News & Views

 

How Sales Leaders are Meeting the Challenge of COVID19 and Work-From-Home with Snowflake, Clari and SeekOut

(Photo Clockwise, Soma, Tony, Scott and Kevin) 

In this environment, Sales and Go-to-Market (GTM) for enterprise companies has changed, sometimes drastically.  What we do know is that in the work-from-home environment, tight coordination and focus is even more important in selling and GTM.  We spoke with sales leaders representing early, mid and later stage enterprise SaaS startups late last week about how they dealt with the onset of Covid19 and what has emerged as some best practices. See the summary of this below and listen to the podcast for more details on how these companies are continuing to build their business.

We spoke with

  1. Focus on your customers. Connect personally with each and every one.  Be transparent and think outside the box in how you can help them. Being clear that a current contract might not work for the company anymore and figuring out how to work with them regardless, creates loyalty and value in the relationship.
  2. Build your internal competency. Tight sales teamwork is required, and you need the regular check-ins with your team and across teams to ensure everyone is working on the right things for customers and pipeline.  Develop a regular cadence when the whole team comes together and for lower level check-ins – don’t forget the starting or younger employees who might need more support.
  3. Create a classification system for customers and prospects, from those feeling headwinds to tailwinds and adjust your approach and message appropriately.
  4. Introduce price flexibility or financial flexibility for customers who are undergoing stress. Again, being honest and transparent about your situation and wanting to understand the customer helps move these conversations along.
  5. To continue to build the funnel, double down on direct marketing, digital events and being creative. One great example was from Clari, which holds many regional in person dinner or lunch events.  They held it digitally and offered attendees a dinner delivery.


Transcript

Soma
Good afternoon, everyone. We all know this, but we live in unprecedented times now. Whether you call it work from home or shelter in place or social distancing, the COVID-19 situation has had  a tremendous amount of impact in all facets of life, including how companies market and sell to their customers. And today, I’m excited to have a handful of sales leaders from three different companies representing early stage, mid stage and later stage startups, to talk to us about how their sales and go to market efforts, as well as teams have had to change significantly to doing business effectively in this new environment. Please join me in welcoming Kevin Knieriem, Scott Gudmundson and Tony Jackson. Before we get started, can each of you take maybe a minute to introduce yourself and briefly talk about the company that you’re a part of and what business you’re in? And let’s start with the Kevin.

Kevin
Great, thank you, Soma. And thanks for the opportunity to join this call. Kevin Knieriem, I’m the Chief Revenue Officer at Clari. For those of you that don’t know who we are what we do, we help companies provide revenue confidence, and we’re a platform that brings together all of their revenue constituents in a common place. We think of revenue truly as a process and not an outcome. And we provide the instrumentation for sales reps, sales managers, sales leaders, and any really revenue participant to run the business. Our solution quite honestly has allowed us to really navigate COVID-19, understand the impact of business understand where we need to lean in. And we’re working really hard to help our customers go through that same analysis of their business. Thank you, Soma.

Soma
Scott let’s go with you next.

Scott
Yeah, thank you for having me. So, I’m Scott Gudmundson, Head of Sales at SeekOut.io. We are a SaaS-based platform that helps recruiters and sourcers find hard to find and diverse talent. We’re really on the forefront of educating the HR space on a technology stack. And really how we can fit into that stack and help bring multiple pieces of product together to really find that diverse and hard to find talent. And today, I’m representing the small business side of the conversation. So, thank you.

Tony
Awesome. Yeah, thanks for having me, Soma. Tony Jackson, I’m a Seattle native. I spent my entire career in software sales. Half of that’s been at early stage startups. So, I have an appreciation for what’s going on there. The other half has been kind of the pre-IPO through IPO journeys at Tableau Software, MongoDB, and Snowflake. For those that aren’t familiar with snowflake, we effectively help organizations get value out of data through internal analytics, building data products, monetizing data with third parties. And we do that through a completely differentiated Cloud Data Platform. Our company has been around since 2012, products in market since 2015. And we’ve been dubbed the fastest growing enterprise SAS company in history. So really excited to talk through what some of that means in terms of navigating COVID.

