"It's all about how sales wants to solve sales problems"
Position: Director of Sales Operations at database company MongoDB
Home: Kenmore, Wash
Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration from Washington State
Family: Wife, Lindsay; daughter Kailyn (5) and son Kaden (2)
Career: Rose to Director of Sales Operations at Kaseya in his first tech job. Later was a Salesforce Project Manager at DocuSign and Sales Operations Manager at Simply Measured before joining MongoDB in April, 2015.
Honors: A five-time member of the Salesforce MVP Program for his work in the Salesforce Success Community
Favorite movie: “I love Star Wars and Star Trek,” he said. “But If I have to choose one movie, it’s “Saving Private Ryan.”
Favorite books: Robert Kiyosaki’s series of Rich Dad, Poor Dad books. “My wife can go through novels like crazy, but I tend to read for purpose,” Paquette said. “Those books have steered my life from a view of not spending your whole life trading time for dollars.”
Fun Fact: He and his wife are members of the Seattle Seahawks’ “12th Man” fan base as season-ticket holders. “I grew up watching the Seahawks as a kid back in the Steve Largent years,” Paquette said, referring to the Hall of Fame wide receiver. “So if you’re going to call me a bandwagon fan, at least it dates back to 1988.”
Interests: Family, photography, Seattle sports teams.
Today, Jason Paquette finds himself on the cutting edge of B2B sales operations. But this sure wasn’t the career path that he had originally expected to take.
“It’s not like I went to college thinking, ‘Man, it would be great to go into Sales Ops,’” he said, laughing. “I didn’t even know what that was.”
Instead, Paquette had intended to become an architect. And when that idea lasted about a semester at Washington State, he thought about turning his photography hobby into a profession. But a heart-to-heart with a professional photographer made him reconsider.
“He told me that there are a lot of starving artists who are very talented and yet can’t sell their way out of a paper bag,” Paquette recalled. “He told me to go get my business degree because if you can learn to sell, then you can do anything you want.”
That proved to be very good advice.
Paquette is now the Director of Sales Operations at MongoDB, a database company that is a member of The Billion Dollar Startup Club. He is also a five-time member of the Salesforce MVP Program and has the reputation as a leading practitioner of using technology to create sales structures that make reps more productive.
“He’s just a passionate guy who really does enjoy Sales Ops,” said Ryan Schwartz, Mongo DB’s senior director of marketing technology and strategy. “He has such a technical mind and really understands the Salesforce architecture. But more importantly, you want him as a colleague because you just know that he’s going to lead. Jason is very proactive about deciding what direction we should be going.”
And over the past six-and-a-half years since making the transition from being a sales rep and manager, Paquette has helped shape the growing role of Sales Operations in the SaaS world.
“It’s all about how sales wants to solve sales problems,” he said. “There are a lot of things that go into making salespeople successful. Because I carried the bag, I tend to look at things differently. Having that background of how sales actually works has really allowed me to think about the way the system should work for reps.”
Paquette probably was destined to work in technology because it always had been part of his life.
His father was a naval engineering officer who joined the tech startup community after leaving the service. So growing up in the Seattle area, Paquette would get his dad’s hand-me-down work computers. But there was a catch.
“When I got my first 286 12-megahertz computer, he said, ‘If you want this, figure out how to make it work,’” Paquette said. “If I wanted a sound card, my dad would only get it if I put it in. So I would tinker around with the computer.”
He also quickly grasped things like how using an Outlook calendar would make sure he didn’t forget homework assignments.
“I guess I learned early about how I could leverage technology,” he added. “I’ve always been intrigued about what it can do to make my life better. It was always: What can I get out of it?”
As a college freshman, though, Paquette was leaning toward an arts degree. That’s when he sought out Bruce Hudson, a local portrait photographer.
His suggestion: Think business first, then photography if you’re still interested. Hudson said he often gives the “starving artist” talk to young people who think buyers will flock to their studio just because they’re gifted photographers. Then he explains how hard it is to run a business.
Paquette got the message.
“I was just very impressed with him,” Hudson said. “I remember thinking that the kid is a genius. I don’t know if he ever had his IQ checked. But he’s definitely at that level. He’s really, really bright.”
Paquette turned his attention to earning a business degree. Then, after a couple years in the Enterprise Rent-a-Car Management Training Program, he jumped to tech as one of the original sales reps at the software company Kaseya.
He remembers how his introduction to the tech world was a “flying by the seat of our experience.” With no playbook to follow at a young company, Paquette and a colleague — who later became his manager — had to figure out how to structure deals on their own. He was a quick-learner. Paquette hit or surpassed his quota for eight consecutive quarters. But as their team grew, only a few other salespeople were having similar success. So, Paquette was promoted with the mandate of mentoring a new crop of reps.
“Getting them productive proved that the things a couple of us were doing to be successful were repeatable and not just dumb luck,” he said. “Eventually we realized that this was a full-time position. I had never heard of the job function until my boss said that he wanted me to be the head of our Sales Operations. But it was all about me training others about our process.”
Along the way, he also became an authority in Salesforce. Paquette applied the same philosophy he used as a youth figuring out computers: What can I learn to make things easier for me? And later he continued that cycle of learning and teaching with jobs at DocuSign and then Simply Measured.
“If you ask 50 people what sales operations means to them, you might get four dozen different answers,” he said. “There doesn’t seem to be one standard approach or definition. But I see it as a business analyst who can create a smart and repeatable process rather than just hoping that we hire smart people who are good at what they do.”
Paquette was happy at Simply Measured. But then Schwartz called him. They had been a good combination of Marketing Ops and Sales Ops at DocuSign. Schwartz, in effect, wanted to get the band back together now that he was at MongoDB. Paquette liked what he heard and now oversees a team that supports a sales organization of 140 people – and growing.
“Jason has been an awesome partner for us during that process,” Schwartz added. “He understands how sales can really take advantage of that integration of sales and marketing systems. He’s just a good guy who loves to talk about whatever he’s working on and the challenges he’s facing. That makes him a great fit at a company like ours where innovating is such a big part of the culture.”
Paquette, by the way, never gave up on photography.
He’s done some weddings for friends, family shoots and portraits of graduating seniors. He also likes photographing cityscapes, landmarks and nature scenes such as waterfalls.
“I never got to professional photography,” he said. But that, Paquette added, is OK. “I get to geek out on business technology and solving problems.”
About the Author
Mark Emmons is the staff writer at LeanData. He previously was a reporter at the San Jose Mercury News, Orange County Register and Detroit Free Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow on Twitter