In May, we welcomed Mike Hayes as our new VP of Sales. Take a few minutes to read the interview below, and you’ll understand why we’re so excited about having him on the team. Mike is a sales and marketing powerhouse and a great, down-to-earth guy—as long as you don’t trash the Toffees, aka Everton Football Club. This native of Cheshire, England has lived in the US since 1993, but his loyalty will never fade.
According to your LinkedIn profile, you’ve held a lot of different roles over the past few decades. You got your start training at Honeywell and later worked as a product manager at Oracle, followed by a series of mostly product management and marketing roles. How did you make the leap to sales?
When the dot-com bubble burst, a friend invited me to sell multi-million dollar software solutions for Vitria Technology. That gave me the impetus to take my marketing background and really get into sales, we wrote letters, licked envelopes, dialed for dollars and pretty much managed everything on paper at that point.
After a short spell with Vitria, I joined an HR and payroll software company called Ascentis, this time to start and develop a Sales and Marketing organization. Over a four-year period, we built a team from zero to 35 people in marketing, sales, account management and business development. With limited investment, the business grew 50% year-over-year throughout that time, and we reduced churn from 30% to around 5% by the time I left.
I had a similar experience at Payscale. I was the third salesperson there, and I grew a large and successful team. Since then, I’ve taken a variety of other roles building and running both inside and outside sales teams. I have lots of fond memories of the people I’ve met along the way.
You’ve used Salesforce in most of your previous jobs. How does PipelineDeals compare?
I was a Salesforce user for 14 years, since it was in Beta. In the beginning, it was an innovative platform, but I’ve long believed that the larger it gets, the more cluttered it is. For example, every time I’ve come in to manage a sales team, I’ve always inherited a very cluttered, cumbersome sales environment. The clutter evolves because leaders have many good ideas and then other people add more ideas, and pretty soon you have a dog’s dinner of a sales platform. Salespeople have no idea why they’re entering certain information, so they’re frustrated and less productive.
In my last business, we spent a fortune building process automation into Salesforce, but then we ended up taking all the data out and managing our sales process in an Excel spreadsheet. Any decisions made during sales pipeline reviews required salespeople to re-enter data in Salesforce. Something is wrong when that happens.
So, it’s refreshing to see that PipelineDeals is simple. It’s a lot less cluttered, and it’s easy for me to build the activities that I need to track, manage and understand the pipeline and how it’s developing. You can get PipelineDeals up and running right away. Your sales team will be more productive within a few minutes.
Do you have a specific approach to sales?
There are a lot of methodologies out there, whether it’s question-based selling, customer-centric selling, or others. It all boils down to being able to extract an understanding of what the client’s problems are and communicate the value your solution brings to their problems. Almost any methodology can be implemented alongside PipelineDeals in a way that doesn’t slow the salesperson down.
From a sales management perspective, you want a simple way of understanding that people are doing the activities related to the stages in the pipeline. Are they having enough meetings? Are they making enough calls? Is the pipeline growing? Are they talking to the right people? You need just enough information to see how things are developing and help people improve at every stage.
What are your goals as VP of Sales for PipelineDeals?
My goal is to grow this sales team as fast as we can afford it. As each sales person is onboarded and delivering revenue, we will go on. PipelineDeals is going to be big!
Right now, I’m making some tweaks to our deal process, stages, activity tracking, and reporting. I sit on lots of calls for knowledge and coaching to make sure we’re consistent in our approach to each stage of our sales process. Understanding how our pipeline develops at each stage, what the benchmarks should be, and how we win is essential for scaling and developing PipelineDeals.
Once we have a known set of metrics for success, we can start bringing in more people, and it will be easy to see if they’re ramping up or not. After that, it’s just a case of rinse and repeat. Each time a salesperson becomes a positive contributor, we add another one. That’s how you do it in the bootstrap world.
What do you do when you’re not driving sales teams to ever-increasing heights of awesomeness?
I cycle to and from work, about 16 miles round trip. I brew beer and ski with my eldest son, I ride bikes and ski with my middle son, and I jump on the trampoline, play guitar with my daughter. This summer I’m looking forward to taking my kids on vacation to Menorca and Rome.