DoorDash’s Inside Sales team is driving the growth of key merchant relationships
In the year since its launch, the DoorDash Inside Sales team has grown from a few people making calls in a small apartment, to a crew of a dozen working from a bustling office — and driving key relationships for the business. The team values flexibility and transparency above all, and anticipates rapid growth over the coming year. We spoke with Nick Hecht (Inside Sales Manager), Jeff Rada (Sr. Account Executive, SMB), Marcus Ashmore (Inbound Account Executive, SMB), and Julian Felix (Senior Account Executive and Team Lead, Inside Sales) about DoorDash’s data-driven, collaborative approach to selling. Of course, the team is hiring! Drop a note to recruiting manager Ashley Dowling to learn more: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For anyone just hearing of DoorDash, what do you do and how is it impacting people’s lives?
Julian: DoorDash is the best way to order food from your favorite restaurants and have it delivered to your door. We connect customers with local merchants through our website and app and let them place orders for delivery. When the company was first founded, we focused on food, but now we’re developing deeper partnerships with restaurants, liquor stores, convenience stores, and more. We currently operate in more than 350 cities across the U.S. and Canada.
Can you elaborate on the service you’re actually selling?
Nick: On the surface, merchants partner with us to deliver food, alcohol, convenience items, and other goods. Our job as a sales team is to deepen the relationship. First of all, we sell merchants access to our delivery marketplace, which brings them new customers and more orders. We also sell them access to a fleet of on-demand delivery drivers, called Dashers, who can fulfill deliveries for them more efficiently than if they had their own drivers. For some merchants, we offer a tablet that gives them data-driven insights about their business, so they can improve in-store operations. At higher levels, we offer marketing opportunities that further increase customer demand.
One thing I say to merchants is, you’re not purchasing anything — you’re partnering with us. We don’t make money unless you make money; there’s no upfront cost for our service. If you’re a merchant, that’s hard to say no to. At a minimum, it’s an opportunity to add your brand to our marketplace. Or work with us closely and we’ll both grow faster.
“It’s easy for merchants to see the value we provide.” –Jeff
Jeff: No contracts required, and our merchants can cancel for any reason at any time. It’s easy for merchants to see the value we provide. If a restaurant wasn’t offering delivery service, they immediately see that it’s a new revenue stream. For a restaurant already delivering, we bring them a different marketplace, with customers they wouldn’t have otherwise reached.
Marcus: We want to help our merchants think differently about what a restaurant can be. Our best partners are willing to move beyond traditional models. For example, we recently launched DoorDash Drive, a fulfillment platform for restaurants to request a Dasher deliver an order that originated outside the DoorDash marketplace. Restaurants use Drive for large catering orders, and we’re seeing more unique use cases like supply chain management. This all fits our broader goal of reinventing last-mile delivery.
How did the Inside Sales team get started?
Jeff: When DoorDash launched, we didn’t have many people with inside sales experience, but we thought it was worth experimenting with. We built a playbook, hired four reps, and asked them to try signing up merchants over the phone. Mind you, this was all from a small apartment in Tempe. It worked so well that we’re now a full-fledged team and a key part of the company’s growth. We have a real office now, too.
“Now teams are taking money out of their budget and putting it into ours because they know our value.” –Nick
Nick: I’m so proud of the progress we’ve made — from questioning whether we could close business over the phone, to bringing top merchants on board. To every new challenge, we’ve answered yes. Now teams are taking money out of their budget and putting it into ours because they know our value. At this point, the machine runs itself.
Wow, this started in a small apartment. How long ago was that?
Jeff: That started in March 2016. We moved to this office in June 2016, and now we have about a dozen on the team. If we can find the right people, we’d love to push to 50 by the end of 2017.
What’s the best reason to join the team right now? What opportunities are there for new members to contribute?
Nick: Now’s the time to strike. Coming in, you can be the first rep to ever sell into a market like Miami. Fast-forward another six months and you could be a leader on a team of 60. Cream rises to the top — and there’s nowhere to go but up.
Marcus: At DoorDash, leadership is very vocal about our growth plans. We’re all aware of our six-month and one-, five-, and ten-year expansion plans. You know that, “If I perform at X level within Y amount of time, I can realistically expect a promotion.”
Nick: We all appreciate that transparency. I’ve never been in a meeting that ended with, “Let’s keep that between us.” Those words don’t exist here. Goals are clearly communicated, so we can all be open and get to work.
Marcus: My last company told me after my last promotion, “Marcus, we’re done expanding. We can’t move you up unless someone quits.” When I interviewed here, I spoke with Tony Xu, our CEO, and he said, “Marcus, we’re expanding so fast. It’s not how long you’re going to be in a given position. It’s what position you want after this.”
Just in practical terms, is this a 9–5 job?
Marcus: Kind of. Our schedules vary because restaurants work on different hours and our vendors are nationwide. For example, we might be calling a steakhouse in New York that doesn’t open till 5 p.m., so we need to be available then. We all work the same number of hours per day, but if you want to start earlier or later than 9 a.m., that’s entirely possible.
How is the team organized? Are you divided up by region or vertical?
Nick: We’re broken down by region; within each region are multiple markets, and within those markets, our reps sell the best restaurants in each city. Strategically, we want a mix of restaurants with top name brands, restaurants that do high volume, and smaller restaurants that help us build selection for our customers. Our reps speak with the owners of top restaurants every day. They might say: “Hey, we’re looking to take your food out of the typical sit-down dinner hours and open it up to Tuesday night, when a customer doesn’t have the time to sit down at a restaurant.” Then we’ll present the opportunity.
