The Sales Hacker Podcast
The Sales Hacker Podcast

Episode · 3 years ago

53. The Secrets to Moving Your Company Upmarket w/ David Katz, Intercom

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This week on the Sales Hacker podcast, we speak with David Katz, Senior Director of Sales and Customer Solutions at Intercom. David discusses his impressive career beginning with a productive stint at LinkedIn, remarking on what special skills he has to maintain staying power and tenure amidst a fast paced ever growing organization.  He also gives us a framework for how to move upmarket and what the requirements are for taking a company from the SMB space all the way to the enterprise.

One, two, one, three, three. They folks, it's Sam Jacobs. You're listening to the sales hacker podcast. We've got a fantastic show coming up today. We've got David Kats who's a senior sales director intercom. He's managing a team of eighty across a MIA, a pack and the America's and he's had a great career, starting off early on an executive search and then moving into linkedin and then dropbox. And one of the things we're going to be talking about today is how to move up market and how to take a company that's been focused on a high volume smb, you know, high velocity sales, and move them into the enterprise and what tools and methodologies you need to make that successful. So it's a great show. Before we dive into it, we're going to thank our sponsors with the first is chorus, so courus dot AI, the leading conversation intelligence platform for high gross sales teams. Chorus records, transcribes and analyzes business conversations in real time to co trips on how to become top performers with chorus, more reps meet quota new hires, ran faster, leaders become better coaches and everyone in the organization can collaborate over the actual voice of the customer. CHECK OUT CORUS DOT AI for slafe sales hacker to see what they're up to. Our second sponsors outreach. That sound reach ot iohe the leading sales engagement platform. Outreach support sales reps by enabling them to humanize their communications at scale, from automating the soul sucking manual work that eats up selling time to providing action oriented tips on what communications are working best. Outreach has your back. Lastly, quick plug for revenue collective. It's the business that I run during the day when I'm not posting a podcast for sales hacker. Were in six cities, Denver, Boston, New York, London, Toronto Amsterdam. Actually, this week I'll be in Amsterdam for our first official revenue collective dinner with the Amsterdam revenue collective. But if you're out there listening and you're either in one of those cities and you're a VP level or above commercial operator, that means sales, marketing or operations executive responsible for helping the company make money, reach out to me if you're interested in joining. Its invitation only, but of course, invitation can come from me. If if you reach out and if you're in a city where there is no revenue collective chapter officially, just know that we've got plenty of remote members, people from places like Paris, Indianapolis, Manchester, UK, Sydney, Australia, all over the country and all over the world. Folks are chiming in because they want to build high, highly engaged communities of sales and marketing executives so that we can all collaborate, help each other succeed, help each other improve in our day jobs and and help achieve our career goals. So that's that. Now, without further ado, let's listen to David Kats, who gives a great interview from Intercom and talks about how to move up market. Hey, everybody, that's Sam Jacobs, founder of the revenue collective and, of course, the host of what you're listening to right now, which is the sales hacker podcast. Today we are incredibly excited to have the senior director of sales from Intercom, Mr David Kats, on the show. David is responsible for global sales and customer solutions teams across Ama a pack, so that's Europe and Asia and the Americas. And prior to joining Intercom, David was the director of mid market and the price sales at dropbox publicly traded company, where he built the first upmarket sales team and helped grow the organization from a handful of people to selve that several hundred or incredibly excited to have them on the show. Dave David, welcome to the show. Sam, thank you for having me and you made me sound really fancy. Thank you for much. Actually, you're very fancy. All people are fancy in their own way, but you are particularly fancy. Well, welcome. So what we like to do is we like to start with a baseball card. We like to sort of learn a little bit about you give you an opportunity to tell us about this little company called Intercom that we've all probably heard of. So your name is David Kats your give us your official title. Sure the official on the business card title would be senior director of global sales and customers solutions. Fantastic. And so that remit. Does that mean that you are responsible for both new business and existing business? That's correct. Yep. So we split those teams into actually two components and I'm happy to talk about our org structure. If that's if that's cool interesting to you. It is, it is. It is very interesting. Let's get there right after we figure out who. There are probably three people in the universe that do not know what in Ourcommon as are. Who in our coom is and give us what is the company that is integram. So I'll back up slightly. I think what we all have experienced in our own lives is a situation and where you're trying to get in touch with a company you do business with and that process is painful. Imagine you are getting a text from your bank saying that there is potential credit card fraud and you want to follow up with them and you go on their website and you go to the support page and you're trying to dig through and figure out what support thing do I click on, what information I have to fill out, and then you do all those things as you're worried about what's going on with your bank account, and then it says great, some someone from our team will be back in touch with you. Goodbye.

