SalesTechStar Interview with Leandra Fishman, CRO at Apollo.io
Leandra Fishman, CRO at Apollo.io has a few tips for optimizing B2B revenue performance, catch them here:
Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat Leandra! Tell us about your revenue and sales journey through the years and more about being CRO at Apollo.io.
Thank you for having me, it’s a pleasure to be here…I recently joined Apollo.io as the company’s first Chief Revenue Officer where I lead global growth strategy and drive revenue expansion initiatives. Apollo.io is one of the fastest-growing SaaS companies offering an all-in-one go-to-market solution trusted by over 500,000 companies and millions of users globally.
My first official corporate job in Silicon Valley was in a sales office. Back then, I didn’t know a career in sales was a possibility and I started my very first role as a customer service rep. What I learned quickly is that when you build relationships and solve problems for customers, it has a positive impact on revenue.
Over the course of my career, I’ve had the awesome experience of being at every rung of the sales ladder. Going from being an inside sales rep to a manager, to a director, then an executive, I developed an appreciation for the opportunities and challenges that each of those roles face. Building and scaling sales teams is my heart and passion. I feel fortunate I get to do all of those things as CRO at Apollo.io.
As a Chief Revenue Officer: what are some of the core focus areas for you and strategies you use to drive impact for your goals? We’d love to hear about what a typical day as a revenue chief looks like.
My typical day looks like a lot of back to back meetings. In my first 60 days, I have been deeply focusing on the Sales, Support, and Customer Success functions – leading a team of 120+ people.
I strive to structure my weeks so I’m balancing out individual one on ones, team meetings, customer conversations, and deal strategies, as well as spending time cross-functionally with my colleagues and working with the Apollo.io executive leadership team on key company strategies and initiatives.
These initiatives range from product direction feedback, to marketing messaging and positioning, to board updates. It’s important to work both “on the business” and “in the business”, always finding the right balance in your calendar to spend time with reps and frontline managers for coaching and development.
Being a CRO means a lot of zooming out to view high level programs while simultaneously double clicking in to understand objectives and obstacles at each stage of the customer journey. I also work with members of the team to ensure we are driving a strong revenue cadence to hit our targets.
Can you share a little about the evolving goals and expectations of modern CROs and what CROs need to do to add value to the brand growth journey?
Being a CRO isn’t just about the number. It’s about understanding the customer journey. That starts at awareness and goes all the way through advocacy. Modern CROs need to care about sales, marketing, revenue operations, and support to ensure that the customer experience is strong every step of the way. It’s not just about winning the customer. It’s about keeping the customer and that customer satisfaction and retention is ultimately where the rubber meets the road in the end.
What are some of the revtech and salestech that have been your go-to tools (and why). How do you feel newer technologies like AI and generation AI are set to impact sales and revenue processes?
I’ve had the pleasure of being at some amazing companies with incredible technology like Intercom, Twilio and now Apollo.io. Getting technology to work for us, versus having us work for it, is so important. There are so many disparate tools out there now that we can end up spending more time in administrative and systems process work than actually selling. According to Salesforce’s 2022 State of Sales Report, sales teams use an average of 10 tools to close deals and reps say they’re only spending 28 percent of their week actually selling, with the majority of their time consumed by other tasks like deal management and data entry.
Tools are awesome but they can also be cumbersome. They can negatively impact your output of work. If they don’t work together and it negatively impacts efficiency and productivity – you’d be better off without them!
This is one of the reasons why I was drawn to Apollo.io. The team has built the ideal unified GTM platform — from data to engagement to deal execution to forecasting — consolidating the entire sales tech stack. I guess you could say I am Apollo.io’s ideal buyer, since it solves a huge problem in the industry for sales teams like mine.
Here are some staples of my sales tech stack:
- CRM: Salesforce.com
- Support: Intercom
- Sales Intelligence: Apollo.io
Name five things that you would share with future CROs in the making.
- It all starts with people: hire, train and retain the best talent possible.
- Processes matters: if it’s not easy for sellers to sell, it won’t be easy for customers to buy
- Feedback and Coaching IS part of the role of the CRO: Understand your teams and invest in their development.
- It takes a village collaborating together to get the job done: Build the relationships needed to work cross functionally before the problems arise.
- Metrics and data are foundational: Know the key levers of your business to ensure you are tracking to get to your destination while keeping your eyes on the road.
Read More: SalesOps and MarketingOps Tips for B2B Team
Apollo.io combines a buyer database of over 270M contacts and powerful sales engagement and automation tools in one, easy to use platform.
Leandra Fishman is the Chief Revenue Officer at Apollo.io, an all-in-one go-to-market (GTM) solution for sales and marketing teams that natively unifies data, intelligence, engagement, and AI workflows. In her role as CRO, she is responsible for enhancing the company’s sales, customer success, and support teams. She brings over 30 years of experience to Apollo.io leading large teams and driving growth across all customer segments and deal sizes. Most recently, she was the CRO at Intercom, the SVP of Sales and Success for SendGrid, and the VP of Commercial Sales at Twilio.
Also catch, our other conversations on Sales and CRO practices from our SalesStar Podcast:
Episode 158: Optimizing Sales and Brand Journeys with Ken Hohenstein, CRO at OneStream
Episode 169: B2B Sales, Process Enhancements and Tips: with Sean Flynn, SVP of Global Sales at Avalara
Episode 173: B2B Revenue Generation Hacks with Justin Schweisberger, Chief Revenue Officer at Pramata
Episode 178: RevOps and Revenue Generation Best Practices with Derrick Herbst, Director-Business Transformation at Conga