Podcast

Always Better, Never Best – Sebastian Shahvandi

“Unless you’re passionate about what you really do, day in and day out, you’re not going to last, you’re not going to excel…”. Sebastian Shahvandi, Chief Revenue Officer for Hypori is incredibly passionate about the impact sales can have on a business and why it drives him to excel.

His company, Hypori is an innovative SaaS enterprise software company that provides virtual mobility technology to federal agencies and corporate enterprises. They are a trusted virtual mobility solution ensures zero data at rest and 100% Separation to mitigate data leaks.

In today’s episode, Sebastian discusses his start in sales working for his father’s business where his social anxiety evolved into a love for customer relations and solving problems.

Tune in to this week’s episode to learn about Sebastian’s passion and drive that has propelled him to succeed as a Sales lead dog.

Watch or listen to this episode:


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Transcript:

Wed, 5/19 12:03PM • 37:22 

SUMMARY KEYWORDS 
sales, customer, people, person, team, business, players, folks, company, understand, hiring, role, leadership, support, career, mentor, sebastian, selling, started, shy 

SPEAKERS 
Sebastian Shahvandi, Christopher Smith 

Intro 
Welcome to the Sales Lead Dog Podcast hosted by CRM technology and sales process expert Christopher Smith, talking with sales leaders that have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Listen to find out how the best of the best achieve success with their team and CRM technology. And remember, unless you are the lead dog, the view never changes. 

Christopher Smith   
Welcome to Sales Lead Dog. Today, I have joining us on the podcast Sebastian Shahvandi. Sebastian, welcome to Sales Lead Dog.  

Sebastian Shahvandi   
Thanks for having me, Chris. 

Christopher Smith   
Sebastian, tell us about your current role and your company. 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
Sure. So today, I’m the CRO of Hypori, where we provide a virtualized Android environment to our customers, which was to basically allow them to do BYOD in a very secure manner without infringing on their personal data in their own device, as well as keeping the data from the corporate side very secure so it doesn’t get compromised or, or intercepted within kind of the different kind of vulnerabilities that are going on today. 

Christopher Smith   
And that’s a huge topic today. I mean, it has been for a while but it, there’s even more, I think more and more events happening all the time around digital security. Are you guys seeing a big uptick? 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
Yeah we did especially during kind of the 2020 pandemic time, with with people working remotely and having to work from home, we saw a lot more of that, particularly a big uptake for us was in, you know, the DDOD space where we’re kind of delete there now, as well as the healthcare industry where they were trying to provide kind of that access in a HIPAA-compliant manner to their field workers and getting that going in with, with at the same time with the the big jump in, in, in attacks and cyber attacks on on mobile devices. It became a pretty kind of an important part of the puzzle for all the companies that are out there. 

Christopher Smith   
Oh, I bet. I mean especially you know everyone, I just remember that time a year ago and everyone’s scrambling trying to support a remote workforce, you know, bring your own device, that was a huge component of that, people just trying to figure it out and having a solution like yours probably helped them in in big ways. So it’s great to have you here on the show. Sebastian, when you think back over your career, what are the three things that have really contributed to your success? 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
One is, I should say for the most important part is the passion for actually doing what I do. In my in my career, I’ve never picked up a job that I haven’t been passionate about, it doesn’t make sense to me. The fact of the matter is, look, everyone wants to work that nine to five job but in all reality as you go up the ladder, the more work you have to put in, and those 40 hour weeks because sometimes 50 and 60. There is always going to be some balance with your life that you’ll have to make. But, but unless you’re passionate about what you really do day in and day out, you’re not going to last, you’re not going to excel, right? My number one kind of focus when I, when I kind of get up every morning is am I passionate about what I’m doing today, is it exciting? The second part is only work with A-players. My, my, you know, as I’ve grown and gotten into sales and just leadership, what I realized this when you don’t when you try to cut corners, whether it’s through your budget or time, to bring in players that are not A-players, you end up paying for it, you know, trifles, right,? It’s the time the, the effort of going into it, the cost of hiring a new employee, and having to replace them. It’s really important to bring in those A-players that really fit not only from a kind of a cultural perspective in your company but also are able to deliver on the promise that you’re giving your either shareholders or your, your executives, and your team, or the quotas that you’ve set for everybody, right? So they have to, have to align with that. Third is, is bringing in honest people. For me, bringing in honest folks to a business, I’ve seen plenty of, you know, folks that have done really well in sales or marketing or any other kind of organization within a business that have been okay, but they’re not someone that, that’s going to be completely ethical in the way they do business or someone that’s not completely going to be honest in the way they do business. Those guys will get a little bit of a head start sometimes, but eventually what they do is shoot themselves in the foot. I try to keep away from those folks at, at any cost just to make sure that one is I don’t want to mess up the culture of the company or the team that I’m putting together for, but also as you I want to make sure that a promise that’s made to a customer, it’s a promise that the company or I could deliver on, and not have any issues behind that. 

