Chris Dailey, Director of Operations at ValiMail, is no stranger to improving sales performance. With over 16 years of experience building sales operations for tech companies, Chris has developed a tried and true formula for not only operationalizing sales processes for scalability, but he helps teams listen more effectively to dramatically improve their performance.
The nature of ValiMail’s business is sensitive as the company provides the only automated platform that allows companies to successfully implement DMARC so they can prevent email impersonation attacks on their executives and customers, which today is the most prevalent and damaging form of phishing attack.
Chris has been with the company for nearly a year. Within that time, he’s been able to take a hands-on approach to implementing a process for more accurately identifying and qualifying a “qualified prospect”, which has delivered an increase in close rates of 94%. This process is a core component of what Chris refers to as “The Sales Lab”, which allows his executive and sales team to continually learn together.
ValiMail’s “Sales Lab”
According to Chris, in order to crack the code to scalable sales performance, leaders need to create a laboratory of learning that structures and controls how the entire organization first accurately identifies a qualified prospect. Once this “strike zone” is accurately defined, it can then more accurately measure the effectiveness of its messaging and each salesperson’s delivery. This is why ValiMail has adopted the “Sales Lab” mindset which puts into place a structure for learning from every interaction a sales professional has with their audience. The culture at the company is to review every interaction to better learn about the prospect’s needs and evaluate the effectiveness of their response to those needs. This scalable organizational learning allows greater sales velocity while instilling collaboration across all teams.
Core to this agile, constant-improvement approach is the process that Chris has put into place for properly qualifying prospects. He can make slight adjustments to qualification questions after analyzing conversations with his team, or he can completely re-engineer a sales touchpoint if the data indicates that the process isn’t working. For example, the team has developed several correlations between qualification questions and the likelihood of the prospect progressing to a close. If those assumptions turn out to be incorrect over time, Chris is able to quickly identify how the qualification process needs to change while keeping his team on message.
Since adopting an agile platform to support ValiMail’s “Sales Lab” approach, Chris has seen the rate in which the sales team takes an opportunity from first demo to close double in just 6 months.
A Focus On Speed Alone Misses the Mark
Many high growth enterprise companies believe that speed is paramount to success. While Chris agrees that velocity of sales is essential to a company’s success, the key to getting there is how effectively the organization is able to listen, learn, and adapt. In Chris’ words:
“If you move through the sales process at half the speed but triple the accuracy in which you listen to the market and the prospect’s needs, then you’re going to win. Sales professionals need the mechanism and discipline to listen more effectively and share more accurately what they are learning across the organization.”
Listening and understanding the prospect’s needs is a non-negotiable component of ValiMail’s sales process. It’s so important, in fact, that Chris calls himself ‘fanatical’ about ensuring there is a process in place so that each prospect meets its qualification criteria for the company’s email authentication platform. This gives ValiMail the foundation for more accurately measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of its sales team and its messaging.
Because of this laser focus on proper qualification, Chris relies on Costello’s agile sales platform for real-time insight so he can ensure that his team is always asking the right questions, listening to the prospect’s responses, gathering key data points, and either moving the deal to the next stage or ending the sales process then and there. He’s able to drill into deals to see conversation notes that articulate what has taken place from the first question asked by the sales professional to the last objection stated by the prospect. Upon reviewing an individual deal or even a specific call, such as the very first qualification call, Chris can provide guidance for how to handle similar situations in the future. He can also see trends so questions or responses can be adjusted in Costello so his team members always access the most up-to-date messaging and resources.
The Practice of Sales Revolves Around Data
Chris, who is also a licensed attorney, sees similarities between practicing law and ‘the practice of sales’. Lawyers commonly refer to law as a ‘practice’. It’s been instilled in them that no matter what, improvements can always be made in the way a case is handled. There are always lessons to be learned, questions that should have been asked, or arguments that could have been made—regardless of how small those improvements may be. Just like lawyers practice law, sales professionals can always improve the way that they run their deals—especially when the learnings are based on data and insights.
With the team’s operationalized approach to agile sales, Chris can rely on hard data points instead of assumptions and opinions. And, armed with the same insights, he can share the team’s learnings and iterations with his executive peers and even the Board of Directors. Through Chris’ experience in scaling up several sales organizations, he’s found that early stage companies must rally around data—not on a single person’s opinions. Thanks to the detailed sales insights that ValiMail now possesses, Chris is able to focus on what he does best: operationalizing his team to help them generate greater results by meeting the needs of the marketplace more effectively.
Ready to Learn More?
For more information on best practices of great sales leaders, check out the Costello resources below. If you’d like to see Costello in action, request a personalized demo of our agile deal management platform.