Increase Software Sales Using Data & Automation with Kevin Mead

Modern Sales Management Podcast

Intro: Today’s sales managers are caught in the middle. The C-suite wants results, faster. Marketing departments push them to make sure no lead falls through the cracks. And sales reps. don’t respond to simply cracking the whip harder, but there is both an art and science to leading successful sales teams.

In this show, you’ll get actionable advice and frameworks from the business leaders who are helping their sales teams drive revenue every day. This is the Modern Sales Management Podcast. Here’s your host, Josh Paul.

Josh: Welcome ladies and gentlemen, to this episode of the Modern Sales Management Show. I’m your host, Josh Paul. I’m very pleased that you took time out of your day to join us today. Now we’d speak with experts who are using every sales platform on the planet, but if you’re particularly using HubSpot, I want to tell you about a new guide that we just released to the public.

This is your guide to how to optimize your sales process and how to optimize your deal stages inside the HubSpot CRM. That is the first place that we look when we’re asked to help people improve sales efficiency, increased CRM adoption, and give you better visibility to what’s going on in your pipeline. So, to access that guide, go to pipelineops.com/learn. It’s absolutely free of cost and available to you right now. With that, let’s talk about today’s episode.

If you’ve ever worked in or run a SaaS startup, you know that you face abundant opportunities and tremendous risk when it comes to scaling revenue. Without high fixed overhead and fulfillment costs, SaaS leaders can direct more capital towards marketing and sales. However, if your sales and marketing processes aren’t streamlined and optimized, all of that money will quickly go to waste. And then your investors will walk not all the time, but you’re going to have some pretty serious conversations with them.

So, to unpack this, we talked about the complexities of driving SaaS sales revenue with Kevin Mead owner of Consultancies Sales Stream with Kevin’s background in computer science and sales and marketing, he’s the perfect person to talk to for this. He offers a unique perspective in sales, leadership and process optimization, and he emphasizes the importance of aligning your sales and marketing teams.

And on this episode of the Modern Sales Management Podcast, he shared some innovative tips for improving your sales process, using data and automation. Kevin Mead, welcome to the Modern Sales Management Show.

Kevin: Great to be here, Josh.

Josh: I’m really excited about this conversation because you’re in a unique position in the way that you support sales teams. You’re involved in the data and the plumbing behind some really successful, highly producing sales teams. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got there and your journey to being in this unique position?

Kevin: Yeah, for sure. So fresh out of college I was coming as a computer science major, but I had a lot of interest in marketing. I had done some business during college and I was doing sales and I realized this is exhausting. I’d love if leads were the ones calling me and they would close right away. And then I met marketing and I was just so enamored with that process and understanding how to meet people’s needs, before they go to sales team.

And I actually ended up taking my first job, at a SaaS company doing the MarTech and what that meant was, actually Googled it as soon as I got the job, because I just didn’t know what MarTech was. And so, I ended up looking into it and, it was enabling marketing to be able to work better with sales, understand customers better.

And me coming from, the computer science world, I didn’t have a lot of talent in copywriting. And, I was a web developer, but I just didn’t know too much about marketing. So MarTech was really cool to me because it was this way where I could improve things and be able to learn some of those skillsets while coming from the tech world.

And so, during that first job, what I ended up learning was, MarTech has a big role in some of the stuff, but alignment with the sales team drives revenue. That was my first lesson from that process. I wasn’t the best marketer in the world, but what I could do, the thing that didn’t take any talent was I could be friends with my sales team.

And once I did that, they told me their problems. They asked for solutions and we started generating revenue as a team. From there, I got really passionate about that, started doing some contracting and then ended up at a company called Qwick, that was on-demand staffing platform. And we had some goals to be able to scale and open up basically, a new city every single month.

And as a sales ops person and a marketing ops person, I was like, “How are we going to do this?” Like, “How do we make sure that we scale with the people we hire?” And, that’s where I really started going back to my computer science route and asking like, how do I solve these revenue problems with, a coding background with, trying to solve scale problems?

And so that’s where I am today, where I do work on the RevOps. I solved the scale problems, one. I do demand gen just like my first job and work with sales teams. And then I also write a blog about how to use coding to help solve revenue problems.

Josh: That’s awesome, it’s a really unique path, because it really straddles that tech solution side and the things that drive business, the things that matter to the CEO. You’re involved in Phoenix and in other cities you’re heavily in the startup scene. And you’ve been involved in growing SaaS companies for many years. Tell us a little bit about what’s unique in terms of SaaS companies and their mindset when it comes to scaling.

