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PODCAST 47: Key Qualities of great Sales Leadership w/ Dan Fougere

Sam Jacobs

March 4th, 2019

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This week on the Sales Hacker podcast, we interview Dan Fougere, CRO of Datadog. Dan is a 20+ year veteran of technology sales and has seen 4 of his last 5 companies become unicorns.

Dan talks about the key qualities of great sales leadership and how to be an effective executive in addition to being a great sales leader. Dan also discusses his deep background in enterprise sales and how closing $10M+ deals has informed his approach to forecasting.

If you missed episode 46, check it out here: PODCAST 46: How to Leverage Procurement in Sales w/ Donna and Chris Donato

What You’ll Learn

  • Accurate forecasting at both the commercial and enterprise level
  • How to pick your next company and assess a market
  • Building a tribe of great commercial leaders
  • Managing to the right number and how to use quotas to avoid “metal on metal”
  • Why every rep needs to prospect and the importance of pipeline generation

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Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. Show Introduction [00:09]
  2. About Dan Fougere: An Introduction [02:43]
  3. Building a Repeatable Leadership System [19:04]
  4. Dan’s Tenets of Pipeline Generation [23:48]
  5. The Biggest Challenge to Promotion is Loyalty to Your First Team [34:20]
  6. 7 Ways to Pick Your Next Company [36:32]
  7. Sam’s Corner [45:59]

Sales Hacker Podcast—Sponsored by Chorus and Outreach

Sam Jacobs: Hello and welcome to the Sales Hacker Podcast. We’ve got a great show today for you. We’ve got Dan Fougere, the Chief Revenue Officer of Datadog. Datadog is well north of 100 million in annual recurring revenue. Dan’s got over 20 years of sales experience, and specifically has insights on sales and leadership. I think it’s a really, really good show.

Now, we want to thank our sponsors. The first is Chorus.ai. Chorus records, transcribes, and analyzes business conversations in real time to coach reps on how to be become top performers. Check out chorus.ai/saleshacker to see what they’re up to.

Our second sponsor is Outreach.io. They are the leading sales engagement platform. Outreach supports sales reps by enabling them to humanize communication at scale and by automating the soul-sucking manual work.

Outreach is also running Unleash 2019. This is the great sales engagement conference and it’s going to take place March 10th-12th in San Diego. Hop over to unleash.outreach.io and use the code, SHPOD, to save $100 off your ticket.

Without further ado, let’s listen to our interview with Dan Fougere.

About Dan Fougere: An Introduction

Sam Jacobs: Hey, everybody. It’s Sam Jacobs. Welcome back to the Sales Hacker Podcast. We’ve got an exceptional show for you today. We’ve got Dan Fougere on the show. He’s responsible for Datadog’s global sales strategy and execution. Dan, welcome to the show.

Dan Fougere: Sam, great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Sam Jacobs: Welcome to the warm embrace of the Sales Hacker Podcast. We want to get to know you a little bit before we dive into some of the areas where we think you’re an expert. Your title is Chief Revenue Officer, the company is Datadog. Tell us what is Datadog. What does Datadog do?

Dan Fougere: Datadog is a SaaS software company, the leading platform for monitoring and analytics for today’s modern infrastructure. Datadog is the only solution that brings together infrastructure, application monitoring and log management, all into one application. We can dramatically reduce the amount of effort required to set up monitoring, and also help companies make the moves to the cloud faster.

One of the things that’s great about the company is, or one of the things that attracted me to Datadog is the ability to execute on innovation. Just like nonstop innovation, and we’re pushed to do that by our customers.

Building a Repeatable Leadership System

Sam Jacobs: One of the things you talked about is this concept of a repeatable leadership system. What is a repeatable leadership system, and how does it inform your career, and your choices, and the senior executive that you’ve become?

Dan Fougere: Number one, for me, is create a collaborative safe environment for constant learning. Really focus on enablement, but also have respect for people, and have empathy, and have a growth mindset.

Carol Dweck wrote this book, Grown Mindset, where, what happens for a lot of people, is they build up these protective walls based on their previous achievements. That actually inhibits you really getting to that next level. Once you get beyond as a rep you’re gonna learn to do a deal, and as a leader you’re gonna learn how to hire a rep. But eventually you learn these subject matter expertise skills, and then it becomes about you and your ability to grow, and how you engage with people, and how they feel when they engage with you.

I want to make sure that’s a part of how we build great leaders here, and how we also make sure that sales people, even though we’re pushing them really hard, that they feel respected and they feel like we’re treating them the right way with support while we push them hard.

RELATED: How To Be A Great Sales Manager: 10 Essential Qualities For Success

Dan’s Tenets of Pipeline Generation

Sam Jacobs: One of the things that you’ve got a big focus on pipeline generation. Walk us through some of your philosophies there just because I think we’re on the same page. You can’t make any money if you don’t have any pipeline. What are your tenets, what are your principles when it comes to building pipeline?

Dan Fougere:

  1. Make sure it’s clearly stated to everybody that this is important.

A mistake I think a lot of sales people make is that they think that, “Cold calling is for when I was in SDR, when I was 22.” It’s not. Cold calling is not dead. It’s not the sole responsibility of marketing or SDRs. You want to make sure you continually work on your skills, and you’ve got to take responsibility for creating pipeline.

  1. Creating a collaborative, safe environment for constant learning.

Encourage sharing of what’s working. If everybody has that mindset, and if you have this collaboration environment, and you’ve also got the enablement going, then it’s like you constantly just get a little bit better every day. It also is better for customers, too, because you’re not just throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall hoping that it sticks, you’re really refining your message and your technique so that when you do engage with a customer, you’re having valuable interactions and valuable engagement.

