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The Revenue Operations Blog

Revenue Interview: Matt Feodoroff at Sprinklr

November 16, 2021
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The Interview

Kluster's Take

Theo spoke with Matt Feodoroff, Director of Sales, Global Strategic Accounts at Sprinklr. He explains his fascinating approach to Sales Leadership.

Matt started out selling digital advertising in 1999. He progressed on to working for Microsoft for 10 years as an Account Executive. He has also spent time running sales teams. Matt’s mantra is that “Preparation makes an A player”. He believes that A reps spend way more time in preparation than B and C reps. They put in extra effort to prepare for calls. A reps have a clear understanding of pain points, accelerating deals. It’s key to remember that we all sell to humans and this creates authenticity.

He stresses the importance of body and mind. You should be showing up everyday as the best version of yourself. He appreciates that hydration, nutrition, and sleep are ways of preparing for work. Matt takes time to reset during the workday by taking walks.

Transcription

A rep spend way more time in preparation then B and C route. If they happen to be working with a publicly traded company, have they listened to the, in read the earnings report? Have they dug into what the CEO and the C-suite is talking about? There's just so much data out there that aid reps understand how to use that data to fully understand the account.

So much. What is your story in sales up until this point? Well, it's a long and winding road Theo. I probably won't have time to go through the whole thing, but it started in 1999, selling, selling digital ads. A company that no longer exists calls called GoTo net and to search search engines called MetaCrawler and Dogpile that predated Google.

So it was interesting time to start my sales career with a very new tech piece of technology in a very new industry segment with digital advertising, but learned a ton. And I had a great time doing it. Uh, my career. Kind of got going when I started working at Microsoft and in 2007 and I worked for Microsoft for 10 years, total twos, two stints, a seven years stint and a three-year stint.

I was an account executive there selling digital media. I also ran sales teams across products like Xbox, uh, had a great time, learned a ton, kind of grew up in my career at Microsoft and still do. One of the, uh, uh, you know, something that I really looked back fondly upon in my experience, especially from learning how to learning, how to manage people and learning how to, to manage sales teams, um, for the past year and a half or so, I've been at sprinkler, uh, where I lead a global strategic account team here in the central region of north America.

So we're responsible for about 12 of sprinklers, largest 78. 70 accounts globally. And that's, um, you know, that, that role, that job has been a tremendous, um, opportunity and challenge for me, I've learned a ton and, you know, we were able to take the company, uh, public back in June, which was an awesome kind of milestone for my career.

Congratulations. Thank you. Um, so, so how old are you when you started at. So I was just, I had just turned 30 when I started up by itself. Yeah. Yeah. What was it like? What, what, what you is that you joined Microsoft 2007? What was it like then joining it? You know, global leader, like, like Microsoft. Yeah, it was great.

We had an awesome team and back then it was still kind of the portal wars were going on. So it was MSN, Yahoo, AOL, big gray. And then, you know, um, Google was solidifying itself as a leader in the search space at that period as well, Facebook had just started. And one of the funny things is. Uh, as a sales rep at Microsoft in 2007, I was responsible for selling Facebook advertising.

So we had a Microsoft taken, uh, had taken an investment position in Facebook and as part of that deal and that investment, our sales team repped the inventory across Facebook. So I feel like I was one of the first Facebook sellers as well, which is kind of funny to think about. Yeah, that's incredible. I mean, I can remember, um, I can just about Rambam MSN.

I was I'm old enough for that, but, uh, the other, uh, that was, uh, that was my sort of time and then Facebook took over. So that must be, that must be super interesting for you. So imagine a Microsoft, you know, you came across some high-performance reps in your time, so that's a perfect segue into our, our questions on upscaling reps.

So what, what do you think really defines an agent? So if I had to boil it down to one thing, and there are multiple dimensions to this, which we'll get into, but if I boil it down to one thing, it's preparation and preparation spans two aspects, there is the body and mind preparation, and then there's the work preparation and the account preparation.

So we can start in the body and mind side of it quickly and then transition over if you'd like to. But, you know, I kind of break it down from. Do you show up every day as the best version of yourself, like hard stockers and there are ways in which you can do that. Are you sleeping well? Um, are you exercising?