Where does your lead list come from?
Nick: Initially, a lot of research. We get a raw list of leads from another team, which includes a ton of detail, and it’s on us to refine it, put it in order, and do extra research so we can speak fluently with the business owner. Our Outside Sales reps work with the biggest brands, but they have less time to sell because of the travel they do. I think we Inside Sales reps get to be more strategic in some ways. We decide how to balance research with selling. It’s still fast-paced, though — talking to 80 merchants in a day is not uncommon.
You definitely have competitors in the delivery space. Can you speak to why you’ll be successful in a heated market?
Julian: It’s not complicated. DoorDash has the best restaurants, the best technology, and the best customer experience. The best experience comes from our local operations teams and our support team. The best technology comes from our engineers. But the best restaurants comes from us. On the Inside Sales team, we work hard to give customers the widest possible selection of restaurants. That depth of options, plus our Fortune 500 brands — thanks to our Outside Sales team — makes us unmatched.
What’s different about this job compared to other sales jobs you’ve had?
Marcus: Coming from an SEO company, I was selling a product I wasn’t sure worked. As Nick said, DoorDash doesn’t make money unless the restaurant makes money. I’ve seen American mom and pop restaurants and corporate brands earn thousands more dollars every month than they would have without DoorDash. Some of my partners opened up their second and third locations because of the revenue we generated.
“Some of my partners opened up their second and third locations because of the revenue we generated.” –Marcus
Jeff: My last job was on a small team with rigid standard operating procedures. Here, it’s the opposite; we’re completely open to different ideas. As a team, we’re less than a year old, and collaboration is key. Scaling our business from year three to year ten requires input from all angles. That long-term outlook drives our team.
Nick, as the Inside Sales Manager, do you have a particular ethos? What priorities or philosophies do you try to impart?
Nick: I manage backwards. Are you closing business? If the answer is yes, you won’t hear much from me about how many calls you’re making. We don’t have time to pry and poke at you about call quantity and your day-to-day activity. We track tons of data and it’s available to everyone all the time, so people can do their own micromanaging, so to speak. If you’re falling short on sales, our system looks at your data and presents you with tailored resources to help you improve.
I take a very data-driven approach. With good data, I can coach somebody to improve or double down on what’s most effective. But collecting data requires high activity. I tell my reps: “You will not fail. We won’t let you fail. We will hold your hand as long as you help us assess where you’re struggling and where you’re succeeding.”
Has anyone experienced a challenge that the team helped you work through?
Jeff: In the beginning, I felt as if I was putting a lot of effort into the sales side, but struggling to follow up with leads. When we talk to somebody about price, they’re interested — but our merchants are busy people so we usually need to follow up to close the deal. Nick and I looked at my data to see where I fell behind in relation to team averages. In our one-on-one meetings, we strategized ways to improve my follow-ups; from there, I refined my process and got better results. Now I’m one of the team’s top sellers.
“I refined my process and got better results. Now I’m one of the team’s top sellers.” –Jeff
Julian: Beyond sales skills, I’ve also learned from watching other departments; data shows us which markets are most profitable and which communities stick with our service. In turn, that helps you manage your own book of business and make the best local connections.
Marcus: We’re also seeing our merchants’ profit margins and learning the financial side of their restaurants — small specifics you wouldn’t notice without observing dozens of restaurants. We can then move to the next merchant armed with specific advice.
Is there anything challenging about growing so quickly?
Nick: We’re not some 20-year-old corporation. Things change all the time, which requires versatility and open-mindedness. On an individual basis, this can be a drawback: you may be gaining momentum in one area, but if the company sees a more pressing need, we might pull you off one project and drop you onto another. But we’re not operating from the top down; our leaders are not simply making declarations we must follow. Instead, we’re huddling, asking questions, and iterating until we agree on the best solutions.
Tell us which teams you collaborate with on a regular basis.
Nick: We work with a support team and activation team here in Phoenix, plus a remote content team. After we close a deal, the content team helps get the restaurant’s menu set up on our platform. Our support team then reaches out to the merchant to make sure they’re comfortable with the service before they’re officially added to the marketplace. Since these teams have grown up alongside us, they feel like family. No one’s afraid to knock on someone else’s door with a question.
How are you all compensated? How do commissions work, and what percentage of people are hitting quota?
Nick: Our team is paid based on the quality of the deals they close, which we judge based on three factors. The first is the quality of the restaurant. Obviously a better restaurant will do more orders on the platform, and those are the restaurants we want. Second, the quality of the deal terms — we take a commission on each order we generate for our restaurants, and we pay our sales team members more for favorable terms. The last piece is the quality of operations. We want our merchants to view DoorDash as a value-add and not an operational burden, so the sales team is incentivized to provide them with DoorDash tablets to streamline the flow of orders.
We try to target 80–90 percent of sales reps hitting or exceeding goal. If we dip below, that means we need to focus on training and development, or if everyone is hitting their goal, we need to set higher goals! Our compensation plans are uncapped and we have some people hitting 200–300 percent of goal.
What’s next for the team, and how do you expect team members to step up?
Marcus: Right now, our team and our work is centered around our core business: a marketplace for restaurants. But we’re expanding into alcohol and DoorDash Drive. Hopefully convenience stores and home goods, too. With that growth comes opportunities not just in individual contributor roles, but in management and leadership roles, too. Someone could shift to an outside sales role if they want to focus on other merchants, or they could lead a team. Both paths are wide open, and we’re growing fast. This is like Google in the early 2000s.