Supercharge your frontline teams with data
Supercharge your frontline teams with data
Data isn’t just for sales leaders. It’s also for reps. Monica Telles, VP of ZendeskSell, has a history of leading high-performance sales teams at Amazon and Oracle. Her secrets to success? Cross-functional alignment and democratizing data across the organization. With the right tools, you can empower your reps to leave their quotas in the dust.
Devin Reed: Welcome to Reveal, the revenue intelligence podcast powered by Gong. We're your hosts, Devin Reed.
Sheena Badani: And I'm Sheena Badani. Revenue intelligence is new way of operating based on customer reality instead of opinions. Making data- driven decisions based on facts instead of opinions or guesswork.
Devin Reed: And it's made up of three success pillars; People intelligence, deal intelligence, and market intelligence. You know, the things all revenue teams need and care about. Every week, we interview senior revenue professionals and share their stories and insights on how they leverage revenue intelligence to drive success and win their market.
Sheena Badani: You'll hear how modern go- to- market teams win as a team, close revenue with critical deal insight, and execute their strategic initiatives. Plus, all the challenges that come along with it.
Devin Reed: Sheena, when you were in school and you got assigned the science project, the group science project, were you the person leading the team, making sure everyone was involved? Were you the lone wolf like yeah, I got my work done but I'm not really here to hang out with you? Or were you throwing pencils in the ceiling in the back of the class like wait, we had a science project this week?
Sheena Badani: You could probably guess with one I was, Devin. Not to toot my own horn but-
Devin Reed: Right, I think I know but I don't want to assume anything.
Sheena Badani: Yes. Group projects... Well it was kind of interesting. So I would say when I was really young, I was very, very shy and I didn't really love the group project thing. I loved to come and do my own solo thing and get it done. But if we were in a group setting, as that happens more as you get older, I loved to just take the reigns and run the whole thing and make sure everything went off perfectly and smoothly. So that was my role. What about you?
Devin Reed: I was going to be like, oh wait, the spotlight is still on me. I forgot I am still shy a little bit. Let me flip it on Devin.
Sheena Badani: Exactly.
Devin Reed: You know, I think it kind of depends. I was... I would say I was a leader in terms of like I liked things done my way or the way I thought was best which often happened to be my way, of course, perception at least. But I've also think maybe since science class learned that there's a role player on every team and you can be a leader and you can still be great and bring a lot to the table but you don't necessarily have to be point guard or running the show. So I've gotten better at realizing where do I need to be leading the science project? Versus where can I just bring my bit to the table.
Sheena Badani: What's the role of the guy or the girl that's throwing pencils up in the ceiling?
Devin Reed: That's a good question. I think their role is just what not to do incarnate. You know what I mean?
Sheena Badani: So humor? Maybe they add some comedic humor the whole situation.
Devin Reed: Yeah, maybe, maybe. Yeah. But the reason I asked you is because now you have a very cross- functional role. Senior director, marketing, AKA category designer. And it was cool to... It's cool to see you work and how you do things. I get to be the person, second, third, in command with you time to time. I'm happy with that. But we got to hang out with Monica today who's the VP of sales at Zendesk Sell and all we talked about was cross- collaboration, specifically launching new projects. What was your big takeaway, Sheena? Was there something that really stuck with your mind?
Sheena Badani: I think that cross- functional alignment, it starts early on. You have to include that as part of your process from the inception of this new product or right from day one when you decide you're going to go internationally. I think that was probably the number one takeaway. It needs to come from day one.
Devin Reed: Yeah. You know it's interesting because when people talk about closing, like how to close a deal, it actually starts with discovery. It starts at the beginning.
Sheena Badani: Mm- hmm( affirmative).
Devin Reed: And we talk about cross- functional alignment, it's not where the tires hit the road. It's not once people are starting to roll up their sleeves. It's long before that, right? It's mapping out who is involved, what their roles are. So I completely agree. And it was cool to hear from Monica having worked at a few big companies and now Zendesk. Launch a new product, go international, and just kind of get her two cents. So with no further ado, pack up your science project and let's go hang out with Monica.
Sheena Badani: Monica, welcome to Reveal. We are so excited to have you here today.
Monica Telles: Thanks, I'm excited to join you guys.
Sheena Badani: So we're going to talk about cross- functional collaboration today and really... Which is especially important when you're launching a new product or new business line. So we're going to go deep into that. But before we do that, we want to talk a little bit about you and a little bit about your journey. Today, you're VP of Sales at Zendesk Sell. And before that, you've had a pretty interesting career. You've worked at some big organizations like Oracle and AWS. But you started your career as an AE at San Diego Business Journal. Would love to hear a little bit about your career path and what got you to where you are today.
