The SaaS Podcast

How to Craft a Sales Narrative for Your SaaS Product – with Pete Kazanjy [279]

How to Craft a Sales Narrative for Your SaaS Product

Pete Kazanjy is the co-founder of Atrium, a sales management tool that uses data and smart analytics to help sales leaders and managers improve team performance.

Pete is also the author of Founding Sales: The Early Stage Go-to-Market Sales Handbook' for early-stage founders and other first-time sellers.

In this episode, we talk about how to craft a sales narrative for your SaaS product.

Before you can scale your sales process, you need to ensure that there's consistency in your messaging throughout your organization.

You don't want your marketing and sales teams communicating different messaging to your prospects and customers. And you certainly don't want sales reps pitching to a prospect when they don't understand how to deliver the right message in the right way.

A sales narrative is critical to helping everyone in your company to understand the product that you're selling and how to tell its story to your prospects and customers.

Once you've crafted that narrative, you can eventually use it to create your sales decks, email templates, website copy, videos, advertising, and so on.

So your sales narrative is a critical foundation for your sales process. But most companies don't understand how to tell a story about their product.

In this episode, we'll share a framework to help you develop the key elements of your sales story and put it all together into a cohesive narrative that helps you close more deals.

I hope you enjoy it.

Transcript

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Omer Khan: [00:00:00] Welcome to another episode of the SaaS podcast. I'm your host Omer Khan. And this is the show where I interview proven founders and industry experts who share their stories, strategies, and insights to help you build, launch and grow your SaaS business. In this episode, I talk to Pete Kazanjy.  the co-founder of Atrium, a sales management tool that uses data and smart analytics to help sales leaders and managers improve team performance.

[00:00:37] Pete is also the author of Founding Sales, the early stage go-to-market sales handbook for early-stage founders and other first-time sellers. In this episode, we talk about how to craft a sales narrative for your SaaS product. Before you can scale your sales process. You need to ensure that there's consistency in your messaging throughout your organization.

[00:00:59] You don't want your marketing and sales teams communicating different messaging to your prospects and customers. And you certainly don't want sales reps pitching to a prospect when they don't understand how to deliver the right message in the right way. A sales narrative is critical to helping everyone in your company to understand the product that you're selling.

[00:01:19] And how to tell it story to your prospects and customers. Once you've crafted that narrative, you can eventually use it to create your sales decks, email templates, website, copy, videos, advertising, and so on. So your sales narrative is a critical foundation for your sales process, but most companies don't understand how to tell a story about their product.

[00:01:43] In this episode, we'll share a framework. To help you develop the key elements of your sales story and put it all together into a cohesive narrative that helps you close more deals. So I hope you enjoy it, Pete. Welcome to the show.

Pete Kazanjy: [00:01:59] Hello. Hello.

Omer Khan: [00:02:01] So for people who aren't familiar, can you just tell us a little bit about Atrium? What does the product do? Who is it for? What's the main problem you guys are helping to solve? Yeah, so

Pete Kazanjy: [00:02:12] Atrium makes software that helps sales managers do what we like to call data-driven rep management, such a use these data and analytics to better manage their, their AEs, their SDRs, their AMs, and CSMs using metrics using continuously monitored analytics that is really super quick to set up out of the box. You know, it takes 90 seconds and then importantly, kind of monitors those KPIs for those managers sits as they don't have to stare at walls of charts in order to figure out what the hell is going on, but this operates just does it for them using, using math.

[00:02:47] But it's something that's kind of the provenance of all of all of my experience from, you know, leading sales organizations and, and kind of thinking about what the. The state-of-the-art of sales, operational excellence, plea running sales organizations are.

Omer Khan: [00:03:01] Great. So today we're going to talk about your book, Founding Sales, the early-stage go-to-market handbook, startup sales for founders and others in first time sales roles.

[00:03:13] So this is a conversation that's, that's relevant, not just for somebody who's trying to sell, but people who are in the other parts of the organization, whether you're working on product design marketing is a lot of relevant information in there. So tell us a little bit about what is the book cover and why did you decide to write it?

Pete Kazanjy: [00:03:34] Yeah, so, so the book is really focused on kind of two, two stages, but the way to kind of think about it is it's like the missing manual, if you will, for early-stage go to market. And really the reason why I wrote it was because when I at my last software company, TalentBin when I, when I started TalentBin, when my co-founder Jason.

[00:03:57] I didn't have a background in sales. I was, had previously been a product marketer and a product manager in you know, enterprise like large enterprise software organizations. And so I didn't really know anything about, about early stage go to market. And so when I was trying to figure that out at TalentBin.

[00:04:14] I had to kind of like looked for a book that might be available to answer these questions. Cause that's kinda how I approach them. Like, Oh, I'll just read the book on it. And I was kind of surprised that there wasn't really a book on it. This is back in like 2011, 2012. Most of the sales literature was more for people who are ready.

