Sales Confidence Podcast EP.1

Kyle Porter, CEO of SalesLoft with James Ski

The CEO of Salesloft, came to us to give you guys exactly what we’ve been promising for a while now, our very own Sales Confidence podcast – Kyle Porter came all the way from the U.S to kickstart the Sales Confidence podcast.

About our guest Kyle Porter

Kyle Porter is the Founder and CEO of SalesLoft a company founded in 2011. Proud to have him as a partner to Sales Confidence joining us today.

Transcript available

Speaker 1:
Thank you very much, Kyle Porter for joining us today.

Kyle Porter:
Glad to be here.

Speaker 1:
We’ve got Kyle Porter who is the founder and CEO of SalesLoft, a company that you founded in 2011.

Kyle Porter:
That’s right.

Speaker 1:
Interesting, SalesLoft is the world’s number one sales engagement platform with a focus on helping companies build stronger relationships and also get better insight into customer’s needs and ultimately drive revenue, which is fantastic. It was interesting to see in April that you got a further $17 million of funding and that was supported and led by insight partners, with participation from HarbourVest Partners and that supported prior investment from Emergence Capital and LinkedIn, which is exciting. To date you’ve had over $145 million of funding and part of that funding has allowed you to invest and open an office in London, which is where we are today. And you’ve also invited Ollie Sharpe, a former LinkedIn executive to take over the business and join us. What’s your first experience of entering London been like today, Kyle?

Kyle Porter:
Well, it’s been incredible. We had so many pieces of advice that we received from people out in the world on how difficult it is and how challenging and how you need to go all in when you enter a market. And for us having Ollie run the show here has just been a dream come true because he’s a great leader that’s come from an incredible company that we admire because of their vision and their mission. And what we’ve identified is that the problem that we found out about in the US is the problem everywhere. And so companies here, just like companies in the US, just like companies in other markets, they’re struggling to do two things really well. The first is deliver the customer with an incredible sales experience. The customer demands it, they desire it, they yearned for this authentic one-to-one human insightful solution to their problems from someone they can trust.

Kyle Porter:
And the companies know they want to provide this, but the difficulty is how do you do that thousands of times over and over and over again? Companies want it repeatable and scalable. They want it steeped in science and process. Something you can forecast off of. Something that you can show to the board and hire based on and know that you’re going to hit your numbers. And those two things have been in conflict for so long, but now we’re cracking the code of bringing them together. And so that problem exists here as we’ve identified in always leaving the show of bringing it to the people into the companies here that are so excellent and helping them be better.

Speaker 1:
That’s fantastic and we’re excited. I used to work with Ollie at LinkedIn, so it’s good to see a familiar face, really excited that SalesLoft chose London as the launch pad for the UK and European expansion. And so I’m keen as we go into the podcast to learn more about what SalesLoft focuses on and how you see trends in sales. I guess to begin, we’re thinking about our listeners and curious to learn a bit about you, the founder, the individual behind driving the success of this business. And I guess that curiosity starts with just how you think. And it just occurred to me when I was thinking about preparing for this. As a founder that’s driving this hugely successful business, when you wake up, what’s the first thing that comes into your mind? What’s on your mind before you start getting on with the day?

Kyle Porter:
A few things. One thing that’s unique, I believe, and having talked to others, I don’t know many people that do this. I don’t set an alarm, so I never set an alarm for the morning. I just wake up and I wake up at various times. But I always wake up on time for whatever I have to do. Now that I have kids and they’re growing up, sometimes they’re waking me up. But we have this rule with the children that they can’t leave the room until 7:00 AM. I’m always up by 7:00 AM and we have these fluorescent lights that are digital, or I’m sorry, the LED lights that are digital and they’ll turn green when 7:00 o’clock happens. And so they know they can’t leave the room until the clock turns green. Every once in a while they try to cheat around that.