Christopher Smith   
Well that’s great, that’s great. How did you get your start in sales?  

Sebastian Shahvandi   
Oh god, it’s funny, I started off as an engineering major in school. I was super shy, wasn’t really a guy that wanted to stand in front of customers, but the first business I kind of started off working in was my father’s business. We did the electrical system diagnostics for cars. I started off at the very bottom, he made me sweep floors to get in there, but he realized that I’m shy and the first thing he did after that was he put me in front of customers, and I hated him for that. I was just dreading it all the time, I was, I was hurting just to be in front of a customer everyday, but what it really did is really allowed me kind of blossom into the to the kind of person and really understand what I’m capable of. And it came to a way where I fell in love with the concept of being in front of people and talking and providing kind of a solution to their needs. That being said, I ended up buying that business and growing it. It was the very first business kind of I took over and acquired and when I said acquired I mean truly acquired because my dad made me go through the banks and the loan process and he made me do it all. But it was all a really good learning kind of process for me as well, but going through that I just, you know, I started off a few businesses, sold those, and then eventually joined the, the enterprise where all with, which is where I started the, to run the software business within Dell, and I’ve just ever since, just kept in it and then been happy with it. 

Christopher Smith   
That’s awesome, that’s awesome. Thinking back to that time when you were starting out in sales, what would, what do you wish you would have been taught that would have made that time easier? 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
Don’t be shy, don’t, don’t be shy to ask the questions, and don’t be shy to really take that step and that initiative, right? I think a lot of kind of the reasons people are afraid of sales and the ones that are not in it or the ones that are in it and don’t accelerate is one is the intimidation of someone saying no or the rejection of it, right? Don’t be afraid to get rejected. There’s no, there’s nothing worse than a no, right, if someone isn’t interested in what you have to say, they’ll say no thank you or they’ll say no or they’ll hang up on you even, right? But it’s it’s just one is don’t be shy to ask questions and take that initiative to sell, and two is know what you’re selling and what you’re offering. It’s really providing a solution to a customer’s problem, not selling them a product. And as long as you can connect with the customer in that way and truly understand what they’re going through and how your solution can solve their problem, that’s when you can feel good about what you’ve done, but also you can make the selling and the customers happy as well. 

Christopher Smith   
Oh it’s so true, you want to get to that reason why they’re interested in buying. Nobody goes out to buy a product just to buy a product, I’m looking for it to do something for me, so that’s great, that’s great. What’s your best advice for someone who wants to start a sales career? 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
Get in there. You know, if you want to start in sales, I started at the bottom, and you’re going to start at the bottom, you’re going to go through those days of where you really, you know, you’re going to really hurt to go to work because you’re shy or you don’t know the material well enough and you know well enough and in companies that are larger, you may have, you know 50 different products that you have to sell. Just keep going at it, and one of the things that I would say is, and I say this to not just my sales guys, but to but to everyone in my organization. Look, your nine to five job will pay your bills, what do you do like an hour or two before or after, really big sets you up for your career and your future growth. So just because you accomplish something today and you make a new, let’s just say you over attain on your quota. It doesn’t mean you should be happy and complacent, what you should be looking at is how do I make it better. One of the things I always say to my team is always better never best, meaning today is always going to be better than tomorrow, but it’s never going to be my best work because tomorrow is going to be even better, right? It’s, it’s, it’s one of those things that you have to keep in mind, perfection right, just just try to build on it and go forward and don’t get discouraged. 

