Office Hours with with Tomasz Tunguz & Lars Nilsson

Office Hours welcomed Lars Nilsson, VP Sales Development from Snowflake to talk about his learnings across 5 companies he helped take public.

Throughout the hour, Lars provided insightful perspectives on how to build sales organizations. These the five most memorable takeaways for me.

In early-stage companies, founders sell for the first three to four quarters. Then, many founders opt to hire an AE. Hiring a sales or business-development representative (SDR/BDR) can be the better choice. Incoming account executives will want to see a significant lead volume before joining, especially when selling into the enterprise.

Teams often overlook storytelling as a critical part of effective lead generation. Fear-of-missing-out or the inspiration of a potential future, stories equip champions inside customer organizations to sell the product through the buying process. Founders validate the effectiveness of their stories when hiring SDRs better. SDRs call ten-times as many prospects as AEs do. Much the better to iterate with greater speed and confidence.

As the company grows, building the sales development team becomes the most productive source of pipeline particularly for enterprise-grade technical products. Hire for hunger. Then surround the new SDR/BDR with three pillars: strong training materials, a manager who cares about the employee’s success, and a peer to accelerate learning.

At Snowflake, sales development lives within the marketing team. Lars manages his team through a single metric, meetings. Getting to an account late, a few days or a week after they’ve signed with a competitor accrues to the meeting metric (see why in the video).

Last, exiting unlikely sales processes saves the company’s resources and boosts team morale. Closed – no decision is the worst outcome of an engagement.

We covered much more in the session including the techniques Snowflake uses to align account-based marketing with sales development & sales teams; how to structure career paths within the team; transitioning accounts between SDRs/BDRs to account executives; and the right SDR:AE ratios as companies scale.

Thank you, Lars, for the masterclass on sales development.

Note: I suffered some technical difficulties with video in the last 15 minutes and lost visuals, but the audio remains unblemished.

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