#63: DC, DG, And Emmanuelle Skala From Digital Ocean

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This is a podcast episode titled, #63: DC, DG, And Emmanuelle Skala From Digital Ocean. The summary for this episode is: If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. ----- We’re joined by Emmanuelle Skala (@elleskala) the VP of Sales and Customer Success at Digital Ocean. And in true Seeking Wisdom fashion, we’re talking about everything — from juice cleansing, to hiring sales reps, to building out a sales team, to why the lines between sales and customer success are getting blurry. Here’s how you can support Seeking Wisdom if you’re a fan of the show: 1. Subscribe on your favorite podcast app. 2. Leave us a five-star review. Here's how: bit.ly/5-Stars-Only. 3. Follow David (twitter.com/dcancel) and Dave (twitter.com/davegerhardt) on Twitter. 4. Learn more about Drift at Drift.com.

Dave: Cool. All right, let's do it. Tee us up.

Speaker 2: All right, here we are. We're back.

Dave: We're back.

Speaker 2: We have a special guest. We gave you a sneak peek over this. And so we have a G here, a gangster, dressed in black too. Total gangster. Her name is Emmanuelle Skala, and I'll let her kick it off, but she runs sales and success at DigitalOcean.

Emanuelle Skala: It's nice to be here. Thanks guys. This is fun. I am a G. I'm a total gangster.

Speaker 2: Total gangster.

Dave: That's the only way.

Speaker 2: Yeah, only gangsters allowed on this show.

Dave: So we have a whole different list, a bunch of things that we want to talk about, but before we dive into the sales stuff, we were just having a conversation. So we try to mix it up and not be like your traditional tech podcast, crosstalk people. You just said you are right now in the middle of... are you in the middle of it right now? Of your quarterly juice class? What's that about?

Emanuelle Skala: So there's obviously times when you eat like shit and you drink too much and whatever, and you go through these bouts. And I can feel it. I know. And right now I'm in birthday season; for whatever reason in my family, every birthday and holiday falls between mid March and mid April. So I've eaten cake every day, pretty much, for the last two weeks. And so I need to just do the hard cutoff, like cold turkey thing.

Dave: Is it a week?

Emanuelle Skala: Five days.

Dave: Five days.

Emanuelle Skala: Juice. It's intense.

Dave: Nothing but juice?

Emanuelle Skala: Nothing but juice. I'll nibble on a carrot every once in a while, because I need to chew, or a half an apple or something. But yeah, I'm a black and white kind of... I've got to go all in, one way or the other.

Dave: Damn, that's where we get down. That's where I get down in... Do you know about his diet?

Emanuelle Skala: No, what's your diet?

Speaker 2: What is my diet?

Dave: Plant- based.

Speaker 2: Plant- based. I'm trying to go plant-based right now.

Dave: Yeah, you've got part of it.

Speaker 2: Yeah, yeah. But I'm extreme, I'm black and white, just like Emmanuelle.

Emanuelle Skala: And then it's like a restart, it's a reboot. And then after that, I'll go back to eating regular food, but I won't crave cake anymore.

Speaker 2: Wow. So when you do it for a week, the first time you did it, did you hallucinate? How crazy are you going? Are you going-

Emanuelle Skala: No. So the first day, it's like adrenaline, right? Second day, you're really hangry. You're just not in a good mood at all. And by the third day, you feel like a rock star, and you just pop out of bed at 5: 00 AM. I run a lot, and run 5Ks. I ran a 5K the last day of the juice cleanse, and I ran it in 24 minutes. And that was way faster than I'd ever ran a 5K before.

Dave: Are you running towards food? Is that why?

Emanuelle Skala: Probably. It's like,"Give me that-

Dave: I feel like I would pass out after not eating for five days.

Emanuelle Skala: No, actually it's the opposite.

Speaker 2: You should try it. This guy eats every 20 minutes.

Dave: I have to. I need all those calories. All right, so juice cleanse-

Speaker 2: That's amazing. So wait, wait, how did you start this? Why did you start this?

Emanuelle Skala: I don't even know. It was so long ago. This is like eight years, every quarter. Yeah.

Speaker 2: Every quarter, a juice cleanse. You should do it, man. I watched-

Emanuelle Skala: They love me at-

Dave: I would do a juice cleanse.

Speaker 2: Does your team and family know, during the juice cleanse, don't-

Emanuelle Skala: I'm just like," Back off." No, actually, because by the third day, I'm feeling good. My husband's been doing it with me right now for the first time.

Speaker 2: Oh yeah? He's done it? Wow.

Emanuelle Skala: He's never done one. Yeah, he's miserable.

