This is a must-watch for those who are trying to scale their sales reps and organization for enterprise sales.
Philippe Botteri, Partner at Accel, interviews Jeremy Jawish, CEO at Shift Technology. Jeremy talks about his organizational structure across multiple countries, hiring sales reps and plans to monitor your sales reps KPIs when you’re time to closing the deal can be 6+ months. With an average deal size of 500K, this is a great session for those who either want to create an enterprise solution or scale their current solution for enterprise.
Also, if you didn’t attend SaaStr Europa, we’re having it again in 2019. Don’t miss out on the chance to get your tickets. 🙂
Principal @ Accel | Philippe Botteri
CEO @ Shift Technology | Jeremy Jawish
Philippe Botteri: So hi, my name is Philippe Botteri I’m with Accel. So we’re a global venture firm with offices in in Silicon Valley where we have our origin and I’m based in the London office and we also have an office in India. So we’re one of the very few early stage venture firm with a truly global coverage. And it is that network that we give to our portfolio. So we’re here because we are you know we’re pretty big on SaaS. We’ve invested in companies like Dropbox, Qualtrics, Atlassian in France there is a pretty vibrant ecosystem so we’re in you know Algolia, PeopleDoc and Shift Technology. So I’m very pleased to introduce Sir Jeremy who is the founder of and CEO of Shift so Shift is a SaaS leader in fraud detection and claim automation for insurance. So as you all know insurance are large, quite large and the deals when you sell to insurance are big, quite big and they are not very easy to land especially when when you’re small. So in this session we’ll discuss how to structure your sales and marketing team to scale fast. When you sell to to Enterprise. Jeremy it’s great to be with you today first as a start.
Philippe Botteri: Can you give a sense to the audience about what is your typical deal size. you know how many customers do you have? So we get an idea of what you’re dealing with every day.
Jeremy Jawish: hi everyone so I’m Jeremy. Thanks for attending. so at Shift we sell software service solution for insurers. So it’s a recurrent business. So insurance pay a yearly usage. The average deal we have is around five hundred thousand euros recurrent. So it’s not small deals. of course you have small deals that go to like one hundred thousand a year but a larger audience can be multimillion so our current largest DNA is 2 million recurrent.
Jeremy Jawish: I think the average would be 500000.
Philippe Botteri: Okay. Good. Yeah I wish it was to 200 million. I would be a very happy investor. I am still very happy with that 2 million.
Philippe Botteri: Okay. So let’s talk about your first customer. I mean it’s always hard when you start your you know you were the smallest you ever been and you have to sell to a big insurance company. How did you learn your first customer?
Jeremy Jawish: So yeah for Shift it was it wasn’t an easy sell. so to give you the context for those who are in the same situation Shift we are three founders. We are we were at the time Twenty-six 27 years old. And we created shift saying we want to sell software service A.I. algorithm for insurers. So we were targeting insurance company in France. And we went to see them claiming like we will automate your fraud detection you just need to send the data and we’ll do it. And everybody was looking at us like your treat 27 years old guys you want to have all our data process it and send it to us – are you mad? And so we were like struggling with having our first deal. So the way it went is we got introduced to one of it’s so funny the first one it’s quite funny. We got introduced as all incubators and startup to an insurance company and we got introduced to the head of innovation and the idea of innovation we’re very excited to meet us because his job is meeting startups and introducing it. And we spent six months having dinners and lunches and discussions and business case with the head of innovation and we were not meeting anybody else.
Jeremy Jawish: So we were like Well I don’t know how this works how we can land a deal of several. It was like a million euro recording deal and we’re not meeting everyone and we were like it’s we were first time entrepreneurs. So we thought maybe this is the way you sell stuff. And then we had our investors did we see there and they were like you’re never gonna lead land a deal like this you need to find who’s the key decision maker. And so I realized that the key decision maker wasn’t this guy. And the funny story is that we met we get didn’t you met this guy signed the deal in the office which is exactly next to the office of the head of innovation and a months after he just called and say like where are you guys we need to start working on the deal. And we already signed the same in the office just next to him. So the first deal took us a year to land okay.
