PODCAST 67: How Data and Metrics Fuel Revenue and Company Growth w/ David Zwerin

ChoiceCongaPartnerSales Operations

This week on the Sales Hacker podcast, we speak with David Zwerin, Head of Field Operations at TripActions.

We’ll walk through why sales ops are important to any organization, how data and metrics are driving growth (and how to manage those rapid changes), and we’ll take a special deep-dive into how a data-driven approach can be made accessible to any style of manager.

If you missed episode 66, check it out here: PODCAST 66: Improve your Sales Conversion Rate Integrating Direct Marketing w/ Kris Rudeegraap

What You’ll Learn

  • Navigating rapid company and revenue growth
  • The importance of sales ops to any organization
  • The difference between trending metrics and static metrics
  • Implementing a data-driven approach that’s accessible to any manager

Subscribe to the Sales Hacker Podcast

Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. Show Introduction [00:09]
  2. About TripActions [02:30]
  3. Navigating rapid revenue and company growth [06:31]
  4. When to Introduce Sales Ops to Any Organization [12:37]
  5. Trending Metrics vs. Static Metrics [20:07]
  6. Implementing an Accessible Data-Driven Approach [30:24]
  7. Sam’s Corner [40:32]

Show Introduction

Sam Jacobs: Hello my friend, it’s Sam Jacobs, host of the Sales Hacker podcast. Today, we have our interview with David Zwerin. He’s the head of field operations for TripActions. They are a fast growing company, quickly approaching a 100 million, backed by all the big names, including Lightspeed and Andreessen. We dive deeply into “What is operations? What are the metrics that you need to measure?” It’s a great interview.

But first, we’d like to thank our sponsors. Conga is the leading end-to-end digital document transformation suite. With Conga, you can simplify documents, automate contracts, and execute e-signatures so you can focus on accelerating sales cycles and closing business faster.

Our second sponsor is Outreach, the leading sales engagement platform that enables sales reps to humanize their communications at scale, from automating the soul-sucking manual work that eats up selling time to providing action-oriented tips on what communications are working best. Outreach has your back.

About TripActions

Sam Jacobs: We are so excited today to have David Zwerin, head of field operations at TripActions. Tell us what the company does.

David Zwerin: TripActions is a revolutionary business travel platform and it’s really the choice of enterprise organizations out there. We help enable you to build, manage and scale a world class corporate travel management program with ease. We put the power for your travelers to have that really “best booking experience around” and an amazing inventory. One of the key differentiators for us is that personalized support that travelers need while they’re on the go and when they’re on the road.

Sam Jacobs: Is it fair to say, is it like a new kind of corporate travel agency? Or is that plus a software platform?

David Zwerin: It’s a combination of two things. Our technology is one of the best-in-class mobile solutions, also desktop. From a usability perspective, our technology is amazing, but it’s the support. There’s the second part of our organization where TripActions actually has support agents all around the world that you can call in to, whether it’s a canceled flight or a flight that may need to be rerouted, our support agents are on call and help you make those changes.

Navigating Rapid Revenue and Company Growth

Sam Jacobs: You’ve gone from 100 to 700 which is amazing growth. What’s your key observations there? Have you maintained the culture? If so, how? Talk to us a little bit because that is even for high growth companies, that’s tremendous.

David Zwerin: It is. When you’re on the inside, it’s very different. The leadership at TripActions is very attuned to the type of growth that we’re under. The culture here is one of those things that is refreshing for me personally because I think the values that you have as an organization, it’s just not a poster that you put up on a wall and hope that everybody can live by that.

When you’re scaling as fast as we are, there are these amazing culture carriers that the leadership, as well as the managers out in the field, are bringing to offices that, as we start building out our go-to market and our footprint, we are really focused around not only the customer and the experience, but also how to scale responsibly in a way that we are measuring all of the things that are important to us as a business.

We’re doing something that’s really unique and both our CEO and our co-founder, it’s just it feels like they’re everywhere. They’re always engaging us to do things differently and really empowering people to obviously make those important decisions and doing the right thing to help the business to move forward.

When to Introduce Sales Ops to Your Organization

Sam Jacobs: How early do you think you need to invest in sales operations? At what stage in a company’s growth? Walk us through how we should be thinking about it.

David Zwerin: I think where sales operations should get introduced to an organization is when you’ve got a first time sales leader, you’re starting to build out your sales team. You’ve got a marketing lead and you’re really starting to get that commercialization going and once you see that product market fit and your sales teams is seeing traction and there’s some good kind of predictability and repeatability, that’s when it’s time to really start building that operation foundation.

