SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with Jason Heidema, Co-Founder and CEO at Atrium

Better sales data segmentation and collection and improved sales coaching are some of the crucial elements that can help enhance the typical B2B sales rep’s performance; how do sales leaders today drive sales rep performance with the right sales management technologies? Jason Heidema, Co-Founder and CEO at Atrium shares some trends:

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Hi Jason, we’d love to hear about your journey through the years…tell us more about the story behind Atrium?

Atrium is a data-driven sales management platform that enables sales managers to improve team performance using data. We built the product to solve a problem my co-founder and I experienced first-hand.

Back in 2014, our first company, TalentBin, got acquired by Monster Worldwide. When we went from managing a sales team of 20 to more than 1000 at Monster, we saw a challenge that all scaling sales organizations face: sales managers aren’t able to easily use data to measure, manage, and improve rep performance – often missing opportunities to course-correct rep behavior before it’s too late, leading to shortfalls.

Sales managers have a really challenging job filled with disparate responsibilities ranging from rep training, to monitoring new hire ramping, to deal inspection, to pipeline reviews, to goal tracking, to ongoing coaching, to managing remote reps, to one-on-ones, etc. On top of that, sales managers are simply not equipped with the right tools nor the training to meet the challenge.

The good news is that the data that sales managers need to help ramp, coach, and goal their reps is now available in the systems that their teams use on a day-to-day basis – email, calendar, phone, CRM, etc. Unfortunately, they can’t easily access all the data they need from all these systems, or interpret the data effectively to get a complete picture of rep performance.

That’s why we built Atrium. Unlike dashboards in CRM and business intelligence tools like Tableau, Looker, etc., which simply provide inscrutable walls of charts, we built Atrium specifically for sales managers to continuously monitor all the metrics that matter and to provide the “why” behind rep performance so they can onboard, coach, and develop their teams more effectively.

Sales managers at more than 150 companies, like Figma, SalesLoft, and LaunchDarkly, use the data and insights that Atrium provides to improve team performance.

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In today’s hybrid work environment, how are you seeing sales leaders change the way they train and manage their sales teams?

We recently fielded a survey of 400 B2B sales managers and found that 93% of sales leaders consider data-driven sales management to be more critical than ever in this hybrid work environment. Working in a hybrid environment naturally reduces visibility across the team and increases communication friction as compared to the days when everyone was on the same physical “sales floor.”

The best managers are using metrics as their eyes and ears when it comes to managing their teams. They are using data to:

  • Identify and address performance issues before they impact results
  • Deliver fact-based coaching and development to improve performance
  • Monitor whether the team is on pace to hit its targets
  • Identify the key traits of their best reps and clone them across the organization
  • Reduce management by opinion (which can often have a negative morale impact)
  • Drive alignment and action by getting everyone on the same page about the behaviors, activities, and outputs needed to move the business forward

Can you talk about the impact of platforms like Atrium and how they can boost sales performance across the hierarchy?

Sales managers use a data-driven sales management platform like Atrium to improve team performance to hit their productivity and revenue goals. The platform acts as sales managers’ personal sales analyst, so that they can be more effective as managers – helping them to:

  • Accelerate rep ramping
  • Improve pipeline hygiene
  • Deliver effective coaching and one-on-ones
  • Diagnose and fix rep issues
  • Identify key traits of top performers

There are three things that a platform like Atrium does to help make sales managers more effective.

First, the platform enables them to track precursor metrics to sales success (e.g. are we touching enough new contacts and accounts, are we creating sufficient meetings), so they can catch potential performance issues before they impact results.

Second, sales managers can set goals on these precursor metrics so they can be intentional in driving the right activities required to hit their objectives. The platform automatically monitors and alerts users on progress towards these goals.

Finally, the platform automatically monitors hundreds of KPIs and proactively alerts managers of what is working and what is not. Sales managers are presented with the “why” behind rep performance peaks and issues so they can properly coach and develop their teams.

What are some best practices you feel sales leaders today need to be following to ensure better alignment among their team members and other marketing members as well?

The best sales leaders are employing a variety of tactics to create alignment across their teams.

