This week, the Bowery Capital team hosted Scott Gifis, Vice President and Managing Director at AdRoll, to discuss “Mapping and Selling Into New Markets." On the podcast we discuss different techniques, strategies, and measurements that SaaS companies need to consider before they sell into a new geography, to a new type of buyer, or even as they consider an account-based strategy where they’re selling new products into existing relationships. In the record business, there’s a saying that “you have all your life to write your first album, and only 18 months to write your second." Similarly, in SaaS, you have a lot of time to map your first market and product you’re going to sell, but once you’re initially successful and tap out your first segment of a market, you’ll be under pretty quick pressure to find new markets to sell into, or additional products to sell to your existing customers. In today’s podcast, Scott breaks down all the things you need to do, and more importantly perhaps, the things you shouldn’t do, to successfully figure out new markets and buyers you’re approaching. Whether you’re an early stage company going through the repetitions of testing out markets, or a software behemoth figuring out where to go next to maintain blistering growth, there are tips, frameworks, and questions to ask which will guide you in the right direction. We talk about everything from Arm & Hammer’s strategy decades ago, to AdRoll’s account-based sales and marketing strategy today on ways to explore and execute on new markets. Scott Gifis is the VP of North America and Managing Director at AdRoll, where he’s seen (and led) massive growth of their sales and products over the past 4 years. Scott also has a few fun facts: he once wanted to be a pro hockey player, and promised his dad that if he would let him play Juniors Hockey, he would get some practical business experience too, which led Scott to join a VC early on and ultimately follow a path into SaaS. Scott also enjoys spending time with his three daughters at home to balance his day-to-day at a rapidly growing company that just moved to a bigger office here in NYC. Next up, we might have to pick Scott’s brain on work-life balance tips!
This week, the Bowery Capital team hosted Dean Onishi, Director of Documentation and Certification at Procore, to discuss "SaaS Certification Programs." Procore is a cloud-based construction management software application built for the construction industry professional, striving to make project management effortless, one task at a time. With Procore’s easy-to-use and collaborative software, users can manage their projects at anytime, from anywhere, with any Internet-connected device. During this week’s episode, Dean walks through the concept of SaaS certification programs and how they can be influential in complementing a business’s existing value proposition. Dean is keen to share anecdotes and best practices from his time at Procore. While a lot of companies attempt, in earnest, to create these programs, they fail to implement effective programs. Dean illuminates on the major hurdles in rallying a company and users, alike, around embracing SaaS certification programs, and he shares with us a few companies that he believes are doing this well. Certifications are a proven incentive scheme to increase engagement across an industry, particularly in a historically offline ecosystem like construction. Further, Dean talks to us about how the integration of a SaaS certification program can cultivate a vibrant community of users with powerful network effects. Dean takes us through the obvious, direct benefits of such programs, as well as some of the less obvious ones, like driving SEO traffic to your site. SaaS certification programs are most appropriately a part of the later-stage product roadmap, once certain customer milestones have been met. Therefore, Dean offers ways to assess appetite for adding a certifications program with existing customers. Conversely, Dean talks about organizational approaches to installing and maintaining such a program. In addition, Dean suggests relevant mediums for delivering the curriculum behind certification programs. Lastly, Dean defines a metrics-driven framework to evaluate success in a certification program. In lieu of building your own program, Dean recommends a few alternative, third-party resources to pursue to launch your own certifications capabilities. Dean is the Director of Documentation and Certification at Procore. He has been in this role for over a year and was previously a Technical Publication Manager at Procore for several years. In Dean’s current role, he is responsible for driving successful user adoption of the Procore platform by providing users with helpful support documentation and training materials to “self-serve” all of their educational and training needs. Dean manages the Documentation team that runs Procore’s Support site and Procore’s Certification program.
