The Formula for a Successful Inbound Sales Strategy | Rakhi Voria
Justin Keller: Welcome to Revenue Talks, the show where we get real about what it takes to build pipeline and drive expansion as a go- to- market team. I'm Justin Keller, the Vice President of Revenue Marketing at Drift and on this show, I'm here talking to folks across the entire go- to- market organization, which means marketing, sales, and customer success about how to use conversations, technology, and cross- functional alignment to build more pipeline and drive expansion because revenue, it's everyone's business now. Hey, it's Justin and welcome to another episode of Revenue Talks. We've got another special episode for you today hosted by Drifts vice president of Sales, Armen Zildjian. Armen is speaking with the Vice President of Sales at Procore Technologies, Rakhi Voria, all about what sales trends are top of mind for her heading into the new year. So let's let them get right into it.
Armen Zildjian: Welcome back to Revenue Talks. I'm Armen and today I'm joined with Rakhi Voria, the Vice President of Sales from Procore Technologies, a construction management SaaS company. Rakhi has spent the majority of her career on the business development side of the house, building inside sales teams at Microsoft, leading the digital inside sales team at IBM, and now leads the sales development team in her role at Procore. And I'm really excited to get talking with you, Rakhi, today. So let's jump right into it.
Rakhi Voria: Great. Thanks for having me.
Armen Zildjian: So yeah. Thanks so much for joining me for the show. It's been fun talking to a bunch of different sales, CS, and marketing leaders really diving into what really drives revenue and what are the different levers that each person like you and I are thinking about as the economy changes and sales teams grow or shrink. So before we get into it though, I'd really like to start with something else I heard about you and your early career. You wanted to go into marketing, which as sales leaders, that's like, " Oh no, the dark side." Why did you want to do that and then now you're on the sales side and it's not darker light. I love all of our folks over at marketing, but we do argue back and forth and every once in a while we trade folks back and forth from one discipline to another. So why did you start in marketing and what sort of triggered in your mind to give sales a try?
Rakhi Voria: I did want to go into marketing. I went straight from undergrad to graduate school and as I was coming up on graduation, I started looking for a job and at the time I didn't have a lot of work experience outside of internships. My internship experiences spanned across a variety of different industries and companies, but some of the ones I enjoyed the most and had the most experience in was in marketing or advertising. So I figured that was kind of the natural pathway I guess for me into a corporation. And I thought to myself, " Even if marketing isn't long term, it'll be a great way for me to learn about how to design and deliver amazing customer experiences and journeys for customers." So I figured it'd be a good skillset to have regardless of what I did long- term.
Armen Zildjian: And some people, when they're in a role, there's a moment in time when it triggers and either says like, " Oh, this isn't really what I wanted to be doing," or, " I learned something about a different role that I didn't really know a lot about and now that I've learned it, that seems like a pretty good fit." Where was that moment in time for you where like, " I'm going to give sales a try. There's something over there that's in it for me."
Rakhi Voria: Well believe it or not, it was actually the recruiter who put me in the queue for sales. So I didn't target sales-
Armen Zildjian: No kidding.
Rakhi Voria: Yeah. Similar to a lot of people I kind of fell into sales. So basically Microsoft was a company that I had applied to because I was really intrigued by the tech industry and how fast- paced and ever changing it was and everything. But when I applied to marketing, I'm sorry, when I applied to Microsoft, I had applied for a marketing position because of my previous experience and it was actually the recruiter who put me in the queue for sales. She said, " Have you ever considered a role in sales? I think you'd be really good at it. You listen well, you communicate effectively, you have a strong track record of success. All of those things would make you a great fit for sales." And at the time I had this really visceral reaction. I was like, " Oh my gosh. I would never go into sales. Don't have the personality for it, not masculine enough, not aggressive enough, not competitive enough." And so I just didn't think it'd be the right fit. But because I liked Microsoft, I just kind of went with it and I ended up landing my first job out of school as a licensing sales specialist. So it was a traditional sales role where I had a book of business and a quota and supported a set of account managers and that was really my first foray into sales, but similar to many women and people in general, I think sales isn't a natural concept for a lot of people. It's not something you would always naturally grow up thinking to do. So that's my story of how I fell into it.
