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Speaker Details

Sangram Vajre

Co-founder and CEO
GTM Partners

Session Transcription

Welcome to this session at SaaS Metrics Palooza. We just had an amazing conversation with Latané Conant, the chief market officer at 6Sense. And I'm so pleased and actually I feel privileged to announce our next speaker. I started following Sangram when someone recommended that I read his book called Move. We're going to talk a little bit about Move. And then over the last year and a half, two years, what GTM Partners has been doing is quite impressive. So with that, Sangram, welcome to SaaS Metrics Palooza 23. Right, excited to be here, man. I've been looking forward to this for so long. So I'm excited that we get to dive into go-to-market, the challenges, and who knows? This might be a little bit of a therapy session for some people listening to it. Exactly. So I'm going to go ahead and just have you and I be on the stage here together. And let's start with Move. Because we've, over the last two and a half days, we've talked a lot about all these SaaS metrics and how people inform their decision making, looking at things like cap payback period and even the conversion metrics within the go-to-market funnel. But let's talk about Move, which is an acronym, and why you came up with Move and what it stands for and how companies can use it. Yeah, well, it's so interesting. In 2020, when Brian and I wrote this book, go-to-market wasn't the big deal. I feel like we kind of talked about go-to-market before go-to-market got cooler. But we interviewed a tremendous amount of people, people you and I admire and spend time with, from Jeffrey Moore to Brian Halligan, CEOs and founders of a lot of companies, and also CMOs and CROs, like Megan Eisenberg and Sidney Sloan and others. And what was interesting is we started with about 51 or 52 questions. And we asked them around go-to-market. And really, what was fascinating was, as we started to do these interviews, it came down to the same four questions that all these executives were using or talking about it, but just using different language. And that became the acronym Move, which is Market Operations Velocity and Expansion. What do you market and how do you think about market as a general idea, not just TAM, but how do you think about the market? The other part of this is the operations. Ultimately, you may start at early stage, but over a period of time, you'll get into revenue operations. So where does your operation stand and how that works? Velocity, which is what every CEO and executive always asks, how fast can we grow? How fast can we ramp up everything? So, but it's not just sales ramps. It's also how quickly marketing can create demand, how quickly every single team can get on, how quickly engineering can ship products. So the velocity ramps across the board in the business. And then the last one, which was surprising, I was thinking more about experience. And I remember this conversation with Scott Dorsey, who was a CEO of ExactTarget. And he said, one thing that kept him going and thinking about was, where are we going to grow next? And that was the expansion. Is it a new product? Is it a new acquisition? Is it a new market? Like, what do I need to do to expand beyond that? So market operations, velocity expansions really became the four primary questions, regardless of the stage of the business. And while you were at Terminus, I know you talked a lot about this, but then over the last year to two years, you've expanded upon kind of the framework for go-to-market. And you did that within go-to-market partners. You actually created this go-to-market operating system. So talk a little bit about how that came about and what it is. Yeah, the go-to-market operating system is really a answer to the question when we wrote the book and people said, well, this is great. The Move is amazing. We can apply that. But we need to know more practically, how do I do it across all the functions of our teams? That includes marketing, sales, but not just them, but customer success and web apps and enablement. They are all part of go-to-market. So first and foremost, the go-to-market teams have expanded. And the second thing is, as you and I both know, go-to-market metrics have changed. The traditional demand waterfall model didn't really account for all of these expansion metrics like NRR that you and I talk about and know are not the number one metric that most companies are tracking now. So the metrics have changed. And then on top of that, the go-to-market motions have changed. It's no longer just inbound and outbound. You have product-led and you have a partner-led and you have community-led. All these different go-to-market motions have evolved. So because of these three different things, the teams, the metrics, the motions, all of this changing, we have to come up with what is the better way for companies to think about go-to-market. And we came up with this go-to-market operating system, which really is an eight-pillar operating system. And we can go deeper in each one of these pillars, but one of the most important pillar, probably the most innovative pillar or the new pillar for me having been building companies and running has been this pillar called market investment map. It has been so fun to help companies do that and see that in their companies. But market investment map really allows you to think about where should I invest and where will I get the most value out of it? How do I efficiently grow my business? The market investment map is one of the most incredibly powerful framework that companies can use from the go-to-market operating system that we've been seeing for the last year. Let's talk about that because we're gonna dive deep a little bit later in this conversation about pipeline velocity and the customer time to value and the metrics help measure that. But let's go to market investment map because one