Kyle Porter:
But I’m thinking about my wife April, my lovely bride who is been incredibly supportive of the sales op journey and I owe so much to her, I believe when I was thinking about asking for her hand in marriage, I asked my dad, I said, “Hey dad, how’d you know that mom was the one?” And he said, “Kyle, do you wake up thinking about April every morning?” And I said, “Yes.” And he goes, “Do you go to bed thinking about April every night?” And I said, “Yes.” He goes, “That’s how I knew.” And I was like, well, I guess I know the same thing.

Kyle Porter:
It’s April, it’s the kids. I’m usually doing some form of breakfast for them before I leave. And then what I’m thinking about next as it relates to SalesLoft is what am I going to communicate to my executive leadership team during our stand up that day? Because every single day I get the executive leadership team, even the people in San Francisco and other regions, we get together and we do a quick 10 to 15 minutes, what’s most important right now? And what does this team need to know? And so I’m communicating every single day what I believe is most important for our executives to know.

Speaker 1:
That’s fantastic, April’s going to be very happy to hear that when she hears this. And from a drive perspective, what is it? Where’s the internal motivation come from to get up out of bed and run these standups? Where is that driving motivation coming from?

Kyle Porter:
I was, I like to say that I grew up fast in college. There was a date when my life changed completely. And prior to that date I was partying. I was looking out for next Friday. I wasn’t thinking about the future. I was selfish and self serving even. And I had a big event happen to me while I was in college or university. And in that moment I realized that I had been given many gifts and talents and skills. I had a unique story that was different than anyone else’s. Like everyone else’s story is unique and different. And I made the decision to believe and to understand that I’d been put on this planet for a reason. And that was to serve others, to find fulfillment, make the world a better place. And so since that day, I’ve woken up every single day of my life with that as my goal.

Kyle Porter:
And that’s what caused me to want to start a company in the first place. Because what I realized was that a company would be a vehicle for me to take these people that I knew or that I was learning about and provide them with a place where they can learn more, do more, become more, take their unique story, their talents and skills and capabilities, and use those to serve others, to find fulfillment and to make happiness. And so, that really became a mission for me and SalesLoft to me is a mission driven event that I’m involved in on a daily basis.

Speaker 1:
That’s fascinating. When you think about the people that are also attracted to that mission, the type of people that you hire to support those values of a culture, what do they generally look like? What did they present, from that first interview? If someone was thinking about SalesLoft, coming to work for you and your team, what attributes do you expect that you should see?

Kyle Porter:
Yeah, there’s a couple of them. I’d say one, and it’s one of our core values is glass half full. I believe that positivity can create lots of the outcomes that you desire in your life. And positivity in me is not this like Pollyannish everything’s wine and roses, the sun always shines. It’s actually absorbing reality for all that it is, the good, the bad and the ugly. But taking the positive path forward, selecting the positive path forward. And so that’s a huge one for me. Another one is a team over self attitude. I like to reference Michael Jordan, the famous NBA player from the Bulls of course. And he had his six NBA championship rings, but he never achieved one of those early in his career when his goal was to be the scoring champion, the individual scoring champion. But once he put that behind him and to the side and decided to win as a team, that’s when he started to get championships.

Kyle Porter:
And so team over self is an incredibly important one to me. I like people who take action versus asking a lot of questions. Of course you want to do your diligence and as the company gets bigger we do more analysis. But having this bias to action is really important. Transparency, authenticity, I believe that if you’re open and vulnerable, admit your mistakes and weaknesses, be real about your challenges it engenders your colleagues to understand, work together with you, to battle through challenges where there’s conflict and making that conflict productive so that you could make more decisions than anyone else. I want SalesLoft to make more decisions than our peers.

Kyle Porter:
We’re running this race and the hurdles are coming at us faster and higher and we want them to do that. And so we want to make those commitments to those decisions. And then we want to hold each other accountable. Not just the boss holding the direct report accountable, but someone holding me accountable, an individual contributor knocking on my door and saying, “Hey Kyle, I heard you say this and I saw you do this. What’s up with that?” And when you have this culture of accountability, you have a culture that’s focused on results. Those are a few of the things.

