Mark Cranney, Former Chief Operating Officer at SkyDio, On Making the Most of Your Time
Mark Cranney grew up a farmer/cowboy – and he’s the first to dispel the romantic notion of that life. Raised on a 20,000-acre farm in Southern Idaho, he learned firsthand about hard work. “You walked out the door and were working: Feeding the horses and cows, cleaning out stalls, irrigating crops, killing weeds, spreading fertilizer, driving tractors.”
Not only did Mark learn what it takes to lay the groundwork and reap the fruits of your labor, he learned that time is the great equalizer. “Every farmer has the same amount of time. It’s what you do with it that matters.”
Mark carried that insight into the three sports he played in high school and into sales. “There’s a clock and a scoreboard. Every day you compete and are measured. It’s a lot like growing a crop and being rewarded for your work. You have a season to do it.”
Start-ups often fail to bring in a sales pro early enough. They need a leader who can put together the right playbook.
In his first sales role, Mark sold copiers for Harris 3M – and harnessed his work ethic to stand out. Sales reps that made 100 calls a week got 10 demos and two sales. “I decided to do 300 calls per week and get 30 demos and eight sales. I broke every office and district record.” Within a year, Mark was promoted to sales manager.
After selling medical devices for a Fortune 500 and then a start-up and being promoted repeatedly, Mark joined PTC as a second-line manager. There he learned the value of a rigorous process in enterprise software. “PTC had a granular system for sales success.”
Mark moved up to SVP America for PTC and then moved on to build and lead worldwide field operations at Opsware. The result was a new market category and $1.65-billion acquisition by Hewlett-Packard.
He left HP after 18 months two years of sales leadership to join Andreessen Horowitz as an Entrepreneur in Residence and Operating Partner. During his nearly seven years there, he helped portfolio companies establish a GTMsales foundation. “Start-ups often fail to bring in a sales pro early enough. They need a leader who can put together the right playbook.”
His time at the fabled VC firm led him to the Chief Operating Officer (COO) role at SignalFx, acquired by Splunk for $1.05 billion. Now as COO for Skydio, the world leader in autonomous flight, Mark leads all operations, including go-to-market. “A lot of people think go-to-market is communicating value but it’s about creating it and building the ROI business case.”
Mark’s other keys to success include:
- Investing in sales. Since high yield per rep is key, Mark invests in the process, tools, training and ongoing development that help reps succeed.
- Timing the go-to-market motion. Mark doubles down on nailing product/market fit and then going to market to gather continual feedback from prospects and customers.
- Qualifying along the value chain. Mark encourages his sales teams to avoid deal risk by understanding objectives for each key persona.