Dominic Glover: Building Sales with an Athlete's Mentality
For our most recent fireside chat, we sat down with our Sales Operation Lead, Dominic Glover. Dom graduated with his BA in Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard University in 2018. He spent a year as a Revenue Operations Analyst at Chorus.ai before transitioning to Samsara, Inc, where he was a Growth Operations Manager and a member of the Growth team responsible for the productivity of SMB Sales.
We were lucky enough to add Dom to the Robust Intelligence team in February 2021 as our first GTM hire.
What made you interested in sales? What made you interested in machine learning/artificial intelligence?
“I think when I was in college, I didn’t really understand what sales was – it kind of felt like a dirty word at Harvard. Not many people talked about it, and I think that’s because people didn’t really understand how crucial sales is to company success.”
After graduating from Harvard, Dom started working in tech at Chorus.ai doing revenue operations. Working across the Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success teams gave him an initial feeling for how important sales is to the success of a company. “I started to realize that there’s no such thing as a strong company without a strong sales team,” Dom told us.
“When I moved to Samsara, they just had an absolute sales machine, and I realized how much of a sales system you can build to drive growth for a company - and if you can do that well, you can build a giant company.”
Looking at RI, Dom saw a blank slate where he could work with the Co-Founders, Kojin and Yaron, to grow what he’d seen at Samsara, as what he saw as a best in-class sales operation.
As a graduate of Environmental Science and Public Policy, we were curious – what brought Dom to the data science space directly? Perhaps given his sales expertise, Dom had an answer that sold us immediately.
“When I look at my 5-year-plan, I think about how I want to be in an industry that is supported by macro trends,” Dom told us. Clearly, machine learning and artificial intelligence will be one of the largest trends and industry-shapers of the 2020s.
“I think about AI and ML like this: it’s the old startup maxim of how you want to be selling pickaxes to gold miners.” For those unfamiliar with this saying, it’s an allusion to the California Gold Rush, where some of the most successful businesspeople, such as Levi Strauss and Samuel Brannan, outsourced their mining operations and supplies to others.
Sales (and sales in relation to AI/ML) will naturally continue to service the market as it grows – and obviously artificial intelligence and machine learning will be growing in the future.
How did your background prepare you for working at Robust Intelligence?
When we asked Dom to reflect on how his background shaped his journey to sales, Dom talked extensively about his experiences as a Varsity athlete for the Harvard University Men’s Heavyweight Rowing Team.
“Being an athlete is undeniably an amazing foundation for this kind of job - when you’re an athlete, you know what you need to do to succeed, and you know it’s not gonna be easy. Success isn’t guaranteed; someone might be bigger and stronger and faster than you, but you don’t let that stop you everyday from showing up and doing the work. You can’t always control the outcome, but you can control what you do - and I see this in sales, too.”
“I think this mindset of working hard despite obstacles or disadvantages prepares you beautifully for working at a small startup, where we don’t have tons of historical data for how to succeed – you just have to trust the process and buy into it fully.”
In undergrad, Dom’s course of study was very multidisciplinary and versatile. In his program, he was “Always learning new things - everything from life sciences to calculus - and having to get up to speed quickly throughout the semester.”
Transitioning into the data science space, Dom found these skills highly applicable. “AI is a pretty complex topic, and we’re always talking about new concepts for how to build ML pipelines.
“Learning how to get up to speed to new topics quickly has enabled me in this background as well,” he told us.
What’s a day in the life as the Sales Operation Lead for Robust Intelligence look like?
At a fast-paced startup like Robust Intelligence, every day is a little different - but, as Dom explained, the general goal of every day is as Sales Operational Lead is “ruthlessly prioritizing the most important things,” in order to enable other members of the team to be more effective, productive, and happy.
“In the mornings, we bring the team together to kick off the day or the week in a standup, then I often have 1:1s or working sessions with different members of the team working on different projects.”
As the famous statement (with all of its various paraphrases and variants) goes, those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The Sales team does regular retros and tear downs on previous campaigns in order to understand what was done generally, what went well, what went poorly, and what the team can do better in the future.
“We’re always trying to think about what’s next and what experiments we can run to grow the output of the team. It’s all about experimentation.”
Every day is different. Robust Intelligence is no regular 9-5 job: it’s a collaborative environment of growth and change, and there’s no template for creativity.
What do you find the most exciting about working at Robust Intelligence?
Dom was one of Robust Intelligence’s earliest hires, and the first hire of the Sales team generally. When we asked him to speak about what he finds the most satisfying about his job, he spoke about building the company’s outbound sales function from scratch.
“When I joined, Yaron and Kojin said ‘I think we should be doing outbound sales – can you make that happen?’”
Dom reflected on his experiences at Chorus.ai and Samsara, and began growing the outbound sales system. Dom’s platform was first tested with two interns in the spring of 2021, and it quickly became evident that the outbound system would work.
Within 3-6 months, RI had a generous stream of business coming in between two interns and one full time sales ops employee - now, the company is at almost 30 people.
Why did you decide to join Robust Intelligence? What brought you to the job?
When RI’s co-founder Kojin reached out to Dom in late 2020, he did some research - and came away impressed.
“A lot of early stage startups will reach out to you about potential roles, and a lot of them aren’t very exciting - but as soon as I took a look at Robust Intelligence, I was excited.
“The leadership had a vision for the future of AI, and the team that they’d managed to assemble had the most incredible backgrounds, from a Harvard professor to people who had worked at Uber and Google.”
“It was the best talent that I’d ever seen at a startup, and with the backing of Sequoia, it was clear to me that something pretty special was happening.”
Dom was thrilled by the opportunity to join “A small company where I can work very hard and have a large impact.”