Philippe Botteri: So the first learning is don’t talk to the head of innovations? All right. So nobody can tweet that because my wife is actually head of innovation for a large company.
Philippe Botteri: So the key learning is just make sure you’re speaking. You can identify an organization the right decision maker. Okay so you’ve landed your first customer very sizable deal. So that obviously gives you a lot of credibility when you speak you reach out to other customers. So now from there you say are you start thinking you know how do I scale. And in the first question for you is like how do you organize your sales team to scale first in France and then across different countries.
Philippe Botteri: Yeah. So then once we had our first customer it was about scaling sales. the first thing I learned is that I’m not a good sales person. So the first thing you do and when you’re terrible at something is that you hire somebody to do it. So there where we scale that we spent six months looking for head of sales so we hired she’s now our chief revenue officer somebody that was head of sales for SaaS two large organizations. And we took somebody that already scaled the business so she was the head of sales of IBM cloud worldwide and six months because you need to convince somebody to quit a job with 450 sales rep to one sales rep in Paris. And then and this is where you learn how to scale. So it’s about having the right proposition value, having the right references, organizing packages for sales, and then hiring sales. All the work we’ve done is packaging how we can identify who’s the key decision maker? What is he interested in? How do we sell it to these people? And what’s the right business model? And this is what we’ve done for the first six months and then it’s about having the right team under the right team.
Philippe Botteri: So that was for France. So basically the structure of the organization you hired a head of sale and then under that head of sales you had different reps though did you specific sales upstream to prepare – I mean to do all the account management, preparation, and identification of the target decision maker? Or was is done by the reps.
Jeremy Jawish: So we are organized a way where we have the reps that do all of this work but all the technical sales is done by data scientists in the company because it’s very important that the people that are going to do implementations and work on production are the same people that talk to the customers. And this is also what force us to have data scientists from different countries because you want them to talk to in German to German to talk in Spanish to Spanish. And so the organization is you have head of sales with sales reps up that really literally takes the whole sales process and then within the sales process you have data scientists that are experts that work with these guys and are in front of customers.
Philippe Botteri: So you send your data scientists in front of the customers? Yeah can imagine sometimes situations how it can go.
Jeremy Jawish: I’m not going to comment on that. So how do you hire your data scientists because usually data scientists love data and science. So they love to work in front of their computer. They’re not the people. I mean if you’re a data scientist you don’t do that because you want to go and sell to people’s. Otherwise, you’d go into sales. So how do you screen and hire your data scientists to make sure that they can also do these sales role?
Jeremy Jawish: So we did an internal data scientist study and we realized that the first feature was being a fan of Star Wars. So this is the first thing you want to look at the data scientist now, I’m just kidding it’s a joke. We’re really big fans of Star Wars in the company. So everybody make jokes about that. So yeah what’s important in our interview process is of course there is like mathematical questions and coding questions. And then there’s there’s this last interview where what we tried to find out is if this data scientists would be able to work with users that are today claim handler’s working at an insurance company looking at papers and dealing with claims on a daily basis. Or are they going gonna be like crazy geniuses in front of their computer? They want to go to meet customers. So this is the first thing is hiring the right people. So once they’re hired the first thing we ask them to do is work with people and they spent four months with a user in an insurance company. So before hiring data scientists tell them the first four months you’ll be sitting with claim handlers and working as a claim handler. So you come out of university doing a lot of mathematics and then the company puts you with a claim handler taking calls and settling claims. This is a good way of selecting the ones that really want to do it. So this is the complete process we have.
