with Ross Nibur, Director of Revenue Operations
Over the past eight years, Toast has gone from a startup founded by three guys in a basement to becoming the leading cloud-based restaurant management platform. As one of Toast's first sales leadership hires, Ross Nibur was faced with the challenge of turning their ad-hoc approach to managing prospects into a streamlined system that could flex as their organization grew.
Now, as Director of Revenue Operations, Ross and his team support over 500 reps who are key to Toast's growth, and they're using LeanData to help make that happen.
Over the past eight years, Toast has gone from a startup founded by three guys in a basement to becoming the leading cloud-based restaurant management platform.
As one of Toast’s first sales leadership hires, Ross Nibur was faced with the challenge of turning their ad-hoc approach to managing prospects into a streamlined system that could flex as their organization grew.
Now, as Director of Revenue Operations, Ross and his team support over 500 reps who are key to Toast’s growth, and they’re using LeanData to help make that happen.
Turning Big Ideas into Operating Principles
When Ross Nibur started with Toast as Director of Business Development, the company had a business development team of six.
“Toast was a team that was growing really fast and experimenting with everything we could to pull on different levers” says Ross.
At the time, the primary focus of Toast’s business development team was on prospecting and fielding incoming leads and passing them on to sales.
In fact, the business development reps told Ross that they found leads by going to Yelp and calling restaurants using their cell phones. There was no way to keep track of who was calling which prospects, nor was there a system in place to avoid duplicate records.
Ross was surprised to learn that the reps didn’t even log activities when they called on accounts. This haphazard approach caused confusion over duplicates in their lead database and meant that multiple reps could be prospecting to the same accounts.
“We’d have a BDR already working on this account, outbound, and now all of a sudden an inbound rep has booked it and taken the permission away,” he says.
Ross’s challenge was clear: if they were going to grow their sales force, it was time to focus on bringing in operational best practices.
“It was a really innovative opportunity for us to lean in and say, ‘Okay. Hold on. If we want this team to be 40 people by the end of the year, how are we going to measure success?’” Ross says.
Managing Data in a Complex Industry
Once Toast’s sales leadership adopted the mindset that operations were critically important to move the needle on growth, Ross transitioned from his role as Director of Business Development to Director of Revenue Operations.
But when it came to powering his revenue operations strategy, Ross found that many of the revenue operations tools that other organizations can lean on just don’t work for the restaurant management industry.
First of all, you have the problem of email domains for small-to-mid-sized (SMB) restaurants, or rather, the lack of them.
“The commonly used tool for routing and assigning leads is by email domain,” says Ross. “But there's not a single SMB restaurant employee I've met that has a unique address such as a ‘@rosspub.com’.”
At first, his team attempted to run fuzzy matches based on the restaurant name. “Turns out that didn't work super well,” says Ross. “Part of the challenge here is matching based on the business name in the restaurant industry—just do a quick Google search for Main Street Grills and you'll see the problem that we run into.”
On top of gathering accurate restaurant data, matching data from prospects on Toast’s website to existing accounts can be extremely difficult.
“We need sophisticated data management techniques to try and identify: Is this restaurant already in our system? And then figure out the best person to give it to if we can't match it against an existing record,” Ross says. “We use a bunch of very complicated business rules that we've developed over time—and these hardcoded rules don’t allow us to quickly make changes or try out the new ideas required to keep up with rapid growth.”
Partnering with LeanData for What’s Possible
Ross already knew about LeanData’s powerful lead routing capabilities from his previous role with a business intelligence and analytics company.
“I realized there was a lot of potential for LeanData to help us solve these problems in real-time,” says Ross. “The ability to bake lead routing, data matching, and real-time optimization together was a big part of why we decided to pursue LeanData as a solution to our problems.”
Here are a few ways Toast benefitted from bringing in LeanData:
Improvement in data quality and lead matching: When Ross first implemented LeanData, around 15% of Toast’s database was comprised of duplicate records.
“It was really hard for us to even get our arms around that number. We did a bunch of matching up initiatives. We got it down,” Ross says. “Then the next time that I tried to run those same scenarios, we were only able to identify about 2% of the database that was duplicates. And so that's a pretty landmark moment for us in terms of our ability to identify data that is definitely duplicate information.”
And when it comes to lead matching, Toast is thrilled with their newfound ability to effectively match leads to accounts—even with challenging data.
Doubled inbound conversions: Since optimizing their lead routing processes with LeanData, Toast has seen their inbound conversion rate double. Reps jump on the hottest leads in real-time, accelerating the buying journey and helping Revenue Ops to see which tactics work best. LeanData has given Toast the agility they needed in being able to quickly adapt to new go-to-market motions.
“There are channels that previously linked to our inside sales teams and we've seen those convert by more than double by moving them to our territory-based teams,” says Ross.
Improved lead distribution to reps: Toast has also seen a decrease in the number of challenges between teams since using LeanData as a tool for enforcing operating principles. LeanData enables collaboration by providing clarity on the business rules for who should engage and when. And perhaps best of all, LeanData improves lead distribution to reps, which provides clarity on who’s responsible for actioning leads. It also provides Toast with the ability to monitor results.
Staying Flexible as Toast Grows
Ross says the icing on the cake is LeanData’s ability to support rapid-fire iterations and experimentation through a streamlined system that can orchestrate interactions and flex as the organization grows and shifts strategies.
“One challenge that we ran into as we scaled was that our business systems team just couldn't keep up with the pace,” says Ross. “It's really hard to change routing rules in real-time to meet evolving business needs when routing is hardcoded into Salesforce. And LeanData was a way for us to introduce flexibility into critical moments in our process.”
Ross explains, “We wanted to be able to say, ‘You know what? This is a crazy experiment that we want to run, so we're just going to split this out into its own branch for a little while and see what happens.’ And that flexibility has allowed us to execute against those initiatives at the speed of a go-to-market organization.”
One Year On
It’s now been one year since implementing LeanData as a core element of Toast’s revenue operations strategy. Ross says his partnership with LeanData is continually evolving into something more dynamic and essential than a transactional client/vendor relationship.
“LeanData, I think, is special as a vendor, as it’s not just a platform that enables teams to be good at operations,” he says. “It’s a team that supports people who need to be flexible in the strategies that they use to handle data and to drive efficiency. That really matters because I can help our executive team understand why or how I can turn their big ideas into actual operating principles for the business.”
Toast powers successful restaurants of all sizes with a technology platform that combines restaurant POS, front-of-house, back-of-house, and guest-facing technology with a diverse marketplace of third-party applications. By pairing technology with an unrivaled commitment to customer success, Toast helps restaurants streamline operations, increase revenue and deliver amazing guest experiences.
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