08 Mar Peter Crosby | How to Grow SaaS Sales £0-10m ARR in London – Ometria – SaaSGrowth2018
So I was sat next to a moment ago to Laurence from pipedrive as she used to be at LinkedIn, and we’ve discovered together I didn’t know she was a LinkedIn, we discovered together that the turbo spent four years been arch-rivals working in Paris. She was at LinkedIn, I was at Viadio, but we spent four years being arch-rivals and it reminded me of my Viadio interview or the day that I went through the door at Viadio.
So I was working in Manchester I had to get flight over to meet the CEO this legendary guy that I’d never met and that it was supposed to be a hotel Costas, and if you know Paris hotel Costas is the coolest hotel in all of Paris everyone that works there is a supermodel that’s out of work or it’s a bodybuilder that’s out of work so you feel very inferior it’s incredible, it’s open till that 6:00 in the morning; and I was really really really late because my flight was delayed I’ve live a Charles de Gaulle Airport, I’ve been there maybe 500 times I’ve never in my life seen it so busy and couldn’t get so busy, I just couldn’t get through it was my first time and I arrive just about one o’clock in the morning into hôtel costes for this interview it’s completely packed, and I have a two and a half hour, interview finishes at half past three and then Dan and I get in a taxi together and we go back to Charles de Gaulle where I spent two hours in the hotel, before going back to work and he flies to China to finalize an acquisition. And just reminded me of quite how important it is to have an incredible founder in the start. I’m going to talk about in that in just a moment
But first of all what a reposition the title of this talk because James being a sales guy, we’re supposed to be humble but sometimes really will be full of ourselves and James has given me this incredible title of ‘how to get from zero to ten million dollars’, and I’m not quite sure I can speak about that in 20 minutes, or even if I can answer that question, we all know that that first bit the zero to the two million dollar zero to one and a half that’s a very very different story to the two to the ten so I’m going to speak about the two to the ten but I realized when I started to think about what am i doing I’ve just joined the Ometria are the last three months so I just began this journey for the third time so what am I thinking about right now. And the answer is not the kind of stuff that you find when you go to the sastra blog, all these other incredibly useful blogs; if you want to know the metrics and the things that needs a funnel and how build the funnels, you need to look at there’s plenty of places you can go to find that stuff, so I’m not going to talk about that because you can sit there and read it on your device while I’m talking. Instead I want to talk about the process that I’ve been through a couple of times, and the first thing is around how to choose, how do you choose the right place to go because the big news is can’t do a 2 to 10 million journey in the wrong business, it’s just not gonna happen. And so the key to that for me is always the founder and the senior team, biggest mistake that I’ve seen in particular VP sales make is joining a business where there’s a big problem and they’re the VP sales guy that’s gonna come in and fix it it almost never works if it does work it’s because you got lucky. You need to choose a business where you believe in the founder and the senior team now they can take on all sorts of aspects, it doesn’t mean there must be flamboyant I’ve met some incredible founders who are just technically first-class, but crucially they know where they’re going and then know how they’re going to get there and they know what they need to hire and you need to be that person rather than the hopeful VP sales who’s come in to fix a problem – choose carefully. And when you choosing the second thing to look at is the metrics don’t go anywhere where they will not show you the KPIs and the metrics in their entirety before you because it means they’re hiding something so I went very clearly when I joined Ometria I was on my way to Wembley to see Spurs it was freezing cold day you know they’d they were they have to paint the lines blue because of the snow and you can’t see that he can’t see the lines, I went with a friend of mine who’s a CFO and I showed him look I’ve emailed this guy at Ometria ,and I asked him for all of the metrics because I’m about to make my choice and within five minutes I got a PDF with everything going back over the last three years and I’ve had a look at it I’m think it was pretty damn good actually, so we looked at it together he spotted some things that I hadn’t spotted, I spotted some things he hadn’t spotted, but what we figured out was this story is pretty good the guys are doing what they say they are gonna do if you can’t get that from a founder or a CEO before you join, then it’s the wrong business do not go there.
