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Brendan Walsh, VP, Zuora | 3 Pillars To Starting – Sales Confidence

So as James said my name is Brendon Walsh VP of EMEA for Zuora so just a quick show of hands who has heard of Zuora before this? Okay a lot of people one more one last show of hands before before I end the questions who else noticed the early walk to the stage okay same amount very good. Okay so we’ve been on a really interesting journey in Zuora, so I initially joined the company about seven years ago in my buddy’s kitchen in in Fulham and we’re a small kind of SaaS startup teener CEO had a grand vision of becoming the ERP of the digital age, so for software as a service companies, media companies, anybody who’s making that shift to a recurring revenue strategy or a subscription strategy. So part of the journey that I’ll share with you today is literally that shift that we made from moving from a commercial based sales team to enterprise and strategic sales. 

So having joined the company we were at about a ten millionaire ARR or recurring revenue number, we had no European presence and we were literally just embarking on building out a European team in in London. So our you know typical 20 American company launched in Europe we hire a bunch of sales guys hire a few sales engineers, and go out the market from there. Okay big message on that from that from it from a marketing perspective that was really engaging and then anything that came out as inbound we literally just target and try and close deals as fast as we can. So being in a pretty complex enterprise sales environment you can imagine the amount of churn we had at the back end of our organization right, quick deal cycles, quick churns. So we realized about 2015 that we had to do something drastically different right we had we taken a big round there was a big tech winter was about to hit the whole tech industry, and we really had to change our game, and it was it was carnage internally right it was it was a pretty brutal time to be in Zuora but there was a lot of good learnings that came out, and if you survive that time, it really kind of set us up for four for long-term success so making that shift from commercial deals your typical 30, 40, 50 K ACB deals into the enterprise space so half million dollar deals, hopefully seven-figure deals that was you know, it was it was it was a huge moment for us as a company, and it really set us on that road for for an IPO. So we kind of have this saying within our sales team that ‘success has many fathers, and defeat is an orphan’, right and we know as Salespeople that orphan that’s the sales guy right or the or the accountant account exec, it can be pretty brutal okay, so we you know, having having that kind of having that go to market strategy that we had at a time of like high level marketing hit the inbound, we had to change that drastically, so we we wrapped the company around our our our sales methodology, so marketing we set up big events I don’t know if anybody’s seen or subscribed events or anything without in the past, SDR’s into qualification leads we’d also set out a strategic target list so who are the companies that we want to be working with in five years time or three years time, and that really defined the shift that we made for for for this kind of strata-proach.

Now we kind of break our deals down into into technical, commercial, and political pillars right so having wrapped the organisation from marketing SDR’s, AE’s, Sales Engineers, we’d on board a customer and then hand them over to the global services team, that was good for a commercial setup. But with those three pillars in mind of technical commercial and political, we had to make some really interesting changes that had a huge effect on our D level size and ultimately our business. So within the technical pillar we did something really interesting so our global services team we’d normally sell a deal throw it over to those guys and let them implement, but we decided on a really new strategy that that has worked wonders for a complex sale such as Zuora’s. So what we did was we employed an engagement manager right, so not your sales engineers, not your architects an engagement manager, who could kind of straddle both that would work with the prospects technical team over a long period of time to help see the vision through, from looking at their existing ecosystem introducing Zuora which connects to everything internally CRM, e-commerce sites, ERP’s, payment gateways, we sit right in the middle as that engine for subscription companies but the engagement manager would be responsible for the technical win, so once we had the technical win in place we could then move to the commercial side of things. Now before we would engage our tactical manner the political pillar was really important, so we would like to align all of our deals and all of our projects to corporate corporate objectives or strategic initiatives happening within our prospects business. 

So at sales stage 2 we did something really interesting on a political side we would not engage any technical team unless we met with the exact sponsor, so there would have to be a sponsor in Zuora, meeting with the exact sponsor within the prospect side to acknowledge that this potential project is linked to corporate objectives and strategic initiatives taking place within their organization. If that meeting didn’t happen the engagement was off all right, now that’s that’s a tough shift to go through that’s a really big mind shift for everybody to go through within your organization, but unless we had that a place at sales stage 2 we qualify them out and just put them on a nurturing program within like videos and whatever content we were sending out from our website. So that political alignment it really gave us the predictability, and me as a Sales Manager in particular, if I had met the exact sponsor early on at the business end of that deal, forecasting as much as we love growth we love predictability, and the ability to forecast those deals was so much clearer having had that initial exact engagement early on in the sales process. So that’s the kind of big political shift we made.

The commercial one was some of the most straightforward advice we have we’ve ever gotten and that came straight from our CEO. So as an enterprise software we don’t publish our price list okay, which you know it can be sometimes it can be frustrating for prospects whatever but look that’s that’s that’s the kind of life they live. So the simple advice coming from our CEO was ask for more all right, so we obviously had a lot of product development we had matured or organisation, we split our product to growth enterprise in nine editions, and the price lists we went from let’s say on our Enterprise Edition process might have been 75k, we just double it initially alright and those three flips within our commercial, technical, and political pillars there they’re probably most responsible for us moving from that commercial to enterprise type sales approach, and ultimately had a huge effect on on on our number and being a sticky software that was also a long tail revenue.

So you know given the kind of nature of our platform wrapping the company around the sales process made a huge difference, not just an initial deal size but also on the actual churn number within the organisation, which as a start-up can be quite painful right, you feel you feel you have to work twice as hard at the front end of the organisation to kind of stop the drain that’s happening on the back end, so more recently now having kind of gone public and moved from that start up to post IPO company, the next the next shift for us will be kind of looking at that customer success model and how we employ like an account management commercial team to our existing customers. Because the long term vision that we have for organisation today is that 50% a new revenue should come from new logos, but 50% of new revenue should come from existing logos, and that that hopefully is how we’re going to get ourselves to a billion dollar run rate as an organisation.

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