Kevin: Well, the name of the game for SaaS companies is scale. It’s validation and scale are the two hardest things for a SaaS company to do. Basically, they need to prove that they can take on VC money and turn it into a large ROI with a multiplier. The reason that VC is so interested in SaaS is because, it can run on itself no matter the operations.

If you compare a SaaS company and an agency. An agency will keep needing to hire more people to grow, and we’ll always have, fulfillment being, 40% of what they need to do in a day to day. And they’re, working in a business. What’s really great about SaaS is that, a lot of that fulfillment is automated or streamlined, so it might still have some operations in it. But what’s cool about that is it switches a lot of the time that would go on to fulfillment into developing products.

So that fulfillment is satisfaction retention, but also what’s really great about it for marketers and salespeople is there’s a really high need for it because that’s where we put our energy and with VC money coming in, we need a way that we can really produce with it.

And so, that’s where there’s a lot of opportunity for marketers is because these companies need to figure out how do we show an ROI? How do we show growth? And how do we show that if we get more money coming into us and we hire more salespeople, or we increase our budget, that’s going to actually have the same amount of growth as it would when, we started with $0. And so that’s, what’s really cool.

On the flip side, obviously it doesn’t create interesting challenges, but it exasperates challenges that already exist in every business. So really the things that I like to work on are department alignment, sales and marketing, working together, customer success, being an extension of the product. These things are really difficult. They’re probably one of the most difficult things in any company, but when you’re moving really fast and you have an influx of capital, when you have silos, it just blocks that flow and it stops the growth.

And so that’s probably the things that I’m really interested in is that alignment people call it Smarketing. But I had that first experience at my first company. And I’ve seen that, I would much rather take an average team that works seamlessly together and has information on what everyone else is doing. Then an individual contributor or two, one on the sales team and one on marketing that are just fantastic, but can’t work together.

Josh: So, if I’m a chief revenue officer, I’m listening to this podcast right now, and I’m saying, I’ve always heard of sales and marketing alignment, but it seems like this ethereal concept to me. Can you paint a picture, for a SaaS company of what sales and marketing alignment looks like? What are some of the things you would see in a company where the sales and marketing team are aligned?

Kevin: Yeah, yeah, for sure. So, it does feel like an ethereal thing. It’s hard to reach sometimes. The funny thing is I felt that, in my experience, it’s just about building respect and comradery and friendship with your sales team. The hard part is marketing and sales serve two roles that are very distinct and they have different incentives that make it really hard to work together in certain ways, unless you really make it an effort.

And so, sales, each individual has a certain number, has certain things that they’re being incentivized for. If they have a quota that they’re really struggling to reach and even an accelerator that makes it that they want to keep reaching more things, why would they work with their marketing team? Because it’s taking time, that’s really valuable to prospecting. It’s really tough.

But what’s really cool is when you finally get that alignment, some real magic happens. What happens is the sales team and the marketing team inform each other. I’ve been in the situation where I’ve been on a marketing team and we were marketing to completely different personas than the salespeople were going after.

Because the salesperson knew that the people that were actually bringing revenue in was this one persona and marketing was onboarded and trained to go after another. Just a conversation in that situation where you say like, “Hey, how were those leads?” “Oh, they weren’t that great.” And not taking offense there, but what happens is there’s a little bit of this crossfire, but what’s really cool is you can start having marketing, tailor things for the sales team.

If you really check some of the, the ego and the tension in that situation, and you build respect and friendship, then you can really start taking positive feedback in those situations and being like, “Hey, I would rather, not call leads like that because it’s not going to get me to my quota.” And once you have that feedback, marketing can be like, “Oh, I didn’t know that, I don’t talk to the customers way you do.” And so, then they can start bringing leads.

And what’s really cool is I find you win totally like you as a marketer, say, “I am defending my salespeople’s time. I will not give them a lead unless I feel like it really is something that will close.” I find in those situations, where you show respect for your salespeople’s time, they will show respect for your time. And then you can start building that gratefulness.

And if you’re contributing to their commission, I also think it’s important for marketers to understand the commission structure to a certain point. And you give them the incentive. Your salespeople will be grateful and they’ll start to give more and, it’ll be a give and take rather than just a silo.

Josh: It makes sense. You’re understanding their motivations to motivate them.

Kevin: Yeah, exactly. And then you can get into some really fun things. Like, “I had talked to you the other day about running ads to people that the sales people have already called.” So, this moment like, “I just got off the phone with a salesperson. He was really excited about this thing that I’ve never heard of. And now I’m seeing ads everywhere. I didn’t even go to their website.” You can do stuff like that with marketing technology like HubSpot, but a lot of it comes from that moment of coming together as two teams and really understanding what incentivizes each other.

