WEBINAR

How G2, Gong, and SalesLoft Help Their Sales Teams Sell

The Transcript

Don Addington:

… introductions for the panel here. Really, the goal of getting everybody together and wanted to thank the gentlemen that are joining me here for joining me. But the goal of getting us all together is to really have a good chat around how each of us are looking at the world today from a sales perspective and helping our sellers sell and sharing that with the rest of you all.

Don Addington:

You put four sales leaders on a Zoom session together, and either this thing’s could go all over the map, or, one of us is going to recruit one another or the call doesn’t end until somebody buys...

Don Addington:

… introductions for the panel here. Really, the goal of getting everybody together and wanted to thank the gentlemen that are joining me here for joining me. But the goal of getting us all together is to really have a good chat around how each of us are looking at the world today from a sales perspective and helping our sellers sell and sharing that with the rest of you all.

Don Addington:

You put four sales leaders on a Zoom session together, and either this thing’s could go all over the map, or, one of us is going to recruit one another or the call doesn’t end until somebody buys something. We’ll see. Stay tuned. Let me pop up one of just a couple of slides that we’re going to have here while we go through introductions. I’ll share my screen out and then we’ll dive right into things.

Don Addington:

There we go. Okay, you’ve got today, a group of us from G2, Gong, SalesLoft, and Tackle. As I said, we’re going to be getting together to really talk about how we’re helping our team sell. I think that conversation really has the opportunity to go in a lot of different directions. So, we’re going to try to keep it relatively informal and unscripted here, and go through a lot of what each of us has learned as we’ve helped to build our current organizations, but also what we bring to the plate from the past.

Don Addington:

I’ll start out with a quick introduction for myself. I’m Don Addington, CRO for Tackle. Tackle is a company that helps other software companies get their software listed, and start selling and driving revenue through the cloud marketplaces like AWS, Azure and GCP. I’ve been with tackle now for a little over a year and a half. In that time, we’ve grown from seven employees to about 60, from about 10 customers up to 200. Recently took our A round from Bessemer. We’ll talk a little bit about life cycle and what role that plays in our jobs and in our roles as revenue leaders in our companies. But wanted to take the opportunity to hand off. Steve, if you want to give a quick introduction about yourself and SalesLoft.

Steve Goldberg:

The most important part is the New England Patriots fan on the bottom I see here. But Steve Goldberg, Chief Revenue Officer at SalesLoft, and I’ve been here for about five months, and really what we do is we help orchestrate all the activities around a customer to help drive pipeline operational efficiency, customer success, and especially in times like this where we’re really seeing a generational shift in terms of how we work and how we interact with our customers and how inside sales teams we’re using the camaraderie of an office, and our outside and outside sales teams, we’re used to the relationship building with the customer, and now, forced to change.

Steve Goldberg:

The business process and the workflows and the interaction between that first time manager and the salesperson and the customer is so important and we help orchestrate all that. I’m looking forward to being here.

Don Addington:

Awesome. Thanks for being here, Steve. Ryan.

Ryan Longfield:

Hi, everyone, my name is Ryan Longfield. I’m the Chief Revenue Officer at Gong, and I’ve been at Gong for a couple of years now, two years and a month. Before this, I did 10 years at LinkedIn and grew through the sales ranks there and then joined Gong when it was a Series A company and have had a fun couple of years with Gong.

Ryan Longfield:

If you’re not familiar with Gong, what Gong does is provides visibility into what’s truly happening in your frontline sales conversations. Historically, those frontline conversations have been a black box, it’s really hard to get access to what’s truly happening in those conversations. What Gong does is gives you a detailed perspective on what’s happening in those conversations to enable you to execute better, to help your reps be better, to help you make better strategic decision making around your go to market strategy. But the whole premise is you absolutely need to know what’s going on in those frontline conversations if you’re going to make a decision as to the company.” So, great being with you. As it says at the bottom here, married, two wonderful girls six and eight. It’s been interesting doing homeschooling. I’m officially the PE teacher in my part-time. I like good fun. Thanks for having me.

Don Addington:

Truth to the rumor, that picture was snapped on the day you got your latest funding round?

Ryan Longfield:

The ear to ear smile here?

Don Addington:

All right. Thanks, Ryan. We’re happy to have you here. Mike.

Mike Weir:

Afternoon, everybody. I’m Mike Weir, I’m the CIO at G2. Been here for three months now. However, I’ve been affiliated with G2 for a while, even while I was working at LinkedIn, I had been an advisor to G2 and helped as the company was being built out. Very excited to be here because G2 was born out of somewhat frustration, and really knowing how difficult it is to make extremely important decisions; what software are you going to be running for your business, and knowing that that is a difficult process to get real perspectives from other folks using that technology.

Mike Weir:

G2 was created to help really empower all of the voices of the crowd, to learn from peers, learn from other experts, so that you make highly informed business decisions. Just excited to be here and talk a little bit about how we’re evolving the sales organization and helping.

Don Addington:

Cool, thanks, Mike. Appreciate you joining as well. That’s it for the slideshow. We should be able to have a nice, relaxed conversation here. Let me get you guys all on the appropriate screen so I can look at who I’m talking to, that’s always helpful.

Don Addington:

In the prep for this, we were talking about a couple of pretty interesting things, and one of the things that I thought was super interesting is that, each one of us are in a space, and at a company right now that even five to seven years ago, we could all have been considered somewhat novelties. What is that, or do I need that? Today, we’re all considered pretty much de facto.

