Episode 4 - WeDisrupt Sales Podcast - We sit down with Ollie Sharpe, VP of Revenue at SalesLoft.
Ollie takes us through his learnings from working at the likes of LinkedIn and SalesLoft on the importance of company values and how to think about employer branding when attracting top-level sales talent. We cover everything from choosing your values to thinking about culture fit versus culture add.
Hello and welcome to a shop sales podcast. My name is Will Chivers. And I'm driving my cars for sale calm. And we're here to interview some of the world's most influential sales leaders, revenue officers and executives on the planet, William. So for we just have Sam's podcast who do we have Missouri today? And what are we going to talk about? Today, we have Ollie sharp, Ali's the VP of revenue, a company called sales loft. And today, we're going to be talking about what he learned from LinkedIn around the importance of company values, how you need to look at making a company values and how you can bake them into your employer branding. So across the recruitment process, you can find the right talent that meets the culture you're looking to create. I love this episode, and it tells us a lot about what we need to look at when it comes to building the right culture. So I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Brilliant. Let's get into the episode. Ali, great to have you on the show. It'd be great if you could kick off a little bit about yourself and what got you into sales. My name is really sharp. I'm VP of revenue. For a mere sales loft, I originally fell into sales because I did a graphic design degree and then realized I couldn't use a computer to design so I went for a marketing job that turned out to be top to door sales. So I did that and then broke my ankle and went into recruitment. No one plans to go to sales or recruitment. I spent 10 years recruiting salespeople and VPS of sales, different levels in the UK, and then all within technology. And then after 10 years there, I joined LinkedIn and spent 10 years at LinkedIn from during a high growth period, started in sales and moved into leadership and set up teams and developed teams at LinkedIn and then I joined Salesforce in April last year, and to head up, Amir build, set up an office set up a sales team, support team and everything over here in Amir, and yeah, that's what I'm doing now. And Ollie all the time. conversations we've had around how you build your team, how you build your culture is all around the company values you put in place. So I think as a starting point, it'd be great if we could break down around what taught you the importance of company values and kind of what that's brought with you along your sales career. I think that when I was in recruitment, I had the same view as lots of salespeople very cynical, because a lot of people come to find a new job and said, this company said they had all of these these core values or whatever. And they were just writing on a wall, but nobody stuck by now. It became I realized that was a big reason why people leave jobs, but also, I became that cynic. And then when I joined LinkedIn, I was that cynic I just went out another company just just putting on the wall and not living by it. And it was so different, I actually realized how important culture and values work. So we LinkedIn, they had specific culture. values and the culture was my gamson defined as the culture is who we are and who we aspire to be. The values are the ideas that govern our actions and decisions. And that's the best way to think about it. I mean, core values are so important that it helps you make your decisions as a business, it helps you recruit, it helps in every way to make sure you're doing the right thing and people know what they should be doing. So it very quickly taught me the importance of these at LinkedIn. So as much as that when I was looking for a job, when I left LinkedIn after 10 years, the most important thing to me was culture. And if they met my requirements, or we aligned on cultures with requirements, it it had to do that for me to go to join a company. And I think that really a lot of people nowadays do make a decision down on culture and it's it's not specific Typically, we're all different as people and companies are different. It's not that every company is right for every person. And it's like there's other companies in our space or allied spaces that simply some people are better fit to join their company than mine or my company rather than that. So it is just like a matchmaking thing to make sure that you're the culture aligns with the person that you're taking off. So if you take an objective view in terms of the values at LinkedIn, and where the success has been at LinkedIn, and both what you're doing at sales loft, what do you think you did that made you able to kind of live and breathe your company values? I think that really core values should really be just obvious. I think that they should portray how we act and stuff and I don't think it it's not about building them to be something that you can't be or something we're not it is something that just, it defines how we act a little bit. So I think it's an A case of I mean, I've not built them that sales loft, they were all built when I joined. But when I saw Kyle Porter being interviewed, when he spoke about them talking about team over self, and glass half full, and we have five of them here, I realized that I could tell from the way that these were written and what they were saying that they were realistic and relevant at the same time. And I don't think it's about ramming them down people's throat, constantly telling people how they need to act, I think it's about making sure that as leaders, we are following core values