Alex Miller is the Director of Revenue Operations at Sendoso. Sendoso helps companies engage, convert, and retain customers with strategic sending and gifting. Send e-gifts, swag, Fand other awesome gifts to the recipient’s door with Sendoso’s Sending Platform. Alex looks after all Ops from everything from sales development all the way through sales, account management, customer success. Alex started his career as an SDR but quickly found himself to be part of Operations teams.
In addition to Alex being an avid Revenue Operations professional, he is also equally a passionate skier.
The subject of our discussion with Alex is around revenue operations tools; selecting, deploying, and connecting the tools. The rev ops team at Sendoso prides itself on having a deep and expansive stack of technology.
Choosing the Right Revenue Operations Tools
- The unique part about how Sendoso built their rev ops team is they don't have specialists. They’ve hired a really strong group of generalists who can administer tools, think strategically, implement, and help troubleshoot issues with end-users. So they can not just set up the tools and evaluate the tools, but also making sure that data is flowing right and can, ultimately, make decisions based on the data.
- Sendoso has a robust stack since they are in the MarTech space, and they use their customers’ tools and their customers use their tools. This has helped them develop a close partnership with many other tools within the sales and marketing space.
- One of the main things Alex’s team does when looking at bringing a new tool aboard is asking, “What is the value that we intend to bring to our teams? What is the administrative burden on that tool?” Then, they make sure they have the right resourcing internally to support it. His team works closely with everyone from their SDRs, to their account executives and CSMs. They understand what a day in the life of an SDR is and what parts of their work can be automated or made cleaner and more efficient.
- They look at the impact they’re trying to make in the teams that will use the tools day-to-day. And then, to evaluate vendors, Alex chats with his revenue operations peers. He’ll often send an email, "Hey, I saw that you're on so-and-so's website, I'd love to just chat with you for 10 minutes if you got it, around how your experience using this tool." He likes to evaluate tools based on social validation and what are other companies that have solved this problem doing.
- As far as implementation and evaluation, it's fairly hands-on. Alex pulls in a small test group for most tools they bring on board to have early validation before they roll it out to a team of 30 SDRs.
- Alex says there are so many different types of tools out there in the MarTech landscape these days, anything from data providers to sales engagement platforms, to CPQ tools, to writers, enrichment vendors. So, it's important to ask, "What is the business impact we're trying to make by either looking at a vendor or no vendor?" Sometimes you need to retool a process.
Rev Ops Leadership is About Making an Impact
- Making an impact, not managing the budget, is a primary motive for deciding on new tools. Sendoso has a lot of go-to-market DNA at the highest levels of the company. Although they want to be cost-conscious to an extent, Sendoso is an experimental company, and they’re down to try new things. Rather than focus too heavily on budget, being experimental, and trying new things is what has gotten them where they are today. It’s part of their ethos to be curious and try something new and be experimental.
- Alex looks holistically at the value a software brings to his company and the value of a deeper strategic partnership with that particular vendor. When Sendoso was looking at ABM orchestration tools, there were a handful of lead players out there, and they had some existing relationships with more or less all of them. In 2021 in the B2B SaaS world, if you're only a vendor, you're probably not doing enough. Thought sharing or strategy sharing, or going to market together, helps customers since products working together actually solve a lot more problems than two products independently.
A Momentous Shift in Sales Pipeline in 2020
- Rewinding back to January or February of 2020, many of Sendoso’s customers or prospects would have a booth at conferences to build relationships and fill their pipeline. Then, there was a momentous shift when there were no conferences being held and field marketers didn’t know what to do next.
- Sendoso and gifting as a tactic came into the forefront as an experimental process to say, "Hey, how can we go to those folks who normally we meet in a conference hall instead of having them come to us?" A big change in 2020 was getting tactical about how to tear up their database. That started with ensuring they have data providers that can get the right addressable market into their Salesforce instance and getting those accounts enriched with contact data. They approached it as, "Hey we know the personas we sell to, how can we make sure that those accounts are built out with those folks?"
