Alex Manwaring is the Director of Sales at Privy. He has 6+ years of sales experience, and 3+ years of sales management experience. Prior to Privy, he worked at Mavenlink and Datadog. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his fiancée Brittany and their goldendoodle Daisy.
[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]
Umar Hameed 0:01
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone! My name is Umar Hameed, I'm your host on The No Limits Selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how you can become better, stronger, faster. Just before we get started, I've got a question for you, do you have a negative voice inside your head? We all do, right? I'm gonna help you remove that voice and under 30 days guaranteed, not only remove it, but transform it. So instead of the voice that sabotages you, there's one that propels you to much higher levels of performance and success. There's a link in the show notes, click on it to find out more. All right! Let's get started.
Umar Hameed 0:37
Hey, everyone, welcome to another episode of The No Limits Selling Podcast where we interview leaders about how to grow their teams how to grow themselves, and more importantly, how they grow the revenue for the organization. And today, we have the privilege of having Alex Manwaring here with us, he was with Privy. Welcome to the show.
Alex Manwaring 0:58
Awesome. Thanks so much for having me, Umar. Glad to be here.
Umar Hameed 1:01
So you the Director of Sales there, but when you started in the company, where did you start?
Alex Manwaring 1:06
Yeah. So when I first joined Privy, it was originally to start a business development team. So I was brought on as a BDR manager originally. And when I first joined, it was specifically looking to build an outbound function. And one of the things that we quickly learned in my first few months is the capital that it requires, in order to kind of properly build out that function. In addition to that you're looking at things such as longer sales cycles, and just ultimately, the economics of that versus the strong demand. And we received from the inbound perspective that was being relatively underserved, view that as an opportunity to really focus our time and energy there. So although I was brought in initially to start an outbound business development program, that quickly pivoted few months in and was the inception of what is now the majority of our sales team just inside sales representatives. But at the time, it was just a small handful of individuals, compared to a rather large a team. And so that was the inception of the inside sales representative role, where we really focused on kind of the lower end of that inbound funnel that was previously being somewhat disregarded by our account executives at the time, because it's relatively smaller ASP. And so, yeah, it was at that point that we pivoted to that ISR or inside sales representative model. And really, over the past few years, we've continued to flush that out, build that out, and what that looks like to the current state in which we now have an SMB team, which is specifically the inside sales representatives. And then we have a mid market team as well of account executives and as the are supporting that team. So it's evolved quite a bit in the three years since I've been here, but fortunately, been able to make significant strides and ultimately, close revenue.
Umar Hameed 2:58
Brilliant. So were you doing business development for you came into the company?
Alex Manwaring 3:02
Correct. So I actually started my career as a business development representative. So my very first role was prior to that I was selling radio advertising as an account executive...
Umar Hameed 3:15
Alex Manwaring 3:15
...for about six months. And then when I broke into tech, that was as a business development representative at Datadog in late 2016. And so I spent about nine months there, and then our one of our top reps at the time, Datadog, Matt Woods, he left for Mavenlink. And that really kind of caught my attention, because he was the number one route, Datadog and somebody who I looked up to. And so just so happened at the time, Mavenlink was looking to build out their Boston business development team. And so I was one of the first two BDR hires in the Boston office there really with that intention of wanting to kind of start at the ground levels of BDR there, but be able to grow into a leadership capacity and help build up the team. And fortunately, I was able to do that while I was there, but make from BDR to team lead, and then eventually, manager business development. Before I kind of knew this move to.
Umar Hameed 4:11
So in business development, if you have a rep that is doing outbound calls just to generate appointments, typically, how many appointments should they be sending per day?