[00:04:33] Sellers people already sales managers are, of course, is Aaron Ross's Predictable Revenue and what have you, but there really wasn't any, there was no real estate sales for dummies. If you will ended up kind of figuring it out over time with the help of a bunch of kind of like other founders who were more senior had kind of been through it themselves were invested in my first round capital.

[00:04:54] And so they really facilitate a lot of interaction amongst their portfolio. But it ended up being like a lot harder than it really should have been. And so after we sold the company the Monster in 2014, it seemed like there was an opportunity to kind of take down the learnings from the prior four or five years and just like write it down, such that people who were in a very similar situation.

[00:05:16] You know, would have a roadmap for themselves as opposed to like trying to have to make it up as they, as they go along or, or engage in a number of other unfortunate anti-patterns that, that ended up kind of killing companies.

Omer Khan: [00:05:28] Great and then can you just explain why the book is relevant, not just for sales folks and why other people or disciplines in an organization can also get value from this?

Pete Kazanjy: [00:05:40] Yeah so the way to think about it is it the primary user of the book is a person who does not have selling like early-stage selling experience. So who could that be? It's called founding sales cause like the primary user for it is a founder. But if you think about who founders, we're kind of like founders come from, if you will. Usually they're like former product managers, former engineers, former designers, what have you.

[00:06:11] And so it's been actually really fascinating to see. As you know, we have a Shopify store up and we see people, you know, couple of thousand bucks get bought a day and you see people like, we see titles of people who are purchasing and it's very popular engineers and product managers and founders and investors.

[00:06:27] And what have you. So that's kind of the primary audience, because if you think about it, most of these folks, like you don't. Sales is largely learned through apprenticeship, if you will. So the way that sales has historically been learned, as you graduate from college, you become, you know, a junior SDR. You do that for a couple of years, you transition to being an SMB account executive, you get trained on the job, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Right?

[00:06:50] Whereas if you think about like where founders come from, it's like, you know, you start as a product manager or engineer consultant, or, you know, fill in the blank. Right. And you do that for. You know, three, four, five, six, eight, 10, whatever years. And then if you go and start a company, it's, now it's not like, Oh, well I have to learn how to sell.

[00:07:12] And so it's really, really focused for that audience. Now, that being said, I've actually been surprised by the reception from salespeople and sales leaders who are coming from non startup situations as well. So people who maybe were a seller at like a Salesforce or, you know, a sales leader at like an Oracle or a success factors or something like that.

[00:07:34] Because obviously early stage go to market is a very different ball of wax then kind of just being part of the machine. And then one of those scaled sales organizations, but it's really, the book is really for anybody who doesn't have that direct selling experience in the zero to one or $2 million of ARR timeframe.

Omer Khan: [00:07:53] Great. So today we're going to talk about building a narrative or a story, and this is kind of like the foundational product marketing stuff. And when you're you're nearly stages and you're going out and selling a product from what I've seen a lot of founders, especially if they don't have experience with sales, they sort of tend to.

[00:08:21] Avoiding right. And so there's this tendency to maybe think about this is going to be more of an inbound marketing model, and I'm going to have landing pages and I'm going to drive people there and you might be able to do that eventually, but in the early days, that's really hard because you don't know what you don't know.

[00:08:38] And it's really hard to put something on a webpage, which is going to convince somebody about that. And. I think that there, there is this process you need to go through, you do need to go on and talk to customers, do some prospecting, learn to pitch your product, hear what customers are saying, how they're responding, but a lot of that, it, it doesn't work unless you you've sort of done the foundational stuff and built this narrative.

[00:09:04] And, and as you sort of explained in the book, this is what, once you get this bit right. This is what really feeds into what type of slides you create in the pitch deck, or how you write your email template for outreach or how you talk to customers. So I thought this would be a good conversation for us to have.

[00:09:22] And just to say, let's, let's kind of walk through and talk about what, what the sort of foundational pieces are in terms of building that narrative. And hopefully people can listen to this and kind of walk away with, with some actionable insights that they can hopefully apply. To get started and then go and read the book when you want to do. Yeah. That's the goal.

Pete Kazanjy: [00:09:47] Good goal, good goal.

Omer Khan: [00:09:49] All right. So let's start from the top. Tell us about, from your perspective, why is this important? What does it really mean to build a narrative or a story?

Pete Kazanjy: [00:09:58] Yeah. So I think this is a little bit of kind of like my product marketing background kind of like peeking out.

[00:10:05] I mean, I think they, when you're working on new disruptive technologies, like new, innovative, new disruptive kind of like new, new, right. So like something's new and you're, and you're trying to convince somebody to change that user and that who maybe a single user or maybe a number of personas within an organization.

[00:10:25] Well, they, they, they need to be able to comprehend. Why they need to change. Right? Cause that kind of is like at the crux sales is about persuading somebody to change the way that they're doing something to do it this way over here using your technology, as opposed to the current way that they're doing it.