Are you taking care of your body nutritionally? Are you eating well? Are you staying hydrated? You know, do you have a mindfulness practice? These are some of the areas that I'll dig into with reps. If there is. Um, you know, if there's a performance issue, because a lot of the times it can come down to how do you, yourself, as a person show up every day, are you preparing yourself for the, for the stress and the strain that you're going to put on your body being a being.

Interesting. Yeah. I mean, it's, I like the fact that you brought that up because I think it's a key area, um, especially in the last, you know, 10 years, but particularly in, COVID like to be mentally, mentally prepared and turn up you, I mean, you can turn it physically. It's easy to know physically. You get to get the, to ride, to work, whatever, but mentally that's that's.

I'm assuming you made an A-player really, really turns out that turning up to work mentally every day, five days a week. Every single month. Yeah. That's where it adds up. Right? Yeah. And you'll hear, you know, when you dig into it with your reps, you'll hear no, I'm not sleeping. Great. Um, I'm up late. I'm going out.

I'm only getting a few hours of sleep every night. Um, that, that, that is, uh, that's a, I think that's a problem across our industry. Um, not even our industry. I think that's a, it's a problem across the global workforce and to have an understanding of how to take care of your body and then how the decisions that you make and, um, can impact how you show up to work the next.

Um, that's where that's the baseline. Then after that from a, from a, from a mind standpoint, like, are you giving yourself grace and freedom throughout the day to take breaks? Take a 10 minute walk. I'll do I'll do calls that there's no, screen-share, I'll do calls and walk the dog, you know, like, yeah.

Getting out of my. Space, you know, I think my entire family, my kids, I have three of them. They think my work is like, it lives all my colleagues and partners live inside my computer. And if you don't give yourself that space to get outside, you're missing a lot. I sometimes I'll come up with creative ideas, just on a call, walking around the block with my dog, getting outside and seeing the trees and just being in nature a little bit.

It does a ton for your mental health and just gets you out of the sitting for eight to 12 hours. Interesting. So we spoke earlier about, you know, previously, sorry that you, um, you've worked from home for quite some time. Now the sprinkler is this, um, this kind of taking more time to yourself and taking times go for, walk me when you, when you working, is this something that you've started to introduce because of COVID, you know, the, the pandemic, or was this something that you did prior to this?

Uh, let's say Microsoft. Yeah, it's accelerated during the pandemic, but nothing that I've always, I've always done. Um, you know, when we were at Microsoft, primarily I was in an office environment the last two years. I worked from home out of those 10, but for the first eight I was in offices. So that would be a little easier.

I would do walking one-on-ones with people on my team. Like I just got out of the building. Let's just go for a walk. Uh, I was in LA for part of that. So it was always, it was always a lot easier in LA to go for a walk than it was in Chicago, sometimes depending on part of the year. But yeah, always getting changing your environment and changing where you are and what's around you, I think is important.

I mean, I'll take, I'll take calls. Like I said, on the walk, I'll take calls on the, sitting on the front steps of my house. I'll take calls just in the backyard, just changing your environment. And that does a lot, does a lot. So yeah, I've done it at Microsoft. It's definitely accelerated. Um, the frequency, um, since I started sprinkler.

Yeah, that's great. Because there's a different type of, I mean, I'm actually in a leadership you had maybe early on in your career, it was like, if you took breaks, you know, you know, take the odd half an hour break here, but. Work work, work on the phones. Um, so it's like, it's, it's changed so much recently.

And then it brings into this, this argument of input output. Right. And I can kind of, I can kind of guess where you stand on that, but we're just, just for the purpose of the blog, where do you stand on that? As far as, you know, having to be strapped to a seat for 12 hours to get the output needed? Yeah.

Yeah. Basically like, you know, if you had one rep that was. It kind of answers itself, doesn't it? But it's good to hear another sales leader speak about it. Um, you know, people always think that you need to put X amount of inputs get output, but there's ways of cutting corners. If you probably said that 15 years ago, people are not taking a sharp breath, but in reality, uh, if you can cut corners and still get the same results fastest, you know, the way especially Sassies go in, I find, so I've felt that digging in on the people that don't take breaks and our strap to the.

Seat for 12 hours a day, they tend to do the same thing over and over again. They fall into repeatable patterns. And as soon as you're falling into a repeatable pattern, I get to the office at eight, I check my email until eight 30. Like if you're doing the same thing every single day in a repeatable way, you have hard time coming up with creative ways to sell creative ways, to bring value to your customers, creative ways to partner better internally.