Armen Zildjian: Sure, sure. And were there certain concepts that you learned as you studied and got your feet wet in marketing that naturally translated over to helping you really kind of, like you said, sort of provide a good customer experience and be a foundation for you being successful in sales?
Rakhi Voria: For sure. I think sales, similar to marketing, it's all about storytelling. It's about connection and finding the ability to connect with somebody and deliver value and experience that's important to them. That's all that marketing is and that's all that sales is too. So I think there's just a huge interdependency and a lot of consistency across the two. I think that's why you see a lot of people go from marketing to sales careers or vice versa. And I think there's just a lot to be said around feeling what it's like on the other side. And so not only did I fall into sales, but I've made an entire career out of it, which I would've never thought that I did back in the day.
Armen Zildjian: Yeah. It's very funny. There is the rah rah, masculine, killer shark sales theme as you said and that's what the impression is. And then when you really peel it back, it's all connection and relationships and having people feel heard, understood, and be feeling part of their team. And so it's really interesting to make that connection and it's a secret way to get into sales. I say it all the time to sales folks that listen, the number one thing that makes you a really good salesperson is that active listening and that high EQ. If you don't have that, you can't sell, in my opinion. So let's jump to something else. So you're a sales leader, but also you might be a little bit of a fortune teller. In 2007, you were quoted as saying, " I think we'll see more companies shift towards inside sales, the digital model, versus field sales, the in- person model." And of course the pandemic helped out along, but you are right. So as you've experienced that transition firsthand and being a leader during that transition, what are some of those key components that you've been able to dig into and that are essential for you to have a really successful inside strategy coming away from the field and away from face- to- face selling?
Rakhi Voria: Well I've been called a lot of things. Fortune tellers not one of them, but I'll take it. But yes-
Armen Zildjian: You got to take it when you can get it. That's right.
Rakhi Voria: Yeah. Exactly. I did say that and I said it pre- pandemic actually, as you noted. I think the pandemic obviously accelerated this transformation that was kind of already underway. I think a lot of companies were already looking at how do they invest in a digital or inside or virtual selling motion and a lot of companies call it different things, but a way to just reach more customers with the right touch at the right time with the right insights in order to deliver that growth and that's exactly what my time at Microsoft entailed actually. When I went to Microsoft, I was there for years, and one of the jobs I had was I helped them to build a new inside sales team. So I was one of the first employees on the team. We hired about 2000 digital sellers in about three years. So it was really-
Armen Zildjian: Oh my goodness.
Rakhi Voria: Really massive growth, but had a chance to help with everything from hiring the first wave of sellers to building out onboarding programs and tools, playbooks, trainings, comp models, all of the foundational elements of the team. And what I've seen helping to build that team at Microsoft and then leading a global digital sales development team at IBM after and now at Procore kind of helping to build and scale a sales development team here is that I think there's a few key ingredients that all companies need to have in order to have a successful strategy and it's really around people, processes, and tools. So on the people side of things, I think that's all about hiring and finding the best candidates. I am very passionate because of my own personal story of how I fell into sales about getting more diversity in sales. So fast forward several years, I'm a huge champion for getting more women and diverse candidates in general into the field of sales. There's a lot of studies out there about how actually women are better at sales than men and so just trying to find some people who have really non- traditional backgrounds who can be successful in a sales environment. So obviously there's the hiring side of people, there's the enablement, the training, building out career development programs, performance management programs, all of that is the first bucket. The second, as I mentioned-
Armen Zildjian: Before you jump on,'cause I think hiring women and underrepresented persons is super important and it's been a secret weapon for us at Drift too. And I was like any other sales leader 10 years ago where, " Oh, there's just not a lot of candidates there." And so of course I will, I'll hire the best candidate. But what changed when I went to Drift was it's like, " No, you have to have X number of candidates and you have to hire this number of people." What I learned was if there's other groups that aren't traditionally there, that means you can go get the top performers from each of those groups where other people are not going and really get some amazing talent and then develop those into leaders that starts the whole chain over again of getting more of those types of people in the funnel because they see others that look like them in leadership roles. Did you see that kind of evolve over the last 10 years in that way?