Monica Telles: Yeah. So a few things come to mind when I think of my career and I think it's having a strong network, what's your professional brand? And then, finding strong mentors and someone who's going to sponsor you. The network thing is really timely because we actually just had a sales training for the team here and one of the stats was, people are seven times more likely to buy from someone that they know or referral. And I feel that's the same for hiring. I think about all the hiring I've done at Amazon and here at Zendesk and a lot of it is from people I've worked with in my past life. And that takes me to the job at the Business Journal. I reached into my network, I found someone I knew that was able to refer me. It was right out of college so I don't think I would have ever gotten the job if I didn't ask. And I think that's one of the biggest things is people have a large network, but typically, they're afraid to ask their network for help. And then... So at the Business Journal, one of my clients that was advertising with me, they had a value- added reseller and they were curating me to go work for them and that was my introduction into technology sales. From there, I had a friend that was working at Oracle and he referred me into Oracle which moved me from San Diego back to the Bay area. And then the sponsor piece, which is really different from a mentor. So a mentor is exactly what I was saying. You're going to go to them, get advice, different perspectives. A sponsor is someone who is going to tap you on the shoulder and bring you to each company that they go to and basically say, follow me. And that's what took me from Oracle to Amazon, to Zendesk, is a sponsor who I'm still working with today.
Sheena Badani: That's amazing, I love that journey and the power of the people around you. Could you tell us about maybe a roadblock that you encountered along that way? Like really, really difficult time and what did you do to overcome that?
Monica Telles: So this is going to sound bad because I think roadblock has a negative connotation. Because I'm going to say my kids. Which sounds horrible, I love my kids. But it's true. I remember when, and this was at Amazon, when I first got pregnant. And I remember coming off a fantastic year. I had an awesome team. And I was creating and building this new group that was going to be something that we haven't done at Amazon before. And so I was really excited. And at that exact same time... And we were doing the fiscal year planning and everything. And at that exact same time, I found out I was pregnant. And I was so nervous to tell my boss because I was afraid it was going to jeopardize everything that I've worked towards. And I remember when I sat down to tell her she was extremely supportive, and said, " When you think about your career and the grand scheme of things, maternity leave is this little blip in your overall career." And so it's the pressure and the unnecessary pressure that you're putting on yourself. And I think that's one thing too, with COVID, that's helped where we have now blurred the lines of personal and professional life. I used to keep it very separate and now, you don't really have a choice when it first started. But for me, it's helped kind of blurring those lines and finding a balance between both being a mom and having my professional career.
Devin Reed: Very interesting. The three kind of piece of advice from your experience that you lead with, going back to the network, I have cousins who are just graduating college and I beg them, please, go to LinkedIn. Find companies you want to work for and see if I know anybody there. And it happens surprisingly less than I would hope. And I think it's, like you said, they're nervous to make the ask. Especially if they have younger folks... They don't think they have anything to give and reciprocate, right?
Monica Telles: Yeah.
Devin Reed: They're like oh, this is just an ask. But for the right folks, people genuinely like to help.
Monica Telles: Yeah.
Devin Reed: Well let's get into Zendesk Sell a little bit because I'll play the honesty card, I had not heard of it until I knew we were getting you on the show but I've heard of crosstalk-
Monica Telles: That pains me.
Devin Reed: ... becauseI haven't been under a rock. I'm sorry. I'm going to keep it very honest with you. But the good news is, myself and at least a thousand other people will have heard it once this goes live.
Monica Telles: Yes, that does pain me, Devin. You've heard of Zendesk though, right? Let's start there.
Devin Reed: A hundred percent.
Monica Telles: Okay.
Devin Reed: I've been inside for a year and a half, not under a rock for five, ten years. So yeah, I'm aware.
Monica Telles: Yeah. So Zendesk, first, before jumping into Sell is service company and I'm sure many of our listeners have used Zendesk in both personal and professional life. They're known for their Clean UI, ease of use for customers, and time to value. And over the last couple of years, they've really seen a trend that sales and support are... It's kind of becoming one in the same and that's what customers expect, too. So a few years ago, they acquired a company called Base CRM which was historically an SMB product, Salesforce automation too. And since they've acquired it, Zendesk has been solely focused on bringing this product closer to the core and bringing Zendesk closer to becoming a true CRM provider. So it's been a year and a half now that they have streamlined the commercial enterprise business for Zendesk Sell. And that's the piece I lead. So I lead Zendesk Sell globally for commercial enterprise, for the commercial enterprise space.