Deeply unsatisfine. Yeah, it's not. It's not a great experience and I think you know the thing is is in the modern world, we expect immediate response and solution and I think because everything in our world these days, and I'd be interested to talk about this with you a little bit too, is we all are looking for immediacy it. We want that first response time when we expect things to happen instantaneously, and so we expect that to happen with the businesses we do business with, and that's not always the case with Internet businesses, and so we're trying to solve that. So what we're trying to do is as a mission, is bring personalization back to Internet businesses and and really what we are seeing with our customers. We got about Thirtyzero plus room. By the way, Humble Brad is, this isn't direct brag, that's not exoma, it's just a blunt brag here. What we see with our customers is they experience faster growth because of these better customer relationships. And I think we're we're kind of unique, is we can help you with those communications with perspective customers, current new customers that you're on boarding, as well as customers have been around for a while that maybe need to reset their password and talk with you from a support perspective. So we have a platform that literally lets you communicate with perspective and current customers or across all segments of the customer journey. I feel like, you know, there's a bunch of other companies that are either doing elements of what you all do or copying your entire you know, your entire product road map. I felt like you guys created the category or you all created the category. I'm trying to say you guys less, but do have a category name that you describe that is the umbrella of what Intercom is and does. Who? That's a good one. Not Really. It's really just custom communication in general. Okay, got it. I think it broadly, and so it's hard to put in a category because a little bit of what we do is, you know, is kind of live chat, a little bit would do is, you know, could be deemed as marketing, automation or life cycle marketing, and then certainly as a component that's also support as well. I don't really know, there's a great name for this new category that I think we're helping create an others are quickly jumping into. Well, that's that's an opportunity for you all, because if there's a book I read called played bigger, and the whole conceit of that book is that if you name the category, you can get, you know, ten x returns on your money. It's like could just a massively more value, a creative concept when you on the category, however, Intercom. So how large are you all in terms of are are? What can you share with us? Obviously we don't need confidential information. I'm sure you're on a path to some kind of exciting events. So tell us what you can share about sort of like the rough revenue range. Yeah, so from an employee standpoint, you know we are quickly approaching a thousand employees globally. Well, we're a little under that. From a revenue perspective, we are private company. The last information we shared publicly around our revenue was a couple years ago, so I'll have to bench mark us or index us there, and back then we were doing fifty million and annual recurring revenue. I would say that we have far surpassed that at this point and we've broken through, I think, a couple of the areas where a lot of companies start to tap out or things get a lot harder. If you're familiar with the grow faster, die slow McKenzie component of some of their communication from a couple of years ago. There's a certain mark that they talked about. A lot of companies start to really slow down and loose team at and we've kind of blown through that, which is great to see. That's fantastic and that mark probably implies, as I mentioned, something exciting for the future. So congratulations on that. So you are responsible. Tell us about your org and all the different functions that are encompassed in it. Yeah, so there are four different rolls within my organization globally. So we have account executives who are purely net new business acquisition and so they're out there hunting on a daily basis to help perspective customers become current customers. Once said, people become current customers, we then introduce them to what we call here relationship managers. A lot of organizations might refer to this team as account managers, and our relationship managers are responsible for on boarding their new customers, making them successful from day one, but they're also responsible for, you know, kind of for newing that business at the end of the terms of their contract, as well as hopefully expanding the footprint we have with that customer over time by upselling and cross selling them to new products, new tiers, etc. And then the third component would be sales engineers who, for us, are primarily pre sale focused, but there are certainly occasions within some of our larger customers where we bring them into kind of help us with a new potential valuation. And then we also have customer success managers, and it really I think this term gets thrown on loosely to a lot of companies. For us, CSM is essentially a product consultant. So...

...these folks do a lot of training, implementation and kind of ongoing education of our largest customers to make sure they're successful with what they currently have and that they help, we can help them understand things that are coming down the road. So the account management team at Intercom is the daily point of contact for questions that the customer has. Yes, exactly, so we have them. They run point kind of as the quarterback and bring in the appropriate internal folks as necessary to solve customer needs. That's great. That's I don't know if it's controversial, but there's definitely two pads these days. One of them is that you know, there's a customer success team or customer some kind of customer team that doesn't have a revenue responsibility, that isn't responsible for maybe they're responsible for like grosser attention, but they're not necessarily responsible for the renewal or for expansion. And then there's other folks that are still housing all of that the daily point of contact in addition to the revenue responsibility with the account management team. It sounds like you all are the ladder. Yeah, yeah, and you know, it's definitely something that we discuss on an ongoing basis and and have thought about changing over time. And you know, who knows what the future holds for us. Their pros and cons to both I think that we could agree on. I just think you know where we are now. You know, one of our kind of mandras internally as focus breeds excellence. So we really, I think, from a profile of the people we have with different responsibilities, want them to be as focused as as we can and you know, I think for where we are in our maturity, having relationship managers really own that relationship but be very revenue focused, whether it's it's retention or expansion. That has worked in service really well so far. It's certainly a framework that isn't that that I identify with? Let's dive into a little bit about David Kat's the human and then we can talk about some of your areas expertise. But where you from? Give us a little bit about your background and then walk us through a little bit about your startup career, your early career, prestart up, just to to understand how you've got to be, you know, running an eighty plus person team at one of the fastest growing, you know, not recurring revenue, software businesses out there. Yeah, yeah, so I'm originally from the Great State of New Hampshire, the granite state. Live for your day, free or die, live for your die. Yeah, and I think usually I get weird looks from people. I'm like field, look, it's that state you drive through when you're going to Vermontar Maine. My brother lives in New Hampshire. Let's not denigrate it like that. Fantastic. Yeah, where about some New Hampshire? He lives in Exeter East Kingston. Yeah, of course. Yeah, I'llsome because, as they call it, sea coast, beautiful area. Love that little strip of sea coasts we have there. So it's from this the center of the state. Really Small Town, about five thousand people, and it was certainly like a summer vacation destination for people. So you know the population in the winter time was about five thousand but it would balloon to about Sixtyzero the summer, just given the kind of beautiful lake that I was so fortunate to grow up on. Is that like when a Pasaki Lake, when a Basaki? Yeah, yeah, I know. I think Jimmy Fallon does a great skit with Justin timber like about like being at camp on Lake when Basaki, and I think that really put us on the map. So superal. I went to summer camp around there too, so I'm amazing guilty as charged. Yeah, so you can relate. It's a beautiful area. Yeah, from there went to college and upstate New York at Syracuse University. Really thought I wanted to study law and public policy. I became really interested in government in high school and was part of a debate team and I think actually, when I look back at now, I think I really just loved debating and the conjecture and it wasn't really the law component. I just liked to win, which is probably one part of the reason I'm in sales now and argue for sure, and hopefully I've got a little bit better at his. I've gotten older. But went to school in Syracuse study public policy. Had a phenomenal experience there, met my future wife there and look back on those blustery, snowy days very lovingly. But really also what that experience taught me is when I graduated was wow, this is really not what I want to do. So I had a lot of great internships with the Department of Public Health, I worked for the Housing and Urban Development League and all those experiences were rewarding in terms of the mission of the organization, but the day to day work was just really uninspiring. Let's let's dive into that particular point, because I find that a lot of people, when they're trying to identify, you know, what motivates them and what they're passionate about in their careers, are often caught insert in some of these circumstances. So what was it about the day to day work that you found on inspiring that prompted you to get up and go? Yeah, I think it was the mentality of the folks that I was working alongside. Was One where you know, you were counting down the time to your lunch, you're counting down the time to when you got to go home. Resources were hard to come by and I think given, you know, whatever was top of mind in the political climate, things could quickly change and...

