Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 244: Q & A with Pouyan Salehi @psalehi

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This week’s show is called A Bottoms-Up Approach to SaaS for Sales: What It Is, How it Could Help Youand our guest is Pouyan Salehi, CEO & Co-Founder of Scratchpad

We’ve been doing sales enablement research for years. One of the first surveys we did, we asked people in sales what are the biggest time-wasters? What are the things that keep you from spending more time actively selling?

Pouyan joins me in this conversation to give some perspective and insight on the challenges and why Salesforce isn’t efficient for sales reps. We take some time to discuss why CMO’s should prioritize a sales engagement and acceleration tool like Scratchpad and the inspiration behind the creation of Scratchpad.

Listen in and/or read along with the transcript below.

Matt: Welcome everyone to another live episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. Thank you very much for joining us if you are watching us live on LinkedIn. Boy, if you’re in Seattle, you need to go outside. This is available on demand, it’s going to be a great episode, but we are in the midst of just a brilliant week. I have a little time this afternoon, so I am going to get outside, enjoy some sun. See if I can sunburn my head, it will be fun. If you are joining us live, thank you very much for doing so on LinkedIn. If you have any questions for our guest today, welcome those in the comments as well. We’ll try to get as many of those as we can. If you’re watching or listening on demand, thanks for checking us out. We, as you know, now have a new format. We used to do this audio-only, on demand on Funnel Media Radio Network. We are now doing this live every week, 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern, and every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio from back 280 episodes plus, still available at salespipelineradio.com.
We are featuring every week some of the best and brightest minds in sales and marketing today. We have the CEO of https://scratchpad.com/Scratchpad, very excited to have Pouyan Salehi. Pouyan, thank you so much for joining us today.

Pouyan: Thanks for having me, Matt. I appreciate it.

Matt: We were complaining about homework right before we got started. I was complaining about homework. Before we came on the air here, I was upstairs helping my two elementary school sons, who were doing their homework and my 10-year-old, in fourth grade, he gets math pretty well and he hates having to show his work. We were talking about sort of doing the work to showing the work and that is an interesting analogy for what a lot of sales reps must do, right? Is you go and you do your selling efforts, whether you’re in the field or online, but there is so much work and time, wasted time, that goes into having to record that in a system. Talk a little bit about what you see as the drag of salespeople and the origin of where Scratchpad came to be.

Pouyan: I cannot take credit for that because I learned it from an account executive. I was talking to a very successful one, been in sales for… Gosh, I want to say at least 15 years, and he said, “The worst part of my job is not, like I love my job… I am great at it. I’ve been doing it a long time and my team knows, but the worst part is not only do I have the conversations, I have my quota, I crush it all the time, but then I must do work to show the work that I did,” and that stuck with me. Digging into it more, it was like, yep. You pulled up his calendar and sure enough, every day on the calendar, either in the morning or at the end of the day, and sometimes both, Tom was blocked off to update next steps, update methodology, all the things that the management team needed, and operations and the organization teams needed. And for right reason, right? You need that information to make better forecast and do data-driven sales. But the way he described it, just really, really stuck with me. And that is a lot of what I guess, when you go into it, what folks use Scratchpad for, to reduce that drag. It is the work that you are doing, but you can do it in real time. Really at the speed of thought, as I learned from somebody else as well, that as thoughts come up to you, you can just execute on them instead of going to another tab, wait for something to load, go back and forth between a bunch of systems.

Matt: Well, we did a little research. We’ve been doing sort of sales enablement research for years. And one of the first surveys we did, we asked people in sales what are the biggest time-wasters? What are the things that keep you from spending more time actively selling? And the number one by far was Tomin’s DRM and it was not just sort of showing the work, it was also someone on the finance team saying we would love to track X, and whether or not they looked at that report anymore, the sales reps are still asked to do those things. I am saying, if you have not sat down with your sales team, and it is harder now, right? But if you sit down with your sales team and watch what it takes to get to the next call, like if you watch how your [inaudible 00:04:05] actually have to spend, you get a sense for why they’re not making more calls. Why their active selling time is so low. Talk a little bit about, are there some primary culprits within Salesforce, primary things that are sort of categories that people should be looking out for?

