How Solutions Consultants Build Trust Both In and Outside of Their Companies with Drift's Joshua Perk

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This is a podcast episode titled, How Solutions Consultants Build Trust Both In and Outside of Their Companies with Drift's Joshua Perk. The summary for this episode is: <p>If you've worked in a start-up company, you know the feeling of when things really start to scale. Sales reps that used to do everything from prospecting to negotiation to support can no longer give the customer or prospect all the information they need. That's where solutions consultants come in.</p><p><br></p><p>Joshua Perk, Senior Director of Solutions Consulting at Drift, came to the company just as it entered this phase. He led the build-out of the solutions consulting team as Drift shifted its messaging and selling motion. In this episode, he tells us what it took to build trust with internal stakeholders, how to measure the effectiveness of a growing SC team, and what he means when he says he hires on a spectrum from "Big S" to "Big E" for his team.</p><p><br></p><p>Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️&nbsp;review and share the pod with your friends! You can connect with Sean and Josh on Twitter @Seany_Biz, @Joshua_Perk, and @DriftPodcasts.</p>
The catalyst to build out the SC function when Josh joined Drift in 2018
01:35 MIN
The "Big S to Big E" spectrum
03:20 MIN
Where do you start when measuring your team's value?
02:23 MIN

Sean Lane: (singing). Hey, everyone. Welcome to Operations, the show where we look under the hood of companies in hypergrowth. My name is Sean Lane. When your sales organization is in true startup mode, chances are, your sellers are doing just about everything. They prospect, they demo, they negotiate, they close. Hell, they might even be doing some support, whatever it takes, all hands on deck, right? Then, as your hypergrowth company scales up, you can start to specialize different aspects of your sales motion and bring in specialists to compliment your sellers and ultimately, accelerate your deals. One of those specialist teams your company might decide to invest in is a solutions consulting team. Whether you call them solutions consultants, sales engineers, or some other combination of the two, their role is meant to not only demo and explain the technical aspects of your company's product, but also to serve as a trusted advisor for the customer throughout the sale. Now, I know all of this because I learned it from today's guest, Josh Perk. Josh is the senior director of solutions consulting at Drift. During his three plus years at the company, Josh has scaled the SC team from two people to 20 and created a culture where every rep wants someone like Josh as a valued member of their opportunity team. In our conversation, Josh and I talk about where SCs come from, how to measure the effectiveness of a growing SC team, and what he means when he says he hires on a spectrum from big S to big E for his team. If you're thinking about starting an SC team at your company or you already one and you aren't quite sure how to articulate its value, this episode will offer you the blueprint that you need. But first, I asked Josh to take me back to when he first arrived at Drift in 2018 and what the catalyst was for why he needed to build out the SC function in the first place.

Josh Perk: So it feels a long time ago, although it was only three years ago, but you nailed it. So when I first came over to Drift, the idea of a sales engineering team, which is what we called ourselves then, we're solutions consultants now, but one and the same, it existed, so I was blessed enough that I didn't have to convince people to build the function. But it existed in the sense of one other guy, and so for me, I was the first SC that came over that had actually been a sales engineer before. The other guy that was already here was a true engineer. And so, the way that we thought about the SC team was different, but it was really helpful, of having someone really technically smart, and me, a little bit more on the managerial side. The thing that was really that waking moment of, we have to do this, we need to invest way more into this, is when Drift started to make this shift from, hey, we're not going to just be transactional anymore, where people are going to show up with their credit card and buy some software, we're really going to move to a platform. And so, what was most important was not the fact that, okay, we're suddenly calling ourself a platform, bring on the SCs. What was really important was the fact that we changed our selling motion. We said," We're going to actually not just go in and sell chatbots or sell a piece of SAS. We're going to actually understand digital transformation and the way that data flows between marketing automation systems and CRMs." And all of a sudden, it became a much bigger, loftier sell, and that's where you have to bless your salespeople's hearts, but you can't expect them to be able to handle the commercials while also being able to go super deep into that technical stuff.

Sean Lane: And so, when you talk about going deeper into the technical sale, right, that, to me, would be probably the most obvious thing if I were looking at an organization and trying to figure out whether or not I needed to have a solutions consulting team, like," Okay, technical product, I need somebody technical on the call." What are some of the other triggers for people who maybe are at that inflection point in their company of reasons why a team like that might need to be created or need to get bigger?

Josh Perk: Yeah, so I actually don't think that a technical product is the motivation for having an SC team anymore. It used to be it. For 20 years, that was why you needed an SC, right? You said," Wow, this is complex. There's some smart things we need to talk about. Let's go hire some smart people." And that's why the original SC function was truly engineers, right, just people that we took from the engineering team and said," Can you help sales people explain this a little bit better?" And the reason I think that's not the motivation for SE or SC teams anymore is because of the way that the buying culture is shifting, and what I mean by that... I think the best way to explain it is to look at what Drift was born out of, right? We said," Hey, forms work, but they work because they have to work, right?" People have to fill out a form, and so it was a necessary evil. That's what I'm starting to see in the way that prospect are buying. They're saying," Salespeople work, but they're a necessary evil." I just need to go through them to talk to the person that actually knows what they're talking about, not that sales people don't know what they're talking about, but this deep level of understanding the product. And so, I think SCs don't just fill a technical role anymore, I think they fill a trust role of someone that says," Hey, we're on the sales team, but I actually don't truly care about my sales rep hitting their number. I care about making sure that I have some self- esteem here that puts you in the right product."

Sean Lane: Yeah, and I also feel like in that shift, there's almost this perception too, that creates that trust, which is, your team or people like your team are not necessarily perceived there to only be there to close the deal. They are perceived there to add that value, to explain the how and the why of what you're looking at, as opposed to just, okay, we're at stage one of the sales process, now, time to move on to stage two.

Josh Perk: Yes. I've never been a salesperson before, so I can't tell whether this joke is accurate or not, but I always tell people," There's only one thing worse than an AE getting clawback, and that's an SC selling the wrong solution." Just the embarrassment that comes with the customer saying," You told me this and it doesn't do that," is way... I'd rather they take some of my paycheck back than have to go have that conversation with the customer.

Sean Lane: In case you couldn't tell, Josh takes a lot of pride in the work that his team does and the role that they play in our sales motion here at Drift. And he's right, as the buying culture continues to evolve, the roles of these trusted advisors only become more important. So let's say you're like Josh and you think your company needs to make an investment in a solutions consulting team. How do you do that? When I asked Josh, he told me he couldn't just jump ahead to posting a bunch of job postings. In fact, he told me that I was one of the hurdles he needed to clear first.

Josh Perk: Before the people was getting the permission to get the people, which was not easy. And actually, this is why I feel like a relationship with operations was so important because operations, historically, are the folks that say," Give me data that shows that this is the right investment, and then if the bullion equals true, then we'll give it to you." Sean, you remember that. That was not a thing. When there was one or two of us, I had no data. There was so much relationship that I had to build with you to just say," Hey, we think that me being here is helpful," and we had anecdotal data, but we didn't know how that was going to scale. And the reason that I needed your trust so much in building out this team was because even if I had given you data, the way that I was operating as a team of one, two, or three is not the way that an SC team is going to operate at 20. So the data I would've given you was false, right, because me coming in as a transactional SC, saying," Here's how the integration works, great, I'll never talk to you again," is much different than the role I play now as an SC in leading my team of 20, which is way more relationship focused. So it's a horrible answer, but getting trust to get people is really, really important before you have the data to show that it's worth it.

Sean Lane: Totally agree with you. And so, once you've built that trust and you've got the check mark, like, okay, go, Josh, go forth and multiply and bring some people back, where do SCs even come from, right? We've had people on this show who talk about how, in ops, some of them fall into it, some of them come from a finance background. We've had some people who were in sales, then they made the switch to ops, which I think is a rare one. What are the paths to becoming an SC?

Josh Perk: That's what's so interesting about this career field, is the answer to where or how did you first become an SE is different for everyone that I interview, in part, because it's a newer career field. Although, I did interview someone the other day that said they majored in it, which made me feel-

Sean Lane: Whoa.

Josh Perk: I'm starting to get old. Yep, it's something you can go to school for now.

Sean Lane: That's awesome.

Josh Perk: It is super cool that it's starting to take off, and we've got some great communities in this space that have really made it more popular. But before people were able to major in it, usually, there were two different ways that folks came into being SCs. They were either career SCs, which means that they probably started somewhere else in the org, whether they were an engineer or they were a salesperson that realized they were a little bit more technical than their colleagues, and they stumbled into it. And then the other way that we find people are more like industry practitioners, so folks that were users of your software or in the space that you're selling to, and maybe need to learn some more of the sales or technical skills, but really understand the space that you're in. And to be honest, in order to make my team successful, I needed to have both of those, so I go out and purposely hire folks that have no SC experience, but really understand our market. And then I have the opposite who can lead my team a little bit better and show those newer SCs what it's like to be an SC, because they're more career focused.

Sean Lane: That's really interesting. And so, I would imagine that in the team makeup, right, you've got those pros and strengths, and sometimes those things can balance each other out, but I would also imagine that that... Does that have an impact on the way you actually staff those people to deals, because I could see their... It's not everybody entering a deal that's created equal at that point.

Josh Perk: Right. Yeah, it does. So when we're looking at the talent pool on an SE team, I no longer think about them as industry practitioners versus existing SEs. Instead, I put all of those people on a spectrum of what I would call big S or big E. And that's a pretty popular analogy in the sales engineering community. But to break it down is, if you're a big S, that means that your first instinct is being a little bit more of a salesperson. You understand the business needs and you're maybe a little bit of a smooth talker and you're socializing. If you're a big E, perhaps you don't have all of those skill sets, but you're really good at understanding the technology and the product, and you can go toe to toe with a CTO or a CEO on some of those big deals. And that's why it's so important to have both of them, because there's no right or wrong answer. It's going to totally depend on the AE that you're matching them with, and sometimes even the deal that you're in. And so, at Drift, we do our best to have AE to SE ratios or relationships, that they're all consistent. But we find that there are times where we say," Hey, even though you constantly work with this person, they now need to go talk security and get super deep into GDPR in our APIs with Salesforce. We're going to actually take you off of it and go have our big E SE handle that part of the deal and then bring you back in to close it."

Sean Lane: What I find really interesting here is that Josh is not just blindly assigning resources to deals because solutions consultant A always works with sales rep B. In fact, he's plotting his team members on that spectrum that he mentioned, big S for sales to big E for engineer, and then assigning them based on fit. This sounded to me like it made a lot of sense from an individual deal perspective, but I also wondered if it complicated things a bit when trying to build a system around SE capacity or AE to SE ratios, or just the simple relationship between an SE and their AE. Is there a target ratio or set up that we should be aiming for when building out one of these teams? Turns out there's some art and some science behind the whole thing.

Josh Perk: So there's two parts for the operations folks in the room. There's a mathematical equation that you guys will care more about and then there's more of the emotional equation that people bringing this problem to you will care about. So the mathematical equation is, you sell your product for a certain amount of money and your SE brings a measurable amount of value, and it's usually in three different forms. It's either in speed to a deal, so deal velocity is something that we measure. Did it close faster because of the SE? Did the deal close larger, so ASP that SE brings? And then there's the binary, did we get a technical win that we would not have gotten without an SE? So those are the three measurements that you can pursue. And then it's just straight math, right, of how many of those do we need to offset the cost of the team, and can we just continue to pour gasoline on this perfect ratio? So that's the scientific answer. The more emotional answer is, there are also bandwidth constraints, and maybe that formula doesn't balance out perfectly. If you have a low ASP and a really high touch deal, that ratio is not going to work super well. And you can't do what I did for my first year at Drift, which was have a one to 90 ratio of AEs to SEs.

Sean Lane: Why? That sounds fine.

Josh Perk: Super sustainable. So somewhere in there, you have to figure out, what's the magic sauce for our team? And so, long story short, for us at Drift, and what's pretty popular across most enterprise SAS companies is, one to one or one to three- ish in your enterprise markets, depending on your ASP, and then in your mid- market and your growth or whatever you call your commercial business, you're looking anywhere from one to five to one to 10, if you're in a super velocity motion.

Sean Lane: Got it, got it. And so, my second question about this staffing conversation, and the bandwidth thing underlines this, is there's going to be a moment, and I think this is true of ops people too, where you got to say," No," right, or you've got people on your team who have to be self aware enough to know where they are on that big S to big E spectrum and they have to say," I'm actually not the right person here," right? How are you managing those conversations both within your own team, in terms of coaching the folks on your team, but then also with that crucial partnership that you have with sales, where they want somebody, no matter what, right? But sometimes that bandwidth might not exist. Is that something that's coming up for you?

Josh Perk: It comes up a ton, and it's not unlike what I imagine the relationship between operations and your sales teams are, in the sense of, you support these folks. It's important that you maintain a healthy relationship with them. You don't want them to dislike you, but at the same time, you have a job to do, and so what we see happen in the SE world is one of two things. So one is, your SE is so beloved and so good at closing deals that an AE wants to use them for everything, right? Oh, come join my discovery, do more than just listen, actually run it for me, or, hey, we're going to avoid all of operatations' process for closing a deal and we're just going to have you go show them whatever they want. And there's those sorts of things where I really rely on my SE team because they're the ones that are in the weeds, experiencing that. I like for them to be able to instill that trust of like," Hey, we're well paid professionals. We're both here to get a job done right. I need you to use me in the best way so that in the future, when your colleague wants to misuse me, I'm available for you," right? It goes a full way around. And then there's the opposite side of, you go back to the challenger sale, old school. There are folks on sales teams that just don't want to work with other people, right? They don't want to use SEs, they think that they're great at demoing it. And it's really important for an AE to build a relationship with that, or sorry, an SE to build a relationship with that AE and say," Hey, you are good. I appreciate that. My job is to not replace you. My job is to not put risk in your deal by adding someone else that isn't in your control. My job is to be an expert at this one thing, which is demonstrating the product and answering solution questions so that you can focus on what you do best, which is the commercials and making sure that this is a good fit on that end of the business."

Sean Lane: In addition to starting to build relationships with its internal customers, Josh has also now clarified exactly how the business will measure and find value in his team's work. He told us three specific metrics, deal velocity, deal size, and the presence of a technical win. If you're starting a team like Josh's, these are super simple and straightforward measurements that you can be tracking in your opportunity process. We're going to revisit those a little bit more later in the show, don't worry. I also really liked how Josh described the guardrails around the work that his team does. He said that they're there to demo the product and answer solution questions. Meanwhile, they're freeing up the salesperson to do what they do best, sell. Landing on those guardrails though, isn't always so straightforward. Anytime you introduce a new role, chances are, that role is taking some responsibility away from somebody else's, even if the new role is better suited for that work. So I asked Josh," What were those early days like of defining the split and responsibilities, or overlaps, in some cases, between the solution consultants and the sales team?"

Josh Perk: So I've got an unpopular opinion, I think, when it comes to-

Sean Lane: Great.

Josh Perk: ...this subject. Yeah. So I don't necessarily recommend what I'm about to say for most teams. I'll follow it up with what I do recommend for most teams. But I knew really early on when I came in to Drift, to establish the team, that the best way for me to get trust in you as my operations leader and get that investment from my now boss, our CRO, was to be the person that didn't say no. And so, I made that personal decision of, I'm going to be a little bit tired this year. I'm going to work a little extra hard and probably do things that I should be saying no to, because I wanted to end that first year and have nobody in the sales work say," There's nothing Josh can't do." That is not sustainable after you start hiring people. If you want to make that personal choice and build that personal brand, absolutely do it, and I think it's been rewarding for me, I think, now I've established a trust in brand where people say," He can help us." But now that I have a team of 20, I can't let them operate that way, right? It's going to turn into burnout, it's going to turn into blurry lines and for SEs, once you do something once, you set the expectation that you're happy to do that again. And so, I don't recommend that anymore. I have my team set really clear expectations, and when a new AE gets brought onto the team, one of the first things that they do is sit down with their SE and they say," Hey, this is how I work. What communication channels do you prefer? Here's how much notice I need for a demo." They set those boundaries and then facilitate the relationship from there.

Sean Lane: I do think though, the core of that, the core takeaway though, whether it's in ops or as a solutions consultant, is, no matter what type of relationship you're trying to build, proving that some sort of value exists upfront buys you so much goodwill for later, right? So to your point about whether it's response time or the value, the way you're willing to go the extra mile on a particular deal, yeah, you can't do that. It's not sustainable. You're going to burn out. But the relationship building you do upfront, if you can add value to those first couple interactions and manage the perception that your AE or your team has of you, later on, when you do need to actually have a reasonable amount of time to do something, it's okay, right? There's not this moment of, well, Josh doesn't know what he's doing. That's why this is taking so long. That moment doesn't exist. There's already that inherent trust. And I think it's probably the exact same with SEs as it is in ops, which is, we tell every new person who joins our team," I could care less if I have to teach you what filter goes on what report six months from now. Not a big deal. We can teach you that. What we can't do is go back and reset the relationship or lack of relationship that you've built with X, Y, Z sales rep, leader, manager, whatever, because once those first few months pass, that opportunity has been missed."

Josh Perk: Yes, yeah. It's locked in stone. This is a horrible analogy, but it's like when you're first going on a date and you're just trying to figure out who the first person is going to text after the date. I take the position of, I'm going to text. I'm going to let that AE know that I love them to death, I'm going to do everything for them, and that we should go on another date soon. But to your point, you're exactly right. You make that first step to say," Hey, I'm here for you. I want to see you win as well, but there's going to be some sort of stakes in the relationship that make sure that we work fluidly together," so it's a good give and take. And the unfortunate side of it, and I see this all the time when I'm mentoring other SE leaders is sometimes it doesn't work out. And then you have SE managers that are having to shift which SE reports to which AE, and they couldn't figure it out themselves, and that turns into a whole nother sticky mess.

Sean Lane: If you take nothing else from this episode, I think the salient lessons that Josh wants you to take away are always text first after a date and tell your AE you love them. But seriously, what any new team at a company must do is prove that team's value, show they are going to make the lives of those around them and the lives of their customers better. I mentioned earlier that we're going to come back to some of the specific ways that Josh created to measure his team's value, and I wanted to do that because I wanted to dig a little deeper. If you're starting a team like this or you already have a team in place and you're looking for ways to articulate your value, it's okay to start simple. I know that that's what Josh and his team did because I was there when they did it. So where do you start?

Josh Perk: And you know this, as my operations person. It's living and breathing. We're still figuring out some of those things as we go. But the honest answer was, it started with you guys. It started with a team that was more analytical than me, which says a bunch, being an SE, right, how smart you guys are, basically saying," Hey, you need to get your ducks in a row." And so, I was the one that ultimately figured out, these are the three things that I think were going to measure, but it was my partnership with the operations team that inspired, we need to go figure something out. So having a strong relationship there, like I said at the beginning, is super important. But we didn't come out of the gates with a super mature model. We started, I think where a lot of folks start in operations, which is, let's just log everything, right? If we log everything, we'll eventually find the data. And if I remember correctly, Sean, I think there was a point where you were pulling things out of Google Docs for us and building pivot tables. We were trying to retroactively assemble all this data.

Sean Lane: I blocked this from my brain. I don't remember.

Josh Perk: Yeah, those are bad four letter words in ops, when you start talking about your pivot tables and stuff. But we started by just saying," Hey, everything that we do, we're going to tie it to an opportunity. So if we demo, we're going to put an event in Salesforce. If we prep, we're going to put an event in Salesforce," and it started off not really knowing what we were going to use that data for. We just knew that we needed to populate this big database of information, and as we've gotten more mature, we've realized what's actually important, what's not. So the things that we've matured is figuring out, okay, let's not just log events, let's actually log the amount of time that those events are taking, which feels natural. We should have been doing that from the beginning. If you start getting really sophisticated, you can start to find patterns between the events that you're logging and the outcome of the opportunity. So one of the game- changing points for us is when your team added the historic opportunity information to say," Hey, when we logged this event, the opportunity was in discovery, and when we logged this other event, it was in demo." And once we started building out this chronological timeline of events tied to opportunity stages, we were able to really start getting sophisticated with, okay, for opportunities that we did join in discovery, our close rate went to 47% won, and if we didn't, it was at 37%, so you can get really sophisticated.

Sean Lane: Yeah. And I think the only other thing that I would add to that in terms of what you guys were able to do, was, it wasn't just your generic presence, right? We started to identify that there were certain categories of inputs or certain categories of activities that you all were actually doing on these calls, and those within themselves had slightly different flavors. And I would imagine, similar to the big S, big E thing, right, there are probably people that were stronger or weaker at some of those different inputs. One of the things that is, I think, a little bit of a cheat for you and I is, we work at the company and use the product for the thing that we're selling, right, and so it's more obvious, I think, if you're on the sales or marketing side, like," Hey, yeah, we use Drift at Drift." But your team has also been able to, I think, leverage the product in a somewhat unique way. Can you talk a little bit about how you're leveraging it, because it's one thing to just say," Eat your own food," or whatever, but we're using it in ways that aren't necessarily... are stated public value ads.

Josh Perk: Yes, yeah, so you're exactly right. There are a couple of things that just make sense when you think of Drift. So when someone comes to the website and they're a target account and they're in the solution validation phase of their opportunity, we'll get a notification that says like, hey, go jump in and chat with them. Those are the things that you would think that we used before, which we absolutely do. The one that's been game changer for me is TriVideo. And so, for those of you that might not be familiar with it, it's just this ability to record asynchronous content, not unlike this too much, and then be able to share that with the prospect. And I think we've all experienced some sort of video being sent to us, but what's really cool about your video is this ability to be able to actually have a conversation with that person. And so, a great example is, when I have to sell... have to isn't the right word, when I sell to operations folks, right? And so, one, guys are super busy, and two, usually, we're talking about very technical things so it's not just me saying," Hey, the Salesforce integration is three clicks. You're going to love it." Operations people are like," No, everyone says that. You're going to actually need to show me what you're talking about." And so, instead of trying to figure out, how can I go sit down for an hour with this really busy person, I can record a five- minute video and say," Hey, I'm going to pull up a sandbox of Salesforce, I'm going to record it, I'm going to connect it. You said that you use these fields and these objects. Let me show you how I'm doing that so you can validate whether this is the right way to do it." And then at 11 o'clock at night, when you've put the kids to bed, you can watch that video, and then I'll get a notification and we can make sure that I answered those little questions for you. So it saves my team a bunch of time because we don't have to jump into meetings unwillingly or when we don't have a bunch of time. But more importantly, I think it's a really good experience for the prospect, of just, hey, when you get around to it, here's some content.

Sean Lane: Yeah, and I think, to bring us full circle, back to the beginning of our conversation, right, it aligns really well with this buyer- centric customer journey that you were describing when you were basically saying that the way people are buying is shifting, and you don't have to necessarily have a separate call for every single one of these checklist items that someone wants to ask about, and you don't have to have a live demo for every single feature that you necessarily are purchasing, right? You can tailor both the sales process, but also what the different mediums of communication look like, I think, which is, I think, what you guys have been able to do.

Josh Perk: Yeah, that's exactly right. And going back to your original point is, I think the reason that a solutions consultant or a sales engineer is no longer just important for selling the technical parts of your product, is the trust part. And there's something that is inherently trustworthy about saying," Hey, I'm respecting your time. I'm also building you something that's super customed to your instance. I'm not just going to send you a help doc of our Salesforce how- to integration guide." And I think that's what we're here for, is to just really help customers make sure that they're validating the right solutions and that it's going to fit in their ecosystem.

Sean Lane: Before we go, at the end of each show, we're going to ask each guest the same lightning round of questions. Ready? Here we go. Best book you've read in the last six months?

Josh Perk: Ooh, good one. I have a bunch. I have four sitting on my desk right now. I just finished, and it probably is the best one that I've read in the last six months, The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo. Have you you heard of this one before?

Sean Lane: No.

Josh Perk: This one's really good. So Julie Zhuo was one of the first product managers at Facebook, and she got put into a manager role at a really young age, and so this is the chronicles of her growing into this role from a young 20- something- year- old to a mature mid- 30- year- old manager. And one of my favorite things that she documented are the different challenges that a manager will face depending on how you got into the manager role. So for example, me as an individual contributor that advanced my way into a management role has a totally different set of problems, like now reporting... or my past reports or my past colleagues now being my reports. Those are problems that I face, versus Nick Masters who's on my team, who I hired him into a manager role. He has a totally different set of problems where he's got immediate respect from his team, but they also... He had to learn the product. He had to earn some of that. So she did a great job crosstalk that.

Sean Lane: Awesome. That's a good one. All right, next one. Normally, I ask people their favorite part about working in ops, so I'll tweak it for you. Favorite part about working in solution consulting?

Josh Perk: Oh, man. For me, it's about the balance. It's the ability to say," Hey." I get to be excited about the technology and make that part of my brain excited, but also being able to verbalize that and interact with our customers on a daily basis. When you're engineering and you're just putting out code, you don't really get to see it in the wild, to see how that's solving problems. But as a solutions consultant, I get to build the solutions, I get to implement them, and then you get to see the actual results that your customers have, which is just really fulfilling.

Sean Lane: Flip side, least favorite part about working in solutions consulting?

Josh Perk: Oh, my goodness. This is going to get me, probably, a lot of bad LinkedIn messages, inaudible the worst part about being an operations person too. The relationship that you build with sales is so important, and oftentimes, very tricky to navigate, and so I think that can be very important to get right. And that's why, going back to some of the things that we talked about earlier, just setting forward really, really early, that we're all here for the same reason, and if I ever disagree with you, it's because I have good intent and I want to do it the right way, it can be challenging, but also rewarding if you do it right.

Sean Lane: You can come back. We can do a whole nother half hour on just that alone. Someone who impacted you getting to the job you have today?

Josh Perk: Oof. My dad was a big one. I'll have to go back and listen to all of the different episodes. I'm sure everyone probably said that.

Sean Lane: No, no, that's a good one.

Josh Perk: Interesting. I swore that I was going to be nothing like my dad and I ended up being everything like my dad, which is probably a pretty common theme for a lot of folks. My dad was in the air force and we moved around a bunch, and so I always told myself," I'm never going to join the air force." I hated that experience of having to move and never having the same friends, and lo and behold, I joined the air force and became an intel analyst. And so, by being inspired to go into the air force and cater to that technology side of my brain is the reason that I became an SE, and my dad is my number one cheerleader when it comes to my career and always giving me advice, so I have a lot to thank him for.

Sean Lane: That's awesome. All right, last one for you. One piece of advice for people who want to have your job someday?

Josh Perk: Oof, interesting. Stay scrappy. As cheesy as that is, it goes back to what we were talking about a second ago, which is, think about your self respect and what you want to be known for, but also think about how your end users, in my case, our actual customers, but also our salespeople, the lens that they see you through. I hope that I've got a personal brand of positivity and upbeatness and always trying to bring innovative ideas. And so, just constantly seek something that's broken and try to figure out how you can help your company fix it, and I think you're going to be in a good spot.

Sean Lane: Thanks so much to Josh for being this week's guest on Operations, and thanks so much to Josh's team for all the work they do to make our sales team better, really appreciate each and every one of you. If you liked what you heard today, make sure you are subscribed to our show so you get a new episode in your feed every other Friday. And if you feel like you took something away from today, let us know. Leave us a review. Leave us a six- star review on Apple Podcasts, six star reviews only. All right, that's going to do it for me. Thanks so much for listening. We'll see you next time.( singing).


If you've worked in a start-up company, you know the feeling of when things really start to scale. Sales reps that used to do everything from prospecting to negotiation to support can no longer give the customer or prospect all the information they need. That's where solutions consultants come in.

Joshua Perk, Senior Director of Solutions Consulting at Drift, came to the company just as it entered this phase. He led the build-out of the solutions consulting team as Drift shifted its messaging and selling motion. In this episode, he tells us what it took to build trust with internal stakeholders, how to measure the effectiveness of a growing SC team, and what he means when he says he hires on a spectrum from "Big S" to "Big E" for his team.

Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends! You can connect with Sean and Josh on Twitter @Seany_Biz, @Joshua_Perk, and @DriftPodcasts.