As the new SVP of Sales at Invoca, it has certainly been an exciting start to 2017. For one, I’m energized to be back in a start-up environment at a company that’s not only raised $60 million from top-tier VC firms like Accel, UpFront and Salesforce Ventures, but can report over 500% enterprise revenue growth over the past three years. I also feel fortunate to be joining a company that sits at the intersection of SaaS and telecommunications — the two industries on which I’ve built my 20 year sales career.
So how did I get here? While there’s always a little bit of luck in life, I’ve been deliberate in the direction I’ve steered my career. If you take a look at my LinkedIn profile, you’ll see I don’t make career moves lightly. I was at my previous two companies for eight years each. From carrying a bag at MCI right after college, to building and leading a 125 person global sales organization, I want to share a few things I’ve learned about building a fulfilling sales career.
Pick the Right Company at the Right Time
If you work in tech, you’ve probably heard something to the tone of: “If someone offers you a seat on a rocket ship, get on.” This has to do with joining a company at the right time. You want to catch a wave as it’s building momentum, not when it’s rolling into shore. When evaluating “the right time,” think about three things:
- What’s the market opportunity that the company is addressing? Is it brand new, gaining traction or proven?
- What is the company size and funding stage?
- Even if the market is proven, is the company actually doing something new? Are they creating a new category?
For me, Invoca checked all these boxes. The company is at a stage and size that’s incredibly attractive. It’s not a couple engineers with a big idea, but it’s not yet the size where the margin for growth is slim. At 120 employees with a series D round last year, Invoca is clearly onto something, but it’s still small enough to be dynamic and offer a massive growth opportunity for anyone in sales and beyond. The company also created the category of call intelligence. It has a killer product that’s clearly differentiated from the other offerings out there. Plus, Invoca is focused on closing enterprise business, and these deals can be career-defining for anyone in sales.
Join a Team that Encourages your Development
Being successful in sales goes way beyond blowing past your quota each month. It’s critical that the team you join encourages your professional development and expands your skill set beyond the ability to close a deal. This includes instilling a strong sense of sales discipline, how to truly evangelize what you’re selling (not just going through the motions of a first call deck), and the ability to have true business discussions with prospects about their problems. These are all skills that will serve you well and can also translate into other roles.
I’m building a world-class sales organization at Invoca, and one of my biggest priorities is creating a culture of integrity, discipline, learning, and drive. Fostering a sales organization that holds integrity at the forefront of execution is paramount to success. Doing the “right thing” for customers, employees, and the company in an unwavering way is how world-class organizations are built. Sometimes the best salespeople make mistakes, but getting the guidance to learn and improve from those mistakes is what fuels a positive, high-performing sales culture.
Embrace Discipline and Process
A couple different roles helped instill the importance of discipline and process in a sales organization. At Winstar Communications, I ran sales operations, which helped me approach business objectives with a process-oriented mindset. I also worked in development/alliances at Genesys, which allowed me to truly understand what a “win/win” looked like and how, when optimized, can grow crazy revenue.
However, over my career, I’ve found that a lot of salespeople aren’t metrics driven throughout the sales process. This often translates into reps being hyper focused on the last step – closing. Building a plan from activity (calls/emails) to closing deals — and measuring everything along the way — gives reps a path for success.
Those who regularly exceed their targets in start-up/evangelic companies apply a past “process” to forge ahead despite internal and external roadblocks. Consistency throughout the sales process leads to scale and growth. It goes without saying that this is going to be a big priority for the sales organization at Invoca.
I hope this gives you a better sense of who I am and what I’m hoping to achieve at Invoca. If you’re interested in getting on board the rocketship, we’d love to hear from you. We’re hiring for five positions on the sales team.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from football legend Vince Lombardi. I think it perfectly addresses the kind of mentality every successful salesperson should have: