System Thinkers: How we align GTM systems 75% faster with Salto

Joshua Thorngren
September 2021
Market Trends

This is a guest post by Joshua Thorgren, VP Growth at Torq. Joshua describes himself as a mediocre developer turned fairly good marketing leader. He is a believer in intelligent, predictable growth, and an expert in aligning positioning, people and technology to deliver revenue.

This probably sounds hyperbolic, but in terms of planned hours versus actual execution hours, Salto was a 75% reduction in effort. The time savings was, frankly, extreme.

To wind things back a bit, when I started at Torq, I had planned to build out our new Salesforce instance to specification for users over the course of four days. I got it done in just one. And that time savings now shows up in my everyday Salesforce management. Salto is now part of how I do things—instead of make changes in the CRM, I tend to write NaCl files.

You could say that Salto has changed our internal process from being a “have the Salesforce expert Josh do it” and me adding it to a backlog, to something where we on the revenue team make a decision and within two hours, it’s implemented.

It’s been better for internal agreement and adoption. It’s been better for documenting our process. It’s saved me so much time that I don’t have to think about hiring headcount to manage this. (But actually.)

Salto’s open source component has been a real game-changer and I’d like to share precisely how.

Having your go-to-market (GTM) systems aligned is essential

Throughout my career, I’ve been on every side of the systems / business equation—first as a developer, then a marketing technology consultant, and now as a marketing leader. I’ve played every role in choosing, implementing, and configuring the systems that power go-to-market teams. 

Through a decade and a half of this, I can say with some certainty that the most challenging part of implementing and configuring business systems is ensuring that what’s in the system accurately reflects what the business is trying to accomplish. If your systems do not reflect your goals and processes, marketing, sales, customer success, and channel teams will only accomplish a fraction of what they set out to.

That’s a big statement, so let me share a few of the most egregious examples of what I’ve seen happen through my career as evidence:

  • An eight-figure bookings miss. A team agreed to a set of changes to lead scoring and routing were agreed upon, but when they weren’t implemented in the CRM. Nearly 300 demo requests went unrouted over six months—an eight-figure loss, according to my math.
  • Nobody was tracking pipeline. A one-SKU sales team got several new products, but nobody created a validation to force deals to have at least one product attached. A year later, fewer than 40% of opportunities had products attached and leadership reverted to using spreadsheets. Marketing had no pipeline attribution reporting because it simply wasn’t trackable.
  • Rogue automated emails slowed deals. Someone updated a marketing automation email template that contained an error. Emails began going out with the recipient's name and email address as the ‘sender’—resulting in a wave of complaints and delaying deals in flight.

In each of these cases, there was an oversight or an error in how a requirement from a marketing or sales team was implemented in the business system. And these are just a few examples. I’ve seen hundreds more—small and large. Having your business applications aligned with the expectations and requirements of your business is the exception, not the rule, at most companies. 

So why does this happen? There are a few reasons I see:

  1. No shared vocabulary. Each CRM and marketing automation platform has its own dictionary. Similarly, business leaders bring their own personal vocabularies from past jobs. This turns implementation into a game of telephone where everyone speaks a different dialect.
  2. Lack of visibility. It’s difficult to share application configuration or changes across teams. In most cases, you need direct access to the system to view these things.
  3. Slow rate of change. When you’ve got a business-critical system like a CRM that ties into marketing, sales, support, and finance—and is in line for dozens or hundreds of processes—it’s difficult to make changes without extensive testing and dependency validation. This slows the rate of change and encourages workarounds. 

Put that all together and it’s no surprise that business systems are often bloated and full of black holes, broken automation, and incorrect logic. It’s hard enough for anyone involved to know the ‘right’ way to make a change, much less do it in a way that’s scalable.

Overcoming this requires operations leaders to function as product leaders. They must own the strategic vision, ensure roadmap alignment, enforce shared visibility and vocabulary, and set expectations around the business systems.  

But this gets complicated, especially for small companies. At the startup I was at prior to Torq, by the time we’d hit eight-figure revenue, we had a CRM, marketing automation, support, and channel tools all up and running, each with their own vocabulary. Each had different owners and different interfaces. Our small ops team was constantly context switching, keeping up with releases of each system, and supporting users—not to mention the strategic work of building in processes that would help us continue to scale. Speaking as humbly as I can, and with kudos to our phenomenal operations lead—we succeeded at building smart systems—it was nevertheless an all-consuming job.

When I joined Torq, I saw the same in our future and I wasn’t looking forward to it.   

The magic of Salto

I discovered Salto one month into my time at Torq. As VP of Growth, I owned our burgeoning marketing efforts, as well as go-to-market systems. I’d finalized our HubSpot and Salesforce purchases, slotted operations headcount into the next quarter’s plan, and was getting ready to kick off a multi-week implementation.

What was originally a “Let me check this interesting tool out for 30 minutes” detour from my day, turned into two hours of actual Salesforce configuration and deployment.  By the end of the next day, I’d used Salto to fully provision our Salesforce account with the fields, rules, processes, and other settings that would help us launch the company, and scale for the next 24 months. I’d been expecting over 20 hours of work—in the end, it took less than four.

Salto abstracts your business systems’ configurations and metadata into a human-readable code that allows you to make all those changes from one place. The short version for how I describe Salto is, “it’s how you never have to think about operations.” A slightly longer version might be: 

Salto is a platform that gives you the visibility into your marketing and sales systems to see exactly how they're built in a way that is easy to understand—and it's a platform that gives you the control to change those things without slogging through Salesforce or paying expensive consultants.

The real value for me though has come in the eighteen months since then. Salto gives me instant visibility to the state of my HubSpot and Salesforce instances. There’s no digging through menus, no switching browser tabs—just one place that gives me clear, easy-to- understand details on how our business logic is reflected in our systems.  And even better, I can design changes, share them with teammates for review, and quickly roll them out without slogging through Salesforce menus, or hiring consultants or agencies. I’m now 14 months late and counting on what I thought would be my first operations hire, but which has proven unnecessary.

Here’s just one of many recent examples: Our company has evolved quickly and so have our qualification questions. When I needed to update the picklist options for the question, “What are you using for vulnerability scanning?” I didn’t go into Salesforce. I simply wrote a new NaCl file, Slacked it to the team, they approved, and I then ran it through our environments—commit, PR, deploy, and it was live.

This is incredibly valuable to Torq because it allows us to make changes that reflect the reality of our business. There’s no lag. I have the power to be flexible with how we grow and scale, and importantly, it keeps all our GTM systems and team aligned so not only do we avoid self-sabotage, but we ensure that we have frictionless systems that help us move faster, grow faster, and scale sanely.

If you’re responsible for business systems, do yourself a favor and check out Salto. Over my career, I’ve worked with more than 50 clients at two agencies and four in-house jobs, and this would have been useful in every single scenario. With that 75% time savings, I get to be more strategic, and I bet it’ll help you do the same.

Questions? Shoot me a note on LinkedIn, and good luck out there.

System Thinkers: How we align GTM systems 75% faster with Salto
Joshua Thorgren is the VP Growth at Torq. He describes himself as a mediocre developer turned fairly good marketing leader. He is a believer in intelligent, predictable growth, and an expert in aligning positioning, people and technology to deliver revenue.