Rosalyn Santa Elena: Welcome to the revenue engine podcast. I'm your host, Rosalyn Santa Elena. And I am thrilled to bring you the most inspirational stories from revenue, generators, innovators, and disruptors revenue leaders in sales, in marketing. And of course in operations. Together, we will unpack everything that optimizes and powers that the revenue engine are. You ready? Let's get to it.
The wizards of ops, what an amazing name for a community of operations professionals who truly have to be wizards to work their magic day in and day out to support revenue. This is the community that Brad Smith founded years ago to help bring operations folks together and give them a place to share and learn from each.
Then came sonar and other offering that helps enable and optimize revenue operations by offering a blueprint for an increasingly complex text. When Brad and I first met about a year ago, we got along immediately. And not just because Brad comes from a background of sales, operations, revenue, operations, and even Salesforce consultant.
And he understands ops, but because he is genuinely one of the nicest people I've ever met. So take a listen to this obstacle founder and CEO of a company that is solving real problems in the world of Revenue. And as with every episode, you'll hear a surprise at the end, which will further convince you that Brad is just a wonderful leader and person.
So excited to be here today with Brad Smith, the co-founder and CEO of sonar, as well as the founder of the wizards of ops community. When thinking about the revenue engine podcast, I knew I wanted and needed to have Brad on the show. Brad's not only a leader in terms of driving revenue, but he's a huge advocate and supporter of the operations function, the community and the people.
For those of you who aren't familiar with sonar. So in our software essentially creates a blueprint for your tech stack, allowing you to have a platform to build, implement, update, monitor, and manage all of your revenue technology. So welcome Brad, and thank you for joining me. Oh,
Brad Smith: Roslyn. I'm so excited to be here.
I'm excited to catch up with you. Talk all things, revenue engine. Um, again, I really appreciate you. Uh, you having me on.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah, I really appreciate your time. I'm I was really looking forward to catching up with you as well, and just kind of sharing some of the things that you're doing. So why don't we just kind of dive in, um, you know, I think oftentimes.
You know, a business, an idea for a business really starts with solving a problem, right? Or fixing an error, or maybe it's addressing a mistake to prevent it from happening again. And I believe the origins of sonars story are really no different when you and your co-founder Jack decided to launch sonar.
It all started with us. Costly error. So can you take us back to that time and share how it all started?
Brad Smith: Yeh absolutely. And you're, you're probably, uh, making it, uh, making it sound like not as big of a disaster that I made, uh, than I really did, but yeah. Well, we'll start at the very beginning. Um, there were a few.
Catalyst moments for us when we decided to start sodar, um, to, to kind of start from the very beginning, uh, obviously a lot of my background almost exclusively, is it operations? So put a word in front of it. And I did it. Sales ops, rev ops marketing ops. Uh, my very first one was professional services, operations, believe it or not.
And so, um, I'm, I'm so familiar with the operation space. I think the one thing. Any PR anybody that's an operations that's listening to this will empathize with we're brought on to be strategic, were brought on to do things like help manage our funnel, help remove roadblocks, help, increase efficiency, all great things.
But there's also this pseudo thing that people just get voluntold to do, which is, Hey, congratulations, you manage our tech stack, specifically Salesforce and everything that connects to it. And so when you think about the problem that we're solving for now is. Enabling and empowering that person that has been voluntold, their tech stack.
Uh, we're removing roadblocks for them, but we'll, we'll understand why we do it and how we even got there to begin with. Uh, when I met Jack, you know, I was probably on to my third operations role at that time and were working for a venture backed company here in Atlanta that gathered technologies, uh, ended up exiting, uh, actually just last year.
So I'm really excited for them, but they. Oh, we met each other. We're about 50 people and I just stepped into owning this tech stack. And, um, as I remember, you know, we both start at the same time in that company. And I was about a month in, we were at a happy hour, I think. And Ash went over to them and I was like, you're a smart guy.
You're in the product and engineering world. I've got this kind of goofy, you know, product technical issue that I run into often. Can you help me? He's like, yeah, fire away, man. Shoot. You know, I inherited this tech stack, Salesforce, HubSpot sales law, you name it. They, we know all the typical players in a go to market tech stack.
And I was like, Jack, I can't make a change to one field, like add a new picklist value here or modify something else there without something else. And unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of documentation. When I started this, then I wrote a really big handbook for me. And so I'm flying blind, you know, there's skeletons in the closet and every time I make a change with a trip wire and it breaks up and he's like, that's, that's a problem for you.
I was like, yeah, well, it's a big problem. Anytime. One of those things happen. It takes me away from being strategic and I have to go back and be tactical and fix these things in order to get the team back up running, you know, a sales rep comes and stands on my desk and says, Brad, I can't create a quote to get it out and you're not going to help me sell this deal.