Rakhi Voria: For sure. I think sales unfortunately continues to be a place that's very homogenous. Women in particular are completely underrepresented. About 39% of all people in sales are women. The higher up you get, the worse the stats are. Only about one in five VP of Sales or above are women. So there's a whole gender aspect of things, but then there's just kind of, as I mentioned, the non- traditional types of candidates. And so I think a lot of companies fall into the trap of, " All right. I need to go find the people who have sold, who are successful," or they look at people who have athletic backgrounds or sports backgrounds and so unfortunately because of that, there's a whole population of people that I think are overlooked. Some of the best candidates I've ever hired are from military, believe it or not. They have a strong sense of comradery, relentlessness, teamwork, all of these things. So yes, I'm totally with you. I'm a huge proponent of just sort of seeing the evolution of that and I think something that previously was a nice to have is becoming more of a need to have and that's been a really nice evolution.
Armen Zildjian: Okay. So we got people down. Now process was the next one, right?
Rakhi Voria: Yeah. Just quickly, I guess back to process. I think it's just around having simple, clear, and consistent processes that people can follow and utilize across the organization and then the third was around tools. So making sure the team has the best in class digital selling tools and techniques. And so I spend a lot of time helping to evaluate our tech stack and figuring out what do you want to use in- house versus outsourcing. There's gamification tools, there's social selling tools, and it feels like every other month there's a new company that's kind of out there. So it takes some time to figure out what's best given the size of your company, the industry that you're in, and the target audience that you're trying to get.
Armen Zildjian: That's an interesting one because we've all, and over the last, I've been at Drift six years now, and the evolution of sales and marketing tools and sales and marketing tools coming together and the feeding frenzy that's been around that, how do you look back over the last few years and look forward and go, " What is the ideal tech stack?"'Cause there are a lot of good ideas about some of the new sales technologies that really help with intent or any of that other sort of data to get better intelligence and engagement with people that you want to have a relationship with. How do you decipher all that'cause like you said, it really is a lot of new technologies and not all of them fit together or work together. So how do you piece that? It sounds like a little bit of a jigsaw puzzle.
Rakhi Voria: It is because so much of it is around integration. So there might be some great tools that are out there that just don't work for your environment for X, Y, Z reason. And so as I've gone to different companies, I've been presented with different challenges along the way. So I think it's about customization and making sure that you're working with an organization that can fit to the needs that you have, but also come in with some recommendations. And so a tool is only as valuable as the customer success manager that comes with it and having them to actually help us think about it's not just about implementing this in your environment, but what does successful implementation actually mean? How do you get people to utilize the tools and all of those types of things? And so I think a lot of times companies sort of bring in a technology company to be able to utilize, but then oftentimes it doesn't actually get adopted. And so you have to find ways to kind of gamify it, make sure that the team feels like they're brought along on that journey, and actually want to utilize them'cause it's a big price tag for companies.
Armen Zildjian: It's also an interesting dimension. 10 years ago maybe, end users didn't have a lot of say in what tools were brought on from a sales or marketing perspective. And more and more you see that they get a vote to some degree like, " Will you use this thing because adoption's been such a problem?" How do you involve your teams when you're considering a new piece of tech?
Rakhi Voria: I involve them quite a bit. So at the onset, we do a number of round tables to get the sentiment of what's working for the sellers, what's not, and what the biggest gaps are and where they need help. And then as we're meeting with various companies who are doing their pitch, I always like to bring a few of my actual sellers or managers with me to give some real- time feedback. They might not necessarily do it in the meeting itself, but to be able to hear the pitch also as a leadership opportunity for them and then being able to chat with them afterward and seeing, " Did this hit what you're looking for? Did it miss the mark? And what would we need in order to be able to successfully implement?" I found that to be really helpful because then when we do write the check, you have a number of people who are invested and you have their buy- in, but those people can also be champs. So if we're rolling out a new tool in every single one of your locations or every single one of your teams, you should actually consider having a seller who is a champ, who's going to be the smee for that tool, responsible for helping with utilization, and really getting a chance to take on that leadership opportunity for the organization so that it's not just top down, but really bottoms up.