Speaker 2: Can you imagine being-

Emanuelle Skala: Last night he was like," I have to eat. What are you going to eat?" I'm eating an avocado, I'm like," Fine."

Speaker 2: Can you imagine being Emmanuelle's husband or kids while she's doing a juice cleanse? Just like tiptoeing around the house. I'm already tiptoeing around the house, I can't imagine-

Dave: No, I have respect just for doing that and then going to work and putting in hours and you're just fueled by juice. That's-

Speaker 2: And you're still exercising and running and doing all that stuff. That's amazing. We have to do that. All right, let's do Seeking Wisdom juice cleanse.

Dave: Okay, so juice cleanse, you do hot yoga also. But we were just talking and then you were like," I don't have time for this or time for that." How do you balance work and life? It's a topic that we talk about a lot, have some strong opinions on, but just-

Emanuelle Skala: So I have two opinions on this. One is back to the black and white thing; I'm kind of all in to work Monday through Friday, or Friday evening. And then I'm all out, Friday evening through Monday morning.

Dave: Tactically, what does that look like? Like your phone is off, it's away? Or what is...

Emanuelle Skala: So during the week, it looks like I get home probably at seven, and I'm with the kids for a couple hours, but then I'm back working. Because my brain is just in work mode. But then, come Friday night, phone is off, it's all about the kids, it's all about family time and friends. And I just do what I need to do. I don't even open the computer. Sometimes Sunday night, after they're in bed, I might open it up and just kind of get mentally prepared for Monday, but that's about it.

Speaker 2: Even if the quarter ends?

Emanuelle Skala: Yeah. Listen, there's always exceptions, right? There's the big board meeting exception, or things like that. But for the most part, it just works for me. I'm not the kind of person who can be halfway between both. I can't socialize during the week and I can't work on weekends.

Speaker 2: Totally. G. G.

Dave: What do you think of that? Similar to you, right?

Speaker 2: Similar to me. Yeah, yeah, very similar. So a quick question, segue; what does DigitalOcean do, for the few people on here? I skipped that, I should have been a better intro- ee.

Dave: No, they're still here. They're loyal.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Emanuelle Skala: That's a good question. So we are the simple cloud for developers. So if you are a modern developer who's doing open source development for your applications and you want the easiest, simplest, most cost- effective performance way to spin up so that you can do rapid development of your applications, that's us.

Speaker 2: But what about AWS?

Emanuelle Skala: They are the man. You don't want to work with the man, do you?

Speaker 2: Don't want to work with the man. All right, I like it. I like it.

Dave: How did you get into sales? Like, all right, so we'll fast forward, now you're VP of sales and customer success. Where did that come from?

Emanuelle Skala: So how do I get into-

Dave: You've been into selling your whole life, and-

Emanuelle Skala: Yeah, I've been in a selling capacity since about 2000. So I started at a company called Endeca, which is a little famous here in Boston.

Dave: Part of the mafia.

Emanuelle Skala: I was part of the mafia, I was employee number 17.

Dave: Wow, that's pretty good.

Emanuelle Skala: Yep. And one of the first nontechnical hires. And they just said," Hey, you seem like you have a personality and you're smart, so let's go try to sell this." It wasn't even Endeca at the time. We were called Optigrab. It was really the worst inaudible name.

Speaker 2: As good as your DigitalOcean tagline was, Optigrab is the opposite.

Dave: Exact opposite. Wow.

Emanuelle Skala: So I distinctly remember essentially being a BDR at the time, even though I had already graduated B- School and I was coming in to run sales and business development. But I remember, this was the days," This is Emmanuelle from Optigrab," and after while I was like," I can't do this anymore, guys. We really need to change the name." It would literally came from the Steve Martin movie, The Jerk. He created this device that somehow held your glasses together, and it was called the Optigrab.

Speaker 2: Wow, that's amazing.

Emanuelle Skala: That's a little Endeca inaudible. Sorry, Steve, for telling the secrets.

Speaker 2: Optigrab. That's inaudible.

Emanuelle Skala: So yeah, that was the first foray officially into sales.

Speaker 2: And how did you get into DO? DigitalOcean?

Emanuelle Skala: Actually, it was the only time in my career that came through a recruiter.

Dave: Really?

Emanuelle Skala: Yeah, only time. Well, it was through a woman that I had worked with in the network when I was at VMTurbo. she recommended me to this recruiter and they called and yeah, it was the first time it was a recruiter.

Speaker 2: Yeah. And how does it feel to go to a company that on the surface looks like it's all freemium, there are no salespeople, it's totally touchless, you sell to developers. What's that whole deal?

