Mack Sundaram: Professionally, I was working in sales, sometimes in direct sales or in supporting sales. All of that was happening on the side while I was pursuing these little things. Now we’re fast forwarding down to 2014 when I left my corporate job. I was too passionate about technology and being an entrepreneur.
At the same time, I’ve got this amazing knowledge in sales which I can apply. I found myself very innately drawn to sales. Going back to what I told you before, my parents encouraged me to find something that I really like.
Sramana Mitra: What were you going to do in the domain of sales? How were you going to make a difference?
Mack Sundaram: I found that sales was being done in a very traditional sense. The application of technology was very minimal. So much so that you go on belief and trust. When someone says they talked to a customer and the customer was going to sign the contract, there’s nothing to verify that. If you roll this up further and further, a lot of sales reps are doing this. You have a bunch of deals that people are pursuing.
I used to do this manually. Suppose, we have 10 deals and 8 will close. Then you realize that eight will not close because customers will not sign. I started examining why customers don’t sign. I realized that sales was a black box. You don’t know what the sales rep actually does most of the time. They’re sending emails. They’re saying they’re visiting customers. They’re going to conferences. If you think about any other function, you know exactly what people do. You know exactly what marketers do. You know exactly what engineers do.
Sales is a black box. You’re so desperate for the sales rep to generate revenue for you that they condone certain things. Having been there, I realized that it could be as transparent as any other function. Because of the lack of transparency, people have a vested interest to hide things from each other.
When you look at it from a management perspective, it became more and more challenging. You have this blackbox. You don’t really know what they’re doing. You have to trust them. You can ask them a lot of questions to verify. As they get smarter, they have ways to explain them away. At the end of the day, you just have to believe whatever they say. It’s okay. I’m not talking about human trust. This is such an important and serious business that it can’t be left to just simple conversations. If you don’t hit your revenue, people’s lives are impacted. Stock prices can go down.
Sramana Mitra: How do you address this issue?
Mack Sundaram: That’s where we realized that the root cause of all of this is because of lack of transparency. Once you can verify, that you can have good data from which you can project out and say more confidently that I will be able to hit the numbers.