Pouyan: Yeah. Gosh, there’s so much to unpack there, but you said it really well. I think it comes from a good place, and it usually starts with something very small as somebody in finance, somebody in operations, somebody in leadership saying, “Huh, it’d be nice to track that.” Now whether they look at it or make any decisions on it, is a whole other story, but let’s say they do. That thing goes through this whole flow, ops put a field in, ads validation rules, maybe makes it required, updates a page layout, but very few organizations we have worked with or talk to sit down with the reps like you describe, and understand how are you working? What does adding one more field, one more required field or validation rule do to your workflow? And what happens is you end up with this Frankenstein system and usually there’s multiple ops teams that come in and take over, and no one bothers cleaning up the old stuff, they just add on top of the old stuff. So the system, the company, needs this information, but what ends up happening is the frontline sellers are the ones that take all the burden, because they’re the ones that have to deal with it. No one is really sitting there and trying to understand that, and that is why you get this. I feel like there is this tension because the company needs the data to be able to make decisions and forecast. The reps need time to sell so they can hit quota. But if you want that data, the tools at the disposal are required fields, validation rules, page layouts, long training programs. Well guess what? That’s where it takes away from selling time to get that data, and most reps then end up saying, “You know what? This is just too much. I’m just going to work out of a notebook. I’m going to work out on my own Google Sheet or Excel file. I’ve got my own task system.”
And then, again, that burden either cuts into family time, it cuts into personal time, or selling time, which is blocking time off on the calendar to update Salesforce. That’s just something that we have seen in almost every single sales organization that we have encountered, and that’s like in the thousands now.

Matt: Oftentimes when we ask our reps to do all these steps in Salesforce, we consider those that do not do it like rogue reps. Well, actually the rouge reps might be your most successful reps if you just let them sell. Right?

Pouyan: Yeah.

Matt: I mean, they are the ones that are trying. They’re not using the notepad because they don’t want to use Salesforce, they’re trying to be more efficient. They’re trying to make themselves more money by making you more money. And so if they’re not doing it, that should be a sign that something is wrong. Our guest today on Sales Pipeline Radio, again, Pouyan Salehi, he is the CEO and co-founder of Scratchpad. And I think, Pouyan, I think that the problem is more fundamental to this. Salesforce was never really built as the sales rep tool. It is a great management tool and a great database, but it is a poor tool for an individual sales rep to go in and use. Talk about some of, this is not really a dig on Salesforce, but what are some of the challenges that it inherently has, and why is it necessary to have a separate interface that helps make those reps more successful?

Pouyan: Yeah, that goes to the heart of why we started Scratchpad, because I will be honest, if you look at the sales tech space, there is like tool fatigue all over the place. It’s like yet another tool, tools all over the place. What we saw though, is most folks are not, and there is a graveyard of companies that try to solve these problems, but never get there. The challenge is they are never really aimed at the rep themselves. They are always built for managers or leaders, and Salesforce, it gets a bad rap, because I just think it is misunderstood. It is a wonderful database, and I think it is needed for the organization. But as you said, I don’t think it was designed as the place for reps to do their work. And that’s why you see, and this is what we saw with it, that put us down this path, was in almost every organization you have Salesforce, you’ll have an email tool, you have a call tool, a call recording tool. But the place that reps actually do their work is not Salesforce. It’s Evernote or Mac Notes or paper notebooks. It’s spreadsheets for managing pipe and account planning. It is task managers, which are all over the place, that collectively makes up what we call the salesperson’s workspace. It exists, and people do it because it’s fast, it helps them spend more time with customers, but then that data never gets into Salesforce unless you go back and meticulously copy and paste. And usually by that time, the data, like you may forget, not all of it gets carried over, but that is when we step back and say, gosh, why doesn’t that exist? If I am drawing an analogy here, right? The best crafts have their own optimized workspace. If you’re a chef, you’ve got a kitchen optimized for your craft. If you’re a woodworker, you’ve got a shop. If you’re an artist, you have a studio. And we viewed sales as a craft and said, “Well, why doesn’t that exist?” And if you separate the database from the place where you do the work, and that’s what put us down this path for Scratchpad, which is in a way setting a new standard and we’re hearing feedback from account executives all over that this has truly impacted how they work. And in some cases, even their personal lives by, “I don’t need to block off an hour every day to update Salesforce. I’m able to go get healthy, spend some time exercising, or be home in time to have dinner with my kids.” And that impact has been really, really profound to hear.

