SaaStr Podcast #177: Bill Binch, CRO @ Pendo.io On Why Career Paths Are For B Players in Sales

Welcome to Episode 177! Bill Binch is a leader and expert in the SaaS sales industry, currently CRO @ Pendo.io,  the startup that helps you understand and guide your users, creating a product experience they can’t live without. They have raised over $58m in VC funding from some of the best in their space with the likes of Battery Ventures, Spark Capital, and Salesforce Ventures all backing them. As for Bill, prior to Pendo, Bill was the Senior Vice President of Global Sales at Marketo for 8 years. He joined when it was a small venture-backed startup with a mission to reinvent marketing automation. It was his sales leadership and expertise that formed a critical component in building Marketo into one of the fastest-growing enterprise software companies in the world, recognized through his being awarded worldwide VP of sales in 2011.

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

* How Bill made his way into the world of SaaS and came to be employee #18 at Marketo before making the transition to today, as CRO @ Pendo.

* Bill has said before that career paths are for B players. First, what is wrong with the current thinking around career paths? Why does that inherently mean that A players do not align with them? How can one determine when is the right time to step away from the career paths? What characteristics and attributes do those truly special opportunities have?

* Bill has successfully made the transition from transactional business to enterprise business many times, what have been his core learnings on what it takes to make this transition successfully? What are the biggest challenges in making the transition? How does the internal structure of the team change when making this transition?

* What does Bill mean when he says you have to “rig the recruiters?” What incentives can be placed in front of them that ensure you will be a priority for them? On the flip side, what incentives do you have to give the recently onboarded employees to encourage grassroots, word of mouth on the company brand?

* How does the company and sales cycle fundamentally change when moving from $0-1m ARR? What does that mean for the company policy on discounting and pilots? How does the company alter when transitioning from $1-10m in ARR? How can sustainable social validity be built in this stage? How does a company successfully move from $15m-100m in ARR?

60 Second SaaStr?

* What does Bill know now that he wishes he had known at the beginning?

* What keeps Bill up at night?

* What does Bill mean when he says you have to check your ego?

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Jason Lemkin
Harry Stebbings
SaaStr
Bill Binch

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Transcript

Harry Stebbings:  We’re back for another week in the world of SaaStr with me, Harry Stebbings. You can now see the guest coming up on the show the next week, and suggest questions ahead of time for them, also getting yourself a mention in the episode if the question is asked. You can do that on Instagram, @hstebbings1996. It’d be fantastic to see you there.

To the [inaudible 0:17] today, and a guest I just loved having on the show the first time, so much so that I had to have him back on for a special round two. I’m thrilled to welcome back Bill Binch. Bill is a leader and expert in the SaaS sales industry, currently serving as CRO at Pendo.io, the startup that helps you understand and guide your uses, creating a product experience they can’t live without.

They’ve raised over $58 million in VC funding from some of the very best in the business, including the likes of Battery Ventures, Spa Capital, and Salesforce Ventures all behind them. As for Bill, prior to Pendo, Bill was a senior VP of Global Sales at Marketo for eight years, where he joined when it was a small venture‑backed startup with a mission to reinvent marketing automation.

It was his sales leadership and expertise that formed a critical component in building Marketo into one of the fastest‑growing enterprise software companies in the world, recognized through his being awarded worldwide VP of Sales in 2011.

I do also have to say a huge thank you to Jason Lemkin for the intro, and Todd Olson, founder of Pendo for the fantastic questions suggestions today.

That’s enough of this dull British tone, and I am now thrilled to hand over Bill Binch, CRO at Pendo.io.

[drum and cymbal]

Harry:  Good. That’s perfect. OK, I think we’re warmed up.

Bill, it’s absolutely fantastic to have you on this show for a second time, what can I say. I so enjoyed the first time, but this was just a must do with the move to Pendo. Thank you so much for joining me today, Bill.

Bill Binch:  Absolutely. I don’t know if being a repeat contributor or a repeat offender is better or worse, Harry, but I’m excited to be on the show with you.

Harry:  I think we should do repeat contributor for this case. I would love to start with, for those of you who missed the first episode, a little on you, how you made your way into the world of SaaS and now came to be CRO at Pendo.