This week, the Bowery Capital team hosted Donya Rose, Sales Compensation Consultant for Xactly, to discuss "Building Winning Sales Compensation Plans." Xactly is a market leader in on-demand sales performance management. The company’s SPM Suite of products, enables sales and finance executives to design, implement, manage, audit and optimize sales compensation management programs easily and affordably. Xactly’s solutions automate the process of aggregating data from disparate systems into a secure, hosted repository, and enable companies to leverage this business data, which is the lifeblood of sales performance management. In this episode, Donya walks us through the do’s and don’ts of building rewarding and sustainable sales compensation plans for SaaS businesses. Donya begins by breaking down the 2 basic principles for having a well-structured compensation plan: motivation and focus. She explains that compensation plans can often be an arms race, especially if you try to match survey data that can be found on Glassdoor or other sites because the numbers are inflated. Instead, she recommends that companies analyze their own metrics and set realistic goals based on what their current team is hitting. She then goes on to explain the importance of “Right Pay Level” and “Right Pay Mix,” meaning the way that you split compensation between base and commission (OTE). She emphasizes the importance of having only a few measures make up someone’s OTE (she warns against having more than 3 and explains that having only 1 measure is truly ideal.) She goes on to explain that with a typical SaaS model for new business closers (Account Executives or Enterprise Account Executives) who are on a 50/50 split (50% base, 50% OTE) plan, your truly outstanding reps should be earning 2-3X the target incentive, creating a genuinely rewarding plan for those who overachieve. In the spirit of creating meaningful upside, we then discuss the importance of creating uncapped commission plans. Donya explains that she does advocate for appropriate controls for “runaway payments” and gives a few examples of the best ways to approach building a plan like this and explains her model for “Deceleration Over Excellence,” a concept that was new to us here at Bowery. She encourages founders or hiring managers to truly incentive their reps by putting as “juicy a rate” right over quota as possible to incentivize reps to overachieve but then describes a maintainable model for achievement over 150% to goal. We also dive into building compensation plans for first sales hires when there is limited data at the founder’s disposal and the different metrics that need to be monitored to ensure a reliable model. Donya highlights that even with a flat line compensation plan (meaning there is a flat percentage payout no matter the size of the deal or attainment to quota) it’s imperative to have a change in the compensation structure once a rep hits quota, otherwise the quota itself becomes irrelevant. Donya finishes by explaining that the deal cycle and contract length are two other vital factors when considering a compensation plan and payout structure. We also touch on the cadence and best practices for updating and changing compensation plans. Donya Rose has over twenty-five years experience in leading the design and implementation of systems and processes to ensure alignment of sales results with top business priorities. She has led projects in sales target setting, measurement and forecasting, technology enabled selling, and sales compensation plan design. Today Donya focuses primarily on sales compensation plan design, and has designed hundreds of sales compensation plans since that became her focus in 1999.
This week, the Bowery Capital team hosted Aman Narang, President and Co-Founder at Toast, to discuss “Hybrid Selling Models: Building Successful Hardware & Software Sales Efforts.” Toast is a mobile point-of-sale application for restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs, and other businesses in the food service and hospitality space. Toast provides a comprehensive, fully-featured business management solution. As Aman is a Co-Founder at Toast, he built out the early sales machine at the business. We first dug in around the mixture of hardware versus software and how you specifically think about what you are going to lead with. Aman gave the listeners some great understanding about iOS versus Android from both the hardware and software side and how they thought about the form factor and custom hardware and software when launching Toast. Aman then discussed product pricing and considerations around hardware versus software. We close on this component of the discussion by talking through selling models and how a founder should consider local selling of their hardware and software with either an inside or outside sales model. Aman talked a lot about the specific profiles of people that he hired early on: ex-software sales people (obvious) or ex-restauranteurs (non-obvious). He spoke about competing with legacy vendors and how to win when thinking about the hardware or the software as the primary drivers. In the hospitality space, there is one glaring 800 pound gorilla in Micros Systems. Aman and I spoke about how they really built out a different market segment and really focused on a “harder” to win customer that Micros Systems was not even really competing in. He talked a lot about product pricing at scale and where they stand today on the blend of hardware and software pricing. Aman wrapped up the podcast with some high level thinking and tips and tricks that they learned in the first few years of business life. Aman Narang is President and co-founder of Toast. Prior to Toast, he worked on innovation initiatives at Endeca, now Oracle. Aman spearheaded the development of Endeca’s business intelligence platform as well as their mobile commerce platform, each of which became major business units. He holds BS and MS degrees in Computer Science from MIT and currently leads innovation and business development initiatives at Toast.