And the second thing to keep in mind is your network if you got to the level of VP sales or CRO you’ve probably got a pretty good network because you go to events like this you know lots of people you bump into people at places like this you’ve got a good network, and you’ve got to be really careful when you take the advice. Because the advice you’ll get from a VC in particular is not always the right advice, keep in mind that there are a couple of reasons why companies want to hire VP sales round about the series a-level and the first reason is because they haven’t got the faintest idea what they’re doing and they want someone to come and fix it, but they’re never gonna tell you that they will not tell you that it doesn’t mean that business can’t be turned around doesn’t mean, that you can’t succeed it doesn’t mean that somebody can’t fix it, but my advice to you is if you want to scale fast to 2 to 10 this is not just about you outputting you are because you’re just one person this is about choosing the right environment for you to apply your skills in the right way.
The second type of business that a VC will send you to is one where they are just lacking and have always lacked commercial skills. That’s fine if that’s what you want but then you want a lot of equity and you’re gonna take a big bet if you need to be at place you know life where you can take that big bet. But the one that you can be sure it’s gonna scale in the right wave you can do your job well that business is a business that is flying and that’s why you need to check the metrics, but be very careful when you take advice and nobody’s going to tell you we’d like you to invest in our basket-case business that we don’t know what to do with. And when I say basket-case I’m being a little bit unfair; there are loads, by the way I’ve never been an entrepreneur and I’ve realized when I was a viaggio in France how offended I was when people called me entrepreneurial. Entrepreneurs are a thing unto themselves and I never started anything, I always went in series a and helped a business to get itself scaling and get itself working and building. So at Viado, we made its IPO, Triptease, we did the two to ten million journey pretty fast for eighteen months but Ometria now we’ve just begun that focus we’re out about three and a half our four million dollar ARR at this moment. But when you go in to that process you need to know exactly where you’re going into, don’t go in to the wrong business.
Second thing let’s talk about these weapons when you get through the door. So I remember very clearly when I went to trip T’s for the first time they told me okay so now we need to know what is your 90-day plan; and it’s true you do need to have a plan please do not not have a plan, but what’s key when you go through the door is that you will not know what that plan is, you will only know the kind of questions that you need to ask when you get through the door. So at Ometria when I gave my 90-day presentation I said guess what I didn’t prepare anything, here’s a slide with some scaffolding on it because that’s what it can happen. I’d rather beautifully at this moment some builders outside were starting to build some scaffolding symbolically against a building across the road but it’s crucial you need to know the questions to ask that what you’re going to do because just because you did it once before doesn’t mean you can do it again and come back to Stewart’s comment about humility, it sounds great to say we made it to IPO, but the journey that we went on a Triptease after Viadio, was incredibly different and I had to learn a whole bunch of stuff all over again, I had to do things in a different way only thing I knew was the questions to ask and I need the mistakes I’ve made previously. And then we made a whole bunch of other mistakes a Triptease which I’ll avoid this time our at Ometria; make sure that you’re asking the right questions.
Second thing is to ignore your senior colleagues when you get through the door a company that is doing two to ten million, the CTO is gonna want to sit and talk to you and the CPO is gonna once a year for lunch and we’re the other founders and some investor board dude who didn’t talk to in the interview process is gonna one that you ignore all of them. and the reason you ignore all of them is because the roots to success is just in the first couple of weeks. So I’ll give an example when we were at trip tease my 14 year old daughter at the time she came to do an internship, and we wanted her to look at the onboarding process, it was quite a complicated project, but she really really loved it. And what she had to do was interview all of our new starters, and when she interviewed the new starters, she just asked them what was the on boarding process like, she had a list of questions, and what she discovered was two things: one is people at that middle management level so not c-level so sales managers, PR managers, marketing managers, they were not really really important jobs to have very very busy environment that kept failing to meet her. So she said I know I’m the least important person in the room, but I definitely feel the least important person in the room. And then what she discovered is that when she met with the younger people like the junior salespeople that comes to the door the, people that were a little bit lower level in the organization, guess what they have the same experience as her: in their onboarding process people who were doing very important jobs, not the c-level guys but just below they weren’t turn it up to do the onboarding sessions, because they had important jobs to do. And that means that your very first experience through the door is a bad one, it’s a little bit like turning up before a date and exactly that in fact, in her presentation it’s exactly how she described it it like turned up for a date and I don’t be too old for this but maybe some of you have got children or you remember this, but apparently now you can go on a date with a boy to go to the pictures, and pizza to express and even though he’s in your school you never talked to him before because you just communicated with him on snapchat for the last month or something, and then you arrived at this place and he’s that he’s such a disappointment, because he was quite cool on snapchat but he wasn’t cool at all when you met him. This could be a good guy, it could be a good guy, but that first impression is so important and it’s exactly the same when people comes through the door. So when you come through the door an organization the goal is not to go and meet your senior management team is not to try and understand the product, the goal is not to do any of those things, the goal is to spend time with your team I don’t mean just a quick one to one let’s go for a coffee and that’s it. You’re gonna find out a lot by talking to the team because it’s those people who you’re going to be trying to give belief to so that you can start to build that business and scale it fast.