Don Addington:

Tackle might be the lesser known of the four organizations, but we’re seeing software companies really charged towards marketplace as a faster path to distribution and fulfillment these days as it’s getting harder and harder to buy software. But that interesting arc there is, we’re all in the business of helping sellers sell, and pretty overtly sell. We want to help sellers sell software, and our companies are all geared around that.

Don Addington:

But before we can get to that, Ryan’s two years, I’m a year and a half in, Mike and Steve, less than five months in. We’re all relatively new, maybe by the statistics, Ryan and I are almost reaching our expiration date, if you look at the historicals on how long a CRO lasts. But it still feels pretty new.

Don Addington:

Before we get to the de facto, and executing on the game plan, I thought we talked a little bit about laying the foundation. Mike and Ryan both came from LinkedIn, eight, nine, almost 10 years there. Then jumping into organizations at a different part in the lifecycle. I thought each one of us probably have something interesting to say about that process of coming in and laying the foundation. Maybe, Steve, you’re, I think, earliest in, or Steve or Mike, you guys can battle it out. But maybe Steve, you can kick us off with that early foundation lane, and what that looks like for you.

Steve Goldberg:

Yeah, absolutely. Mike, I think I beat you by a month, I think, about five months. What I typically do, when you come into an organization, I always read this book called The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins, every time I switch a new role, because what it really does it helps you understand the current situation the company is in. Are they a startup, are they a turnaround? Is it sustaining growth?

Steve Goldberg:

Really, understand the situation, and what you do is you really layout five questions that you go across the organization, you ask everyone the same five questions. Not everyone… We have 500 people at our company, but you select a few across different functions, and then you start to get an assessment of the current situation, and then build your plan from there.

Steve Goldberg:

What I found was the company, SalesLoft has grown so much. My background was I was at Salesforce for about 10 years, and I was in the space for a while and I saw the growth. Then leaving an organization you’re with in the middle of a pandemic, and coming to a new organization, and having to explain it to your wife is very, very interesting.

Steve Goldberg:

But I saw the value prop, where the value prop was going, I was even more relevant at this point, and the company was grown so much. When something like COVID hits, you open your eyes a little bit to start to see maybe where some of the gaps were.

Steve Goldberg:

What we really focused on was putting in a really operational foundation in place around forecasting, around looking at our customer base, because your customer base becomes so important, and I get to surround your customer. Looking at the way we would engage with our customers, and really start to lay down the metrics that we’re going to drive customer success and adoption, drive growth and start to look at what we can do to combine those two to get a good look at the business and then build a cadence like the types of meetings you have, the meetings you have, the effectiveness of the meetings you have. Really, put a game plan in place, and I’m pretty disciplined about it.

Steve Goldberg:

Because once you lay the foundation down, then you can start to make business decisions based on data. After five months, I feel like we’re foundationally in a good spot to now really started to figure out where to point the arrow.

Don Addington:

Yeah, I think it’s interesting to come in… You’re like D round, E round, something that you guys are relatively far down the path, right? Contrasting that with, maybe Ryan, you came in to Gong and I think they were A round a little bit, a little bit smaller. It’s funny for me to think about you guys as small now, because you’re on fire, and seem to be everywhere. We’re happy Gong users, and it seems like everybody that I know is.

Don Addington:

Maybe talk a little bit about what that looked like for you. You just jumped out of 10 years and LinkedIn and all of a sudden, boom, you’re in this Series A startup. How did that go in terms of getting your foundation in place?

Ryan Longfield:

Yeah, absolutely. Even the arc at LinkedIn was an interesting one, when you think about the journey of the company, I joined in January 2009, and we came in and passive candidate recruiting. The idea that the best candidates aren’t looking for work actively. So, you need to get on LinkedIn and find those candidates. It feels like such an obvious thing now. That was a new and novel idea back in 2009. It was like, “Oh, wow, corporations can do this? You don’t need to be a headhunter to do that?

Ryan Longfield:

The company was only 300 people. That was new and novel then. I think for all of the companies that are represented here, there is a sense of bringing in new idea along with the company that we’re also selling a product for. I think, when into Gong, I harkened back to my early LinkedIn days. One of the things that I became very passionate about both at LinkedIn and then reinforced at Gong, is this idea of being completely immersed and centered around what’s going on with your buyer, and what environment you’re selling into.

Ryan Longfield:

I think what sometimes people miss is that they think about strategy in too static of a way. Your strategy is the right approach. But it’s the right approach based upon the context that you’re in at that moment. I think that one of the things that’s really interesting about leading in the dynamic environments that we’re living in right now, I think we all know that things in the world are changing crazy fast, and you hear that cliche all the time, but it’s only speeding up, and we’re living through that as a moment right now.

Ryan Longfield:

If your environment is shifting around all the time, then your shadows you needs to adjust to. The whole sense that you come in and set your strategy and then you’re good. Is like that’s completely not true, you need to reassess every element of your go to market strategy pretty quickly. If you think about just a simple example of how that would work, When your talent profile is one thing that you need to figure out what kind of people are you hiring early on?

Ryan Longfield:

For us, we are hiring very inspirational sellers, who could communicate an idea that was new and novel and challenge people to change the way they thought about something. Something I’ve been asking myself lately is now that Gong is more mature, and the idea of revenue intelligence is more mature, and it’s more widespread, do I change my talent profile? Do I still need that same type of talent profile now that my buyer is coming in, in a dramatically different place than they were early on?