Look at your tool stack and start optimizing around your pipeline. How does that lead flow look? What are the kind of the best practices that you need to have between maybe starting new roles like SDR where obviously you can look at the inbound and outbound motion to build pipeline?

A lot of those things that sales operations leaders are starting to take on in those early stages, is not only helping operationalize that kind of go-to market, but also starting to own teams (like an SDR team) and then looking at what is that handshake once the sales cycle is done?

Those are some of the key things that I would advise early stage companies to really start thinking about is that, when do you start seeing those signals? And when is that kind of right time to start to looking at it? They’ll be some clear pain that will show up in terms of, you might ask a question like, “Hey, what’s your forecast? What’s the pipeline look like?” Sales leaders maybe asking all their individual reps, it may feel like it’s too much and that’s really when you start thinking about having a sales operations role in your organization.

Trending Metrics vs. Static Metrics

Sam Jacobs: You’ve talked about operating the business without trending metrics versus static metrics and sort of the difference between trending metrics and static metrics, what are those differences? Give us some of your advice on how to run the business from a metric perspective.

David Zwerin: If you’ve got 10 reps, you can really manage the business, but when you get to 50, metrics really matter to get your signals that start coming out from forecasting and pipeline building.

Trending metrics, I’m really big into playing back the tape for let’s say, pipeline, through a waterfall or a Sankey diagram. There are a couple vendors out there that can actually do a really good job at that, but it’s tricky. What I mean by that, is that when you start a month, we actually measure everything in monthly intervals but you start by looking at when we came into a given month, what did the pipeline actually look like? And then what did you end up with?

And then in between those beginning and ending point, you can actually see the push behavior of your reps. How well did we pull things in from a future month that may be have been set for a close date of an opportunity set for a future month? What did we create in an interim month that actually closed? Those types of things we can kind of start building some predictability. The trending, the trends are always just so important for us so we can actually start seeing, are we getting better in a certain area.

The static metrics are basically what happens in a given month. How many opportunities did we create? How many deals that we went to close lost? And why? All of the key indicators that would allow us to really understand our business and where we need to improve.

Implementing an Accessible Data-Driven Approach

Sam Jacobs: You’ve talked about how managers often have difficulty analyzing. They have information right in front of them, but they don’t have the tools to analyze the data in a way that makes it actionable for them. How do you address this problem? And how do you implement a data driven approach within an organization when managers might not be so inclined?

David Zwerin: Managers just don’t have time to do the data analysis. You hit the nail on the head. It’s about us in sales operations, or business analytics, we’re actually standing up a function to really help drive that. But give them very prescriptive metrics for how they should enable their one-on-ones with their reps that are out there in the field.

It’s basically all levels of the organization. The sales organization. You have your front line managers, then you have your RVPs and then you have your sales leadership. Each one of them should have a certain set of core metrics that give them the right visibility in terms of what’s actually happening.

What you’re trying to do is, while you give them that data, you’re also reading back to them a set of problem areas for them to investigate. “Hey, your rep A has always been really solid, but this one metric they seem to behind–time to dig in there.”

That is one of the most powerful things that we’re really trying to do. We’re very constrained in terms of giving everybody kind of level of analysis and so the question is, do we actually do it here? Or can I bring in somebody who can help drive more of that insight for the manager or front line managers?

Sam’s Corner

Sam Jacobs: Hey everybody, it’s Sam’s Corner. Another fantastic interview with David Zwerin, head of field operations at TripActions, a fast growing company that’s revolutionizing the way people book corporate travel. I’m excited about that, potentially because I will need to preserve my platinum status on Delta so that I can board ahead of you. Just kidding.

What We Learned

  • Navigating rapid company and revenue growth
  • The importance of sales ops to any organization
  • The difference between trending metrics and static metrics
  • Implementing a data-driven approach that’s accessible to any manager

Don’t miss episode 67

Once again, let’s thank our sponsors. Conga is the leading end-to-end digital document transformation suite. With Conga you can simplify documents, automate contracts, and execute esignatures. Our second sponsor is Outreach. Outreach is the leading sales engagement platform.

If you want to reach out to me with feedback, you can reach me on LinkedIn.

Thanks so much for listening, I’ll talk to you next time.

This is a sponsored guest post from a Sales Hacker partner.

Sam Jacobs is the Founder of Aqueduct Revenue Advisors and the New York Revenue Collective and regarded as one of the top start-up CROs in the tech community.

He has has over 15 years of experience scaling companies from post-revenue to ~$300M, has helped raise over $400M in institutional capital, and has helped companies of all sizes achieve an average annualized revenue growth rate of 48% over the last 15 years.