of the challenges I see as companies are scaling is they need to expand that total relevant market. Maybe they're going from commercial to enterprise or maybe they're going from the North America market to Europe or Asia. And they really kind of forget about why it's so important to understand there might be a unique both go-to-market motion for a new market, but also they need to measure the efficacy of that new market. So can you double click on this a little bit? Oh, totally. So we were helping a company just like a month ago and I have the whole slide deck around that. It was really interesting. They came to us and said, we need to figure out whatever go-to-market is. We don't need to declare whatever go-to-market is and really be focused on it. And one of their biggest challenges was they had eight different product lines and literally seven different segments that they were going after. Now this is not too big of a company, it's like sub $15 million company, but when you have eight different product lines and seven different segments from small SMB to enterprise, from financial services to supply chain sector, when you have so much complexity, that's when your investment, that whatever you're doing is very incremental in nature. And so they all were struggling as an executive team, where do we invest? What do we do? And they were just incrementally moving in that direction. So we use this market investment framework where we literally layer out all the product lines that they have on the left and then all the segments they want to go on the right, at the top column. And we literally started going through this process called idea shaping it, idea process, where we are literally saying, well, where do you want to invest? Where do you see the most value through just question Q and A of where do you find the most value? What do your customers love you most? Where do they find the most retention? What's happening? And when you cohort it to that smallest possible nucleus, you start looking at like, oh yeah, that particular segment works really great. It's easy for us to sell. We can do more, there's used market. So in three sessions, right? Like in three sessions, they went from eight and seven to two and three. You know, that's a huge outcome for them because they were able to say, we're no longer going to focus on these other six areas. We're going to focus on this too, which Rita, the time energy resources. And that's the power of market investment map is that clarity and alignment around where do you focus next so that you can truly do the best work of your life. As we were talking, a lot of the people in our audience are CEOs and CFOs, right? And I'm going to bring out my crystal ball because I see more and more consolidation and point solutions going into multiproduct portfolios and multiproduct companies tend to have higher both NRR and GRR. So question, would you recommend maybe doing this process as you're going through an acquisition due diligence to really understand how would this product and their markets fit into my go-to-market? Oh, not only that, it should every time you're launching a new product, every time you're expanding a new market segment, every time you are looking into a new market completely, you have to go through this exercise. The reason people don't go through the exercise because it seems labor intensive. Some people have already done that in their head and everybody else is just going through motions at that point. But if you really bring and think about it as a CEO, as an executive, it is your job to bring the team together to have that clarity and alignment. Really one of the biggest thing that's plaguing our category, our industry right now is this idea because we're all working so remotely and we're not have that level of interaction that we normally would do when you're in an office setting, we're moving too fast. And the moving speed has never been an issue because we all want to go fast. But when you Move too fast in your thought process than everybody else on the team, you're going to be frustrated. You're going to have a burnout on your team and you're going to have what I call companies don't run out of ideas, they run out of money. So that's what's happening with a lot of it. The reason they run out of money is because they're experimenting all these different things, but they're doing it at a very silo fashion as opposed to just like, all right, let's just go through the hard work over here. Let's stop everything for a day. Let's go through a process where we all align and really act as business leaders, not functional leaders who happen to be good at marketing or sales or CS, but bring everybody as a business leader. That is really what leaders are supposed to do and are called to do, I believe. Yeah, I totally agree. It's interesting that kind of piggyback on Pablo Dominguez's session, where he talked about the importance of experimentation culture, but aligned and integrated across the acquisition or retention and expansion notions. Oh, it is. It is so interesting. We have a framework that we initially internally call, which is a driver framework. We think that, look, at any given time, you got to have a combination of dreamers, doers and drivers in your organization. If you got too many dreamers, then you're going to have a bunch of ideas and nobody's going to get it done. I'm sure this is probably therapy for some people. That's probably happening in some organizations today. And if you have too many doers, then everybody's just getting stuff done, but they don't know where they're going. Like what's the vision around it? So you just burn out. And if you have too many drivers, they want everything yesterday. So they're driving everybody nuts and like almost killing each other to get things done. But again, they're moving away from the human element that brings and creates value and enterprise value in many ways. So this is a very core issue. The