Soma
Fantastic, great to have you all join us today. Just to get started, I thought it’d be great if you guys could take a couple of minutes and set some context. And when I say context, it’d be great if you can walk me through what happened in your teams and in your company. In the first few weeks of when stay at home or work from home happened. Okay, and Tony, do you want to continue with that?

Tony
Yeah, absolutely. It was a fun time, I guess we’ll say. So, context setting. I had a two-day QBR scheduled on March 16, and 17th. And it was pretty elaborate. So I had leaders from all across the company and all across the country flying in, we had a day at our office in Bellevue scheduled and we actually had a day of workshops at your office in Madrona scheduled and, the entire thing was designed to be, collaborative with a lot of hands on workshops, and team building exercises, and completely come out of this thing, you know, singing Kumbaya, and we’re ready to go March 4th for the year. March 2nd rolls around and we start, this thing’s picking up steam and we say, hey, asking, should we make travel optional? That was a hard decision, on March 2, right? We do that and, of course, and March 16th rolls around and everybody was at home by themselves. And so, when you say the word scramble, that’s exactly what it was to convert a lot of investment in terms of a two-day, well thought out agenda, and try to convert that into a one-day remote, and try to drive some of the same outcomes was an incredibly challenging. I would say, the things that worked well, I made my intentions clear in terms of what I wanted in terms of outcomes of highly collaborative and participatory. I was impressed at how my team leaned in. Katie Drucker from Madrona participated in the full day remotely, which I’m really appreciative of, and I told her after the fact, that she was the MVP of our QBR. Because she brought a lot of, I’d say, industry and market insights that really shaped the way that we were thinking about going to market in our region. And then on an account level really gave us that board executive viewpoint about how different organizations might be thinking about COVID impacting them. That was a transformational exercise and just all of the conversation around that really inspired us to say hey, how do we be on the right side of history and get out in front of this thing? So, we decided to roll out a two week program where each one of our reps would call every single one of their customers, every prospect that they had an open opportunity with, to show them that we care about them both as a person and about their company and to listen and to learn, and to try to take what we’re learning and come back. And both, at an individual account level, how do we help them outside the context of Snowflake? And then what learnings can we share among our team? I’ve just been blown away by the results of that, but for our team and the response from our customers.

Soma
Awesome. Scott or Kevin, do you guys want to add something to this?

Kevin
Yeah, happy to go next. Our board meeting was March 5th, and that was the last day I traveled. Our CEO was such a hard charger. If you know him, he actually went to London the next week, and we were just trying to get him home and thankfully got back before they shut down travel. That next week for us was really the transition week to okay, are we ready to work virtually? Fortunately, we had a couple things right. We had the right instrumentation. So, the biggest challenge area for us really wasn’t the field sellers, it was our SDR team. We’re used to working in pods, used to working together and that camaraderie and now a lot of these folks were really young folks who in some cases, were still living at home with their families. They were transitioning to TV tables next to their bed in their in their bedrooms, right? And so, we made sure that they were ready and engaged, but more importantly, still had that camaraderie and social engagement. And I’ve got to hand it to my rev dev team, is what we call our inside team, that they really brought that together quickly. What we found was with a lot of our events being canceled, that we could still drive top of funnel remotely and we’ve been trying to have a lot of fun and learnings on how do you best conduct a remote meeting. And we actually just today or this morning rolled out an internal enablement and in selling guide to help us sell and make our meetings with our customers and our prospects super impactful. We’ve also tried interesting things with our prospects and our customers. More of this format of social engagement over Zoom. So, I think, learnings for all of us, I think the hardest part of it has been the end to end Zooms that are on all day. And being able to find the one or two minutes you need to transition from one meeting to the next. So interesting times we feel like we’re taking on the challenge and quite honestly trying to learn from it and become better remote sellers.