Christopher Smith   
Right. Tell me about your transition to sales leadership. Was that an easy transition for you or was it difficult? 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
There were some times that that I had to kind of overcome certain weaknesses or certain shortcomings within my kind of my skill set right? Managing people, I think as you grow into the leadership kind of side of business, you know when you get good at selling, you get really good at selling, but it’s the one thing you really need to understand is how do you convey that technique to the people that are reporting to you? How do you really become someone that can mentor and drive your folks to do better and become better people as as as they’re growing in their career? But also it’s, it’s, it’s about really understanding, like I said, the customer, right? You really have to understand what you’re doing and what, what you’re offering a person, even if it’s something that’s aligned with your beliefs or not. So, so, so when I got into that and you know leadership, I think that one of the things that, that I really had to really hone in on was, you know the, let’s go get it and let’s go, you know, achieve this, this goal and attain these quotas was great yeah, but but really being able to split that off and doing one-on-ones with my teammates to make sure that my folks are happy or they have something to say they can share outside of the group environment, and really being able to kind of bring down those barriers for them to go get, to be successful. 

Christopher Smith   
What was your biggest mistake in those early days of sales leadership? 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
My biggest mistake sometimes was I was afraid to say, “I don’t know the answer.” And I think it’s important even when, especially when you have a team. Because if you don’t know an answer to something as a leader, it doesn’t discredit you, it only discredits you if you lie. Just tell folks that, “Hey I’ll, I’ll get back to you on that,” because what will happen is, one, it helps you go learn something, and two, as you bring in the valid and true answers to the folks that are asking right, so, and then you’re not ruining your credibility along the way. So really understanding when to say, “I don’t know,” whether you’re in a sales process or when you’re managing your team or collaborating with them to figure out an answer to something, that would be really the best way to go as opposed to saying, “Look this is it,” and winging it and trying to figure it out from there. 

Christopher Smith   
What attracted you to your current company? Why did you take the role you’re in now? 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
The technology. I’m a bit of a geek, so I enjoy, you know, and like I said what, I’ve never taken a role that it’s not been something that excites me. This technology was with something you know, the high-quality virtual mobile infrastructure and virtual mobility was something that really kind of was cool and is cool. And I still remember the first time I saw it, and when the CEO showed me the technology, I fell in love with it. I said, “This is just phenomenal. This is great,” right, and that’s, that’s the excitement that kind of got me to kind of join the company itself. 

Christopher Smith   
That’s awesome. What advice do you have for someone who is stepping into that leadership role? What should their focus be for that first 90 days? 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
My approach is always people, product, process, right? People meaning get to know your people, really understand them, learn what makes them tick. Yes, we’re in sales and we run sales organizations, but not money isn’t always the driver of the folks that are on your team, some of them just sometimes want recognition, some of them want career, career growth, right? And it’s not the financial aspect of it that drives them, it’s just the, actually the mindset of, right? Some people just want to learn more. I to this day will, you know, won’t want to work for anyone that I can’t learn from, because you’re never going to know it all, right? That’s the people aspect of it. The product is really understand your product you’re offering, what you’re what you’re really doing, and what you’re offering your customers and what you’re providing for them as far as a solution. And then the process is how do you make the process from the minute you have hello to your customers or a lead that comes in all the way to the minute the customer is needing support, how to get involved in that process and help make it better and make the customer’s life easier and better, because what that does is ultimately comes back to you, especially in the SAS world, right? You see a lot of that, reflecting on the renewal time when a customer comes to renew their process or even referrals, when they refer your product to someone else. It’s going to be your support that really comes in and that that that kind of customer success that comes in around it, and focusing on that process is really important, as, just as important as really going after the, you know, looking at the funnel and then really being able to weigh it and going after strategy. I think that process of once you won the customer over of taking care of that customer is, is a very important kind of step that some people forget. 