And I've got a mouth to feed at home and things aren't closing. And my hair's on fire. We all know that drill. Yeah. I explained that to them and he's like, that's so funny to me because we've somewhat solved for that on the engineering world. We have great systems that help us understand integrations and help us, let us know when things are breaking things like get hub and Datadog and PagerDuty as like, those are great systems, like, all right, I'm gonna look into those.
And I look into all of them and most aren't applicable to me because it's not the same tech stack. And so, you know, that was our first aha moment. We kept seeing those little fire drills, we fixed them, but it really wasn't until we were both working at another company here in Atlanta Terminus, a terminal software of ABM marketing application.
And, you know, at that point we weren't at a 50 person company. It was closer to 300 and I was only the tech stack. And. New products and price books, like a good Salesforce admin does. And you know, I, I go and I deploy my solution at 12:01 AM. You know, I put my old consulting hat back on. We skipped over that, but I did consulting for awhile and I, uh, put my own consultant hat on and roll the solution out and hit go.
And I test it for about an hour and I go to bed and I wake up the next morning to phone calls, text messages, slack notifications, emails. From all across the business and this embodies rev ops. Now we think about it because what my booboo was, I said, no, I did. I, uh, I wasn't accounting for ex external integrations.
And one of those integrations updated the opportunity object at 2:33 AM come to find out the hard way. And I wiped out all of our revenue. I took us from at the time, like a $18 million run rate company to a zero billion dollar company. And it will sit there for a second because I want to. Why we do what we do because it helps on this rev ops framework is because that impacts the whole company.
Start at the top. If we don't have revenue marketing, doesn't really know who to, if there's no opportunity amounts or revenue amounts, our marketing doesn't know who to target for some of their campaigns, uh, SDRs don't really know who to help market into and help to drive, you know, additional touches on sales reps.
Unfortunately, they don't have a pipeline of managed because it all says zebra. CSMs. They don't have their own renewals pipeline to manage, because again, it all says zero finance can't bill anybody. And so you quickly see that one small mistake can have a big ripple effect. And you know, you zoom out of this, jumped into a conference room for about two days.
And I had to fix this big, hairy mess that I started with and we untangled it, but we Jack and I retroed that and we looked at it and like, how could we prevent this? Well, if we can, if we can build a living, breathing balloon, For a tech stack or go to market tech stack, you can essentially eliminate all of these blind spots of not knowing.
If you pull one trigger here, things break there, you need to know downstream impacts and that's exactly what we're solving for. So we learned the hard way, like you said, it wasn't the easiest route to get there, but we're solving problems that we're very familiar with and passionate about. That's awesome.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: It's interesting. A lot of the other founders that I've talked to have kind of a similar story, right? Something happened, they had some problem to solve or some, some issue to resolve and it, out of that was born an idea, right. That became, Hey, other companies could really use this as well. Um, so as you mentioned, you know, you spent all of Mo you know, most of your career in either revenue, operations, sales, It sounds like you've done, you know, all different kinds of operations.
You mentioned that you've even been a Salesforce consultant, so you definitely not only understand operations, but you've literally lived and breathed it. Right. It's a, it's a super interesting perspective, right? Because as the CEO of a company, that's trying to solve real problems for operations, you get it right.
You really understand it. Um, so I think that really adds, uh, an interesting perspective and a lot of credibility. Right to what you're doing and kind of what the mission that you're on. So congratulations on your re uh, last year's fund raise. I saw that you raised at $1.6 million last may. So congratulations with that.
And I mean, I imagine you've done a great deal to accelerate the platform and the offering since then. So can you share more about, um, you know, more back as your vision for the company and for the planet?
Brad Smith: Yeah, of course. So I'd be remiss if I didn't tell a little bit about a story of how we got to where even that point of raising, raising a seed round of 1.6 and we have incredible investors with, uh, we were led by parade venture capital, uh, craft pitchers, and, uh, and slack fund who all participated and.
You know, I, I will absolutely tell you exactly how we're using that money to evolve our platform and do everything else. But I think the interesting thing is we did this in a year of a pandemic. Uh, when, when, you know, when you go and start a company, no one puts that into the, uh, the appendix of the pitch deck where it's like, here's, what's going to happen if we run into this weird thing called COVID-19, but, uh, You know, funny story, we closed that round actually on March 6th and that day will live in my brain forever because essentially the very next day, the world stopped spinning seemingly.
And so, um, you know, we're fortunate at that point. It was, it was Jack and I, we had a handful of folks helping on the engineering side, but, you know, kind of putting this platform together, you use zoom out to where we are now. Um, you know, still a lean mean team of 18, but, you know, from a growth perspective, in a year's worth of time, Where you take on capital to go grow a business and continue to create your product.
