Kushal: Hi there. Welcome to “On the Flip Side”, a podcast for anyone who wants to live their best sales life. We're going to be talking to buyers, sales managers, SDRs and AE's about things like, what does it take to be a great sales manager? Or how can you go home happy month after month? So let's dive right in.
Hey everyone. You’re listening to “On the Flip Side” with Wingman. I’m your host Kushal. And today's show is going to be all about building the right sales tech stack for your sales team in 2022, and beyond. And that's why I'm so excited to learn more from our guest for today's show, Asa Hochhauser. Asa is the VP of Sales at McGaw.io (presently a Founding Member of Sales Hacker, Inc.), and a senior sales leader who has led sales teams across companies. He's especially passionate about helping companies build a tech stack to create magical experiences for their customers, and their revenue engine. Asa, it’s so great to have you on the show.
Asa Hochhauser: It's amazing to be here. Thank you for having me.
Kushal: Asa, to really get started, what's the number one mistake that you think sales teams make when it comes to their tech stack?
Asa Hochhauser: The number one I think is not mapping back to goals, like really understanding what you're looking to achieve before you go and implement or even start the evaluation of a technology. I think that it's pretty basic, but something that's you get really excited about what something can do and say, you know, really does that… what it can do, does that really map back to what you've planned at the beginning of the year that the quarter to achieve, or is it just a distraction from that?
Kushal: You know, I'm just gonna jump in to my questions. So how should companies really get started with their tech stack planning? Is that a framework as you suggest or is that a, you know, set? You know, a couple of questions that you suggest companies should sort of think through?
Asa Hochhauser: Yeah, for sure. So I think it does start with like goals and what you are looking to achieve. And when you are going through and planning for a technology implementation, hopefully it's because you've recognized that there is a big problem that you need to solve internally in order to achieve your goal, or you've recognized a way to really accelerate what you can achieve by way of technology. If those things are true, and you start to evaluate the tech stack, then we need to be thinking also about… I find is a huge red flag where as a salesperson, if I'm selling technology, is are they asking me questions about who's going to be using it and how is this going to be worked into the current day to day workflow?
So many times the VP or the leader that's kind of marching… leading the charge of the technology evaluation, I've seen them make the purchase, and then kind of hand that off to someone else to start to implement. And there's this common thing of, let's just say it's some sort of CMS type tool or design type tool, where you are supposed to increase the velocity of creating things and less the reliance on a developer, but that designer now has to go and actually learn this whole tool. And is it in a workflow that they actually enjoy working in? And so sometimes, when you don't think about these things ahead of time, when you implement the technology, it can actually be more detrimental and slow you down in a lot of ways.
So I think, when you're planning for the tech stack, really think about, you know, top to bottom, who's going to be using it, and then what does their day to day workflow look like today? And how is that going to change things? And how do you need to account for that, as you're going through? So that's one thing, definitely make sure you're thinking about the team, the social aspect of actually changing the way they're doing their work each day. And you know, how do you deal with that accordingly?
Another piece is definitely think about integrations. I don't think teams spend enough time looking at the integrations. They might at a high level say, “Hey, does this integrate with this? Does this integrate with that?” But really, what are you looking to achieve through that integration? How does data flow from one system to the next? And how is it actually going to show up in that system that you want to integrate with? Is it in a way that's actually usable? And it is going to allow you to do what you need to do.
And I think especially now, with the work that we do at McGaw.io with helping companies build holistic tech stacks, you know, there's a very, there's this connective tissue between each department, right – marketing, sales, customer success, product – and a lot of the tools that you're choosing to use in either department, let's say just marketing, is actually going to highly impact product and one day… So thinking a little bit, you know, short term, what are you looking to ensure achieved. But also like, what is the growth plan for using the technology if there is any you know? So I think just integrations are so important beyond just like, does it integrate? Does HubSpot integrate with Salesforce, you know? That actually isn't even a great example anymore, because now Hubspot’s going at Salesforce so hard, but, you know, years ago, it was. So yeah just thinking about that, I think that's another area… just kind of thinking, talking through that right now, like, what's the roadmap for, for that tool? And does it really map to what your roadmap goals are for using that tool as well.
Kushal: Asa, just to go back a little bit to, you know, the initial points that you made around really thinking about the people who are actually going to be implementing, I think that's a really key point. And that's probably something that gets overlooked real easily, because it's very easy to maybe focus on the tool while you're in charge of getting that in place, and then thinking less, or at least not enough about the people who will actually be implementing it, and you know, who should actually be on board with that decision in the first place. How do you suggest that, you know, the tech stack planners really go about it? Should they be consulting, you know, the actual users from the get go or how do you really get buy-in for a tool like that?