Bill:  Absolutely. I had a traditional software upbringing after finishing university of working for Oracle, PeopleSoft, and BEA, all big billion‑dollar software companies.

In 2007, saw the shift that was happening and made my move into a small company and was there for a short amount of time before it sold, and then was fortunate to be the seventeenth person to join Marketo and embarked upon nearly a decade journey with them after that. That was a great place to learn and really quite even helped define some of the way that SaaS is sold and delivered today.

Harry:  Absolutely. What a journey it was. I do have to ask though, the incredible nine years spent at Marketo, seeing that scaling firsthand, what were the core takeaways that now, especially now you’re at Pendo, a smaller organization than the Marketo that you left, that you’ve taken with you and those transferable learnings.

Bill:  The key thing, Harry, there is that change is going to happen, and when I mean that, inside your organization, and it will be hard. Embracing that difficulty is really good. I look back at the Marketo years and there were time when I owned sales and all of customer success. There were times that I gave renewals away to somebody, and then I got it back.

There were times that I had Biz Dev, and then I gave it away and then got it back. There were times I had the channel. There were times that I focused on S&B. There were times I focused on international. Those didn’t always feel good, those changes at the moment because it might have meant a new boss. It might have meant a new organization, maybe even one that was struggling and you had to go turn around.

In looking back, the experience is just exceptional because having gone through that, I have the experience now. When I go talk to another organization whether it’s just helping advise somebody or like at Pendo being a part of the team, I just bring such a wealth of experience that I was able to experience myself and bring the knowledge and the know‑how from that.

Harry:  I love the element of embracing the change. Incredibly tough to do though. I’m intrigued. What was that first step to embracing change?

Bill:  Like I said, there’s an old saying where they say check your ego at the door. That’s really important. A lot of people refer to that Sheryl Sandberg statement about when she was joining Google, and she was getting caught up in what the role and title would be, and Eric Schmidt famously said to her, “When you’re being invited to ride the rocket, don’t worry about the seat that you’re in.”

That’s probably the toughest part. The first thing that you have to do is if you’re with a winning team, then the role you play, the contribution that you make, is the secondary part. Being a part of a team that’s there to win and want to be successful, that’s the number one thing that you need to be focused on.

Harry:  Talking about that seat that you’re in, I’d love to start with the element that we discussed before being career paths. You said that career paths are for B players, so how can I not start on this? Before we address that, why is it fundamentally wrong or limiting with career paths today in sales?

Bill:  Let me start with a caveat that I at Pendo and I previously at Marketo and companies before that have a structured career path for people to be on. The second caveat is I’m really speaking about the sales disciplined right now.

With those two out of the way, having a current career path and having it focus on sales, what I’ll tell you is that no one who is an A player really wants to go down that career path. Quite simply, and I’m going to paraphrase from a guy that works at Pendo right now, Dan Demas, who’s RVP of Customer Success, is if you’re good at what you do, then opportunity knocks, and all you need to do is say yes.

That’s why I say career paths are for B players. They’re outlined for the vanilla. They’re outlined for the generic path of what could happen. Harry, if you’re outstanding, if you’re exceptional at what you do, there’s no way you’re going to stick to that path because people are going to come and ask you to do other things.

Harry:  Can I ask you? Obviously, it takes a huge amount of courage and risk to step away from the safety net of a more structured career path. This can actually very much apply to you in terms of moving to Pendo and assessing the opportunity.

What characteristics or qualities would one look for in an alternative option that makes it that attractive rocket ship to step away from the traditional, conventional career path?

Bill:  I’m going to use an analogy to a sport. You think about people that go skiing. Often people say if you don’t ever fall down, then you’re not trying hard enough. The characteristics that I think you’re going to want to look for is a steep learning curve. Take me for instance. I just joined Pendo in January. I’m a little over four months in, and everyday it’s like getting hit in the face with a door on the new things that I’m learning.

I’m 26 years out of university, Harry, so it’s not like I’m a first‑timer at this stuff. It doesn’t mean that just having those years of experience makes it easier. It just means that you have more wisdom. For me, the characteristics that I think someone’s going to look for in jumping off of a structured career path is is this going to challenge me. Am I going to learn? Am I going to develop myself?