Scott
Yeah, I would echo what Kevin said there a little bit, I think the first couple of weeks right as this unfolded was just a frantic pace for everybody. You’re just constantly on back to back, Zoom meetings, not a lot of time to get to the things you really need to do attend to. And so, it’s been nice to see our team particularly, and we’re a smaller group of just 30 in the whole company so, it’s a little different than some of the others, but it’s been nice for us to settle into a nice pace. Similar to Kevin, we had a technology stack, we did 90% of our selling remote already. So, we’ve seen fairly little impact from that standpoint. I think the area that we really needed to double down, and focus was the team, and really making sure that the team was connecting regularly. We started off just being so frantic that some of the people kind of got left off on their own little island. And it became clear really quick that we needed to get the teams together. So I think one of the biggest changes we’ve seen, is both at a company level getting together on a weekly basis, but then individual teams making sure that they’re meeting even two or three times a week sharing best practices, because the one thing that seems to be evolving in this is that what we thought two weeks ago isn’t even the same now. And so, it’s this constant evolution of trying to stay on top of what is the latest moves, what’s happening and how do we adjust to that. But I will say our CEO did a great job when this rolled out of really focusing us on a growth mindset and saying, okay, as opposed to being victims in the situation, how do we go take advantage of what presents itself? And how can we continue to be successful even though times are going to be challenging for the next while?

Soma
Great, I thought I want to take a few minutes and talk about, what are you doing in this environment with your current customer base? Tony just mentioned that he instituted a two-week program, where every account rep reached out to both existing customers, as well as customers in the pipeline to show that, hey, we are here to support you through this. We care about you. I thought that was a great best practice that Tony and his team followed. But in general, how are you thinking about taking care of your existing customers because that, to me, looks like priority number one. And that means, what does your customer success team need to do differently in this current environment? And as a sales leader, how are you thinking about success for your team and for your customer success team in this regard? And have you changed what you’re expecting out of your customer success team in the process? Sort of a bunch of questions but all related to how you are working with your customer success team and your sales team in taking care of your current customers and keeping them happy and successful through this tough time.

Kevin
Our number one goal as a company right now is protect the base right and to rally around our customers. And one of the things that myself and my CEO have been doing is reaching out to our peers, whether you’re a CEO, CFO, or  Head of Sales, and actually walking them through how we are using our own solution not to turn this into a Clari commercial, but using our own solution to navigate COVID-19 and as part of that, we actually come out with a lot of learnings that we’ve been able to help our customers implement. We’ve also been doing things like revenue assessments and health checks for our customers and getting much more focused on them. We have a pretty big rev dev team or inside sales team as well. And as we did this analysis of our installed base and our prospects, we kind of categorize them into headwind or tailwind companies those that are either flourishing, surviving, or are in a challenge. And based on that, we’ve sort of reoriented our focus in our message into those three buckets and so we’ve redeployed some of our rev dev team against our customers to help them better utilize Clari so at the sales rep level, at the manager level, and so trying to get the entire company around this customer first, when you don’t need your full gamut of SDR’s out there just prospecting.

Tony
Yeah, I think I can piggyback on that, I think I’m seeing the same where I think there’re some clear winners and losers in terms of impact in at least the short term, and certainly probably beyond. But being able to identify and categorize which companies fall into which bucket, I think that informs your strategy on how you can help them, our expectations haven’t really changed. And for us, just for context, we don’t have a customer success team, all of that falls into the field sales organization. And, based on the way our business works, which is a utilization and consumption-based service, we’re always very closely aligned with our customers, but I would say the nuances and emphasis on things like overcoming what’s going to happen in every organization is scrutiny on spend, right? And so, we’re being even more proactive about having value engineering, business value realization type conversations and documentation and framework for our customers. One of the things that we’re seeing on both sides is the companies that are being impacted from a personnel perspective and having to undergo layoffs. We’re helpful to them by figuring out, can we help plug gaps for them, while they’re, being short staffed and trying to operate more efficiently? And can we help some of their people land within some of the customer base that is growing and is hiring. And so, we’re adding value to the customers that are growing by connecting them with top talent that now is available that that probably wouldn’t have otherwise been. So those are some of the things again, I think, from our perspective, that we’re just people first, I think, is kind of the way that we’re approaching those situations.