Emanuelle Skala: It is all freemium. Not freemium, sorry, it's all self- serve.

Speaker 2: Self- serve, self- serve, sure.

Emanuelle Skala: And until recently, there was no sales team. So actually, all that's true. And it is this unbelievable organic acquisition engine where there are hundreds... I can't give a lot of the specifics, but there are hundreds of downloads a day, over 750, 000 MAU's, so it's-

Speaker 2: Crazy. That's insane.

Emanuelle Skala: It's insane.

Speaker 2: Dave, you've got to step it up, bro.

Dave: I'm trying to do the math on it.

Emanuelle Skala: And yeah, it's really organic, really community- based. We have the ear of the developer community, which is pretty awesome. So my role is to," Hey, come in and try to put sales on top of this. How to augment this unbelievable engine with other sales forces.

Speaker 2: And sorry to interrupt; is that mission impossible? Or is that-

Emanuelle Skala: No, it's not mission impossible. I mean, it's a different model. You can't be thinking of closing deals. It's just not a deal closing model. There's no ringing of the bells, we don't need hoopla and all those things. It's not the same-

Dave: No, I'm glad you both kind of hit on that, because the thing I was going to ask you was 10 years ago, a business like that couldn't exist, right? You're like," I'm going to be the VP of sales of a company that has no sales reps." Other than the obvious, which is software, what's changed in the way that we, as business people, go and buy things that has allowed this model to exist, do you think?

Emanuelle Skala: I think there's two things. So there's social, and there's software, obviously, and just SaaS and the ease of being able to download something. But there's also the way people buy, right? The people are buying now not based on brochures or advertisements, they're buying on word of mouth, and they're buying on social proof. And so they're buying on what they read about and what they hear about through their peers and in their network. And when they do, then they don't need to be as educated. And the education is really trying it. They want to try it. There's two things that people trust; their own experience, and their peers. Those are the two things they trust. And so you either have to show them that their peers love it and really focus on kind of advocacy, or you've got to focus on somehow doing some kind of self- service, some kind of product line model. Because these days, buyers are getting way skeptical. Even in B2C, we're all super skeptical. I mean, it takes me years sometimes to just decide on where I'm going to go on vacation, and I'm researching the hell out of it because there's so much information available.

Speaker 2: Way too much information, yeah.

Emanuelle Skala: It's like the paradox of choice.

Dave: Yep, yep.

Speaker 2: Exactly. That is interesting. So there were two things she mentioned. In those two things was not a sales rep that they've never met before, in terms of who they trust.

Dave: Well, we say it all the time; information is free now. So sales doesn't get to be the gatekeeper anymore. But something happened. We all talk about this, but then we go to our jobs and most companies forget that, right? They're like," I hate getting hounded by sales reps. I hate filling out forms and doing all this crap." But then we go to our jobs and we're like," All right, I'm going to bang on this phone until I can get your attention."

Speaker 2: And ring this gong. Gong.

Emanuelle Skala: Yeah. Yeah. So I talk about with my team... my team, because we're self- service, they are helping to move customers in terms of how much they spend. So they're offering assistance;" Hey, do you need help configuring your load balancer? We can help you with that." Knowing that eventually that will lead to more spend, right? Not for the purpose of banging on the doors, but for the purpose of," You need help, let me see"... And sometimes you can get help through content and through podcasts and through in- app messaging and things like that, but sometimes you need a human to help you.

Speaker 2: And how do you get them to be aligned with that kind of mission? Is it like a non- commission position? Is it commission? Do they have quotas? How does it work?

Emanuelle Skala: Yeah. So no quotas.

Speaker 2: Yep. Whoa, you heard that, all right.

Dave: Whoa, this is a good one. You got the good topic, okay.

Emanuelle Skala: But commissions, right? But no quotas, because-

Speaker 2: How does that work?

Emanuelle Skala: So the way I do it is-

Speaker 2: All carrot, no stick?

Emanuelle Skala: Yeah. Well-

Dave: This is your thing that you brought?

Emanuelle Skala: Yeah. And listen, we're testing it. This is early days of sales at DO, so we're testing it. But the way that I've done it is you get a flat fee every time one of the customers that you're working with gets across a magical threshold of spend where we know at that point, churn is incredibly low, and they are committed. We've done a whole bunch of data science to realize this is kind of the magic mark where they're committed. And so once they get them across, they get a flat fee. And that way, there's no worrying about,"Is this a huge deal? Or is this a small deal?" It's just," Help them get across that line, and then when you do, we'll give you-"

Dave: That line is a product metric, or usage or something like that?