Any one of those things that speak to intellectual curiosity. Is this something that is going to be new to me versus is it some of the same old, same old.

Harry:  Can I ask Bill, personally, what have you found are the biggest challenges in terms of scaling that learning curve with the move to Pendo?

Bill:  That’s a great question because I often say I wish with my years of experience that it got easier, but guess what. The world moves. The cloud business evolves. Competitors get better. Your employees are smarter. They’re doing more things today at a earlier stage in their career than they did when I came out of school.

It’s not an easy process to dive into and just say that hey, I’ve been here and I’ve done that because what I just said there is you constantly, yourself, have to be learning. The biggest challenge is trying not to be the person that’s the lecturer or the person that says you should do this or you should do that, but also being a student yourself while bringing a very collaborative style to an organization to try and drive things.

What I’ve found is a really useful tool is to ask a lot of questions. I could very easily come in, direct and point people towards what the next thing should be, but I really find that people learn and take much higher level of ownership of things if they feel like they were part of the process for creating the idea or the solution.

Harry:  How do you think about creating that culture of ownership of decisions but also not a fear of failing when those ownership don’t pan out the way they should?

Bill:  That’s hard. Admittedly, I’d say that one of my biggest weaknesses in the development of my career is that I felt I was a great delegator. Realistically what I learned through some hard lessons, i.e. some 360 feedback reviews and some very direct people talking to me, was that a lot of times I walked into a room with a decision made up where I wanted to go.

A lot of the times the team would just placate me because they knew that my decision was made up. I truly wasn’t searching for greatness. I truly wasn’t searching for input. I was just driving to my agenda. I had a thinly veiled veneer over that. People would play to that at some point. It is a real challenge of how do you delegate, how do you go and challenge.

There’s a phrase I use a lot, Harry, that I find when I have a strong opinion but I don’t necessarily want to put it out on the table, is I’ll say, “What’s going to come out of my mouth next?” I’ll just pause and I’ll let that flow. At that point, it makes someone stop, step away, and probably say whatever my point of view is, he probably has a different point of view. Let me see if I can walk a mile in his shoes.

I find that that provokes a different dialogue, because instead of me saying what my thought is and, like I said, being forceful, strong, or directive, at that point, it lets the conversation continue as a two‑way. That’s the tool that I like to utilize.

Harry:  You mentioned some of the team members at Pendo with you today. I had a great chat with Todd Olson, CEO of Pendo, before this episode. He’s spoken to me about your incredible experience transitioning from transactional businesses to enterprise businesses.

Starting on this and with the benefit of as you said, 26 years out of university, what have been the core learnings for you in making this transition really successfully now a number of times?

Bill:  That was one of the real attractive things about Pendo. The experience of Marketo was one where we created a marketplace. We were one of several vendors that created the market automation space. Today, Pendo is similarly suited, that it’s not a replacement market, it’s again defining a new category called product analytics.

Much like a lot of cloud and SaaS companies that start up, they start by focusing on the S&B first. That’s what Pendo’s done for the last several years. They’re now looking at making that transition and that shift over to the enterprise. As Todd and I hooked up together, I really started enjoying our conversations about where they’re at, where they’re looking to go.

I established this concept that I talk about internally called growing up Pendo. Growing up Pendo is a whole company transition, Harry. Let me break it down for you like this. We could be out selling a deal. Let’s say we are selling a deal in Europe, and they come and ask questions about our infrastructure.

GDPR is a big topic going into effect this week. They could be asking about data sovereignty and where our servers are based. They could be asking about a lot of things that are part of the sale cycle. Inside of an organization like Pendo, I don’t own the infrastructure and how our systems are run. That’s someone over in our operations and engineering side.

Likewise, someone could come and say, “We want to open up your legal agreement and negotiate some of these terms.” I need to go drive through that process to come find a common ground for them and for us to be able to make a contract work. Again, part of the sale cycle but not a component that I own is the legal aspect.

A last example is tax support. Someone could come and say, “What happens when I call you at 3:00 PM my time? That’s 2:00 in the morning your time. Who picks up? How does that get handled? How does it get triaged?” I have to have a 24 by 7 answer for them that may not be part of the sales motion but is obviously important to us being able to win that deal.