Matt: Talk about the impact and importance of design on the workflow here. I mean, for anyone that has seen Scratchpad, it’s not going to be a surprise to hear that you actually were at Apple for a period of time, and that you worked on the displays of the iPhone and the iPad, or iPod at the time. Talk a little bit about how important it is from an interface, from a design standpoint, to make this useful for a sales rep to get through that work, and to get back to work.

Pouyan: Yeah, that honestly is the hardest part, because in sales, there is a lot of strong personalities and different personality types in sales. The way that manifests itself is everyone works differently. Some people are very meticulous note takers, others, like me, I just write bullet points here and there. Where if you read my notes, it may not make sense. Others work out of spreadsheets. Others are very detailed at tasks, and others aren’t. And so, for anyone building a product in sales, one of the biggest challenges is you must be flexible enough at the user interface level so that it can accommodate all these different ways of working, but at the same time, be structured enough where the data is getting back to the operations team and the systems in a way that makes sense.
So that honestly is a challenge that we are continuing to solve every single day. Fortunately, it’s something that I love. I love those types of problems. My co-founder loves it, our entire team loves it. And so we gravitate towards this. In terms of simplifying, I mean, one of our core values of the company is simplicity. And so we not only try to apply that to the product itself, but how you engage in the product. We probably spent the first three months just understanding how we can get an AE to sign up and start experiencing the value of Scratchpad in under a minute. And it took a lot of iterations, but we got to that point and we have that now, but that was part of the experience, because most folks are not out there being like, “Oh, I’m really excited to go try some new tools.” It’s like, “No, I’m good. I got to focus on my deals. I got to get my quota.”

Matt: Right.

Pouyan: So how can we reduce that barrier? But yeah, design is an absolute must have in terms of the thought process, in terms of what we do here.

Matt: I love that you describe it as both critical, but also hard, right? Because I mean, design, I think for a lot of people can feel kind of subjective. How do you decide or determine what is the best design? Does it take a lot of sort of user experience testing? In a modern environment, what are the best ways to lock down on a design that is functional, efficient, and sort of your control variable?

Pouyan: Yeah, it is interesting. So we’re actually expanding the team quite a bit and we’ve been interviewing a lot of designers. So I have some experience with this. Up until now, it’s mostly been me, my co-founder, and our team. We have a designer on our team that helps a lot as well. How many designers we’ve talked to that simply don’t talk to users, and I guess we take that for granted, because it’s something we obsess over. I am personally on probably three to four customer calls a day still and I hope that that continues. But what we have learned is we come up with a lot of ideas, right? As founders, as product folks, as engineers on what would be cool, where could we push the envelope from a technical perspective? And we have made this mistake, we have built stuff around that, that just ultimately did not end up getting used, or it did not have that big of an impact. What we do then is we critically challenge that with how do people work today? What are their existing behaviors? What is it that would be impactful to them and start with that. And sometimes you end up with an answer that’s very different than what might be cool, or pushing the envelope, or some crazy new technology that could be introduced in it. Even though it would sound cool on paper, or if we actually built it, it’s not going to fit with how people work or how people live. And so we always start with that first.

Matt: So, sales engagement, a sales acceleration tool like this, I mean, obviously has a direct impact on sellers, their ability to be efficient. Why should CMOs prioritize this? Why should a marketing department or a marketing leader, sort of [inaudible 00:13:51] and prioritize a tool like this? What’s sort of the pitch and benefit to them?

