#043 Sales Journeys with Matt Austin

Exploring the Essence of Revenue and Process Mastery

Guest & Host

Matt Austin & Steven Morell

Welcome to Speak Revenue, the podcast where we emphasize that revenue is not just a goal; it's a result. In this show, we shift our focus from the output to the inputs. We engage in conversations with sales leaders and entrepreneurs about their remarkable journeys. Our mission? To uncover the true root causes of success. Join us in the latest episode of Speak Revenue as Steven Morell dives into an insightful conversation with Matt Austin, VP Sales at Tosibox. Discover the unique sales journey of Matt, a lifelong sales advocate, as he shares experiences, challenges, and triumphs in the world of sales. Gain valuable insights into sales leadership, entrepreneurial approaches, and the significance of focusing on controllable processes. Uncover the roots of success in sales with Matt Austin on this engaging episode.

November 21st, 2023


Steven Morell: Hello and welcome to our new episode of Speak Revenue. Remember, revenue is not a goal. It's a result! But a result of what exactly? In this show, we turn our eyes from the output towards the inputs. We speak with sales leaders and entrepreneurs about their journeys. So join me on our quest to uncover and learn the root causes of success. Let's find out what works for them. What didn't today with my guest, Matt Austin. Matt, so nice to have you.

Matt Austin: Steven, great to be here. Thank you so much for including me in your podcast today.

Steven Morell: Ah, it's a pleasure. Matt, you're the VP Sales of Tosibox. Do I have that right?

Matt Austin: That's correct.

Steven Morell: Then tell us real quick, who are you, what do you do, who do you do it for? And what  makes you and Tosibox so successful?

Matt Austin: Alright, I think you covered the first couple bits of that. I'm Matt Austin. I am a lifelong sales advocate. I started my career as an SDR and I've worked my way up from that role through multiple different levels of individual contributor and leadership roles over the past about 16 or 17 years. Currently, like you mentioned, I am the VP of Sales for North America for Tosibox. What that means is that I have full revenue responsibility for all of North America. Tosibox is a European headquartered organization, so I would lead all of our revenue activities in North America. And I think what has made me successful in my career is really a focus on the process. I learned early on that there's a lot about sales that we don't have any control of. Things can go sideways quickly, whether or not we execute our jobs perfectly. And so I've just focused on making sure that as I show up day-to-day for my teams now, or day-to-day as an individual contributor, earlier in my career, focused on making sure that I was executing the things that I could control and I was responsible for. In the best way, so that regardless of the outcome I could feel good about myself and the work that I put into the process of finding sales, qualifying sales, moving sales, and then, and ultimately closing those sales.

Steven Morell: Let's focus a little bit on Tosibox. Let's maybe start with what exactly does? What exactly is Tosibox? What problem are you guys solving? I. Yeah.

Matt Austin: Tosibox right now is a hardware and software solution designed for networks for critical infrastructure. So we serve organizations whether public or private, that have critical assets that are distributed across a wide area. They have data needs that need to be transmitted either from a remote site back to a global or a regional headquarters so that they can monitor and control those assets remotely.

Steven Morell: And that's hardware and software. What exactly does the hardware part do, and what does the software part do?

Matt Austin: Sure. So the hardware lives at the sites of the remote at those remote locations provides a firewall for everything downstream at that location and then encrypts and communicates through our data tunnels, the data coming from that asset back to that central location and provides secure networking for the ability for organizations to con, not only monitor, but control those assets through the use of a building automation or a data software. And our software is… 

Steven Morell: Critical infrastructure, what? What are we talking about here?

Matt Austin: Sure, it can be anything from we've got a pretty good presence in the production in midstream oil and gas space, so oil wells, pipelines. Do work in large real estate owners managing multiple buildings spread over states, countries, or globally. We work in the water and wastewater space where they have multiple pumping stations and treatment facilities, right? Anything that is spread out across a wide area, we provide that wide area network for them to get either access to those locations, get data from those locations. Or control those remote assets?

Steven Morell: You said private and public customers. What is your typical customer and which persona are you targeting there? Who is the person that you want to talk to?

Matt Austin: Yeah, it varies a little bit organization to organization based on their maturity in operational technology networks. We see a lot of our smaller companies that we work with, that this becomes just another thing that IT needs to manage. And one of the reasons that they really like us is we can separate this network from everything else that IT worries about and manages. As we get into some of the larger companies, especially in the oil and gas space, there's a big focus on these operational technology networks. And so they'll typically have network engineers and network administrators specifically for the OT space so we're looking for anybody that's involved in either the energy management, the operational efficiencies or the management of those networks are typically people that we want to talk to.

Steven Morell: And talk to me a little bit about your lead generation process. How do you reach those people? Is it an outbound motion? Is it an inbound motion? Is it both? Do people in that space just simply know that you exist and that you are the best in solving this. How long has the box been around anyway?