Devin Reed: Not to add insult to injury, I have heard of Base CRM. So I'm familiar with both companies, I just crosstalk learning the new name.
Monica Telles: Yeah, so we rebranded it as Sell. So I'll talk to marketing that they need to do a better job.
Devin Reed: You know what, by no means should I be the only test subject to see if they're doing their job. I'm but one man. But that's great, that is interesting though. And for Zendesk itself, is it primarily B2B or is there B2C companies that use it as well?
Monica Telles: Yeah. So for Zendesk Sell, we are still, because we're still moving into commercial enterprise and like I said, historically, SNB so obviously, a lot of B2C there. As we move into enterprise, we find use cases that have like the B2B and B2C component. So it's both.
Devin Reed: Here's why I ask and here's a compliment to try to smooth over my insult. Whenever I'm on the consumer side and I reach out to support and I see Zendesk, they use Zendesk, I'm always like oh, they take support seriously. Because I know Zendesk is the leader in that space. So B2B wouldn't be so surprising. The B2C, I'm like, okay, they mean business. So that's interesting. So you're leading... You're the VP of sales on Zendesk Sell. So I know we're going to get into cross- collaboration. So what's your team made up as? Maybe size of the team, how many reps? Maybe kind of the region? And then we can get into some of the questions on kind of collaborating with other departments outside of your direct scope.
Monica Telles: Yeah. So I have three leaders that currently report to me. Two that sit in Amer. Some of the leaders in Amer also cover LATAM and APAC and we are actually going to be expanding in region there next year. Again, some of the pandemic stuff. It was supposed to happen last year and we put a hold on some of that. So we will be expanding in region there. And then I have a leader that sits out of London and covers the entire MER market.
Sheena Badani: So I suspect when you took over this business, this is a new area of Zendesk, right? You're now working with sales team and sales leaders and pushing to this new personas. It requires a lot of alignment internally. Like not just within your team, but with marketing, with customer success, with really everyone, with executives. So I'd love to hear a little bit about that alignment aspect of the preparation before you went to market with this product. Who did you have to work with? What did you have to align around?
Monica Telles: So actually, going back to what Devin was saying, Zendesk's bread and butter is our customer service offering. So I think that was the biggest thing when we're bringing Sell into the market is we're now pursuing a new buyer. We're solving different business challenges. And it was critical to get that top- down alignment internally so we showed up in the market as one company. And so I think for us, it was almost doing that internal brand awareness was a little bit more important at the beginning than anything external. We had to get all different parties on board, including the already existing support sales team we have because that really is going to be our biggest partner. There's tons of Zendesk customers on the service side that aren't aware that we actually have a Salesforce automation tool since we acquired Base. So it was really getting the top- down alignment from the executives and making sure that they're pushing that message and it's getting adopted internally that yes, we are going to show up in the market as one company. And yeah, to your point Sheena, it was working with all... We had to... Sales is just one small component, right? We had to make sure that we were tightly aligned with product because there was a lot of things that we had to give feedback on as we move into the commercial enterprise. Our product marketing team to define who our ideal customer profile is. And then all the other supporting functions from SDRs, BDRs alliance, all of that.
Devin Reed: Monica says that positive results follow when a company is aligned from the top- down. This means that when sales teams and other teams like marketing, product, and customer success, are fostering a strong culture and sense of collaboration, then key business initiatives push forward. This reminds me of the stat from LinkedIn that says 85% of sales and marketing leaders believe that their alignment is the biggest opportunity to improve their business. 85%. That's a lot. This may sound obvious, but the data also shows that nine out of ten sales and marketing professionals feel misaligned. So it's important to look at the potential red flags. Like Monica said, internal brand awareness across the entire company was just as important as external functions in the building stages. It was important for everyone to know their own role and own it. Part of this means using data to make sure efforts are being executed in the right direction and to ensure messaging is landing with prospects and existing customers.
Sheena Badani: I'm sure there were some ways that you could understand whether folks were aligned or not. There were some signals or some way to measure that, perhaps. Could you talk a little bit about that? How did you know that things were aligned? That you guys were all on the same boat, headed in the same direction?