Ryan Longfield:

That same principle of a dynamic strategy, that’s shifting all the time is something that a sales leaders is going to really need to keep in mind, and just refresh that constantly because it goes stale so fast? I think another one of the themes that we talked about as a group before this, was just, How do you stay in tune with what’s going on in your market in real time?

Ryan Longfield:

As things get busy, as you’re building through hyperscale, and you just get caught up in all the day-to-day of the business, how do you maintain rhythm… I’m sorry, you’re able to step back and go? Am I selling in the same environment as I was six months ago. It needs to dramatically change. I think it’s very different now than it was, two years ago when I started in the foundation building phase.

Don Addington:

Yeah, and keeping your finger on the pulse of, as the value proposition is bound to change at some point in time. Keeping current with that messaging. I think current environment of the pandemic and all that, the tendency is to lean into, “Ho, how can we help? How can we do that?” The value prop will shift on its own, and it’s finding your way to naturally fit into that and not unnaturally push it. I want to come back to this idea of people though, because you started to talk about people and the right people and building the right teams. Steve was talking a little bit about that as we were chatting the other day.

Don Addington:

But I thought I’d throw it to Mike, in terms of, hey, as you came into G2, again, relatively mature organization. But like Ryan, and Steve were talking about, figuring out, hey, what is that foundation that [inaudible 00:15:14] come and get an assessment of the organization? The people that really plays into that. Maybe talk about your approaches as you came in and how you thought about, the team you’ve got, the team you need, and how you get to where you need to be.

Mike Weir:

Yes, it’s a great question, and I apologize, my internet here is wavering a bit. Hopefully, I stay with you. When I joined… One of the most important things for me, as I heard Steve and Ryan share as well was being very cognizant that there was so much going right with G2. There was a really strong foundation. One of the cautionary tales is trying to come in and institute too much without learning first. That’s been a core principle and focus for myself, that’s been a core ask of my team is, I’m going to be in listening mode, I’m going to be asking a lot of questions, I’m going to be joining customer calls, I’m going to be joining partnership calls, and I just want to learn and absorb all the goodness to ultimately find out what’s been working exceptionally well so that if there are really great ideas that just haven’t gotten enough light and attention, I want to raise those to the surface, to get those more potential to scale and create leverage for the business.

Mike Weir:

I also want to empower what’s working exceptionally well, just to double down on the success. So that we just maintain the momentum, while really thinking about the long term. That is where Ryan, I really appreciated your focus of, what’s worked today from a talent profile, from a go to market strategy, may not be exactly what we need in 12 months, because we do have aspirations to continue growing very rapidly. We’re going to be helping clients in very different ways, 12 months from now, and there’s going to be new skills, there’s going to be new knowledge that has to be created within the organization.

Mike Weir:

We’re looking at what is the culture add that we can create right now, that brings in additional skill sets, additional expertise, to help coach and develop everybody that exists in the organization today, that’s doing a phenomenal job, to learn new things and to be ready for what’s next, before it’s a common conversation with clients. That’s where we put a big emphasis right now on our sales enablement strategy, planning ahead for that skill, knowledge and acumen the team’s going to need 12 months from now.

Don Addington:

Yeah. Cool. I want to… You brought up culture in there a little bit, and that thread is tied through. Steve mentioned the other day, excuse me, as you were coming into SalesOp, each of us, we’ve all been around, we’ve all managed teams here. When you move to someplace new, your first thought is, let me get my team with me, right? Let’s get the gang back together. Sometimes, that gang isn’t the right gang for the place you’re going to be, and sometimes you don’t know that for a little bit, right?

Don Addington:

We all play pretty critical roles in establishing the culture. Culture is established by a number of different variables, and one can be the people you bring along, and that profile that you’re hired for. It’s interesting because I started employee number seven, we didn’t have an ironclad, this is the Tackle culture, we’re building our DNA still. You guys each step in to different situations where it’s both probably instilled a culture that you want to and that you believe is going to be necessary to drive it forward. But also don’t upset what’s there.

Don Addington:

Steve, maybe you want to talk a little bit about, as you were sharing the story the other day, coming in, and not falling into that mentality of just, I’m bringing the gang.

Steve Goldberg:

Yeah, it’s tough. One of the things… Culture is what drew me to SalesLoft, because it was such an emphasis on culture. When you think about what your culture is, and you define what it is, then you design an interview process around that. What we’ve done is we’ve really instilled that interview process around the way we walk through the profile of the employee, whether that’s in a sales capacity, whether that’s in a customer success capacity, customer support, product development, all the way through, and you define that, but then you build an interview process and design an interview process around that.

Steve Goldberg:

It really starts with core values. What are the core values of the company and ensuring that you’re asking questions that align to those core values to pull that out. It’s designed as a way that, because you may have worked with somebody in one place, doesn’t mean you can just bring them in because we want to align to the right culture.

Steve Goldberg:

We also have, as we align around our core values, we also align what we call a top grade interview process, which is a process that you tag team with somebody, and they may not necessarily be in the same group that you’re in, or department, and you ask a series of questions walking backwards from… You can go as deep as, when they were 10 years old, all the way through college, and you look at the decisions that they made over time, and as you start to get into the business decisions, you tell the story, and it really starts to… Because you can start to understand how somebody would fit into your culture.

