The Sales Hacker Podcast
The Sales Hacker Podcast

Episode · 3 years ago

16. How to Scale a Tech Startup w/ Amit Bendov

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

On E16 of the Sales Hacker podcast, we're chatting w/ Amit Bendov, CEO & Founder, Gong.io about how to scale a tech startup in 2018. Tune in!

One two one: three, three Fo Hi folks welcome to the Sales Hackerpodcast. We've got a great episode. This is the final episode in our yachtday: episodes the first one. We interviewed Brad for Luca from primaryvetal partners. This time, I'm interviewing Ami Fendov, the founderand ceoof Gong Dadio, who love Gong for a bunch of different reasons, most nof,the way they were a sponsor for sales, tacker podcast, but also I mean, comesfrom a sales background. So when he talks about building the salesengagement platform and for building a platform to help, all of us become moreproductive, it really really resinate. So this is an interview that we didonce again on a boat in the middle of the Hudson River. I hope you enjoy it.The second thing I want to say is thank so much to this month. Sponsor thismonth, sponsors outreach, the leading sales engagement platform, they triplethe creditivity of sales teams and empower them to drive predictable andmeasurable revenue growth by prioritizing the right activities andscaleing customer engagements with intelligent automation. RHICH makescustomer facing teams more effective and improves disability into whatreally drives results. Thousands of customers, including tera glass door,Andora Zilo, all rely on outrage to deliver highe revenue for sales rap. Sothanks for listening and let's listen to a meets interview on about thank Imeanbendo, founder and c a gongbesides being a sponsor of today's event, to my mind, one of the fastestgrowing sales enablement platforms that I know of so in the universe, because Idon't think there's sales o Weo o platforms, an other planets, so Gong isone of the fastest goring platforms that it's also one of the areas that Ithink is most interesting, but I mean so first of all welcome to sells hactorafternoon boat phing thanks for inviding me for those that don't noGong tell us. Your story tells who you are, how you came to be starting andfounding Gong and then give us the elevator pitch for what Gong is andwhat Gong does sure. So Gong is the Forst Company that I'm leading forbeing intocnology companies. My entire career poses a VP, a d and the CO of acompany, and I was scratching an itch where so my twolle previous companywere growing really really fast, not as fast as gone, but pretty fast wor. Thistwo companies and IO emain Europece ass space, an Sisense sacebro business,Annelogis, npisty, New York and the companies were growing fast but and themetrics look really good. I was seeing what's happening inside tesausagefactory. How many deals were not winning how many sales before notsucceeding, and we never really knew why all we had with metrics like numberof calls number of leads and conversion rates. That often you know looked good,except that sales were not okay, so we never really knew if we just made a bithigher or just didn't, take a DIGAVICO training program for sales, people orthe Lees weren't good. Sometimes they're, not I mean salespeople, alwaysSey that, but sometimes they're right right, most all the time, releve imgood yeah. I mean well seen that video t the least our week sometime. They areyeah we're getting leaves, but they don't have a sense of urgency. Hyw, doyou even make a decision or understand if eighty percent of your leaves, ifyou're getting right now, don't have a sense of Ergency? The CRIX was lookinginside the conversation on comany conversations, but thequality are wediscovering pain? Are we getting the right, leags the right decision makerand the only way to do it was listening to calls, and I spent a lot of time onplice from New York to tell each and sometimes a asti team, just give melike five recordings, so I could, instead of watching the movies, I couldget a feel for what's going on, but it was on adotal and not on a scale thatswhat he did for going, somebody that scans hundred percent and Keev pposedto sales people and the management team a better feature of what's happeninginside e conversation, not just how many conversations walkse to thetimeline of having the idea for the...