Matt Austin: So Tosibox has been around as a company since 2012 in the US since about 2015 or 2016. 

Steven Morell: Where's it originally from?

Matt Austin: Finland's where and when we first, when the organization first came to North America, we came primarily through hardware distributors. Because for a long time we were just a hardware vendor, and you put hardware on an asset, you put hardware back where you want that data to come to, and the two pieces of hardware we communicate and that's how you get your data. A couple of years ago they made a pivot and decided to start exploring direct sales. Two years ago was a big pivot point for the organization where we switched from a perpetual sales model and started to explore this idea of a subscription offering. So moving investments in Tosibox away from a capital expenditure towards an operational expenditure.

Steven Morell: How big is the company in headcount? How?

Matt Austin: Between 60 and 65 kind of varies depending on the quarter. Doing about last this year, we're targeting about 15 million in revenue.

Steven Morell: How about your sales team? How big is the sales team?

Matt Austin: I have eight sellers today reporting to me directly from my direct team and we have two managing our distribution channel.

Steven Morell: And you are managing global sales or just the US?

Matt Austin: Just US. No, again I'm just responsible for North America.

Steven Morell: Okay. So getting back to that question, you and your sales team. How do we get in front of potential customers

Matt Austin: So right now our pipeline is generated about 90%, 85 to 90% through outbound.

Steven Morell: Through outbound? 

Matt Austin: Yeah. Correct. You brought up, do customers know who we are? I think that's one of the biggest challenges we're looking all for, right? Most of the conversations that we're in right now, people don't know who we are. So we brought in a woman to lead our marketing efforts here in North America back in April and have been working to spin up an awareness and lead generation engine. And as you probably know, that just, it just takes time and effort…

Steven Morell: I heard that…

Matt Austin: …the content engine. We're starting to see the results of that, right? The great thing about what we've been able to do is we've got a passionate customer base that appreciates what we do. 

Steven Morell: But what's your channel of choice? You said you're outbound. I always like to think about lead generation in two dimensions. That there are actually only four ways you can tell people what you do. You can talk to people who know you, or you can talk to people who do not know you. There aren't any other people on the planet.

Matt Austin: Yep.

Steven Morell: And you can talk one-to-one, and you can talk one to many. So if you talk to people who don't know you, one to many, that would be billboards on the street, TV ads Google ads. If you do cold calling called emailing, this, especially called emailing, feels like one to many, but it's really one-to-one. And it's to people who don't know you. It wouldn't be cold. While posting on LinkedIn, for instance, is talking to people who know you else, they wouldn't see it one to many. So in that context, what is your go-to method to get in front of people? Do you do calling, emailing, or LinkedIn posting? How does that work?

Matt Austin: Yes. No. We do it all right. My philosophy has always been, you have the best conversations and the best way to open conversations is through familiarity, right? And that familiarity is built through a multi-channel outreach process. So we incorporate cold calls, cold emails, LinkedIn connections, LinkedIn posting, because what we want is people to hear my salespeople's names and our company's names a few times. So that when we have the opportunity to connect with them, it is less of a "cold call". Because now they've heard our name. When we leave them a voicemail, they've seen our name in the emails that we send them. They've seen us come through and connect with them and post and share things on LinkedIn, right? Which just makes it so that once they hear: "Hey, I'm from Tosibox", they're like: "Oh, you know what? I've seen that name a couple times. Tell me a little bit about what you guys do." So I think you need to incorporate all of those pieces to build that level of familiarity, to be able to make those connections, which in this day and age are getting harder and harder to make.

Steven Morell: Is your audience typically on LinkedIn?

Matt Austin: Some of them are, some of them still use it as a digital resume. They're there, but they're not active. They're not checking it very often. We're actually starting to do more and more work with professional associations. We find, number 1: it's easier to target the people that we want to target, but that they tend to participate more regularly there than they do on the social channels like.

Steven Morell: Tell us a little bit how you approach professional associations. Seems to be a channel that keeps coming up in conversations that we are having on this podcast.

Matt Austin: Yeah.

Steven Morell: How do you select? How do you approach it? And how do you manage those professional associations as a channel? 

Matt Austin: So some of it's trial and error obviously, we have 3 key industries that we're trying to focus our organization around right now, or we think we can have more success. So part of it comes in just researching and finding out who those associations are and what they are. The ones that we have selected to work with and are starting to work with, offer kind of sponsorship opportunities with their association on an annual basis. That opens you up to associations, sponsored events, webinars, trade shows, which we do a lot of. We do a lot of in-person events, both on the national and the regional level. And so we use those as our gateway to be able to get to the trade shows, which are really valuable to us but also have other ways and other people to use to get our message out.