go-to-market is a team sport. Ray, you may have also seen like we have this, we have t-shirts now that says, it's not a marketing problem. It's not a sales problem. It's not a CS problem or a product problem. What most companies have, and if they really dig deep, they have a go-to-market problem. And I learned through the book and the process that my view of go-to-market was very myopic. I thought launching a new product is go-to-market, or I just thought, well, the sales channel adding another that's good. No, go-to-market is every single decision that you make to drive your business forward. And you may be doing multiple of those decisions every single day. Okay. We're gonna get into metrics-heavy pipeline velocity in just a minute. But one last thing, one of your pillars is brand and demand. And as a lot of the financial decision makers for their companies in the audience are like, man, how do I measure brand? Is brand really that important? My CMO keeps saying it. So why did you use that as a pillar? Talk a little bit about how to measure the benefit. I'm so glad you asked this, Ray. We get this question all the time around, well, isn't brand and demand two different things? Are they not to be supposed to be separated? And I believe that brand drives demand. And people look at it differently. They think about, well, we will earn the right to build a brand when we have demand. Well, your demand is gonna be very costly if you don't have a brand. And so it's a chicken and an egg thing. Best companies in the world know how to bring brand and demand together. And what's included in this pillar is thinking about your point of view that differentiates you in the marketplace. That is a brand exercise, but that is actually what's gonna create the right demand for you. The other part is that which go-to-market motion we are gonna use. If for you, for your brand and for your customers, if you need to think about, well, we need to create a PLG motion or we need to create a community-led motion or a outbound or inbound, that is a brand and demand conversation. Whatever brand you build, the demand is gonna follow. If you just do demand without brand, it's gonna be very expensive. That's why companies run out of money, not ideas. And you need to bring those two things together. We're gonna link that now to one of your pillars, pipeline velocity. And Chris Walker is talking about how important it is to help build your brand, your category awareness. And that's gonna drive demand that closes at a higher rate than that demand where an SDR does an outbound, the buyer doesn't know who the heck you are, but they take a call, but then you get a 15% win rate versus a 28. So talk about pipeline velocity next and how to measure that. Well, the pipeline velocity element, Ray, is probably the hardest part for most companies right now. We have gone from the day when you used to see, and you and I on LinkedIn or sometimes Facebook, you will see this person with a video, hey, I'm at the beach, I just made a million dollars, you wanna have another life like me, then you do this, right? So we had a time where growth at all costs was the answer and people idolize that. And then as COVID hit and we moved into this efficient growth model, the question everybody's asked is like, do I need to hire 30 sales reps in order to get to 5 million in business? And is that amount of cost good? And there's nothing wrong with reps, it's one of the hardest working job on the planet. At the same time, is that the right equation? Are we using it the right way? It's a very hard conversation. I remember this conversation that I had with Yamini Rangan, the CEO of HubSpot, Nick, I don't know if you've watched that one where we did it on AI a few weeks ago, Nick from Gainsight, Henry from ZoomInfo and Goddard from G2. I was like, let me bring the best of the best CEOs that I admire and ask some of these questions. And what's fascinating to me in that conversation, Ray, was all of them were thinking about NRR as a single metric that they thought about is the best way to grow and best way to have the health of the business. But when it came to pipeline velocity specifically, none of them focused on saying that this is our existing pipe and this is what we need to focus on. They all were talking about retention pipe and we need to create more revenue from the existing customer and that's where they were focusing on as a business. I don't think most people recognize it. Quick math on this thing. Anybody who wants to know it out, companies can grow, they can double their revenue every five years without adding a single new customer. If you're NRR- 120% NRR gets you there. Yeah, 120%. People don't do that level of math. I never did that like five years ago. I was like, this is new to me. So the global market is fun because when you start understanding the business math, you're able to start looking at it. So when you start thinking about pipeline velocity, it is not the pipeline for only net new account. It is pipeline from your existing account that need to be a big part of your velocity. And I think most companies are still missing that. Yeah, it's really good that you say that. This session is all about you, not me, but I've been talking about this for many years now because if you look at the cost of acquiring an incremental dollar of AR from an existing customer, it's about 30 to 35% of what it costs to get a dollar from a new, right? And you actually increase the GRR because when they have mobile products or expanded use, they're stickier. So I really love that, but you made a really good point. And you talked to hundreds of companies. The way we dissect the customer acquisition pipeline, the average sales cycle length, the stage by stage conversion, I see less than 20% of companies doing that for expansion opportunities. Is that kind of what you're seeing out there, Sangram? It's probably less than that. It's really optimistic in even 20%. Like, it's