Um, did we run into challenges during a year where typically I'd love to be on a whiteboard with my entire team and problem solving, and now we have to all do it virtually it's tough, but you know, we we're, we're really fortunate with, again, the investors we have, the team that we've put together, uh, more importantly, what we're doing.
With, with that funding and what we're doing to accelerate the growth of our platform. Um, we don't make any decision if we don't hear about a pain point from one of our customers, um, we are very much led by the problems that we hear and see in the marketplace. Um, you know, early on in these companies, like this is so important to establish that product feedback that you get from all of your early customers.
Um, you know, we're excited. We started with essentially zero customers over 60 now. Um, you know, continue to bring them. Folks and yeah, new customers every day. And what I, what I think is most interesting with how we're building this platform, Jack specifically, I'm not going to put words in his mouth, but I'll, I'll go to bat for him.
He has such a great product vision of how to instill this DevOps type framework that he's so familiar with on the engineering and product side. How do we. Our users and our product advocates more in line with making more safe changes and making things more efficiently and with less risk of breakage and not to over glamorize that.
But we feel the pain of that. You know, when we roll out a new process or we put a new automation in place and it doesn't go the right way, you lose credibility with your go to market teams that really does make that revenue engine. And make everything go a little bit slower. And so our product vision with the, how do we enable and really empower these folks that own the tech stack, whether it be rev, ops, marketing, ops, Salesforce, admin, Salesforce architect, business operations.
We need to make sure that they have the level of confidence and clarity to go in and right to make these changes and really get back to business. Keep growing the revenue, these, these systems that we all use empower us and enable them. We actually need to do the people side of that. And we want to give those people hours back to the, to the folks that are really, uh, you know, spinning their wheels and rolling their sleeves up and building this stuff that makes a lot of sense.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: And I'm excited to learn more as well. So, um, so you talked a little bit about revenue operations, right? And I think we've had a number of chats about operations, obviously in the past. And kind of talking shop, but really, I think more and more companies are realizing the requirement really to have break down those silos, have that seamless kind of uniform end to end revenue process, and really have that visibility into everything that's happening within your tech stack because your tech stack is getting more and more complex, right?
I mean, it's a full-time job plus to manage the tech stack. Um, what have you seen sort of in. In the market, right. In terms of trends around revenue operations, and especially around the management of that tech stack, like what have you seen sort of how it's evolved? Where do you see it going?
Brad Smith: Ooh, great question.
I start by answering that let's, let's rewind the clock a little bit and let's look back. Let's just call it five years. We don't have to go too far back into history, but little back, perhaps 2015, 2016 timeframe. And you look at a lot of the companies that we're working with now, um, that are, that are using sonar.
And more importantly, they are just managing high levels of very sophisticated technology. Five or six years ago. There was probably one. Person or maybe one department. And actually, if you rewind it further than that, most time it was owning this, you know, if you really root the fire up the DeLorean and go back 10 years, it owned all this stuff, right.
That was the buyer of most technology five years ago. Or so you started to see one or two people in an organization regardless of size, really. You had one sales ops person or one systems ops person that was kind of owning it and yeah. That person now has evolved. It's, you know, it's 2021, that person has evolved into a group.
And now we're seeing this rev up wave and, and I'm here for it. I love it. Uh, we're embracing it. Um, but you see this, you see more folks getting into the mix and really owning some of this go to market technology, which is so validated. It's not just one person supporting one person supporting Salesforce.
Helps marketing and sales and customer success and finance and services do all this stuff. You've got these different operations professionals in each one of those. Now, whether you fully embrace the rev ops framework and you're really have a centralized unit, that's running it, or you're still in silos.
People grow at different paces and we're here to help people do that too. The trend that I see in just this rev ops framework and how we're adopting this technology. Uh, I know we're all podcasts and if I can actually see this, but, you know, visualize this X and Y axis, and you have this one line you're kind of growing at a specific rate and call that technology technology is increasing and it is getting more complex.
It's getting more, you know, machine learning and AI driven and things that are just so incredible to help us drive our companies. Now there's a line below. And that is the people that are tasked with embracing and adopting and configuring and managing. And unfortunately they're growing at different rates.
And the further along that we see this evolution goes in a fast forward to 20, 20, 25, perhaps there's going to be a big gap between the level of sophistication that the technology. And the person that is actually administered it. And that's a lot of our thesis is a lot of what we are trying to solve or how do we help level that gap?
How do we embrace and enable these people that need to know and manage this technology? How do we help them understand the complexities all behind it, make them more efficient at their job, but it's yeah. Uh, objectively true that technology's growing faster, I think, than the people that are actually running it.
And I'm excited to see how that landscape changes. Uh, if I could had a crystal ball and can predict the future for five years from now, let's say exactly what it looks like. We, uh, it be, we'd be on a different conversation and probably be a different company and everything else like that. But it's, I'm excited about it.