The point of those three things, Harry, is I just talked about three things that are not sales and not marketing. They are all things that support it. The concept of growing up Pendo is about teaching this company how to sell enterprise.

All those things, data sovereignty, GDPR, tax support on a 24 by 7 basis, and legal and opening up contracts, those are things that big companies, i.e. enterprise companies, are going to want to do.

For us, it’s much more than the heavy lifting that we have to do in the marketing and the sales motion, which I’m not making light of, is tremendous to move from a transactional business to an enterprise business. It’s tremendous there, but it’s much, much more than just sales and marketing.

That’s the mistake I think a lot of people make in looking at a transition. They think, “We’re just going to go hire a bunch of expensive sales reps and suddenly, we’re going to catapult ourselves up into selling into the enterprise category.” That’s just not accurate.

Harry:  You mentioned about starting an S&B and working up. I had a guest on the show recently that posited that it was easier to start enterprise and then go S&B because of the product functionality that build out front, price being much more granular and detailed, and the tax support team being built out much more succinctly. How would you respond to that, top‑down versus bottom‑up analysis?

Bill:  You got to compartmentalize it. From a product perspective, there’s probably a stronger case to be made that if you start with it big and then you start limiting functionality, move downwards, that that’s an easier motion. On a go‑to‑market side, I would vehemently disagree. That’d be a great dinner or a wine conversation with that individual.

The simple fact is that the velocity motion is something about lather, rinse, and repeat. The enterprise motion is about custom deal cycles. To create that flywheel effect of being able to do something at high volume and high velocity takes a lot more discipline. I shouldn’t say a lot more discipline, that’s not a fair categorization. It takes a different type of discipline than doing it at the enterprise.

I think that people that start in the S&B and grow themselves up to the enterprise tend to be much more successful than people in the selling motion that start enterprise and try to move down‑market.

Harry:  You mentioned the word velocity there. I have to ask, is high velocity and enterprise deals not mutually exclusive or a paradox in themselves?

Bill:  Yeah. You look at some companies like Salesforce, and they do big deals that are fairly high velocity. If you think about how many SaaS companies are over 5,000 employees, there’s the big four. There’s Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, and Salesforce, is the four horsemen of that category. After that, the number of companies over 5,000 employees gets much smaller.

It’s not mutually exclusive, but I do think that most companies today are thinking about that there’s a distinct motion that they have to build for the velocity biz, and that there’s a separate and equally distinct motion that they build for the enterprise side.

Harry:  Can I ask, for you, as the CRO of Pendo, making that move from S&B to enterprises, how do you think about internal asset allocation and how you prioritize functions with the move upstream?

Bill:  This goes back to what we started on, that don’t be afraid to embrace the change, because things that you do today are not going to be things that you do tomorrow. In an S&B world, you might have pricing up on your website, then you find later that that’s difficult, because it sets a precedent in someone’s mind.

All of a sudden, you have a big enterprise company come in where you’re going to go run a 6, 9, or 12‑month cycle. To go back to pricing based on a website is hard, because they come back and say, “Isn’t that based on X, Y, Z that you’ve posted here?” Whereas at that point when you’re doing that 6 or 12‑month sale cycle, you’re really selling against value proposition, as opposed to a technology proposition.

Harry:  In terms of the move upstream, we discussed before about being self‑aware of your own organization. How do you think about the changing internal structure, maybe specifically to sales teams when you’re making the move from S&B to enterprise? What are those core hires?

Bill:  Just from the moves, before I talk about the hires, it is a journey. The big thing is when you’re in an S&B or a transactional world, you think about things in terms of weeks and months. Therefore, you tend to put your investments of people and dollar resources towards that.

Whereas when you start thinking about going upstream, it moves to much more of a quarterly or an annual type of viewpoint, which means that when you make investments, Harry, your ROI is slower to achieve. That’s tough.

That’s tough because if you build your business on week and month cadence, and you’re used to seeing return in a couple of months, and then you start doing things that are longer‑term focused, meaning longer‑term deals, bigger deal sizes, more expensive sales reps, those take longer to pay off.