Christopher Smith   
Right, right. CROs have such broad responsibilities. How do you manage all, or manage to balance all your different responsibilities as a CRO? 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
Sometimes it’s tougher. You know, today I manage sales, marketing, and operations. It’s, it’s broad, and there’s a lot. And especially if you’re in a smaller company that’s growing, you’re going to wear a lot more hats than those three roles, right? Sometimes you’re going to be involved in finance, sometimes in HR, legal, doesn’t matter, you’ll be in it. One is really understand the big picture. Really try to learn a big picture meaning where the company is, what the vision of that company is, what the vision of the leadership is, and be able to convey that to everybody on your team. The more your team is enabled and really understands what they’re doing, the easier your life is going to be, because you brought in the A-players, right, that we spoke about the beginning to go drive business and do their own jobs, right? Managing it is, is really being able to operationalize it, really being able to operationalize the business process itself, so that you have to focus on your people, so you can really rely in on your people, but also support them to overcome those shortcomings that they have, or some issues that they have or some help that they support that they need to go, you know, work on a, an opportunity or a process that they’re putting in place. I think sometimes you get, you know, overwhelmed and then things do come, you know when it rains, it pours sometimes. But it’s, it’s, the important part is to keep the cool, take a step back sometimes, look at the big picture, and then go back in and try to solve it. 

Christopher Smith   
Now you’ve mentioned A-players a couple of times. I want to dive into that. What is your strategy for identifying A-players and then attracting them, getting them to come work with you? 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
Referrals, the number one thing, right? So if I’ve if I want to hire, you know, top sales reps or marketing folks, I make sure to first follow on my own network, right? Really go after them and see, you know, who has someone that they can recommend that is good for that role that I have. Two is go through the process of really interviewing people in a manner where it’s real-life applications, so you’re not only hiring the person because if they can go sell something or if they’re really good you know demand gen for a person, you’re hiring the person as a person to come in and be a part of your organization, and integrate and influence that culture. Really understanding what is it first, first and foremost, what is it that I want to accomplish, what is this, this person that’s coming into this role, what is their, let’s just say top 10 things that I need this person to be able to do and because I need to reach this objective, right? Two is really honing in and getting the right people and taking the time to interview the right people. I’ve had in the past where we’ve, you know, we’ve seen people getting hired because the say the manager was in a hurry and needed someone in that role, so he or she went and got that that person in a role, which was a terrible disaster, right? Take your time, it is worth the extra two weeks, three weeks, even a month to find the right person. And eventually, the, at the end of the day is knowing if someone’s not a good fit and being able to kind of cut your ties with that and move on and, you know, cut your losses and move on. So you really have to be able to, to look at it and say, okay this is a good fit, this person can really make it work, they’re, they’re aligned, their mindset and their vision is aligned with where we want to go, and they can fulfill that. 

Christopher Smith   
So, salespeople are great at selling, especially an A-player sales person, you’re going to be great at selling. How do you get past them being able to just sell themselves to really what their true person is or what’s really who they really are, how do you get past that?  