...you might have been working on something that was very meaningful to you into the Organization for months and then it could get shelved very quickly as new administration would come in. So I just not being able to, you know, very tangibly see the result of the work I was part of and not working with people that I felt were super inspired by their work. It was just really hard to stay motivated. Yeah, so what you do so in this is actually funny, for I'll talk about later. So I actually went on career builder and monster and posted my resume because I just realize, like Gosh, I really don't want to follow this this this line of work, and I kind of realized that, as much as I love to read personally, reading for a living probably ruled out being a lawyer for myself. And I was actually contacted by this small company called Jay Robert Scott, and this company was actually an executive search firm. The head hunting firm which was all industry I knew nothing about, didn't even know it existed when I was in school, and I thought, you know what, why don't I take an interview with them? So they were based in Boston, or are based in Boston today, and I went and learned more about the company and realize like wow, it's actually really fascinating space. So what Jay Robert Scott does is they work with venture capital firms and their portfolio companies to help them make additions or changes to their executive leadership team over time as those companies mature and grow. And what I realized I was going to be able to do was be exposed to these really fascinating entrepreneurs and their companies and really learn about us so many different industries and kind of challenges and disruptive technologies from the outside looking in. And I was like well, you know, if anything, you know this will kind of serve as my MBA for a couple of years, and so I was Fortun enough to get a job with them in a research capacity where I was helping research, you know, the technologies that a company might be working on. So I learned about things like thin film technologies, for you know, photovolt takes companies. I got to learn about medical device technologies and all different regulation that goes in the place there. But I also got to work with, you know, some interesting software companies and be part of board meetings and sit in on them and kind of get have this outside lenes looking in as what it would be like to be part of these companies in some of the higher level kind of commercial challenges they face as they grow and continue to evolve. Wow, and so how did that lead you ultimately to Linkedin? Walk us through that journey. Or it maybe worked at fidelity to if I'm not mistaken. So Jay Robert Scott was actually a wholly owned subsidiary of fidelity investments. God, really fascinating relationship there. So I think it was like back in the s to jump counts and family who owns and privately owns and runs fidelity wasn't satisfied with some of the executive search woms they were working more working with in industry and said, you know what, let's build our own. So that's actually was started back in the s and so all of the work was primarily done to do in house executive search, but being based in Boston, with the kind of tech community and the in the kind of biopharmaceutical community that existed there, presented a lot of opportunity to start working with the venture capital community, and so that kind of just happened naturally over time. But it was a holy own subsidiary of Fidelity. Since my departure, the partners within the firm actually spun it out, kind of bought it out from fidelity, and now it's called Park Square executive search in space in Cambridge. I love it. And so what is the jump from there? Did you get to meet the people at Linkedin or what was the transition? So we realized that we were spending a lot of time flying back and forth from San Francisco either pitching clients or working with clients, and so came to the point, when I was there, of hey, we probably need a west coast office. So we hired this gentleman who was phenomenal named Eric Lund, from one of the bigger executive search firms called hydrogen struggles, and Eric and I got to work on a couple different engagements together and really had a great working relationship and he asked me as like hey, why don't you move out here help me kind of get this office up and going. And so, you know, I asked my then girlfriend, now wife, Hey, what do you think about picking up and moving the West Coast? She was excited about it, her parents less so, but we picked up and moved out to the West Coast and I spent a year with him kind of hiring in a couple other partners, helping US build some west coast business and executing against some of the search work we were doing and in that process just caught the bug. It's really hard not to if you live out here. You know, I had so many friends that I met that were working for these interesting technology companies and I started to get the Itch, like, man, I really got to go in house and work for one of these companies and see what that really feels like. So I started thinking through what skills did I have that I thought would be broadly applicable at a technology company, and also what technology do I really love and rely on that I know I'd be passionate about selling? And when I started to kind of put that list together, linkedin...

