EXCEED Recap: Building a Sales Ops Community

Sophie Grais

Sophie Grais

EXCEED Recap: Building a Sales Ops Community
“As Sales Ops leaders, I want you to truly believe that you have a seat at the table. You have a strategic function.”

Carl Eschenbach said it better than we could have. A partner at Sequoia Capital and the former President and COO of VMware, Carl spoke to the audience of Sales Ops executives last week at EXCEED.

Hosted at Levi’s Stadium on May 4 and 5, EXCEED was the first-ever event dedicated to sales operations and enablement, with a focus on career paths within Sales Ops and new technology in the field. EXCEED was not just an event: it was the foundation of a new community.

An Evening to Remember

One hundred Sales Ops leaders — some from the Bay Area, others from as far away as the United Kingdom — came together for two days of learning from one another, sharing insights, and building relationships. On Wednesday evening, 49ers legends Brent Jones, Ronnie Lott, and Roger Craig returned home to Levi’s for an evening fireside chat. As the sun set over the field, Brent, Ronnie, and Roger highlighted the specific overlaps between sports and business:

  • Building a powerful team with a strong sense of culture
  • Motivating players through clear purpose
  • Instilling the value of hard work and success

Learning With the Leaders

On Thursday, the EXCEED community returned to Levi’s for an action-packed agenda of guest speakers, breakout sessions, and networking events. In his opening keynote, Clari CEO Andy Byrne emphasized the goals for EXCEED: not just another conference, but a platform for connection, sharing, and learning between peers. Next, Steve Silver, Research Director of SiriusDecisions’ Sales Operations Practice, discussed and debated the main drivers of change in the industry with Somrat Niyogi, Clari VP of Business Development. With input from the audience, Steve and Somrat explored the areas where Sales Ops should focus — such as Strategy & Planning, Deal Pursuit, and Sales Intelligence — and compared those to Sales Ops’ current reality.

Roundtable Highlights

Throughout the day, all EXCEED attendees rotated through breakout sessions on The Role of Sales Ops In Driving Strategy, Forecasting, and Increasing Rep Productivity Through Data. For a unique twist on the average conference agenda, EXCEED community leaders drove the discussions themselves, using key questions as a guide. We know all Sales Ops leaders have encountered these challenges — our sessions were designed to facilitate informal conversation and discussion, so everyone could learn how their peers had handled these questions before.

Introduction to Dynamic Forecasting

Meanwhile, in the Clari Lab, attendees heard from Kurt Leafstrand, Clari VP of Product, on the current Clari platform and the team’s roadmap plans for the future. Attendees saw a full demo of the Clari platform, which included the Dynamic Forecasting solution released last Monday. Afterwards, they could test out Clari features themselves and speak with the Clari data science team to learn more about what the team has built and why.

All-Star Speakers

  • Carl Eschenbach, Former President and COO, VMware
  • Jason Jordan, author of Cracking the Sales Management Code
  • John Kaplan, co-founder and managing partner at GrowthPlay

In a fireside chat with Amy Johnson, Clari VP of Customer Success, Carl dove into his experiences moving from a sales engineering to an operating role, scaling the VMware team from 200 to 20,000, and discovering what it means to be a great Sales Ops leader. Author and sales management consultant, Jason explained his research on the areas where Sales teams spend time — Sales Activities, Sales Objectives, and Business Results — and how to focus on concrete, measurable activity for better results. A sales management consultant to many leading sales teams, John presented his findings on what it takes to be a truly elite sales organization: the rhythms, characteristics, and leadership required to achieve exceptional cadence and success.

Words From the Attendees

EXCEED attendees told us that the event blew them away, even when compared to conferences put on by industry giants. Clari customers had the same glowing responses and enjoyed the chance to talk to peer users of the product. One customer called it “very innovative and interesting event.” Another said that after attending four conferences so far this year, EXCEED was “hands down the best one, by an order of magnitude above and beyond the others.” 

EXCEED came to an end with closing remarks from Andy and a toast to all of our EXCEED attendees, who really made it happen. We couldn’t believe the insight we heard from the Sales Ops leaders at EXCEED — and, as Andy said, EXCEED 2016 was only the beginning of building this special community. To learn more, join the EXCEED LinkedIn community, or come talk to us about Clari.

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