Sebastian Shahvandi   
You can always read, one is you can read cues, right? When you’re in sales, you get to know another salesperson. You can you can call out different cues that are like okay, maybe this is a little off or maybe this is an attack. My other, kind of, kind of approach to this is you ask them what they do, but then you ask them for references, and this could be customer, it should be generally customers, previous colleagues, as well as previous leaders in their business, and see what they have to say about this person. If a customer comes back and has really good reviews about, you know, this person, then you know they’re, they’re good at selling to the customer, they took care of the customer. Again, the same with the colleagues, is this person, good and easy to work with? Is, is he or she enjoyable to work with or not? If someone’s A-player but when it comes to just sales, and but not A-player when it comes to team, you know, dynamics, not going to work for you, right? And the end is the leadership. Ask them what you know which leaders they recommend that you can reach out to and connect with and get true honest feedback. But one of the things I also ask is, tell me a, you know, give me one part of you that you think is a weakness for you. And I’m not talking about that, you know that weakness that comes out as a strength, I work a lot and sometimes I get carried away, right? No, you literally say, what is a true weakness that you have, right? Is it standing in front of more than 10 people and presenting, okay cool, so at least you know what you’re getting yourself into. And and you know where if that’s something you can live with where you can kind of build on for them and help them fix that. Those are the ways that kind of try to make sure you lock in it. There’s no 100%, you know, insured way of going about it, but the more time and effort you put into it and the more people around those people you ask, the references essentially, I think the better you are and the more you get out of it. 

Christopher Smith   
How many times do you interview someone before you hire them? 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
Depends on the role. You know, for you know, I’ve had no less than say three people, three interviews per person, that at the, at the least for you know for a direct sales role. And I’ve had interviews where I’ve had someone six or seven times that we’ve, we bring them in with, whether as a group or I talked to them twice myself to just really be able to gauge the answers and gauge that person from not just my perspective, but the person that they’re going to report to, the person they’re going to work for, and some of my colleagues that they’re going to have to kind of maybe dotted line into, right? I want to have as much input as I can from others. Sometimes you’re deep in, and you can’t really see what’s going on, right, so the, the outside, the outside view is really helpful. 

Christopher Smith   
I think one of the, the big components of being a good sales leader is identifying those within their team that should be considering a move into sales leadership. What’s your strategy for cultivating future sales leaders? 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
So one of the things that I really like doing, and you know I learned this during my tenure at Dell mentor programs. I had three mentors when I was at Dell, and they were super helpful. To this day, I still have mentors that help me, guide me through kind of the path, not only just could my career, but sometimes just the way I approach a problem, right? Mentoring your team is super important. And when I said that, you know, earlier in our conversation I said look, it’s not money that motivates people right, one of the things that I want to focus on with my people is where do they want to go? I’ve had employees that wanted to look outside of the company for their next career move, and I helped them go there, because of the fact that you need to, you need to give back. You need to really help others succeed, it doesn’t mean that you help, you help them succeed by only you succeeding right, it means that really mentoring them and finding out where do they want to go, where do they want to be in three or five years from now, and how do you help them build towards that, and when the time comes, really having to support them to be able to go make that move. 

Christopher Smith   
I want to read something off your LinkedIn profile, it’s a recommendation you received. I’m gonna, I’m gonna read it here. “Besides having significant experience and expertise as a high-tech CRO and sales professional, Sebastian is the best and most he’s-got-your-back manager I’ve ever worked with. He leads by example, is collaborative, and inspires creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. I learned from him daily.” Can you talk about that? Is that, like just part of who you, is that a normal? 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
Yes. I enjoy my having my team succeed. You know, as a manager, people, you know, we forget and we’re just supposed to be there and tell the team what to do. It’s not that, it’s usually by example. You show them what kind of team you really want to be, and and and leading them to that, you know, from the front, not from the back, with you know with, with, with bells and whistles. One of the things that I do is I set on one, I set one-on-ones with my team, if it’s not, you know bi-weekly, at least once every three weeks, right, to really gauge how they’re doing. And one of the first questions I ask especially for the first six months of someone joining my team is, “Are you having fun?” That’s pretty much it. “Are you having fun, are you enjoying what you’re doing?” because if you’re not doing that and you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, it’s gonna, it’s going to get worse and you’re going to have a hard time being creative. Two is the status quo doesn’t work. For me, you know, I always empower my team to even question the way I approach something, if they have a better opinion on how to approach it, really bring it up in a meeting and let’s discuss it. It’s not confrontational and it’s not an ego thing, it’s just a matter of, “Hey, what about if we do this? What about if we approach it this way?” And be willing to let your team go out and actually go take risks, take chances on new things that you think, hey you know what, I think this is a good idea. I don’t know how it’s gonna turn out, but from what I’m seeing, the data shows that it will be successful. Let them go try it out and support them and if it fails, take the lessons learned and move on, right? And make sure everyone learns that. Three is sometimes you got to cover the heat for your team. Sometimes your team will make a decision that’s a mistake that’s made or something that fails, you have to provide air cover- 