Josh: When you first started working with a SaaS company you’re brought in by the CEO or Chief Revenue Officer, VP of Sales. What are the things that you look at? What are the metrics? It’s your first day you’re meeting with an executive team. What’s the information that you want to know so that you can analyze to know the lay of the land and what kind of shape they’re in?

Kevin: For sure. So, I think, from a revenue perspective, there’s a lot of other things that go into it. But if you think about the average CRO, they’re managing a lot of plates, they’re managing sales, marketing, and customer success. That is a lot to handle. And so, what I like to look at is, three things.

One, if I added a salesperson to this sales organization, how well would they do, how fast would they train up? When would they start being with the pack of the team? Obviously when I’m asking these questions, it depends on size. This is assuming they have a team already.

So that takes a lot of things into account. It’s like, do they have the right training? Do they have processes that help this person, listen to calls, really understand the customer really fast? Because even the best skilled person, they enter a new market, they might have no clue what that market is like. And so that is really important.

On top of that is, do we have the processes to streamline the workflow for our salespeople? The HubSpot says that the average salesperson spends eight hours a week on research. Are they spending those eight hours? And if I have a group of eight salespeople, I just keep adding people, I’m slowing the team down because we’re not making anything better. We’re just adding more people to the problem. And so that mentality really makes a difference.

Then on the marketing side, I think the number one question is what are we doing? Are we driving revenue? That’s my number one question. And I think it’s controversial. I come from a demand gen background and it took me a while to understand some of the long-term stuff like brand and content. That’s very important still. And that has an impact, but the metrics that the marketing team focuses on, if it’s not in alignment with the sales team, they’re never going to have a good relationship in any situation.

And so, at the end of the day, being able to track revenue is the first thing. If you’re putting a hundred leads on the plate of the salespeople and nothing’s turned into real revenue that gets them commission, you’re wasting their time. And honestly, you’re probably dipping revenue, because they’re not spending that time researching, prospecting, closing, etc.

And so that would be the biggest thing on marketing. Once you get past that revenue barrier and you start really providing stuff, then you can get into the fun stuff of like, “Okay, are we reducing the sales cycle?” I think that’s one of the things no one’s looking at when they’re talking about inbound. And I’ve historically always built inbound from scratch, where there was none.

And what I find is, as I’m going through that, getting approval from salespeople and getting approval from the CROs, all that stuff, it’s really helpful to go to them and say, “Hey, we’re actually intercepting people when they need us, we’re not spending those seven touchpoints to just get a meeting. 

We just skipped half of the sales process. And we’re here where we have someone who’s ready to close and they’re interested.” And historically that cut sales cycle by like 50%.

Those numbers really show the advantage of inbound when a company may not be comfortable in investing in content, advertising, all these things that look like cost centers, but at the end of the day, it’s really important to identify the value there really quickly.

And then finally, on the customer success side, retention, churn, are we making things better? And doing stuff like cohort analysis of, we just released this new feature, did retention go down or can we predict churn, stuff like that. And so that’s kind of all I look at initially from revenue perspective.

Josh: What are some of the biggest pitfalls that you see sales leaders, encountering and how can the listeners of this podcast avoid those pitfalls?

Kevin: So, I think one of the biggest ones is, I would say two; one not investing in your salespeople. I think that’s the biggest one. Like I said earlier, actually, I’m not sure if I mentioned that salespeople take about five months for ramp up that is expensive. I think marketers take about the same amount of time, but I think while hiring, is a key way to grow. You can’t throw people at the problem.

You need to build processes in your CRM. You need to be able to make it that it’s more exponential when you hire someone because they’re contributing to the process. Something that is always an analogy I love to use because I manage like the CRM and all that is I don’t want one sales rep to be the number one person, getting all the commission, bringing in all the deals and then have like three reps that just are average. Keep it in their jobs.

I want all of them to raise at the same time because we’re investing in the processes that make it quicker to succeed on an average basis. Obviously, you’ll have high-performers within that. But when you see these massive differences, it’s pretty clear that you’re not investing in the salespeople.

Something that’s very passionate to me is lead sourcing. I’ve gone through a situation where there have been lead droughts for my salespeople. And instead of that eight hours a week, they’re spending half their week, 20 hours just trying to find, leads to call. Salespeople are expensive. When we could just go to Upwork or go to a hunter.io and we could source leads at scale. These are the questions in terms of investments that I really think are important.

The other thing that’s really important is making sure your CRM is not an obstacle. At the end of the day, there’s so much that a HubSpot or a Salesforce can do for your company, if you really optimize it. It needs to be the driver of your revenue. Obviously, that’s going to be the salespeople, but it needs to be an extension of your salespeople, not an obstacle.