Armen Zildjian: Got it. Got it. That's interesting. So last question on this and we'll jump to another one. So people, process, and tools, how did that change those three sort of pillars for you as you sort of scaled more globally? Did it change in any way? Did it evolve in any way as you went more global with the scope and spin of your control?
Rakhi Voria: Yeah. It did and I think it has to. There's never going to be a one size fits all. And so for me, the way I've always tried to approach it is by adopting the 80/ 20 rule. So 80% globally consistent, standardized tools, playbooks, sales plays, processes, and then 20% variation for geographical differences because the reality is you can never have a fully global process'cause each geo is so different, the way business is conducted different, the way market segmentation is different. Even in the US alone, we see so many different types of sales approaches. The way you sell in New York City is very different from how you might sell in rural Oklahoma. The pace of business and life varies. So I think companies need to be able to adapt and also adopt strong global processes where possible. So it's a bit of a balance and I think a way that you can do it is by doing focus pilots and AB testing and really involving some of the leaders and the sellers as we just talked about before making some of those decisions because at the end of the day, I am only one person sitting at corporate in a sense in New York City, but people on the front lines are the ones who really will understand what's going to work in their customer outreach.
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Armen Zildjian: And now I have another question on the global front, we'll switch a little bit. Leading teams of 300 BDRs, DDRs, SDRs across the globe, what does onboarding and enablement look like? So I get the variation of the 80/ 20. I assume though the indoctrination of the core components of how they do their job and the principles by which we as an organization operate and what do we value from a principal's perspective, leadership principles is what we call them here at Drift, other people call them values, but how do you get that layer across so then there's variations in tools potentially or how they work, but there's still a core uniform onboarding?
Rakhi Voria: For sure. I think that's one of the most critical components of building a team and making sure that you have really clear onboarding programs that are built that are consistent across the organization. So the way I've seen it work best and what we do at Procore is basically we have a customized bootcamp for anyone who is joining a sales development rep role. So a lot of the people that we hire don't have any sort of construction background, myself included. And so anyone we bring to the company, we do a full week that's construction boot camp. So we teach them basically everything they need to know about the industry, what it's like to be a general contractor, a specialty contractor, an owner, all the lingo. So they do that for a week and then they have two weeks of SDR bootcamp and every single day it's kind of like a classroom training. We're eight to five. You are taught how to do the job. So all the tools that you use, CRM, the sequences that you would use, you get paired with a buddy, you do role plays, all of those things. That's kind of what the first three weeks looks like, but then on top of that, of course you have to have ongoing training. And so we have kind of a 30, 60, 90 day program then for all of our new hires that they're all consistently going through. Of course, depending on the segment that they're assigned to or the vertical, it might be a little bit customized, but the general content's the same. And then you have to have that ongoing training even beyond that. We do Tuesday product trainings, Thursday process trainings, for example. So I think every organization kind of figures out what works best for them, but totally agree with you. You got to start with something that's consistent. And I've found that having an actual kind of program that's built and put in place, because the SDR role, you have so many people coming into this job at any given point that if you have something that's prebuilt, it's a really easy way to help people get the core curriculum in a fast method.
Armen Zildjian: Got it. And what's the absorption rate? I've been at companies where they're like, " Oh, your onboarding's done. It's been three weeks." And I'm like, " Well, learning happens in a bidirectional way. It's not just telling everybody all the information. They actually have to absorb it and demonstrate that they have some level of command over it or it doesn't matter." So what's the absorption rate that you've observed? It sounds like it's 90 days is the day where you kind of let them go in the wild and do their job and then there's just the ongoing trainings that everybody else is on. Is there a checkpoint along the way where maybe some exam, tests, demonstrate that you have command over the material, mock calls, that kind of thing?
