Interview: Pardot Founder’s New Venture, Voxa.com

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Interviewee: 

Kyle Van Pelt

Head of Sales and Business Development at Atlanta, GA based Voxa.com. Follow Kyle on Twitter.

I connected with Kyle after he commented on a blog post I wrote last month. Although I’ve never met him in person, I can tell Kyle has a deep understanding of early stage selling and is a mover and shaker within the Atlanta startup scene.

He’s partnered with David Cummings Pardot.com’s Founder, to solve a very obvious and real pain point.

Check out interview below:

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Jorge: What is your professional background and how did you get involved with tech startups?

Kyle: I have been in B2B sales since I graduated college. I started my career in the NBA, working for the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans). That was a great experience and some of the perks were great, being 10 feet away from Kobe Bryant is not something everyone can say their job offers them.

During my time there I started to learn about startups and how great the cultures were at them which is when the seed was planted. After about a year, I couldn’t shake it and I started asking my network about jobs at a startup. Less than a month and something turned up. After a month at a startup, I was hooked and I knew that this was what I wanted to do forever.

 

Jorge: What does “b2b selling” mean to you?

Kyle: B2B selling means a lot to me. Here in Atlanta, we are pretty well known for our B2B companies which I think is due in large part to the large pool of Fortune 500 clients in our back yard that we can grab as customers. I wrote about this on my blog recently, but B2B selling is crucial in a startup because everything that your team is working tirelessly on stops at you. You’re on the front lines, if you don’t sell it the company folds and a lot of people are in a bad space. Therefore, B2B selling is the opportunity to provide a great life not just for me, but for everyone on my team.

 

Jorge: Are a fan or high volume, smaller sales cycle deals, or the larger more strategic, longer sales cycles?

Kyle: My style and personality are much more suited for larger, more strategic, longer sales cycles. I am a strategy game junkie. A perfectly executed strategy is such an adrenaline rush for me, coupled with the thrill of the whale hunt is what gets me out of bed to sell in the morning. I’ve always been a sucker for landing the prestigious logo too. However, you need to have the high volume smaller sales cycles to keep you alive. Right now at Voxa, we have a good mix of both.

 

Jorge: How do you believe inside sales will evolve moving forward?

Kyle: Inside sales is the most fascinating trend in the B2B space right now. I think the way that you will see it evolve moving forward is by eliminating the busy work, like logging tasks into a CRM, and focusing exclusively on the “art” side, the human side of selling. Right now, all sales people spend WAY too much time doing data entry. The only thing that will matter to the modern sales people in the next 5 years is their network and their ability to communicate well with other human beings. This will be accomplished through savvy social selling, sales efficiency tools and a return to the roots of good communication.

 

Jorge: What is Voxa and how does it work?

Kyle: Voxa is an automated CRM assistant. Voxa is the only intelligent Salesforce.com connector that automatically syncs all relevant emails, with no data entry and no workflow disruption. Voxa runs quietly in the background as you send and receive emails in real time from ANY device. I would also like to introduce the world to Voxa’s Natural Language Actions. Voxa will literally read your e-mails and complete activities in your CRM for you. For example when I type in an e-mail “I will get that proposal to you by Friday.” Voxa will create a follow up task for me to send the proposal by Friday and also update my opportunity to the proposal stage automatically.

 

Jorge: What space does Voxa compete in?

Kyle: We compete in the sales efficiency/productivity space.

 

Jorge: What is your opinion on the current state of CRM?

Kyle: We believe that the world’s approach to CRM is fundamentally wrong. CRM is not something that we should do, it should simply be a critical business tool that helps us do our job better. We do not want to replace any CRM’s, but just make the experience much better. Right now, the general consensus of the CRM market is that they are a necessary evil. No one likes going into Salesforce and logging data, but they know that they need to in order to grow their business. We relate with that and want to fix it.

 

Jorge: What is the startup scene like in Atlanta and what are some of your favorite early stage companies around today?

Kyle: The startup scene in Atlanta is booming. I would confidently say that we have become the startup hub of the southeast. The nation now has Silicon Valley/Bay Area, NYC, Boston, Austin, Seattle and Atlanta. If you want to build a game changing company, you need to be in one of those areas. The best early stage companies here are SalesLoftRivalryInsightpoolBitPayYik Yak, Dragon ArmySideqik and Voxa of course!

 

Jorge: Pardot being bought by Salesforce.com seems to be a big win for the Atlanta tech scene. How do you foresee this effecting the local startup community?

Kyle: Voxa likely wouldn’t exist without Pardot’s success. David Cummings, founder of Pardot, is one of the co-founders of Voxa along with 3 of the other early stages companies I mentioned in my last question. The success of Pardot led to the inception of the Atlanta Tech Village. Pardot’s exit has been key for us here in multiple ways.

 

Jorge: Anything else that you’d like to share with our readers about Voxa or yourself?

Kyle: I love helping startup sales people. I’ve started blogging over at inceptionselling.com, I would love to connect with you guys there. The only other awesome thing that I want to brag about is that I’m getting ready to be a dad for the first time in May. That will be my next “startup” and I know it will be great!

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Interview By:

Jorge Soto, Head of Inside Sales MoPub at Twitter
Jorge Soto, Head of Inside Sales MoPub at Twitter
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