Steve Goldberg:

Culture is so foundational, because as companies like ours scale, and we’re going to grow, we’re all growing, the market’s growing, we’re going to grow with it. But if you stray from that culture, and that process, it’s going to… You’re going to be creating problems that trinkle in over time. What we do is really align to that process, and nobody can go around it. It’s just critical to the DNA.

Steve Goldberg:

Then you got to start to look at the profile. I think, Ryan, I liked what you were saying was, you have to spend… A lot of what’s on our mind right now is like, what is the profile you’re hiring into? You’re looking at productivity metrics around that, what are the profiles you’re measuring into, from where you’re going, not where you are today?

Steve Goldberg:

It’s an art and a science, and data has got to lead the way. But it’s something that we had the process in place to make sure you do align to that.

Don Addington:

Yeah. I think Gong’s got a pretty recognizable and marketable culture, right? You’re very upfront with how you approach the market, how you approach your jobs. You guys have done a very good job being out in front with that. How much has that evolved over time, Ryan, for you in early days of hiring, when you’re just trying to figure out maybe what that profile is, to, okay, now, we’re much more mature, larger pool of candidates, we can hunt through and pick the right profiles. That’s always been an interesting arc for me, maybe you can chat a little bit through that.

Ryan Longfield:

Yeah, on the culture front, I think over the course of the years, actually, both at LinkedIn, and at Gong now, 10 years in and two years in, respectively, I didn’t feel like the culture changed all that much over the maturity of the company. I think the reason for that is, I think I used to think about culture as very specific, like norms and attributes. My thinking has evolved on this over time where I think culture done right at a company, it’s almost like broad guardrails. Within that, you welcome a huge variety of individuals and a lot of diversity within that.

Ryan Longfield:

An example would be at Gong, one of ours is enjoy the ride. We want people that are going to work their ass off and are super serious about accomplishing exceptional results and get things done. But man, if you’re not having a great time while you’re doing that, something is wrong. I think most people, if they’re encouraged to do that in their environment, where that doesn’t exist, it’s not because the people don’t want to operate like that, it’s usually because they can’t feel like they can operate like that. But it’s a very broad principle, and within that, there’s a bunch of expressions of what that can look like.

Ryan Longfield:

Another one for us, back in the LinkedIn days was integrity. It’s like, man, integrity is like, make sure that you’re doing the right things when nobody’s looking and make sure that you’re living in a way that if everybody knew exactly what you were doing, you’d do the same thing. That’s again, that’s very broad. It doesn’t pigeonhole anybody in and I think when you do that, and you set your culture that way, one, it welcomes in a broad array of diversity, which is super important for a winning team to have, but it also doesn’t require you to change it over time. It actually enables you to have something anchored for the long haul as you go forward.

Don Addington:

I think a great book on the subject, and I’m sure you guys have read it, but Culture Code is an awesome book on the subject with a lot of pretty cool ideas around just the patterns that exist amongst high performing organizations, no matter the domain. Sometimes we spend a lot of time thinking about, as we were building Tackle here.

Don Addington:

I want to maybe shift a conversation towards getting down to the business of selling and enabling our teams and making it easy for our teams to do what they do. I think one way to do that is to actually think about the buy side of the equation and making it easy for our buyers to interact with us until ultimately, understand our value proposition, but also, at the end of the day, acquire our software, make that an easier process.

Don Addington:

That’s something that is, again, becoming de facto, is you’ve got to be available. It’s not good enough anymore to just have the right solution. It’s, can your buyer actually buy, and are you making it easier for them to do that? From a Tackle perspective, we leverage marketplaces and marketplaces leverage existing agreements that buyers have in place with big cloud hyperscale providers like AWS, GCP, Azure, things like that.

Don Addington:

I’m interested in maybe some of the thoughts you guys have, and whoever wants to jump in first on this, I don’t want to put anybody on the hot seat, but just what are some of the collections of things that you’re doing to the first step, make it easier for buyers to interact with you and to ultimately do business with you?

Mike Weir:

I’m happy to jump in with a couple of immediate thoughts. From our side of the house, we’re drinking our own champagne. We are listening to authentic customer voice, the real opinions that are coming through our platform and other places, and we’re instituting… Well, some of this has already been here before I joined and I’m adding to it, being a participant within it.

Mike Weir:

Seeing those reviews come through, seeing those opinions come through, and then pairing that with our internal voice. We have some internal processes where we sit down and talk through lost deal analysis, won deal analysis and try to get to the core across different types of clients we’re serving, what is our fit, and what’s the delta between what our perception is, what we think we’re saying, what we think the value is, and how our clients are actually using us in the SMB, or the mid-market or the enterprise across Europe, across Asia Pacific?

Mike Weir:

Trying to get to that harsh reality of where we have breakpoints in our customer service, in our engagement process, so that we can start shoring up what is the real value we’re providing, and where do we have to make process changes? Where can we create more automation to be more visible and easier to do business with for customers that we’ve isolated some pain points? Joining in, setting up your MyG2 account and having that as your central place to build out your profile and your presence.

Mike Weir:

Finding some issues in that process and creating some fixes for it. Some of that came from our lost deal analysis, where we looked back at client feedback as they were leaving the business and saying, here’s a problem. We saw it in aggregate and we fixed it.

