Dreamforce With Chris Hays, VP Of Business Development And Operations, DiscoverOrg
Dreamforce Exclusive: I believe the next transformation that will occur in sales will be fueled by AI. A company’s ability to execute AI successfully will have a clear advantage in the market.
At the ongoing Dreamforce by Salesforce event, we interviewed Chris Hays, VP Of Business Development And Operations, DiscoverOrg. Chris shared his views on sales technology for modern sales professionals and the role of AI/ML in sales ops.
Tell us about your role at DiscoverOrg and the team you handle.
I manage the Sales and Marketing Operations team at DiscoverOrg. My team handles the sales and customer engagement process, plus all of the applications and technologies that touch that process. Additionally, I am in charge of our Sales Development and Customer Development teams, currently about 70 people.
What’s the biggest attraction for you at Dreamforce 2018?
I’m looking forward to connecting and reconnecting with people that I have been working with virtually throughout the year. But I am most interested in the evolution of AI: from the perspective of Salesforce’s Einstein, as well as the other providers that will be at the show. We have been doing data modeling and advanced analytics for years at DiscoverOrg, and we have watched the industry transform from predictive analytics to machine learning and AI. It seems that SFDC is close to making that available, at a certain level, to companies who haven’t invested in data science.
Which sections of the event particularly interest you?
I am especially interested in the Einstein sessions that are planned. I believe the next transformation that will occur in sales will be fueled by AI. A company’s ability to execute AI successfully will have a clear advantage in the market. DiscoverOrg is fortunate, in that the service we provide is a key component in the evolution of AI.
Do you see Salesforce changing the tech equation with diverse acquisitions and new product launches?
SFDC continues to drive change every year. Their evolution has been incredible. With their acquisition of MuleSoft, for example, they’ve positioned cross-platform data integration as a service. This avoids a gap in feeding relevant non-SFDC data into their Einstein Analytic and learning platform; additionally, the MuleSoft acquisition helped them position themselves as integrators outside of the core SFDC platform.
How do Salesforce trends and technology impact your business?
SFDC basically started the SaaS space. As it has grown, the ecosystem of ancillary providers, integrators, and partners has grown as well. These companies are some of our best customers and partners, and they’ve continued to innovate and push the envelope of what is possible from a sales and marketing perspective.
How do you plan to extend the benefits of Dreamforce to your employees, customers and technology partners?
As we review the solutions and approaches highlighted at Dreamforce 2018, my team will be looking for relevant learnings that we can layer back into our own sales and customer success processes. We’re looking at anything that helps us serve our current and future customers in the most efficient and relevant way possible.
With 6000-plus MarTech and Sales tech companies in the competition, how do you stay on top of your sales revenue targets?
We’re hyper-focused on delivering our targets, in both new business and retention. We have built a pretty robust set of metrics to help us identify leading indicators that affect our ability to achieve targets, and we use these to modify behavior. We’re fortunate to have a nimble marketing team that can react quickly and helps us course correct when needed. The other encouraging thing about those 6000 companies is that they are all customers, or future customers, of our platform.
How do you see marketing and sales operations evolving with the availability and maturity of better intelligence and reporting tools? How much of that impacts your own work at DiscoverOrg?
Marketing and sales operations will continue to evolve… and to be more and more data-science driven. Operations will be tasked with collecting, analyzing, and building out modeled plays, paths, and touch points, all based on persona, level, and industry. These paths will be closed loops with positive and negative results that feed back into the process, allowing for real-time modification and execution.
Reporting and KPIs will move further up the sales and retention process. When we want to understand revenue growth quarter over quarter, we’ll be able to have discussions about our engagement rate with leads by seniority and persona. And we’ll know what the expected conversion rate of those MQLs will be, two quarters out, in order to fill the sales pipeline for the next three quarters.
On the retention side, we’ll be looking at how new customers onboarded and their engagement rate in the first sixty days. We will modify that engagement to find ideal bands of engagement that ensure upsell opportunities and optimal renewal circumstances. Sales and marketing operations will own these models, the automation, and measuring the outcome.
Would you provide us your take on turning AI-driven and enabled by 2020?
Sales, marketing, and customer success/enablement are all moving to an AI-informed path. We’ll be able to have a continuing understanding of our prospects’ likelihood to purchase, plus which actions, content, and products we need to put in front of them—and when to offer them—o ensure an optimal outcome.
An inspiring quote from past editions of Dreamforce that you have ever heard:
“We’re now in the 4th Industrial Revolution: Steam, Electricity, Computing, Intelligence.” – Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce
Thank you, Chris, for chatting with us and sharing your salestech insights from Dreamforce.