Alex Manwaring 4:19
It's a good question. I think it really kind of depends on your model, right? Because what's good to one program might be terrible to another, right? Yeah. And I think like a big part of that is your funnel metrics and what those look like because for example, just to use easy numbers, let's say we have a target of at the end of the month want to have 10 qualified meetings. You basically need to figure out a few different things, but in particular RA, when it comes to booking meetings, what's your meeting held percentage? And let's say that's 50%, then we know, "Okay, I need to have 20 meetings booked in order to generate 10 held meetings," and from there, okay, what's your activity to meeting booked percentage because, for example, if I need to get to 20 meetings, I have a roughly 10% from call to demo booked rate, then I know I need 10 times that 20 or 200 calls in order to get to those 20 meetings booked, which are ultimately going to get rid of those 10 meetings, hell, but 10%, right, that's a nice clean number. In reality, it's typically different than that, right? It might be 9%, it might be 12%. And especially at scale, those few percentage point increases or decreases in either direction can really have a massive impact ultimately, on that bottom line metric that you care about, which is revenue. But that revenue comes from held meetings, held meetings come from what meetings comes from activity. So it's kind of working your way backwards from those end goals.
Umar Hameed 5:47
That's a Math, absolutely. I was talking to I got cold call the other day. And the guy did a really good job. Stumbled a little bit but you know, the value prop was good. So I said, "Okay, book me a meeting." And before we parted company,
Alex Manwaring 5:47
Umar Hameed 5:47
how many meetings do you have to book a day for the company you work at? And he said, "You know, we need to book five meetings a day," and he's doing 500 dials a day, but only getting 15 pickups. And from those 15 pickups, he secures five meetings. So one out of three conversations leads to a meeting, but I guess they use automation to do the dialing but that's an awful lot of dials. An awful lot of people you call [garbled] also which is problem these days, which people are really looking at caller ID like, "Do I know this? Should I pick up?" And the answer of many times, unfortunately, is "No".
Alex Manwaring 6:36
Yeah, no. I mean, I think you see things like spam likely to write on your cell phone now. It's...
Umar Hameed 6:42
Oh, yeah. It's so irritating. No, no.
Alex Manwaring 6:44
I was, I was just gonna say like, you see spam likely you see potential spam. And it's actually it's funny, you bring it up, because just last week, we were talking about this on our team, the importance of voicemails, because otherwise, if you make a call and you don't leave a voicemail, if anything, what you're likely doing is just further increasing the likelihood that they're going to associate your number with spam. So even if it didn't say potential spam, or spam, likely the most recent time you call, they're gonna see that number, they're gonna see no voicemail left and just assume, "Oh, this is probably somebody trying to call me about my car's extended warranty even though I don't own a car," right?
Umar Hameed 7:19
Alex Manwaring 7:19
And, and it's one of those spam calls versus Alright, leave a voicemail. And now you're at least giving your in itself an opportunity to distinguish yourself kind of set yourself apart from all the other clutter that people are seeing. And so, yeah, it's just definitely something especially because it's becoming more and more difficult to catch somebody on the phone is like, "Alright, if you don't catch them, you at least want to leave them a compelling voicemail so that way they know who we are, and ultimately why they should want to call us back."
Umar Hameed 7:45
The last hour I saw leading messages, it was something like less than 1% get returned. But you get to leave a brand. And you get to leave some familiarity with this is who I am. And sometimes it takes what's supposed to take eight touches before you get someone to actually interact with you. And most salespeople give up a little bit before eight, usually at one.
Alex Manwaring 8:04
Umar Hameed 8:07
From BDR, and now you're inside sales leading up a team of five people.
Alex Manwaring 8:12
Correct. Yep. Four account executives, and then one SDR. And then we have two other parts of inside sales representatives, which are managed by two other sales managers.
Umar Hameed 8:22
So how do you know you're doing a good job as a sales manager? Like, how do you ascertain that yourself, not what your boss tells you? But how do you know you're doing a good job?
Alex Manwaring 8:32
Yeah. No, that's a great question. And even before I forget, as well, there's something interesting that you mentioned, I don't want to lose the thought. So even first on the idea of the low callback, like 1% callback, really on voicemails opportunity to leave a brand. I think one of the things that we've even been talking about as well as a team is that you're not necessarily going to see the effectiveness of voicemails reflected in terms of the callbacks. But there'll be a direct correlation between your email response rate going up and the number of voicemails that you leave. And so I think it's always just like a good thing to almost keep in perspective, like what your goal is, because it can be easy to say, "Why am I leaving voicemails, nobody's calling me back." But while they might not explicitly stated when they respond to your email, you're gonna see a higher email response rate in direct correlation with a higher number of voicemails left. And so I think it's always just good to temper expectations that while they might not call me back directly, they're going to be more likely to respond to my emails, because to your point, it's brand recognition. And now they're gonna associate that email that they get with that voicemail, they're gonna be more likely to respond. So...