I think it's going to continue to evolve. Where it goes. My hope is my hope for rev ops is that the systems, the technology, everything that we use to enable our user listens to our needs. I think there are times that software gets ahead of our user and that when we build a solution, I've made this joke in analogy with a customer the other day.
The last thing we're going to do is build a Ferrari for you when you don't know how to drive a manual car, because you're not going to get it out of first gear. And I think that happens often in technology. You build this just crazy machine, but nobody knows how to drive it quite yet. So my hope is we listen to our customers and we let our customers drive what we, uh, what we do.
That's how we embody it. Embrace it here.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: That's awesome. I love that. I love hearing that. I think just listening to your customers, understanding their pain points and kind of helping them are leveraging them to help develop your roadmap right. And where you're going with the product. Love it. Um, so let's shift gears a little bit to something I love talking about with you.
Let's talk about the wizards of ops. So first of all, What an amazing name. Every time I tell people about, Hey, have you joined the wizards of ops? They was like, oh, that's sounds really cool. Right? They immediately loved the name because what an amazing name for a community of operations professionals.
Right? These are folks who truly have to be wizards, right. To juggle some of the demands, um, uh, day-to-day demands, especially in some of these smaller high growth companies, right. Where we know the teams are very lean. Oftentimes it's a team of one, right? It could be a team of two. It's pretty lean. Um, especially as we think of.
The tech stack that we were just talking about. Right. And how that's expanding. So tell me a little bit about how did the idea of wizards of ops come about and what were sort of your original kind of original vision and original goals for that?
Brad Smith: Yeah. Uh, so it's, it's interesting. People will sometimes quickly ask me and Ty was there of ops to sonar.
And I don't mind that obviously I'm kind of, there's a common denominator and it's me that started those, but, uh, was that's actually started well before. So yeah. Um, even a couple of years, in fact, and it was based on the same premise that we drive the community. And right now we, I was still a director of rev ops at Terminus.
Uh, at the time I was a lean mean team of one, uh, you know, I got to grow and expand that team. So you have five that's on my left, but what was fun or what really was the premise. And I would call it the catalyst moment for them. Uh, for that organization was, I was running into a problem. Here we are, you know, we're, we're solving hard, complex issues with technology.
And, uh, I did have one guy on my team. His name is Todd and we were both trying to solve this. And we're like, man. There's gotta be somebody else that knows this. I know there is. Oh, Ooh. Let's let's let's call our buddy Mitchell. Um, fast forward to today. Mitchell works with us. He's our, is our sales engineer here.
So, um, you know, fun, fun, full circle story, but we knew Mitchell had the brains and the, you know, the, the wit to help us solve this problem we run into. And I remember looking one day and Todd had his phone out and he was asking. Using his cell phone and trying to take a picture of his computer screen and text it to vigil.
This three-person text message. And I was like, dude, just slack that to them. It's like, well, we don't have a community that we're all in. Like, we don't have a shared slack channel. It's like flax free. Congratulations. We can create a new one. So we created it and, um, That was the origination story. There is not much more glamorous than that.
We were trying to solve a problem and we knew we needed to talk to somebody else. And that's what I love what slack is built. Obviously they're one of our investors. Um, we're so close with them and there's this whole trend of how do we collaborate better? Which is what we're embedding in sonar as well.
When we talk about how did it come up? It was three people trying to solve a problem. What was cool about it? We didn't have any guardrails in any rules. We kept an open because we wanted to keep asking each other questions. You know, I had been been at John, John and Sarah and, you know, organic growth. We didn't really have like a website or anything like that.
You know, we just knew that there were a handful of people that we knew we could ask problems about or ask for issues and help and collaborate. And you mentioned this, you know, so many. Operations teams right now are still lean mean armies of one or maybe two. And what happens so often as they don't have an outlet to ask these questions.
I mean, you're in, you're in, was obvious. You see it every day. A lot. It gets very granular. People are like, Hey, I'm running into this apex issue. How do I resolve this? Um, I am running into something else. It's validation rule. Won't fire the right way. Anybody have any thoughts? What I find so unique about the persona, and this is why I think you and I both are so aligned on the rev ops framework and the people that are behind it.
I think there is a genuine level. Of one curiosity, but also empathy and sentiment to people that are in that same role, because they know that they are typically a potentially an understaffed group or just an army of one or two, and they need an outlet to ask these questions. And that's what we built this premise of this community on, you know, fast forward to today, you know, three of us a couple of years ago, we're a little over 1700 people.
Uh, now we, we keep it very. Tight and intimate. You fill out a form, let us know if you're interested in joining and we're going to vet it out. We're going to see if you would offer your it ops, professional and sorry for any sales reps that are on it. But unfortunately there's a lot of communities out there for that, but we want to keep it very genuine and very, yeah.