Asa Hochhauser: Yes. So hopefully, the use of a tool came from some sort of internal collaboration beforehand. So I'm a big believer in creating feedback loops, and being really in a good cadence, with internal communications cross departmentally and with your teams. I do think, you know, you can't get everyone in marketing, and everyone and sales and everyone in CS, you know, into a room together, you know, all the time. But I think you can create a weekly or bi-weekly cadence, or maybe it's monthly even, just make sure it's done where the leaders of each department are connecting, and then coming up with… collaborating on where they need to be focusing their efforts. And when technology ideas come up, then those leaders need to be going and talking with their teams about it. And I believe gettin buy-in or at least starting to sell the idea to their teams internally, so that they're aware of what's coming and it's not a big surprise when that does happen. So hopefully, the team is super excited about what's to come, I think you'll always have people that are going to be doubters. But, you know, I find if you can get some people to really champion the implementation and really take it on full force, you know, a lot of times those laggers will start to see the value and want to follow along.
But there's different types of tools as well. So there's some tools where everyone on the team is going to use it. Take Wingman, for example, like I love conversation intelligence, because it's usually a pretty easy implementation, and everyone just starts to get value out of it right away, like how the salesperson interacts with that tool, I think is going to be different across the team. But in general, it's just like they're using it, whether they, you know, you're getting that data, right. So it's… I love those tools like Wingman, because it is a fairly easy lift to value. Other tools, you know, there's only certain people are going to be using it. So you have to really spend a lot of time there on upfront, making sure you're considering how it impacts their day to day, right. Like, again, taking the CMS and like Wingman example, right, you plug into CMS, that's going to change the way they work. Wingman is nice, because it doesn't really change the way they work, right? They’re still dialing into their resume, it's just right there. It's already working. You're just now collecting data. Really, it's like on the back end, how do we actually use this data now to get value out of out of the tool? So every tool is different. And the way you need to think about implementation.
Kushal: Asa, you talked a little earlier about how some folks in companies are still laggards when it comes to sales technology or just technology overall. Now at a company level, do you think that's still true for companies, even in this day and age considering that with COVID, over the past few years, companies have increasingly if not wholly, you know, sort of gone digital, but you think companies are still maybe lagging behind when it comes to using technology to its fullest?
Asa Hochhauser: I think more so the latter of what you just said. So people are buying technology, you know, as we can all see, but really where people are struggling is getting the… using the full breadth and depth of the deeper capabilities within their tech stack for sure. So I think that goes back to thinking about the type of solution that you're going to put in place – do you need something that has a lot of different features and can really be scaled, you know, to accommodate certain things? Or, do you just need something that really solves very well just this one problem, and which is a lighter implementation? And if you can do that, then, you know, I think it's it does the things like I said, you think about integrations and you think about who's going to be using it and does it map back to your goals, then I really liked the idea of, you know, evaluating based on specific feature sets that you'd need if you don't need to really grow and use all these different features. So I think it's a huge problem. And it's because, you know, a lot of times you know, sales reps are motivated to sell… the bigger, the suite, the bigger the contract value, you know, so it really is important to again understand what the goal is, what do you actually need? And then definitely think about a longer term view. But based on the solution, sometimes that isn't as important. So just really depends, again, on the tool, what your goal is and what you're looking to achieve.
Kushal: So Asa, as we sort of approach 2022 and beyond, what do you think companies should really be keeping in mind as you know, they either look back at their tech stack, or they're planning, you know, maybe they have a larger budget, maybe, you know, increasing the team, how do you think company should really be approaching the entire process?
Asa Hochhauser: Yeah, I'm a big believer in just always taking a buyer centric approach to everything that you do. So if you are looking at tech stack, like how do you be more human with your buyer? How do you facilitate a better process there? You know, I think we're all getting really burnt out on email and, and now even text messaging and you know, getting remarketed to, and how can you really start to refine that and be…
Kushal: You're saying people don't enjoy being remarketed to and being cookied?
Asa Hochhauser: Very rarely, right. You know, I do talk to you know, it's funny enough, I talk… most of the people that don't mind that are marketers, because they like to see how it all works.
Kushal: That's true, guilty.
Asa Hochhauser: But I think just how can you use data to… I think data has, you know, been this thing that's had a lot of promise for many, many years and yet, companies are still struggling to realize value, the value that it promises. And I think by kind of us listening to our customers and understanding what they want, we're starting to realize that there are ways we have to be really thoughtful about how we're using technology to provide better customer experiences, and with the death of the cookie, and you know, some of these updates that, you know, social media is making, you know, it continues to kind of force the hand of marketers and executives to be, you know, more thoughtful about how they're using data and then building the tech stack around that.
Kushal: Another related question Asa, do you think between sales and marketing, really between all, you know, customer facing or go to market teams, do you think that people are setting up their tech stacks in the right way? Or, do you think that a lot of the companies that you see, for instance, are still struggling with getting the infrastructure that really allows data to sort of flow seamlessly from one team to the other?
