Startup Trek: When to Join an Early-Stage Startup

Yesterday we hosted MBA students from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management as one of their many stops in their two day Startup Trek. The trek provided a valuable learning experience where students travelled to Silicon Valley and toured startups, networked with professionals, learned from CEOs and developed their own interests in the startup world.

Of the 15 students that participated in the trek, 90% of the students were interested in pursuing a career at a startup post-graduation. During the hour-long round table session, students heard stories from almost every ToutApp department from the CEO, Sales, Business Operations and Marketing. Below is a recap of the session.

The History of the Business

For MBA students, the idea of working at a startup is attractive. As job descriptions at startups include phrases like “casual environment” and “small teams, big impact”–it’s no wonder why students find startups attractive.

TK kicked off the session and recalled his first job working for his father’s telecommunications company in New York when he was 12, how he then founded HipCal with his fraternity brothers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), and ultimately the story turned into how he founded ToutApp and moved cross-country to join 500 Startups in 2011.

As many in the room were interested in startups, many were also curious about how to apply their education into a business setting as either founders or employees of startups. TK’s advice to the aspiring founders and business professionals in the room: Don’t do the TAM analysis and create a spreadsheet of customers to go after. Instead, solve a problem that you care about–even if it’s simple.

Post-Graduation: Career Opportunities at Different Companies

While no two startups are the same, many do offer MBA graduates an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of building a well-oiled organization from the ground up. MBA graduates are looking for high-impact roles where they can have a direct impact on revenue and be a strategic influencer on the business.

At an early-stage startup, MBAs can put their business mindset to work and gain tangible skills on creating, growing and scaling a business from zero to 100. Furthermore, early-stage startups are attracted to the MBA profile for their skillset, business acumen and ability to ruthlessly strategize against high business goals.

“When I graduated, I knew I wanted to work in tech–but I didn’t know what kind of startup. As I interviewed at different companies, I found that at early-stage startups, my potential colleagues were more engaged and viewed their roles as more than just a job,” said Stephanie Moon, a recent Wharton MBA graduate who joined ToutApp as a Senior Analyst, Sales Operations.

According to Kaplan, 18.4% of Kellogg MBA graduates accepted job offers in the technology industry in 2014, which is up from 12.3% in 2013 and is expected to continually rise year after year. Why the sudden shift from Wall Street to Silicon Valley?

Diverse Career Opportunities.

MBAs are looking for a number of different roles that require a diverse skillset, and startups are looking for candidates who will thrive in Business Operations, Product Management and Product Marketing roles.

“After my MBA, I was so eager to put my skills to work and worked at differently sized companies and finally found my true calling at a startup, specifically, ToutApp,” said Selin Tyler, Director of Product Marketing at ToutApp. “At a startup, there’s no limit to the impact you can make here. I knew the textbook definition of Marketing, but now get to define what it is for ToutApp.”

Think Inwardly About Your Career

As the technology job market doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon for MBAs graduates, it’s important for students to think inwardly about their careers and think about what success entails for their career. Ask yourself: do you want to roll up your sleeves at an early-stage startup or do you want to work at a large organization with limited collaboration?

“Think about the experience that you want, whether it’s working at an Amazon or Apple or ToutApp. Then think about how much responsibility you want in your role, because working at a startup accelerates your life experiences and career trajectory,” said TK.

In the last ten minutes of the session, we were joined by a surprise guest appearance by Esther Dyson, an Angel Investor (of ToutApp) and philanthropist. Esther and TK shared stories about how ToutApp secured its Angel round from Esther and she offered career advice to the students.

“Focus on what you love, instead of what you think will succeed,” Esther said. “Everything I’ve done right I’ve been lucky. Everything I’ve done wrong I’ve been unlucky.”

As the session ended, TK shared a story on his relationship with MBA programs, “my mom always asks me if I’m going to get my MBA. Maybe we can just take a group photo and that will be enough for her.”

Kellogg MBA students with ToutApp and Esther Dyson

Start Your Trek

If you’re an MBA student or part of an MBA program and would like to participate in a tech talk with ToutApp, contact us at for more information.