  1. Track pipeline generation.

We actually delineate between pipeline that’s been generated throughout outbound efforts, and pipeline that is generated through inbound leads, so we’re SDRs. That way we can get a more accurate view of the truth, then we can also help people get better who maybe are falling down in those areas, and change some of the enablement and training that we’re doing.

The Biggest Challenge to Promotion is Loyalty to Your First Team

Sam Jacobs: When you think about the biggest mistake or series of mistakes that you see people in your situation, who are first-time “Chief Revenue Officer”, so somebody that maybe was a Sales Director, or even a VP of Sales, and they’re promoted into a role where they own the number for the company, what do you think the biggest mistakes most people in that position tend to make?

Dan Fougere: There is a set of business books by a guy name Patrick Lencioni. He talks about the concept of your first team. I was always just so super loyal to the sales team. These are your brothers and sisters who you fight battles with, and you go to war with, and you have heroic adventures. That loyalty is super deep. But at the same time, as you become a higher level leader within an organization, your first team is no longer the sales team, your first team is the other execs–the CFO, General Counsel, CMO, CEO. Whoever the other folks are on the operating team, executive team, and you need to make sure you have great relationships with those folks, and that you’re considering the best interest of the company, and the best interest of your peers on your first team before you consider the best interest of the sales team.

I think that’s a big change for a lot of people. That’s gonna help the company be able to achieve better, ’cause you don’t want to over index or over emphasize the needs of the sales team at the expense of the rest of the company ’cause that’s gonna do damage to the company.

7 Ways to Pick Your Next Company

Sam Jacobs: There’s a ton of capital out there that’s being deployed into early stage companies. People are trying to figure out, how do I pick the right company? Walk us through how do you evaluate? How do you make that decision? How do you pick the right company?

Dan Fougere: So far, I’ve been at five startups. One was a mistake and I got out of there in three months just ’cause it took me three months to get a new job. But the other four have all become unicorns while I was there. Two have gone public, last one is IPO ready, this one may have some good things happening this year.

  1. Is there a macro driver in the economy or in technology that is directly gonna support your growth? For Datadog, everybody’s moving to the cloud. You can just see by AWS’ amazing performance. That rising tide will raise all ships. That’s one thing that you want to look for.
  2. Do they have a real technical differentiation? Datadog has something called tagging that underlies everything we do, and it allows us to work in the cloud. Something that’s architectural that’s a defensible differentiation. Also I think, but differentiators are fleeting, so also a proven ability to bring meaningful innovation into the market is important.
  3. Are companies willing to pay a lot of money? It’s a lot easier to move the needle on dramatic growth for a company when somebody spends a million dollars versus going out and doing hundreds of smaller deals. What I’ve seen is even if one company, or one or two companies are willing to pay a million dollars a year or more, then you probably have something that you can repeat.
  4. Is it an impressive and innovative brand? Are companies that have a lot governance in place picking the right technology?
  5. Is there repeatability in the sales cycle? As a sales leader, what I look for, are there some gaps that I can fill? Is this generally a healthy business but they’re missing an outbound sales motion, great sales people, enterprise sales team, selling value? Things like that where I see, “Hey, they’re doing well. But if they had those things then we could really turbocharge this thing.”
  6. Are they someone who really cares about the customer? Do they make it a priority in everything they do to build something that’s lasting? That’s like what I look for, and that’s what I saw at Datadog that really hooked me when I met these guys.
  7. Can you “roll with their crew?” When I met the founders here, I knew that by working with them on a daily basis, they would make me get better because they’re amazing, super talented, hard driving. Go work with people who are gonna push you and make you better.

Sam’s Corner

Sam Jacobs: Hey, everybody, this is Sam’s Corner. A really great interview with Dan Fougere, Chief Revenue Officer of Datadog, and somebody that’s been building companies for over 20 years.

He’s got a tremendous amount of experience. There’s a phrase, “People don’t remember what you say, they remember how you make them feel.” It’s strange, but as you go up, as you become a senior executive, one of the big mistakes I made was thinking that my job was to hit the number.

That’s not true, actually. As a senior executive, your job is partially to hit the number, but the main job is to align with the executive team, and to not create more work for the CEO. You cannot just be an advocate for your people. That’s a big challenge for a lot of first-time managers because your instinct is that you are a defender of your people. That is a sure fire way to exit the organization, because your job as an executive is to align and speak on behalf of the company.

That’s a really critical challenge as you grow and as you evolve in your leadership career. I would encourage you to really embrace that idea, that as you grow higher, it’s not just about being right, it’s about your ability to interact and influence your peers.

Don’t Miss Episode 48

If you wanna check out the show notes, see upcoming guests, play more episodes from our incredible lineup of sales leaders, visit www.saleshacker.com/podcast-subscribe. You can also find the Sales Hacker podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. If you enjoy this episode, please share with your peers on LinkedIn, Twitter, or elsewhere.

Hopefully at this point, you’ve either nominated somebody for the Sales Hacker Top 50 Awards, or you are going to Unleash. Remember that the code for Unleash is SHPOD, and you can do that at unleash.outreach.io.

If you’ve got a great idea or a guest for the show, if you wanna get in touch with me, find me on Twitter or LinkedIn. We’d love to hear from you.

Finally, thanks again to our sponsors: Chorus the leading conversation intelligence platform for high growth sales teams, and Outreach the leading sales engagement platform. So Chorus and Outreach are the reason that we’re able to give you this amazing content. I will see you next time.

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

About the author

Sam Jacobs

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.

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