Umar Hameed 9:36
Yeah, thank you for sharing that. Is this, Alex? I think this is going on, or is there any data behind it? Like, you know, you live and breathe it?
Alex Manwaring 9:43
Oh, yeah. Yeah, no, I mean, like, we will look at pretty much every metric that we can try to figure out just trying to slice and dice and look for efficiencies in our model. And that's one of the things that stood out to us in the data is quite literally that direct correlation between the reps on the team who leave the voicemail, most voicemails, they have the highest email response rate compared to the people who leave the fewest voicemails have the lowest human response rate. So there is a direct correlation between the most voicemails and most email replies and vice versa. An inverse correlation as well.
Umar Hameed 10:16
Thank you for stopping me and sharing that because that's like, dear viewers, and listeners pay attention, because that makes perfect sense, because I was just going, "It's brand recognition," but you got real data to prove that when people respond back. So the question I asked you, how do you know your job?
Alex Manwaring 10:33
Yeah. No, back to that question. I think, obviously, there's the hiring at the end of the day, this is the revenue number and quota attainment. And that's ultimately part of your compensated hire measure. But I think, really, again, like you analyze each aspect of the funnel, that's where you're able to not only tell whether or not you're doing a good job, but also are where things might be breaking down. Because fortunately, like we've we've had a good run success here, overachieved on quota, but I think a big part of the role, right? is understanding why not just understanding, "Alright, great, I got there." But it's being able to articulate, "Okay, these are the strengths, right? If we analyze our wind reasons, this is why we're consistently winning against X competition. But this is why we're consistently losing as well. And we do lose deals and having that feedback, whether it's from a product standpoint, a process standpoint, something else entirely, and being able to analyze that information." So I would say it's kind of like multiple points of validation, almost like directly with the team. Been very fortunate to kind of foster in just a really, really culture of extreme transparency. I'm a huge fan of radical candor, as I know, a lot of other people are, and really just trying to kind of get that philosophy to be bought into by the entire team where regardless of title, role, etc, feedback, good back, good, bad or indifferent, it helps us get better, and we want to hear it. And so weekly one on ones just even in terms of the anecdotal hearing directly from the direct reports, team, "Okay, what's going well, what's not? What can I help you do? What can I do more of do less of etcetera." So there's that anecdotal feedback. And again, even if the revenue is there, if you're seeing a metric that looks unhealthy, whether it's in terms of meetings held, and then that might lead you to think "Okay, yeah, while we are still hitting our revenue metric, we have an unusually high close rate right now that I don't know whether or not that's sustainable. But even then, okay, let's analyze why we have a closed higher, higher than usual closer, is there something that we're doing so." I would say in terms of just like being able to assess the health of the business, it's not just revenue, but it's in a variety of those other KPIs you do have? And if there are any other warning signs, digging deeper into those to unpack why that's unhealthy? Or the flipside of that, "Oh, wow, we're doing really well, despite this, because we're over performing here. Why are we over performing there, and let's see how we can replicate that at scale." So I'd say obviously, there's the revenue at the end of the month, week, and how you're pacing there. But just as if not more important, are those leading KPIs such as meetings held, meetings booked, conversion rates at each percentage in terms of activity to meetings booked, and then even just general market sentiment as well, like, like I said, we keep a really close eye on both closed one as well as close loss reasons. Anytime somebody turns, there is a note for basically, that providing feedback in terms of why they turn and we read everything we want to know directly from the customer, why they're buying, why they're renewing, or conversely, why we're losing deals and why they're churning so that way, we can better understand how to improve. And sometimes that is our sales processes. I know as salespeople we can, we can be quick to shift blame, right? whether it's to marketing the product, or anybody else, but ourselves. But I think it really is important that we do take that opportunity to self reflect and look for those opportunities where we ourselves can improve, and ultimately, just maximize everything that we can control, right? Because there's gonna be a million different things outside of your control, a million different crutches that we can leverage, but ultimately, our success, we have to take ownership of that. And we have to determine what we're doing, it's working versus what we're doing that needs to be rectified.