You’ve got to have that ability to weather that time frame and that change, because people get anxious and start getting worried. From a resource perspective of the people, it’s very typical to go and build a repeatable motion for your down‑market or your S&B team. That tends to be people that are newer and younger in their career, meaning they’ve gotten there, and they’re looking for lots of guidance.

They’re looking for a very structured process. They’re looking for sales methodologies and things that they’re going to take with them to their next jobs. Then the people on the other side that are on the enterprise side tend to be people with 10, 15‑plus years of experience out of school, and they’re focused on a different type of act.

They’re not necessarily coming to you to look to get that sales methodology training or the negotiation training, because they’ve probably been through it. What’ they’re looking to do is take their skill set and apply it to an organization to go be successful and win.

Harry:  You mentioned the people element there and internal, personal trajectories. I’m really intrigued in terms of building out that sales team. Before, you left me on a cliffhanger, and it’s one that actually I’ve been meaning to ask you for about 18 months so I’m thrilled to have the chance today. You said you got to rig the recruiters. What did you mean when you said rig the recruiters?

Bill:  The idea is if you’re a young software company getting going, you probably have very little brand recognition. If you go knock on the door of any recruiter to get talent and say, “I want your A+ people,” you’re unproven to them. You’ve got to find a way to prove yourself. There’s a couple of things where you have to make your own rules.

To sit there and just say that I’m going to come in and I’m going to pay a recruiter the standard fee, hell no. You can’t do that. If you want to truly get A+ talent, then you’re going to have to go pay for it. To me, the idea of rigging the recruiters was back in the early days of Marketo, the first thing I did since we had no brand recognition as a company, was I went and offered a higher percentage rate for their people.

That got their attention on, “These guys are willing to pay to play.” Number two is you need to create some volume. You need to hire more than one person. If you think about a recruiter, they’re just like any other business. They want to go back to their existing customers, because those are easier customers to sell generally, and do repeat sales to them.

What I had to do was put a motion in place, say A, I was going to pay them more, and B, I was going to make it so that it was a continuous process. That was the concept of rigging the recruiters. It was essentially me coming up with a concept of how I was going to go get their attention.

The last thing that I did was an internal thing, which was I put some incentives in front of my sales team that they could then go and overachieve, and by overachieving, they could go proudly boast that they had earned this money. That gets the attention of those recruiters as well, because a recruiter is looking to place a top talent in a place where they can make money.

If you’ve got the internal people telling you they’ve got that going, that they’re making their numbers and overachieving on their earnings, then you’re going to build upon that success.

Harry:  Speaking of them hitting that target and signing those logos, I’m intrigued because before, we discussed the element of onboarding new customers, and you said that about the importance of getting as many customers on board as fast as possible for the confidence of the team.

How do you think about this when building out in the much slower enterprise space where deal cycles are much longer?

Bill:  First of all, I’d say that I think most SaaS companies today come out of the gates and have some focus on S&B, and don’t focus just exclusively on the enterprise. There are those companies that do that, but that’s a little bit of a different place.

I first of all think about, the goal is to build your base with logos. There’s a circle of life, to use a cheesy term, that is beneficial to any company that getting logo helps with, which is number one, it gives confidence to the sales team that they have a product that’s sellable and that they can close deals.

Number two is it hands that off to the customer success team and they get experience turning customers on to the product, and enabling them, and seeing what components are in use from the customer. That then provides feedback downstream to the developers who can now say, “Let’s tweak our product to go in this direction or in this other direction.”

That goes back to the top of that funnel, which is marketing, to say, “This product is being built for this purpose. We need you to message and kick up the dust around that.”

Like I said, the benefit of, if you sell logos, is that the whole company wins. That energy of closing business becomes contagious across the entire organization. I’m not sure there’s a way that you can shorten an enterprise sale cycle if that’s the focus that you go, other than just being aggressive about wanting to get logos onboarded.

Harry:  I completely agree. There are elements that people often cite as tipping people over the edge, one of them being pilots and the other being discounting. On the pilot element, what are your views on pilots and what one should really be looking to drive in those engagements?

Bill:  I think there’s a difference between a pilot and a trial. To me, a trial is someone saying, “I want to test your software and kick the tires.” That means a technical evaluation. It tends to be fairly short. “You say your product does this. I want to prove it. Give me access to your software and let me do it.” That to me is a trial.