really hard. We are, as I said, since we're doing a lot of these go-to-market research and working with companies on their go-to-market, it is almost mind-blowing that the immediate reaction because of the last 10 years of indoctrination that we all had around double, double, triple, triple growth, growth equals more customers, that this idea to like, hey, it's okay to not get after the segment. Let's focus on our existing customer. It is still daunting to most CEOs and CFOs because that is not the school of thought we all came from. But therefore, I think it's less than 20%. It's probably 10 to 15 because most companies are still looking at their top-line growth as a way to say. Another case in point here is we still see companies raising tremendous amount of money when they do raise money and still thinking about acquisition as the only way to grow. Where you will not see in many press releases saying that, oh, we're going to actually create more product innovation so we can go to the existing customers and have more depth in it. You just don't read that in any press release. And that tells you that still the market is way behind. In theory, they understand it, but in practice, everybody, majority of us are failing at. Let's double-click on pipeline velocity metrics. Are there two or three specific measurements that you try to get all of your clients to make sure they're measuring in that pipeline? It is so interesting. We have obviously all the standard metrics that you and I have like grew up around to help think about the conversion rates and level. We actually have Moved away in conversations with customers on that. We have really rotated on the side that we got to look at not just the conversion to like this 18%, 25% in conversion from a lead or from an account to a deal, but rather we need to look at it by cohort, by cohort and by segment, what is your conversion rate? So for example, across the board, we would never ask anybody, what is your conversion rate? Because that is such a loaded question and it's almost takes you the wrong path because it puts you in your mind a volume gain. As opposed to a better question is, all right, for your best performing segment or best performing cohort, how many of them or what percentage are converting faster and expanding further? That's a better question and that metric has to be much higher than your traditional 18, 19, 20, 25%. So it's really maybe similar metrics, but at a very cohort level, at a very segment level and almost pointing or guiding the company in a direction that will give them efficient growth. Well, as you talked about customer expansion still probably underinvested, net revenue retention being one of those top metrics. Let's talk about your pillar of time to customer value. Because I would think, if you think customer expansion is a key growth engine, you better ensure you're getting the right engagement and value upfront. How do you go about ensuring that happens? Well, so we did a study that we were asking companies and research around, when you buy a product, after how long when you buy a product, do you wanna see ROI from it? What is the time to value for it? Most time, right, the answer is, and you wanna guess an answer for this, but like how long people are expecting the value out of a product they bought? When, how do they buy? It's gotta be within the first quarter. Within 90 days, right? Within 90 days, some of them as fast as saying that, hey, within the first 30 days, I already know if this is a good investment or not, if they have implemented and tested it. So 30 days in some cases, but more or less 90 days is what people would say. What's interesting about it, but if you go and ask companies, hey, what is the value? When you go and ask any vendor, any go-to-market vendor today, if you're with the selling, just because you're talking about go-to-market, and ask them how often and how far and how quickly can your customers see value in a product? Most of them have no idea. And I'm talking about $100 million companies. And the reason is because they're still so focused on the top and not on the middle of the funnel and the bottom, which really where the magic happens. So in many cases, this is what we're asking and recommending. Your ROI statement needs to be based on what your customers are experiencing. For example, when we did an ROI study for Vidyard, they're, and Sendoza, I think both of them, we found out that their customers experience the value of their product in less than three months. So in their first call deck, second slide, that happens to be the main point of view, saying that, hey, look, you already believe in direct mail. You already believe in videos. That's great. We can deliver videos. We can deliver direct mail based on the company. But here's the reason why our customers buy us and stay with us is because within the three months, I can show you value, they see value for it. On a complete flip side, we have Goldcast as a customer who does event experience. Their customers didn't care about any of that. Their customers cared about experience. They said that we want our people when they come to our event to have the best experience. So their second slide as part of their ROI story is about the best in class experience for your customers. So the ROI conversation that we're recognizing is it cannot be the same every single time to every single customer. It has to be based on what your audience really expects and deliver in that way. Sometimes it may be data quality. Sometimes it might be the experience. Sometimes it may be that I just need my money back in less than three months. Whatever it is, lead with those conversations. And that will only come when you're having often conversations with your customers. That's interesting you talk about that time to value. I do a lot of research with GainSight, my leader in customer success. And we were looking at what percentage of customer success organizations