Introducing Prospect Builder

Prospect lists are every B2B company’s lifeline. However, establishing an effective process to collect leads in your target market is, at times, harder than brain surgery. If you are buying lists, you’re inevitably pumping your CRM with inaccurate or outdated contacts. Alternatively, if you value accuracy, your SDR team may be spending half of their day manually building a non-scalable list. There needs to be an easier way to find and reach your target audience.

Supercharge your Pipeline with the Right People

With these pain points in mind, we created Prospect Builder. Finally, an easy to use tool to supercharge your pipeline with accurate contacts. Prospect Builder allows you to search for contacts by title, industry location, company and other keywords right within your Chrome browser. We only provide you the contact information of verified emails so you can build a list of accurate and up-to-date prospects.

With Prospect Builder you can now scale your prospect listing with the right people and capture vital contact information to reach your target audience. ToutApp Enterprise customers can also transform these lists to Tout Groups and Salesforce profiles with the push of a button.

We are launching Prospect Builder for free in the Chrome Store today. To learn more about how you can build more accurate and scalable prospect lists through Prospect Builder, please visit our product page.

The Top 4 Trends Changing Sales

Salespeople are no longer in charge of the buyer’s journey. Sales is now about solving your buyers problems. And Salespeople simply cannot afford to be left out, therefore we must adapt to our new buyer. As studies show that modern buyers are more informed than ever—it begs the question, what’s changing in Sales?

Unfortunately, we don’t have a crystal ball that tells us the future. But, here’s what we know:

  1. The buyer’s journey starts with content, instead of talking to Sales
  2. Our job as Salespeople isn’t going to get any easier if we don’t change alongside our more sophisticated buyer

As we look ahead, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 trends changing Sales. It’s a lot to unpack, so we’ll be coming back to this topic on a more granular level, but here’s what we think of what’s to come.

Trend: New Sales Rep Productivity Rules

Why: Statistics show that only 33% of a rep’s time is actually spent on selling, which then corners companies into spending nearly $20K per year to improve productivity. With Salespeople only spending ⅓ of their day on actual selling—quotas are still going up and their ability to meet increased quotas is going down. Further, the market is just as competitive and the pressure to drive revenue is constant.

If companies are pouring thousands into improving productivity to help them achieve their revenue goals, why is there still a disconnect between the buyer and seller?

The modern buyer has changed and Sales may get left behind.

Even with the proliferation of new tools and technologies, it’s still an arms race to find the most effective tools that boost productivity and will meet a rep’s daily needs. Some companies invest in too many tools and overwhelm their reps, while other companies invest in none at all.

If companies want to increase productivity and continue to be part of the buyer’s journey–they have to invest in the right tools for their reps that will help them realize their quotas.    

Trend: The Car Salesman Model is Dead

Why: 70% of the buyer’s journey happens before they talk to Sales—we know we use that statistic a lot, but it’s  important enough that we continually come back to it. Today, most of the buyer’s journey happens before Sales in involved, and it’s a leading contributor to the low productivity rate. So for us to have a fighting chance—we have to change in parallel with the new buyer’s journey.

For reps to remain relevant, we need to kill the car salesman approach. To be successful, Salespeople need to be more focused in their outreach messaging, Ideal Customer Profile, Social Selling efforts, etc. than ever. Buyers expect Salespeople to be trusted advisors who are offering them a customer solution to their unique pain points.

“Your product works the same for everyone,” said Jorge Soto in a Sales Stack Workshop. “But the story you tell as a Salesperson is different from customer to customer. The story you create has to address the new buyer’s journey and their pain points.”

Trend: Sales Cannot Afford to Be Jack of all Trades

Why: In addition to effective tools and a more complex buyer’s journey, an emerging trend in  Sales is a new mentality on the sales team which consists of new roles, hyper-segmentation and cross-departmental collaboration.