[00:10:44] And of course they then pay you money in exchange for the right to do that. Because of course, they're going to get all this wonderful value out of it. Right. And so in order for that person to get it and be like, yeah, you know what Omer like, you're right, I should do that. They need to comprehend that they need to, and that the way that humans comprehend these things is through is through narratives and like understanding what's, you know.

[00:11:05] Okay, cool. Yeah, you're right. I am the person that has that problem. That is me and you're right. That is a very substantially costly problem. And, and you know what, you're right. The current way that I'm doing it is unsatisfactory and. And so that's really the crux of all of that. And why. Know, oftentimes what you see in early-stage companies is they'll like, rather than having a reason to argument, like kind of presents that it's more kind of like they'll, they'll just do like a demo.

[00:11:37] Like here's the product over here is this, over here is this? Over here is this? Here's this feature over here versus the connecting the reason why the product exists, the reason, the reason why those features exist. Tying to the pain points that an individual has or an organization has. And, and the reason why those, you know, it is worth solving those problems and how those features do that.

[00:12:03] And so like, as you noted, everything kind of sits on top of that, right? So you got to nail that, nail that story first, because then you can great slides off of that, that, that echoes that story and you can create. Yeah, videos for your homepage that echo that, and you can create demo scripts that echo that, and it just kind of the, the entire thread kind of follows along from there, which is why it's really important to get that, get that right from the get-go.

Omer Khan: [00:12:29] Great. Okay. So the first step is really to identify what the problem is, and that might seem. Obvious it's like you think, well, yeah, the problem is the thing that my product solves. But it's, I think it's going deeper than that really understanding from, from the customer's perspective, what are their pain points?

[00:12:53] And then also there's some level of validation that goes on here, right. Because you're not going to figure out those problems. Right away. And maybe this is a, a working hypothesis in terms of, you know, these are the two or three things that I think these, these target customers or market is struggling with, that we can do a good job solving.

[00:13:13] So anyway, how do we start with that?

Pete Kazanjy: [00:13:15] Yeah. So the interesting thing, you, you totally nailed it and, you know, spoken like a true former product manager on your back. Cause I think that actually kind of starts even before you're formulating the narrative cause like you can't just like, pull it out of your ear and be like, here's this problem, right?

[00:13:32] Like, do you have it? It's it's more, and this kind of goes all the way back to I'm sure. People who listen to your show have probably heard of Eric Reese's Lean Startup and Steve blanks, you know, Four Steps to the Epiphany now called the Startup Owner's Manual. But really what this comes back to is like doing good customer research, customer development, interviewing early on. And so this is something that we did at Atrium. We actually used Michael Sippey. So there's a really great article in first round review called Get in the Van, a written by Michael Sippey or written by first interview with Michael Sippey. It's based on a talk, you gave it a first round capital CEO, seven.

[00:14:13] It's really just a framework for rigorous customer interviews for the research phase. And we actually did this at, at Atrium. We did it about a hundred in early 2016, we did about a hundred customer interviews. Just you know, in a very structured way saying, Hey, how do you use data in your organization to, to manage, to manage staff, right?

[00:14:35] And then a bunch of kind of questions that kind of cascaded from that. So how do you do this? What's on satisfactory about it. How do you solve those unsatisfactory things? What sucks about that? What's good about like, is there an opportunity? And so by doing this and having dozens and dozens and dozens of these conversations, what ends up happening is you start texting patterns.

[00:14:54] Like in our case, it was like, Oh yeah you know, we aspire to do to do data for management of our, of our AEs and our SDRs. But like, and it's really difficult to get the data into the CRM in a way that we can report on it. And even if we do report on it, it just turns out the managers look at it because it's like a bunch of balls, like it's a Walnut chart.

[00:15:12] And so then like bad things happen because we missed that, you know? So. In retrospect, we can look back after the fact and be like, Oh my goodness, this guy has been underperforming from a, you know, a pipeline ownership standpoint for the trailing 60 days. But I only figured that out after the fact, because I saw that he had a bookings issue.

[00:15:30] And so as we went through this and you know, we, we saw these patterns like, okay, who are the people that have these, Oh, it's the sales managers have this problem. And then, Oh, but the sales operations people also, they're responsible for building, building reports and dashboards, but they don't really have time to do that.

[00:15:44] And they certainly don't have time to interpret the data. And you just start hearing these patterns again and again, and again, and again, then you start cataloging them, right. And this is where you start getting this. You know, the, like, this is where the kernels of this stuff comes from. And then you've probably heard what I was, I said in the interview structure it's how do you do this right now?

[00:16:03] Because you have a high, like, in our case, we had a hypothesis that this was done in an unsatisfactory way. He revealed the fact that our hypothesis was correct. It revealed the fact that it confirmed the fact that. The existing ways of solving these problems were unsatisfactory. And then we ask questions around like, okay, well, what sucks about that? How painful is that? What are examples of, of, of like failures that have happened? So that's kind of the first thing is like, you actually have to do the work and identify that

Omer Khan: [00:16:28] Yeah a couple of points on, on that. Like you said, that the sort of like, you know, themes or patterns emerge, and that's a really important point because it's not like you had these interviews and you're like, ah, we've got the answer and this is the thing that if we just are going to go and talk to people and they're gonna be, yes, yes, yes. Where do I sign? But it's, it's more like you sort of start to get, okay. Here are sort of like five or six things that we keep hearing over and over again. Maybe there's going to be some of them that are important enough that.