Speaker 1:
I’m keen to learn as we move through this interview is thinking about sales professionals themselves and how they can develop themselves. I think that’s something I’d like to cover. However, before we go there, the trends of sales technology in the UK in Europe is at a different stage than it is at the US. And to be fair, not everybody knows what SalesLoft does. And maybe if you could just help us and the listeners better understand, what is this solution SalesLoft? And where does it add value to the sales organization and companies that use it?

Kyle Porter:
Yeah. As I said earlier, we want to provide as sellers, we want to provide an incredible sales experience to our customers that solves their problem because that’s all they care about. Ask a customer what they care about, your sales process? They don’t care about the buttons in your CRM. They care about the experience that they receive. That’s the sales process to them. We want to provide an incredible sales experience and do it at scale. And what we identified was that the CRM wasn’t cutting it. The CRM is a database for the enterprise and becomes a glorified Rolodex in many ways that’s connected with lots of other systems and critical to a business environment, but it’s not the engagement layer for customer facing reps responsible for revenue to communicate with their customers. We created the sales engagement platform as that layer, as that platform for communications.

Kyle Porter:
And what it allows you to do is to codify your go to market. Who are our target accounts and customers? Who are the reps that are responsible for generating outcomes with those people? And then what are the plays that they can run to achieve those objectives? We then become the email system by integrating with the mail server. We become the phone system by providing world class sales telephony system. We become the social communicator through our integration and partnership with LinkedIn. And then we allow for other types of communications and channels, whether it’s SMS or offline, swag sends, handwritten notes and then the reps know the process, it’s teed up for them and they are able to be held accountable to all of their activities. All those activities allow you to get a 100 coverage on your target accounts, to get a 100 coverage on your lead flows and then generate and see more intelligence and information about the buyer at the point of communications so they get an more authentic and engaging experience. But then do it at scale with lots of automation and in software that helps make things easier.

Kyle Porter:
Then the last piece of all that is analyze all the data, see what’s working, what’s not, and give you a way to improve that process and give you a way to suggest the next best steps for reps. That’s the idea behind the sales gate.

Speaker 1:
Exciting. And what aspects of the product are you most excited about in terms of you’ve worked with customers over a number of years now that would have provided insights, asked you to solve more problems. And also when you think of your positioning versus other companies, what is it that you’re most excited in terms of delivering extra value to your customers? And why is it different to other platforms that may be available in the market?

Kyle Porter:
Great question. I’m most excited about customer success. I’m most excited when I see that by putting this platform in place, reps were able to have more communications with more of their target accounts to generate the outcomes they desired, which is more revenue. The end of the day, we’re empowering companies to enable their reps to deliver an incredible sales experience and maximize revenue. And that’s what everyone cares about. Because when you’re selling well, you’re able to hire, you’re able to promote, you’re able to invent and create marketplaces that builds up economies, communities, cities, countries, the world. Sales is this engine that drives our world and we’re empowering that to happen more and more and more and more. Now as it relates to the market landscape, just in last quarter, I saw that we won double digit deals against some of our competition because we had an element of our product that nobody else has.

Kyle Porter:
And this is the conversation intelligence module of SalesLoft. SalesLoft made an acquisition last April, over a year ago, of a company that provided this solution for coaching and more insights on your customer. And the way it works is that SalesLoft sees for each rep what calendar events they have with their customers and prospects, and it will join those calendar meetings, whether it’s a Zoom or a WebEx or GoToMeeting, UberConference. join.me any of these solutions, it will join and it will record the audio. It will record the video, it will transcribe the audio to text so that you have an archive of everything that customer said. It allows you to search back through the conversation. It allows you to mine out analytics and insights such as when the rep talks less than the buyer, you’re more likely to move the deal forward. But at the end of the day, the customer receives a wildly better experience because everyone on the seller side knows exactly what the customer said.

Kyle Porter:
And I had this a great experience where an executive leadership team watched videos of their customers on SalesLoft conversation intelligence during an offsite to hear the exact things that customers had said, so they could deliver more of that.