Josh: We’re talking simplicity. We’re talking about getting it set up right for your business. That’s one of my favorites. People say I’ve bought HubSpot, we’ve been using it for three years or two years or one year. It’s not really working for us. And they’re using all the default out of the box settings. These systems are customizable for a reason, so it can fit your team, your market and your sales process.

Kevin: Exactly. I think a HubSpot it doesn’t come out of the box. Well, no, it does. I’ve been doing this for three years with HubSpot and they keep getting better, but they used to not track the sales cycle. They don’t track the close reasons that certain companies use. HubSpot is great out-of-the-box tool. If you really want it to be part of your revenue strategy where it’s, tracking churn.

You can integrate all these things into it to really be the driver of your revenue rather than, I love the expressions of source of truth. And I think HubSpot what’s so great about it is that you can customize it for some of these things.

One of the things that I’m really passionate about and working on products for is, basically integrating your software into HubSpot so that when something happens in your HubSpot or your software, it immediately triggers into HubSpot. And then you can have marketers be armed with all these things. Like, this person took an action, let’s call them up. Or, you know, this person hasn’t posted in eight days or done an action.

They’re probably going to churn, they’re in trouble. We need to save them. Without doing these customizable things, you’re really wasting the time of your salespeople and your marketers, because they don’t have all the information to really succeed.

Josh: That’s a really good point if you’re a SaaS company and you’re not connected to HubSpot in that way, then you’re leaving a lot of opportunity on the table, both from an additional sales and retention standpoint. To sort of wrap up. This is such a good conversation. To wrap up can you give me your number one or your top two favorite ways to save salespeople time during the week?

Kevin: That’s a great question. So, I think the number one, it’s really basic it’s, build a system to find the right lead with good intent. Now that could be marketing. And if it’s marketing, you’re probably further along ahead. Usually, most software companies don’t have marketing figured out when I talked to them. That being said, there’s still stuff of, scraping websites that are in your industry, connecting to like a Yelp or something like that, or ZoomInfo, or even an Upwork.

I’ve done Upwork, as a way to source leads for eight months, because it makes sense. That being said at the core of it, it’s finding a way to get really high-quality leads in there that we can then prospect and to a certain extent, my dream as a revenue ops person from a sales perspective is that my salesperson, every single one of them sits down, they have the top hundred people that they need to call for 20, and that’s all they need to do for that day.

And it’s only the people that need a call are going to be the closest to close. And even that could be, they went to our pricing page. They’re not 100% on the lead, but they’re interested in that lead. Having those triggers and really understanding what intent is and knowing the conversations happening inside of business, is a leg up.

I think that’s probably the best way to do it. That being said, if you can do that through advertising and eBooks, that’s one of the most producing things I’ve ever done with a sales team is running eBook about a problem to our audience. So, we have like a custom audience and we just let people self-opted in as having these conversations internally. And what happens with that is you just cut your CRM. Even if you didn’t get a phone number, we can probably find a phone number online.

You just cut the CRM in a fourth because you just showed like this amount of people are really ready to buy. And so, I think that connection of, having a way to build research, automatically, and then also using your marketing team to find the right people. I think those are the best ways to really build a great sales team that is efficient. And you could add someone into it and they would have the people to call. There still would be training to it, but I think that’s the best way to cut time for a salesperson.

Josh: Kevin, this has been a great conversation. For those listening today where can they find you online? Where can they learn more about the insight that you can offer?

Kevin: So, I have two websites that I do stuff for. So, one is scriptsformarketers.com. That sounds like how its solved. I post a lot of stuff on LinkedIn about how to use programming for stuff like this, like revenue driving initiatives. The other one would be my consultancy, which is salesstream.co. So that’s focused more on actually implementing these things, but LinkedIn is also a great place to find me.

Josh: That’s great. Do you have any final advice for people who are in charge of hitting that revenue number at a SaaS company every month?

Kevin: Yeah. I think really looking at your business as a process, as how do we hit that revenue despite all the other features? How do we make sure that if I add a new person we’re performing? I think really focusing on those processes is how software companies can really do well. It’s kind of from the RevOps playbook, but data-driven sales leadership is really hot right now. And if you do that while also, making your sales and marketing team get along, that really is what’s going to grow the business.

Josh: Well, that’s a great note to end on. Kevin, I want to really thank you for this conversation. And let’s do this again sometime.

Kevin: For sure. Thanks for having me.

Josh: Alright. That does it for this episode of the Modern Sales Management Show. Have a great day.

Conclusion: Thanks for listening to the Modern Sales Management Podcast. If you found value in today’s episode, please review, subscribe to and share the show with your friends and colleagues. Do you want to talk about revenue growth strategies in between episodes connect with the team behind the Modern Sales Management Show at modernsalesmanagement.com.

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