Marketing & sales are slowly and steadily transforming. A job that involves a lot of manual work from marketing efforts to cold calls, today, can simply be automated using AI. However, this MobileAppDaily is more focused on understanding the plight of SDRs (sales development representatives) and about a company that has a promising solution.

In this MobileAppDaily interview, we will be talking to Sandeep John. Sandeep is the director at Outplay and has been recognized as a top revenue market by Demandbase. He has been successful in building brand-scale teams and has been driving significant growth in his career.

Therefore without any wait, let’s start the interview…

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1) As per your LinkedIn bio, you are into multiple things such as marketing, sales, singing, music, theatre, and even men’s mental health. How did you get into this and how is it going?

Principally, I love trying out different things. I essentially started my career as an SDR (sales development representative), however, I’ve always been a creative person. So, the music and theatre, and all this stuff became my calling.

Talking about men’s mental health, well, it is a topic that I am very vocal about. I feel that in India, we should be talking more about this topic.

2) With 20 years of experience in sales and marketing, you are currently heading demand generation at Outplay. Can you tell us a little bit about your role?

In one line, my job would be to generate a pipeline for the sales team. There are different channels at my disposal that I use for paid and organic marketing campaigns. I make sure along with the team of SDRs that all the tactics strategized drive brand awareness. My task is to get people excited and interested in what Outplay is and how we do, what we do for the companies.

3) Can you tell us a little bit about what Outplay does?

Essentially, we are a sales engagement platform. A platform that is determined to make the life of salespeople easy. We try to automate all the daily tasks for sales and allow salespeople to personalize the tool, wherever, they can.

See, as a salesperson, you would like to have a lot more conversations. Our platform helps you book a lot more meetings. It builds out a sequence of steps. The sales process is already hard considering it is difficult to sell. What we try to do is make the process simple by personalization at scale and doing everything that allows the user to book meetings faster.

4) Can you tell us about the transition in sales and revenue generation keeping your two-decade experience in mind? Also, what new approaches you have tried and applied on Outplay?

Previously, sales were pure rigor. You were making 100 emails, 200 phone calls, and doing X number of meetings. Right now, I believe sales have become more creative, it has become more scientific.

Today, salespeople think of upgrading their skills, they think about how they are getting the message across, and they think about how their message will be different than the other 10 or 12 people emailing.

I think the big things have evolved especially in the world of marketing in the SaaS world. A world that is very content heavy and it continues to become so. Now, marketing is also tied to revenue. Marketing was previously about traffic and signups. Also, I feel the technology used, has changed. I mean everyone’s favorite topic or hashtag on social media would be AI. Today, if you are not using AI, you are not using the power of technology.

I feel marketers need to quickly figure out whether they’ll lose their job because of AI or if they don’t use AI then they will lose it. We’ve come to the point where we need to leverage the power of technology because every day some fellow is launching some new product that can be AI-friendly.

I think being a marketer, you need to be curious. It's not limited to the number of sign-ups. Now, you are responsible for the revenue generation through the pipeline. Therefore, it is essential to start wearing this hat. I believe that the world is changing and continues to do so, similarly, both sales and marketing have changed today.

5) What do you think about the role of AI in transforming sales and marketing? Also, do you have a favorite tool that includes this process?

I think it helps both in sales and marketing. In fact, there are several use cases where it is pretty useful. For instance, if you need to send a message for a new industry. It is highly likely that you won’t have all the information or material from the marketing team. The easiest way to do so would be to use ChatGPT and ask the tool to tell a little bit about the industry. Tell you more about the personas.

Using AI tools would be the fastest way to learn about any industry. In fact, you can even ask about the key problems and challenges that a persona is trying to solve. I think these tools can be used to the extent of research. If not more, salespeople are using it for creating email templates but you shouldn’t be copying and pasting stuff.

It would be better to use them for building something. At least use a structure or ask the tool for the best structure for a cold email outreach for a particular size of company. Use a framework to build something on the content side and figure out how to use the tools for creating effective content. For instance, if you use CopyMatic for the initial draft, make sure to fine-tune it. These tools can be used to reduce much time required. Instead of creating something from scratch, you can use components from it to form something new.

6) Social media is more B2C! Considering you are a content creator and always connected to social media, how do you think social media and content creation can help in B2B sales?

Right now, people expect a B2C experience from B2B. This is the reason B2B companies are trying to learn from B2C and come up with the most creative advertisements.

If you look at B2B then you will see the change. We are so used to immediate answers that even in B2B, you can not expect to give an answer a week later. Right now, you need to build a system a chat ecosystem that responds right away. Considering, that the majority of these chat ecosystems are based on B2C, it further translates to B2B as well as they used the same systems.