Philippe Botteri: Okay. It’s very interesting because as we see I mean a lot of the new products we see right now I mean there is machine learning everywhere. And when there is machine learning there is you have some technical sales to do. And so it’s not the first time I hear that you know a data scientist have to be in front of the customer. And so it’s very important what you describe in terms of how do you onboard them making sure they really understand what’s happening at the customer before they’re actually placed in front of new customers. So in your organization. So how did you handle the geographic coverage. Like was everything based in France to cover all of Europe or did you start separate the country organization and then how did you address the organization for the U.S. market?
Jeremy Jawish: And so the way we structured is you have sales rep that are in countries where you want to land deals. We have a rule internally where these sales rep needs to be at least once a month a week in Paris is very important. And then for the data scientists either it’s in Asia so you put them on site. So what we do is we send French people that go on site and create teams user for the rest for Europe it’s in Paris and we are quite an international team. So if you visit our office you’ll see we have a lot of people that don’t speak French. We have a German team a Spanish team a UK team so every country has its own team and they all work on the same solution. So it’s quite interesting because this is where you see that for instance German people really focus on identity aggregation in terms of pushing into the solution. Spanish people focus a lot of networks detection. So it’s a quite international culture where people are per country working with the same team but work on the same platform.
Philippe Botteri: Okay. And so do you have a country head managing all the different people in the country or do they report to you know whatever head of function based in France?
Jeremy Jawish: Yeah. So this is the toughest part of structuring the company so we don’t have local managers want to say like we don’t have a manager of Singapore or a manager of Japan we have head of sales reporting to the Chief Revenue Officers and we have data scientists reporting to the chief data scientist and this is where the biggest part of my job is being sure that there’s a harmony between these people and they work together. And it goes with the right processes that people need to execute like we’re saying like in sales you need to have sales rep taking data scientist so he can’t go to a meeting without a data scientist and all the other time you need to have a data scientist team being able to execute with the systems. So it’s all about making sure that there’s a real team spirit the right process and the right harmony. And this is the tough part of what we do. But when you when you looked at it today we have a really amazing conversion rate we don’t have any problem in getting our customers and it wasn’t easy at the beginning can imagine like you hired a bunch of IBM sales guy and you tell them you know what. We don’t have technical says you take these data scientists twenty five in your sales meeting pitching the product.
Philippe Botteri: So basically if I tried to summarize yourselves more what was the key thing is making sure that you have a dual team like joint team sales and data science making sure that the data science people are trained at the customer so they really understand the business and then you develop your country teams. But they are manage kind of centrally right.
Jeremy Jawish: Yes exactly.
Philippe Botteri: That’s a playbook. And did this scale into the US as well or did you need to do something different from for the US market.
Jeremy Jawish: So for US is like we’ve done in Asia like we’ve done in Europe so it’s hiring local head of sales locally the scientist training them from Paris and repeating exactly the same the same modus operandi. And it’s funny because one of the funniest things is sometimes you have this ranking about startups and once you’ve done this opening an office with local leaders instead of the local head of sales since we’re quite international there’s a lot of startup ecosystem tweeting like Shift a Singaporean startup in the top hundred I don’t know what. Shift, a Japanese startup in the top 20 something and everybody thinks we’re local because like the guys that are onsite local and we have this really how many where they had a chief revenue officer goes to this meeting and held the local sales. I travel everywhere. So what’s important is make these insurance people feel they’re local while everything technically is some kind of centralized impasse.
Philippe Botteri: How much time do you spend? I mean you have customers both in Asia Europe and the US. So like how much time do you spend on the road.
Jeremy Jawish: A lot. OK.
Philippe Botteri: Well you don’t have to answer that question.
Philippe Botteri: So let’s talk about hiring the the sales reps. So what are the traits that you’re looking for when you want to hire a sales person who can sell land like a 200 million dollar yard or maybe two million dollars.
