Fastly, headquartered in San Francisco, is a global edge cloud platform with its roots in providing CDN services and a sharp expertise in serving video and streaming brands. As Sales Operations Lead at Fastly, Carolyn VerDuin is responsible for operational and go-to-market strategies for the mid-market and sales development teams.
On top of sales planning and reporting, VerDuin works closely with Fastly’s marketing team to optimize the sales cycle and ensure smooth lead handoff.
With the growing edge computing market, Fastly has grown quickly and expanded into new markets. VerDuin sat down with the Intricately team to discuss how her team is embracing the opportunity with data and innovation.
What is your SOPS team doing to be successful in today’s climate?
Most of the initiatives that we laid out before the COVID-19 pandemic haven’t changed. We’re still working to implement scalable processes, automate manual tasks, and decrease time to revenue.
Since the pandemic started we’ve had to help our sellers make some quick pivots to respond to what’s happening. Empathy and sensitivity in prospecting was always important, but during a pandemic, you can never know someone's personal situation or experiences, so we worked with sellers to continue keeping those considerations top of mind. Another big pivot (one that most companies are tackling right now) is the shift away from physical events. We've been working closely with marketing to increase the involvement of the sales team in events that have now gone digital.
We’re having to approach things from a new perspective, do our best to predict what’s around the corner, and get creative.
What's a challenge today's SOPS teams are facing, and how are you addressing it on your team?
There are so many technical tools available these days, it can be difficult to choose the right stack for your sales organization.
We always want to provide our sellers with the best tools out there, but users can be easily overwhelmed if they’re constantly having to switch between platforms, so it’s important to be selective. When purchasing a new tool, we use data to confirm that we’re solving an important and quantifiable problem before we start evaluating products. After selecting a vendor, we then create a clear plan for rollout and we continuously enable full adoption among the sales team.
How does your SOPS team use data to stay competitive?
Sellers expect to have access to accurate data in real time. We’re always looking for the best data providers and tools that meet our sellers’ needs.
Intricately excels in this area, as it gives our sales team a near-real time view into the cloud products our prospects are using and how much they’re spending. It’s become an essential part of our sales process.
How does Fastly in particular take an innovative approach to sales ops? What lessons can other sales ops practitioners and leaders learn from this?
Fastly was forward-thinking when it built out dedicated sales ops, sales enablement and business systems teams early. Each of these functions is a full time job in itself, but in many companies it falls to sales ops staff to juggle all three. These are incredibly important roles that can multiply the success of your sales team when they are working together effectively.
What advice do you have for SOPS leaders or teams?
You can have the best data analysts and every tool at your disposal, but SOPS’ goal is to reduce friction in the sales process. To do that really well, your team needs a diversified skill set, including creative problem solving and soft skills.
Make sure your SOPS team is full of helpful team players, who aren’t afraid to dive into projects outside the traditional job description when needed. We have an incredibly talented and collaborative SOPS team here at Fastly, with a wide array of skills and past experiences. I can always count on my colleagues to provide assistance in their areas of knowledge and expertise, and I try to do the same!
Can you share any predictions for how SOPS will evolve in 2020?
I think many recent SOPS focus areas will continue on and evolve in light of the pandemic. Many sales organizations already recognized the need to consolidate tools and simplify their tech stack, but more complex sales environments are likely to hasten that process. Automated sales communications can address speed and quantity issues, but quality can remain variable if not given adequate attention. Personalization at scale is the current hurdle in that area, especially as buyers become more attuned to being sold to through automation.
Our job is to make our sellers better and help them achieve, whatever the market conditions. The selling motion that worked before will need some adjustments. Making use of the latest and greatest data, listening to market signals, staying agile, and continuing to chip away at scalable initiatives will be key.
About the Leader
Carolyn VerDuin is a Sales Operations Lead at Fastly, where she supports the SDR, SMB and mid-market sales teams. In her previous role, she handled knowledge management and operations at a major investment bank. She loves to travel and is looking forward to exploring her new home of Denver, Colorado this year.