all the time and making sure that we are accountable for doing that. If there, if the core values are right, then it should just be something that we do ethically anyway. So, I mean, it is things like putting a customer first we all think about it, but it's about calling out when somebody is doing it, making sure that we're showing that people are following core values when they do something right. And I have experienced people but just reiterating the exact terminology for every time that didn't work for me, it might work for some, it didn't work for me, I just wanted someone to go brilliant. You did this, which is right for the customer. Brilliant is right. It's aligned with our core values, which is why I appreciate it. So I think it's just showing that they are doing the right. If someone's doing it, they're probably doing the right thing. And making sure they recognize that it is something that we're doing that helps sort of bring it out a little bit more and people to realize that they do actually work. And when I've been advising people in the past, people come to me for advice and a lot of time when it's around sales, a lot of people will come to me because I have this mindset of social recruiting the right people and showing them how to do it and setting expectations at the beginning. Concentrate on their happiness. And a lot of people come to me asking more about okay, but once if they're not hitting once, if they're not acting in the right way. And my first question is, if they're not acting in the right way, have you actually explained what the right way is? Do you have core values? And most, most of the time, the answer is no. They haven't set out core values or they've set them out. And they've not actually socialize them. So nobody knows what they are. So there's no point even having them. So I think it's just making sure that you show you define them, you socialize them across your team and set expectations. And that helps you with performance conversations, as well as making decisions as a business and everything you're doing, I guess, to bring this in life because you said some really interesting things there. Could you talk a little bit more about what the values are at sales loft and what you've done consistently to help put them in place within your company culture? Yeah, I mean, the we have five, the first one is putting the customer first. It's making sure that when we're making decisions, we're always thinking about our customers. Team over self, so making sure that we are not that lone wolf, we're thinking about our team, we sharing what works. glass half full. This isn't about thinking, positive and unrealistic the whole time. It's about realistic optimism and really working. When faced with adversity, working out what is the right way forward, not just blindly thinking positively. You can turn things around just with your mindset. And I did a talk about this internally recently, and I'll come back to that. So focus on results, is the fourth one. And bias towards action, focus on results is there. It's not necessarily about sales results. It's about getting a result from your actions. And then bias towards action just means that rather than just talking and thinking about things, we actually work towards something. And what have we done, too. I think that when we sit down and someone comes to you and says, right, I'm thinking about doing X or Y If you can say right well, which do you feel aligns best with putting the customer first. If that helps them go to make them, make them do the right and make the right decision, then that's what they're there for. And I think what I've done just last week, we have a sales all hands within the company and I talked about resilience in my life. It wasn't really work that taught me about resilience. It was more my personal life. That taught me a lot about resilience. We, my wife suffered many miscarriages, that my daughter got diagnosed diabetes, then my wife had cancer. And it taught me a lot about how you handle situations and I gave a talk to the revenue organization about that about how I dealt with adversity over the time to make sure that I followed suit glass half full. No, that's that's really interesting. And thank you for sharing that because I can appreciate that. You know, that's probably not a an easy thing to share the story Really good examples. So, when you when you look for salespeople, you know, naturally, you know, I use myself as an example, you know, we, I think the way we're born is we are naturally quite cynical. And so, you know, coming into a culture like sales loft, which sounds like unbelievable culture, how do you sort of, you know, convert the unconverted in some respects and start measuring, look, you know, are these guys bought into to, to what we're putting forward here and how do we measure that, if that makes sense? I think it comes down to, I mean, it should sort of be involved in the interview process, you should know your core values and when you're doing the interview, you should make sure that they are aligned with your core values. So making sure that someone shows resilience or is customer focused or whatever you your core values. So we will put me first of all, we have a interview, we have a number of people in the company that are trained on interviewing around core values. And that is part of our set up or interview process. Also, when I'm interviewing, I have questions that I will dig into to make sure that they are aligned with our core values. And I don't think it's, I mean, I think if done in the right way, you can turn people around from the from the cynics into believers in it. It's not like a cult, where we're all praising it or anything like that. It is simply a set of sort of things