This year we saw the rise of segmentation between prospecting and closing roles, as companies moved to an Inside Sales model. But with segmentation and new roles (SDR, BDR, MDR, etc.), companies still have to bridge the gap between those new roles and get them to collaborate. Meaning if an SDR prospects into a company and then hands the account to an AE—the transfer of knowledge must be seamless.

A shift in mentality for sales team doesn’t end with the SDR-AE handoff, but it extends beyond the sales floor. Sales is turning into a full-collaboration between all arms of an organization from Sales, to Customer Success Managers and Support, and alignment with Marketing, Engineering, Product and Business Operations.

The future of Sales is company collaboration.

The days of Sales working in vacuum are over. For Sales to have a future, we need to collaborate with all arms of the company to scalable growth.

Trend: Big Data Comes to Sales

Why: Big Data is more than a buzzword, it’s a term that refers to the increasing volume of data around every person and company. For the past few years, Big Data has been a huge asset for Marketing teams in helping them understand their target audience. Salespeople have relied on phone and email responses for too long, and in the near-future Big Data will be paramount.

Salespeople must collect, track and analyze all buyer signals and leverage that intelligence to target high-value prospects and cross sell into new arms of organizations.

Here are a few examples on how leading companies are leveraging data:

As data becomes more accessible, it allows companies to reduce their costs by making reps more productive, improve the buyer experience and drive alignment between Sales and the larger organization.

Will these trends pan out?

As we look ahead and see if these trends pan out, it’s worth pausing and reflecting on the changing course of Sales. We think these trends are going to stick around and will change the future of Sales. Share with us what you think the new trends in Sales are in the comments below.

[INFOGRAPHIC]: How Social Selling Fits Into Your Sales Strategy

It’s no secret that if Sales reps want to engage earlier on in the buyer’s journey, they have to participate in Social Selling. According to an Entrepreneur article titled “Why the Future of New Business is Social Selling” said, “[Social Selling] generated 40% more qualified leads than cold calling and allows you to build genuine connections.”

While Social Selling allows reps to engage at an earlier stage in the buyer’s journey, it does require time, diligence and strategy (which we’ve covered before). In this infographic, we break down a typical workday for an Inside Sales rep and have incorporated how Social Selling can be nestled into an email, call and meeting workflow.

If you’ve got tips on how you’ve incorporated Social Selling into your workflow, share them in our comments section below. To learn more about how to fit Social Selling into your sales strategy by reading out ToutApp’s Practical Guide to Social Selling.

How to Create a Framework for Social Selling

Looking to create a framework around Social Selling? You’ve come to the right place. With 487,000,000 Google results and it’s own Wikipedia page, it’s no secret that Social Selling is a hot topic in the B2B (and even B2C) world.

Before we dive into it, let’s stop right there and take a tiny step back and ask ourselves: what’s it all for?

A common mistake that many newcomers to Social Selling make is that they don’t set a goal. Instead, they go at it blindly hoping that their diligence will lead to something.

Instead of hoping, let’s apply rigor to our Social Selling efforts and set a few baseline goals before establishing an overall framework for Social Selling.

The Goal of Social Selling

The goal of Social Selling will vary depending on the rep, but the most common goals are:

  • Build a personal brand
  • Gain credibility with decision makers and product champions within targeted accounts
  • Build a network of customers, prospects and peers where you’re seen as a trusted advisor
  • Generate a healthier pipeline of leads by expanding the Top of Funnel
  • Take an online conversation offline and book a meeting

Remember, Social Selling is all about engaging with the buyer earlier in their journey—even before they enter the sales funnel.

Think of Social Selling as pre-funnel activities that reps must participate in to gain opportunities in the future.

Because Social Selling is in it’s early days, the rules are not yet written. This means that there is a tremendous opportunity to get ahead. And with a goal in place, you’ll be set up to do a better job at establishing and creating your framework for Social Selling.

Framework for Social Selling

Step #1: Research on Social

Prospects share a lot of information on social channels, and it’s up to the reps to do their research to better understand their buyers, their companies and explore their entire digital footprint, which includes:

In addition to exploring a buyer’s profile, reps should expand their search to a prospects’ authored content on a company or personal blog.