Authentic and organic because everyone in there, me, you, we all love to help each other solve problems. And I think the minute we stray away from that, it could get a little cloudy. And so not cloud-based intended, you know, no pun intended there, but I think. I think we want to just continue to elevate the, the operations community.
It's, uh, it's so important and it's a wave. We're all riding. I'm here for it. You're here for it. Let's uh, let's build it together, but it's a great place for people to collaborate and network on it.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah, I definitely think so. I think there's been so many. I see so much dialogue going on in the community.
And like you said, it could be something very, very tactical, very, very specific to a specific use case. And then somebody will pick it up, right. Somebody said, yeah, I've done it. So that's really interesting. And, you know, community, to me, as you said, is just so important, right? I think with COVID the global pandemic, everyone working remotely, everybody interacting virtually, right.
The need for the community has increased exponentially, right. Especially in the operations world where we keep saying, you know, teams are often already lean, so the need to be able to. You know, share best practices, learn from others network, you know, with others is just so valuable. And I always talk about this ops therapy, right?
Just getting therapy from others and talking the same language and knowing that you're not alone, right. That there are others are experiencing the same issue or same problems I think is just very it's. It's actually therapeutic and it's very helpful, I think for others. So what have you seen, I guess, have you seen sort of that impact in terms of growth and participation in the community?
Past, you know, the past year with, with the global pandemic. And I guess in what, if anything, you know, have you seen as been, um, I guess different in terms of some of those interactions?
Brad Smith: Yeah, I will. I don't know. Sure. I'm not the first person to say it, but, um, hopefully it catches trend. I do believe 2020 was the year of the community.
Um, I think there are so many good things that have happened in, and not just in words, opposites, let's elevate others. Um, a couple of my best friends that are also in community driven, uh, environments. Um, Aaron leader love him, love what him and Sam are doing over at revenue collective. Um, you know, Aaron and I partnered on a.
It is cool thing. We have two communities that are partnering on surveys right now. We're trying to get more involved. I saw that. Yeah. Same thing. Yeah. With Pete Kazanjy and rich Serco with the MSP folks. Love what Jerry is doing over at revenue collective. Uh, there's just so many good ones. I don't have slack pulled up, so I don't have my full list of everything that's going on in communities, but you know, it is.
What we have found over the course of a year is that unfortunately, we were live events were taken away from us and I'm the biggest advocate. I would so much rather be in-person in a room with somebody than, uh, than, than having to do it virtually. But you know, here we are, we work like those you live in and we're going to make lemonade, but I do think communities have just been so embraced.
And I think if anything, you see the full value of it because 2020 was tough, there were layoffs. There were people that were unfortunately losing. We started a careers channel. We started to promote so many new openings. I think out of all the channels we have in was ops. That was probably the most vibrant and the most, uh, one of the one that probably drives the most traffic.
Again, rev ops folks are genuinely so empathetic and want to help. They see an opportunity. They're going to cast the net. You know, we've had, you know, tons of people come back and they say, Hey, I just got my new job because it was ops. And I'm like, I'm so excited about that. Thank you. Thank you for letting me know that, um, you know, we're here for it.
We want to help drive that and embrace it, but I do. The community participation over the last 12 months has been amazing. Another one of my best friends, mentor of mine, max Altschuler, I'm trying to steal so much of his playbook with what he's done with sales hacker. He's such a great guy. There's just so many good shout outs.
I'm missing people, but it's not about was ops. It's not about sonar. It's very much about, I think community's just elevate everyone and it's my hope, my biggest hope. We don't lose that on 2021. Um, I think that we should keep a, a very close eye on how we can continue to build, build communities. Cause it's, it's the way the future.
I think we're all learning and benefiting from it. Absolutely.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: I think, um, you know, I think the other thing with the jobs channel that's interesting is I've seen it. Significant rise in operations openings since January. It's just, I can't tell you how many people have tapped through and say, Hey, do you know somebody for this?
Somebody for that, there was one day when I think I had like four or five people reach out either for roles like, Hey, are you interested? Or do you know someone who's interested? And I was like, this is crazy. You know, it's just like, there were so many, and it's been a steady stream since 2021 started. So I think more and more companies are realizing because a lot of these roles are.
Also they're newly created positions, um, versus a replacement. Yeah, the ops world is growing.
Brad Smith: I couldn't agree more and I know you probably don't want to hear it, but I'm going to give you the shout out on that. There are people like you like Jeff Ignazio like Hillary Hedley, like th th th the folks that I'm going to call some of these rev ops influencers that are helping drive this momentum, because.