Umar Hameed 14:11
Brilliant. So you've got three teams and the other two inside teams are focused on different markets or the same market, but just different teams?
Alex Manwaring 14:19
Yeah, so basically, the breakdown is our inside sales representatives. They focused heavily on our new trial funnel. So basically, we have a free trial model, anybody can sign up for the platform, get exposure to it, and they have two weeks to trial it out. And so our inside sales representatives, their goal is really on day one or as soon as early as possible to connect with that person in their trial offer to set up time and basically help educate them both in terms of, "Okay, this is what you could be doing and should be doing," versus, "Alright, you probably don't want to do that." Because helping them better understand the platform their needs, understand what they're using right now so we didn't get a healthy competitive analysis. But that's really where that SMB team is primarily focused is on those new trials and then the mid market team, they'll focus on a handful of larger trials, but then also in predominantly cross sell capacity, since we basically will have like multiple products, the mid market team will often be focused on cross selling into our existing user base of customers to expand their usage of our platform and [garbled]. So definitely, definitely differences there, I would say in terms of the personas that the SMB team is working with, it's going to be predominantly on the on the lower end of the market, and more transactional versus the mid market team sales cycles a little bit longer, ASP is a little bit more and it's more of a either selling to existing customers, or churn customers or people who never converted. So just more, more moving pieces, if you will, in the mid market motion versus the ASP motion is predominantly like 99%, just those new trials.
Umar Hameed 16:04
So do you guys meet as leaders, just chatting about the business, best practices, kind of sense of the market and how often you guys meet?
Alex Manwaring 16:12
Yeah, so in terms of our leadership cadence, we like to meet multiple times a week. So like, for example, the beginning of every single week, we'll have our entire team sales kickoff with individuals reps included and right after that meeting. It's basically the leaders of the demand generation and marketing funnel, in addition to the leaders of the sales team. And we will look at the week ahead in terms of any marketing sends or any promotions that we have planned, in addition, our what our sales teams focus on cadence this week, as well. So that way, everybody's aligned, and everybody's on the same page. So we'll start off the week, just making sure that there's no questions everybody knows exactly what everybody's focused on, there's no overlap, or contradictions. And then Tuesdays are when we'll basically go through as the sales leadership team and do our pipeline and funnel review. Just get a sense of, "Alright, health of the business this month, what does it look like? Where are we trending? What are we forecasting?" Because, again, as I kind of alluded to before, that's when we can take a quick snapshot and say, "Alright, we're doing really good in our commit, but we don't really have nearly as much meeting bugs. So we're going to need that we're going to see the tail end of that soon, or vice versa." So we'll do that basically, on Tuesday afternoons, and then Fridays, we'll do a look back at sales leadership. So basically, is looking, yeah, where we basically look back on Friday, "Okay, what went well, what do we need to do next week in order to either continue this momentum or to build up some momentum if we're lagging a little bit behind." And we'll kind of use that as an opportunity to plan for the week ahead so that way, we have a jumpstart on that Monday meeting with marketing, we know exactly what our focus is going to be when we talk to them.
Umar Hameed 17:48
So if you were giving advice to new sales leaders coming in, where they've got a team, what are the five most important things they need to keep focus on?