Speaker 1:
A lot of what you’re describing there, when you think about what your technology enables, is bringing out the best in the sales professional, because we’re still talking about human to human relationships. When you think about today’s sales professional, what are the attributes that you would expect from someone that’s successfully interacting and building strong relationships with their prospects or customers?

Kyle Porter:
Well, let’s talk about the obstacles that they’re up against first. Because the buyer today is bombarded with information. They’re just inundated with phone calls, emails, social touchpoints, blogs, analyst reviews, all this information is just coming at them in a deluge. Now at the same time, the problems they’re trying to solve have gotten more difficult. The problems are evolving too. And the teams that are solving those problems are getting more complex. You’ve got this overwhelmed buyer that doesn’t know how to sort through all this information and what they’re yearning for is a seller who gets them, who understands their pains, who understands not just their market pains, but their internal challenges and pains and can navigate and walk them through the journey to find the solution.

Kyle Porter:
That’s what the seller needs to do. They’ve got to be able to talk the talk of the business of their customer. They’ve got to be able to understand their marketplace. They’ve got to be incredibly well suited to showcase the solution to those problems. And then they’ve got to do it over and over and over and over and over again because you can’t just close one customer and make a successful business. They’ve got to create this repeatable way to deliver that. That’s what I’m looking for in sellers and that’s what our best customers are doing out in the marketplace.

Speaker 1:
It’s interesting to pick up that point you made for effective sellers doing it over and over and over again. The challenge with being a sales professional is that you are constantly have a target over your head. There comes a lot of pressure. And I just wondered, you came from being a sales professional to becoming a founder, becoming a CEO.

Kyle Porter:
Still one.

Speaker 1:
Well we love that. And that’s what we’re excited about. We share that passion for sales, but are there times when it’s been either difficult for you and you’ve had to overcome challenges? And I just think now there’s many professionals out there that they’re not having a great month, they’re not having a great quarter, they’re uncertain about the success of the company they’re working for. And this adds to stress. I was just wondering if there’s any advice around how you cope with stress or having a difficult day and advice to professionals about how they can overcome those difficulties.

Kyle Porter:
There’s a show in the US and it is, it’s about zombies and the zombies are, if they’re behind in the dark, behind the alleys in the darkness, behind a staircase, they’re super scary. And they always get the good guys. But when they’re out in the middle of the street in the light, the good guys just go up and take them out. And that’s what problems are to me. When I hide them internally, when I don’t share them with others, when I leave them to just circulate inside of me, then they can eat me from the inside and they’re scary. But when I share them, when I’m open, when I’m transparent, when I tell my father, my wife, my co-founder, people in the business.

Kyle Porter:
I have a meeting that I give to every single new employee at SalesLoft. And I talk about childhood insecurities. I talk about trouble with the law in college for partying too much. I talk about all of these things because those are the mistakes that I’ve made in my life and the challenges that I’ve overcome. And I want to just get those things out there so that they’re just in the light and easy to just destroy. I think that’s the big one, is having people that you trust and that you can bring that up to. And what’s happened for me is, I’ve gotten better and better and better at it. Now when something bad happens or if something is eating me up inside, I’m really comfortable sharing it. And it doesn’t even matter how well you know me or how much I trust you. I’m just going to be me in a lot of different places.

Kyle Porter:
And that makes it a lot easier. We’ve had a lot of troubles with this business. I recall hopping on an elevator, sweating, nervous, going up to our angel investor’s office a year after starting the business, having burned through all of his money, including all of my money and my wife’s savings. And I was going back up to tell him, “We haven’t done anything with the money, but if you keep supporting me, we’re going to do something special.” And he was incredible. He heard me, he understood where we were and he believed in us and he kept supporting the business. And so, I think for me it’s just get it out there, be open, honest and transparent about it. And don’t hide behind any of the things that you’re struggling with.