...business and now are you guys be? Is itseries B or I feel, like you have so much mor mention it's you're welladvance. So what coes through that evolution? It's kind of an odd questionbecause we'rein a but for some company will be a B, maybe like a seattor. Thesize R ors was six million. I've heard o term avocado seed like a pretty big,and we raised twenty two series: a Coso, large yeah and we started the company.So I had the observation. There's so much going to waste and Seran doesn'tgive us the information that we need to make decisions that management company,a team, and I did do things first. I found a cofunder Alon by sudio and Dtechnical genius behind these and we kind of like divided the work. Istarted validating the business idea with fifty sales leaders that I know-and this was in the valley this was Intellavi Day was we were wer in Taleve,but e were calling people like most in the US, that's where our market is, andit was a simple call- and I asked him first, I'm thinking about developingsomething and they'll give you visibility to the conversation that Yoryour teams are having. What do you think you know? Can it work? Would youbuy? How much would you willing to pay, and we had a certain number that peoplesay yes, we're willing to pay that this as okay, we have a business idea,because they're also caused o associate Passwinin to make sure we have abusiness model and the feedbook was was great. Ivrus is yes, hi says you knowkind of we we question what it they really work sounds like science fictionbut says: Forget, like the technology. Would you bite and people said? Yes, Istill wasn't sure because a lot of fee people wl say yes and and they don't,but at least you said on the surface, people sai that and and then Alon checkte was available technically for a natural language. Understanding speechrecognition was the sate of the art. What can we realistically deliver today?Not We don't want to do science fiction, aiol work in five years. One issomething that we could sell today. So with that we had a validation. Was thisthousand an fifeensixteen? There was late, two thousand and fifteen one morequestion: Did you consider starting it without Elon? Did you consider startingthe business and mad? My I forcing development ARD, not having a technicalcotfunder for like a plit second, and I think it's one of the best decisions.I've made not just a first team specifically but having a partner ishes Uys, a great help. I mean sure it does cost something and but having hisphenomenal. You know, I don't know. What's the right Numberis, like twothree founders, I mean you know different companies woreing indifferent ways, but t is a real partner, so you did validation. You basicallyput together focus group Yo got some market feedback when happening, so Icobbled to get her a slide deck and met with some investors that I know and weclosed around, really really quick. It wasn't like a walk in Te Park, so Ihave a great trecerd like three companies succeeded before, but noteverybody thought they was like a fantastic idea and the interesting part.Sometimes if you raise money for some kind of upspure technology, it's easierbecause nobody understands anything. Ai Socays, like virtualization backup andthrow some ai stuff in there says. Okay, this is cool. Is a you know, accomplicefounder what the Heck but sales like psychology and marketing everybodythinks that they understand right, especially O, take with vcs and Bortmembers and said well: Sales people are going to hate it they'r going to see asa big brother legally, you can't record and the technologyes and accurate andGoogle is going to kill you because they own voice and all these things-and these are not. You know these are valid concerns, but we raised fairlyquickly and then we hired the first team. I got a lot of a lot of emailsfrom peoples says WWe. Definitely regret n investing your in new guys,but we did take those concerns into considerations. I mean because theirewheels winater, who wan in for the sales people right. These are notstupid remarks. You know we want to make sure, is Haes people love it andactually, how can we make it in a way...