And you just, you end up doing the same thing over and over again. And I found that those reps end up. The same thing over and over again, those process follows a very repeatable cadence at the end of every quarter. They're the face with the same challenges that they were the previous corner, a quarter about bringing in deals.

They just do the same thing the same way over and over again, with the same results. Conversely, when you find people that are more, have more of a growth mindset and willing to try new things and get out of their desk and take a walk and take those mental breaks, they tend to come up with more creative ways.

To, to accomplish their goals and more creative ways to get deals across the finish line of creative, more ways, unique points of view that they can bring to their customers to help them solve a business challenge that they're having. So it's just, it's just real important. That's great. So if we, if we step aside from the mind and body side of things for a moment, and we look at the metrics side of things are the primary metrics, your, your monitoring, um, and what the primary metrics.

You, you, you feel that. Consistently crush every day, every week, every month. That'd be cool. So they, and I'm used the same word. So it's preparation and how preparations come across from a metric standpoint to me, how many discovery calls are they having with their customers or their prospects? And then how are they converting those discovery calls into new business meetings to find new opportunities within an account.

And the more time a rep spend way more time in preparation. Than than B and C reps. And that all comes down to there's account, account research and preparation that goes into that. Or if they happen to be working with a publicly traded company, have they listened to and read the earnings report? Have they dug into what the CEO and the C-suite is talking about?

Have they listened to. To talk. So they've done. I mean, with the vast amount of information, there is out there of a CEO of X or Y company or the CMO of X or Y company to CIO, giving a talk or an article or giving their perspective on the industry or their business. There's just so much data out there that aid reps understand how to use that data to fully understand the account where where's the business, Ben, where's it going?

What are the challenges that they're facing? And those types of insights spending all that time upfront, it means that when you get into a discovery call with some of the business leaders across that organization, you can ask really thoughtful questions. Hey, I heard your CEO talking about this. What does that mean to you?

What are the, what are the initiatives that you're working on that help ladder up to this, uh, strategy that. That you're, um, um, that your CEO is talking about. So that, that it just, it leads to such amazing discovery questions and it helps you find that pain. It helps you find where they're challenged, how maybe they're not participating in the success of the organization, the way they could because of a few things.

And then you just sit in that pain and you live in it and you live in that need for as long as you can. And you ask the question why seven or eight times until you can really get that person. Um, talking and opening up about what the pain needs to their business and how it's impacting their business and how, Hey, if we could fix this or that thing, what would it be?

The meaningful outcomes of that and, and, you know, living in it and living in it. And, and I feel like a reps don't also, they don't jump to a solution. You'll be on a call with a rep and somebody will say, yeah, I'm having a really hard time automating this word. And all of a sudden the sea rappel go, oh, we've got that.

We have workflow automation tools. That'll solve that for you right now. Can we get on a, can we schedule a demo and we'll walk you through how we do that. And a rep, you know, a customer will say, Hey, I'm having a problem with these workflow items. And then a rep will say, wow, that's really interesting. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

And then they'll tell Laura, and then the rep will say, so that's impacting your ability to work collaboratively across your organization. What, what other types of impact does that have to your business? And then they'll say something else and then they'll say, well, why is that important to you specifically in your role and with your team and it just by digging, you get to.

$20,000 deal into a million dollar deal just by spending more time in that pain and fully understanding the challenge and the metrics and the impact of the business key for an a player is to the difference between an AP and a P player is preparation, of course, but an a player will understand the pain of the prospect customer and that's what makes him or her an A-player.

Am I right in saying that? Absolutely. Absolutely. It might take two or three or four or five or six discovery meetings. A B player to my example earlier might say, okay, after a 30 minute discovery call, okay, I got it. Can we schedule, can we schedule a meeting? I understand what your challenges, the A-player will say, Hey, I've got a couple more questions here.

I'd love to talk to my internal team a little bit and to some experts within our organization that have faced similar problems to see if they have any other questions or if we have any other points of view. Um, on this challenge you're facing. And in my experience that customer will say, oh yeah, absolutely.

Let's schedule 30 minutes in a couple of days or next week. And then maybe you bring somebody else from your organization into that next session. And you ask further questions and discover further and live in that pain a little bit longer. So that by the time you get to the point where you say, okay, we'd love to show up and present you with our point of view on what we understand, the challenges that you're facing and how we could potentially help.