[00:17:03] People will want to pay for another solution. Maybe there are others that they're telling us as a problem, but we need to dig into deeper because maybe they just don't care about solving that particular problem as much as the other ones. And so this, the thing is still evolving and, and, and you still try to make sense of what's coming out of these conversations.

[00:17:25] And then the other thing is, I think you have to be really careful not to talk about. You will product at that point, right. When you're having these conversations. And you're just trying to understand what problems they have.

Pete Kazanjy: [00:17:36] Yeah. I mean, in this case, this was before this was pre-product right. We were doing just research. So that's fine. I guess, better to understand that there actually isn't a problem there and it's well solved. And then you solve your, you save yourself from, you saved yourself from spending a bunch of engineering resources, building something to solve a problem that doesn't exist for instance. But yes, you certainly certainly should not be talking about your product at that point, because ideally, ideally you're doing this research before the product, the product exists because it should inform the thing that you're gonna, you're going to end up building, but yes, for sure.

[00:18:09] It's about hype like hypotheses and then you start converging on understanding. Okay. What is the problem that. Like, what is the problem that this organization has? The problem might have be like a little bit different or like the problem might be framed differently depending on the persona internal to the organization.

[00:18:25] So in our case, So like with TalentBin, the problem that we were solving was technical recruiting is really hard. We have these technical recruiters who are trying to engage with, with engineering candidates. The problem is, is that those engineering candidates, at least this was back in 2011, had sparse LinkedIn profiles.

[00:18:45] Like they're never applying to. They don't apply to jobs on job boards because it's like a, a very supply bound market. If you want to go outbound to them, they're hard to identify on LinkedIn because they have sparks LinkedIn profiles. And then even if you can identify them on LinkedIn, you know, nobody reads their LinkedIn in mails, especially like software engineers, because they're not on LinkedIn all day long.

[00:19:08] And so the way that organizations are like recruiters would try to historically solve this as they would try to. You know, manually snip these people out on like GitHub or Stack Overflow or like Twitter or these other places. And then try to manually find their email addresses in order to be able to engage with them.

[00:19:24] And so it was just like a very laborious time-consuming process. And of course the, and it was so it was really on satisfactory. And so that was like the problem. And the recruiter had that problem. And it was really like the technical recruiter had that problem is their day to day or the technical source had that problem.

[00:19:42] Their manager had that problem, or like they didn't actually have that specific problem because they weren't the one who was doing that work, but they had a different problem, which is the VP of Engineering is expecting them to deliver five engineers this quarter. And they're not going to hit their hiring goals if they weren't able to scale the engage with these, these candidates.

[00:20:01] And so that would be an example of a problem that we had detected after having talked to a bunch of these recruiters when we were doing our research.

Omer Khan: [00:20:09] Great. And then the second part of this is, so we've sort of defined what is the problem? The second part is like, Which you made the point in the book is just as important is like, who has the problem initially when we're thinking about this, it's like, we think of it, like the company has this problem, but then you need to sort of figure out who specifically who's your, you know, your ideal customer profile or your target persona.

[00:20:36] And I think that becomes even harder as the bigger the organization gets. Right? So how do we figure that out?

Pete Kazanjy: [00:20:44] Yeah. So, so oftentimes there's like multiple people who are responsible for solving a problem and in kind of a different, different ways. We've kind of just talked about that a little bit with the TalentBin, but really what it comes down to is like, who's the person that's measured on this, whose success is measured on this result.

[00:21:03] Right? So let's use Atrium as an example, Atrium kind of has like two primary human personas and then one like secondary human persona. They care about what we, what we do the first primary persona is the sales manager and SDR manager, because they're responsible for hitting bookings goals and hitting pipeline creation goals in the form of the SDRs.

[00:21:25] And so they have the challenge of they're responsible for six, eight years or eight AEs or six SDRs or eight SDRs or tennis tiaras, or what have you. And so monitoring those, those folks performance ends up being very challenging for them and then bad things happen when, when somebody doesn't hit their goals.

[00:21:44] Because something needed to happen 30 days ago, 60 days ago, 90 days ago in order to course correct. Like they needed to be managed in, in some sort of capacity. And so that sales manager is the person who has that pain point because they're the ones who like, they're the ones who's like, bud is going to be roasted.

[00:22:03] If their, their SDRs don't produce enough opportunities, or their AEs don't hit those goals. So that's the first percent, but then there's the second persona who's an internal vendor at that organization, who's responsible for solving that problem. So like the manager has the pain point of like, yeah, it's really important for me to know if an AED is tracking poorly and SDR is tracking poorly so I can jump on that fire while it's still like a little fire versus like a raging fire.