Christopher Smith   
So I apologize to our listeners, we had a technical hiccup there. Sebastian was in the middle of his answer. So Sebastian, you were talking about you need to have your back for your team. Could you continue on with that?  

Sebastian Shahvandi   
Yeah, absolutely. So, as I was saying earlier is that look, not being a manager for your team is not just letting them go do things that, you know, within the parameters of the framework of the business, exploring new things, but also sometimes you got to cover the heat. You got, you got to take on the heat for them, provide air cover for them in a way where something doesn’t work, and because and something particularly if they made a mistake and it was something that you can recover from, and if it was something that was, you know, just something that you said, “Hey let’s go try this,” and it failed. You may get, they may want you know, have some other manager or some other, you know, executive come in and try to give them some heat. Your responsibility as a leader and as a mentor is to provide air cover and provide them that support, so it enables them and empowers them to be able to do that again and do that, you know, take those chances and take those those risks of trying new things that are outside the box, rather than worrying and freaking out and never trying something new again. So as a leader you have to be there for your folks and really, really support them through those. 

Christopher Smith   
To be, to have that dialogue like you’re saying, that back and forth, you have to be vulnerable yourself. How do you establish that vulnerability with your team? 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
It comes with trust. So trust by verifying first, right, but trust back, but verify it. You’ve got to build that trust with your team and they have to build it with you as well, right? No manager is going to trust the team 100% from day one. And, no, no team teammate is going to trust their manager from day one. It’s just you have to build that trust where you’re, you know, if you did your due diligence and you brought in the right people and you believe that you brought in the right people, and you just build that trust with them and let them go do their thing, let them go do what they were brought in to do, and trust that they’ll make the right decisions. And all you do is really let them know that if they don’t know an answer to something or they’re stuck on something, your door’s always open for them to bring it into you and ask the question or even share it with the team, so maybe someone else on the team has that collaborative environment will help, right? It’s, it’s a matter of building that trust and really keeping the trust at the end of the day, right, when it comes when I say, providing air cover for your folks, you have to make sure that trust is there on your team. 

Christopher Smith   
That’s awesome. Let’s transition to talk about CRM. When it comes to CRM, do you love it, or do you hate it? 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
I love it, live by it. 

Christopher Smith   
What, what are the things about it that you love the most about CRM? 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
I drive my business with a lot of insight from data, I mean, I’m sure a lot of leaders do, right? Data comes from, a lot of it from CRM, from the minute you have, you know, you’re calculating maybe your, your, your number of leads to the cost of leads that are coming in to your, you know conversion rates to everything, everything throughout the customer journey in the lifecycle, including kind of hey you know which customer sets so, you know, about more, which didn’t, and what is really working for you from an operational perspective internally as well as, as well as the knowledge base internally for your team. It can all be pulled out from CRM. The reason that, you know, it’s just a matter of one is knowing what you’re looking for again, right, what is it that, what kind of data do you want? But two is really building it in where you can pull that data out and really review it and understand it so you can make decisions for your future business as you go forward. I personally love the fact that we use, you know, capabilities like this to pull data back and warehouse our data, but also it gives us a lot of insight into not only our internal operations and our, you know, sales team, but also externally to the customer and what’s really going on with customer insights. 