Speaker 1:
I think that’s fantastic advice and I think it’s great for a leader with such visibility to talk about the importance of being open. Because I think for those that are new into the workforce, new into the sales profession, that level of honesty and authenticity isn’t so obvious to them. Because maybe they’ve carried their own difficulties from college into the workplace. I think that level of honesty puts you and your culture and the way you want to treat people at the forefront, which I expect is then well received by how they engage with customers.

Kyle Porter:
Yeah. A leader goes first in those environments and if you ever expect your people to do something, you got to be willing to do it yourself.

Speaker 1:
Yeah, absolutely. I wondered when you’ve been thinking about this trip over to London and thinking about Ollie and the work he’s got to do. Is there anything that you’ve noticed on social media that’s different from the UK’s perspective on sales versus the US? How’s things just surprised you in Ollie’s updates? Or you thought, that’s odd because in the US we do this. Is there something that’s kind of stood out for you in the differences? Or is there more similarities? What have you kind of uncovered so far?

Kyle Porter:
For me it’s been the similarities. What has been positive, surprising to me is I never thought that the culture of this office would be as strong as it is. And I don’t think I was being negative. I just, I hand opened the office in Atlanta in 2011. Every time we moved I was the first one there moving boxes and I didn’t even come over for this. And so in some ways I felt a little nervous and did I let the team down by not being here? But what I found is that this city in this environment here in Europe, it has its own unique culture and its own unique characteristics. But what’s happened is by hiring for our core values and alignment on vision and mission, we’ve been able to blend the two together and it’s really special.

Kyle Porter:
And so the thing that I’m looking forward to the most, normally when I go travel on a trip, I’m going customers and prospects, but I want to be in the office with them and I just want to sit and hear them talk and let them hear me talk and learn about them and learn about their lives outside of work and all those things. And so that’s what’s most exciting for me now. And I think we’re going to go play a little golf here in a while so that’s exciting too.

Speaker 1:
Very good. Hopefully the weather holds.

Kyle Porter:
It’s not a real golf course. It’s one of those…

Speaker 1:
A putting or is it electronic? Where you have to hit a screen. Is it in London?

Kyle Porter:
I don’t even know yet.

Speaker 1:
Okay. You’ve got no idea but we’re going to discover that. This has been really helpful. And just a few more questions before we wrap up. Part of the philosophy of our community around sales confidence is helping individuals unlock that confidence within themselves. And you touched on it briefly when you talk about being open about your challenges, but are there thought processes or mental frameworks that you use to help you be the best version of yourself? And ensure that when you land in a new city like London or when you’re delivering a standup to your executives, you are elevated and you are exhibiting the greatest level of confidence to inspire them to do more, do better, something that you think about or use.

Kyle Porter:
I just watched, Jess watched Rocketman, Elton John and Elton John, obviously an incredible musician and performer and had some very difficulty, very strong difficulties in his childhood. And in the movie there’s this moment where he hugs his inner child self. He literally, he’s grown Elton John and there’s young Elton John and he goes and hugs him. And that was when it changed for him because he was able to stop drinking, stop using drugs, and he’s been sober for 30 years. And he’s still performing by the way, at 70 or something crazy like that. And now it sounds cheesy, but I think everybody has to do that in their lives in some way. Everybody has to have that deep belief in themselves that they are worthy, that they are a value, that they are loved and that nothing can take that away.

Kyle Porter:
And I think what happens is people put their worth in stuff that can be taken away, whether it’s their jobs or stuff or even sometimes putting it in family. Your family can even be taken away. You need something that gives you confidence in who you are that stands outside of any of that. Some people use faith for this, others use other methods. But at the end of the day we have to have that belief in ourselves. And once we love ourselves at that level, then we can exhibit love to others in a deep way. And life is all about loving and serving others because that’s where happiness and fulfillment comes from.

Kyle Porter:
And so for me, I think, getting in touch with yourself as one of the most important things you can do in sales or business or whatever, being a famous musician. Whatever it is, I think, that’s the big thing that I think a lot about. And when I think about the word confidence, I think that’s what it comes from is, is believing that you are a blameless, holy loved human of this world and that you make mistakes of course. But we all make mistakes. But at the end of the day, you can take that confidence and share it with others in the form of love because they are that way also.