Rakhi Voria: We have a number of checkpoints along the way actually. So even after the 90 day period, we have something called SDR certifications. So we have bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. And these take place over the course of your roughly 12 to 24 months in SDR basically. And so along the way, each of these certifications requires different things. So for bronze, it's a little bit more kind of basic elementary types of things. The higher up you get, you're actually doing role plays. So in some instances, I don't have a chance to do all of them with my team'cause that would be very time consuming, but periodically for some of the platinum ones, for example, which is the highest of the high, I have a chance to actually do it with the reps where they are pitching me and I have a chance to help them overcome some of those objections and all of that. And I think as a leader, it's really nice for me to take the time periodically to participate because it helps me stay grounded on just kind of what are the types of selling techniques that the team is using and every time I walk out of those, it's really inspiring to see just how well the teams are doing. But yeah. I'd say that at every organization I've been at, I've had kind of different versions of what I just described, but at Procore, we've found the certification method to be extremely effective and a great way to talk to people.
Armen Zildjian: So that's awesome. I think that being able to understand what people know and where they're deficient, nobody's going to come out of onboarding and know everything perfectly. And for the manager who inherits whomever exits onboarding, knowing where they got to work with somebody on is the most important thing. Otherwise, you assume that they know as much as everybody else coming through. So I love that. Now, you said that you have Tuesday product, Thursday process. Is that right?
Rakhi Voria: Correct. Yeah.
Armen Zildjian: The other way around? Yeah. Okay, good. I was going to ask you how do you maintain alignment across the organization, post onboarding and all that other stuff, but just, " Hey, what's the new messaging that's working or not working? Here's a great example of what good looks like as this new product comes out," or something. How do you maintain alignment? Is that through those Tuesday, Thursday meetings or are there other meetings that you get either the leadership team across those teams or the teams themselves connected and understanding those new things that are working?
Rakhi Voria: I rely a lot on my partner, so the product and technology team, the marketing team for example. So I kind of look to them to help define what those things are and then together we've discussed what's the best way to roll it out to the team. So they're typically coming to me with, " Okay. We have these product enhancements coming up or this big event coming up and we need to make sure the teams are trained. So here's what the next six months is going to look like in terms of every single Tuesday meeting." We kind of have that already preset out. So yeah. I'd say it's a partnership between the two. It's really about open communication and making sure that we're staying in lockstep as all of these things are happening because it's very easy I guess to have something fall through the cracks one year in a high growth environment.
Armen Zildjian: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. That's interesting. I love the joint effort. I think oftentimes we work in silos and people have ideas over here and then the calendars clash and the messaging is not matched up'cause one group wants to have it be this and another group has different ideas. Do you have any kind of requirement of the things that we want to go live within the field be tested prior to or have examples of working prior to being out in the field?
Rakhi Voria: Yes. For sure. I wouldn't say there are requirements per se, maybe there should be.
Armen Zildjian: Yeah.
Rakhi Voria: But I think yeah, for sure. Where at all possible we do tend to do testing and piloting. And so it kind of just depends. If it's going to be a big investment, for example, if we're bringing in a big tool that's going to cost a lot of money, that requires a two year commitment, that is something I definitely would want to test in a few pockets of my organization before writing the check, for example.
Armen Zildjian: Got it.
Rakhi Voria: New product feature or something that we want to launch across the globe and across the organization, we might test that with a specific set of customers first. So I'd say that my team, because of the nature of it being kind of beginning of the funnel sales cycle, gets pulled into a lot of stuff, which I think is very exciting. I think the SDR role is one of the hardest sales jobs, if not the hardest sales job, because you are the first line of communication that most customers will ever have and so with that comes this very cool opportunity to shape what that customer experience looks like and to partner closely with our product, technology, marketing teams, et cetera, to kind of be the test bet to helping before all of those rollouts.