Christopher Smith   
What is, what are things, you know kind of flipping the coin here, what are the things that you like least about CRM? 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
It’s very dry. You know, CRM always needs a human touch. It needs a human understanding and logic behind it, and you can just, you know, as I mentioned, data is important, but you need the human touch to really translate that data. And it’s work, it’s it’s, it’s time and effort that has to be put in. I think the hardest part about CRM for me has always been the implementation part because you actually have to build a framework of, here’s what we want to get today, and then build it to scale so say, you know, say, a year down the line or five years down the line as you grow, how can the CRM still be kind of something that you can use today as you build on it to go forward? It’s, it’s, you just, you just have to make sure that you rely on it and encourage your team to use it, because most teams, especially on the sales side right, you see people where they don’t like to register these deals all the time or update their deal to pipeline or you know, it’s, it’s really just teaching your team and empowering them to really go do this the right way and telling them why is important, but it’s not always fun. 

Christopher Smith   
Right. You just hit on it with telling them why, and that was, that’s my next question. When you’re doing that, having that conversation of telling them why they need to use CRM, what is your why? 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
It’s always the big picture as I mentioned, where, you know, what is the big picture and what is the ultimate goal? And in my business that I manage, you know, whether it’s the sales team, the marketing team, operations, doesn’t matter, showing them the big picture and the big vision and having them see it and buy it is, is important, because everything just trickles down and you run backwards from there. I use CRM to, to kind of show my team, you know, here’s how you know a cost of customer acquisition costs went down, or here’s how your sales cycles can decrease by, you know, X, Y, Z changes in your habits. Showing them the way that data really translates into their business, into their lives, and into their well-being is important and then what it does is eventually gets them to kind of buy in on the idea of using it on a more regular basis, but also putting in data that’s more accurate and more consistent. 

Christopher Smith   
Oh I love that. I think you nailed it in terms of especially big picture. I think with salespeople, they’re just so focused on, on pipeline or, you know what is my deal flow or what, how much commission I’m going to make. Plus if they don’t understand that, there are other parts of the organization that are relying on good data in CRM so they can make decisions, you know, on people they need to hire or inventory they may have to purchase ,whatever. But there’s a lot of downstream stuff that all comes from the work the sales team is doing up front. That’s great. For those people that just are struggling with CRM, do you have any advice, you know, for listeners that they may be having a similar struggle?  

Sebastian Shahvandi   
Look, every new thing is always going to be a little bit of work and a little bit of struggle to get it, right? One to me is, you know, my, my one recommendation is first to never give up, just keep going. Just understand that it’s going to suck and it’s going to be hard and it’s going to be a little bit of work, as I mentioned after your nine to five job, you may have to spend an hour extra and learn a little bit about CRM, but also understand that you don’t need to take it all in at one time. Just learn a piece each day and add on to it every day. It’ll make your life easier and also make helps you absorb it better. It’s just, but it’s important. Data is really important. The more data-driven you are, the more success you’re going to have, not only today, but in your future as well. 

Christopher Smith   
So, as a CRO, you’re over both sales and marketing. What is your approach to creating that alignment that I think is really necessary between sales and marketing? 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
Outside of the big picture, which I mentioned again, right, really showing everyone how everything fits together to build this big picture. I believe sales and marketing always independent, or dependent on each other, right, they complete each other no matter what. When marketing comes up with leads or does, you know, demands and activities and some leads are generated after this, sales is going to, you know after marketing is qualified them, sales may want to have to qualify them. That comes from communication back and forth, whether it’s through the CRM that we just mentioned earlier or whether it’s through just you know an email, really helps hone in on marketing doing a better job to provide leads for sales and then sales getting and giving a good amount of feedback to marketing, so they can go after that and really build on, on, on their campaigns to get better leads. I personally believe that that, that collaboration is super important. It’s super important that all aspects of business really tie into each other more, that’s when we will build our CRM, we start not only from the top from, you know, going after leads and lead acquisition all the way out to the back end of support and customer success. It’s, it’s, everything has to tie in, and I think sales and marketing have to be hand in hand and they’re really, for the most part, I think sales and marketing should always be under one leader. Now whether that’s a, you know, CRO or anything else, it doesn’t matter. I think it’s just, it’s important for that kind of the umbrella of that business to be connected in in the back end. 

