A Strategic Sales Philosophy Enables Rapid Growth at Prove

Domain depth and product knowledge enables sales team to solve critical customer problems.
Written by Stephen Ostrowski
April 6, 2021Updated: April 22, 2021

A disciplined sales philosophy does not come at the expense of teamwork and a high-touch problem-solver approach, according to Michele O’Shaughnessy of Prove, the provider of phone-based identity and authentication solutions to the country’s largest banks and global enterprises.

“It all starts with building a solid team and collaboration,” O’Shaughnessy said. “That creates a spirit for the team to be able to share ideas, contacts and tactics.”

Since coming on board last summer as SVP of sales, O’Shaughnessy’s sought to establish a strategic approach for the growing sales organization as the NYC-based company looks to capitalize on a pivotal year: 2020 was a year of $100 million in new funding and the acquisition of a global authentication business from Early Warning. Today, O’Shaughnessy said the company continues to grow even faster, and profitably. Its latest acquisition of MEDICI Global, announced in March 2021, further strengthens its global growth roadmap.



O’Shaughnessy — who noted the sales team has quadrupled in size since she joined last August — is just one of several key hires made on the heels of those developments: Other additions included Enterprise Sales Director Jeremy Lazzara, who joined last fall; and Director of Strategic Accounts, MFA, Christabel Bugla, who joined earlier this year.

“We’ve already established our presence in the financial, insurance and banking space — but we’re looking at other digital service providers and internet companies that are making an increasing impact on people’s lives,” Lazzara said.

Below, Lazzara, O'Shaughnessy and Bugla shared how Prove looks to break into new opportunities while developing their sales team in the process.


In-Demand Tech

Prove rebranded last summer, retiring its former name, Payfone. In the corresponding announcement, Payfone said it had accrued more than 1,000 enterprise clients.


From a client perspective, what type of demand has the sales team seen?

OShaughnessy: With the identity and authentication market growing, the mobile phone number being so prevalent today and the natural shift of going online from a business perspective, that’s made client demand exponential. This has now opened up new opportunities for our sales team to target different verticals or businesses that might not have been online or been reliant on identifying their customers by a device, and specifically the phone number.

Lazzara: Utilizing the phone itself, and looking at it from the consumer flow of how a user in a digital environment today would onboard, it’s really important to understand, am I who I say I am today at signing up? And am I still that person when I’m interacting with said service down the road? Utilizing the phone number as that centric approach to verifying that person and then authenticating throughout the lifetime of that customer’s experience with a company is very important and has alluded to the demand we see today. 





What opportunities do they have to work with new or emerging technologies?

Bugla: I come from an ID verification space, where we worked with physical IDs and the acquisition of those data points to address authentication. But moving into Prove, where there’s an extension of additional services, most people are on their devices. They’re using their devices as their wallet. They’re using their device as a form of verification. Being able to expand the services we currently have allows our customers to branch out and not just cover the ID verification space, or the Know Your Customer (KYC) space; it kind of encompasses everything — fraud risk mitigation, ID verification and authentication.

Lazzara: I came from the document verification space. Requiring a user to take a photo of your driver’s license or passport certainly adds friction to the overall customer experience. One thing that really attracted me to Prove was that frictionless, passive authentication, which allows you to essentially find out who a person is behind their device using their phone number and not even requiring the user to input any or take any further action for this.

OShaughnessy: What also gets the team excited is hearing about some of our roadmap opportunities and being able to communicate that with our current customers, as well as prospects, to see what’s next on the horizon. Right now we’re doing identification by your phone number and additional components on how we service use cases — but we’re always looking where the puck’s going. 


I think we can be an educator to our customers.”


How do you think the organization sets new team members on the sales team up for success?

OShaughnessy: We do continuing education and training at least every month. New hires in our group are also assigned an onboard buddy, their go-to for anything they would need. At least once a week, for your first 3-6 months here, we also have sales buddy meetings about certain topics held by one of our internal industry experts.

Lazzara: I find that the 30-, 60-, 90-day plan that Michele and her team put together as a great way for a newcomer to set themselves up for success. For example, in your first 30 days, your goals might be introducing yourself to stakeholders and key team members; understanding the products, use cases and value drivers. Also, moving into activity goals, like building a pipeline and closing your first deal.

Bugla: From a high level, it really starts with having a solid leadership team. Recognizing their true values, having trust, dedication and a good skill set with the employees whom they bring aboard to showcase their abilities and talents to achieve a common goal. I like to throw around “one team, one purpose” — but that’s really what it’s like here. 


The Sweet Stuff

Quarterly competitions that recognize pipeline building and closing deals with spiffs are just one way sellers are recognized at the company. Newly introduced this year is a President’s Club to reward top performers. “I felt it important to have team members be excited about an annual goal as well as small goals as you onboard,” O’Shaughnessy said.


What are the growth opportunities and development opportunities for members on the sales team?

OShaughnessy: I think that our recent expansion, and the growth we’re seeing right now, will offer up additional opportunities within sales and leadership. I’m looking to meet with the team on an ongoing basis to see where their interests lie for career-pathing, as well. Prove also offers a lot of other opportunities — not just the traditional sales growth — for career advancement, such as speaking opportunities, webinars and blog writing.

Lazzara: There are still a lot of unknowns today around mitigating fraud, reducing risk with onboarding and ensuring individuals are who they say they are. I think we can be an educator to our customers. There are opportunities to speak as an expert and to share some of the knowledge that we’ve gained as these customers are looking for us to help guide them.


I throw around ‘one team, one purpose’ — but that’s really what it is here.”


What excites you most about the future of sales at Prove?

Bugla: I’ve observed that Prove gives employees the autonomy to really own their role as if it's our own business — and, subsequently, drive success, opportunities and expand deeper into the market.

Lazzara: Thinking about new use cases and new areas to add value is what gets me up in the morning. Who else can utilize Prove? Who else can see value with Prove?

OShaughnessy: As a leader, what’s really exciting for me is being surrounded by a dynamic team. I’m eager to see each one of these sales team members, and our extended sales team, exceed their goals.


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