Armen Zildjian: I have a special place in my heart for SDRs. I did it for a year and a half at the beginning of my career and I won't tell you how many years ago that was, but proof is in the pudding. You can make it to VP of Sales if you started at a BDR level, I guarantee. You got to work hard. And I agree with you that they are the hardest working and probably sometimes underappreciated for the amount that they impact to the business. Something interesting though, it comes up often. When speaking to businesses at Drift, we sell to the sales team, the marketing team, and the business development team. And what we find oftentimes is this sales development, BDR, SDR, XDR, can report in a bunch of different areas. And in fact, we've seen marketing, we've seen sales, and we've even seen operations own the XDR in a couple of examples. I don't want to say it this way, but they seem to float or move back and forth. You have a lot of experience in this. Where do you think they best fit or, if it's not like a uniform decision, what are some of the key things that you got to look at to decide where it best fits?
Rakhi Voria: Yeah. I've seen and personally experienced a number of reporting structures and I think there's no right answer frankly, but in my experience, I personally believe strongly that sales development or business development should sit under sales. And I think it helps to up- level the role. I think it helps to further drive the perception that these are sellers. As we talked about, it's a very hard role of the company that needs as much resourcing, financing, enablement, and support as possible in order to be successful. And I found that when the roles do sit under sales, it kind of gets that level of support that's needed. And to be frank, I think the resources are more protected under sales. The reality is, I know this is a hot take, but marketing or business development can be an easier place to cut when push comes to shove and the reason is because sometimes those roles aren't as tangible or as black and white as the outcome that you expect from a seller who has a specific quota or a territory or whatever it might be. So I think when putting sales development under sales and actually making it a selling role that does have a quota, it just sort of leads to being able to up- level the role and give it the, I guess, the support that is needed in order to be successful.
Armen Zildjian: Got it. Got it. Well oftentimes the argument is it should be aligned in sales'cause sales has better sort of coaching and role playing and that sort of stuff, but then marketing should own it because oftentimes now these days marketing owns pipeline and the conversion of pipeline and so it belongs over there. Even though you've settled on sales, do you guys have those internal discussions?
Rakhi Voria: I think at Procore we're pretty set in terms of organizational structure, but previously at other companies that I've worked at, it was a constant debate because, as I said, there's no great answer. And I think sometimes, especially heavy inbound companies where the majority of what you're having your sales development do is inbound, that's coming from leads that are being generated by marketing, marketing tends to want to have their hands a little bit deeper and closer into what's actually happening to those leads from those events or from those webinars or whatever it might be. And that might work. So if 80% of what you're having the team do is inbound, it actually might be more advantageous to have the team underneath marketing so that you do have that level of interest, support, financing, all of the things that an SDR team would need to be successful. So it kind of depends on some of those different factors for any given organization, but by and large, if I had to choose, I would still stick with sales only for the reasons that I suggested around just making sure that this is viewed as an actual selling role with all of the resourcing and support that's needed, including enablement as you said.
Armen Zildjian: The next question I had is a little bit about alignment with the marketing team, but since we're on sales and it's really a sales role and you really kind of make your mark in saying, " This belongs in sales because it's a natural progression," what kind of program do you have to graduate folks? You had the four tiers of metals up to platinum and then do you have to get to platinum before you graduate into your first selling role or is there some other transition? Is there a period of time when you're doing both the XDR role and starting to be mentored in your quota carrying role from a revenue perspective?
Rakhi Voria: Yes. Exactly. So basically, as I mentioned, we have those certifications. Those certifications are tied to career development as well. So-
Armen Zildjian: Got it.
Rakhi Voria: So it's all kind of connected, which works really nicely. So as I mentioned, we have bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. In order to move to another role you have to be at least gold. So once you achieve gold, then you kind of get access to apply to certain roles at the company, including more senior SDR roles. So when we bring people in from the outside, it's typically some of the lower segments and then they can graduate to SDR opportunities for enterprise, for example, or make their way up the food chain. And then if they want to move to other parts of the company, like maybe an account executive role, a CSM role, et cetera, we require platinum to be the minimum requirement.
Armen Zildjian: Wow.