[00:22:29] But then there's the second persona who is responsible for solving that for the, the sales manager or the SDR manager. And that's the sales operations. Usually the sales operations function. And so they have the problem as well, but it's a little bit in a cast in a different way where they're responsible for providing all sorts of, of like process and tooling and what have you to the sales organization.

[00:22:52] And so the notion of performance, instrumentation and analytics for the purpose of data-driven management is part of their portfolio, but oftentimes they are not able to, to achieve that their ability to deliver and solve that internally is impinged by all the different priorities that they have, the challenges associated with the tool stack that they have and so on and so forth.

[00:23:14] So like the problem is still the same, which is like the root problem is still the same, which is we want to make sure that our AEs are, are doing, you know, doing sufficient quantity and quality of selling activity. The same with our SDRs. But the, the two personas, there's a little bit of like different personas there.

[00:23:30] And then of course, then there's the, like the leader, the sales leader, who they don't have this like specific day to day pain, point of understanding what's going on with their reps and how they're, how they're performing. But ultimately like they own the big number, right? Like they need to hit the, the overall bookings goal.

[00:23:47] And so they know if they have four managers that leader can't manage those reps. Individually, right? Like he, or she can't have their finger on the pulse of, you know, four times, eight account executives. But what that leader knows is that if he, if he or she can help those managers do a better job of using data and analytics in order to manage their team. Well, then good results will happen for that leader.

[00:24:12] So, so like the important thing is to kind of figure out what the value chain is in the organization. And in our case, we have what's, what's referred oftentimes to like a two legged sale. So we have an internal stakeholder.

[00:24:25] So like AE managers, SDR managers and sales leadership. And then we have an internal vendor who is involved in this as well, like Optimizely or like Amplitude as the same sort of situation where but like LaunchDarkly is a great example where they make feature flagging software, product management really likes that, you know, it's something that like the product managers love because they can turn on off features and they can, it helps them with like more rapid delivery, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:24:49] But then engineering is also involved in the decision-making because it's the feature flags have to be embedded in production, like production delivery, et cetera, et cetera. In other organizations you don't necessarily have, or sorry with other products, sometimes you don't have a two legged, two-legged cell in the case of TalentBin. Literally we're just selling to a recruiter and then potentially the recruiters were good as boss. So it kind of depends .

Omer Khan: [00:25:12] Now the target customer or the person who has the problem, isn't necessarily always the same person who's the decision-maker.

Pete Kazanjy: [00:25:24] Yeah.

Omer Khan: [00:25:24] And so you might be in a situation where you have identified somebody who is really struggling with the problem, and they would love to have a solution, but maybe, you know, based on the price point of your product, they're not the right person to make that decision, that buying decision that's somebody else, but that's somebody else may not be experiencing that problem or the pain from that problem as much.

[00:25:51] One, like how important is it to figure both the, sort of the, the user and the decision-maker early on in the process and any thoughts on like, how to sort of think about targeting. A decision-maker who maybe is a further away from, from actually experiencing the day-to-day pains here.

Pete Kazanjy: [00:26:13] Yeah. And so I think that that's just sometimes what you have is you have messages on a per persona basis, right or narratives on persona basis. You kind of heard me talking about that a little bit in the Atrium example where there's a couple of ways you can kind of skin that cat. One, one thing that you can potentially do is structure your product in such a way that it can be transacted at a lower price point, right?

[00:26:37] This is one of the powerful things about SaaS delivery and kind of self-serve or even like, you know, easy in, companies like New Relic or Datadog or what have you start at a low enough price point where the person who's like the, who actually has the problem can say, yeah, you know what? This is only like 299 a month. I can put it on a credit card and I can, I can try this out. So that's one way to solve this.

[00:26:59] Another way to solve this is that if you need to carry budgetary resources in order to, in order to transact, then you just need to have a message for that. You know that, that secondary audience, right? They like the primary audience is convinced.

[00:27:14] They're excited about it. They've seen value. They, they want to make this happen. And so we need to have the arguments in place for, for that, that secondary audience. So in the case of Atrium, that's like sales leadership, for example, where it's like, yeah. And we run into this sometimes where somebody who maybe it's sales leadership, or maybe it's even like leadership leadership, like the CEO or what have you, it's a small organization and they might say something like, well, wait a minute, don't we have like, Tableau for this or what have you. And so for, for somebody who's not close to the day to day, you need to be able to have a message to say like, yeah, here's the reason why this is important for the stakeholder who is excited about this. And here are the negative consequences associated with the fact that if this isn't solved and here's the reason why the existing solutions are, are unsatisfactory, but, but presented to them in a way that for, because they're more distant from it. They can at least comprehend it, you know, they can, they can comprehend it in a way that that makes sense for, for them and allows the release of those budgetary resources for the person that you're your primary stakeholder, essentially the, the ability to sell internally, if you will is important there.