Think about the following questions as they’re researching their prospects on social:

  • Are they talking about their favorite sports teams?
  • Did they go to the same school as you or a rival school?
  • Do you have a connection to their hometown or a city that they’ve lived in?

Step #2: Connect on Social

The struggle with cold calling or cold emailing is that there’s little to no context or commonality. After reps have conducted their research on the treasure trove of data that comes with social, the next step is to connect with prospects. Here’s how to thoughtfully connect with prospects on LinkedIn and Twitter:

  • Find mutual connections through your current network and ask them for a warm introduction to your prospects
  • Write a personalized message when asking to connect on LinkedIn (Remember to use the info found in Step #1 in the Framework for Social Selling)
  • Follow prospects and their companies on Twitter, then organize them into lists by “prospects” and “companies”
  • To gain more Twitter followers, ask your current network if they can ask their followers to follow you

Once reps have made thoughtful connections on LinkedIn and Twitter, this increases their likelihood of leading to genuine conversations.

Step #3: Engage on Social

Once a connection or follow has been made, the next step is to engage with the prospect on his or her preferred social channels.

Pro-Tip: Don’t just blast out marketing content. Maintain your relationship by continuing to share relevant, rich content.

For true engagement between the prospect and seller, reps need to engage on social by:

  • Directly sharing relevant content with prospects
  • Contributing to a prospect’s communities by adding value and not noise
  • When a prospect shares a relevant article on LinkedIn, like it and add value by writing a thoughtful comment about the article
  • When a prospect shares a relevant article on Twitter, favorite it and/or RT it—add even more value by adding “Great tips from @RyanSales”

Framework for Social Selling in motion.

Social Selling is about providing value and sharing ideas, which leads to authentic discussions about what’s top-of-mind for prospects. The goal for reps is to showcase themselves as experts in their field, and positions reps as trustworthy in field and product knowledge (which comes in handy when they’re ready to make a purchase decision).

Next Steps

This Framework for Social Selling must be added to your sales organization’s playbook, because it not only teaches the basics to reps — but it also means they’ll know how to apply Step #1, Step #2 and Step #3 to every deal.

For more know-how to step up your Social Selling efforts, download our eBook ToutApp’s Practical Guide to Social Selling to learn more.

Key Takeaways from Sales Stack 2015

This past week our friends at Sales Hacker hosted their inaugural Sales Stack Conference and Workshops in San Francisco that brought together thought leaders, B2B companies and sales professionals to connect and learn about the latest in Sales.

With so many sessions and workshops, we’ve pulled together a few key takeaways from the event.  

Understand Your Audience

This was an overarching theme for the entire conference and can be applied to every panel session from How Massive Enterprise Companies Buy and Sell in 2015 to How to Scale Sales Orgs, from Hyper Growth Sales VPs.

Understanding your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) or Total Addressable Market (TAM) is easy to say, but can be difficult to materialize if you’re a company with limited resources and a small team. In a pre-Conference workshop led by Jason Vargas at Datanyze, Jorge Soto at and our own Daniel Barber, the trio discussed when and how companies should define their market segment alongside their ICP and TAM.

The buyer and company life cycle broken down into four basic stages.  

During the four-hour long workshop, attendees were given the opportunity to pull their own data list and run it through Datanyze and MatterMark to define their audience and build an accurate lead list. Attendees walked away from the workshop with the fundamentals on how growing companies are currently building their list of leads and how they can implement it at their own companies–no matter their size.

The workshop presenters in action: Daniel Barber, Jason Vargas and Jorge Soto.

As the workshop wrapped up, Jorge Soto shared an interesting anecdote comparing SaaS sales to door-to-door sales:

“If you’re a door-to-door salesmen, of course you want to sell to everyone in town, but what you should think about is which neighborhood are you going to knock off your list first? You can’t sell to everyone all at once, that’s why it’s important to define your Ideal Customer Profile.”