Uh, I'll be bullish on it. I have customers of ours tell us, like, you know, do you know Roslyn was like, yeah, yeah, pretty well. It, French film, such a cool momentum rev ops and everything. And I think it's because of, of you and all the other folks that help drive this awareness and they see that teams work better than one person synergistically and we can accomplish a lot more.
Yeah. The, the job community is vibrant right now. I'm the same way I get an email or a phone call or text message weekly daily. Hey, do you know somebody to come be a new sales ops manager or director? I love it. Like I said, I'm here for it. Definitely.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: Well, thank you for that. Thank you for the shout out. I think you, and I think that's one of the reasons we're so aligned is we've been just constantly trying to just up-level operations, right.
From much as the technology and from a systems perspective, but just to the people in the community. So I love that. Um, and speaking about kind of sharing and experience and knowledge and all of that over the past, like six to nine months. Seeing you've kind of built out this amazing content on your see sonar.com website, right?
You have great resources, which is another area. I think that's been a deficit previous kind of prior pre 2020, I think has been a deficit in terms of places to go for operations, um, expertise. So you've really built out this great resource for operations professionals, right? I've seen topics related to rev ops and sales ops and marketing ops in Salesforce, right.
Data, right. All the things that are important to us, including like building out a team right. Much, much more. And now you've also launched a series of. Shops talk. I love you're very creative. I have to know whether you're the one behind the wizards of ops name and the shops talk. Or if, if you have a mastermind marketer or maybe you're a secret marketer.
Brad Smith: Yeah. So I will by hook or crook, I'll say. I did come up with wizard of ops and I don't, I'm not the most creative person. One of my biggest struggles is Navy conventions and anybody that's worked in the past and creating fields in Salesforce. So like Brad, and why did you name it? That let's fix that. So I will, will buy one creative hair was, was ops, but, um, I will say shop stock.
I'm not going to take, uh, take credit for that. That was actually a community member of ours. Uh, generally. Who is a director of communities for the trailblazer community at Salesforce. Um, funny story here on shop's talk. And I'm so excited about having you on it soon. And I know our episode's going to be phenomenal, but, um, she, so she got added to was ops organically.
Somebody was like, Hey, you know, you're on the Salesforce ecosystem. You're big in communities, your picking operations love to have you join. And I need to look back and see you actually added it. I need to ask you and actually, but. She was in our community for a little while and she pinged me directly and she was like, Hey, are you the person that started this?
And before I responded, I was like, Jen Whalen, LinkedIn director, or senior director of communities in trouble. I was like, oh no, I'm in trouble. I think Salesforce is bad. At first started this community. I was like, yes. What, uh, is there something that I can help you with? And she was like, I'm in so many communities, and this is one of the most vibrant operations based and an operations focused.
Um, you know, we've been, we, as in Salesforce have been given this, you know, sort of directive to empower and enable and accelerate the operations world. You have the longest time Salesforce is target market was VPs of sales and VPs of marketing and true go to market leaders. And I think what they've realized over the course of the last couple of years, Spoiler alert operations, hold the keys to the castle.
And there's a big buyer persona there and they, uh, they want to embrace that. And she was so excited. She was like, Hey, how can we partner together? I was like, again, I'm here for it. Um, let's, let's talk about it. Let's let's get our heads together. We have a phenomenal marketer on our team. Uh, Christine is our head of marketing and, um, you know, we, we get her involved and we came up with this crazy idea, like, listen, Listen to this little talk show, this biweekly event, let's get community members, folks that you know, typically are, and this is just for the rev ops world.
Rev ops is typically not the most celebrated role in organizations. And I'll just be blunt when I say it. They're not the folks that usually get keynote speaking engagements at Dreamforce and other big things. And so let's elevate these people, which is the big, uh, thesis or ethos for what was up to is how do we elevate the operations community?
It's our, it's our mission. And she was like, let's get community members involved. Let's get folks to tell their story, how they got into it. Let's get a thought leaders to come in and you know, so far we've done. Nine episodes to date, uh, 10th is on the, on the radar and, you know, 11 and 12 code and soon with you and a lot of other thought leaders.
And what I found was interesting about it, Salesforce wanted to lean in so much, how can we help sponsor it? How can we help, you know, just do anything on the advertising side, which they've done. They've been a phenomenal partner to work with and truthfully with, with no. In goal of like, Ooh, can we get the lead list?
Can we start nurturing them? Could it, none of that, we don't do any of that. And again, this is why we keep was ops and sonar, even separate. Um, we're here to elevate that community and a firm believer of, if you, if you bring value to everyone, they'll see that value and they'll find other value in you. And that's how they can come in later.
But, um, she was just so authentic and like, let's just drive growth. And so we started this series again, we've got a ton of really cool folks. You included. Uh, for later this year of episodes, but it's really to bring thought leaders in. Um, we changed the topic of every week or every other week. Uh, we changed the cast up.