...quickly kind of rose to the top as my top priority for company that I want to work for and be part of that sales team. So I literally cold called my way in. You know, I found a guy who work there, his name is Tyler Hubbs, who had a background similar to mine and I cold called him. I left him a voice melt and said Hey, we have similar backgrounds. I see you recently joined linkedin on the sales team. You know, I'd love to talk about what that experience was like for you. And he actually called me back. In the for all those a working sales and leave voicemels all the time, it's awesome when you get a call back. He called me back, invite me down and we had lunch on campus and in back then Linkedin was pretty much just down in mountain view and kind of surrounded by Google. So I was went down there, had lunch with him, got introduced to the then vice president of sales, James Vulpan test, and they were hiring like crazy. This was, you know, end of two thousand and ten. They were getting ready for an Ipoh, they were quickly approaching about a thousand employees and really had found strong market fit for their recruiting software and so, you know, they took a bet on me as someone who didn't have software sales experience and I want to make sure I didn't let them down. That's fantastic. And so to walk us through what's been the journey recently. You know, you were a dropbox. You you know you've been intercome a little while. So walk us through how one at Linkedin and then how you got to drop box and then from there we'll dive into, you know, some of the things that you've learned along the way. Yeah, the only way to describe my experience at Linkedin is transformational. It changed the complete trajectory of my career and I'll forever be in debt to that company, into the folks that took bet to me multiple times. So I was very fortunate to join as an account executive there and then, in pretty short order, kind of learned, you know, a repeatable process that worked for myself and was given an opportunity to become a what we called at a point, team lead, and so I actually then actually took on responsibility for three other account executives and was responsible for a kind of my number. But then also there's and had to play this kind of yer coach role, and this was a role where I was working with three folks who were just not really fully reaching their potential from a results perspective, and the thought of the company was, well, this guy seems like he's kind of figure it out. Let's see if he can kind of help these these other folks. And we did and you know, we had a great couple quarters together. People started hitting their targets, a couple of them got promoted and that really helped me realize like wow, I actually really love coaching and actually found the challenge of how do I help other people learn how to sell the way that will work for them, that's authentic and genuine and then they can get excited about is a more rewarding and and challenging endeavor. And so, you know, I threw my hat in the ring. Then, for my first manager role, got an opportunity to manage a sales development team, which I still look back on as one of the most fun experiences I've had in terms of managing teams, given the kind of the sponge like mentality of that team and kind of the energy that they had. And did that for a while and then went back to actually managing a team on the west coast for Linkedin of account executives. After that and had some experience and success there and actually just honestly got recruited to dropbocks and at the time they were actually looking to take a bet themselves on someone who could come in and help them build an outbound sales team and for better for worse, they took that that that bet on me, and that was back in, let's the end of two thousand and thirteen. You got into sales from executive search. Essentially. Was It linkedin investing in you know, were you trained in classic sales methodology? Did you like have some experience with Miller hyman or, you know, force management coming in and putting in medic at? How did how did you interpret that sales methodology and then how did you learn how to become a manager? Those are like when you when you go into intercom. Do you have a playbook that you're running and how did you build that playbook? Yeah, so, yes, so, when I was an executive search to really wasn't a lot of training and, you know, as I kind of evolved in working for j Robert Scott, you're selling, like you know, I I'm trying to sell senior executives on why they should think about leaving a very fruitful endeavor that they're on right now with a company and hear me out about another opportunity. And then you're selling then your candidates on your client and helping them understand, you know, wise person could be a good fit for them on these very important, very strategic hires, and then you're at the same time selling new business. And so you're constantly selling. But I had no framework, no previous experience and was really just kind of relying on intuition and just trying to mimic what I was seeing. That seemed to be working for some of the partners I worked with, and I was very fortunate to work with some incredible partners who really knew how to sell and, more importantly than anything, they knew how to listen, and that's what I really took away from that. Sales for excuse me, at Linkedin, kind of the classic sailer...