Versus a pilot to me tends to be much more value focused. A pilot is your company’s product does the following functionality, but there’s some type of benefit statement that your company has a mission to deliver inside of their customers. I want to see some of that mission come through. That’s to me what a pilot is.

A trial, to me, is technical, it’s shorter‑term. A pilot is something that’s a little bit longer‑term, is how I think about that. The key of either one of those, for both the vendor as well as the buyer, is to have mutually agreed upon success criteria.

If you just start a trial or a pilot, and there’s no criteria of what defines success, it’s like me asking you, Harry, to go put your running shoes on, and your workout gear, and saying, “Here’s the starting line. Get ready to run.”

You ask me, “Bill, is this a sprint? Is it a 5K, a 10K, a marathon? What is this?” I go, “I’ll let you know when you get there.” That just doesn’t feel very good. Mutually agreed success criteria is the real critical thing whether you do a trial or a pilot.

Harry:  I’ve got a terrible image of you coaching me around the running track right now, Bill.

Bill:  [laughs]

Harry:  Let’s erase that from my mind by moving swiftly to discounting, the other element that can help in keeping people over the line. What are your thoughts on discounting? I had someone again on the show who said that discounting today is table stakes. Would you agree with this?

Bill:  I think it’s very common. I look at it like this. You start your business, you’re in a logo pursuit, and you’re looking for experience of people using your product. If that’s giving it away, doing beta programs, giving charter discounts where they’re really deep just to get people on board. I think there’s a mindset.

Then from there, you evolve over time to value selling. What I mean by that, Harry, is we are all used to people coming and wanting to buy our product, and they actually want to get the best price possible. Remember, if you’re a vendor, you have the cost of founding the company, of developing the product, of staffing the go‑to‑market team, and then all the supporting organization.

You have to sell your product for a fair price. To sell it based on user base or seat base, something like that, might not be the best way to extract value. Value might be coming and saying, “I drive top line growth. By using my product, we think you’ll drive X percent more, or we’ll give you bottom‑line savings.” Those are the two most common value props that companies do.

They do that by all types of different things, by getting you more leads, by giving you greater visibility into what your business is doing, and being able to help you assess how your customers are using your product. All different things like that that could be useful in building some type of value selling price to them.

Harry:  In a time when discounting is an exceptional measure, can I ask, when is that stage of company life for when actually, it’s quite a persistent and usual element of business? By how much is traditional, do you think, often?

Bill:  I think that most companies are fairly driven from a time frame perspective. The classic software world is they see things at the end of quarter, where people get more aggressive because they want to close up a big quarter. I think quarterly focus is still alive and well, and exists out there from that perspective.

The other real driver for that is competition. There are very few markets out there where there’s not good competitors out there that have a similar product to you that you’re competing against. From that point, the competitors together sometimes set what you’d call the basement prices for the market.

Harry:  I would love to dive into my favorite element, Bill. You know it. You’ve done it before. The 60 second faster. Are you ready? 60 seconds per statement.

Bill:  I’m ready to go.

Harry:  The sales process from naught to a million.

Bill:  I would say any deal at any cost. That goes back to what I was saying about beta trials, getting charter customers, whatever it is.

You just want people using your software so that you have stories, that you have customer success tales that you can tell, that you have references that you can go on to take to the next buyer, and that you have some metrics that you can measure the impact that your product had on their business.

Harry:  Would you agree with Jason Lambkin when he says that when you start paid marketing, as long as you’ve got a dollar back for every dollar you spend, you’ll be positive with the blended in mind.

Bill:  Yeah, absolutely. I would agree with that.

Harry:  The sales process that’s from 1 to 10 million.

Bill:  Transactions. That to me is the business of building something that people see that you have a marketplace, because being in a niche is no good. If you are a sample size of one, then you better be doing something incredibly innovative that the world can’t live without. It doesn’t matter if you can use Ford to Toyota. You could use Uber to Lyft. You could use any Coke to Pepsi.

Any variable out there in the world, if there’s a good product out there, there’s a second good product as well. To me, that 1 to 10‑million‑dollar space is about building that marketplace and getting customers to use your product.

