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Scale Up

16 of the most impactful revenue lessons for founders from leaders at Gong, Wiz, Carta, 6sense, and more

Jeremey Donovan | June 27, 2023| 4 min. read
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What if you could pick the brains of revenue leaders at some of the hottest scaleups in software right now? No filler, no fluff — just one impactful initiative that’s helped scale their businesses.

For early and growth-stage founders navigating the complex landscape of building a successful business, gaining valuable insights from industry experts and leaders at top companies can make a real difference. In Insight Partners’ podcast Smooth Scaling, Jeremey Donovan interviews revenue leaders of companies at every stage of growth about the strategies and tactics they’re using to scale their business.

These insights cover a wide range of topics, from optimizing sales processes and customer success strategies to refining go-to-market approaches. By incorporating these lessons into their own entrepreneurial journeys, founders can unlock quick wins and pave the way for long-term growth.

See some of the most impactful revenue highlights for founders below.

Moving downmarket from enterprise to SMB with Mark Ebert at 6sense (Part 1)

  • Create an SLA to ensure you work high-intent accounts via outbound as vigorously as you work an inbound demo request.

Adjusting and adapting to challenging economic times with Mark Ebert at 6sense (Part 2)

  • When conversion rates drop, don’t rush to stuff more into the top of the funnel. Injecting lower quality opps will likely make the problem worse. Instead, look first to optimize inefficiencies and/or lack of rigor in your sales process.
  • The likelihood of an account buying is much higher for prior closed lost opps. Periodically, run ‘resurrect the dead’ campaigns, esp. when your lost was to no-decision.
  • If there is one thing you need to nail in your sales process, it is the definition of what constitutes a qualified opportunity.

Managing inbound demand and PLG with Navin Persaud at 1Password

  • If someone has gone the PLG route, they have taken the position that they are not yet ready to speak to a human. They first want to go through the product experience and determine, ‘Is this right for me?’ When reps engage, they should position themselves as guides who help reduce time to value.

Building a high-performing customer success org from scratch with Daniel Silverstein at Carta (Part 1)

  • I’d rather hire a CSM who brings a different type of customer problem-solving to the team than a person who has solved the problem the same way 1,000 times.

How to train CSMs to provide real customer and business value with Daniel Silverstein at Carta (Part 2)

  • You are doing it right as a CSM if when you get off of a call with a customer, they know something new that they need to know about using your platform.
  • In post-sale, AI will initially have the most impact on support ticket deflection. However, AI is less likely to help with complex, contextual, up-market problems, especially those that require empathy and trust.

Building your TAM model with Clay Blanchard (Part 1)

  • Not every dollar of TAM is created equal. Layer on propensity to purchase. When selling software, high-growth tech companies are typically more likely to buy compared to traditional manufacturers.
  • Expose the account-level TAM to reps to help them prioritize their accounts.

Identifying variables that correlate to win rate with Clay Blanchard (Part 2)

  • There are often inflection point with customers where they buy then flatline with slow growth. Once they reach some critical mass, they accelerate. It is very powerful if you can figure out where that sits. Often you can measure this with user penetration.

Inspire, coach, and empower your reps with Laura Fu at Kong

  • ‘Fresh pipeline’ is pipeline (a) created in the last 90 days, (b) forecast to close within the next six months, and (c) is in our evaluate stage (post-discovery) or better.
  • To ensure a prospect is YOUR champion not just a champion, ask:
    • Are they the one building [or actively contributing to] meeting agendas?
    • Are they owning the EB meeting and framing your solution as the recommended choice?
    • Are they the one building the business case?
    • Are they the one pushing to make sure you speak with the right people?
  • The “E” in MEDDPICC is not only about the economic buyer who signs, but also about everyone else who needs to say yes as well.

Creating renewal processes that support 10x growth and 150% net retention with Michaela Downs at Benchling (part 1)

  • When your reps sign mid-contract expansion deals, ensure these flow through smoothly to your renewal opportunities.
  • The sooner you can get your contracting workflows off of Google Doc and onto a tool the better so that you can identify and fix common issues.

Learning from sales ops in different business models with Michaela Downs at Benchling (part 2)

  • Help reps see the path to attaining quota given their assigned territory. Share not only what they need to do, but also what the company will do to help them.

Scaling from one to three cloud platforms with Alana Ballon at Wiz (part 1)

  • To keep incentives clean, retire the same quota amount for reps whether customers buy direct or via cloud marketplaces.

Revenue operational effectiveness with Alana Ballon at Wiz (part 2)

  • In re-segmenting, look at how revenue is distributed as well as factors that reflect deal complexity like required resources, win rate, and sales cycle.
  • Data is not as good as a compass or a map. It is like a tide. It can guide you, but it can’t be the be all and end all.
  • When standing up a RevOps function, the 3 top things to get right are: compensation, pipeline hygiene, forecasting.

Aligning customer operations for scale with Laurie Barlev

  • People who get promoted from customer service to customer success need training on how to move from being reactive on functionality to proactive on value realization.
  • Some tips for moving existing customers to new CSMs:
    • Group accounts so that you minimize the from-to CSM pairs
    • If the CS director (first line manager) is not changing, then let the customer know they have that continuity.
    • Switch accounts after the renewal

Launching a self-service upsell engine with Eran Aloni at Gong (part 1)

  • We put a cap on the number of incremental seats a customer can buy online. Over that threshold, we want reps involved since there are likely bigger expansion & value-creation opportunities.
  • Truly being customer first is not just words; it means you optimize for the customer when you are faced with difficult decisions.

Ownership of revenue between CS and Sales with Eran Aloni at Gong (part 2)

  • QBRs are focused on adoption and tactical initiatives whereas EBRs are focused on value delivers and opportunities to expand the account
  • Don’t switch accounts unless you absolutely have to. Keeping accounts for longer periods has huge benefits.

Making your first sales hire with Marcus Holm at Forter

  • Your first sales hire should:
    • still be a hands-on player-coach
    • mid-career with strong AE experience and some management experience
    • enough technical aptitude to learn your products
    • enough business acumen to engage with economic buyers and be a strong public voice.
  • Salespeople will pull in founders as ‘uber solutions consultants’ at every chance; eventually, you need to put some gates in place to ensure:
    • it is the right size opportunity
    • the opp is sufficiently qualified
    • you have the right prospect stakeholders involved.

 

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Disclosure: 6sense and Wiz are Insight portfolio companies.