Emanuelle Skala: It's a usage, yeah, which equates to revenue.

Speaker 2: And do you hire people that have been AEs or BDRs before? Or are these like you're teaching a whole new generation to do this?

Emanuelle Skala: They're a hybrid. So they're doing everything from qualifying the PQLS, which I know we want to talk about, to taking them across that line. And then they get to keep them for six months, and then they pass them off. Then they pass them off to an account management team.

Speaker 2: Cool. Interesting. Let's dive in.

Dave: Let's talk about PQLs, and I want to go back and I want to have you both talk about hiring a little bit. All right?

Emanuelle Skala: Yeah.

Dave: So PQL model, have you done a PQL model before?

Emanuelle Skala: No, no, this is the first time doing it.

Dave: So you come into a company, they have thousands of free users, and this is making sense?

Emanuelle Skala: Yeah. I mean, it's kind of obvious, right? When you have hundreds of thousands of users, and they're not free for us, they're all paying, but we can use this for a free model too, it's kind of the same. When you have hundreds of thousands of users, where do you even start?" Start at A;" you can't do that. We can't start at A. And the only indication that you have of interest is product usage. And you're capturing so much product usage. We all are, right? Everyone's capturing a crazy amount. What feature they're using may indicate propensity to spend, or how many users may indicate propensity to spend. Or for us, we're like a utility, right? So a spike in usage, that's kind of an indicator that maybe they're testing something. And," Hey, we saw you spiked." And also, people can name their droplets in our world, and that gives some indication of what applications they're running, and so,"Hey, we noticed you're using this, and can we help you? We have some white papers. We have some people who can help." We have a ridiculous amount of content, but sometimes people don't go fishing for that content. They need to be served that content at the right time. And so using the PQLs allows us to intersect at the right time in the journey and serve the right kind of content and the right kind of help in the journey.

Speaker 2: And who creates all that content? You have a CML or something?

Emanuelle Skala: Yeah, we have a community. Well, we don't have a Head of Marketing right now. We're looking.

Speaker 2: There's the plug. Plug, plug, plug, plug.

Dave: Make sure we get a referral from her. We could get hired.

Emanuelle Skala: But yeah, we have a kick ass community team, which creates a ton of our content. And that's a big way we get SEO and acquisition, but it also helps people through their customer journey.

Speaker 2: And where does something like the community team report into?

Emanuelle Skala: Into marketing.

Speaker 2: Into marketing? Okay.

Emanuelle Skala: Yeah, it's a marketing function.

Dave: Would you ever go back to MQLs?

Emanuelle Skala: Listen, we have MQLs too. It's not that we don't have any, it's just... Listen. I think that when someone comes to a webinar or reads a white paper or comes to an event or does a traditional MQL thing, it's not enough today of an indication of interest. It's maybe an indication of," I'm curious about the topic." Or it could be," I just happened to show up at this trade show and get my free stuff." I mean, I don't know-

Dave: Well, especially if you do all the things that you had mentioned earlier. Like if you make it easier for people to buy, then they're going to consume content on all those channels. So you can't assume everybody's an MQL who does that.

Emanuelle Skala: Exactly.

Dave: Even though I want to. I'm a marketing person, so-

Emanuelle Skala: And so, yeah, I don't think MQLs are dead by any means. I think if there's someone who's consistently consuming your content in multiple forms, okay, that's starting to be a little bit more of a sign. But I do think if you can figure out how to intersect product use... I mean, honestly, I think the nirvana is when you have both, right? The nirvana is when you have somebody who's doing all the MQL stuff and doing all the PQL stuff.

Speaker 2: Then you know.

Emanuelle Skala: Then you know. And that's perfect.

Speaker 2: And do you guys think about going upmarket right now? Or are you just trying to think about exploiting the current market you're in right now?

Emanuelle Skala: So we will be going upmarket. We're working on a whole bunch of product stuff that's going to allow us to go upmarket. But when you have millions of members in your community, you have kind of a captive audience, and so we're really trying to leverage that captive audience that we have.

Speaker 2: Dave, we need millions.

Dave: We need millions. She's saying all these big numbers and I'm like," Just when I think we're starting to do good."

Speaker 2: Dave, we need millions.

Dave: Don't say too big numbers around him, because he has a-

Emanuelle Skala: Okay, we have about 1000 people in our company.

Dave: He's just going to 10X whatever you say, and later he'll send me a message-

Speaker 2: DO has millions. We need 10 million.

Dave: "She said 750,000, so we've got to make seven and a half million." It always is connected. All right, so let's transition and talk about hiring a little bit. We talk a lot about people hiring all the different things. Hiring for a sales team, you both have done the early hiring at different roles in different companies, but I want to-

Speaker 2: Let's let the G go first.