...sales methodology was really kind of drilled into us and kind of talking through, you know, the paying funnel and things like that. In the over time I kind of learned different things around. You know, medic became a big one that was important to us, and I took some of those things with me to drop box where there was no blueprint, no playbook, and kind of rolled out some basic methodologies there. And Yeah, for sure, I mean there are things that I've learned along the way. Now I've seen repeatability from that, I then have brought here to intercom. I will say, though, I you know, from my own experience of working for people who, you know, join a company and just say, all right, great, this is what worked there, it'll work here. I've never seen that be successful. So I'm I try to be as conscientious as I can around not just trying to, you know, force a way of working or sales methodology and a new company. I really want to spend time listening to customers and understanding, you know, our position and the relationships are trying to build and kind of work around that to find a methodology that's you know, that it is can in RMS can find comfort in and a framework to provide them with and kind of guide them. But I don't want to be overly prescriptive. That makes that makes a lot of sense. You. One of the things that, you know, we were talking about offline that that we sort of defined as an area of expertise, which I think is really, really relevant to pretty much everybody's this concept of moving up market and certainly when you join dropbox, you know everybody, most people, not everybody. Most people think about dropbox has essentially, you know, maybe a prosumer technology platform. You know, it's either for consumers or maybe for very, very small SNB customers. How do you move? But of course now that a public company and I'm sure they have a large fee to be mid market enterprise sales team. So what are your strategies for moving, quote unquote, moving up market and how do you how do you help shift an organization either from a selfserve model or from a high velocity transactional model to a much longer, more consultative sales process? Yeah, yeah, so when I joined dropbox they had a small inbound sales team. That was really more of a rotational program they had for recent grads than anything and it was it was really an experiment. And to your point, yes, at that point almost all revenue, and there was a lot of it even back then, was coming from the kind of prosumer side of the business. But in preparing for what later became, you know, the public event, I think you know the executive team and investors realized that will be very limiting for us from a market Cap Perspective and future, I know, potential if we cannot build a meaningful be to be business. So when I came in, you know, we started at square one and you know, back then we were closing tiny deals for, you know, a thousand to maybe several thousand dollars, and what we pulled up on was what was actually going on withinside these these accounts on the consumer side. So what was really fascinating that we saw was and doing our research, is that a lot of people were signing up for a consumer version of dropbox with their work email. And that's like kind of counterintuitive right. It was like, well, why would you do this if this is purely for your own personal use, like using this for family photos or maybe your tax returns and storing important documents? Why would you do that? And you know, in looking at Metadata, you would see, okay, well, these people are connected to, you know, other people on that work domain and like Huh, okay, they're sharing files with each other. Okay, that's interesting, like they're using this for business purposes. If we can understand why dropbox is a non sanctioned software that they are finding value in for business purposes. That's probably a story that we can tell and then target to the appropriate audience of like something they're missing in their stack that they need. And through that process we kind of were able to put together our kind of initial sales playbook that was very focused on, you know, certain industries at the time and selling to certain people where we knew there was there was a real need in their business and where their current solutions just weren't kind of meeting muster for further end users. So we went from, you know, closing deals for a couple of thousand bucks. I still actually remember the first time we closed at tenzero deal. Our office was in San Francisco, down by the Baseball Stadium. We walked over to safe way, which was right across the the street there, right across King Street, and we got a safeway ice cream cake and we brought it back to the office and had a little celebration for our first tenzero deal. You know, that was back in two thousand and thirteen. Fast forward to the time I left, we were closing multimillion dollar deals and, you know, a lot of it was working with the product team to help them understand the problems we needed to solve for larger customers and why those certain requirements were important. And as we kind of were able to bring that feedback, you know, in the product evolved. We're finding increasingly better PARC market fit for larger and larger companies. We're able to solve large and larger...

...problems, you know, and we got to a place where we were closing these really large deals in a very repeatable way. And that sales team grew from just a couple folks in San Francisco and Dublin when I first joined, two hundreds and doing north of a hundred million revenue. Did you have to hire a different type of salesperson or, you know, trade out people that were more suited for a different type of sale, or were you building new teams? Anyway, you were calling, you know, the old team was called us and being now the new team is called enterprise. So it was clear that it was going to be a different profile of a kind of executive. Yeah, it was definitely a different profile. So a lot of the early folks that had joined dropbox for joining because, you know, it was this rocket ship and they just wanted to latch on and get in anywhere they could, and so we had a lot of people that had investment banking backgrounds or consulting backgrounds and some of them were actually incredibly excited to pursue a career in sales, but a lot of them actually viewed it more as like an experiment and not something they want to do longer term. It was really interesting to say was a lot of these people had never failed before and so we had a lot of people on the team who are insanely bright, Harvard Mit educated. Your hand on YEA is. Yeah, yeah, on the initial sales team it was a profile we were working with and these people were incredibly bright, but I think we're just naturally very bright and didn't have to work too hard at academically. They just things just kind of came to them quickly and then you get them into sales roll where they're, you know, a new business rep being told no eighty percent of the time and that's a hard thing to do in the long term for them. So yeah, we definitely had to change the profile of people we were we were hiring and developing over time and I think as that evolved and we learned more about what was going to work for us. You know, we started seeing more success as well. What are some of the other pitfalls, are common mistakes that you saw in your time at dropbox that you think you want to share with the rest of us so that we don't make them? I think, you know, there's quite a few. One is make sure you build very strong relationships with the different kind of cross functional partners who are going to help your team be successful and really prioritize us. Actually think you know, in preparing for this podcast, I was listening to a chat you had with Dan from data dog and for Chare. Yeah, yeah, it was great, by the way, and one of the things that you really left me with at the end was you were talking about, as you evolve as a manager and leader, what your first team really is over time. That was definitely a lesson I learned. I had to go from, you know, kind of defense and champion mode for the sales team to, you know, kind of business leader and and really think about, you know, if I'm not able to accomplish the things I think they're important for our customers from a product perspective and from a Road Map perspective. Why is that? We're all here for the same reasons, but we're speaking a different language, I think. So for me it was really prioritizing those relationships with R and D to really make sure that they understood the increasing complexity of the needs for our customers and made sure we were building the right things. And it quickly changed, and I actually remember what I led to that. So gentleman named Ross Piper, who let enterprise strategy back then at dropbox and former sales for sky, he told me, cat's the best thing you can do is go out on the road with some of the folks from our Rd team, let them meet directly with customers and here directly from customers, and so I put together like this little road show we run around. We met with current customers, perspective customers, you know, some former customers as well, and I just got out of the way and just let them have a dialog directly with our customers and here what's working, what they're excited about, what they need and why. And that totally changed the relationship that I had with our RD team. And I did a very similar thing when I got here to Intercom. And when I arrived here there wasn't really the relationship that I knew we needed between our organizations internally and one of the first things I did was like hey, let's you guys here in Dublin, jump on a plane, get over here. We're going to go meet with some customers. That's great advice. Some of the challenges of moving up market relate sometimes to like fundamental architectural problems with the CODEBASE, and I'm not sure if you if you dealt with any of that, because a lot of the times what happens is, for you know, you get massive you get new security requirements. Sometimes, if your cloud based, the vendor, or I'm not a vendor of the customer will say, you know, we want a single ten environment, we don't want to be a multi environment, especially when it's file share and they're managing sensitive information. They might need you to go through, you know, sock to or some kind of security certification. We tried to do that at live stream, but the architecture of a platform was so inherently focused on, you know, multi tenant. You know, they would ask for fidelity. In fact, as for like network diagram, show us your network diagram so that we can confirm, you know, that it's architected in the way that makes us feel safe. Did you...

