This week, the Bowery Capital team hosted Alex Boyd, Founder & CEO of RevenueZen, to discuss tips for figuring out early-stage go to market pricing by way of utilizing your first point of contact with customers: your early sales team! RevenueZen provides companies with on-demand access to the sales and marketing strategies, tools, and teams they need, when they need it. Leveraging data-driven strategies, tools, and processes, RevenueZen’s team of growth leaders, marketing strategists, and sales reps jump-starts a path to scalable growth. Over the past two years, they’ve helped dozens of companies build, optimize, and execute successful growth strategies, augmenting their team by providing critical leadership expertise and experienced frontline reps. RevenueZen’s customers include the likes of Adlink, Andela, Flexreceipts, Silversheet and more. In today’s episode, we discuss with Alex all the ways in which the first sellers on your frontline can help you figure out how to price your product. Alex gives us tips and ideas ranging from how to talk to your CEO as an early seller subjectively, to how to run surveys, measure, and speak with data-in-hand as to how your buyers are feeling about your pricing. We also discuss the role of discounting (a taboo word to some!) and how that can be a useful tool to help sort out pricing points, figure out the true ROI of your product, and uncover how buyers set their budgets. Finally, we chat on early mistakes we all make when pricing and how to avoid those. Alex is the Founder & CEO at RevenueZen where he works with growing companies to help them scale their content marketing, sales development, and lead generation. Prior to RevenueZen, Alex was the Director of Sales at InDinero and has roots in finance and asset management. Alex was born and raised in San Francisco but currently hails from Portland, Oregon. RevenueZen works with startups all over the country, so feel free to get in touch if you’re interested in striking up a conversation with him!
This week, the Bowery Capital team hosted Julie Devine, Senior Vice President of Customer Success and Strategic Partnerships at Maxwell Health, to discuss “Acquisition Messaging: Before, During and After.” Maxwell Health is a platform that helps people make better health-related financial decisions by simplifying benefits and insurance. It operates as an online benefits marketplace to help consultants and small-to-mid sized businesses offer the best benefits to employees. Through its user-friendly platform, Maxwell streamlines administrative processes in HR and allows employees to easily choose and access their benefits. It was recently acquired by Sun Life Financial in June 2018. In today’s podcast, Julie discusses the effects of an acquisition on a company and how leadership can best communicate internally and externally throughout the stages of the deal. According to Julie, the timing and announcement of an acquisition depends on the dynamics of a company’s leadership and the deal itself. For example, if a company’s board of directors collectively decided on a strategic opportunity and is choosing to approach a buyer, the process would be more open. However, Julie cautions that the group involved in a deal’s execution be kept as small as possible. This not only allows key management to efficiently strategize but also controls for the risk of a premature leak to customers and media. When deciding on who gets looped in on the deal, executive leadership must be extremely confident that the acquisition is happening. Additionally, the timing behind an announcement to customers and employees is crucial. A company should avoid sharing too much information too soon--on the other hand, it also doesn’t want to communicate too little information at too late a time. Most of all, a business must be authentic and specific in its acquisition messaging. Leadership should be prepared to elaborate on why the merger is a good idea and why it was motivated. Additionally, a lot of preparation should go behind the announcement itself to ensure that messaging is cohesive, confident, and well-timed. According to Julie, some of the best ways to prepare for an acquisition is understanding the intensity of the deal, preparing in advance, and staying ahead of the game. Julie Devine is the Senior Vice President of Customer Success and Strategic Partnerships at Maxwell Health. Having joined in 2014, she has led the development of customer service, growth, and success at Maxwell. Her role touches on everything from account management to technical support teams and business development. Julie previously worked for eight years at Highroads, a SaaS startup offering health plan product management services to large businesses. Prior to that, she was a human resources consultant at Mercer. Julie holds a B.A. from James Madison University.