Ryan Longfield:

I think the thing that’s interesting about this particular panel, is if I think about Steve’s world at SalesLoft, there’s so many signals from that solution that are coming back to you as an organization that are invaluable. You send a bunch of messages out, or you make a bunch of calls, and there’s certain messaging behind it. You know what messaging is landing and what isn’t.

Ryan Longfield:

It’s a real time dynamic signal from your market about what do they want to hear about? What do they care about right now? Are they responding to that thing? You think about G2, it’s real opinions from people using software about what’s going on, as they experience that software. That’s invaluable as the feedback loop in determining what’s going on in real time in your market.

Ryan Longfield:

At Gong, of course, understanding the sales conversations as they exist, all your salespeople are going out to your market with something specific and either they’re resonating with aspects and they’re not with others. There’s so much information flow that we can have now that it’s not so much do we have the data, do we have access to the data? It’s what the hell do we do with all this data? I think that is one of the most challenging things about the job these days is that that has shifted. This hasn’t always been the case, and especially in the sales world, is before we were fighting for the right data. It was like, do you really just rely on CRM notes? Is that what we’re doing? It doesn’t feel like a good idea, but there’s no better alternative.

Ryan Longfield:

I think the one thing it’s represented from the panel today really well is that, now, we have access to really high quality data now that can tell us a whole bunch about what’s working and what’s not. What’s going on in our buyers’ heads. Where we’re winning and losing. I think of developing a really good, solid mechanism for utilizing all that data and bringing it together in a way where you get a signal is a huge part of the job these days. I think because of busyness, oftentimes we let a poor version of that exist in our organization.

Steve Goldberg:

That was really well articulated. There’s so much data out there that give you signals. When you see the signals, what do you do about it, and how do you read them? What are the blind spots? What I like to look at and what we look at is the customer, and customer success, and focusing on the customer, and looking at the data that you get from your customers and how they interact with your product and utilization metrics, and what you can do to continually improve driving adoption and customer success within your customer organization is so critical, it’s always critical, and it’s so important to really drive that adoption, and just continue to help them get the value that they expected.

Steve Goldberg:

They’re experts in what they do, whatever product or service that they sell. We need to be experts in what we do, and be very prescriptive around what the data is telling us, how to get them to be successful, and how to get them to do it on their own as well. So, when we go away, they know how to do it. It’s so critical, and then on the buying process, and I bet you we ask all of us how we actually buy within our own organization, we probably say, it’s a good question.

Steve Goldberg:

Helping customers actually navigate through themselves to acquire technology, a lot of companies, especially now, we’re all working from home, you can’t just walk down the hall and say, “Hey, come on, I really need this.” With a business case, and really understanding what the business problems you’re trying to solve, and ensure that somebody that really truly cares about them, and then how to help them with the business case navigate through their own world, because there’s a security piece, there’s a technology piece and the business piece and helping sure that they can get alignment on their end and that you’re in there with them.

Steve Goldberg:

Then how that carries over into the customer success side. You’ve agreed on this now, you follow through and you make sure you’re continuing to execute on the business case that you agreed and continue to show people how you’re doing. I think a lot of times, sometimes when you get the business case, you get the deals done, and then sometimes it just goes back into my documents, or in any doc and you got to carry that through. You got to leverage that to show people how you’re doing, not just the people you came in with, because that person, now you have a chance to make someone really look good because of what they signed up for. I think that’s so critical right now is just really driving the business value, agreeing to it and delivering on it.

Don Addington:

Yes, I just talked about this the other day with a friend of mine. I think every sale is becoming a complex sale. It doesn’t matter how transactional you are, as I said, we bought Gong. Gong is a pretty easy product to buy. However, you still have to go through the process, even for a small company. What Tackle has been fun for me is I’ve been selling software my whole career, and now we’re selling to software companies. Talking to software companies about selling to their customers has been… It’s not even a job for me. I get tired, like, okay, you’re buyer that is going to buy and use and maybe implement your product is not your financial buyer. If you don’t know how to sell, and get a technical win, and cross off everything on that needs document, but align that to the business side of the house, and then go figure out how to make it happen.

Don Addington:

How do you actually turn that desire for your product into we can actually buy the product. If you don’t know how to sell and navigate your way through an organization, you’re really at a disadvantage, even if you have a seemingly really simple product at the end of the day, because it’s just getting harder and harder. I think that point, Steve, that you made around, people didn’t work well together when they were all in the same building. Now, you’re putting them apart and the technology’s in the way and it’s just gotten harder.

Don Addington:

I think some really good points there. Are you guys seeing the same things within your arc, through the sales prevention is, it’s getting more and more?

Mike Weir:

Yeah, it is getting more complex. Engaging with our clients is more complex. But I think what Ryan and Steve were talking about underscores one of the trends that each of us is probably dealing with. We have more data and insights at our fingertips that is requiring us to build out highly sophisticated, really intelligence revenue operations teams that help us hone that signal and those insights so that one, we’re not doing knee jerk reaction. It’s like, I can hear a bad call, and I can make an assumption that everybody’s doing a horrible job explaining a new feature we launched, or I can actually have a better discipline of aggregating and reviewing how consistent is this? Is it an individual talent issue, is it an overall talent issue?

Mike Weir:

We have to get very good at honing our signal, so that we don’t add to that complexity that our team is facing right now as they’re engaging with clients with more expectations of us, more proof that they want from us to buy.