We have pets, join everyone, my dog sitting on my lap at time. It's just been really fun. I think the community really enjoys it. Um, and we're going to continue to do it. We want to hear from, you know, folks that are listening to this in our community, how can we make it better? So it's been really fun though.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: So far. That's awesome. Yeah, I love it. I went to your site and I was like, well it's because when I first looked there was just a few episodes just kind of starting out. And there was just like, now it's like this whole catalog of really interesting topics and really great, just great engaging content. So really appreciate everything that you, you guys are doing over there.
Of course. And so goodbye, elevating revenue operations, right. You and I've had this conversation like through revenue collective, I've featured you on rev ops corner and talking about how. This is really the strategic differentiator. Right. And enabling and optimizing the revenue engine. And I guess, you know, less from an operations perspective, but maybe more from a CEO perspective.
Right. What advice do you have if any, for other CEOs, right. In terms of when to hire for ops and then what to look for when you hire?
Brad Smith: Man, all, all pun intended. It's a billion dollar question because I think every company that is out there chasing that billion dollar unicorns. Can benefit from robots coming in and, and you're right.
It is a matter of timing is a matter of knowing what you're looking for. So I I'm, I, I took some really good advice very early on in, in starting sonar. I was talking to Donna , uh, rev ops leader in the space, um, overtly in data right now, no Don from his sales days. And key advice that he gave me was higher.
Hire and create this foundation early, earlier than you think you need it earlier than you really probably think that you need to go spend the dollars on it, because he has an interesting perspective as well as I do that, that when you hire too late for it, and there's benchmark data behind hiring too late for it, you know, most folks bring on their ops person and around 50 head count for the company.
And you keep that maybe 50 to one ratio sometimes by that point, A couple of folks have already owned. Salesforce has made a ton of changes and they, you know, crazy things happen. And so somebody is inevitably going to inherit this tech debt and have to clean up somebody's mess and, and just, you take a step back and you think about that.
It's like, well, I don't want to go hire someone to go clean something up. I want to hire somebody to go optimize for something. And so we ate our own dog food. We hired Mitchell again. He's kind of in a hybrid role. He's half sales engineer, half rev ops for us. Uh, he was our 14th employee and, uh, you know, I'm going to be bullish on it.
Can I do it? Yes. Is he better at me than do it? Absolutely way better. Rev ops. Got it. I am. And so I'm going to hire up. Every chance I get in our organization, part of our hiring strategy is to hire people that are smarter than us. Um, but I suggest that to any executive, any CEO, anybody that's leading a go-to-market team, that's going to start bringing in red ops.
Please don't wait until the house is on. Because there's only so much water, you can pour on it, build a steady foundation. And this is one of the true places where you can hire early and you could accelerate so fast, everybody, an early stage company, whether it be from seed or a, or B or even C, where you're starting to think about embracing.
You can go and task this person to be your secret weapon, because they're going to be so in tune to what data they're seeing, coming into your systems, and they're going to help you analyze it and rationalize it. Don't don't think for a second, because it's rev ops manager or director of rev ops or senior rev ops person.
They are a business analyst also at heart because they are going to be so intimately involved with the data and just, just entrenched in it that they will be able to tell you. Things that are around the corner before you can see them. And I think that's just the edge that rev ops gives. And you know, when we think about how do we resegment our teams and we go after SMB and mid-market and enterprise, well, let somebody like a rev ops specialist come in and tell you that.
Let them quantify it with data. Tell you that, Hey, we're killing it over here at mid-market. Maybe we pour two more resources there and one more person in enterprise. Um, I know the ACVs are different, but we can absolutely accelerate there. Those are the things that you. Your rev ops person to just enable your company with.
And so, uh, I guess the, the team of that higher, early please, um, you know, the roles are different. And when you look for in that certain higher, um, I've never been a person of titles hire for it. If you have a problem in your company, go hire and solve for that. Uh, titles have worked themselves out.
Everything else. I think we're all working in this fluid title world right now. We're trying to figure that out. To be honest, don't solve a problem. Hire for solving a problem. Don't hire for solving a titles issue. So, but hire early, I can't say enough, please hire early.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: I love that. I love that. It's funny that you use the phrase secret weapon because I literally used that in an interview.
Just I think last week I said, rev ops is your secret weapon. I love that, um, people always ask and I'm sure you get the same question around that, right? Like when when's the perfect time to hire and who's the perfect persona, you know, the person, the perfect skillset to hire and it all sort of does depend.
But one thing that I think holds true all along is hierarchy. As you said, I think that makes a lot of sense. Um, so as I think about the revenue engine, this podcast, obviously kind of pivoting back to this, the revenue engine scope, you know, I really hope that others will be able to really learn how to accelerate revenue, right revenue growth, and really the power that it.