I think the same applies to social media. The way B2B brands position themselves, I think all the learning comes from new-age customers who do not want to wait. This is the reason B2B really needs to work.

7) Do you believe that Instagram can be a transformative tool for B2B marketers?

Well, the efficacy of a platform from the perspective of delivering depends primarily on the target audience and the type of product, you are selling. At Outplay, we do have an Instagram page but we hardly see any traction. The majority of traction that we get is from LinkedIn. For me, Instagram is another channel.

I think picking the right social media channels be it Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, or TikTok completely depends on the target audience. For instance, I know for a fact that there are so many channels on TikTok that address the community, especially in the U.S. while we don’t really need it. In the end, it only depends on whom you are selling and what is your product.

8) Which one is your preferred social media platform for Outplay?

See, our platform primarily revolves around businesses, therefore, LinkedIn has been the most preferred social media platform for Outplay.

9) When every B2C brand tries to humanize itself, is it necessary for a B2B company with products such as yours to follow the same path?

It’s a really good question. I think when it comes to brand identity, it solely depends on what your brand stands for. I believe ultimately, if you have a great product, you have great sales. If we have a bad product then nobody is going to buy it.

Brands need humanization to convey that they are not just a corporation. It is a real company trying to solve real problems and trying to solve your problems. One of the things for an association is the way you promote yourself on social. In fact, at Outplay, we base our campaign on one of the groups. We typically target our SDRs with early-stage salespeople and we do our content and promotions to help them. We recently launched something called a “Call of Fame”. In that, we have basically recorded cold calls. We have a library of 35-odd calls from different people for reference. In fact, people can go listen to them on Spotify now. We are saying that listen to these calls and get better at cold calling. Use it for your training in your team. The idea is to get that person to say to their boss that we checked out Outplay’s library may be we should check out the tool sometime.

The intention, we had was not about will I get more leads. The idea is to make SDR people successful and tie our identity to it. Our aim is to make the selling process easy and Outplay helps in that process. I think it's vital for brands to become more and more human, especially in the age of AI. After a point, you won’t even know who’s sending what messages. Is it a bot talking to me or is it a human? I think it is important for humans to know who’s on the other side because people like to buy from people.

10) Today, there are thousands of sales automation tools and platforms. How can a sales engagement platform ensure to have a competitive advantage in the marketplace?

Today, there are 1206 sales tech tools in 49 different categories making it a crowded market. It is literally a market where everyone is trying to get a little bit from each other. We are constantly solving problems like how can I make sales better or whether there is a tool like ours or any other tool that is solving the same problem.

A sales engagement platform and not just Outlpay but everything else in this particular space is a must-have tool. Companies today have some kind of CRM (customer relationship management) tool be it Salesforce, Fresh Sales, or Zoho CRM.

The major role of a CRM is to capture information such as your name, address, and all that data. Now, I know what kind of lead came from all that Jazz. I now have a sales engagement platform telling you that I have this client’s details. I can now reach out to the client, give a call on day one, an email on day two, and on day 3, I will put a LinkedIn prospect.

A sales engagement system will tell the salesperson in the morning that he/she has 50 tasks in the morning. It will tell you all about the different tasks you have to do. A system such as this helps you call people, build a network, and make LinkedIn connections. Therefore, a sales engagement platform is a must-have tool in a crowded marketplace of 1200 tools.

11) You have proudly said that you failed as an entrepreneur. Tell us about that phase and what you learned from it.

It was an absolute failure, a complete bomb with bad planning, bad execution, and bad distribution. The only lesson I learned is that amongst all the other stuff, entrepreneurship is not for me.

For future entrepreneurs, I would say figure out the distribution first and how you are going to build the world’s greatest product. Think about the problem you are going the solve. Don’t be satisfied with a particular solution even if you believe this is the right way to do it.

I think the benefit of being in this SaaS world is that you can create an MVP version and put it out in the market to test and get feedback. It is very difficult being a founder in the SaaS world to alienate yourself some time and be critical about what you’ve built. Only after overcoming this, you will be successful.

I generally think the bigger lesson for me is that if you don’t figure out a good distribution channel and how you want to put the word out, you will fail. This would happen even if you have the best product in the world. So that’s my learning and will I ever do entrepreneurship again, well that is a larger question.

Want to further connect with Sandeep John and learn more from this journey, Check out his LinkedIn. Want to get notified on similar interviews, subscribe to MobileAppDaily. To read similar interviews such as this, click here.


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