Scott
For us being in the hiring space, obviously, directly impacted pretty quick. We’ve had an opportunity to be able to work with customers on individual basis to put them on pause from their subscription standpoint, work with them around just payment options, and do all of those things that are the right thing to do right now. And we’ve had the luxury of having very deep relationships with our customers. And so, they’ve appreciated being able to come to us and just have very, fact-based conversations and outcomes that are working for both of us. So that’s one thing that I say has helped us. The other thing is, we’ve been fortunate enough to have a really solid customer advisory board. So, we’ve been able to rally them A. check in on them and how they’re doing but B. get their feedback on things that we can be doing to help their businesses. And that’s been pretty valuable for us and just knowing how to move forward.

Soma
Switching focus from protecting the base like you said, Kevin, to starting to think about, hey, how do you move customers through the pipeline? You’ve got each of you have a pipeline of customers in varying stages. What are you doing to be able to move your customers through the pipeline and getting them to be a paid customer and close a deal? How are you thinking about the mechanics of sort of closing a customer? And one important question in that regard is, how are you thinking about price? Or in other words, are you thinking about price as a lever? Because everybody is sort of thinking about budgets every is cost conscious today. Are you sort of saying, hey, let’s use price as the lever for the first year, or at least in the short term, and maybe worry about not the right phrase a year from now, but let’s focus on closing the customer and getting the deal done? I would love to hear some thoughts on that.

Kevin
Yeah, happy having to go again on this one. So obviously, like other companies, we’ve experienced headwinds, right, we’ve had customers budgets freeze, or be put on hold for a while in deals slipped from our Q1 into our Q2. I’m assuming we’re all seeing very similar things. And what I’ve noticed, as well as a lot of companies are still going through their replanning process, which means they’re kind of in this pause mode. And so, as we’ve talked about earlier, as we started to categorize companies based on where they fit and the things that they’re experiencing. From there, we’ve looked at flexibility in some cases, we just want to help and so we’ve done what we consider revenue assessments where we’ve hooked up our solution to their Salesforce instance and have been able to drive insights right away so that they can inform the changes to their operating plan. In others we’ve done, let’s just call it financial flexibility, to allow them to start with us and flexibility through the first year, not necessarily price reductions, if you will, but more just sort of flexibility based on constraints that they have from a budget and an OpEx spend scenario. So, we’re, we’re treating them each uniquely because every company is different. We don’t have a, let’s say, a cookie cutter COVID-19 offer, but we are really trying to lead with that revenue confidence and help these companies navigate.

Tony
Yeah, I would, I would echo those sentiments, I think especially the piece that every customer is in a unique circumstance. And so being really flexible around, what does this customer need and putting first how do we add value for them is kind of the approach that we’ve taken. I’ll take a different lens on the question, Soma, which is the thing that I’ve noticed is it forces really tight sales execution. It reinforces all the discipline around doing the right things around qualification and really being dialed in on understanding, what are the challenges that this customer is going through? What is the business impact that’s available to them? And how can our solution help them and then being really proactive about articulating that, demonstrating that, getting hands on with the product. There’s no room for laziness during these times from a Field Sales execution perspective,

Scott
I would just say you both you both talked at this, being able to classify your pipeline into the heavily impacted, the lightly impacted, and being able to really get down on the deal by deal level for us has been very important. There’s always a lot of deals in the pipeline, but every quarter comes down to a handful of deals that are going to make it or break it. And we found, classifying those deals and really focusing on the ones that have potential is where we’ve seen success. I would also say that a lot of the early prospecting and selling couple weeks back was, hey, people now have time to look at technology. And that quickly burned out, right? That message, if I see that again, I think I might scream. But people do have time right now to evaluate their technology stacks, in whatever vertical, whatever space you’re playing in. And I think that’s a really strong message to go to executives with is to say, hey, while people have a little time to breathe right now evaluating your technology stack and, and how it’s being used is a strong conversation to have with folks to get their attention to get some mindshare and then to potentially see if then you can apply what Tony said and strong sales discipline to actually get a deal closed.