Monica Telles: Yeah. I think the biggest thing is finding what the North Star is and making sure that it's effectively communicated and everyone's on board. It's not just the North Star for sales and what we're trying to accomplish, it's for everyone. And it was open communication, regular cadence. It's no surprise that all departments, there's always some contentious relationships where sales wants product to do something or product's not delivering fast enough. And product thinks sales is pushing too hard. And it's making sure that you have that transparency and open communication. For me, it was having... Literally, we have biweekly cadence where every... And you also have to get ownership. Like each person has to own their piece to make sure that we're driving towards accomplishing that North Star. And so it's a regular cadence that we have biweekly where each different department owns their side of what was it that we accomplished last month? What are the goals for this month? What are challenges and blockers? And we use, I'm sure a lot of companies use it, SMART Goals, to kind of make sure that we're tracking all of that and making progress.
Devin Reed: As you work through these weekly, monthly check- ins, Monica, I'm curious how you measure success? Like if there's any data points that you look at. And maybe it's during the planning process, the launch, the reinforcement portion, but I'd love to just kind of hear what are some of the data points that you look at when launching these products?
Monica Telles: Yeah. I mean the biggest one is obviously adoption. And looking at new business adoption verse expansion within our existing customer base. We also are closely aligned with product marketing to make sure that our message is resonating. When we're actually just in general from launching this new product, we started with a macro piece of understanding what our total addressable market is before we even put together the whole plan. And lucky for us, CRM is huge. It's a 40 billion TAM. And Salesforce only owns like 20% of that. So there's a ton to go after. But you also can't just have a spray and pray approach. So from there, it was, okay, we know we have a huge TAM. We know we don't do well in trying to rip and replace Salesforce and boiling it down to where we do do well. So it was looking at all customers that are currently using Sell and trying to create these lookalike campaigns and everything. And then making sure that our messaging with support and Sell is aligned. And that there's benefits of actually using Sell because of the integrations between support. So a lot of it was going after what our existing customer base is on the service side.
Sheena Badani: Yeah. That's interesting when you launch a new product, it's not just all net new. It seems like you were really going after your existing customer base first and upselling them on this new product. So that seems to require even more alignment with your existing teams because you don't want to upset or rock the boat with your existing clients. That business needs to continue to sustain and grow and thrive and then you're layering something else on on top of that.
Monica Telles: And I think the hardest thing for us as we do move into the commercial enterprise space is yes, we have the benefit of going after our already existing Zendesk customers, but on the Sell side, it's essentially net new. Where if you think about any SaaS- offering or technology company, a lot of their revenue comes from existing run- rate business. And so we're really building from the ground up.
Sheena Badani: That makes sense. So why don't we shift from talking about new product launches to alignment during international expansion. So you talked earlier about some new regions that you've been entering via your reps that are located in the US. But let's break that down a little bit. So how did you think about which geos to enter and who was involved in that process? I can't imagine it was just sales figuring this out. You had to work alongside a lot of other different teams.
Monica Telles: I mean we entered every geo where Zendesk already has a presence. So it was... That work was kind of done because Zendesk already has, on the service side, a presence in all the regions that we entered into. So for us, it wasn't so much trying to figure out what regions but it was more how to address a lot of the challenges that come up when selling globally. And there was really two challenges that we broke it down to. It was product because what works in Amer, doesn't always work in other regions. So there was certain things that we were discovering where naming conventions in APAC is done differently than it is in Amer where they enter last name, first name into their CRM. And not how we do it here in Amer. So it's things like that and how to ensure that the product was built in a flexible way that it could be used by all regions. And then it was just the challenges of how we're going to sell globally. There's the cultural differences, there's language, there's regional pricing where we do still compete with Salesforce and Microsoft that have had tons of experience putting together regional pricing and stuff like that. So it was really focusing on those main areas.
Devin Reed: I'm curious, Monica, how did you suss out those roadblocks or potential roadblocks? Was it just going full steam ahead and learning as you go? Oh, whoops, looks like last name goes first here. Or pricing needs to change. Or was there maybe kind of a research phase? You know what I mean? Something where you could get ahead of what some of these important changes would be for y'all.
Monica Telles: Yeah. A lot of it was having really close alignment with operations in region and product marketing in region and challenges that they've already experienced on the service side so we didn't make the same mistake again. But there's still a lot of the challenges that it's we're learning on the job and our big thing is fail quickly so then you can move on.
Sheena Badani: That's so important, that mentality. Especially when you're doing new things, you're launching new products, you're entering new geos. You're not going to know everything from the onset. You have to be willing to experiment and drop things that aren't working as quickly as possibly.
Monica Telles: Yeah. And I think the other thing that we really leaned on when entering these new regions was our partner network. Because you have all these partners that understand, they're in those regions, right? They know the culture. They have sold in the region. They have... They've been able to hire in region. They have the team there to support you. And so that was probably a big thing for us was really leaning on the partner network.