This week, the Bowery Capital team hosted Jules Gsell, Director of Sales, and Heather Akuiyibo, VP of Sales, at Databricks to discuss “Building An Inclusive Sales Culture.” Databricks is a platform that streamlines data science and engineering for businesses. It provides a unified analytics platform, creating efficient workflows that make building and managing data products easier. Databricks has raised over $247MM from investors such as Andreessen Horowitz and Battery Ventures. In today’s podcast, Jules and Heather discuss the importance of forming team values, hiring diverse talent, and cultivating a culture of collaboration. According to them, building an inclusive sales culture starts with hiring. Before onboarding a potential candidate, it’s important for the team to communicate what its concept of inclusivity is and what skills, personality set, and values it’s looking for in a teammate. To help evaluate a candidate’s fit, it’s also good practice for the hiring committee to frequently interact with candidates in a non-interview setting. Jules and Heather also speak about conducting outbound prospecting to look for diverse candidates that can contribute valuable skills and perspectives to the team. Heather and Jules also point out that maintaining an inclusive team culture is just as critical as building it. According to Jules, a key factor behind a great team is fostering communication and collaboration between coworkers. This includes building bridges between different functions of a sales team and allowing SDRs and AEs to commingle on a daily basis. When encountering a situation that is toxic to the team’s culture, Heather and Jules stress that clear, direct, and timely communication is important to mitigating the issue. They also emphasize that it’s important for leaders to reach out to remote workers and spend time with their team. Overall, Heather and Jules believe an inclusive and positive team culture depends on a considerate hiring process, strong communication and collaboration, and a clear set of team values and expectations. Jules Gsell joined the Databricks team after working at box for eight years. At box, Jules served as Director of Enterprise Sales after being hired as its first SDR. There, she was responsible for building the company’s qualification and distribution process. Prior to that, she was an Account Executive for The Mercury News. Jules graduated with a B.A. in Applied Science from California Polytechnic State University in 2007. Heather Akuiyibo joined Databricks after serving as Director of Corporate Sales at Zendesk for five years. Prior to Zendesk, she was a Director at Bloomspot. Heather also worked for Google as a manager for online sales and operations, executing both ad sales and high-tech sales. She graduated with a degree in Urban Studies and Psychology from Stanford University in 1999.
This week, the Bowery Capital team hosted Dharmesh Singh, co-founder and CEO of Fullcast.io, to discuss “Sales Ops Strategies for Growing Startups.” Fullcast.io is a software company that provides sales-ops-as-a-service to transform sales operations to growth operations. By automating sales ops functions that are replicable across companies, Fullcast.io enables sales ops people to devote their attention to more productive, big-picture strategies, as opposed to the micromanagement of day-to-day sales motion. To explain the foundation of sales ops strategies, Dharmesh hones in on the concept of sales planning. It’s essential to free a company’s sales ops person from tedious, replicable functions, like cleaning data and building reports, so that they focus on the company’s go-to-market plan. This plan must begin with a concrete company goal in mind, whether it’s revenue, profitability, or predictability. Once this goal is set, the sales ops team can think about the appropriate customer base, necessary investments, measures of progress, and so on and so forth: the team can fully operationalize its plan. Dharmesh describes sales ops as a “dynamic beast” and explains that issues arise when teams attempt static solutions to a dynamic problem. A bottom-up approach to sales ops inevitably results in infinite tasks and little productivity, as the team gets bogged down in the details. For instance, sales ops people often buy one-off management tools, building a “tech deck” that results in inconsistent, unreliable data usage and entry across the board. Team members also tend to be disconnected from one another, as they use disparate tools of communication like email or Slack. Taking a growth ops lens and using a platform like Fullcast.io, Dharmesh explains, allows teams to democratize data, automate the trivial processes, and elevate the discussion to the greater picture of the firm. Dharmesh finally divides sales ops into three distinct buckets and stresses the importance of treating each bucket differently. These buckets are 1. deciding the go-to-market design, 2. managing day-to-day sales motion, and 3. sales enablement (e.g. playbooks, bootcamps). Much of the design and motion processes can be fully automated, but sales ops people tend to get sucked into the technicalities of motion, in particular. According to Dharmesh, proper automation through tools like Fullcast.io allows sales ops people to devote more attention and resources to enablement, which will truly help a company produce more bang for its buck. Dharmesh Singh serves as CEO and is a co-founder of Fullcast.io. He brings over 25 years of experience in sales, operations and engineering, building and selling enterprise solutions. His background includes managing operations teams at both Salesforce and Microsoft where he developed his passion for molding ideas into action.