Christopher Smith   
Do you leverage your CRM in any way to help create or support that alignment? 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
Yes. So, so a lot of the stuff that I did especially with Hypori today, when we were building our CRM out, was building for scale and but also operationalization, right? So one of the issues that we had initially when we were starting off was when sales were done, some of our, you know, customers on prem products had to be integrated and installed. The deployment team was getting notified late, and they weren’t catching on with what the customer needs from the sales side in order to go out and really do this properly. So one, you know, one of the things that that we did was, for example, build it in where as a lead is following through the you know the life cycle, whether it comes from, from once it comes from marketing to sales, and then when it gets to the final stages of sale, the you know, and especially the part that hey, this customer said yes, a notification for example would go to our operations team or our deployment team to say, hey, this opportunity is coming up, here’s all the information that, that’s, that you need. And by the way, the information is all in the CRM as the sales people put in there, right. So, and then every kind of back end support that goes into that is tied to that one customer number or customer ID. So, you have the whole kind of 360 view of this customer from day one, how much it costs you to get them, how long it took for their deployment to happen, and whether whether NPS scores and results of that today, right? So it’s really important to kind of build that operationalization and automation into the system, where it’s not every day it’s it, you don’t want it to be a hassle for everyone for every little stage right, you want to automate as much as possible. 

Christopher Smith   
I 100% agree, especially that part about, you know, when the deal is won, there’s a whole lot of stuff that has to happen, and having that seamless flow from the sales team into operations or deployment or customer success, whatever an organization may call it, it all begins with having that good data and CRM so you are able to support that seamless handoff. That’s terrific. Sebastian, we are coming up on our time here on Sales Lead Dog. I really appreciate you coming on, it’s been great listening to you. If people want to reach out and connect with you or if they want to learn more about Hypori, what’s the best way for them to do that? 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
Reach out on LinkedIn, happy to help. I’m very active on LinkedIn, you know, it’s, it’s one of those tools that I use on a day-in and day-out basis, so don’t hesitate to reach out. If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them as well.  

Christopher Smith   
Awesome, awesome. Yeah, and your website, all that info will be in the show notes. For those of you listening, please be sure to to like us, follow us, give us some good ratings, we really appreciate that. Sebastian, thank you again for coming on Sales Lead Dog. 

Sebastian Shahvandi   
Very welcome Chris. It’s good to be here. 

Outro 
As we end this discussion on Sales Lead Dog, be sure to subscribe to catch all our episodes on social media. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Watch the videos on YouTube, and you can also find our episodes on our website at Empellorcrm.com/salesleaddog. Sales Lead Dog is supported by Empellor CRM, delivering objectively better CRM for business guaranteed. 

Quotes

  • “One of the things I always say to my team is always better never best meaning today is always going to be better than tomorrow but it’s never going to be my best work because tomorrow is going to be even better.” (20:37-20:45)
  • “Unless you’re passionate about what you really do, day in and day out, you’re not going to last, you’re not going to excel. My number one focus when I when I get up every morning, is am I passionate about what I’m doing today, is it exciting?” (14:52-15:06)
  • “My biggest mistake sometimes was I was afraid to say I don’t know the answer. And I think it’s important, even when, especially when you have a team. If you don’t know an answer to something as a leader, it doesn’t discredit you and only discredits you if you lie.” (22:21-22:34)

Links

Sebastian Shahvandi: LinkedIn
Hypori: LinkedIn
Intelligent Waves: LinkedIn
Hypori: Website
Intelligent Waves: Website

Empellor CRM: Website
Empellor CRM: Website