Dave: Yeah, let's dive into that.

Emanuelle Skala: So I have a lot of thoughts on this topic. So hiring your first sales team, the analogy I use is you're hiring missionaries, right? So I use the analogy of missionaries versus mercenaries. So your mercenary is really your 50th rep maybe, or your 20th, right? So they're just going to repeat and rinse what you tell them to do. And maybe mercenary is a little bit of an extreme, but they're kind of in it for themselves. Whereas the missionary, they're on a mission from God. They really are on a mission from God. They're knocking on doors because they care about the vision, and they care about the message and the mission that they've been imparted to go spread. And so they're believers. Really. That's who you're hiring, your first couple of reps; they're missionaries, they're believers, and they care way more about spreading the word, the gospel, than they do about anything else. And then bringing home what they've learned." All right, let me tell you what I learned when I was out there on my mission, spreading the gospel." And so that's who I hire. I look for those who so believe in the mission and just want to be part of it.

Speaker 2: And which are you?

Emanuelle Skala: And inaudible?

Speaker 2: Yeah, which one are you?

Emanuelle Skala: Oh, I'm a total missionary.

Speaker 2: Yeah, that was the obvious-

Dave: No, but you-

Emanuelle Skala: Well, you know, it's interesting. I'm definitely a missionary, but I'm the kind of person who tries to figure out how do I repeat that missionary? How do I get that repetitive? The hard part is it's not really repetitive.

Dave: Not at that phase.

Emanuelle Skala: It's not, right? And so I'm like,"All right," trying to figure out how to take that special sauce from that phase, but put it into a process where you can just make it repeatable.

Dave: And it's different from the things that you get in the hiring process. You have to pitch it, it's a different pitch, right? To get those missionaries excited, versus the mercenaries later, right?

Emanuelle Skala: Yeah. I mean, honestly, if I'm hiring a missionary and in their first interview they're asking me about territories and quota and comp plans, they're not a missionary. By definition. If they're asking me about the product and the market and the customers and the mission and the value and," What are we doing?" And," How are we saving the world?" And all those things; they're the ones. And they have to trust that the comp and the commissions will come. And of course, if you're going to put someone 50% at risk, they need to trust that. But they do it because they trust you, and they trust the mission and they believe enough in it that they know it will come. And they're not so freaked out that it may not come the first quarter. They can roll with it a little bit longer.

Dave: You still have stuff from back in your BDR days that you teach, that you bring to the table? Still have some lessons that you learned?

Speaker 2: Yeah.

Dave: Smile, yeah.

Emanuelle Skala: Really.

Dave: I believe that.

Emanuelle Skala: I totally believe that.

Dave: I used to work at a company and all the sales reps had mirrors.

Emanuelle Skala: Mirrors, yep. Totally. I'm a big believer in the smile. I think that makes a big difference. The other one, this is a little controversial, but unless you're the CEO, not put a title. No titles in your signature. Unless you're the CEO or unless you're the VP of something, just ignore it. Just put your name and your phone number. You don't need much else. The whole," Account executive of Northeast region of tier two accounts." It's like, no.

Speaker 2: Oh man, Emmanuelle just punked a bunch of people listening.

Emanuelle Skala: So I'm all about name, phone number. That's it.

Dave: That also just screams," I'm a sales rep," too, right? If you're like," Account executive, Northeast," whatever.

Speaker 2: Oh yeah, totally. Who cares.

Emanuelle Skala: That's right. Name, phone number. Mimic how executives email.

Speaker 2: Yeah, exactly.

Emanuelle Skala: I don't-

Speaker 2: Dave is looking at me.

Dave: Exactly how executives email, it's like four words, question mark. I'm like," Uh."

Emanuelle Skala: But I love getting those emails, I've got to be honest. When I get-

Speaker 2: Or no words. I send emails with no words. I just forward things.

Dave: I'm like,"All right, what time was this sent from? Where was it sent from? What was the location? What was the previous email?" I'm trying to gauge what this email is.

Speaker 2: Is it good or bad? What's going on.

Emanuelle Skala: But maybe not like he emails.

Speaker 2: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Dave: All right, let's wrap up and talk about hiring a little bit. So what's it like, interviewing with you?

Emanuelle Skala: Oh, let's see.

Speaker 2: Yeah, you should interview Dave, see if he passes.

Dave: Yeah. I'd probably not. Too much math.