Jeremy Jawish: We’re working on that promise. Two years two hundred million dollars. And so in terms of hiring this is also . Yeah. So I spend most of my time meeting customer hiring. My job . So about hiring the first rule is trust the person you hired. So this is the first rule so our chief revenue officer is she. She’s source candidates. Her team source candidate gets candidate. And what they try to catch is people that know sales so can stick to a sales process understands the key sales processes in terms of who are the key decision making what I’m selling I understand what I’m saying. And then the last meeting is with me and what I try to understand is if they can fit into the culture of the company so it’s very important and there’s a lot of work and we have a whole bunch of questions to really . We worked a lot on it. To to depending on how the person answer you can feel it. Are they going to fit in the company or not.
Philippe Botteri: Can you give an example of this kind of questions?
Jeremy Jawish: An example is you ask you have some basic questions what he thinks about something and my job is saying in not approving what he’s saying for 10 minutes and taking the data scientist role like I don’t agree. It’s not like this and like I’m annoying for 10 minutes so 10 percent of the cases they leave the interview which happens sometimes. And and then this will see like this guy’s gonna be in front of the data scientist that needs to go with him to meet the customer and the data scientist want to degree because he won’t agree selling this because he won’t be able to do it. How do you react. So these are kind of things that we have in our process. And the other thing is does the person on this will the person understand our business and a part of what we’re doing because like every startup we have failure when you hire somebody that may be a great salesperson that you hired from a great software company but then you know that this guy would never understand what he’s selling. And even with a data scientist he will never understand it. And we had some failures where you have insurers calling you like you’re sure you’re doing this. It’s funny it doesn’t look achievable and you end up signing deals where you think it’s not achievable.
Philippe Botteri: And at the early phase of the seduction process I mean you say well you know I hired like two salespeople from with this kind of background universally difficult on companies and years of experience and you’re like Okay well that worked so let’s go and look for this or did you actually find more diversity in the background of your salespeople.
Jeremy Jawish: Yeah. So in terms of selection exactly we were looking for two. There’s two components. And depending on countries. So if you want to hire somebody in a country where the biggest roadblock you have is software service. In some countries people don’t go for software servers they don’t want to send data outside of the company. So you gonna look for somebody that already sold SaaS or cloud in this company. So IBM cloud is a good way of hiring and in some countries SAS is much more common. What’s important is having the insurance Tam because insurance is very local. So for these countries you’re gonna look at somebody that’s already working an insurance environment. Insurers know them. And this is what you’re gonna look for. So we per country try to find what are the biggest roadblock and this is how we define people we want to hire Okay and how do you define the quarter.
Philippe Botteri: So what’s your typical quota and what’s the comp you know fixed bonus?
Jeremy Jawish: So this is where I trust my chief revenue officer. She’s like comp it’s 50 fixed 50. And in terms of quota it’s we defined a strategy. This is what we need to hit. And then she does her stuff and at the end I can see how many like which each sales person how much quota they have and when they start their quota is quite low and it goes up and I ramped up sales person from outside. That is somebody is like bit experienced the quota is between two to four million like three million average a year. Yeah.
Philippe Botteri: Well that’s it’s a big quota. And when you start. So how long does it take to get to the full ramp and where do you start?
Jeremy Jawish: So get fully ramped it’s quite long. So we observe that people in order to be rammed first and start signing deals. That’s nice. Nine months. because they need to get to know the market to understand the product. It’s not an easy sell. And then so for the first nine months you’re gonna hit a quota is around like 500 k million and then you have nine more months in order to hit the full rent. So we have a selection where if the nine the first six months you know he’s not gonna hit his nine month plan. You just don’t keep him. And once he had the nine month plan how you can romped him to be sure he gonna achieve the high quota.
Philippe Botteri: So when you have a long ramp like this for ourselves right. What are the milestones that you give the reps in between just to make sure that he knows that he is on track and that you know he is on track?