- Then they ran some basic but effective tiering and prioritization since not all accounts are created equal. So while that's not necessarily a tool itself, it has been a powerful strategy that drives how they use all of their tools. You don't need a big ops team or a lot of tools for account tiering and prioritization. It could purely be a matter of, "Hey, let's just know the industries that we sell to and let's say, if it's a B2B SaaS company, that's tier one, if it's a hardware manufacturing company, that's tier two, and if it's in the manufacturing space, maybe that's tier three and we want to deprioritize those."
- Alex says that all starts up the funnel and the benefits of that cascade downward. Ask, “Are we signing the right customers and are they the right customers that can, one, retain and two, expand?” He says this is an exercise that every rev ops leader or every sales leader, a marketing leader should do. Go out there and make sure that you're doing that because if you do there are a lot of good results that come from that.
Making Adjustments to Pricing
- It wasn't a direct result of what was happening in 2020, but Sendoso did learn a lot from how customers and companies were buying during that time. As a result, they made some changes to their pricing and we paired that with rolling out a CPQ tool to help make that nice and easy in January of this year.
- Alex says, “The newest addition to our stack has been bringing aboard DealHub and working through a tool that helps manage pricing changes, which can always be somewhat sticky for sellers. And if you can put that clearly inside of a tool that kind of shepherds people through building out new agreements compliantly, that's been a big boost for us so far for this year.”
Timing of New Rev Ops Tools Acquisition
- We wondered whether or not, in terms of the acquisition of tools and technologies, Alex follows a pattern of Q1 is about enablement, Q3 is about maybe execution, etc., following the natural financial year of each company? He shares that Sendoso buys tools more or less year-round, but there are cycles they go through. During Q4, sales is trying to close out their fiscal year, but also looking into next year and saying, "Hey, where were the blind spots that we had in our stack? What's a process we need to retool for next year? What do we need to bring on board that's going to get us where we need to go next year, that maybe we didn't have for this last year?”
- In Q1, Sendoso’s teams focus on sales kickoff and sales enablement. There are always new tool trainings and strategy shifts with existing tools. So Q4 is a buying period.
- When you're trying to buy tools year-round, your sales team doesn't exactly uptake learning new tools consistently throughout the year. The last month of any quarter is focused on sales. The first month of a new quarter can be focused on kickoffs and summarizing results and retrospect about what worked, what didn't.
- Alex shares that Q2 is time to start pushing the gas pedal a little bit harder, especially as you start gearing up for the end of Q2, which can tend to involve people being on vacation, summertime looming, schools getting out, really just trying to understand what's happening to the outside of the business and understand how your buyers are buying. Q2 is a nose to the grindstone quarter, "We're enabled, we're kicked off, now it's time to go put that to use."
Learning Revenue Operations
- Alex found himself at a company where he was the SDR, the AE, the CSM, and the support person. To effectively do all of that, he had to go buy tools and set them up. Of the experience, he says, “I can't understate that for anybody who's earlier in their ops career, you don't go to college and get a degree in rev ops and come out of a boot camp like you're ready to go. There are no coding academies that you can attend to come out with a fresh degree and rev ops certification. So a lot of learning and understanding, how do you do this job effectively, is not by reading a book, it's by listening to your peers and getting involved in communities.”
- He mentions a few revenue operations communities: Modern Sales Pros, Wizard of Ops, RevGenius, Revenue Collective (now Pavilion), RevOps Co-op. If you're early in your rev ops career, and you're still trying to figure out how does this job work, or even if you're later in your career and you're just trying to talk shop with other like-minded people, there're a lot of awesome communities out there.
- There are people around the globe that are sharing their ideas. Nobody is so overly confident that they are a hundred percent correct. Everyone's very humble about sharing, "Hey, here's where I tried this and it didn't go so well." Alex loves to pay it forward because he’s learned so much from those communities.
We appreciate Alex’s candid discussion about his revenue operations tech stack. Be sure to follow Alex Miller on LinkedIn and ask questions to learn more from him.
About the podcast
The RevAmp podcast derives from two words: Revenue + Amplification. This series has been produced specifically to give a voice to the sales and revenue operations professionals who have invaluable experiences to share. We have seen the scope for this role, as well as the recognition, expectations, and tools have rapidly changed over the last couple of years. The reality is that there are not enough high-quality resources for fellow professionals to use as a benchmark or learning curve. DealHub knows how important it is to be well resourced so we have put together this RevAmp podcast for your benefit.
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