Omer Khan: [00:28:29] Yeah. Yeah. And that leads us onto the next point, which is understanding the costs associated with the problem. And ultimately, I think this is about understanding what sort of value they're getting or not getting today, what's the impact to the organization.

[00:28:53] So tell us a little bit about that. Like how, how do we sort of unpack this and try to figure out the costs associated with that problem?

Pete Kazanjy: [00:29:00] Yeah. So I think there's, there's kind of two ways of doing that. There's like hard ROI and then there's kind of like more soft ROI and really the, the reason why. Organizations invest in technologies in order to like, make their businesses more efficient and either reduce costs or make more money.

[00:29:20] And so what you, what you want to do is connect your, your solution to, to exactly that in some sort of way and quantify that. And so that could be. In the case of, in the case of Atrium, right? There's kind of statistics around these things you could say, Hey, look, you know, this number, this proportion of, of new hires ultimately end up not having success and like how failed ramps, because they were insufficiently instrumented in order to intervene.

[00:29:51] Right? And that's, you know, that that creates this, this opportunity cost of a rep not hitting their number, not ramping up, you know, there's like time cost arguments that can be made. Hey, this is the person who is the internal resource, who the person who's internal resource, who's responsible for resolving this problem costs this amount of money.

[00:30:13] And this automates this amount of money on a, on a hourly basis. And this is how the automation of this part of their job removes this amount of labor costs here. And hence, this is the money that you're going to be ending up saving because that person can redirect their labor to something else. Or alternatively, you don't have to hire, like, as you're going growing, you don't have to hire another one of those resources.

[00:30:41] As quickly because the same resource that you have that same single resource that you have is now twice as efficient or, or what have you. So just to whatever extent you can kind of crystallize that and connect it to connect it to value is important. And then there can be like the, like the harder, the ROI, the better, right?

[00:31:01] So like more, more revenue reduce costs then there's of course, like, you know, softer ROI. Things like let's use LaunchDarkly as an example, because we were talking about them earlier from a hard ROI standpoint, like the ability to have feature flags that keep you from releasing a bug on a production, or allow you to roll back really quickly by just turning a feature on or off, or what have you versus, you know, versus having to do like a rollback or what have you.

[00:31:31] That can be extraordinarily important if you're an e-commerce provider, right? Because you know, whatever, and the amount of downtime is money for you. So that's like a very, very clear, hard ROI where you say like, this is the amount of downtime that organizations typically have based on their, you know, based on their size from, from bugs that get out of production or, or what have you, or this is the amount of, if you're going to build this feature flagging internally, this is the amount of engineering costs that it would take for you to do that.

[00:32:00] And then, you know, and then. Do care and feeding of that over time, then there's the soft ROI. This allows you to be more agile as you to ship things faster, kind of hard, hard to quantify those sort of things. But those oftentimes can be really great emotional arguments. So folks where they can understand, like use HMS as an example, a lot of sales sales managers don't get into sales management necessarily to be spending all their time doing statistics.

[00:32:25] They like to do it because they like to coach people. They want to improve reps. They want to make people more effective. And so the idea to them of being able to like be an amazing manager and and really help people be the best that they can be is something that's very appealing to them. That's maybe not as persuasive to the CFO as, yeah.

[00:32:47] Look, this is going to raise your win rate by five because the managers are managing their reps better and the reps are managing their pipelines better. As a result, your, you know, your win rate is going to go up five points from 15 to 20, and that's going to represent this much more bookings. The CFO loves that argument.

[00:33:02] The manager might like them more. The argument of, Hey, you don't have to be a pain in the ass to sales ops anymore. And like constantly asking them for reports. And you'll be an amazing, you know, you'll be able to be an amazing data-driven manager, but you want to have like a handful of these, these various proof points, both kind of like the left brain ones and the right brain ones.

Omer Khan: [00:33:21] Yeah. And, and I think to understand that you really need to, I think it leads onto the next point is you, you really need to understand, like how, how are they solving the problem today? And where is that current solution falling short? So one, well, as you dig into that, you're going to be able to understand, okay, what the, what is the cost associated with how they're trying to solve this today?

Pete Kazanjy: [00:33:45] Exactly.

Omer Khan: [00:33:46] Or if they're not, if they're not even bothering to try and solve it, do they really care that much about this problem and maybe this isn't the right thing to, to be focusing on with your product.

Pete Kazanjy: [00:33:57] Yeah. Yeah. So the, the, how they currently solve it usually kind of buckets into a couple of different, like couple of different buckets.

[00:34:04] Like one they're not solving it right now. Two they're solving a via, like a process and internal process three, they're solving it via like a service provider. Four or they already have an existing product that's in place. And so ideally when you did your customer research, you understood, like you figured out that this actually is a broad problem.

[00:34:30] And in organizations that don't have a solution in place, it's not because they don't have the problem it's because they haven't gotten around to solving it. Right. Or they didn't, they didn't perceive the problem necessarily. Right. Do you use Atrium as an example? And this kind of goes to the crux of like discovery questions when you're selling, you could imagine saying like, Hey, how do you currently track precursor KPIs, like leading indicators for your reps who are ramping and the customer might respond to that?