...that they'll be willing to pay out oftheir own pocket? Even if the company's not sponsoring God? That's what webuilt a product in the way that addresses disconcerns. We had a team offive developers from a lons previous company. We were sitting at a smallspace and we were seve of US six startd Deing roal work. In me, there was astrange period because it was an Aslon that was mid November, two thousand andfifteen as along. We have a few Bata customers that sign up. When can we geta product and says med January and I kind of used to like edding Thramons, Owhatever Injuni is telling me even then I don't believe until actually see theproduct. He was like very slow period and my wife was asking o me what'sgoing on. If you lost your Energiesi, not you so like listen, Oave, nothingto do in a company is like watching, rocks grow and in comes Te January. Weturn the system on and I'm waiting for the whole thing to explode people,bebanning sessions and users and the first cus Rad, a hundred sales people-and I didn' know what to expect. But it worked so that was it was a pretty goodevent. How did you come approach? Pricing you basically just release theproduct if you're talking about customers assuming they're payingsomething? How do you think about getting to your target average dealsize, great question. So when I did the initial focus group, I askd him. Howmuch would do be willing to pay? And there are two ways to charge we eitherby the number of calls, which would first make sure that we are alwaysprofitable hand have margins based on usage and the other ones is all you caneat per user, just kind of like what people know it's like and most peoplesay: okay, we're GOINGNA will ing to Tay like half of sales, forts rightwhere we didn't like that Kidgen holween. But we decided we're going tostart with that pricing because it's we want to make it easie for people tomake that decision, even if it's not of optimal pricing structure, just make itsimple easy and we don't want to have risking many different vectors. We justwant to choose one to the product and not the pricing. We do have cost ofprocessing speech and recording videos does have real more than thetraditional Saus. It is something that we're very mindful and autous, and theother thing that we did we charged full pricing from day. One we did not haveintroductory pricing would not have like trying for free for a year we, thevery first customers, so just tried the product we went even trying to sellbecause we wanted to develop a product, but early on, I decided to want tocharge full price and the reason is not the money. It's the learning that I'mgoing to get out of debt, and I wanted to know if people will be willing topay hichis be good, and if not, what do we need to do either change the productto pitch or or to value, so people will be alng to pay. WHATHEVER IS ECONOMYHAL for us. Had you done some kind of a competitive assessment? Did you knowwhere you sat in the pricing ecosystem? Where you, you know the most expensiveproduct in the market middle of the road when it comes to broadly to finesales and egomen technologies, I didn't know. I idn't know that there arecompetitors and and apparently theyware but they're in stales mode fortunatlyfor a bat aimat. Some of them later says I was actually looking to buysomething like Gong and I couldn't find it so. I started a company, so thecompetitiveness was more like than that's what people uses. EVENCH MARQSis sales force not as a product compettir, but it kind of like as apricing framework. That's to you one of the most common questions I get soyou're. Now. Charging your customers and Hae Question I get at everyconference is when, and you probably get it to when, should you hire yourfirst tp of sales and how do you think about building and Scaling Your SalesOrganization? As a business minded CEO, all right? It depends. I was the firstBPO sales that was hired, but I also hired dours later on. So it depends ifyou're, roughly an engineer and Co. If you just finis standfor- and you havelike a fantastic idea when you know nothing about sales, you may want tostart by hiring an experienced seasoned...

...sea level executive early on. I tookthat position Unde a previous company. You know kind of Mos, I do have acomputer size degree, but also sold a lot of stuff. So I started sellingmyself because I wanted to arn a pitch and I brought and VBOL sales once I hada couple of raps that they're hating for h. So these are the two. I get alot of Seos that ask me, you know ASE, you o hired, do I know people and and alot of time they'll be looking at at the director level or even thots stihigher rent, and I'm asking why ar looking for someone is not hisexperience and usually it say it's a cost issue. You know my us you'rethinking about it wrong, because your biggest challenge right now is to getthe product market fit quickly and if you're off you want to know aboutfaster as season sales executive will be able to figure it out. A lot fasterthan someone is less experienced and if someone is less experienced, you'llnever know if it's him or her or your product right for someone os like moreaccomplished, Yor minimizing the risk, that is the selection, but for yourproduct. It's a really interesting perspective, one of the things thatGong has done incredibly well because it there are competitors, we won't namethem but they're out there, but I feel like you're marketing is better thananybody else's. How do you, at least in in the sort of the subspace that you'reoperating within, is that just a function of investment? Is that part ofyour strategy? Did you hire? You know vpof marketing really early? How do youthink about allocating Toman generation investment so that, because I thinkGong has the highest name recognition in the space for what you're doing wedo invest, but it's not a function of the investment. Some of the best thingwe're doing do not cost a lot of money like being on a cruise with Max. Ireally think it's and eer know people said you're. Ithe marketing is good ifthey mean in a positive or somethings the marketing and not the product, butthe product is kind of pretty close to viral people. Talk about it, theaudience Thaf we sell to ar usually pretty vocaln social media. So ifyou're good peoplel talk about in this, we get a lot of user marketing, bothwithin organizations and outside. Second, we use content det and I'veUSIT, a previous company that is short immediately applicable and relevant tothe audience that we sell to is is tweets, is at short, Linton posts, IanaLinon posts gon with data in it this winning. We date o ti the open racethat are, I geting. This is what youshould say in I fronm Com pright, sowe taugt what's the strategic message and that we're thinking about and howwe can icor it with content that people would actually be almost willing to payfor it, but then we'll give it for free and that's what we do. So a strategicmessage was there's a lot of ignorance and opinions are going on about what toSey on sales calls right. You know you read this book Thereare, ten thousandbooks, an Amazon, and nobody really knows. I mean a lot of people. Have itbest. Andin dologs weve been avidense for some companies that Ta work at sowe're going. Ta Shore US Ome Data Wi'll, be like the the first images from theHOPPL telescope or first time they people saw images of the titanic. Thereare a lot of like hypotheses where it blames, but just when people develope atechnology for mappping the ocean, then they're able to see clearly what'sgoing on. These are kind of himagery that we wanted and we started sharingdi. I frome calls. You know how many questions you should ance type ofquestion actually worked. Well, how e went to to bring up pricing in aconversation based on Daa? What ar the answers? What are some interestinginside that emerged from your Osmen Aron tenters, or your abl thereis a ton,so we found objection handling so first, the one that did very easy tounderstand his talk time talk to listen ratio right and it's a common problm,especially with younger sales. People or people have just hired, they talk alot, sometimes eighty five percent of the conversation and compared some themore experience indose them at forty six percent on average, so juters morrelaxed and and OIS pressured. So that's an easy one. Patient factor justwait before you respond responding to...

