Cloudability’s Gabrielle Blackwell Brings Grit and Determination to Sales

By July 18, 2017
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Cloudability's Gabrielle Blackwell Brings Grit and Determination to Sales

In business, you come across a lot of unique stories – stories that make you say or think, “I want to work with them.” And, it all usually happens with an initial conversation.

“During that first call, I always begin the conversation with a simple introduction. ‘Tell me about yourself … where have you been, where are you now, and where are you headed?’ I want someone to capture my attention and my interest not just on their job-related skills and experiences. I need to be bought into their story,” Gabrielle Blackwell, Business Development Manager at Cloudability, explained.  Cloudability is a cloud management software platform that helps companies like GE, Uber, and Atlassian track, manage and reduce their overall spend on public cloud services such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

“There’s beauty in understanding all the ways things do not work while letting the refinement process take its course.” – Gabrielle Blackwell

Gabrielle’s story is one that can be best summed up in her coined phrase: “failing fast forward.” She graduated from The University of Chicago with a B.A. in Public Policy Analysis. She found, however, that most of what her classmates went on to do – investment banking, management consulting, going to law school – just didn’t seem to pique her interest. So naturally, Gabrielle took this period of her life to learn, travel, and explore. What that meant was packing up and moving to Paris, France. For two years she hustled to make ends meet, which included being a personal assistant to a real-estate agent, babysitting for 4+ families, and managing distribution channels for a table tennis company while living in Paris.

So, how did Gabrielle’s experiences translate over to sales?

Gabrielle Finds Her Niche in Sales

While abroad, Gabrielle was put in a place where she had to find a way to make a way. Now, she has been tasked with doing just that in supporting strategic initiatives sponsored by the VP of WW Sales. Gabrielle has positively and significantly impacted pipeline power and opportunity capture within an expansion stage startup.

Essentially, Gabrielle identifies gaps in the system, defines an action plan, and builds out a formal Business Development Program from the ground up at Cloudability. “The goal is not to set up the program and forget it. The vision is to build a world-class Business Development Program that delivers quality opportunities into the hands of our closing sales reps at a high frequency.” In order to support these initiatives, Gabrielle vetted and selected two technologies that enabled her team to execute efficiently and effectively. SalesLoft is used as the gas pedal for the BDR team, allowing them to increase productivity and streamline processes, while EverString is the fuel that powers the machine with data, predictive analytics and sales intelligence. After just 5 months, the program has grown to include a team of 6 people and increased the number of opportunities identified by almost 5x quarter over quarter.

Endurance, perseverance, and determination are hallmarks in Gabrielle’s story and play defining roles as she strives for success within her career and within her program. As such, Gabrielle makes it a point to hire professionals with the same level of grit and determination she has. “I remember the conversation I had with my first sales development manager before getting the job. He said to me, ‘You’re going to be successful no matter what, but my concern with you is that you’re used to success. What happens when you fail or when someone says ‘no’ to you? Because you will get a lot of ‘nos’ in this job’.”

With this in mind, Gabrielle went on to say that “When Cloudability is hiring, I listen for the answers that were similar to mine – I’ve tasted so many flavors of failure, some tougher to swallow than others … if getting a no from someone I do not know is the worst that could happen, I’ll be more than alright.”

‘Failing Fast Forward’

Over the course of 2 years, Gabrielle has gone from having no experience in software sales to managing a team of specialized sales representatives. She cites a philosophy of “failing fast forward” as the key to her professional and personal development. “I was the type of student who would fail quizzes, then ace the tests and still have a 4.0 GPA,” Gabrielle explained. “There’s beauty in understanding all the ways things do not work while letting the refinement process take its course. This freedom to fail is not advocating for sloppy or haphazard actions and judgments, but rather enables a culture of learning, collaborating, correcting and continually improving.”

One way Cloudability’s Business Development Program supports continuous improvement is through data analysis of Key Performance Indicators, activity metrics and individual performance.

“Being able to understand the accounts that are more likely to fall within our strike zone is going to be wildly helpful, and EverString will help us do it at scale,” Gabrielle explained.

“We have our primary objectives or the ‘what to deliver’ of the program – meetings and opportunity capture – but being able to reverse-engineer and identify the ‘how to deliver’ is where we can start transforming incremental improvements to significant results.” Cloudability’s focus is on quality, so Gabrielle and her team started looking at reps who had the highest quantity of meetings and opportunities compared to reps who had the highest frequency at which meetings converted to opportunities.

“What we saw was that reps who were hitting the raw numbers – number of meetings and number of opportunities – were doing about 2.5X more activities than the person who was consistently maintaining a high rate of meetings converting to opportunities. I had to ask myself – how can I make it easy for my reps to increase quality without compromising the frequency at which we’re setting up meeting and identifying opportunities?”

Prioritization and Personalization at Scale

Prioritizing target-rich companies is one of the biggest challenges that Cloudability has faced as a team. “Public cloud is an emerging and ever-changing market, as is cloud spend analysis, which poses an ongoing challenge in operationalizing the identification of target-rich accounts. What captured my attention and drove my efforts in socializing EverString within Cloudability was the ability to take the guesswork out of prioritizing engagement … the platform is helping us identify opportunities sooner, faster and better than we would be able to do,” Gabrielle stated.

The Business Development program is leveraging EverString’s Audience Engagement platform to satisfy its need to deliver quality without sacrificing speed and volume. Cloudability is now getting what Gabrielle calls “quality fuel” through contact data as well as the data enrichment + appending functionality. EverString has also allowed Cloudability reps to become more targeted in their approach through predictive analytics and account scoring.

“Being able to understand the accounts that are more likely to fall within our strike zone is going to be wildly helpful, and EverString will help us do it at scale,” Gabrielle explained.

Getting Buy-In and Results with EverString

At the beginning of Q2, the Business Development program had a meeting-to-opportunity conversion rate of 18%. Cloudability closed out Q2 with a conversion rate of 42%, translating to a 67% increase in opportunity value capture compared to Q1. “Just as I want to be bought into the story of the people I look to bring on my team, I believe that people, in general, want to be bought into something. Showing numbers just so happens to be a really effective way people justify their decision to buy into or at least mitigate the risk involved in moving forward with their decision to partner with a specific organization or individual,” Gabrielle stated.

With the numbers Cloudability has been showing, the results they’ve attained, and the momentum the company has currently, Gabrielle is looking forward to the continued partnership with EverString in supporting the Business Development and Sales efforts as her team leverages the platform to improve and strive for success. To learn more about Gabrielle and her continual path in sales, follow her on LinkedIn and Cloudability on Twitter.

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