Sheena Badani: Yeah, and in some regions, partners have a much more important role. I remember my days when we were in MongoDB, resellers, channel partners, the system integrators, they were much more prominent when we were working in Europe than for our US business. So you have to understand how are buyers buying in those different places? They may not buy direct. They may trust their partner who's been working with them for decades to get their references and referrals and what they should be using.
Monica Telles: And it's absolutely still that way. The data shows us in Europe and LATAM, we do a lot better with partners than we do here in Amer.
Sheena Badani: So speaking of data, you talked about data as related to partner sales, what role does data play more broadly in your day- to- day decisions?
Monica Telles: A lot. I would be surprised if any sales leader said data didn't play a big part in their day- to- day decisions. I think for me, the biggest thing is analyzing if we're spending our time in the right places and what's going to give us the biggest return. So it's looking at, are we trending in the right direction? I talked about it earlier for new business acquisition, that's critical. Obviously, looking at bookings. And then team performance, too. Because we have to be able to see what we've laid out for the team, the metrics that have been communicated to them, if they are doing all of that, and the results aren't there, do we have to pivot? Are we expecting too munch or are we not asking for enough? And then I think the biggest thing is making sure that we're giving the team the data they need to succeed. So yes, I have all my data that I look at, but does the team have the data they need to be able to put together a strong territory plan and strategically go after their territory and deliver results?
Devin Reed: You mentioned, Monica, making sure your team's spending time in the right places. Territory could be part of that. I'm wondering if there's anything on the productivity level like could be activity metrics, talk time, anything like that. I'm curious if you have any indicators you look for for your team. Maybe it's a weekly expectation. I've been in teams where that's the case. Or if maybe you just have more philosophical approach of here's key indicators for what will make rep successful?
Monica Telles: No, I am very specific on exactly what it is I want from a metric standpoint. So we have laid out... And these are all field sellers but I guess everyone's pivoted since the pandemic. But you still have to make calls, right? How many calls? How many touches? How many demos? How many meetings? How many opportunities? But we don't just set it and then forget it. We're constantly looking and seeing is the team able to deliver? Like I said earlier, are we asking for too many calls? And then we will adjust and update the metrics that we're looking for.
Devin Reed: Gotcha, gotcha. Monica, are you ready for the toughest question of the interview? I'm kidding, it's the same question we ask all of our lovely guests which is how would you describe sales in one word?
Monica Telles: And everyone wants more than one word because there's so many. I would love more than one but I would say rewarding. And not yes, obviously, the financial upside is why people get into sales which can be extremely rewarding. But for me, it's... When I think of rewarding, it's you've had to fight through something to actually feel that reward. And that's why whenever I interview people, I know that obviously, yes, they've had tons of success otherwise I wouldn't be interviewing them. So I don't ask oh tell me all the times you made your number and tell me about the best day. I always ask about the time that they've missed their number, when they've failed, and how they recovered. And I think that's where the reward happens.
Devin Reed: I completely agree. We had a guest, Kelly Wright. Remember Sheena said part of her interview process was asking what their biggest accomplishment has been professionally. And sussing that out too, which is, if there's a really big accomplishment, she looks for resilience. Was there a barrier? Was there a roadblock you overcame? And an interesting one she pointed out for culture to fit was it a solo win or a team win that this person finds most accomplished? So great word, Monica. Given what you do and what you're all about, rewarding fits very well.
Monica Telles: Thank you.
Sheena Badani: Well thanks so much for joining us, Monica. It was a pleasure to chat with you.
Monica Telles: Thanks for having me.
Devin Reed: Thanks, Monica. Every week, we bring you a micro- action. Something you can think about or an action you can put into play today. Monica stresses how important top- down alignment is to achieving the company's North Star when launching a new initiative. Part of that alignment involves having regular and open communication throughout an organization. This week, experiment on a new way to make space for regular and open communication between all areas of your team. This could be done in group settings or one- on- ones and could involve dialogues outside of the sales team. Like Monica said, everyone owns their own piece of accomplishing company goals. This exercise will open up new opportunities to drive important new business initiatives forward and help expand your current customer base. Did you like today's episode? Subscribe now so next week's episode will be waiting for you on Monday.
Sheena Badani: And if you really liked the podcast, please leave a review. Five- star reviews go a long way to help get the word out there.
Devin Reed: And if you're not ready to give a five, check out another episode and see if we've won you over by then.