SalesTech Interview With Chris Harrington, Chief Operating Officer at InsideSales.com
Tell us about your journey into Sales and Revenue Management in the SalesTech industry.
If you can believe it, I started my sales profession in telemarketing selling Ginsu Knives when I was in college — I worked for NICE corporation in Utah, which is now a part of Convergys. While there, I was named the top sales rep at the company and quickly mastered the ability to read a customer’s true interest level, as well as develop an ability to detect when a customer was not interested, which helped me know where to best focus my time. I was promoted a number of times and eventually ran the entire call center for 4 years.
My next big move was to Los Angeles where I joined DIRECTV and was responsible for sales operations across the entire country. In this role, my team of 40+ sales professionals would work with consumer electronics dealers, manufacturers, satellite TV dealers, and independent installation professionals, as DIRECTV launched their satellites and acquired their first 6 million subscribers. This was when my appreciation for subscription revenue models started because at the time there were only phone and cable subscription businesses. No one had yet thought about software as a subscription business.
Eventually, I found my way back to Utah with my family when I started at Domain Systems. Working at Domain Systems was the first time I started to really appreciate the value of data in the enterprise and across the entire value chain. I accepted the opportunity to join Omniture as the President Global Sales & Client Services.
A very exciting time because Omniture was the pioneer in SaaS. The company had been in business for six years at the time and we were at an annual revenue run rate of $3.5 million. Omniture was in a 40-way tie for 4th place when we took down #1 competitor’s customer, Walmart. This changed the landscape for our company — we eventually became #1 in the industry. This led to Omniture’s IPO in 2006 and by 2009 we had also concluded seven accretive acquisitions and were at a revenue run rate of $350 million annually before we were acquired by Adobe in 2009 for $1.8 billion. Shortly after, I accepted the role of President at Domo, which has set out and is successfully tackling the incredibly deep world of business intelligence and following Domo’s IPO in June of 2018, I moved to InsideSales.com.
What inspired you to join InsideSales.com?
As Domo was finalizing its IPO and I was deciding my next move, there were a number of critical things that played into my decision to join InsideSales.com:
- SaaS – I wanted to work with a company that was redefining the future of sales.
- Data – think of the current landscape like an oil rush and data as the new oil; I believe data will soon be the “currency” we will all trade on.
I wanted an opportunity to sell into the top-line buyer. The ability to run an entire company and maintain its culture of excellence. The ability to work with industry veterans such as Dave Elkington who has been a pioneer in the sales technology stack since 2004 and laid the groundwork for InsideSales.com to excel.
Tell us more about what you do at InsideSales.com and how your work helps customers with their Sales strategy.
At InsideSales.com, I work to help customers use data and analytics to inform marketing and sales. Sales reps need to use intelligent automation and apply Machine Learning to stay ahead of competitors. Our collective Intelligence™ works to improve the buying process, allowing sales reps to focus on connecting with the right people and focusing on the deals that matter most to ultimately drive revenue for their organization.
How is the North American SalesTech industry different today than when you first started in the industry?
When I first entered the SalesTech market, it was a street fight. What truly differentiated companies was the prize fighter, aka the sales rep you brought to the fight. The difference today is that the prize fighter now comes with a variety of assistance including a cut man (competitive intelligence), a conditioning trainer (training), a great promoter to decide when to fight (data and deal intelligence), and a coach for strategy (informed leadership). Selling today is still a fight but competitors enter the ring more prepared than ever before.
There’s also an endless white noise coming at buyers.
All of the marketing and sales approaches used today simply look, sound and smell the same — so true differentiation is key to breaking through. Especially since the committees who buy now are different; the power of today’s business buyer has moved away a bit and some of that power has moved back to IT. That means the growing concerns around data integrity and privacy have never been higher, and the resources a sales rep must bring to the battle today are more than a clever copywriter to help nail an RFP.
How much has the new technology in ABM and CRM influenced your Sales Automation?
The white noise created from so many sellers clamoring after the same buyers means that the need for true Account-Based Marketing (ABM) has never been higher. This does not mean simply implementing creative direct mail, which is often confused as ABM. Rather, the actual approach of AMB, which involves the science and research required for the proper targeting and messaging. The holistic approach is critical.
Directly or indirectly, which sales leaders and companies have made the most profound impact on the way you work with technology for sales and revenue?
Some names that come to mind include:
- Josh James (Omniture, Domo)
- Marc Benioff (Salesforce)
- Jim Steele (Salesforce, InsideSales.com, Yext)
- Dave Elkington (InsideSales.com)
- Barry Rhein (Selling Through Curiosity, Saleshood); Cisco; Eloqua; Marketo
How do you work with data science, process automation, enterprise planning, and advanced analytics at InsideSales?
At the core of our offering to customers is the incredible value we’re able to deliver via Collective Intelligence™ which is the foundation of data science, process automation and advanced analytics.
As we continue to streamline our operations at InsideSales.com, our reliance on data science, automation, planning and analytics are central to every effort. It’s in my heritage — I have been in the analytics and intelligence market since 2002, so it’s at the heart of everything we do. In fact, it’s even represented in our core values as a company.