Pouyan: Yes, so for us, it is not really marketing, although that is starting to pick up a little bit more for us. It’s much more on the sales. It’s the CRO, the sales leadership side, because on the sales engagement side, you’ve got the outreaches and sales loft. Even my last company PersistIQ, that was much more on generating pipeline. But the biggest impact, the reason why a CRO, or any sales leader should care, is ultimately with Scratchpad, you are getting higher quota attainment per rep and that simply comes from more time in market. Even Salesforce has done a study on this, maybe a third, I mean, be aggressive, call it 40% of a sales rep’s time is spent selling. The rest is spent on all this other stuff, and even then, with the time that they are spending on data entry, I bet you, you talked to most CROs and you ask them, do you feel like you have the right information in Salesforce? Do you have the data you need to make accurate forecasts? And I’ll bet you most will say no. And that is with already 60% of the time not spent on selling. Scratchpad completely changes the game there, because it is something so intuitive for reps to use that they are already doing it. I will be honest, we are not reinventing the wheel with anything, any crazy new functionality or tool. What we did is just made it fast. We made it simple. We reduced clicks, and we added a little bit of delight into it as well. So it’s something people want to use instead of being forced to use, but at the same time, it’s connected to the existing database, so the data problem goes away. But that’s ultimately it. If you’re a CRO, it’s just getting better visibility into your pipeline so you can make better decisions. The other really big factor that we are starting to see here, Matt, more organizations are becoming data-driven, and process driven. Implementing things like Command of the Message, MEDDIC, MEDDPICC, and we’re seeing much higher adoption of that process, because it’s just made it easy. When it’s made easy, people will do it. If it’s not easy, they won’t. It’s really that simple.

Matt: Got just a few more minutes here on Sales Pipeline Radio with our guest today, the CEO and co-founder of Scratchpad, Pouyan Salehi. With the last year and the changes in work, some of the shifts in how people are selling and what the sales team looks like, where they are deployed. Has that changed any of the roadmap of what you’re prioritizing in terms of building Scratchpad for the future?

Pouyan: Yeah, a lot of, I mean, listen, everyone knows this. We all had to go remote. Some companies were remote from the beginning, but everyone had to get comfortable and work with that. And so I think for a lot of the sales organizations that we work with and talk to, it was, “Well, I can’t just go over to the next person, or the person over there and say, ‘Hey, what’s going on with this deal. What’s happening with pipeline there?” So, finding a way for their revenue team to work together asynchronously, but also in a distributed fashion has really, really come to the surface. And so, by the nature of what we do at Scratchpad, we solved a lot of that, but we have started thinking more deliberately about are there ways that we can improve the relationship let us say between an SDR and an AE, an AE and a sales engineer, the AE and the AMs. So horizontally in the lifecycle of a deal, but we’re also starting to see a lot of managers and directors adopting Scratchpad, because they’re able to get better insights into each rep’s pipeline. So instead of turning into an interrogation, it is turning into, let me help coach you on these deals. And that has been surprising and delightful to see. We will probably be, you know, we are exploring some of those workflows as well.

Matt: Awesome. Well, speaking of exploring, definitely check out scratchpad.com. If you’re an individual sales rep, you want to check it out. It’s free. There is a big old “Add to Chrome” button. You can add that and get started right away. So definitely encourage you to check that out. Pouyan, thanks so much for joining us today, sharing a little bit about what’s coming up with Scratchpad, and being a part of Sales Pipeline Radio.

Pouyan: Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.

Matt: Awesome. Well, thanks everyone for checking in today. We’ll be here again next week, every week, live Thursdays at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern. If you like this episode, it’s available now on demand on LinkedIn, and we’ll have it up in the podcast feed here in a couple of days. Pouyan, thanks so much. My name is Matt Heinz, thanks for watching another episode Sales Pipeline Radio.

Pouyan: Bye.

Sales Pipeline Radio is sponsored and produced by Heinz Marketing.

I interview the best and brightest minds in sales and Marketing.  If you would like to be a guest on Sales Pipeline Radio send an email to Sheena. For sponsorship opportunities, contact Cherie.

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