Emanuelle Skala: So I get into a lot of detail, because I'm trying to sift out the BS- ers. And so a lot of detail. Here's the issue, right? They're for salespeople, they're going to be good at interviewing. They're going to be great at storytelling, because that's what they do for a living. So in order to sift out the'stories', potentially not all true stories, I go into an ad nauseum amount of detail. Probably people are like," Huh?" I'm like," Okay, so between 2012 and 2013, how many reps were there? What number rep were you and who was your boss? And how many customers did you have and what was your quota? And how many deals do you do per month?" And I get into that because then, if they can hang-

Speaker 2: Then they start stuttering.

Dave: You know his test?

Emanuelle Skala: What's your test?

Speaker 2: Yeah, I have a whole bunch of tests. Which one are you talking about?

Dave: The poke around at different-

Speaker 2: The ping pong. It's a similar kind of test, except I'm not going into the details, I'm just trying to break them from the script. So as soon as they start going scripted, then I go off topic to something else, then off again, then off again and off again. And I just keep pinging around, and then I start to get into what I want answered. But I'm basically trying to understand what's bullshit or not, because a sales rep, especially, or anyone who's charismatic, comes in with some pitch. And they've rehearsed it and they've got the pitch down. And so I just try to break the pitch. All I'm thinking is," There it goes again. Stop it." And then we go into something else, and something else, and I don't let them continue a train of thought, and then I bring them back around later.

Emanuelle Skala: Yeah, I interrupt them a lot too. Because I don't want to listen to a story. And also, it's my agenda. Not that you shouldn't be prepared and come in with an agenda, but I'd like to control the agenda as much as possible. And then I do a lot of stuff around not work stuff. I really try to get to know the whole person and try to,"Hey, where are you from? Where'd you grow up? Tell me about your childhood."

Dave: And do you ask that thing because you want to know them in the interview, or does that translate into how you are as a boss later?

Emanuelle Skala: Both. One is I want to get to know them. I mean, I'd rather the interview be a conversation, so if you can start off talking about... you know, if it's not intense from the very first second, then they loosen up a little bit, I loosen up a little bit. And also, later, I know that just a certain personality style is going to work better.

Dave: Demo? Anything technical. Do they have to do any-

Emanuelle Skala: They did do a presentation.

Dave: You do?

Emanuelle Skala: Yeah, at the end of. So after X number of interviews, it kind of depends on the role, how many interviews, then there's a formal," Come in and do a presentation." I've done that at Influitive, done that here. That's a big part of my... and they have to present two things, generally. It's themselves and why they're good for the role. And if they come in with a whole," Feature feature, and I'm really intelligent, and I did this and I"... then no, because-

Dave: I like those as features.

Emanuelle Skala: I'm really specific about," Come in and tell me why you're good for the role." So it's sales, right? Figure out what the role is, figure out what I need, and come in and say your requirements are X. And anyone who comes in without that, they're not going to get hired. I obviously don't tell them. And then the second one is," Tell us how you'd sell the product."

Speaker 2: Okay. Yeah, I love that, the mock. I'm going to steal that too, the presentation.

Dave: "Giveme the presentation." Has that sealed the deal for anybody; somebody come in that you didn't think was going to be good, did they blow you away with a presentation?

Emanuelle Skala: Yes, absolutely. The presentation, to me, is where you really figure it out. I love it for people I'm on the fence about, because then it just becomes super obvious, within the first five minutes. But I've also had the opposite. I've also had someone that I'm like," I'm totally hiring this person," and then comes in and blows it. Totally blows it.

Dave: But that's why you both do the personal stuff, right? Yeah. Because it's easy to be in the car and you're on your way over and you're memorizing the script and you're practicing with your girlfriend or whatever, and then you come in and you have to go off script and give a presentation. Way different.

Emanuelle Skala: But I've hired some other people who've blown it, but mostly because once you've established that rapport, you can go back to them and be like," You totally blew it. What the fuck happened?"

Speaker 2: That's some radical candor.

Emanuelle Skala: And then you can talk about it, right? Who knows? Maybe that morning they got into a car accident. Shit happens, right? So I will go," You totally blew it and here's my concerns. And let's talk about it." And sometimes they'll redeem themselves through the post conversation, and sometimes they won't.

Speaker 2: So you run sales and success, so does that mean you have success CSMs? Or does one person do it all? Or how does it work?

Emanuelle Skala: No. So we're changing the model up a little bit right now, but yeah, we have two different roles. We have three different roles. So we have new business, account management, and success. And success used to be account management and support kind of blended into one person, and that got way too much, because essentially they couldn't be proactive anymore. When it was a small customer base, they could be proactive, but they couldn't be proactive. So we split it. And so now one team does more of the premium support for our highest spending customers, and one team does account management. The premium support, they're not assigned, it's just more on a queue, 24 by seven. And then the account management team is assigned to accounts.