are actually measured on confirming the value their customers receive, right? Because we have all these QBRs. Less than 25% of B2B SaaS companies were measuring and incenting their customer success managers on verifying customer value. And I'm like, what a huge miss. Yeah, yeah. I think this is where why I love companies like GainSight and others who have been ushering us in this direction of the value of customer success and things, but still Ray, I mean, it's still behind. It is up to the CEO. It is up to the CFO to make this a priority and understand the longer value of it. And again, this is not just theory. I hope everybody doesn't walk away from our conversation saying, well, okay, great theory, NRR, awesome. We should do that. Pablo Velocity, cohort-based, segment-based. Oh yeah, sounds, then we have time, we'll do it. No, this is a defining moment in most companies' life. Right now, most companies, if they have survived through the last couple of years and are in this 30 year or fourth year of their survival, this is the time, if they haven't defined that and they haven't pushed on that, this is a very defining moment for most companies. I believe companies, Ray, that are going to come into 2024, coming out of this, are going to be better companies who actually focused on these things. Any other company who only focused on top line, they actually will either vanish or they'll have to make, get another raise and dilute their own portfolio very quickly. It's going to be a very hard time if these metrics don't become the cornerstone of how you build a business. We're going to have to wrap up. I can't believe this, but I'm going to wrap up with one very tough question. All right. And that is, you know, a lot of the CEOs and CFOs of the audience or your go-to market leaders, if they just have marketing or just have sales or just have customer success, they talk about, we don't have great alignment across those three functions. But what we're really talking about, not across acquisition, retention and expansion. And I'm a firm believer that shared goals and metrics is one pillar to trying to gain that alignment. How do metrics, since we are a SaaS Metrics Palooza, how do you think metrics play in aligning those go-to-market processes and teams? Well, I did this at Terminus and we did that at go-to-market partners. Every Tuesday, there is a go-to-market dashboard. That's what we call it. We don't call it sales dashboard, marketing dashboard, and we call it go-to-market dashboard. And every Tuesday, we literally look at our business metrics and nobody's allowed in that meeting to talk or worry about their own functional metrics. We don't care about the functional metrics. These are business metrics. And you will never see a marketing and a sales and a CS and a product like that. That's just not what you need. What you need is, from a business perspective, you got an NRR thing, how are we doing on this? A customer usage around, so product, if that's what we are doing, or research and how many people are actually engaging on that research. So now you're talking about business metrics and that's the fundamental thing, I think every COO and COO has to really try to elevate their team as, come to the meetings as business leaders. You come to the meeting as a business leader, you change the game of your business. Well, let me just end it with any final thoughts you have for our audience regarding the entire go-to-market strategy and execution. Any final thoughts? I'll just give you one final thought on this. This is really interesting. In the book, since we started the book, I'll end with this. The book has a broader definition of go-to-market and it's a definition that nobody will ever remember, but it's a broader, classic, pure play definition. But when I was interviewing, I think the best definition was given to me on go-to-market by Brian Halligan. And he gave that definition in one word. And he said, go-to-market is like a product. It's iterative, it's changing. I'm making hundreds of decisions every single week around go-to-market. Your entire team is thinking about it. The CEO owns go-to-market. Go-to-market is like a product. Treat it like a product. There are bugs, there are fixes, but it is not a strategy that you do every quarter. It is an ongoing conversation. So my encouragement to everybody as they're looking at metrics and as looking at is that it is iterative. There is no certainty in it. It is all opportunity. And so we have to look at, let go of the certainty of everything, look at it, everything is an opportunity. And even the metrics you're gonna see when you do it at the cohort level or segment level, you're gonna find more opportunities for your business to thrive. You said something really important there. The CEO owns go-to-market. And my belief is the CFO co-owns those performance measurements that every leader of the GTM organizations should be aware of and feel that they own them also. There is no other way. Every time, it's so funny you mentioned that because every time I asked a CEO without even a blanket of an eye, they would say, oh, I own go-to-market. And I go and ask with their CMO and CRO and other leaders, they say, oh, I'm not sure. Maybe I own some part of it. No, everybody else executes on go-to-market. Absolutely, and have pieces of it. But CEO, make no mistake, you own go-to-market. Sangram, I'm gonna pull up your speaker contact information here. We have your email, we have your LinkedIn. Anyone else people can follow you and gain the benefit of your insights? Now, I mean, go-to-market partners, all of our research is free. We love doing that. Love where you're taking the go-to-market. Obviously on LinkedIn, I try to share something every day. So if you wanna follow, that'd be a great place. Okay, Sangram, go-to-market partners. Thank you so much for being part of SaaS Metrics Palooza 23. Thank you, Ray.

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