...deal with some of those challenges a dropbocks and and if so, how did you tackle them? Yeah, we certainly did early on, I would say, and some of the things at the time when we were kind of getting feedback and and kind of actually like opening the hood and looking at we're working with, you know, presented some some real concern early on for us. Having said that, we were able to work successfully through a lot of those early challenges. Some of the of the challenge, as we are around the way that the architecture is set up for file sink and share between different users and when you get into a business environment where you want to have, you know, role based access control and have administrative controls and visibility into who on my teams is sharing what and with whom at what time. On the consumer side, that really wasn't a challenge. We actually wanted to be really open. We didn't want this kind of rank in order kind of process and our consumer users really would benefit on our we're interested in that and and that actually took a pretty complete re architecture of the way that we actually thought about sharing files and folders, but we were to get through it. You know, dropbox has, as still to this day, one of the most incredible engineering teams you'll ever see for a technology company, and we were able to work through those challenges. That's fantastic. A comment that you've made in sales knows a word we're trained to avoid overcome, but what? But you think sales reps should actually embrace it, especially for up market customers. Help US unpack. You know that concept. Yeah, I think the biggest mistake you can make early on, and this really relates back to moving up market, is when you're moving up market you're working in many cases at a company and with a team that you're going to get into uncharted territory for them right and and that's certainly true here at Intercom. You know when we started, you know I was fortunateough to even have the opportunity to join intercom because of this amazing self service business that intercom had created based off of the quality of the product. And you know that is a month to month transactional business where you are trying to have as little friction in the buying process as possible and you're constantly AB testing and figuring out how can we make this more streamlined? You know, how can we move as much friction in the buying process for folks? And as you move up market and you're having more human interaction, you actually need those points of friction and those pull up points where you want some contention to figure out are we both aligned on what the right expectations are for this evaluation going forward? And you want to make sure you're bringing a lot of rigor to you know, helping a understand a customers and needs and make sure that you can actually meet them short or slightly longer term. And when you're doing that, you're working with teams that you know oftentimes, as I mentioned, are uncharted territories. Maybe they haven't built product for these larger companies in the past, they haven't marketed to them. You know, the way that you market it to, you know, a ten person company is vastly different the way you market to a tenzero person company. So what's what an important things you need to nail and so I think a lot of what we need to do is show early success and build confidence that we could move up market. And the best way to do that is make sure that when you're bringing deals forward that might require some some work or some modifications to longer term road map, you better win that business and make them very successful, and so I think you have to bring a high degree of scrutiny to that deal evaluation early on and make sure that you're very aligned and very upfront and honest with what your product can accomplish and what it cannot. And I think this is a huge mistake that people in sales make, especially earlier in their careers, is a oversell because they're worried about saying no, we can't do that and it killing a deal. And from my experience it's usually the opposite. Buyers, especially and more technical buyers, want and understand that when they're buying software that's meant for a broad audience, it's not going to accomplish everything they need it to and you're going to have to make tradeoffs. Now they'll do business with you if they're willing to make the right tradeoffs. And maybe they maybe there's certain things that are must have for them and you can't do part ways. Don't over sell because you're going to lose your friend in the market. Yeah, I mean that's true. It's hard, though, because it just depends on how big the pipeline is and what your revenue targets are and whether you feel like you can let that deal walk away. Yeah, I mean back to what Dan said and he talked to he talks about PG pipeline growth and pipe bad there. I think the best way to to combat that is to always be building pipeline and you know, I think our most confident reps here and the ones that I think have the most repeatable success of our time are constantly looking for new opportunities because, you know, they're cautiously optimistic around the deals they have in their pipeline and they're never going to rely to heavily on anyone. But look, there are times where we've walked away from deals here that we just needed to because it wasn't a good fit for us and...