Alignment at the Top of the Funnel

Sales and Marketing alignment is a huge topic with sprawling interests and views. As more and more B2B companies are growing at tremendous speed, and their buyers are more sophisticated—alignment between Sales and Marketing is more vital than ever.

In the panel session titled Strategies Tactics to Power the Top of the Funnel in 2015, Lesley Young, GM, Commercial Sales & Operations at Box, advised companies that alignment between Sales and Marketing is crucial because Marketing creates the awareness, and if you don’t have that awareness and alignment—you just have the pursuit.

Sales today is much more than the pursuit. It’s understanding the buyer’s journey and their pain points. And traditionally, the Top of the Funnel is where companies aim to create awareness and buyers are looking for great content and conducting research for tools that will meet their needs. As companies move to figure out how to engage with their buyer earlier on in the journey, there has to be alignment at the awareness stage.

According to SiriusDecisions, 70% of the buyer’s journey happens before they talk to Sales. Read: this is all happening before the Top of the Funnel, so it’s incredibly important to align with Marketing and create awareness for your company.

Building a Sales Community

While there were a lot of panel and breakout sessions throughout the day, our biggest takeaway from the Conference was being able to spend face-to-face time with our fellow Salespeople. Monday through Friday, everyone’s busy with their email, phone, social and meetings workflow and it’s impossible to get us together in one room. Sales Stack 2015 brought in attendees from as far as Poland, Australia, Germany and nationwide where we listened and learned how to elevate the art of Sales. Until next year!

Sales Automation: Race to the Bottom

Stop doing what everyone else is doing and be creative about how your brand engages with consumers – Glenn Llopis, Author

What’s Your Brand Worth?

People’s willingness to buy, recommend, work for and invest in a company is driven 60% by their perceptions of the company, and only 40% by their perceptions of their products – David Edelman, McKinsey

The holy grail is future advocates, yet you treat people as prospects — this is shaving 16% off of the lifetime value of your customer.

Moreover, the spray and pray (read: linear) model doesn’t quantify the value that leaks out of your figurative bucket from irritated or unengaged buyers. Traditional funnel marketing relies on a linear buying process, and yet marketers and sales leaders continue to use this method to push buyers into customers.

Sales and Marketing are two ends of a continuum. At the Sales end your outreach is narrow and deep. At the Marketing end it is broad and shallow – Jessica Livingston, Y Combinator

If we assume there is still some value left in the funnel model, a defined and generally quantifiable number of buyers will reach the bottom and make a purchase. This number is not only diminishing, but may not actually define your ideal customer.  

This results-driven focus has a long list of shortcomings, however the bigger question remains: why are sales and marketing leaders choosing short-term gain over long-term value?

41% of online revenue comes from Returning and Repeat Purchasers, who represent only 8% of all visitors. – Adobe

But this is for consumer-facing businesses, right? Wrong.

State of Diminishing Returns

Does the image below look familiar? It should. The same Marketing funnel that was developed by St. Elmo Lewis in 1898 was adapted by Aaron Ross and others to illustrate the process of outbound prospecting (circa. 2011).

5 Steps To Creating A Lead Gen Machine & The Predictable Revenue That CEOs Love

But wasn’t this model used by to increase recurring revenues by $100M? Yes, in 2004.

The average corporate employee in 2015 receives upwards of 84 emails per day, and at the F500 executive level that number can be as high as 2000. If we assume the volume of email will continue to rise, how can we expect the same results by asking for a referral from the C-Suite?

Imagine this scenario: urgent emails from my boss, emails from colleagues requesting meetings, and a few emails from vendors that I’ve worked with previously. Which do you think I open? Urgent from boss, the majority from colleagues, and maybe, if they’re lucky, one from a salesperson. Which salesperson do I choose? Which do you choose? The one who sends incessant, repetitive communication, or the one who has demonstrated value, given you information that you’ve used as ammo, and is generally respectful of your time?

Today’s buyer expects a different approach to communication, and yet so many sales organizations continue to leverage a linear conversion model to forecast results.