Speaker 1:
I think it’s incredible to hear you speak and use that word love when so many people in the professional, in business, outside of sales, they have a certain skewed perspective on the profession. The uncomfortable relationship they’ve had buying something in their past. And I think that is a great example and evidence of we’re still people, we still care about each other. We still want to improve. Yes we are motivated by material goals. Yes we have certain level of targets but we cannot get there unless we’re our true self. And I think that’s something if we can do more to share how much as a profession we care about people, I think we’ll have much better examples of others out there appreciating kind of what we do. I think that’s fantastic to hear.

Kyle Porter:
And that’s our vision at SalesLoft. I see a world in the future where sellers are loved by the buyers they serve. And the reason they are loved is because they’ve delivered love to that buyer. And we’ve got a hashtag that we use and it’s all over every wall at SalesLoft and it’s #saleslove. And sales love is not, sales love is the actual actions of a seller to their buyer. It’s the actions of love. It’s love is a verb versus just feeling love for them. It’s acting it out. And that means understanding them. What are their pains? What are their challenges? What are their alternative solutions? Crafting and navigating their landscape so that they end up in a better place than before.

Speaker 1:
Fantastic. Just as a final note, is there a view or a comment that you want to make in terms of the future of sales or the future for SalesLoft? Something that you want to kind of wrap up this interview. It’s been fantastic speaking to you.

Kyle Porter:
I’ll do it really quickly. I had an opportunity to see the marketing automation industry unfold right before my eyes and there was a time when the market thought Eloqua, Marketo and Pardot are going to be the big champions in the space. But ironically, if you take the exits of Eloqua, Marketo and Pardot, they don’t even equal the market cap of HubSpot today. What HubSpot has taught me is that SaaS compounds, Warren Buffet said that compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. And HubSpot has served the whole marketing organization within companies.

Kyle Porter:
Another company that I admire greatly is Workday. It’s a $42 billion company. And they’ve got these 10 modules for HR cloud. But if you look at the sales cloud today, it’s legacy. It’s an old database. And so who’s going to build the modern sales cloud? We’re going to build the modern sales cloud, we’re going to build the revenue cloud and it’s going to be filling the funnel. It’s going to be opportunity management opportunity to close. It’s going to be all these areas that empower sellers to deliver incredible experiences to their customers, to maximize revenue for their businesses. And that’s the future that I see is that companies that are able to utilize a complete system to go from account or opportunity or lead all the way through renewal, upsell, cross sell, customer success. This is the vision of what companies can have and this is what I want to build.

Speaker 1:
Amazing. Well thank you very much Kyle Porter, CEO and founder of SalesLoft. You can learn more about SalesLoft and Sales Confidence at salesconfidence.com and we look forward to following your journey and future success. Thank you.

Kyle Porter:
Thank you very much.

Sales Confidence Podcast

Our aim is to unlock the heart, mind and story behind the founders, sales leaders and industry experts that help elevate the sales profession. James Ski is focused on bringing out the authentic story of your journey by uncovering your DNA to understand how it drives your decisions, thinking and dreaming to inspire, educate and motivate our listeners. Honest, reflective answers are best.

The interview promises to be fun and engaging as well as giving you a chance to share your company and personal perspective on the future of sales.

About SalesLoft

SalesLoft is the worlds #1 sales engagement platform. With SalesLoft you will build stronger relationships, have better insight into customer needs, and generate more revenue.

This April 2019 SalesLoft secured $70 million in Series D investment, bringing its total funding to $145 million. Insight Partners led the round with participation from HarbourVest Partners, joining prior round investors Emergence Capital and LinkedIn.

As part of the funding they opened up an office in London with Ollie Sharpe, Former LinkedIn Executive as VP of Revenue, EMEA. We are excited they did.

Join more than 5000+ subscribers who are receiving early access to events, including exclusive articles and sales tactics in our blog for SaaS Sales Professionals.