Steven Morell: Let's talk a little bit about the setup of your sales team. It sounded for a moment there, like you would do account-based, marketing and account-based sales, but I'm not quite sure. How is the sales set up? Do you have BDRs, SDRs account executives? Talk to me about that a little bit. 

Matt Austin: yeah, no our account executives are full cycle AEs. So they eat what they kill, right? So part of what their expectation on a daily basis is to be doing prospecting activities. We have 'em set up currently in a territory format. So each of our sellers has a number of states that make up their territories. And then we focus them based on industry within those states and try to help point them into direct directions of the applications, the personas, and the organizations that we're having a lot of success with. To narrow it down. 'cause you look across six or seven states, it can get a little bit overwhelming. The number of potential targets that are out there?

Steven Morell: What's your definition of a good sales rep?

Matt Austin: Ooh. I would say it comes down to really 3 or 4 key characteristics. For me that comes back to perseverance, back to creativity,  comes back to curiosity, and it comes back to a process orientation.

Steven Morell: How do you check for this when you hire people? Are you currently hiring?

Matt Austin: I just got through a hiring process. We'll kick it back up again at the beginning of the year. 

Steven Morell: So talk to me a little bit about how about your hiring process and your onboarding process? How do you ramp them up? How do you enable them and get them up to speed quickly?

Matt Austin: Sure. So from a hiring perspective, we've built a scorecard based on about 12 different competencies that we look for in sales and questions associated with those competencies. I have a group of people that we use for every set of interviews that ask the same questions of each candidate or, the same group of questions of each candidate that they work with. And then we get together, we score them based on the scorecard that we've created, and then select candidates based on the overall score. What that's allowed us to do is, one, it gives people not just the experience of running interviews, but now because they're asking the same questions of different candidates, they can start to, to recognize patterns and look for things and hear them over and over again, and be able to compare nuances as opposed to kind of a round robin of, Hey, this time you asked these questions, next time you ask these questions. And then as it comes to onboarding we're going through that process now. So I started in Tosibox in February, so some of this stuff we're building the plane as we're flying. One of the things that we've really started incorporating heavily is AI in our onboarding process. There's been some really good work from people that I know through LinkedIn that have offered a series of classes and webinars about how to better use AI and sales. One of the things that we're leveraging a lot is chat GPT right now like everybody else, but we've found that using chatGPT, the research that new salespeople need to do on markets that they're focused on can be done more quickly. But one of the really cool things is with chat GPT, we pay for the GPT for a new web, enable it. We can actually set up the new salespeople to have conversations with chatGPT acting as our personas, which is enabling our salespeople to have 5, 6, 10 conversations a day through chatGPT, where historically we would give reps a script. Train them on the script and get them on the phones and hopefully you get three, four, or five conversations a week. We're ramping up the number of those conversations they have early on and allowing them to get more reps in early so that as they get on the phone, they're much better versed and much better experience, 

Steven Morell: And are you using barebone chatGPT to do this? Or is there a chatGPT based tool that you use for this practice runs? 

Matt Austin: We're doing it straight through chatGPT. Pay the 20 bucks a month per rep so that they can have access to it.

Steven Morell: Tell me it sounds to me like there is a story behind this. How you came up with the idea and experimented with it and finally implemented it. Step me through that story.

Matt Austin: Well, First it wasn't my idea. I was on a webinar with a couple of gentlemen that know way more about this stuff than I do. Part of the webinar series was about how to use AI in onboarding. They brought it up and as I listened through the 45 minutes or so of their presentation. It just made sense, right? And so because we were building a new onboarding process, I'm a big believer in experimenting and learning from those experiments. And so I knew there was a traditional way that we'd done this before. This sounded intriguing and a cool way to, to test and use something different, and we figured we'd give it a shot. There wasn't a whole lot from my end that went into it except for. Just recognizing and trying to figure out how to apply the lessons that they had more generally, specifically to our business.

Steven Morell: And how does it practically work? Do they get a paid chat GPT account and they can just type away and practice, or how does that work?

Matt Austin: Yeah. So we set them up with a page GPT account. Have them download web plugins so that they can get access to. Up to the minute, up to the date information and not limited to what's available in three five. And then provide them with prompts that they can go through. One, to help teach GPT what we want them to be focused on and talking about. Let that, let GPT understand a little bit about who we are and the problems that we solve, the challenges that our personas face, and then ask them to run a scenario where we can highlight: Hey, these are the top three or four objections that we get. Let's run through a scenario, a conversation scenario, a sales scenario where you act as this persona and I'll act as the sales persona.

Steven Morell: Now you said you went in your career all the way from SDR up to VP sales. In your personal opinion, when you look at those conversations, how close are they to reality?