With the advent of Sales Automation, the modern salesperson has access to technology that supports emailing and calling 1000s of people with just a few clicks. Furthermore, established email marketing metrics (open rate, click rate, and reply rate) are now being transposed into sales to determine the effectiveness of sales campaigns.

This is a slippery slope. More email does result in more customers, and so the cycle continues.

Activities: The Lazy Manager’s North Star

If you have to tell people how to do their job, you have the wrong people or the wrong people running the people. Either way, you have the wrong people. – Jim Keenan, Author

Activity-based sales management assumes that through the execution of a set number of activities, an individual will achieve the desired results. This model is built upon a linear assumption and observes the same shortcomings found in the marketing funnel.

Moreover, activity-based management assumes that every buyer is at the same stage, possesses the same challenges, and is generally responsive to the same message. This binary approach to sales also assumes that salespeople are merely the delivery mechanism for your marketing message.

In contrast, a Results-Based approach involves outlining a set of actionable metrics that can be measured throughout the sales process. Taking a holistic view of the process, a sales leader can look at the following:

  1. Qual Call % (Phone calls that result in a meeting)
  2. Email to Opportunity % (excludes calls, marketing events, and LinkedIn)

While these metrics still measure conversion, the magic happens when you’re able to use them when coaching reps to guide them toward improving their conversations within email or over the phone. Using email engagement data (opens, clicks, and replies) or call recordings will further unlock the secrets of the hyper-performers.

Human Personalization vs. Sales Automation

The purpose of a pitch isn’t necessarily to move others immediately to adopt your idea. The purpose is to offer something so compelling that it begins a conversation, brings the other person in as a participant, and eventually arrives at an outcome that appeals to both of you. – Daniel Pink, Author

Sales training often follows a familiar track:

  1. Learn the product
  2. Learn the pitch
  3. Rinse and repeat.

This curriculum is designed to enrich the recipient with the necessary skills to discuss the product offering, while simultaneously building a conversational foundation to engage with prospects.

The missing link in this model: the customer.

In both B2C and B2B sales, the sheer volume of communication noise is overwhelming for today’s buyer – no one wants to listen to a non-tailored sales pitch. Unfortunately, this organization-centric model of sales training is often directly transposed to outbound email communication.

Referral Example #634

Furthermore, with the advent of Cold Calling 2.0, sales teams will often use the Appropriate Person or Quick Question format within email as a guise to peddle their pitch-first ask later message. The above message was sent by a leading provider of API integration to a member of my team (who works in Sales, not IT).  

Sales Automation providers fuel the fire by supporting this model via platforms designed to automate the salesperson. Consequently, sales and marketing management have a new level of control in the messaging sent by their salespeople.

Without personalization, what value does the modern salesperson provide?

Are you employing people simply to create another email address to deliver your marketing message and press send on an automated voicemail?

Before jumping to conclusions, I support the use of technology to empower the modern salesperson. This nuance involves combining a level of human personalization to engage the future-advocate, while providing persona-based value through the delivery of content.

What’s the delta between Human Personalization and No Personalization? 230% increase in replies. Thank you to Peter Kazanjy for the data below:


Human personalization can be broken down into three layers:

  1. Affinity to support emotional connection
  2. Assessment of buyer sophistication
  3. Delivery of tailored content that assists the buyer education process

Enter Sales 3.0: Personalization at Scale

The framework for the modern salesperson requires

  1. Leverage technology to remain competitive
  2. Remain human
  3. Combine the best of both worlds to achieve personalization at scale. 

The cost of remaining status quo is detrimental to your brand, and will likely land you in the spam folder.

Let’s leave behind robo-mailers that turn sales into a number game – and inspire salespeople who create advocates, not opportunities.

This post originally appeared on

Humans of Tout: Leo Choi, Head of BizOps

The best companies all have one thing in common: they hire great people. At ToutApp, we strive to hire exceptional people that will help us grow and make us better day after day. We recently spoke to Leo Choi, our Head of Business Operations and learned how to make a well-oiled, humming business machine.

Tell me about yourself–how did you get into Operations and Strategy?