Alex Manwaring 17:58
Yeah, I mean, in terms of like, alright, starting, so you're inheriting a team, right and coming brand new. I think like, first and foremost, just getting a pulse on who your top performers are, right? And like getting an understanding of who the typical leaders on the team are, you will get past performance, things of that nature. And then understanding your value proposition, all right? "Why are we winning? Go look at all your close one notes. Go look at any customer testimonials, talk to customers, if you can," but I'd say understanding why you're winning and what your unique value proposition is and ultimately, why people in pain. Inversely, understanding why you're losing go look at all the close loss notes, go look at all the churn notes, don't be afraid of or shy away from your weaknesses, which I think is a mistake that some people make is the ego kind of getting in the way of wanting to admit any potential weaknesses, when really it's something to be embraced. So I think understanding why you're winning, understanding why you're losing understanding what your average sales prices, and why, right? so that way, you can see, are there levers that I can pull, what can we do from a process or strategy standpoint to improve our ASP. Sales cycle as well as going to be that other big piece, "Okay, how long is it typically from first touch or first meeting to conversion?" That way you can appropriately forecast especially when you step into a new role, you need to know, "Alright, I have this much pipeline, but what am I actually going to see this material into returns? And I'd say that fifth piece is just understanding your funnel metrics and every step right? Okay, you know, why are winning you know, why you're losing your top performers are, ASP sales cycle, and then ultimately. Alright, what is our customer journey from somebody discovering us or just first hearing about us to somebody signing and getting handed off to customer success? Hopefully renewing and being a successful long term customer for us, but I'd say that anecdotal especially because I think a lot of people just focus on the quantitative and say, "Alright, come in, understand the funnel. Understand your KPIs, this metric that metric," but, but it's really vital to understand some of that qualitative data around, "Okay, why are we winning? What are those customer testimonials? Their reasons? Why are we losing." And it's not always black and white, or it's not always one feature, it could be your process, it could be the lack of support, migration, understanding whatever it might be. And if you don't understand that, then you're not going to be able to, really, when you bring on a new sales leader, right? you're not going to be able to see those lifts that you were brought on to provide. And if you don't understand your weaknesses uniquely and in depth, then you're never going to get there.
Umar Hameed 20:32
So what's the next area of growth for you? Like you're looking to move up get better? So what are you working on right now to improve your game?
Alex Manwaring 20:41
Yeah. I mean, a lot of different things. So I've got a lot to work on, as I always like to say, but I'd say a few things. In particular, for me, one thing that I can have a bit of a tendency to do is when somebody asks the question, I know the answer. I just provide that sort of immediate gratification and like, "Alright. Yup, this is where you could find it." And there's a variety of different reasons for that, right? I think part of it is like, "Alright, everybody's moving fast. We don't want to slow somebody down, we want to allow them be successful." Some of it's probably ego as well, right? It's like you want to be perceived as like this all knowing source so that way people like want to get back to you.
Umar Hameed 21:17
Alex Manwaring 21:17
They respect you, like they look to you as like the source of wisdom and leadership, right? No, and I think I mean,
Umar Hameed 21:24
Yeah, absolutely. It's intoxicating, you need to fight it to get better.
Alex Manwaring 21:28
Yeah. And I think that it's like the the teach to fish versus giving a fish. And so I'd say that's one of my biggest focus points. I even said it to somebody on Friday on my team, when they were trying to figure out why accounts weren't showing up in a certain report. And I knew exactly why just in looking at the filters, but I even said to them, I was like, "Hey, I know why, but I'm gonna ask you, if you can take a second look here, see if anything stands out to you," and like asking more of those thought provoking questions. That's a big focal point for me, because people value more what they conclude for themselves, rather than what they're told, I forget exactly like where I read that or like where I've heard that but that's like one of those adages that really I think holds true.
Umar Hameed 22:10
If you become the crutch, people use you all the time. And if you get them to actually figure it out themselves, it goes a long way. And going back to your example of, I'm not sure if you've heard this, "You can give a man a fish and he'll eat a meal, or you can teach them how to fish and he'll buy a boat and drink beer all day."
Alex Manwaring 22:29
I like that one. But yeah, no, I think...
Umar Hameed 22:31
So you've seen the next phase for you is learning. And so what's one of the things you're learning to get better?
Alex Manwaring 22:37
Pardon? I missed the bottom part.
Umar Hameed 22:38
Or what's one of the things that you're learning to improve your game?
Alex Manwaring 22:41
Yeah, no, I'd say a lot of it is just like having a role model or mentor has been like really helpful for me. And so I think in terms of like, exactly what what I want to focus on, our Senior Director of Sales, Ian Martin, so I report to, he's done a really, really nice job of kind of like, helping model the behavior for like, which I can follow, because I think...