What are the major pain points for businesses in putting a 360-degree focus on Sales Tracking for better account conversions?
In my experience, sales leaders aren’t looking for opinions which is exactly what comes from a 360, because they don’t want additional cooks in their kitchen. Part of this is 100% valid — it’s a challenge to bring science into the art of sales. In most sales leaders’ experience, the majority of this feedback creates work that doesn’t drive results, so they stay away from it because it’s busy work.
The challenge has been helping sales leaders understand how a true data-driven, 360-degree focus can help them drive clarity and results. However, express value effectively will remove this pain point.
What are the key technology-specific differentiations between Inside Sales and Tele-marketing/Tele-calling?
Tele-sales, as it’s often referred to, is focused on just that: calling. It was a sales motion invented for a B2C model that allowed reps to call multiple people at once using a predictive dialer.
Depending on which household picked up first, the dialing system would then hang up on the other calls and connect the household to the sales rep. Most of these types of tools have been outlawed with some of the robocalling laws that have been created in the last few years.
The inside sales model is quite a bit different from a technology standpoint. Inside sales is a B2B sales motion rather than B2C, and it’s much more sophisticated. It’s often based on data — either a prospect being qualified as a good target customer, or done with prospects who have engaged with the company in some way (often online).
Rather than focusing on just calling, inside sales technology is multi-channel, allowing reps to interact with a business using the phone, email, voicemail, chat, direct mailer, video, and social media.
The idea of “predictive” is still relevant but it has changed significantly. With an inside sales model, the AI or prediction comes in alerting the rep of which prospect they should be focusing on, when they should be focusing on them and how (which communication method) they should potentially use to reach out.
What does 2019 look like for an Inside Sales professional?
In 2019, sales will reach a breaking point under pressure to deliver growth with limited resources and increasingly elusive buyers. Just 53% of sales reps meet their quotas — let that sink in. With that, organizations are realizing the only way to deliver on growth imperatives with a limited number of elite sale reps is to virtually replicate their best and brightest with data insights and automation.
Traditional cold calling and inside sales won’t cut it, which is why 2019 is going to be all about digital sales transformation with advanced technology like AI and machine learning. Sales needs a much more scientific approach to everything — prioritization, targeting, cadence, forecasting — and behavioral data and predictive analytics are absolutely key to that.
In addition to customer data, chatbots and other technology that assists inside sales teams will rise in popularity, making the lives of prospects easier and helping reps close more deals by optimizing the price, configure, and quote process.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a SalesTech champion?
By pulling down the mystique surrounding AI, and breaking down for sales leaders how AI will improve productivity and results.
As a sales leader today, you have a lot to be concerned about. You’ve likely chased a number of solutions who had promised in the past only to discover the smoke was all smoke and no fire, and you eventually return to the basics of run-block-tackle. Helping a sales leader understand today that data and AI is not a magic play, it is at the foundation of your playbook in run-block-tackle, will help dramatically.
Which sales technologies are you currently working with – (example ABM, Technographic data, CRM etc)? How do these technologies help you sell better and faster?
Certainly, ABM is central to our go to market. CRM in my mind isn’t a sales technology, but a system of record that we use to drive action in tools like InsideSales.com, ABM, InsideSales.com Playbooks, InsideSales.com Predictive Pipeline and Domo. These tools help us identify the prospects who are most ready to engage, and what our engagement strategy and approach should be. They help keep the sales rep organized by integrating and writing directly back to CRM. The technology also helps remove the witchcraft and sorcery that typically makeup sales forecasting by leveraging AI.
From the industry, which sales leader would you like to see featured in this interview section—
- Matt Thompson, Adobe
- Chano Fernandez, Workday
- Mike Clayville, AWS
- Susan St. Ledger, Splunk
- Lambert Walsh, DocuSign
Thank You, Chris, for answering all our questions. We hope to see you again, soon.
InsideSales.com accelerates revenue growth by 30% with the only full-stack AI sales platform powered by Collective Intelligence–exclusive insights from 120 billion global buyer interactions. With Amazon-like buyer recommendations informed by the actions of billions of buyer behavior data points, InsideSales.com delivers unprecedented B2B buyer insights to triple productivity and improves the buyer experience. Fast-growth brands like Caesars Entertainment, Cisco, CenturyLink, T-Mobile, Fidelity Investments, West Corp., Broadridge, Ten-X, Waste Management, and others rely on InsideSales.com to deliver significant measurable improvements to sales and marketing visibility, productivity, and effectiveness.
Chris Harrington is the Chief Operating Officer of InsideSales.com and has driven unprecedented growth at three of the world’s fastest digital sales and marketing powerhouses — Omniture, Adobe and Domo. At one of the first SaaS digital marketing powerhouses, Omniture, Harrington had full responsibility for delivering seven years of annual recurring revenue (ARR) growth. He took the company from $4 million a year to over $500 million before it was acquired for $1.8 billion by Adobe Systems, where he led all enterprise sales. Most recently, Harrington served as President of the $2 billion business intelligence leader, Domo, and continues to serve as a member of the board of directors for Spredfast.