I was lucky enough to be pretty good with quantitative disciplines and critical problem solving growing up, and I always thought I’d go into Engineering. After taking a few business classes at UC Berkeley, I realized that the same logical skills in Engineering also applied to Business, so I ended up beginning my career in banking and got to experience the 2008 financial crisis first hand.

Through the fiscal crisis I realized the companies that can weather even the worst of storms all have two things in common:

  1. A real product offering that the market needs or will need
  2. Operational excellence that allows them to execute at a good clip and react in a timely manner.

The latter in particular is a constant need and I want to help promising companies achieve that, that’s how I started my path towards Business Operations (BizOps).

For those of us that are unfamiliar with your discipline, can you tell us a little bit about the BizOps function?

BizOps is still a relatively novel discipline in my mind. For the longest time, companies would have Corporate Strategy or Corporate Development teams. These teams would tend to be functions that only larger companies would have the resources to build out. Within these companies, Corporate Strategy professionals would often serve as internal consultants that provided recommendations for executives and department heads to consider, but their involvement would seldom go into the decision and execution phase as that responsibility ultimately belongs to the departments themselves.

BizOps is different in that they are the fabric of the company and are integrated with each department. They have the ability, knowledge and familiarity to provide the analytical horsepower, the strategic view and help with execution.

When done right, the BizOps function should take the role of a metrics driven decision-support mechanism within the company which helps optimize day-to-day operations, carry out department and cross-department initiatives, and partner with business owners to tackle strategic questions for the company.

How has the role of BizOps changed over the past five years?

When we look at the BizOps discipline over the years, the biggest change was the massive increase of data and subsequent knowledge that you now have at your fingertips. At one of my earlier jobs, we had a centralized but clunky transactions system where if we wanted to get the data required to run any analyses, it would take a day or two.

Today, given the maturity of cloud-based tools and that companies are more comfortable forming their data backbone around these tools, data accessibility is more convenient and it would be a shame if you can’t act on it. As a company that strives for operational excellence, we owe it to ourselves to get to the data, understand it and execute on it.

What makes for a successful BizOps professional?

For me, it starts with two attributes:

  • An OCD-ness in data and process integrity, so that the company can build the infrastructure that can most accurately reflect your business.
  • A natural intellectual curiosity, the ability to think critically, willingness to zoom in and out of details, and have comfort in moving from one project to the next–even if the next project is ambiguous and open-ended.

How early do you think startups should invest in BizOps?

This could vary by industry and funding priorities, but generally it’s never too early to invest in BizOps. When a company reaches a point where they want to bring their data to life, start understanding trends by time series and be able to make measurable decisions — that’s when it should consider adopting a BizOps discipline.

A lot of startups don’t spend a lot of time on metrics, don’t take the effort to define a concrete set of KPIs, and as a result won’t end up putting the right amount of discipline and constraints into running their businesses. BizOps is in a position to change that for any given company to ensure they run smoother and also scale and execute more effectively.

Tell me about your Head of Business Operations role here at ToutApp, how is it different than other companies?

Each business has its own unique set of problems. Also, operations can mean very different things from company to company. At ToutApp, we are first and foremost a customer centric function where we help departments solve their problems. The role encompasses enabling and enforcing the metrics-driven discipline and also serving as the department touchpoints. Whether it be sales ops, marketing ops, special project ops — these are all interrelated pieces that work together as a BizOps function.

What has surprised you about ToutApp the most since joining?

I was surprised by how operationally sound the management team already was, which puts pressure on someone like myself coming into an operations role to do even better. I was excited to see that, and I owe it to myself to make sure I build a good system on top of the great foundational work that the team has put in place.

[Webinar Recap] Why Social Selling Should Be Part of Your Sales Strategy

A common misconception of Social Selling is that it’s often treated as a separate entity from the core sales strategy. That shouldn’t be the case. To be a successful sales team, you have to fully integrate Social Selling into your sales strategy and teach your reps how to better connect and communicate with prospects.