...an objection with the question. Theseare all things and a good thing. You could actually show it o people. Thereis very strong evidence that you can't fix what it didn't the right in thediscovery. Call if it didn't build it right. If youdn developed te pain, anthat's the right questions, Tan, your chances of closing Yoour deals later onare very low. No matter what you do so the star is very very important is justa few F te. There's really a Tom like there's. Usually Abou Irhis is great,so those links, those those they get. Abouht a couple thousand lights andtons of thousands of ofviews and chairs every monch wee. We do work and inthere's, there's a team. That's working on a Datau they're thinking about thesubjects. What would be useful interesting and we can? Realistically,I Ta Day Before, I'm just speculating, maybe yor somewhere in Arr between tenand forty poly, we're not at ten, yet okay, but Clos Ho so series a companyclose to ten. How big is the marketing organization when we're thinking aboutthe size of investments, we should be making tonly about the size that thatcontent team and that Dimangion, I team ther for people. I have two questionson. How is your job changing? Is the company grows its Ju Questionar? Sowhen I, when we startd says so the first like very early days, I hadnothing to do was like premiarly engineering when we got the first ofPortcaseis th great. Now I got orange so early on. I did all the sellingmyself I was getting people writing event even IFNSCR I was getting peopleschedungwih. Demos and ther are like doing directly to my calendar and I wasdoing them daane day out having a blast practicing the peach learning. What todo. then. I heard a couple F raps. I was acting DHEP Sales Alon, my partnerfocus, waronty RND team and a product today, I'm blessed to have an executiveteam O soome the majority of the operational work, I'm still involved,mainly with the product direction, some of the strategic accounts. That's wereworking on think about the future competitive strategy and Markhisstrategy of the company and managing the Mangement Teem Business Developmentand hiring is stil interview. Every lile hire that we're making a companyand my rules useyoy until we're hundred and twenty people d Li every person,I'm the final step in Intervin. So a lot of my time goes: Tho interviewingtalent, that's E, great rule! It's great that you have a framework forlast question and then I think we have probably room for for three o fourquestions and I I'll pass the microphone around to to anybody thatwants to ask one. My question is: There's a lot of sales leaders in theroom and sales leadership, I think, has speakingfrom personal experience, high turnover so as you'V got sales leaders in theroom that are aspiring to be your partner from not Jo Zero to ten. Butzero to hundred what are the qualities of a sales executive that you thinkwill help he or she scale to the point at which you know all of our equity isis very, very valuable. I think these are the two words sales executives, Thofirst executive, and I always look at any executive hire as another mindaround the table. The Management Team just o ant more than just espotshes tothe quarrelly numbers, and if you want to hate a big, you got to think longterms. What's the right thing to do in interest of the company and sometimesthe very fine, it's very easy to get caught in like the quarterling numbersand again I don't you know I trit them very, very seriously and they'reimportant, but you want to Mak sure sance someone who's like has a longterm view of the company and acts like like an officer. Desky second, is theimportance of a longterm planning, especially in hyper growth companypeople. Do' realize how fast things change and you got to shit gears. It'slike a like a car with MINU. If you don't shift like early enough, theydidn't understand that the game havs changed it's too late by the time werecognize it so ere already building plans. Okay, what the Leed levelmanagement here is going to be like meet next year, because you can't Tishard to just perish IUT jhis was an example. You can just perish it melivel management. You got to build him...