...we knew it wasn't going to be the right fit for a perspective customer and in sometimes that actually has a has a real impact on reps and their ability to kind of hit in that quarter and that in that year. So that's goes back to my point. The earlier we can really apply that high degree of scrutiny the better. And so when you say you know high degree of urger and are you talking about a qualification methodology like a medic where you basically list out, you know, and sometimes we my last company, we called it meant the cars. I mean basically every layer was like a question you needed to answer thoughtfully and credibly in order to move forward in the in the sales cycle. Is it something like that to help confirm Hey, we have twenty requirements and these are the questions that need to be answered? Yeah, absolutely so, and we do it from both a kind of commercial side to the to the deal, and also from a technical and security side of the deal. So yeah, we increasingly are relying on medic as well as our kind of true north for evaluation process. But it's a here at Intercommun this is still early days for us, you know, and we're just more recently getting into these larger and multimillion dollar deals whereas you know, when I first joined, you know, a larger deal for us back then would have been, you know, five or fifty K. and it's not to say that we shy away from those. We still have those as really important part to our revenue in our growth, but increasingly we are getting into these are complicated deals where, you know, the medic structure is becoming more important. And last sort of substantive question, and would love to talk about some of major influences and some of the folks that have impacted your career. But you know, there's this concept that Chune. You know, I guess CB via Gartner, because Gartner on CB now talks about, you know, five point four people are needed to make a decision on an enterprise purchasing process, and that was years ago. And you know one of the guys, Brent Adamson, who wrote the Challenger customers, saying at that number might be as high as nine or ten. How do you build the width and the depth of kind of buyer preference into the sales cycle so that you can make sure that the reps are getting not just to, you know, the e and medics economic buyer, not just to the economic buyer, but also to the wide range of support you need an organization in order to move a purchase forward. It's a great point. Yeah, a nine even seems like maybe that's not the right number anymore. It's got to be like twenty. Yeah, it I think you know something. I think when you get into these large and more complicated deals, you understand is is not just like the economic buyer, but you need to understand the political environment that is taking shape within that customer and so I think this takes a long time to do. But what we do is, as early on the process we can as we start trying to map out what we think the organizational structure looks like and understand the people that, you know, we are working with, and it kind of looks like, you know, it's like an episode from some crime show where, you know, you have the detective in some back room drinking coffee with a cigarette and they have like a big board with you know, they're connecting yarn dots on things like this person was with this person. I think we are trying to understand real influence and understand what are the underlying motivations of the different people were working with. You have a think more figuring that out. I wish I could say that we've nailed down a a specific framework for it. It's really just I mean we literally map out an organizational chart of decision makers and influencers and motivation and across those three things for each person we're talking with, you know, we try to strength test and kind of verify with them. Who else needs to be part of this, but we really try to understand each individual's motivation and what they're hoping to accomplish by the being supportive of Intercom at their organization or why they might be hesitant, and try to make our best judgment as to, like what we think they're kind of core motivations really are, and sometimes maybe just by asking them, what are your motivations? What are you trying to accomplish? This your questions? Yeah, certainly. Yeah, we start very clearly. They're just trying to understand their motivation. This goes right back to just the standler fundamentals, right as you're going through kind of the pain gain funnel. There's the different levels of paint and gain and you know the deepest level, level three, is personal pain or gain, and so we're really teaching our team to try to get to that point where you want to and not just, you know, what is the financial impact of this decision, but what is that financial impact actually mean to this person, whether they're the decisionmaker or an influencer? Makes Perfect Sense. I caught something while you were speaking. So people call you cats. That's how people refer to you. Your yeah, so there's a lot of David's out there. There's there's in my experiences, fear cats, although a funny enough, when I was at dropbox I was the only cats for a long time. So my email is just cats at drop box and us. And then it was great, very proud of that. And then later on a woman named more cats join the organization, Mohr Cats, which was just hilarious to see that we're carrying out more cats. See Cats. Cats are slowly fund by...

...me. All right, for cats. Were for this session where, at the end of our time together, we hope to get you back for Friday fundamentals this week, but we like to have a little bit of, you know, pay it forward on the show where there's people listening. Maybe there's a couple books that you've read that have really impacted you or a couple mentors or sales leaders that you really respect who were some of you know the key influences in your career that you want us to know about? There's so many. I look back to Dan Shapiro at Linkedin, who's now the vice president of kind of global sales zones, all sales and has actually just recently moved into that role. As Mike Gampson, after years of incredible work, has decided to kind of move on and spend more time with his family. Dan Shapiro is one of the most incredible leaders I've ever witnessed, and the reason I say that is he had the rare ability to have a conversation with you at ground level and then take it back up to thirtyzero feet and then back down like tenzero feet really quickly. He could operate all these different levels and had this very rare blend of analytical capability and just raw intellectual horsepower and insanely high situational awareness and e Q, like he knew exactly what wasn't being said and therefore always knew what needed to be said, and it was incredible to observe and witness. A favorite, favorite book that he gave to a lot of us when we were early managers. There was a book called multipliers. I'm not sure if you're familiar with it. I'm not so and I'm totally spacing on the author, but people can look it up, so multiple Google it. So multipliers essentially talks through two different types of leaders. There is one camp, which is the empire builder, which is someone that you know might be very successful from a performance perspective by, you know, bringing talent, very talented people in the organization and then keeping them in their organization. And these people kind of try to build these empires of high performing people but then hold on to them. And then there's a second camp of people, and this is something that struck me and has stayed with me in my experience I think is served me well so far, is is the second camp of the multiplier, the person who brings in and works with these incredibly talented people but knows when for them to move on to a new role that might be outside of their organization and might mean, you know, short term hit to performance of their org we're got the fits sales, marketing or at any team and I've always kind of kept that in mind as I'm thinking about our team and their career development and encourage my leaders to be doing the same, because you might mean a short term hit and in some cases it's actually encouraging someone here at Intercom to take a new role in another company. But I think in doing that in the long term you become known as someone who has the best interest of their employees at mind and know and is seriously keeping a lookout for what is really important to them in their careers, and then you will always be able to attract the future high talent that you want by having that method, because people will know that when it's time, you're going to help them get on to that next role, even if it doesn't immediately impact in a positive way you as the leader. I think it's a it's a great lesson cats. It's been great having you on the show. There are people out there that are listening and they've loved the soft, soothing sounds of your voice. They probably identify hide with what it sounds like is a really great and kind of servant leadership style management approach that you take in terms of empowering the people that you work with. And so if they want to get in touch with you, is that okay and what is your preferred method of communication? Yeah, I actually even states. It's just on my linkedin profile. I'm happy to help people. There have been plenty of people in my life who have helped me and gone out of their way, and so I always feel a need to pay it forward. So people can always shoot me a note on Linkedin and I'll get back to him. Or if they want to email me directly. It's David Doccats Katz at intercome. Fantastic, David. Thanks so much for being on the show. is fantastic. Samuel was great to be here. Thank you so much. Hey, folks, it is Sam's corner. Another good interview, really great interview with with cats, with David Kat senior sales director Intercom. Really enjoyed speaking with David and he's got a great background for all those folks out there that aren't sure if they want a career in sales. You know, he graduated and thought he was going to work in public policy or in law and realize after a quick bit of time that it wasn't a good fit for him. And I think one of the ways he realizes it by looking across the room at the other people that...