Steve Goldberg:

Hey, Mike, I think that’s a really… I’m glad you brought that up. Revenue operations, when you talk to [inaudible 00:35:47] they call it the Office of the CRO. There’s a question I saw, what is the CRO’s roles role in the future? How has it evolved? In the past, I think it’s been, you’re the one doing the deals, you’re going out to the dinners and lunches, and you’re in big stages, and you’re getting people excited. It’s art and science right now, it’s an [inaudible 00:36:06]

Steve Goldberg:

My perspective is, you’re a designer, you’re architecting, the role of the revenue operations and the partnership between the revenue operations team and yourself, and looking at the data and the dials that you need to turn and the decisions that you need to make based on what the data is telling you, is so critical, because it can’t be just finger in the air, “hey, I think we should go big in the enterprise in the media.” It just feels right. It can’t be that anymore, or look at sales productivity metrics to figure out in street quota to figure out how you should be measuring your forecast versus how you should be measuring your growth in certain segments.

Steve Goldberg:

That revenue operations partnership, in my perspective, is a must have and it’s so critical that you’re 100% aligned. So, start looking at blind spots too. I’m glad you brought that up. You validated a lot of things that I’m seeing as well.

Don Addington:

That actually, it dovetails into one of the questions that was in the panel, and Steve, you started to touch on it, but interested. I want to, last five minutes or so, to take this conversation also in the route of maybe some specific things we’re doing to decrease friction and make sure our sales teams are set up for success. But I think a question, just to tie off on what Steve was saying there is this role of CRO, we’ve seen it of all pretty quickly and come onto the scene pretty quickly. It makes sense to tie it end to end. We’re a bunch of disparate processes.

Don Addington:

I think Ryan was one of the other comment of coming in, and saying, “Hey, I’m not your marketing person. That’s not in my bag right now. So, I don’t want it. I think that’s a mature approach to, “Hey, let me take on the things that I know I’m good at and absorb the rest over time.” Maybe that’s a down the line thing.” But, what are some of the other areas, maybe, that you all think about when you think about this role of CRO and the evolution, where’s it going if you got a crystal ball?

Ryan Longfield:

It’s a good question.

Steve Goldberg:

Good question.

Ryan Longfield:

I think that what a CRO does, I think is a good starting point. I think, Don, you just mentioned a couple of things. But I think just starting there, because I think it’s sometimes not totally understood. Is it the sales leader, but he just has a C title, and replace S with R. I think the role, I think has taken off like wildfire, like the participant shared, and I think the reason is, is a lot of what we were just saying, which is alignment across functions, to make sure that the ultimate sale and even beyond that, the ultimate customer, a raving fan, who just adores and goes to dinner parties and shares like, “Man, this is the best thing that I’ve used in so long.” That requires… All of that culminates in that event. But that has to do with HR, it has to do with product, it has to do with marketing, it has to do with customer success, it has to do with operations, it’s the culmination of all of those things coming together.

Ryan Longfield:

When it used to be a head of sales as their primary role, you’re one of many functional leaders that will then require the CEO to play the coordination role between all these different organizations to make sure it’s happening. The CEO has got other stuff going on, and it’s really hard to keep all those organizations coordinated and aligned and operating at full clips to deliver at just the right moments.

Ryan Longfield:

I think, in a nutshell, I think that’s what a CRO does. That’s different than just a sales leader. I think what I would add to probably the conversation is one, I think, the ability to do that, one, in highly distributed environments like we’re in now, becomes harder. But the ability to do that in an environment where things are getting more complex from the information side of things, and from again, rapidly changing contexts and environments, it’s getting more complex to do that.

Ryan Longfield:

I think I wouldn’t expand the role so much as I would say, within that definition that I think we’ve all been talking about, I think the skill set that is needed in order to be good inside that role is adapting, with a highlighted example of one being, you have to know how to use data. The old school sales leader did not need to be a data driven person. Now, you absolutely do.

Ryan Longfield:

Another one in distributed environments is like, how good are you at driving inspirational culture from afar? That’s a different skill set for mediums to do that. You can’t just be the guy in the room doing it anymore. I think it is adapting and changing. But to me, it’s all within the similar definition.

Don Addington:

I like to think about it as, it’s more and more connective tissue, where I might have specific parts of the organization under my purview, but it’s really, how you connect all those to the rest of the organization, and then, make sure that the feedback loop from customer success and sales, and a lot of different parts of my organization, going back to product, for example, hasn’t always been a well maintained feedback loop, and it’s one that’s critical today.

Don Addington:

Like you said, Ryan, it’s not necessarily having everything under you, but it is really connecting what you’ve got, and using it in a meaningful way.

Steve Goldberg:

One other thing. I think that was right on. There’s not much I can add to what Ryan said, I think it’s so important, I think that the one thing is alignment between you and your CEO, and expectations and is really important. Also, alignment with you and the other ELT members, and priorities. From my perspective, that we’re all partners in this and we have to be aligned. I’m so aligned with my marketing, our CMO. That relationship is so critical that we’re talking about the same things, we’re seeing the same things, we’re executing on the same priorities. Revenue operations also helps tie some of that together.