Last Friday, we hosted a webinar to discuss how sales teams can teach their reps Social Selling and how to truly integrate it within their existing sales strategy. Toward the end of the session, we addressed questions from the audience that we’d like to share with you here:

Q: What’s the most important thing for a Salesperson to have on their social profiles?

A: The most important thing is to highlight what you know really well. Having a one-liner that positions yourself as someone who is an aspiring expert in sales software, etc. builds credibility. So when someone receives a connection request or a follow notification from you–and you have that great one-liner, it seeds the thought in their mind so when they’re ready to buy–they’ll come back to you down the line.

Q: I don’t have time to constantly tweet throughout the day, what are tools that I can use?

A: Most of us don’t have time to tweet throughout the day, and that’s perfectly normal. At ToutApp we use a tool called Buffer and connect our LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. to it and schedule content. Anytime you find an interesting article, infographic, video or poll, and you think it’s going to valuable to your followers–you load it into Buffer and share it at the most opportune time with your followers.

What you don’t want to do is share five things back-to-back because you had an hour of time to do so. Don’t spam your followers with content. Instead, read and select your content, and then load it into a tool like Buffer and slowly share it with your audience.

Q: How do you find content and share reputable content?

A: Before you share content ask: is this valuable for my audience? If it is, then share it. The best way to find content is to look at people that are already sharing great content and see what kinds of sites they’re sharing from, then follow and share content from those sites.

And lastly, the best way to get reputable content is to hold your marketing team accountable to creating great content that you can share with your audience.

Q: Do you have a recommendation for how much time should SDRs, Sales Reps, etc. should spend on Social Selling per day or week?

A: There isn’t a defined length of time per day or week that reps should spend on Social Selling. We found that reps who streamlined their process by sprinkling in reading and sharing time throughout the day had the most success. For instance they’ll read their social feeds in the morning and RT (retweet), like, comment and share as they go. And then in the afternoons they’ll read through content and schedule posts via Buffer for the next day and week.

The bottom line is this: reps should consistently invest time in their Social Selling efforts as they would for emailing and calling. Why? Because today’s reps need to be engaged with prospects earlier on in the buyer’s journey, and Social Selling does just that.

Q: I’m wondering if you connect on a social thread or social forum and someone responds negatively–what’s the best way to turnaround?

A: Social is very much like real-life situations. For example, if you’re at a conference and someone says something negative–how do you react to that? You take the higher ground and recognize that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and, if it’s appropriate, you can provide your own opinion as well. It’s the same with social, you never want to take anything too personally. You can respond with, “I understand where you’re coming from, here’s my take on it” and have a fair conversation.

We hope we’ve answered all your Social Selling questions, if you have any more–please leave us a comment below. For even more in-depth resources on how to do Social Selling, read our eBook on the very subject: ToutApp’s Practical Guide to Social Selling.

Introducing: ToutApp’s Practical Guide to Social Selling

B2B buyers are spending more time on social media conducting research before they make their purchase decisions, because of that action alone, Salespeople need to spend more time on social media. Today’s modern Salespeople must adopt Social Selling as a core strategy within their existing methodology to remain relevant to their buyers.

The Current State of Sales

According to SiriusDecisions, 70% of the buyer’s journey happens before they talk to Sales, which means that the time spent researching on social is coming into play more and more. For Salespeople, participating in Social Selling allows them to engage, earn trust and authentically reach out to prospects earlier in the buyer’s journey.

In our latest eBook, ToutApp’s Practical Guide to Social Selling, you’ll learn how to:

  • Build a Framework for Social Selling
  • Create a Social Selling-Ready Profile
  • Do Social Selling and Apply the Framework
  • Track the Metrics that Directly Impact your Business

We’ve also pulled together leaders in the space including Koka Sexton from LinkedIn, Bill Cushard at ServiceRocket and Blake J. Harber at HireVue.

“Social Selling is the route that Sales is going down and for any company that hasn’t adopted it yet, you’re behind the curve.” – Blake J. Harber, Manager of Inside Sales – Account Development at HireVue