Rakhi Voria: And so platinum, not only is it what I described earlier where you actually do a role play and you have to demonstrate your knowledge, but you also have to have a performance element of it too. So you had to have had X amount of quarters of hitting 100%. So I think that helps us set the right expectations with SDRs from a career development perspective because, let's face it, a lot of them are really early in career hungry people who come into the organization wanting to be promoted after six months or so. And so we have to temper their expectations. We want to make sure that, of course, we're building an environment where they can grow and succeed, but we also want to make sure that they're staying in role long enough to be able to reap the benefits of the things that they're learning. And so by tying it to certifications, which has a timing element, a performance based element, a learning and development element, all of those things come together and kind of set the right expectations with reps on when they can expect to progress.
Armen Zildjian: Got it. Got it. Well, measurement is a big part of that in sort of making sure they're up on their activity metrics, competencies, et cetera. So how do you measure your team? What are the core sort of key metrics that define success for an individual and/ or a team? And, how is it tied to the overall revenue goals of your business?
Rakhi Voria: I'd say that our primary metric is around pipeline. So we have a volume and a count element of that. So dollars and then number of deals basically. So pipeline's the main thing that we look at. And then we have other things that we look at what we call effort metrics. So that's things around call volumes and email metrics and conversion rates and things like that, but we don't pay our team on those effort metrics. So I know a lot of companies do. If you're not hitting 50 dials a day or whatever, that's directly tied to your compensation. We don't do that at Procore. And the reason why I don't is because while I think those are good indicators, I find them to be somewhat antiquated measurements I guess. I think they come across at times as a little bit old school. There's so many ways to work around getting 50 dials a day, but I care more about the outcome versus the ingredients. And so I like to pay people on the outcome versus the ingredients. And so it's a little bit more around the pipeline volume and count as I mentioned. In terms of how it's tied to the overall organization, our senior leaders frequently say that pipeline is the number one priority for the company and that is the lifeblood of any organization. So obviously at the end of the day, we're a public company. We have revenue goals and expectations. We report to a board. But pipeline and everything that the sales development team is the feeder into that. And so if we're not investing in sales development up front, if we're not looking at pipeline on a daily basis, we're never going to hit our revenue goals.
Armen Zildjian: Got it. I agree with you on the antiquated metrics. I have one quick story. I had a rep once, and we had talk time as one of ours, and we found out that he was calling radio stations and listening to the radio stations to get his talk time up at the time. Anything can be gamed, but also, as you shift to pipeline, pipeline can be gamed to some degree. If you focus on pipeline, you'll get more pipeline. But the worry for a lot of boards I'm sure you know this is that is it the same quality pipeline as we got maybe when we didn't have pipeline as much of a goal and will it convert at the same rate? Is it the same level of quality? So how do you make sure and test that what you're putting in is as closeable as other quarters when maybe you didn't focus on it as much?
Rakhi Voria: Yeah. For sure. So I think it's always a risk, of course, but I think as long as you have some checks and balances in place to make sure that the teams are operating with integrity and that the pipeline is an indicator of actual closed one, then I think you can kind of work around that. And so that is one of the things we look at for sure. So we do go back every quarter and we look at, " Okay. What the SDR put in, how does that align with what actually transpired and see if there's any issues along the way." And there will always be some level of discrepancies because the nature of the SDR conversation is going to be very preliminary and things might evolve. It might be$10, 000 today and close at a million in a month. So you just really never know. But I do still think that pipeline has been kind of the best way for us to be able to determine that because of the nature of the company and the sales cycles. Whereas, for example, previously when I led a similar team at IBM, close one was actually a pretty sizable component of the SDRs compensation and the reason is because people stayed in role for longer and the sales cycles were smaller. So for us, if you were an SDR and you built pipeline, you would probably be paid on it a quarter later or a quarter after that and you would still be enrolled. Whereas at Procore, my team is sort of moving a lot faster to other opportunities than the sales cycle typically takes and so it's not always an indicator if you use just one here.
Armen Zildjian: Got it. Just out of curiosity, does the XDR at Procore create the opportunity or does it have to be validated and accepted by the salesperson and that salesperson creates the opportunity?
