that he SVP of Sales at Compete which was acquired by WPP and later became Millward Brown Digital. He led all sales efforts, including a senior vertical enterprise team as well as an inside team selling the Compete.com SaaS product.