Steve Goldberg:

Align with your CFO around the metrics that we’re tracking, alignment with the board, alignment with product to make sure that what you’re hearing from your customers gets delivered on and expectations get delivered on. Then you got to balance it. You really have to start to balance… As CROs, you won’t run on the ARR, you got to balance requests coming in from customers, requests coming in from prospects, and then the product roadmap that you have to deliver on in the future where you need to go. You need to be cognizant of all of that, as you’re aligning across your organization. The data piece of that, and the science is so important.

Mike Weir:

You guys covered it well. One of the questions that also came through, I think, as relation, when you think about some of the tech that you would use to operate really well within a CRO role today, this idea of cross functional partnership, 100% agree, it’s very much aligning with your CMO on the go to market strategy. Aligning with your Chief Product Officer on your future vision, what you’re building now, what you’re building in the future to add your customer value and monetization.

Mike Weir:

But a few other tools that we’re looking to use is, enhance that customer experience today. We want to utilize chat functionality that allows customers to reach us more dynamically, which adds to the complexity. It’s another way they can interact, it’s another channel to monitor. But this is the way they highly informed buyers are evolving. They have real time access, they want 24/7 ability to engage with the brand. That is some functionality.

Mike Weir:

We’ve been using it on our website, and it is one of our top lead generation engines. There’s a lot of people that just reach out with really good questions whether there are existing customers or prospective customers. As we work cross functionally, those are the type of decisions we’re making. It may not fall into a revenue or ownership, but it’s definitely something that I’m discussing with my CMO and my Chief Product Officer is say, how are we going to create these points of engagement that allow our customers to speak with us, ask questions, share concerns, because I think the customer service side of the post sale, that’s a huge part of the CRO job, it’s not just close a deal, it’s really build lifetime value. We need to think about the tech that empowers that journey as well.

Don Addington:

I think that the tech is the final piece that I think about, as figuring out the rest first, it’s easy to buy a bunch of tools, but what do you really need to do, and where do you need to go with it? But there are some things that I think have become pretty essential, and just maybe lean into that question a little bit further, outside of your own technology, the question is, what do you guys recommend, and what do you see out there?

Don Addington:

For us, the need to communicate asynchronously, not just internally, but externally as well, everybody has zoomed the hell out. I’ve been on just wall to wall meetings all day. Being able to find your voice and deliver your voice asynchronously to a prospect, to an intern, my team. I don’t need to hop everybody on a Zoom to get a message out there. We record a… It doesn’t matter what the tool is, whether it’s Loom or Vidyard, or whatever, record a video, go through a talk track and get the messaging out there, let people consume it at their own speed.

Don Addington:

Whether that’s with proposals you’re putting out there, or whether it’s with guidance for your team. Things like that, I’ve seen the need for those approaches to think about asynchronous communication just come to the forefront so much more recently. Those are a number of things that we think about. Another thing about popping up into you guys, is just understanding that the lifecycle of a customer. Who were they when they came into the system? What did they expect? What did they need? What did they want? Where are they midpoint? Where are the… Checkpoints along the way. Where are we at, and are we doing what we said we were going to do?

Don Addington:

Putting that picture together is super important, especially if you’re in a SaaS based, ARR driven business, you’ve got to know those things. I don’t care what the tools are that you use, but you need to be thoughtful about what’s the information we’re gathering on the front end? How are we going to collect it through the process, and then act on it, and how’s that ultimately going to impact things like renewals, expansions?

Ryan Longfield:

Absolutely, I can jump on the back of that one, because mine fits with both of what Mike and Don just said. When I think about the technologies that I’ve been most impressed with, and most excited about, of late, it goes back to what Mike was saying, with the stuff that’s available via chat. I think if you think about the way you used to book an airline ticket, I remember when it changed… This probably dating me, but I remember when it changed from a phone call to a website, I was pissed. I thought it was a cost adding thing, and to push me to this dot com thing. I want to talk to a human.

Ryan Longfield:

Now, if I’m required to call somebody at Southwest or something like that, I’m furious. If I can’t get it done through the website, I’m like, “No, no, I want to access the information through a digital meeting right now.” I feel like there’s so much ground being made that makes chat a great option these days, and the technology is so good on it. Specifically, we use Drift right now on our new business side, and we use Intercom on our customer success side of things, and both of them are great.

Ryan Longfield:

But it’s not just the chat bot, it’s the chat bot connected to a database of information that populates in real time, so it knows who the person is that’s coming to that chat, customizes the message on the fly, then delivers a calendar after that of a rep that they can get on their calendar, if that’s the right next step for them. It’s like really intelligent.

Ryan Longfield:

This whole thing of being consumed with your buyer, I’m like, if you were the person going through that journey, would you be delighted to walk through it, or would you be like, “Oh, man, I just hit another wall. All I want is some information. This is pissing me off now.” I think we got to really be conscious of that. On the tech side of the things, I think some of the things that you can do, like the demand generation side of things, specifically chat, I think it’s completely gone to the next level, and I think is a really big opportunity for all of us right now.

Steve Goldberg:

Yeah, I think those are all great. I’m taking some good notes here too. But I also think, we all have to realize that we all have great technology that solves real problems. But the interoperability and the way data flows across and integrates across our companies to make that customer experience that much better, it was really key, I think in this world is that, the ability to interoperate and integrate and drive business process, that solves real problems. We’re never going to be everything to everybody. It’s really important on how we work together to look at the customer’s perspective to how we’re going to help the customer be successful.

Steve Goldberg:

That’s where I’m seeing the market going and where I think companies like ours need to… It’s an area of focus is, how do we interoperate together to really run the customer?