Speaker 2: So there isn't a fourth support team, that CSMs do support?

Emanuelle Skala: There is a support team that handles all the other customers that are not premium customers.

Speaker 2: Got it.

Emanuelle Skala: And I mean, they handle the large majority of our customer base.

Speaker 2: Got it. And so why the separation between new business and account management, and the separation between account management and CSMs?

Emanuelle Skala: So I may combine new business and account management over time, but right now we're pretty acquisition focused. So that was one of the reasons. But the new business guys hold on to an account for six months. So-

Speaker 2: And then they go to account management.

Emanuelle Skala: And then it goes to account management. But the volume's getting so high at this point that we're actually starting to use PQL stuff for account management too, because they can't possibly have deep relationships with every account. It's just impossible. So they prioritize having deep relationships with the real top end, and everything else is actually trigger- based. So as you know, certain events and certain triggers happen, then they reach out. And that's on a round robin right now. Otherwise it's almost impossible to figure out who to assign when you have thousands and thousands.

Speaker 2: And do the account managers have variable comp?

Emanuelle Skala: No.

Speaker 2: Okay.

Emanuelle Skala: A small bonus, but not the kind of variable like a new business person would have.

Speaker 2: Got it. And CSM's nothing?

Emanuelle Skala: No.

Speaker 2: It's flat too as well.

Emanuelle Skala: Yeah. The company bonus, the CSMs have. And it's interesting; someone asked me recently to be interviewed for an article about why sales and CS, why they're seeing so many more people who have VP of Sales and VP of CS titles-

Dave: That was the next question.

Emanuelle Skala: Yeah, and you know what? It's actually an emerging trend, and I think it's for a couple of reasons. One, I think, in the old days, when you didn't have SaaS, when it was," Sales, bring home the bacon," that was kind of it."Go bring home the bacon and then the rest of the company will deal with whatever bacon or not bacon you brought home, or pigs you brought home that day," right? And if you're in a SaaS company and you have the VP of Sales only really focused on acquisition, there's too much of a tendency for them to do bad deals.

Speaker 2: Bad behavior, yeah. I agree.

Emanuelle Skala: There's too much of a tendency for them to do bad deals, and then the CS will just clean up the mess. And then your churn is going to go down, and I believe if you don't have one person thinking about the whole customer life cycle, it's bad for the business. And that's why I see it happening more and more. Now, I don't think support necessarily needs to be... that can be a totally separate organization. And professional services, if you need that, that could be a separate organization too, or any kind of install. But the customer success, especially in terms of upsell across all retention, best practices, the learning that you have to do is almost identical anyways. So I do think it should go under one person.

Dave: How do you incentivize sales to close good deals? Do you have a clawback or anything after they've been around for X amount of months?

Emanuelle Skala: So there's a couple ways. You could do a clawback. I've seen that, and I've done a clawback before. You could give them a small retention bonus. What I did at Influitive was we actually comped them on advocacy. So that way it was 10 to 20% of their variable was tied to advocacy, but we made it really fun. So that if they found advocates, people who would be future advocates, we did a whole point system and they got points and prizes. And we made a big deal out of it and leaderboards and things like that. So that keeps them-

Dave: And that probably just becomes their own... they're like," Hey, that customer that I closed six months ago, they're the number one referral right now."

Emanuelle Skala: Right, exactly. And it ends up creating a culture. It's hard to do. You have to create a culture, it's hard to do it systematically.

Speaker 2: Yeah, it's funny, I love the folding of sales and success. Heaton and I had a bunch of conversations on this about everything ebbs and flows, and we're in this cycle of everything is specialization, too much specialization. VP of Sales, VP of Account Management, VP of CS, or CSM leader, VP of this, VP of that-

Emanuelle Skala: crosstalk Head of Revenue-

Speaker 2: Yeah, you just get a Head of Revenue. And those are all internal optimizations; the customer doesn't care and the customer doesn't want to bounce through four different departments.

Emanuelle Skala: No, that's another part of it too.

Dave: And also, the skillset of that account manager or CSM looks really similar to the skillset of the sales person in this model where the potential customer has all the power, right? Like you need to be able to help in addition to sell. It's really similar.

Speaker 2: Yeah, and it gets rid of bad behavior if you have a single Head of Revenue, and it helps relieve the infighting that you have if you have four different leaders who have four different agendas, and a customer bouncing through that.