we have written down that governs our actions and decisions and the way that we act. So as long as they're not too ridiculous, then it is easy to get people to align with them and understand that's how the company's built. That's really interesting. Can you unpack a bit more about some key things that you try and do in the interview process to bring it into life? Yeah, so there is a crippled by motherboards that looks at how you strip back experience and other elements to make sure that you're interviewing around what you really want. So I made sure that I was the first thing to me that I interview on is culture fit or culture ad. And that's different because a lot of people will talk about culture fit. But to me, I learned at LinkedIn, that when you start thinking culture fit, you build a team of everybody very similar, whereas you don't want that you want a diverse team. So getting down to the culture fit stroke culture add, but then also looking at minimizing the experience so have they sold x, y and Zed? with that then you can actually for me, like when I want to see somebody glass half full, I will ask them what's the what's the toughest situation they've had in a work environment and how they overcame it. And, and what the what the result of them doing it was? You can only tell if someone's focused on results. bias towards action, you can start asking them more about when they've seen an issue and what they've done with it. And even if they've fallen out with their leader, or they've had a problem with their manager, did you address it with them? And how did that go? So just making sure that they are. And it takes a bit of thinking you don't just sit there? I mean, you can't sit there and go, are you customer first? Because people will automatically go Yes. So you take him over itself? Yeah. So it's just asking the situational questions to see how they've reacted in a certain situation to understand exactly. Are they aligned with those with your core values? What is your advice to people with really strong company values that really want to get across when it comes to their employer branding? plan? It's, it's quite simple when it comes down to it. When I was at LinkedIn, a lot of my time was spent advising companies about how to build an employer brand because I was on talent solutions side so we were helping companies and we search for people but also Build an employer brand on LinkedIn, and recruitment agencies building a brand as well, not just an employer brand. And it was the ones that just went and did it are the ones that you could tell had not done the planning and the word of successful. So I think really it's make First of all, it's sitting down and really saying, right? How do we want to portray ourselves? So what we used to talk about is when you're when you go to an agency or recruitment agency, but mediate, see, if you're talking about building a brand, they'll ask you questions like what kind of car do you want to be? Or what kind of supermarket Do you Where do you feel your most aligning? So making sure that you're thinking like that? Do you want to be the Volvo that safe? Do you want to be the Porsche whatever it is? thinking like that, okay, how do we want to portray ourselves, I always want to portray ourselves as the sort of the culture focused, fun environment that successful and relating all of your core values back to that planning stage of how you can portray yourselves. But then before any content gets put out, making sure I would see it as a checklist, okay? Does any of this content go against any of our five core values? Does it show that we're putting customer we're not putting customer first or not team over itself. And making sure all aligns, I think that the planning part is very, very important. And this is where you can go wrong by not actually thinking about what you're putting out. So when it comes to organizations, and especially you internally now sales loft looking to plan and get a consistent message when it comes to how they they're portrayed online. How do you go about that that planning session is and what kind of people do you try to incorporate in order to make sure it's consistent? Well, it's I mean, we try not to restrict people too much. I mean, we have people that don't do much on LinkedIn, but then we have someone like I don't have seen Tom Boston's post that he does the videos and he hilarious and it's just making sure that he thinks about core values before posting anything and making sure that he can't upset anybody or put or do something wrong. But we also like to make sure that we give them complete freedom in what they do. We have done sessions with external people and myself, to make sure we're all aligned on how we should be thinking about putting on an ace whether brand and employer brands. Sometimes there's a massively gray area in the middle, john Boston is putting stuff out for a brand of sales, loft, but really impacts our employer brand, because they can see that our culture as well. So it's just people being aware and I think it comes back to the people you recruit. And if you put if you're recruiting the right people, then also making sure you're setting expectations early on, you can leave them to do what you want, or you should be able to, that's how I see it from a from a sales perspective then so you know, you you see certain companies and they do do this pretty well. So Rackspace is an example of I would say we've done this very well. they've they've we've in their company culture, part of their sales process. And part of the way they're sell that their customers are sort of buying into the brand and what that represents. So for a company that sells love, how do you do that? How do you build the brand into the product