...on and probably hes a higheras. Ishould make him today to do that, so how you hired a team, how you thinkabout Thuh your Tim Buildin as a strategy, I probably don't need to knowmost people know that that you're, not the superhero sales, guys I mean youmost peake. SALS- are probably better sales people than anyone else, butthat's not why you're hired is still great to have and if you aren't like beard to be a great sales leader, but that's not what you're hire to do yourhard to build a team and win a market. The third things that I like to seeisalso have a little bit of a economical understanding and it's a ties back tothe first point being part ofthy executive in is one thing and you knowour motovs browth an all cost within reason, they're kind of likecontradiction in terms, so you can hire the most expansive Aes, but but he's Rshe's incredible right. But you know what about their quatis he's likeproportional right. So things like CA and commissions they're important, notvery important in very early days, but when the number starts to grow, itbecomes increasingly important where you hire, who you hire and sometimesthe the first hires tend to set the tone and the norm right. So you coanhire I'm going to hire two EXPANS ES sales, people early on and it'swas atough question and because I know they're going to hit their numbers orif they don't tend, nobody else will right. But then you have not developeda Skeel to hire people that are more economical down road. So that's animportant o think about long term. Do you have a business model and not justthe numbers, it' very helpful questions in the Audienceso, I'm ris, Smollan andgreenhouse when you think about Gong generally, it's for account executivesto maybe like reflect on e conversation. They had with a customer hit could befor leadership to do some coaching. One thing that I think people might notleverage as much, which could be really interesting is what are some of thelike analytics across the team that you would recommend sales leaders look atso when you're looking at the data holistically and not an individual call.Where do you see customers getting the most valued yeah, at's G, greatquestion? We use it early on to understand where we're stuck in thesales process, because you never know just one thing: There's individualperformance, there's perfornceis a company right, maybe you're what yourteaching the heals people is wrong, or maybe not totally wrong, but notexactly the best strategy. How do you know you could look at things wherelike types of calls and conversion and prison H, Borr? So, let's say our is awing rate in competitive deals better than some of the others, or is it worseor types of competors hat? Where messages are people positioning arcustomers reacting and by ability to reveal large number of calls quickly reable to correct the story that your training, our sales people, to tell oncalls, and second, you can see how the market is evolving, some demarcus othey are very, very dynamic, new competoors just come quickly and andwith now products and if you're not on top of you're, not aalyzand lastrending. You know conversation, you know by the time you'll realize what'sgoing on, it might be too late. So the conversation isis, the trenches, ifthis is a battle fills, is where it all happens and and it's a fantastic data,the mine, Hey, I'm slow bar Ron, the vpcles for hired. I have a prettystrong market, SEGENTATION SM B, an market enterprise res ranging from twoyears of experience up to tenty, right and ATB from you know. Thirty to sixfigures: Where do you see the biggest impact of this type of product in termsof wraps? I would assume it's more junior people, but also again, don'twant to make an assumption and also sort of second part of that question.What is the adoption like when you get into these senior reps, then ive beenselling for ten fifteen years when they're sort of feeling, like someone's,maybe looking over their shoulder? But how do you you know, sort of implementthis type of product into the culture? First, I o use te cross the board, bothfom bid market SNBS and enterprising in different ways, and I think about it,thereis, nothing that people need to do it's a noninterestive system, so itjust works. If you don't want to use it, you don't use it. That's the worst case,but we don't ask you to do any extra...