So from your perspective, are there, you know, what are the, some of the key elements that you think about that you think will have the most significant impact, right on sonars ability, really to achieve and exceed your revenue. Besides hiring wrap ups besides hire ramp ups early, which you did already. So check.
Brad Smith: Yep. I think there's a, I don't wanna steal this line, uh, surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. That's a key thing of mine. Um, I'm going to steal this from good friend of mine. Thought about an earlier peak is Angie is one of his favorite analogies and I embrace it fully skate tours.
The puck, you have to know how your puck, you know, if you're using a hockey analogy, you know, the puck is going at a certain speed. You have to be skating towards that. And you don't want to go too far ahead of it. You don't wanna get too far behind it. How do you know how fast that puck is going? How do you know how fast your team should be?
You have to have data to support it. And I think, you know, the, the key to success for us, I think you have to be so realistic about it. Companies make this mistake often. Oh, I should have run a funding. Let, just go hire a bunch of people. Let me, let me throw some people at it. And we're just gonna have a bunch of revenue.
Like no, like you have to have product market fit. You have to have, you have to know what your funnel metrics are. Do you have enough demand going on? Um, these are all key elements that you and I know this. I'm just looking at the data all day and being in this rev ops and sales ops and marketing ops world.
But I think it's so important because you can make drastically bad decisions. Don't make data-driven decisions. And so, you know, we're gonna, we're gonna live and die on it over here at sonar, we, we embrace the, the data-driven mentality. Uh, we're going to continue to grow at the appropriate speed. We're going to make calculated bets.
I think that's part of every entrepreneur that needs to go and, uh, you know, figure out how to grow at the right scale and push herself and have really good people in your corner to push you as well. But. At the end of the day, you sh you are the master of your own domain. Nothing also should catch you off guard.
Um, things are inevitably going to change, but you should be so as an executive, or even as someone at an IC level, you should know what makes your company tick. And I think those are the key elements that will make a company successful. And. A lot of it has to do with, you know, your, your product, vision, what you're solving for and how you're doing it, tactically and objectively.
But I do think you have to have such a sense of how your companies should be growing. What are true form success metrics, and don't be naive to it. Well, I'm going to go hire a five-day ease and they're going to have this perfect three-month ramp schedule. I'm going to go hit two more million in the next five months.
Like. Like you have to account for some of the inevitable, the intangible, make sure that you're not setting yourself up for failure because you're dragging an Excel spreadsheet across the page. If you think that that formula is perfect, you know, really stress yourself and pressure, test yourself and have really good folks in your class.
That will push you on it. We have some of the best folks that are huge advocates for sonar, some of our investors advisors, um, and they keep me honest. I employed them to do that. You know, challenge me, beat me up, tell me where we can do better, because that's how we're going to make, you know, make the best company out there.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: That's awesome. I love that. I love that. Um, so as we wrap up before I let you go, there's two things that I always like to ask. So one is what is the one thing about Brad Smith that others would be surprised. To learn and to what is the one thing that you want everyone to know about you?
Brad Smith: The thing that they will be surprised to learn, some people would be surprised and some people probably wouldn't.
Um, but my, my wife and I, we are our big advocates. Uh, adopting pets and adopting dogs. We currently have, uh, four dogs at our house, uh, three of ours and we're we're fostering one. Um, and so we were just big advocates of, of giving back to our own communities. So in our head off, uh, was ops hat off. Uh, you know, other folks and other entities in the world and for us passion projects are our pets and our dogs.
Um, again, our, our famous pug, Frank has made a couple of a guest appearances on, uh, shop's talk cause he comes into the office a good bit. Um, maybe that will surprise folks is this will not surprise anybody. I'm a huge Peloton nerd. If anybody that talks to me long enough knows that. Um, so if anybody wants to, uh, to raise some, a Peloton, I'll even make a bet here.
Um, we'll take demos for anybody that can beat me on Peloton. How about that? So we'll, uh, we'll, we'll cast a line out there, but yeah, probably two things that most folks don't know or that aren't blogged about, I guess.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. That's great. Thank you for sharing. Um, so I wanted to just thank you again for joining me, Brad, it's always a pleasure to talk with you, you know, talk shop.
I can't wait to see what sonar has in store next. You know, I'm going to be doing a deep dive into your platform here with one of your AEs shortly. And I already know I'm going to want it for our team and for myself. So thank you so much.
Brad Smith: Yeah, that's problem. Thank you so much. I'm so excited about this podcast.
Everything you're doing, you're such a rev ops advocate and leader for us, and I can't thank you enough for, uh, for being that, uh, that megaphone for everybody that that is embracing the robots platform and mindset.
Rosalyn Santa Elena: Thank you, absolutely. And same to you. We're doing it together. Thank you.