Jeremy Jawish: So this is this is where we have internally a good process is you need to be able to track every quarter the KPIs you give it to sales people because you’re close to them. They can tell you like I’m not hitting it because of this or that. So you can actualize your KPIs but it’s important to really track it very precisely and being able to put the emotional part aside and understand like is he hitting his KPIs or not and why. And if the why is that. It’s not the right person. You just fired him. So it’s there’s a lot of work. When we hired somebody in the sales team which is much more work than when high data scientists. It’s being able to have the right KPI make the person understands why he has KPI and being able to track it. So it’s all about KPI per quarter that are very precise.
Philippe Botteri: But what kind of KPI is because if you’re not expecting them to make a sell before six or nine months and what is a KPI for the first quarter.
Jeremy Jawish: So the first thing our chief revenue officer did when she arrived is putting a different sales steps. So identification of count’s qualifications like she’s very know your qualifications. You put something qualification that qualified she’s gold mining company and such. And so it’s a qualification proposition approval signing. So there’s a lot of different stages. We have seven stage in the company. And then she has her plan where the first quarter into this number of quota in this column and this number of quotes in this column. And she has a nice statistics on how do you go to a stage rather and what’s the conversion rate. So it’s quite statistics and mathematics actually get KPI. And then you look at all of it. It’s very easy now with all the process we have.
Philippe Botteri: And how do you check that stage is actually achieved because I mean salespeople they’re pretty good at you know being a bit forward looking right.
Jeremy Jawish: So if you don’t tweet that, I’ll give you the secret is you ask the data scientist that goes with them.
Philippe Botteri: That’s why you want the data scientist and the team. Okay. That’s that’s a nice tip. And so how much do you have four for a three million quarter. Like what’s the salary that you pay sales rep.
Jeremy Jawish: They’re gonna poach our salespeople. We pay them a lot. What we do is we take like other companies salaries and we pay 20 percent more.
Philippe Botteri: And how do you set your over achievement curve like is the what when you look at the the the bonus pay outs. Like is it a linear pay out up to a hundred and then continues to be linear or do you have an x. You know first you get of an exponential where at the beginning you do 50 percent you get nothing. Then it accelerates 100 and then how do you manage X exploration beyond 100.
Jeremy Jawish: Yeah. This is this is quite interesting as a first time entrepreneur like I didn’t get it. People who ask questions and understand. So it is very important. I didn’t know that the way you structured compensation is very important. So the way we have it internally is if you achieve under 70 percent you get zero. If you achieve 200 percent it’s leaner and above 100 percent as an exploration where everything more than 100 percent. You have a multiple that is quite high. And this is what attracts very good sales people. And this is where also I learned the 30 30 stuff. So the 30 30 I didn’t understand what was it but it means that sales people will tell you I can achieve only this which is 30 percent lower than what he think he can achieve. So you need to know it so you can put 30 percent more. And this is where I like it’s now business as usual. You just take 30 percent more and put the two percent lower because of these acceleration stuff.
Philippe Botteri: So 30 percent is the number.
Philippe Botteri: So if you were to you know to summarize. I mean when I hear what you’re saying I mean it sounds like to sell into enterprise you basically need to put in place a very organized machine. So it starts with you know mapping the accounts to understand really who are the decision makers. It’s about making sure you have the right team which is a good mix of cells and technicals figuring out how do you have local people in the local region where you sell to make sure that your customers locally think you are local and then put in place a very structure sales process to be able to measure the progress of the sales people even though they’re not expected to make a first sale for the six to nine months. So then once you’ve put all this in place. So what are the challenges that you’re facing today now as you scale the challenge.
Jeremy Jawish: So it’s not easy to do this but the challenge after that is making sure that people stick to the process and that the people that high people that hire people are set exactly in the same culture that the people you hired. And this is my job today is being sure that process are put to really put in place and being sure that data centers go to all of these meetings and get the feedback from the data centers. So after that it’s about looking at things scaling be sure still gaining right away.
Philippe Botteri: Great. Well thank you very much. Jeremy was a pleasure to be with you today. Applause.