Breaking the sales mold at Asana: Frank Mayfield
March 30th, 2015
We recently shared a peek inside the day-to-day life of Yev, a member of our Customer Success team. Today we’d like you to introduce you to Frank Mayfield, a member of the Asana Sales team. Find out why he’s never cold-called a customer, how he approaches different organizations, and how Sales informs our product roadmap (including one big feature we recently announced).
Before joining Asana, Frank worked in sales for a small software company, a telecommunications company, and taught English at a university in Thailand.
A Day In the Life: Sales at Asana
What does a typical morning look like for you?
Most mornings I get into the office in time for breakfast and coffee — they’re an everyday thing for me. After breakfast, I follow up on conversations I’ve started with Asana users about the benefits of our premium plans. Later on in the morning, I’ll have phone calls or demos with prospective customers.
Do you have any routines that you like to stick to?
I go to the gym most days at 3 pm, and sometimes I’ll take a yoga class at the office in the evenings.
What does a typical day in your role on the sales team look like?
On any given day, I’ll talk with a number of different types of people: from students at a university to executives of major startups, project managers for companies of all sizes, or non-profits — and everything in between. There’s no single ‘type’ of organization that relies on Asana, which not only makes it interesting to see the variety of ways people put the product to use, but also means that there’s no single way to sell our software. And even better, no two days of the job are the same. We have to be quick on our feet and able to identify the unique value that Asana can provide to a lot of different teams.
Sales at Asana: Breaking the Stereotypes
How did you come across Asana? Why did you decide to join?
I was ready for a departure from the traditional sales model, which is why Asana was so appealing to me. Sales here is a type of monetization R&D — although sales was (and is) a prerequisite for this team, what I liked is that there was the freedom to do more than just sell.
How does Asana’s sales team break typical sales stereotypes?
As a sales team, we get to contribute more than just a number.
Our team is reaching out to qualified leads, or people who are using Asana to the extent that we believe they should be buying. This means they are either using the product well, have brought members of their team on board, or have expressed that they are getting value out of our product.
We also provide feedback to the product team on what our biggest opportunities are, what customers really want. This feedback loop has actually driven our product roadmap. Case in point: the launch of Dashboards. We saw that our customers really wanted a feature to track progress at a higher level and were willing to pay for it — so we worked with the product team on gathering these insights, and now Dashboards is a live, paid feature!
We act as advocates for driving value in the product for our customers. As a sales team, we get to contribute more than just a number.
What do you love about your team?
It’s so different from what you find elsewhere — it’s so much more creative than the way sales teams are often depicted. Luckily, we’re still at a stage where we can try a lot of different things, which involves having conversations with a wide variety of people to find those who are the best fit for our product.
The whole team gets to be creative in their roles by providing feedback from prospective customers to the product team. As these liaisons, (along with Customer Success) we need to make sure we’re making things that people are excited about and want to pay for. We employ a different approach with each customer. For example, when I talk to a university, my conversation is completely different from when I’m speaking to an artisan or startup founder.
Frank and Michael, his fellow Sales team member, chat throughout the day.
Do you cold call customers?
No. Unlike a lot of other sales organizations out there, we only sell to qualified leads. Talking to people who are already excited about our product makes a big difference in how we approach sales.
Have you found that this approach works better?
Absolutely. Anytime you’re selling into success, you have a huge leg up versus reaching out to people who don’t want to talk to you. I like that my position here is much more about informing people — all the way from our customers to our product and marketing teams.
What is the path to success in sales?
I think the path to success in sales is changing a lot, especially within startups. Success used to be dictated by specific quotas and sales models: you’re a rep, you hit quotas, you get promoted, you have new quotas, and so forth. SaaS companies are changing the way that traditional sales operates, and that is exciting because it opens the door to newer, more creative models, and more invested salespeople.
How is the path to success in sales at Asana different from other SaaS companies?
Success in sales at Asana is trying to bring in as many folks under our umbrella and then to land and expand. If our team sells something small to a large corporation and it grows from there, that’s a win for not just for sales, but also Customer Success and the entire company. Success on our team is largely dictated by being mission-driven. It reaches beyond landing paid customers to having the best expectations for them to grow with the product.
What have you enjoyed most about working in Sales at Asana?
Having a strong say in where the product goes next is really unique and what I’ve enjoyed most about being on this team.
Frank can often be found working on the couches around our offices.
What has your experience with mentorship been like at Asana?
Mentorship at Asana has evolved to include several areas for me. There are the people who have been here the longest, who have a really good idea of how sales has worked at previous companies and how we can succeed best here. They’ve mentored me around how to work with customers and foster growth for our company.
Outside of mentorship from my peers and colleagues, and what has set Asana apart from my past experiences, is the external coaching and workshops that are provided. My previous experience involved companies putting me through sales training, but here I have been encouraged to meet with life coaches and participate in communication and leadership workshops. Those have been really great in emphasizing that balance is just as important as working really hard.
Lifestyle & Workstyle
Sales teams have the reputation of being workaholics. Does your team fit that reputation?
No, I really don’t think we do. The value of balance really permeates the team, with the reason being that we do such leveraged work. In a typical SaaS company, you have people who are working a few really process-driven accounts at any given time. We have 100 balls up in the air at any given time. We’re working smarter so we have more room to find balance and not be a churn & burn culture. We’ve never lost anyone on the sales team, and I think that speaks to a lot.
Do you take your work home with you?
I’ve certainly had early morning calls internationally, but I’ve found balance more at Asana than anywhere else. Whenever I’m taking work home or coming in early, it’s because it’s really interesting.
Speaking of balance, are you friends with any Asanas outside of work?
One really cool part about being on the sales team here is that, unlike other startups, we work across many teams within the company. I’ve been able to make friends with the engineers, with people on marketing. I’m really close with Rachel, a growth engineer — we go and see music shows once a month or so.
Being able to be close to such product-centric minds here has been really great not just at work but outside of work, too.
What’s been your proudest accomplishment since joining Asana?
By far, the Dashboards launch. To see our input and understanding of our customers be fleshed out in a fully baked feature for our customers was awesome. I think that it speaks to us really taking seriously both what new users need and what people who are trying to run their entire companies on Asana need as well.
What are you most excited about this year?
I’m most excited that we’re going to be tackling a huge feature that we’ve identified as a commonality between what people need in order to pay for Asana and what’s in service to our mission…stay tuned.
What is your favorite Asana tradition?
I really like the Circle of Excitement: it’s an early company tradition designed to encourage every member of the team to share what we’re most excited about in any given week — whether it’s a new hire, project, feature, or upcoming event. Hearing what people in different roles across the company are excited about lets you know how everyone is approaching this problem/opportunity differently. It really drives home that we’re all focused on the same mission and contributing our own strengths to achieve it.