Asa Hochhauser: A lot of people are struggling with it, I see very few companies that are actually getting this right. We were pretty good at it when I was at Ion many years ago. And I didn't realize how good we were until I started to go and work for other companies. And now that I'm at McGaw, I'm, you know, working with, you know, some of the fastest growing companies in the world every single day, it's just amazing how wrong people are getting it. And one thing that we see just to kind of give you something a little bit actionable, actionable, is thinking about how you're capturing data. And so what we call it a taxonomy is not given enough standardization and, and love, you know, from the leadership level down. That really is something that we always start with that McGaw, and when we get into a data infrastructure type of engagement is we're always starting and looking at the current taxonomy, and if there isn't one, creating one, and then thinking about how that taxonomy is going to be used across the tech stack, across it really tech stack out of it, how does that taxonomy need to be surfaced to the different teams and the way they're working in their day to day, and then from there, we start to create the pipe that's going to allow that data to be usable, whether it's getting it into the CRM, whether it's getting into product analytics, whether it's activating data and marketing automation, or any of these other kind of messaging type of scenarios. How do we ensure that we're setting that up from the get go, so you can really start to, you know, connect these systems in the correct way. So very, in the weeds type of thing, but something actionable, just make sure you are spending time there, because that's where things get lost. And it gets messy.
Kushal: But, you know, since we are talking about, you know, teams that sort of want a little piece of the pie when it comes to tech stacks and data and what it can do for us, what do you really see and what do you really think who's really responsible for, you know, setting up maintaining, you know, and then sort of optimizing a tech stack today for companies? Do you say going towards sales teams, VPs, leaders, do you see it staying with marketing and ops, or do you see it going more RevOps as we also see?
Asa Hochhauser: As long as there's ops in there, I'm happy with it. I do. I'm a big believer in investing in Ops very early on. A lot of companies wait until they've started to really get through that tipping point before they invest heavily in Ops and then they're just doing a lot of unwiring and trying to solve a lot of problems that could have been avoided in the first place. So I think having someone that is dedicated to the tech stack, and that's operationally minded, technical, or at least has a good network of technical people that they can call up when they need help is super important. I know you can't make that investment when you're, you know, early stage startups a lot of times, but make sure you're at least hiring for that. Where I've seen it come from in some of the early stage startups I've been a part of is, you know, having someone that is, you know, managing the stack on the marketing side, start to play more of a role cross departmentally , and just kind of allowing them to grow into that RevOps type of professional. So if you can't, you know, go out and buy a big expensive, you know, hire an expensive RevOps leader and out of the gate, then consider getting someone that can maybe grow into that type of role.
Kushal: Asa, maybe to, you know, sort of wrap up our discussion today, I think I have one final question, which is really around, you know, creating lean tech stacks. Is it necessary for companies to have really, you know, big budgets and big sort of operational teams in order to get a good tech stack? Or do you think that we envision, and for instance, you know, for revenue team, what would that tech stack maybe look like?
Asa Hochhauser: Yeah, for sure. I think there's some really amazing tools out there that help with integrations and can do some pretty awesome things if you spend some time looking at them. A perfect example is our own internal stack here at McGaw.io, you know, we're not a big company, we are growing fast but, you know, we're when I got here is, I think five people were full time employees here, but our CEO, you know, he's started the tech integration company for a reason – he knows what he's doing. And based on a very small budget, based on, you know, the company says we were, he was able to create one of the most personalized customer journeys I've seen within an organization. So it's 100% possible, you just have to do your homework and or work, you know, reach out to people that that know how to do it. Because, you know, there's so many tools out there. And I think that's, that's kind of part of the problem too, right, is you get overwhelmed, you don't know where to start. So you just go on by the big, the big ones that you've heard of before. But there's a lot of really amazing, lightweight tools out there that integrate well and allow you to create a lean stack out of the gate.
Kushal: Asa, I know I said, last question. Maybe one last last question to wrap things up. What would maybe be your number one advice for someone who's new, you know, in RevOps role at a new company? What do you think should be their number one priority?
Asa Hochhauser: For a RevOps professional?
I don't know if I'm the best person to answer this. Just given that I myself has not specifically worked in RevOps, but coming from a sales leader and someone that's passionate about collaboration, I'd say making sure that you are just having that communication loop going, I think is always important. I think we get so busy, but ensuring that there is some sort of collaboration going cross departmentally , and there's a good healthy culture there, find a good place to work where they praise that type of behavior. And, you know, there is, you know, good action items, and it's not just each department coming in and showing off right, but like, how can you work together, I think is important finding a culture that, you know, supports that type of environment.
Kushal: So maybe as a VP of sales, then what would your advice be to other, you know, VPs of sales who maybe are struggling with their structure, or they aren't really getting the most out of it?
Asa Hochhauser: Yeah, I'd say definitely don't forget the basics, I think is key, like, the one beautiful thing about sales is that a lot of the basics still work. So making sure that we're training and coaching to those basics. But then also, I believe, as a sales leader, it is our responsibility to know what's going on out there and how we can continually improve. So while you… we should focus on the basics, just making sure we're as a leader scheduling time, and our weeks to ensure that we're innovating and technology is a lot of times is going to be, you know, a big piece of that. You don't want to be the tech you don't want to be the sales leader that doesn't know any of the new stuff going on out there. So making sure that we're not being too beholden to our old ways.
Kushal: Thanks so much, Asa. I think this was an incredible conversation. And I think there's just really so much actionable stuff and pointers for folks to take away. Thank you so much for being on the show.
Asa Hochhauser: Thank you. It was fun.