Umar Hameed 23:04
Alex Manwaring 23:05
...been so huge for me is like having that example to follow of how he does exactly that. In terms of, "Alright, you have this challenge. What have you tried so far? How do you think you should approach it, walk me through how you got there." And he's been really diligent and deliberate about that. And as a result, I've been modeling my own sort of behavior after him after him. So like, we'll have our one on ones where it's like a status of the business or a health check on the business, but then we'll have just purely coaching based one on ones. And I think that's like another big, big thing, as well as having a clear structure for a meeting and having ones that are separate, where it's update forecasts related pipeline management account strategy, and others that are just peer coaching sessions.
Umar Hameed 23:47
Love it. And separating both, I think makes a lot of sense. So last two questions for you. Alex, what makes you happy?
Alex Manwaring 23:54
What makes me happy? Great question. I would say not work related. My, my, my puppy, I have a golden doodle named Daisy that I'm obsessed with my fiancee, my fiance, Brittany, and spending time with both of them. I would say those are like two of my biggest sources of happiness, like spending time with them, family, friends, golf and stuff like that. And I think it relates to work, though, in the sense that like, what makes me happy is having that flexibility, having that really healthy work life balance. And that's something we really do prioritize and promoted reviews that opportunity to take an unlimited amount of PTO and not only the ability to take it, but it being strongly encouraged. And so when we haven't taken in a while, my SVP will nudge me and be like, "Hey, like, what are your plans in summer? What are you going to take some time off? Like, come on, take some time off and unplug?" So I'd say that's what makes me happy is having an organization that not just has that policy in place, but actually practices that policy and actually encourages it. So I just really appreciate that flexibility and sort of freedom to spend time with my loved ones when I'm away from work.
Umar Hameed 25:06
Brilliant. And I will not tell Brittany that the dog came first when I asked what makes you happy.
Alex Manwaring 25:13
[Laugh] It's alright. think she wouldn't be [garbled].
Umar Hameed 25:17
[Garbled] the puppies always [garbled]?
Alex Manwaring 25:18
Yeah, exactly. She would say the same thing.
Umar Hameed 25:20
So last question, what's a mind hack? Or a technique you use to become more productive, more successful? Is there something you'd like to share with listeners and viewers?
Alex Manwaring 25:33
So my favorite book that I've read his "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell.
Umar Hameed 25:39
Alex Manwaring 25:40
And why I look like so much is that it really teaches you to trust your gut instinct and why those snap decisions that you make, 90% of the time are accurate. And so I think reading that book, I recommend it to everybody that I talked to, "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell, I think it's just like so, so valuable in terms of better understanding your intuition and why it's accurate. And then also situations and they've studied when your intuition is inaccurate, there's typically these outside influencers, that drip directly influence your decision making ability. And when you understand what those are, and you're more proactively conscious of them, you're able to sort of like block them out to the classic example of the talk about this the web, right? And people can be in a bad mood when it's raining outside, it's cold, it's crappy, whatever. But even just literally simply acknowledging and saying out loud, it is bad weather outside today, it is raining, the weather stinks. And just audibly saying that and acknowledging it, it's like, "Okay, great. I'm not going to allow that to affect my mood, my output and my overall work today." So that's obviously like one of the more simple examples of...
Umar Hameed 26:47
I love it. Really useful, because you take the power out of it. And if you don't, it's in your head swimming around and getting in the way all day long. You just say it, there was something I was teaching the other day, it's, "I am a winner. And sometimes I'm not," like when you kind of fail at something rather than focusing on the failure. Just focus on, "Hey, or I'm a closer and sometimes some not, it's okay." Alex, thanks so much for being on the show. Really appreciate it. I got some really good notes here from our conversation. [Garbled] doctor, no one can read it but thank you very much.
Alex Manwaring 27:19
Yeah, Umar it's absolute pleasure. Thank you so much.
Umar Hameed 27:27
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five-star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at nolimitsselling.com. I've got a free mind training course there, that's going to teach you some insights from the world of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and that is the fastest way to get better results.