When the Formstack sales team says the company creates “intelligent online forms for every team,” they do, in fact, mean every team. From surveys to event registration pages, the startup builds customizable forms for every walk of business. But that versatility creates some unique challenges and opportunities for its rapidly expanding sales team.
When a product provides something for everyone, potential clients don’t always self-identify as a target customer. But Formstack works from the top down to curb this issue. We spoke with four team members to learn how the sales team connects with customers and represents the brand.
EMPLOYEES: 150 total (12 local)
WHAT THEY DO: Formstack is a data management solution that helps users collect information through various types of online forms, including surveys, job applications, event registration pages and payment forms.
WHERE THEY DO IT: Colorado Springs
NOTABLE PERKS: Employees receive unlimited PTO and free healthcare coverage.
COMPANY MASCOT: Formstack adopted a donkey, Walter Banker, who lives in the U.K.
Dustin Sapp, COO
Dustin Sapp leads corporate strategy, analyzing market trends and advising the leadership team on the company’s overall growth and market innovation.
BEYOND WORK: As a recent transplant to Colorado from Indiana, Dustin enjoys weekend hiking trips with his family to explore their new state.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as hands-off as possible whenever it makes sense to be. If we’re adding the right people to our team and communicating expectations effectively, nobody should require a babysitter. I like to have fun, laugh, challenge assumptions, work on hard problems together and share pride in what we’re building as a team.
I like to have fun, laugh, challenge assumptions, work on hard problems together and share pride in what we’re building as a team.”
How do you create a team culture?
One of the most important things I learned early on in my career is that the larger your team becomes, the less direct day-to-day impact you’re able to have on culture. Each person that joins the team will either add to your culture or take away from it, so the best way to cultivate culture long-term is to codify it early and overemphasize it during the hiring process.
How are goals defined for your team?
We use a healthy mix of historic performance metrics and stated objectives to come up with company goals on an annual and quarterly basis. We leverage a software product called Jell to publish those goals across the company and hold each other accountable.
Duane Hunt, VP of Customer Experience
Duane Hunt oversees the customer care, customer success and professional services teams, ensuring they provide a positive experience to clients.
BEYOND WORK: Duane loves fly fishing and skiing.
How has your role in the company evolved since you joined eight years ago?
I joined Formstack as employee number eight. Since then I’ve been the primary leader of development and design, sales, customer experience, finance and human resources. One of the many benefits of joining a startup is that you have the ability to try different roles. That has allowed me to explore all areas of the business and solve complex problems that have benefited both Formstack and my career.
Describe a major challenge your team has faced.
Formstack started off supporting small and midsize businesses. As we started working with larger organizations, we discovered that their needs and expectations are drastically different. We’ve had to adapt the type of service we offer our customers and manage expectations appropriately with both customers and internal stakeholders. As we have improved, this has created career growth both within my teams and for the company as a whole.
We value culture, so we like to go beyond a candidate’s resume and get to know them as a person.”
What characteristics or skills should a member of your team possess?
It varies from role to role, but being hardworking and proactive and having a positive, go-getter personality is important across all roles. For our customer experience team, I look for someone who is patient and has good communication skills, solid time-management skills and strong attention to detail. We value culture, so we like to go beyond a candidate’s resume and get to know them as a person.
Beau Brooks, VP of Sales
Beau Brooks leads the sales team, which uses a combination of inbound traffic and outbound opportunity generation to sustain rapid growth, from SMB to enterprise.
BEYOND WORK: Beau says nothing helps him brainstorm strategy like hitting the trail for a run.
What is unique about selling at your company?
The beauty of our product is that we provide a technical solution to a non-technical user. Gone are the days of needing a developer to build a form or data integration. We have the awesome opportunity to help marketing teams, like at Coca Cola, who need to run campaigns and sweepstakes fast and can’t wait for in-house developers to build contest forms. And development teams love it because it’s a clean and secure product.
Describe your experience in the SaaS world. How are you leveraging that experience as the leader of the sales team?
I’ve been focused on both sales and customer experience during my SaaS career. This truly helps me understand the customer lifecycle and build compelling go-to-market strategies that meet the customer where they are in their business life. For example, for Uber our sales team solved their initial challenge, but quickly realized that as an active customer, there were tremendous opportunities to help them with their broad efficiency goals. Together, we’ve built an exciting relationship that is always changing, and our team is there to help with creative solutions.
Average salespeople are product experts and can demonstrate how the product works. The best are experts at research and preparation.”
What makes your top salesperson successful?
Average salespeople are product experts and can demonstrate how the product works. The best are experts at research and preparation, and are also master communicators. They ask informed questions and listen to customers. We recently closed one of the top sports organizations in the U.S., and it was because we clearly understood their challenges, showed relevant examples of how we’ve solved those issues and built mutual trust.
Kelly Plush, Sales Development Manager
Kelly Plush manages the outbound sales team in cold prospecting, and the expansion team in providing upgrades and add-ons for current clients.
BEYOND WORK: Kelly is a dedicated distance runner.
Describe training for new team members.
Training is one of my favorite parts of the job. New hires have training sessions with other members of the sales team, complete “homework” to learn the product, and start calls and emails as soon as possible — in order to get past the nerves! Since we are about to onboard new people, we’re currently in a training-review process so that my team can share with me what they found effective and what didn’t click until later. Armed with this knowledge, we can make the next training even more successful!
Describe a typical day.
Managing two teams with two different directives and multiple remote employees was starting to strain my ability to have daily interactions with my teams, so I’ve made a big shift to smaller interactions. Rather than one weekly meeting, I utilize Slack and have flash meetings to make sure I know where I can be the most use.
Now my day is generally a quick check-in each morning followed by meetings with our sales ops teams to ensure I am using the right data to manage. After that, one-on-ones with my direct reports provide a chance to talk through both current challenges and their career goals. Finally, I love committing part of each day to listening to calls, whether live or recorded, so I can provide feedback as much as possible.
Every time we successfully trigger interest and move a deal forward, we celebrate with the team and the office.”
What’s a major challenge your team has faced?
The best part of Formstack as a solution is that it can be used for so many processes, but the hardest part of selling it is trying to find the process that will trigger excitement in the client during a 30-second pitch. We’ve worked to overcome this challenge by iterating constantly on how we present our platform to someone who has never heard of it before. We call it the “How would you describe this to your grandma?” dilemma. A “form builder” means so little, but a platform that can help any team (without a developer) collect and analyze data through online forms is something almost anyone can use.
Every time we successfully trigger interest and move a deal forward, we celebrate with the team and the office, and add another mark on our scoreboard!