Harry:  The space that you’ll soon be entering with Pendo, the sales process from 15 to 100 million.

Bill:  This to me is the area where you’re going to look for customer expansion. This is where you’re going to leap beyond looking at getting new customers onboarded and start looking to, how do you grow inside your current customer base? That’s an imperative to being a successful company and making it through that 15 to 100‑million‑dollar range.

At that stage, you’ve got to be thinking about what your next act is in terms of what other products can you go back to your current customers and sell. You’ve got to be thinking about how you expand inside of those customers.

That’s where you’re truly, truly getting the value statements that I talked about back from your customers. That’s where you want to have people standing on the stage at your conference or your summit, talking about the impact that you’ve had on their business. That’s real success to me.

Harry:  What keeps you up at night?

Bill:  Harry, there’s an old concept of a thought called group‑think that people have talked about, where a group can get themselves spun up around a topic. That’s evolved. There’s a concept called team‑think, which is how do you match up the thoughts of an individual with an organization?

This world moves so fast right now, information is so abundant that people are very fast to have a bias to act, which is great. That happens to be one of Pendo’s cultural values, is have a bias to act.

To get that bias to act to work in conjunction with what the top line mission of the goal or top line mission of the team is, and aligns with the goal of that team, that takes what? That takes a tremendous amount of communications.

What keeps me up is getting the team to all think in a similar manner. Remember when I said earlier in the show here, that if I say, oftentimes when I want other way to think about a topic, is what’s going to come out of my mouth next?

It gets them to a place where if they can start anticipating you with a fair amount of accuracy on what your actions would be in that situation, then that means that the team is cohesive.

You could use a million cheesy sports analogies to talk about different teams and whatever sport they wanted, but essentially, what you see in teams that win is it’s not just one individual who is really awesome. You see a collection of individuals that are really, really good at what their specific role is.

Harry:  Who doesn’t love a cheesy sports analogy? I want to finish today on the final question being what do you know now, Bill, that you wish you’d known? You can take a couple of different options here. It could be from your time starting with Marketo as employee number 17 from 26 years ago. What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the beginning of…given a choice?

Harry:  There’s a couple of things that jump out at me. There’s a different mindset of people and how it’s going to work in our environment today. An organization exists when both the company and the employees have a good balanced state of equilibrium.

What I mean by that is that as an employee, I’m getting growth. I’m getting opportunities given to me where I can go and build my career from the organization. Likewise, the company’s getting great output from you. As long as those stay in balance, that’s good.

I wish I’d known that earlier in my career as opposed to having this what I’d call antiquated idea that people are going to come in, they’re going to sign on, they’re going to be loyal to you forever. There’s a different mindset in today’s world. I’ve learned a few things along the way.

One thing I learned from a great guy named Patrick Donnelly who was with me at Marketo for about five years was, let’s just be real about that. I’d much rather a person that works in my organization come to me and express that they’re frustrated, express that they’re thinking about considering other options than just surprising me.

That at least gives me the opportunity to try and repair what they want to see. If I can make that happen, that’s great. If we don’t agree, and I can’t make that happen, then at least I know what was coming down the road and what was going to be around the next corner.

I just think about people management, and like I said, the old view that someone’s going to come work for you and be loyal forever, that’s just an outdated concept.

Tuning into people and trying to set expectations for what their next 12 months can look like, being on that same page, and agreeing that we’re going to live in this one‑year view of the world of what’s good for me right now, what’s good for the company right now, and if those things align, then there’s a good place for both of us.

Harry:  Bill, you know I always love chatting, but I can’t thank you enough for putting up with my dull [inaudible 32:15] British tones for a second time. I’ve so enjoyed it. Thank you so much.

Bill:  Absolutely. Thanks very much for having me, Harry.

[tone]

Harry:  Again, a huge thanks to Bill for giving up the time today to come on the show. Such a pleasure to have him back on. A big thank you to Jason Lemkin for the intro and Todd Olson for the fantastic questions today. If you’d like to see more from us and jump behind the scenes at SaaStr, you can on Instagram at hstebbings1996. It’d be fantastic to see you there.

As always, we so appreciate all your support. I cannot wait to bring you next week’s SaaStr episode.

Published on June 1, 2018

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