We’ve loved unveiling the ins-and-outs of becoming a great sales manager. We have talked to a couple of awesome leaders and, to finish up our hunt, we recently spoke with the Co-founder and CEO of Rigor, Craig Hyde. Craig has a background in everything from writing code to cold calls and shares a very interesting and analytical perspective on achieving sales success. In part 3 of 3 in our interview with sales managers, Craig lends some practical advice and insight into what a successful sales manager looks like.
Co-founder & CEO
What do you like to do when you’re not in the Atlanta Tech Village?
I love to travel – I most recently went to Costa Rica for a little over a week. I also play rugby on occasion. I used to play regularly, but right now it’s just a couple games a season.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Well…I can think of two – both were when I was really young. The first one was when I worked for the guy who built our house when I was in middle school. He was looking for help cleaning up construction sites. As soon as they roughed out all the framing, we had to go pick up all the trash so they could put down drywall and carpet. It was pretty grueling, manual labor… and just boring.
The second one was a cool job but the work was really monotonous. I worked at Play It Again Sports when I was 14. I cleaned the heads of golf clubs and all the equipment in the back for hours and hours on end. Not awesome.
What is the funniest moment you’ve experienced in sales?
During my first sales job we put together a lunch-and-learn that had about 50-60 people from all different kinds of companies. My boss flew in from Florida – so it was a pretty big deal. I was playing Rubgy the weekend before our event and of course, I ended up getting an extremely noticeable black eye. At the lunch I had to give a presentation in front of a bunch of executives and here I was fresh out of school, 22 years old, looking like I had been in a street fight. …This unfortunately happened a few times when I was routinely playing Rugby.
Tell us a little about yourself and in what capacity you lead sales.
I’m the co-founder of Rigor, a web performance monitoring company. We have tools that act like automated secret shoppers on company’s websites and use their applications to make sure that everything is working properly for users.
When we started in 2010, I was writing code and publishing it to basically nobody. Then, we started developing a more “grown-up” software platform that people actually began using. At this time I transitioned to sales and marketing. I made phone calls, set appointments… the whole nine yards. Now we’ve grown pretty significantly so we’re getting more compartmentalized and more organized. I am in more of an operator and sales manager role rather than picking up the phone and making calls myself.
What’s another word you would use to accurately describe what a sales manger does?
In my arena, I would say the word is organizer. I believe a great sales manager should also be coach, but today, I’m more of an organizer.
What are the biggest challenges you face in managing a sales team?
I call it ‘thrashing’ and we have a big push to stop thrashing.
Thrashing means we are working on something in one area and getting half way done and then switching gears to work on something else in an entirely different area….and getting half way done. Basically we are trying to stop doing a whole bunch of different things at the same time. It’s a challenge for me because I have one foot in sales, one foot in operations, and one foot in everything else.
What does an average day look like?
The average day starts off with a stand-up team meeting (“here’s what I did yesterday, here’s what I’m doing today“), developing prospects, handling existing accounts and working in the sales life-cycle. I would say about 50% of the day is devoted to some sort of sales activity, 25% is working with existing clients and 25% with the product itself.
What are the biggest surprises you have found being a start-up sales manager?
How fast people pick up on things. To elaborate, the technology behind what we do is pretty complicated because we are analyzing the technical components of websites. At the places I have previously worked, the departments have been very compartmentalized. It has been pretty surprising to see that everyone is interested in the technology. For example, our sales guys are writing scripts!
What do you think is the difference between a successful and unsuccessful sales manager?
I think it’s a focus on improvement versus a focus on what isn’t working. They are very similar mindsets, but the successful sales managers I have seen or worked with say, “Here is what we’re going to do to make you great.” The unsuccessful sales managers say, “Here are all the things that you’re doing wrong and need to fix.” Its very similar, but its the tilt towards the positive that really motivates people.
How do you balance being a boss and a friend?
This is actually something we’re working on and taking an unusual approach. We’ve created something similar to service-oriented architecture for technology, which means breaking up one big system into a bunch of different sub-systems. Instead of one big Rigor, we have a bunch of different departments. We are currently putting together basic metrics to track productivity and once those are in place, I don’t have to worry about managing because everyone will know where they stand, transparently. It’s the basis on ROWE (Results-oriented work environment). Once you have those things in place, then you can then start to focus on the culture or personal dynamics.
Where do you draw leadership inspiration/find resource to better lead?
Everywhere. I’m like a sponge, I always try to soak up everything. I mainly look at the blogs of leaders I admire and respect (David Cummings’ blog, Mark Suster’s blog, Saaster, and SalesLoft). Atlanta has a lot of great resources from a networking perspective. We’re sitting in one right now – the Atlanta Tech Village. I also leverage ATDC and anyone in the Atlanta tech scene.
How do you set goals, professionally and personally?
Professionally, I set structured goals that are organized in a One-Page Strategic Plan that we revisit on a weekly and quarterly basis.
Personally, my goals are less structured. I have a Google doc that is broken up into: (1.) what I’m doing today, (2.) what I’m doing in the short term and (3.) where I want to be in the long term.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a new sales manager?
Find a successful process, whatever that process may be. Whether it’s predictable revenue, solution selling, snap selling or spin selling, find a documented, successful process and stick with it.
Thank you, Craig!