[00:35:02] Oh, we don't. Oh, how do you track ramps success? Well, we look at when they close their first deal or when they, when they hit full productivity on bookings. Ah, got it. Well, what about like, how do you know that you're tracking, they're tracking towards that success? Are you just going to wait until month six?

[00:35:18] Oh. Right. And so that would be an example of a situation where the person did have the problem and they're not solving it right now, but they maybe just weren't aware of it. You might have a situation where they don't have a solution in place because they don't have that problem necessarily. But then probably ideally you, you are targeting those prospects, which I kind of talk about in the prospecting chapter of founding sales, kind of like, you know, how, how can you target the folks that are going to be most resonant?

[00:35:45] So. Yeah. So that's like a no solution situation where you want to understand, like what, what is the opportunity cost of not solving this? Usually when something is being solved by an existing process internally, maybe to use the Atrium example again, you might have a situation where someone's like, Oh, let's talk about ramping again.

[00:36:03] Oh you said earlier that you have eight AEs that just started. How are you tracking their ramp to success? Oh, I have a junior sales operations person. And what he does is once a month, he goes and pulls all this data and puts it into a bunch of Google sheets. And then he goes, and he reviews it with all those, all those managers.

[00:36:22] Oh, okay. Cool. So like how long do you think that takes? It probably takes them about like two days to do that all in. And then the the meetings with the managers are another two days. So let's say like it's a week. All it. Okay. Wow. So that's kind of, sounds like a lot of all the time and, and and pain in the butt.

[00:36:38] What, like, if he wasn't doing that, if that was automated, but would, what would you be having him do? Oh my gosh. Well, you know, instead of me having to do deal desk or me having to do commissions, I would have him do that. Okay. Got it. Right. So like, that would be an example of how, of how you were to understand how an existing, you know, solution by a process might, might be solved.

[00:36:59] And then there's kind of other examples as well.

Omer Khan: [00:37:02] And you sort of also mentioned like if they're already using a product to solve the solution or some of the problems, sorry. Yeah. But I think you also said something about like, it's, it's also important to understand that that product might not actually be a competitor to you. There may still be an opportunity. Can you explain that a little bit more?

Pete Kazanjy: [00:37:28] Yeah, for sure. I mean, yeah, the notion of competitor is kind of tough because things are like, things overlap if you will. Right. And, and so you use like Atrium as a, as an example, there, Atrium, you know, oftentimes organizations try to solve the problem of data-driven rep management via, you know Maybe by Salesforce reporting or business intelligence or what have you, these are like not actually direct competitors with, with us.

[00:37:59] And so what they are is they're just like alternative solutions that are, that are inferior in, in some sort of regard. And so what, the important thing there is, they're very crisply delineate the difference between how your solution goes about this versus how their solution goes about the  kind of the, the daylight between them.

[00:38:21] Right. So maybe in this example using again, using Atrium, you might say, Hey, so how do you, how do you do in a data-driven team management or rep rep management right now for your sales managers and the risks that might be like, well, we have a bunch of Salesforce dashboards. Cool. Well, how's that? How does that go?

[00:38:38] Well, not so great. Nobody ever looks at them and, and, and then we have some managers who. Want to have asked incremental questions, but they're not actually very good at Salesforce reporting. So what ends up happening is they asked me, they asked my sales operations person for help on that. He's really busy, so he can't help with that.

[00:38:55] And then just bad things happen. Oh, okay. Got it. All right. So that would be an example of like an inferior and inferior solution using existing technology that isn't necessarily like a specific heads up heads up competitor.

Omer Khan: [00:39:08] Awesome. Okay, great. So we've, we've sort of covered the importance of doing customer interviews, how that helps you to really start to understand the different themes or get more clarity around exactly which problem matters most to your target customers, that, that you can, your product can solve zeroing in, on your target customers within the organization and understanding.

[00:39:39] You know who that person is or who the different roles are and whether somebody is user of a product or a decision-maker and how we sort of navigate that. And then really trying to understand how they're solving the problem today, both to build a deeper insight of the opportunity for us, but also to figure out, okay, what does this actually mean in terms of cost and potential?

[00:40:10] It could be time, money, et cetera, that we can demonstrate, you know, some, some better clearer ROI with, with our products. So I know there's a lot more to unpack there. We've just talked a little bit about sort of you know, small section of the book, but now that we have this information and we sort of started out saying, look, this is really about building this narrative or a story that you can use in your sales materials.

[00:40:38] Maybe we could just sort of, sort of wrap this up by giving people an example of a okay. If you had all of this information. How would you then think about structuring a cold outreach email in a way that that sort of leverages all this work that you've done?

Pete Kazanjy: [00:40:56] Yeah. Well, the one last thing that we didn't touch on just really quickly, of course we teed everything up and then the last thing is like, Hey, how does this new solution work and why is it, why is it better?