that they're buying? immensely? I think it's all one really, I think that I think that lean really, people tend to buy in and respond to ideas that inspire them. And whether it's your employees that are buying into the sort of the idea that of what the company is doing, which really comes down to the vision. I mean, I think really, it's the purpose, the mission and the vision of a company that really impacts and the core values and then we regularly talk about, I mean, our vision is that every seller is loved by the buyers they serve. Okay, and that's about making sure that they Clients can offer a great experience to their prospects and clients. And that's a great purpose to have. Because it's not about making money. It's about making sure that we're improving the sales function, the sales industry. And that's what people get behind. And we will talk about this in sales processes. Because if we can sit down and say like, this is what our vision is, and within our core values, one of them is putting the customer first. And then you can sort of get an idea of how we work as a company. And if we actually know what our core values and our mission and vision are, then it's probably something that means a lot to us. So I agree. And when I was at LinkedIn, we had our mission and vision and we, it worked well for people to understand. We weren't there just to build the biggest network. It was actually to help other people out in the world, which is really important. Yeah, I think I think that's really important. You know, the key things that you said there for me are ideas that inspire them, and mission and vision You know, you look at all the great companies that have great brands, and it's built around, they've got a simple mission, which is their go to market. And then they've got a vision in terms of where they want to be. And that's what both the people who work for that brand, but the people who buy into that brand. That's the reason why they buy into that brand. So I think so I think that's Yeah, if you look at Simon Sinek start with why his TED talk that he did, it's very much around that about Apple and Microsoft about Apple start with why Microsoft don't and when you think about how we, our emotions, when we think about in our feelings when we think about Apple as a brand compared to Microsoft as a brand. We most people lean towards apple and their their actual brand itself whether they want their products or not, because it's some of what they built. Start with why guess move on to the rapid fire round. The first question that I'm really keen to ask what's your favorite book and why? So there is one a book I have quite a few favorite books. True favorite is one called the monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma. And it's one that I like. I like learning about stuff. And this things like emotion, intelligence mindset and happiness advantage that I thought were great books as well. But monkey Sold His Ferrari, I never learned so much about myself reading any other book than that. And I think that it's one of those that's not the way you're just learning what it tells you. You're reading it and learning about yourself behind it. And it helped me understand things like I always thought that my purpose was that I was a family man. When I actually read that book. I saw it as I understood more about why I do things, and I understood my purpose a lot more. And it helped me decide what I wanted to be doing from my next job. So I think as a book, it's transformational. I think it's absolutely fantastic book. Nice. So in this new COVID world, and talk to To your daily routine, what works for you? What doesn't work for you. And so my daily routine, I tend to get up early and I either try go for a run or a dog walk before nine o'clock and I get to my desk at nine o'clock I don't get to my desk before then I will actually get attend to nine so I can plan for my nine o'clock meeting. But I don't, I have no goal of sitting there before that. I'd rather take that time out to actually either walk the dog with my wife or go for a run by myself. Once I've done that my routine is at my desk almost the day, I make sure I go away from my desk for lunch. It's on a Wednesday, we do have a team lunch, over zoom, but every other day I will make sure that I'm away from my desk for that lunch break and then back. I try and make sure that I'm close my laptop and finished by half, five, six every day. It's too easy to work. You just sit here and then suddenly realize it's seven o'clock. So I make a conscious effort to make sure that I'm doing that. And then I'll either try, go cook dinner, I need something. And normally it's a beer to actually symbolize that I've finished working, unfortunately, but it is getting away from my desk. And I have started trying to take my daughter by tennis at five, six clock to make sure that I get a little bit more exercise in a day. That's it. I mean, I and then also I've realized that I can't read workbooks when I get to bed because my sleep patterns so messed up, I have to read some fiction. And so that's what I do, and try to relax and get a good sleep, which at the moment seems odd. Only. It's been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much. If anyone's if anyone's kind of interested in reaching out, is that okay, and where can they find you? Yeah, LinkedIn, just contact me on LinkedIn. I do get lots of approaches. And I'm not there to be sold to on LinkedIn unless someone's very open about It says, I'll get it. I'm interested. please reach out mentioned that you've heard me on this and be great to connect and if I can help anybody in any way they can just ask. Amazing. Thanks, Tom. Well, it's been great having on the show Transcribed by https://otter.ai