Don Addington:

Why don’t we get to… There’s another question here specific to the next generation of channels for distribution. Selfishly, this plays a little bit into where Tackle sits in the market and what we see. I think I’ve got a little bit of opinion that I could add, but I’m interested from the three of you, how you think about as a participant at the next gen channels of distribution, what we think about as the hyperscale, cloud providers, the AWSs, Azures, GCPs, Oracle is getting into the game, IBM has turned into their Red Hat marketplace.

Don Addington:

Really the name of the game there is the people that you’re selling to, are already spending buckets of money with these organizations, right? The march to the cloud has been accelerated, was already going fast, and now there’s gasoline on the fire. Having a product available on the marketplace in the past, and through these new channels of distribution meant swipe a card, and all of a sudden your stuff is spinning and working. Today, it means I’ve got budget over there, I don’t have to swipe to deploy software, I just want to fulfill a contract.

Don Addington:

If I can do that easier by landing on your AWS bill, your Azure bill, your GCP bill, that as a critical leg of the go to market strategy and meeting your buyer where your wallet is at, and where their wallet is at, is what we talk about.

Don Addington:

We see software companies of all shapes and sizes, the New Relic to Snowflake, to, now, increasing more and more business applications, looking at these newer channels for distribution. Man, has that changed even in the past year and a half. We see it from the buy side demand, where buyers are starting to say, “Hey, can I get you on my AWS contract, Gong, or SalesLoft or whatever, right?” Interested, the question from panelist, those are all relatively new, they’re also complex environments. Tackle works to demystify those with our customers, but interested how are you guys thinking about those newer, non-standard channels of distribution?

Mike Weir:

From a basic answer, we look at the marketplaces in particular that are popping up. It’s really about purchase flexibility. These are increasingly destinations that folks are going to really learn, engage and make that simple purchase. As a platform, we want to empower those, we want to see how we can purposely fit into those environments, because there’s a lot of folks that are utilizing these channels to educate themselves.

Mike Weir:

Selfishly, we also want to help power those marketplaces as well from G2 as a platform and add value to those experiences as well. But it is a really evolving, quick moving trend that we’re trying to see how do we fit into those, because it’s not as easy, not everything can be transacted as simply as the marketplaces are trying to do, and in many cases are doing, but not every product is easily purchased. Not every product has the consistency and transparency of pricing to make simple purchasing through a marketplace happen.

Mike Weir:

I think right now, a lot of companies that we’re talking to and partnering with are trying to figure out how do they fit into that model, when they are used to providing customers far more flexibility, having various discounting strategies, that makes it difficult to just be a part of a marketplace and allow somebody to engage and transact.

Don Addington:

For sure. It’s the reason we have a business model. There’s a lot of complexity to navigate there. Steve, Ryan, any thoughts from you guys?

Steve Goldberg:

I guess I’ll add to that, and I think it’s important to meet your buyers where they’re at, and looking at the buyer and the persona for what it is that you sell your service and aligning to that marketplace. It’s something we’re definitely looking into and trying to assess that right now. Because it does seem like there’s some interesting opportunity there and it goes back to me, where are your buyers at and how are you going to make it easier for them to acquire? To your point, it’s a growing space for sure for those reasons.

Ryan Longfield:

I think just one small thing to add, I think that the ease of purchase is something that I feel like is becoming so valuable. There’s so much information out there that you’re overwhelmed. You go through an evaluation oftentimes, and you’re like, man, all of this can seem great. How do I know which one to go for? You look at modern sales pros, so much of the activity on there is just like, “Hey, I’m thinking about buying this thing. Am I fool? Can you give me some kind of guidance?”

Ryan Longfield:

I think resources like Tackle, like G2, just making that purchasing process easier for buyers, I think is really important. Then I think for us as sellers, we need to realize that the role of a salesperson is changing that process as well. This is going away from the question, but your job as a salesperson has now become to make them feel really good about the decision that they’re making. It’s like, you have to not add additional complexity, to their buying decision. They already have enough complexity, you need to make things feel really simple, and you need to make them feel very confident that they’re making a great decision, and the way that they’re thinking about things is the right way.

Ryan Longfield:

I think as sellers, we’ve got to really think about that. Usually, if we’re consumed with what’s going on in the buyer side, then we’ll understand that many times, they’re going to come in with loads of information already in their head, and look for somebody to distill that down into something simple. I think, great sellers do that, and it’s going to be more and more important, again, as we see just information flowing left and right, everywhere.

Don Addington:

Totally, I think that goes back to the thought we talked about earlier, just the selling process, the aperture is so much wider, you can’t get narrow, you have to understand where all those areas of value add are, and then collect them and make sure you’re communicating that, right?

Don Addington:

I think we’re at the top of the hour here. It went very fast for me. I don’t know about you guys, but I love getting together and just talking shop. There’s a couple of questions we didn’t get to, happy to circulate with the team here, if you all have anything you want to add, and we can get back and post those out. But really, I know everybody’s busy. I know it’s a crazy environment these days. So, thank you very much for being gracious with your time to each one of you, and really appreciate it. Enjoyed it, hope you guys did too.

Ryan Longfield:

Thanks so much.

Mike Weir:

Okay, thanks so much.

Steve Goldberg:

Thank you, Nicole.

Don Addington:

Thanks for all the participants and thanks, Nicole.

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