Today marks a pivotal moment for the SalesLoft community as we continue in our mission to lead the world of sales development and to become an Atlanta unicorn. This morning, I’m proud to announce the addition of Derek Grant to our team as Vice President of Sales.
While I’m certainly excited about how he’ll help us, I’m even more excited for how he’ll help build up the sales development world and serve the needs of revenue generating organizations around the world.
A power player in the Atlanta SaaS startup scene, Derek earned his stripes growing as an sales leader during his tenure at Salesforce Pardot. I met Derek in 2011 at Pardot where we incubated the company and had the pleasure of watching him at work.
There he took the company from $0 to over $50 million ARR and from a sales team of one to 100 across three continents with three remote US teams. Derek navigated the sales team through two acquisitions and became a leader at Salesforce.com, before returning to get back into the startup game.
Being a coach means you’re helping people achieve their best – and if you’re successful at transferring knowledge – they’ll eventually surpass your level of skill in many things.
In searching for a thought leader to help SalesLoft strengthen and solidify the revolution of today’s sales process, we couldn’t ask for someone who exemplifies our core values more than Derek. I was greatly impressed with his leadership skills, his empathy and intuition in growing sales leaders, showcased by key traits of transparency and vulnerability with no fear of unfiltered dialogue.
As SalesLoft has grown to over 1,400 clients and 30,000 users across the globe, the breadth and potential of this industry is huge. Derek adds significant knowledge of the sales process to our team which will cascade to our customers through better products, best practices, and engagements to improve their sales development results.
So we took a minute to ask Derek some questions. Here they are:
1. Why SalesLoft?
One of the key things that drew me to SalesLoft was the culture, which is based in being positive, self-starting & supportive. These three simple values become the lens for which every interaction – both internally and externally – are viewed. A strong culture is something that’s always been incredibly important to me (check out my my #RainMaker2015 presentation, where I identify corporate culture as the #1 thing that every company should have), and this alignment made me incredibly excited to be part of the SalesLoft team.
2. What’s your background in selling?
My background in selling is pretty broad.
I spent three years selling enterprise software to government buyers, then spent a year in a referral-based selling environment for a healthcare provider, and then spent eight years selling SaaS solutions to B2B marketing buyers. One thing that stood out to me across each industry and sales cycle was the importance of pace: Enterprise sales moved glacially, and had fewer buyers who needed more touch points. Referral-based sales needed touch points every 2-3 months, which would reacquaint the referral source with your service (causing referrals to immediately increase, but level off within a few weeks) and SaaS sales in an emerging field required high volume of sales touches to a huge universe of prospects.
Every market has a cadence, and executing those touch points efficiently drives results.
3. What is your leadership style?
I was a relatively decent high school basketball player who sat the bench for a super small college (my towel-waving muscles were in incredible shape at the age of 19). During the first 19 years of my life, I gained an appreciation for the value of being coached, so a coaching culture is the style which is the style I try to bring to the teams I’m honored to lead.
Take joy each time one of your team members surpasses you at sales (that means you did an amazing job).
On the topic of coaching – one thing that is almost always true is that the coaches have the knowledge, but generally weren’t as gifted at that point in time as the players – and that’s a great takeaway for every sales leader. Being a coach means you’re helping people achieve their best – and if you’re successful at transferring knowledge – they’ll eventually surpass your level of skill in many things.
4. Who is Derek Grant “off the field”?
I’m a bit of a homebody who just had a baby (well…my wife, Kelli actually HAD the baby, but you get the point), who is now 10 weeks old, so a large part of my personal time is now spent being a family guy.
5. If you could have dinner with any famous person dead or alive, who would it be?
I’m obsessed with people who have incredible life experiences, so I’d love to break bread with:
Michael Lewis – He’s a man from humble beginnings who has been a being a stockbroker during the bubble bursting, as well as an amazing author who has chronicled the experiences of sports figures in “Money Ball” & “Blind Side” and chronicling emerging technologies in “the New New Thing” and “Next.”
Steve Jobs – He built a brand, lost his company, and re-emerged to pivot the business into one of the most recognizable brands of the century. I could only imagine the fun of spending a dinner inside Job’s reality distortion field, and being sold his vision of the future.
Dennis Rodman – He went from sweeping floors to becoming an NAIA collegiate All American, and punched above his weight class by defying the odds lead the NBA in rebounding at 6’7″. Agitator, champion, rock star, train wreck – what’s not to love?
I envision the our dinner would consist of Michael Lewis being intrigued by D’Rod as a sports story, as Jobs charms us all. What an unbelievable night that would be.
6. What are the characteristics you seek in members of your team?
The attributes I love to see in AEs are traditionally adjectives you’d use to describe athletes…not salespeople: Coachability and Hustle. It’s unfortunate, but the failure rate of salespeople nationally is higher than it should be, and I think that’s because our space overvalues a rep’s past (I call this a “documented history of success”). But as any financial service ad you see on TV will tell you – “Past results are not indicative of future performance”.
My belief is that Coachability and Hustle are indicators of sustained, outstanding future performance.
7. Who has inspired you in your life and why?
My parents have been a huge inspiration.
They both spent 30+ years working for the government, were people of faith, had the work ethic of the Amish (unfortunately, since Amish people don’t leverage technology, they’ll never find this compliment in “the Google”). Their work ethic helped me place a premium on hard work over talent.
8. What is an area many salespeople can improve on?
Most people cite flexibility and earning potential as reasons that they got into sales, but in Daniel Pink’s book “Drive” he discusses the idea of autonomy with accountability. To have the autonomy that a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) like SalesLoft provides, team members need to be incredibly accountable – and not just on things like attaining Quota (which is an outcome), but on the things that make quota consistently attainable (things like number of leads created, demos scheduled or completed, pipeline sourced, etc…).
9. How does the future of sales development look?
The future is incredibly bright for sales development, as more companies are investing in sales development teams to help source high quality leads for their AE counterparts, and as the SDR teams grow in number, they will focus on enabling technologies to help them be more efficient and effective (a recent TOPO study on the SDR field noted that 72% of SDR teams plan on investing in enabling technologies in 2015). Additionally, as the SDR role continues to grow, a side benefit will be that sales leaders will have access to well trained SDRs, who will have shorter ramp times as they transition into AEs.
10. Most important for last, what’s your favorite 90’s jam?
In a century defined by Judy Garland’s “(Somewhere) Over the Rainbow”, Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”, and John Lennon’s “Imagine”, the most quintessential song of 1900’s – in my humble opinion – is the “Humpty Dance” by the Digital Underground.
Fun fact – It’s my “go to” Karaoke song (which makes sense because I know all of the words and am currently perfecting the “Humpty voice”).