Matt Austin: I'd say they're pretty close. I think some of it does come up and sound a little canned. But I think it's better than what you would get role playing with a manager, right? But it's not as good as what you would get talking to live people because of just the variability that comes when somebody actually answers the phone in a sales conversation. But I think it's a really good proxy for that.

Steven Morell: How long have you been doing this?

Matt Austin: This is the first time we've implemented it. We just started it with a new account executive on my team April 2nd. And so we're three weeks into it now, two and a half weeks into it.

Steven Morell: And compared to earlier methods of onboarding, what is your first impression?

Matt Austin: I like it. So we've paired that also with a layered approach to onboarding. If you think about, at least the way that I was trained at a lot of organizations, you come into headquarters for a week, they throw product information at you, they throw sales process information at you. They throw all of these things at you. And then send you out the door on Friday and you know now your manager will pick it up from there. What we're focusing on is a layered approach of teaching. Kind of what you need to know first. So we haven't talked a lot about the product at all, right? We've talked about how our solution helps our customers, in the industry that we have this rep focused on. But we're not talking about product specific, right? I want salespeople that can be fluent in my customer's day-to-day lives and issues, and how from a high level, we can help solve that. We have technical people on the backend that can come in and spec between product types and what specifically they'll need for that application. And then once we've been able to get some qualifying conversations and uncover opportunities, we'll talk more about specifics of sales stages and why, and exit criteria and those pieces. But if I teach it now, I'm gonna have to reteach it again in six weeks. So why not just teach the personal piece? The solution piece upfront, start the prospecting, teach the process and the qualification criteria as we get to that point in the process, as opposed to having to do throughout the onboarding period.

Steven Morell: That makes total sense. Let me ask you a little bit about the closing process. Maybe for our listeners, what's the annual contract value? 

Matt Austin: Right now it's about 13,000 per transaction, so it's still…

Steven Morell: Okay. 

Matt Austin: But we also because we're an unknown entity we employ a land and expand model, so most of our revenue comes through, will come through expansion as opposed to the initial touches.

Steven Morell: Let's dig in here a little bit. Land and expand. who is doing the expansion. Once a deal closes, who takes over? You have an onboarding team. You have a customer success team. How does that look?

Matt Austin: So we have an onboarding team that works to onboard the customers. Today the AE manages their entire book of business. One of my pieces for 2024 that we're gonna implement is a customer success organization. As we continue to grow the number of customers that we have, as we continue to grow the number of enterprise customers that we have, we need people that will service them and have that as their full focus, right? It's really hard for a full cycle sales rep to prospect to move deals, to close deals, and to also then manage the relationships with these customers. Post-sale, so we're gonna implement a customer success motion, customer success to pick that up in 2024.

Steven Morell: Is the expanded responsibility located at the customer success manager, or is your sales rep, your account executive, acting as a portfolio manager. And is that a part of their quota?

Matt Austin: So the sales rep acts as a portfolio manager. And their quotas today are structured just on a revenue goal. Their goals are not broken down with a new logo versus expanding. A revenue target for the year. 

Steven Morell: Revenue only, not necessarily a new logo.

Matt Austin:Right! It's total revenue. So this new logo makes up a majority of what they're, what they do. But it's, but as they grow and as they uncover expansion opportunities within their current customer base, they get credited in quota relief for that as well.

Steven Morell: Fascinating. Matt, before we run out of time, if I would have a time machine and could send a postcard to the five year younger Matt Austin with a warning or advice, what to do differently, what would you write on that postcard? 

Matt Austin: I think I'd write, keep going. You're almost there. One of the challenges that I have, and I think it is for a lot of people. I fought with some of his imposter syndrome and this idea, that even though I think, this is what I want, am I good enough? And that almost stopped me from pursuing the things that I really wanted to do. And the message is, keep going. You're almost there.

Steven Morell: Matt, I can give back. We all struggled with this.

Matt Austin: Yeah. I know. It's not just me, you know, but I think that's. If that's probably the best advice I have, either to today, me, him, five years ago me.

Steven Morell: Yeah, you're right. You're right. Alright everyone. That brings us to the end of this episode of Speak Revenue. I want to thank our guest, Matt Austin. 

Matt Austin: And thanks again for having me. 

Steven Morell: for joining us today and sharing his valuable insight. Thanks, Matt. A huge shout out to all our listeners, your support means the world to us. Remember, check our website: speakrevenue.com for a full transcript and additional resources. And if you enjoyed the show, please leave us a great review on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you go for your listening needs. It really helps to get the word out. Also, follow us on LinkedIn, on Instagram or YouTube and wherever you can find us, we'll be back soon with another great guest. Until then, stay furious, keep learning and stay safe. Talk to you soon. Bye.

Copyrighted © 2022-23 Jaxx Technologies, Inc.

Copyrighted © 2022-23 Jaxx Technologies, Inc.