[00:41:06]We won't get into that, but like, and it's just essentially in contrast to everything else that you, that we had already talked about before. And so that's the entire arc of it's like, Hey, here's these problems. Here's why it's sunset. Like, here's this problem. Here's who has it. Here's the what's on satisfactory about them and the magnitude of that problem.

[00:41:24] And then by the way, here's this like magical new thing that solves us in a unique way that is like newly enabled and, and is way better because of, you know, reason A, reason B and reason C. And so when you, when you have that entire arc, that can then be delivered a variety of ways, it can be delivered in a cold email, for instance, Where that might be something along the lines of like, let's say we, we went and identified a set of a couple hundred technical recruiters.

[00:41:54] Let's say this is back like early 20, 2011 or 2012. When we wanted to go do cold outreach to a bunch of technical recruiters, it might be something along the lines of, Hey, I saw that you're a technical recruiter at so-and-so. I imagine that it's really difficult to get engineering attention because it's such a hot market.

[00:42:13] And you know, they have a tendency to hide their LinkedIn profiles. I don't know if you're solving that by manually digging into GitHub, like trying to go through to get hub profiles or stack overflow and then hunt down email addresses. But I imagine it's like a really, really big pain in the rear and, you know, hard for you and also probably hard for your leadership who has the VP of engineering kind of breathing down everybody's neck.

[00:42:40] Well, the cool thing is, is that you know, here at here at TalentBin, we do this magical thing where we've actually crawled the entirety of GitHub and Stack Overflow and, you know, a couple of dozen other sites in order to create profiles of these searchable profiles of these engineers so you can search for engineers that match that have the skills that you're looking for. And then we've actually already detected all their email addresses. We've also called that as well and appended those to those profiles. And the result is, is that you can send that, you know, you can find the people you're looking for.

[00:43:15] You can engage them directly by email, in an automated fashion. And it saves, you know, 95% of the time that would, it would require in order to. To do this, to do this manually. And so the results associated with that is way more interviews on your calendar and hitting your hiring goals faster, you know, would you be available for 15-minute touch base maybe next week?

[00:43:38] Here's my calendar link. Yeah, right? And so you have the entire arch right there. That was probably a little verbose. You probably want to cut it down and put bullets in it, et cetera. But, but the whole point there was like, that was the entirety of the arc and the thrust of the argument in one fell swoop.

Omer Khan: [00:43:57] Yeah. I mean, we can kind of go back and forth and wordsmith and, and, and kind of make the email shorter and all that stuff. But what I liked about the way you went through that was you described the pains that. They're most likely having based on the customer interviews that you've already done, you describe it in a way which really resonates with them.

[00:44:21] And you also are demonstrating that you understand the problem. You're not just some random person saying, Hey, what a demo? What am I buy product? But it's like, no, no, I really understand what, what, what the pain here is. And then the way you just describe the. The solution was it demonstrates some expertise that we have something that, that could solve these pains that you're experiencing.

[00:44:46] And then I think the way you, you, you know, you sort of closed it with really like, this is the outcome. This is how your life is going to be better from this. And that I think is. It is much more effective than probably 99% of the cold emails that I get or any most supposed to get.

Pete Kazanjy: [00:45:04] Right. Exactly. And of course, all of this kind of cascades is you delineated at the beginning of this conversation, all of this cascades from a, like having gotten that narrative set up for success from the get go.

[00:45:18] And of course, where that got set up for success from the get-go is by doing thoughtful and rigorous customer research, that then actually. Yeah, put you on the right track.

Omer Khan: [00:45:27] All right. Cool, Pete, thank you so much for coming back to joining me today. Really great conversation. I think, as I said, we've just unpacked, just a tiny bit of, of what you cover in the book.

[00:45:41] So if people want to check out the book for themselves, They can go to foundingsales.com. And as you told me, the book is actually available for free online. If you want to buy a hard copy, you can do that as well. Also, if people want to check out Atrium that go to atriumhq.com, and if people want to get in touch with you, what's the best way for them to do that.

Pete Kazanjy: [00:46:07] Focusing just find me on, on LinkedIn or Twitter. I'm pretty easy to find I'm the only Peter Kazanjy. On there.

Omer Khan: [00:46:14] We'll include the links to those profiles just in case there's any Peter out there. All right. Great. Well, thank you so much. We really appreciate the time and you know, congratulations on getting that book out of your head.

[00:46:29] I know it's, it's, it's painful process to go through for, for many, many rights. I don't know what it was like for you, but just, just, I think that the, what we've just covered here is I think is a great example of it's filled with really a ton of useful information. And, and I, I do think that it does fill a gap where, you know, in terms of early-stage and people who weren't necessarily experts in sales.

[00:46:53] So thank you. And I wish you and the team at Atrium, all the best of success.

Pete Kazanjy: [00:46:59] Thanks so much for having me. It was really fun.

Omer Khan: [00:47:02] Cheers.

The Show Notes