Rakhi Voria: A little bit of both. So basically we-
Armen Zildjian: Oh, wow.
Rakhi Voria: We have the SDR create the opportunity, but yes, the account executive has to accept the sales accepted opportunity or the SAO.
Armen Zildjian: Got it. Okay. So it starts at a zero stage up and then it moves to stage one when the sales rep accepts it or something like that. Got it, got it.
Rakhi Voria: Yeah, basically. Yeah.
Armen Zildjian: Well, I have a special place in my heart for this part of the business and I guess it's because I'm a hopeful guy so I'm always looking at what's the new stuff coming in that you can get excited about. And thank you to all the XDRs out there that work so hard for all the businesses out there. I know what it feels like to do that role and I had a grease board above me. I had to write down the number of dials and all that stuff, all the antiquated metrics that we talked about today. So I know what it feels like. But I have one final signature question for our Revenue Talks folks that everybody asks. So what is the number one thing you and/ or your team is focused on to accelerate revenue in this upcoming year?
Rakhi Voria: Ooh. That's a good one. I would say people. I know it's simple, but I think it starts and ends with our people. I really believe that if you invest in your people, good things will follow. So everything around just employee engagement, looking at the results of the surveys that we do, making sure that we're doing start stop continue exercises to make sure that they feel like they have the career development opportunities that they want here, the performance engagement that they want here, the training and development that they want here. That's the most important thing. I believe if you invest in your people that the results will follow and so of course there's a whole other slew of things that we focus on, but I think the most important thing is just making sure you have a really engaged population that's excited to show up every day and do what they do best.
Armen Zildjian: It always comes down to people, isn't it?
Rakhi Voria: Yeah.
Armen Zildjian: Lots of businesses say it. A few of them really have the values that drive that. It's good to hear that you bring that to your role every day. Rakhi Voria, thank you so much for spending the time with us today. Huge amounts of nuggets. Everybody should listen and re- listen. There's so much in this episode. I can't believe we all got it in in less than a half an hour. Thank you for spending the time.
Rakhi Voria: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Justin Keller: Thank you so much for listening to Revenue Talks. If you liked this episode, please consider leaving a review wherever you're listening. You can connect with me on Twitter @ JustinKeller and the entire Drift Podcast Network at @ Driftpodcast. Remember, revenue, it's everyone's business now.
People, processes, and technology. That's the formula Rakhi Voria, VP of Sales for Procore Technologies, has found to be the most successful in building an inside sales strategy.
Rakhi is no stranger to inside sales strategies, either. She built a new digital sales force at Microsoft, managed the global digital sales development team at IBM, and now leads the sales development team at Procore Technologies.
In this episode of Revenue Talks, guest-hosted by Drift's VP of Mid-Market Sales, Armen Zildjian, the two sales leaders discuss the importance of hiring diverse talent in sales, how to determine your ideal sales tech stack, and what cross-functional alignment should look like in order to ensure quality pipeline.
- (00:00) Introduction
- (02:20) What attracted Rakhi to a career in marketing, but why she ultimately ended up in sales
- (5:09) How Rakhi’s marketing background influences her work as a sales leader
- (7:03) The essentials for a successful inbound sales strategy
- (10:08) The evolution of diverse hiring in sales
- (11:15) What a good process strategy looks like within a sales organization
- (12:40) How Rakhi determines her ideal tech stack
- (15:34) How Rakhi’s 3 pillars of success have shifted with Procore’s global scale
- (17:34) How Rakhi creates consistency in onboarding a global sales team
- (23:06) What cross-functional alignment looks like at Procore
- (26:46) What team should SDRs report to?
- (30:20) How SDRs “graduate” to new roles at Procore Technologies
- (32:30) What defines success for Procore Technology’s revenue teams
- (37:45) The #1 thing Rakhi’s team is focused on to accelerate revenue for Procore Technologies this year
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Read how other go-to-market leaders are strategizing their year: https://drift.ly/stateofconversations