That meeting, when you get to that meeting, what we call a new business meeting, the thoughtful point of view is appreciated tremendously and the deal accelerates quicker from that point. Not so, so like, like we're saying then a player will treat a human as a human and not as a potential sale and that the less capable reps will, will always see it as a potential sale.

Yeah, it's interesting. You bring that up. I've been thinking a lot about that. Recently, this idea of we all sell to humans. You can, if you're a direct to consumer company or you're a B2B company, we all, I think we all sell the, sell the human beings and within the B2B space. I mean, sometimes we, we forget that and we forget that we're selling to humans and there are your emotions involved and there's pride involved in there.

You know, uh, work performance, uh, issues and problems that they're dealing with. Um, and I think that's a, that's another way of like being really human is, is, is extremely important. And you can set that you can set that upfront and if you do set that up front, then. You come across as a lot more authentic and it's going to be, you're gonna, they're gonna understand that you are really here to help them within their business and provide value to them as opposed to, Hey, I need to get this deal this quarter so that I can, you know, hit a number.

She be dealing with kind of other, you know, experienced salespeople. If that's your, you know, you're doing B2B. You know, people would have been around the block long enough to understand what, what you're at and then they'll be able to figure you out soon enough, you know? Um, so, so that's typically how it goes, but on, on the A-player and B player, um, I think it'd be like you, we have C players, B players, a players, B player is someone who performs and kind of gets.

Beats it his or her target one month, Mrs. There's another two months, Mrs. C player is one that, you know, doesn't, doesn't actually get there in eventually shy, become a B player or, or, or, you know, fired or sacked. How often did he players come around? Like it, maybe it's sprinkler now other organizations, like what percentage of the team do you think?

A players? Oh, that's an interesting question. Um, I think it depends, uh, on, from what I've seen. Like, if you can have. 30 40% be a players across the, across the team. And then have the rest be B I mean, C players. I think you need to manage out and understand what their motivation is for why they're doing the job in the first place.

Um, and just be super transparent on what the expectations are. And if they're willing to do the work and meet the expectations you can. The C player to a B player for sure. The B player to an eight player. Um, that transition is all. Oh, it's just what I said. It's all about the preparation from one word B players typically don't want to put in the extra work to fully prepare and understand and have a deep understanding of their customer's business.

They know it well enough to. They know it well enough to, like you said, have a good quarter and have a down quarter. They don't know well enough to be able to smooth out the, the peaks and troughs that happened throughout the course of a, of a year and have consistent performance. Okay. That's brilliant.

And my last question for you is how do you distinguish between an individual's weakness and a sales team's weak. Well, the easy answer would, would, would be just look at the data and the revenue and see, see performance quarter over quarter and what accounts are growing and what accounts are not. And that's probably a good way to initially triage it.

But until you meet with and speak with and get to know the individuals on the team, it's hard to fully appreciate what's going on. You have to know, like we just talked about selling the humans. You have to understand your people. Sure you have to understand what motivates them. I mean, I was early in my career.

I was shocked when my perception was that anybody that was in sales was fully motivated by money. That's it? And you know, that was a hard lesson for me to learn that, you know, there are people that are not motivated money there. They might be motivated by closing a big deal or recognition or being part of a team or helping a company succeed.

And that's what drives them. And until you kind of understand and get underneath the motivations of each member on your team, you'll never really have a good sense. Of why a team is or is not performing. That's great. So building a relationship, I mean, it's great example now with sprinkler and your Thomas sprinklers, that being a, you know, a key few is to build relationships with every rep that you're associated with to understand them slightly, what makes them tick?

What do they work on this? And this might be a, this might be a us centric. Uh, uh, example, um, or way to look at it, but maybe not, uh, first thing you have to do, what I say is when the locker room, I'm not sure if that translates, which means that you've got gotta be together in that locker room, understanding that we're all in this space together.

We're all playing this game together. And just asking the simple question is how can I. I've gotten feedback from, from people that I've managed that have told me that I've said, Hey, what's different me than your previous manager. Like why we've got good chemistry of a great team going what's going on.

And the first thing the Mo most of the time, the sales rep will say to me, well, the first time we met, you asked me how you could help. Not just meant a lot to me, which means you cared about me and you cared about my business and you cared about, you know, what I was trying to do in my career. So it might be maybe it's simple, but it's been, it's been about.