Next thing to do is think about how you’re gonna build the team around you and very interesting to hear what you said Stuart about hiring senior people fast as you did at Slack because it’s exactly my belief as well you might find that founders are a little bit worried about this but you need to spend money on elite people as quickly as possible, and the reason for that is when you go through the door even though you believe you’re amazing you got through the interview process and everyone’s very excited because you’re about to do some great stuff, but you will have weak points, you might not mention them in the interview but you will have weak points. And you will have things that you’re not as good at or you don’t enjoy and my theory now is that there are three things that we have to do in our work environment, same as in our home environment.
So thing number one is stuff that you’re good at okay so let’s imagine that you’re 70% good at a thing that you can do, it doesn’t take a huge amount of obsessive learning and work and application to get from 70% to 80% but you can do that and then you go from really good to exceptional. But if you’re 20% good at something it takes a huge amount of effort to get to 30%, guess what think back to your exams, 30% is still a massive fail why would you do that doesn’t make any sense. You should be hiring people who are really good other things you’re not good at. In my case it’s around sales operations; so I know what I need to do in sales operations, I know the I know how to manage a funnel but I’m really bad at following up and all the exceptional detail that has to be done six months down the line, I don’t want to follow that I get a little bored. But I know that a great head of sales office will have incredible value so that means right now at Ometria, I’m having a head of sales ops we want to spend a lot of money, because I know we need to be ready for this and otherwise I’m gonna lose my time.
By the way I said there’s three categories. The third category is called put in the bins out and this is the stuff that you have to do at home otherwise your wife goes crazy, and you need to put the bins out this is not a talent this is not a skill it’s also not some that you’re bad out it’s just your job and you wife would also have the same things that she has to do which isn’t really enjoy doing. And the hardest thing is to identify what I’m bad at and what it putting the bins out. It’s very easy to put all the things you’re bad out into the bins category, so figure out what is the stuff you must do you like you know I find it kind of boring to do the Commission’s and the payroll, but it’s kind of important people get a little bit upset if you don’t pay them properly. It needs to be done okay but the stuff that you’re bad at hire around you.
I’ve got one minute James tells me so I just talk about the final thing final thing is to figure out really fast why is this short, was is mid, and what is the long term stuff that you’re gonna need to do and the news is. The hardest thing is the midterm stuff, it’s really complicated when you look about the midterm stuff they’re talking about complicated sticky problems that you’ve been brought in to deal with but also, the problems that are not going to get you very far so you need to put that to one side for a moment. Short-term stuff this stuff like building self belief in a team I’ll give you one quick example before I finish James, so when I joined Ivan said to me after about four weeks Ivan is our CEO at Ometria, one and one of the things he said to me was I’m confused because I think all you’ve done is put a whiteboard up, and everyone seems to be like tripling their activity I don’t get it. It’s nothing to do with the whiteboard, it is to do with people understanding what they need to do giving people a sense of direction one of the big problems we had at Ometria, same in that as in a lot of scaling businesses the CEO is trying to do at 12 different jobs and that means something is going to drop because no one is perfect. So the moment you have someone who’s focusing all of their time on sales and on revenue both things are going to pick up; short-term things give confidence to the company, but long-term stuff is vital.
You need to think about this as scaling Everest and that means with your sales team we need to be thinking how we’re even gonna get fit enough to get to base camp, what things do we need a base camp but I want to be prepared right now for what’s happening at least 18 months time, so what I’ve already built in my first six weeks at Ometria is the plan that takes us three years down the line that means we know exactly where we’re gonna be in three years the whole team knows where we’re going to be we know all the steps that we need to go on to get there; that means we have a successful and it means if we were to miss even one small step, and sure missed some steps, that means that we can calibrate immediately. The challenge when you don’t know what is your three-year goal is that you’re not quite sure whether you’re going in a good direction. So short-term make sure that those steps are good long-term must be able to give the team a plan.