...he was working with and figuring out where they did they deliver energy for him? Do they motivate him than inspire him to be to be as good as he could be? Any realized it. Know the answer was that wasn't the case, and so that's how he ultimately moved into a career in technology sales. Now, one of the things that that he talked about was this concept of an informational interview and I really just think I want to spotlight that. How did he get a job at Linkedin? He reached out to somebody at Linkedin and said Hey, II. Maybe he reached out on Linkedin, but he said Hey, I saw that you just joined linkedin in the sales function. It would really love to hear you know best practice is and what you what you've learned so far and a little bit about it that experience. He didn't specifically ask for a job, he asked for an informational interview. He has to learn more and that concept of asking to learn more, I think, can work in sales and it can work in your career, and so just use that concept, use that idea of hey, can I grab fifteen minutes of your time, either on the phone or for a coffee. You'll be surprised at how often that works. Something else that David talked about. You know, we spent a lot of time talking about how to move up market and first of all, you know, one of the things that he didn't mention but but is emphatically true, is something I can tell you personally. The move on market has to come from the top it has to come from the CEO because ultimately the founder in the CEO is the person that can align the engineering organization with the Sales Organization. If the sales team is the only team that's moving up market, and sometimes they're moving up market because they're shooting, they're chasing higher deals, because the targets are getting more and more difficult to attain, and they're not taking the engineering team with them, that's a recipe for disaster. And if, specially if the CEO is only halfheartedly embracing this move. So it needs to be an entire organization shift and I think Erica Schultz from new relic says, you know, enterprise sales as a team sport. That is so, so true. Now David mentioned that. You know, one of the one of the instincts of salespeople is to say yes, we can do that, yes we can do that, and it's a I have to tell you, it's a it's a terrible, terrible habit. Your product cannot do everything and everybody knows that cannot do everything. And you may think that you sound very definitive and authoritative and saying yes, it do that, but you're not helping anything. And if you remember back to one of our first episodes with Todd Caponey, who wrote the transparency sale, he talks about this idea that transparency is what gains credibility and what helps you make that sale. So it's really, really important that you are able to say no to the customer, that you are able to have a thoughtful, honest interaction, that you use something like a medic or some kind of qualification methodology which forces you to get answers to questions or address difficulties. And again, you're looking for alignment, not just from a product perspective, but from a sales perspective and from a strategic perspective. And if you cannot get that alignment, then you can't forecast the deal and you should be able to move forward. And it's okay. It is okay to tell your buy or that your product cannot do everything. They know that it can't do everything. When you say that it can, you look like an idiot and you look like a liar. Don't do that. Be Honest. Be Honest about the capabilities the product, be honest about what it can accomplish, and you will find yourself, assuming that you're working with a good product, because, by the way, being honest about something that acts you know that that sucks shit is not going to that's not going to work. You have to work for a great product that has certain limitations and then you can be honest about about where it fits and where it doesn't fit. Proper qualification is just so critical, because otherwise you're just going to be it doesn't do any good to make a sale that's later going to turn that's that's the it's at the open secret about recurring reven the businesses. We we care about new business acquisition, but only if it sticks around, because we're paying you a lot of money to close that business. If that customer goes away because you lie to them, it doesn't help anybody. And if you find that you could the only way to make the sale is to lie, then you're at the wrong company because they're shoult be a way to be honest about what the product can do and still make the sale. So that's my lecture. Thank you so much to our sponsors for supporting us in our show. Of course, we want to thank chorus, the leading conversation intelligence platform and outreach the leading sales engagement platform to amazing products. This has been the salesacker podcast and SAM's corner. This is Sam Jacobs. Reach out to me if you want to get in touch. I'm at Linkedin, linkedincom. Forward slash the word in and then forward slash again, I think, and then Sam f Jacobs. You can email me if you want, Sam Dot f Dot Jacobs at gmailcom. I don't usually do give away my gmail address, but give it a shot. But linkedin is also a very, very good way to get in touch and otherwise I'll see you next time.

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