Emanuelle Skala: Yeah. We often got complaints at Influitive about," Wait a minute. So I have my rep, who I built a really great relationship with, and then I have an account manager, and then I have a CSM, and then I have a support guy. I kind of just want one person. And by the way, I really developed a great relationship with the rep at the very beginning, and why can't I just have that-

Speaker 2: And they're gone now. They won't return my calls. Yeah.

Emanuelle Skala: So that's-

Speaker 2: I think that all goes away soon, because our thing is more and more of the premium is on the experience, and everything that we buy in the world, whether it's travel, like you mentioned earlier, clothing, software, whatever it is, it's like the premium is the experience. And this experience that we're talking about where it's bifurcated across all of these different groups is just shitty.

Emanuelle Skala: Yeah. And even internally. So I've combined BDR and AE into one role. I'm calling it ISR, because-

Speaker 2: I like it.

Emanuelle Skala: But for some of the same reason, that all the handoffs aren't necessarily the best experience, both internally and externally. Now, it's a fairly transactional model right now, so you can do that, but also they own their own destiny.

Speaker 2: I love that.

Dave: But it's like," Hey, ISR has booked you a meeting with Dave." You're like," Who the hell is David? I want to talk to you. You're here right now."

Emanuelle Skala: Yep, yep.

Dave: I love it. All right, that's a good place for us to wrap. But I heard you're a Seeking Wisdom fan.

Emanuelle Skala: I am.

Dave: What's your favorite episode?

Speaker 2: Damn, on the spot.

Dave: Yeah.

Emanuelle Skala: I liked the one, actually, that you did about a product- led model with... what was the guy's name?

Speaker 2: Oh, Ryan Burke?

Emanuelle Skala: Yes, that was a great one. And then the one of fear. That one that just did the fear.

Speaker 2: That's awesome.

Dave: Those short ones stem from I just get a text at some point during the day, it's him, and it's in Notes, or sometimes it's a voice note, and it's like the whole podcast. Everything, yeah.

Emanuelle Skala: And then you also did one recently about your double funnel, your two funnels. I liked that one, that was a good one.

Dave: We did.

Speaker 2: Double funnel. Look at that, that's a true fan.

Emanuelle Skala: See, I told you I'm a good fan.

Dave: True fan. Speaking of true listeners, I've got to do the fan love section. So this is a review from Joel in the UK.

Speaker 2: Wow.

Dave: He said," The knowledge shared from these two Daves is proving to be an invaluable pool of golden carp as it helps me challenge my own beliefs and values in self- improvement, business growth, and generally striving to be an awesome person, which on itself helps me to become the best version of myself. Keep being awesome.

Speaker 2: That's amazing. I don't know what a pool of golden carp are, but that sounds amazing.

Dave: Shout out to you, Joel. We appreciate it. All right, take us out of here.

Speaker 2: That's awesome. All right. Thank you for joining us, Emmanuelle. This was amazing.

Emanuelle Skala: You're welcome. It's been very fun.

Dave: Thank you.

Speaker 2: You heard Emmanuelle listens, Emmanuelle needs five stars to make her day.

Dave: What's your Twitter name?

Emanuelle Skala: ElleSkala. E-L-L-E.

Dave: Okay. I'll put it in the notes. I'll put it in the notes.

Speaker 2: Skala. So subscribe to her, tweet at her, holler at her, give her love. And leave five stars so we know that you're listening and you're giving it up to Emmanuelle.

Dave: Did you hear that we're throwing a conference?

Emanuelle Skala: Yes, I heard about that.

Dave: You heard about that? In the fall?

Emanuelle Skala: I heard the conference. Boston. We need more Boston conferences, so a big fan.

Speaker 2: Dave's got a big goal.

Dave: Every time we go on a walk, the goal doubles. And I said," No more walks until the conference is over."

Speaker 2: We're at least in the thousand mark.

Emanuelle Skala: Good. Glad you guys are making Boston the place to go.

Dave: Thank you for coming on. We appreciate it.

Speaker 2: Awesome. See you.

Emanuelle Skala: Bye.


If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. ----- We’re joined by Emmanuelle Skala (@elleskala) the VP of Sales and Customer Success at Digital Ocean. And in true Seeking Wisdom fashion, we’re talking about everything — from juice cleansing, to hiring sales reps, to building out a sales team, to why the lines between sales and customer success are getting blurry. Here’s how you can support Seeking Wisdom if you’re a fan of the show: 1. Subscribe on your favorite podcast app. 2. Leave us a five-star review. Here's how: bit.ly/5-Stars-Only. 3. Follow David (twitter.com/dcancel) and Dave (twitter.com/davegerhardt) on Twitter. 4. Learn more about Drift at Drift.com.