  • They set clear performance expectations across the team and ensure everyone knows what “good” looks like.
  • They use data to prove what works and what doesn’t, so everyone is bought in on the playbook.
  • They hold team members accountable to specific activities they need to execute on to achieve their revenue targets (e.g. number of accounts touched, number of prospect meetings on the calendar, etc.).
  • Lastly, they ensure that progress against these goals is transparent and properly communicated at every level of the organization.

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As sales trends change in a hybrid selling environment, how can sales leaders use this time to improve their core processes with technologies and to further their team growth?

There are several steps sales leaders can take to infuse data into their operating rhythm in this hybrid selling environment.

  • Metrics Selection: Select the appropriate metrics per role type (e.g., AE, Inbound SDR, Outbound SDR, AM, CSM) – ideally you want to be tracking leading indicator metrics on quantity (e.g. number of contacts touched, number of meetings on the calendar) and quality (e.g. email engagement rate, stage by stage conversion rates) as well as outcome metrics (e.g. pipeline created or bookings).
  • Data Collection: Ensure you’re collecting the relevant data that will allow you to express the above metrics in reporting to be consumed by ICs, management, operations, and leadership.
  • Goal Setting: Set individual goals on a per-metric basis for appropriate time frames for each role type. Ideally you want to set granular goals at the activity level so that you’re holding reps accountable for specific behaviors you’d like them to exhibit.
  • Visualization & Monitoring: Build the relevant reporting and dashboarding such that you can visually inspect on a recurring basis. Ideally, set up automated monitoring and statistical anomaly detection to ensure you don’t miss anything.
  • Distribution & Consumption: Ensure the above reporting is sufficiently distributed to your team, and that there are ongoing operating rhythms in place to facilitate actual consumption. Unconsumed reporting is not helpful.
  • Troubleshooting & Resolution: Identify issues and then work to diagnose the root cause of issues, act to fix, and then instrument to identify that the fix worked. This often includes identifying additional related precursor metrics and goal setting on the specific root cause KPI.

Can you share your thoughts on some of the top sales leaders in the tech marketplace and a few takeaways to learn from them?

While the term “data-driven” can indeed be a buzzword, it’s important to think really hard about what it means for your organization and team. It’s easy to get lost in a soup of data, metrics, reports, and dashboards. The top sales leaders keep things simple by choosing to focus on the top two or three KPIs that really matter for their business, they identify the precursor activities and behaviors that drive those KPIs, and they set goals around those precursor metrics.

Secondly, don’t underestimate the need to foster a data-driven sales culture. Great leaders are transparent about the metrics they care about and weave data into the core of everything that they do operationally. For example, once you’ve picked your KPIs and set your goals, it’s critical to provide visibility into progress towards those goals at every level of the organization, whether via Slack or email or on an internal website. And coaching in the organization should always tie back to the precursor metrics that have been identified, with recurring operating rhythms that celebrate when they are moving in the right direction.

Before we wrap up, a few tips for tech founders and sales leaders in a changing B2B world.

My advice to tech founders is to stay as close to the customer as possible at all times. It feels obvious, and I think most folks do a good job of this early on when designing and building a product. But it’s easy for leaders to drift away from their customer relationships as they are scaling a business.

For sales leaders in a changing B2B world, I’d say that being intentional is the order of the day. Be intentional with your goal and ensure your time allocation matches those goals. Be intentional about setting expectations with yourself, your team, your partners, and your prospects/customers.  And when it is time to adjust your goals and expectations, be very clear about what is changing and why.

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Atrium provides a Data-Driven Sales Management platform that empowers sales managers to improve team performance. 100+ sales teams at leading companies like Salesloft, Chorus, LaunchDarkly, SaasOptics, etc. use the dashboards, insights and alerts in the Atrium platform to hit their sales productivity and revenue goals.

Jason Heidema is the Co-Founder and CEO at Atrium.

 

Don’t miss, some of our latest episodes of the SalesStar Podcast:

Episode 89: Demand Gen And B2B Marketing Tips: With Gil Allouche, Founder & CEO At Metadata.Io

Episode 88: The Impact Of Sales Automation On Sales Processes: With Pouyan Salehi, Co-Founder And CEO Of Scratchpad

Episode 87: B2B RevTech And SalesTech Trends With Thiago Sá Freire, Chief Revenue Officer, Chorus.Ai (A ZoomInfo Company)