SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with Paul Forte, Chief Revenue Officer at SingleStore

Paul Forte, Chief Revenue Officer at SingleStore joined us for a quick chat to share a little about his sales journey through the years while diving into a few best practices he feels sales teams can perform better with; catch the snippets:

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Hi Paul, welcome to this chat! Tell us about your journey through the years…we’d love to hear about your new role at SingleStore…how is that playing out…what are you most looking forward to…

I have always characterized myself as a leader first and a Sales professional second, and I feel insanely blessed to have found a career that marries the two. My leadership journey began many years ago when I served as a young lieutenant in the US Army and continues today in my current leadership role at SingleStore. I have been a CRO or the then-equivalent title multiple times, and the vast majority of my career has been associated with the challenges associated with the explosion of data in our society. What makes my life most exciting on a daily basis is that I get to work with the industry’s leading organizations and professionals by helping them unlock the value and promise stored in their data assets.

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Sales can be an interesting journey, even more so with the use of smart tricks and the right sales automation: we’d love to hear about a few best practices that worked for you through the years (in terms implementation of tools / processes/etc)?

Having worked in sales for a number of years, what amazes me most about sales is what has stayed the same, not what has changed. While technology and communication means have changed over the years, what I find most exciting is that what made a great salesperson 25 years ago is the exact same today. My “smart trick” is picking rock star sales talent. I have spent an enormous amount of time over the years with a number of professionals to determine what those characteristics are. I developed a process and methodology to uncover those characteristics during the interview process so we can simply hire the best talent. Once that is done well, everything else falls into place.

The right processes are especially useful for building better processes for distributed (and now, largely remote!) sales teams: and knowing how to manage prospect and customer data while understanding how to align this between sales-marketing leaders is crucial today: a few thoughts and strategies that have helped tighten this process for you in the past?

I sometimes think sales executives over-analyze the KPIs that are needed to run a high-performing sales team. I have seen organizations that have so many metrics they manage to actually lose sight of the metrics that really move the needle. I personally believe it should all be simplified. This does not imply that the right data sets and the right processes are not critical – they are. It just means that sales leaders need to be very disciplined in narrowing in on those KPIs and processes that actually have real business impact.

What do you feel today’s sales leaders need to capitalize more on, better automation or deeper sales training for their teams? Can you elaborate?

For the optimal sales excellence program, I have always focused my sales leaders on three primary components. The first, which we discussed above, is recruiting, or picking the best team. Next is development, or having a program that brings highly qualified individuals into the sales organization and arming them with the education, tools and processes to maximize that potential. I think of that as a “sales factory” where the inputs are high potential sellers and the outputs are highly trained and prepared sellers. Third, is revenue, or the actual programs for success. These topics range from how to create and manage a territory, how to build out a channel plan, how to best qualify deals, how to build a pipeline, how to forecast, etc. Surrounding those three core leadership functions are unadulterated leadership and execution. When all of that is done, and done at a high level, the result is improved revenue/bookings, higher profitability and, above all else, happy customers.

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As sales teams work through 2021, another year of challenges due to the ongoing pandemic: what are some thoughts you’d share with sales reps?

Regardless of the pandemic, customers want to solve problems and grow. The sales reps out there need to be able to translate the technical capabilities of their products and/or company into value. I believe this is best done by practicing F-L-A-R-E. The F in FLARE is getting very good at the Fundamentals. This includes product knowledge, industry expertise, sales techniques (objection handling, messaging, negotiating, etc) and a myriad of others. Next is Listening. I often say, “I know of no man/woman who ever listened themselves out of a sale. Needless to say, I have witnessed many sellers talk themselves out of a sale.” A is for Activity. If anything has held true over the years for me – with or without a pandemic – is the idea that sales really is a game of numbers. He or she that steps up to the plate the most, gets the most hits. In sales terms, that means making the calls – either on the phone or in person. Nothing else is more important. R is for Relationships. Simply stated, “people buy from people they like and trust.” The backbone of that truism is the need to build deep customer relationships that provide you with the opportunity to understand and help customers solve issues. Lastly, is Effort, or said another way – work hard. I have led thousands of sellers over the years and the best sellers have always been the hardest working.

A few must-dos that every C-level executive/CRO in SaaS should follow through 2021?

a.) Remain obsessed with the customer.

b.) Practice the Stockdale Paradox – face the brutal facts of your current reality, whatever it is, while concurrently maintaining faith that your business will prevail despite those brutal facts.

c.)  Take advantage of the short-cuts data and analytics provide to value when leveraged properly.

d.) At the end of the day, every business is a people business – love and take good care of your employees.

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SingleStore is dedicated to helping businesses adapt more quickly, embrace diverse data, and accelerate digital innovation by operationalizing all data through one platform for all of their moments that matter.

Paul is the Chief Revenue Officer at SingleStore. Paul joins SingleStore from Actifio (recently acquired by Google) where he served as the president of global field operations, including sales, marketing, customer service and post-sales. Prior to Actifio, he served as the Chief Revenue Officer at ChannelAdvisor Corporation, a global e-commerce cloud-based solutions provider where he was responsible for sales development, business development and sales on a worldwide basis. Before that, Paul served as Executive Vice President, North American Sales for Monster Worldwide (acquired by Randstad Holdings) where he managed the sales of all Monster products through a multi-channel network, including a 900-person direct sales force. Before Monster, Paul held positions at Automic Software and IBM, and served in various sales and sales leadership roles at PTC, eCredit and Nalco Chemical Company.

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