...steps. So that's why I do thought. Shesis fairly good and where it's not applicable yet is sales where there's alot of face to face going on aright. So mostly it's promote selling right nowwe have people thewo field sales, but they they also have a lot of onlinecommunications and there are very few people that that push back. It's not acommon phenomena. You want to maybe common from with somebody's using thebots for for both our isyour experience, so on Jason Never was linkedon and weare a happy Gong customer and I think when we first scalled Gong across oursales wormusation, the big concern from our reps was that their customers weregoing to push back and there was going to be some discomfort that the salesrost would feel from them as a result that you know the little message thatsays this call has been recorded, but we've heard almost none of that and, atthe end of the day, t really felt like more just to change management projectthan anything that was really happening in our conversations with our customerslast question and then we're going to move to the next section as igoineverybody, Benshur Voga from legal sifter Bi me. Thank you very much,conserdening your background, opert. One of I'm sure very, very great career.I was wondering what is the evolution of sales executives, epieco sales alshad changed over the course of different business models and marketsbeing enteredd very quickly. What are the twenty that that you're looking forhows that change so IRM Sorriby n ight? Twenty I'm looking in terms of what arethe key levers in it that a sale secutive, I guess, can still pull tomake sure that you know get what you're looking for and but its sort of hellsand muzzles that have maybe changed over the course of Hims. I think thatthe fundamentals haven't changed. It's like find a problem and solve it.That's what it boils down to that's the most important things and then not justbeing like always like the challenge for a lot of people. Really it's easiersaid than done, but that's if there is a problem and people that can buy, andyou have a great solution for that. That's what it is out. How to do it nowis harder. People do use, are more awore today, there's a lot ofsales training program going on. There are more books, theyre more intechnology to help people do it ut the fundamentals, I think, ar still thesame think your Ashelf as a doctor right people come to you ask questions.You try to diagnose the problem, see that's something that you understandthe do, cancel and then work from there. That's EAGREES, ah yeah. Absolutely Ithink it's sales is about listening and asking questions primarily. Thank youso much. I pleasure. Let's give a Meteri a rounof, a pot everybody. This is Sam's corner was areally fun day out on the Hudson River, with a meat Bendob and with a bunch ofother folks for that sales. ACTO Bote e Trea feathuring, a bunch of membersfrom the newyork revenue collected. Sorry, if you weren't able to make ithopefully you'll be able to make the next one one of the things that me said.Whic we've talked about on the podcast before and it's just always worthrepeating and thinking about young reps. often they just don't appreciate thevalue of silence, and you know the research that Gong has done and othercall recording platforms and call coaching platforms. They all teach usthat when you are talking, they have the power and when the prospect istalking, you have the power a mad mentioned of sixty forty ratio, meaningte prosspect is talking sixty percent of the time and you're talking fortypercent of the time I tend to like seventy thirty, but the point is thatyou should be asking questions using silence and letting the prospect fillup. The silence with their answers to those questions and aggressivelytalking into the silence is not going to help you win that deal so if you'renew to the sales game or you're practising on sales practice, nottalking so much and practice being comfortable with short answers withasking open, ended questions with...

...pressing the yowth button on your soneso that you don't force yourself to uncomfortably talk into the silence newsilence to your benefit. It can be very, very powerful if you are simplycomfortable and there's a an incredible sales leader out there and now he's aCEO, his names John Show. We called him the professor back at axile, but he wassomebody. WHE would be willing to sit in silence for upt two minutes, whilethe prospect was thinking about the answer to that question. So if you'reout there and you're practicing or you're, deploying your trade as a salesexecutive. Just remembering you silence to your advantage, this has been sandscorner. Thank you for listening to check out the show, notes, seeupcoming guests and play more episodes from our incredible Aniba sailleaersvisit sales, hackercom odcast. You can find us on itunes or geople play and ifyou enjoye this episode, please do share with your peers on Lineton,twitter or elsewhere. You always love. Tho, only see people showing contentand telling their friends we've been growing every month, so we're superexcited about it. Thank you and finally, special thanks again to this month,sponsors. It outreach, symore, Outriak, dot, io forward sales tactor. Finally,finally, if you want to get in touch with me, find me on twitter at Sam fJacobs, which, unfortunately, for you maybe overburdened with poritical andWason capitals, related tweets. But if you want professional correspondencefin me on Linkein at Linconcom, andlh, Sam, F, Jacobs, I'll see you next time.

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