Soma
And we all know that, hey, sales techniques and sales approaches can vary depending on who are target customer bases. Sometimes we are targeting small and medium businesses, mid-market customers, enterprise customers, sometimes we are dealing with inbound leads, sometimes we are looking at outbound leads. And each of these things are has a unique flavor and unique nuance for how we think about go to market, or sales approach kind of thing. To the extent that this kind of thinking applies to your business or to the customers that you target, are there any best practices for how you deal with, say, SMB customer versus an enterprise customer in this situation, any sort of best practices or learnings to be had here?

Scott
I think I’ll take that here, just right out of the gate. The SMB space right now is really tough. They’re definitely tightened up on budgets and everything else. So, in that instance, you’ve really got to be looking for what is their use case and their need and if there’s a fit, then continuing the conversation, if not putting things on pause, I think is the right thing to do. And particularly prospecting thing into that group right now is tough. But in the enterprise, people are still buying people are still needing to do business. And there’s a lot of opportunity there. And what we’re seeing work is we’re having conversations in sales right now, which are much more genuine than they’ve ever been with customers. we’re much more open and transparent in our conversations. And people are seeing that. And it’s resonating, because we’re just having honest dialogue back and forth about what people’s needs are and how we can serve them. And I found that that that’s been a big help for our sales team is just being very genuine and open and building deep relationships. That’s leading to success.

Tony
Yeah, I would add that I’m seeing the same thing. And I think if that if that genuine approach, and that transparency is being reciprocated. And then I think the key is, at more of an organizational level, how quickly can we iterate and share feedback across the team. So, I think that’s the internal aspect, how do you create that collaborative environment is really important. We’ve moved to a cadence of Monday morning calls focused on topics around,  some of the things that we’re learning in dealings with customers. And then bringing in the right subject matter experts potentially, to present to us on how we might be able to help our customers. And then we’ve moved to a cadence in terms of our one on one meetings where every alternate week we do one on ones on Monday, from an AE perspective, and then on the sales engineering side, our counterparts. And then on the alternating weeks, we actually come together two on two where it’s a sales engineering manager and myself with the AE and their sales engineering counterpart. And that’s actually been really helpful at keeping people focused on the right things. And then on Fridays, we actually get together and we just spend probably two or three minutes on each person. What did you accomplish this week? What’s something that you learned and what’s something you either want to learn, focus on, or get better at in the following week, and just creating that framework or foundation to allow for the team to operate as a team, versus a bunch of individuals operating out of their houses has been really, really helpful. And I’ve seen a ton of benefit from it.

Soma
Right? Hey Kevin, you guys, like pretty much every other company on the planet now has gone through a recent process of replanning and reforecasting for the rest of the year, given everything that’s changing around us kind of thing, right? In that context, how do you think about changing compensation targets for your sales people, whether you’re adjusting the sales quota, whether it’s up or down kind of thing, so that you’ve had the right balance between doing what you think is right for the sales teams to keep them motivated and performing well, while still keeping the right business outcome in mind so that you are not on one end of the spectrum or the other. Can you share some of your thinking on that?

Kevin
Yeah, a couple of things on that.  One of the things we did was we really kind of focused our sellers, those that are purely acquisition and those that are taking care of the customer. We didn’t have that model before. Obviously, with growth and complexity, you kind of go to that model. And so, we’ve just implemented that. I’ll  look at it from two areas, for those that are account managers, one of the things we’re focusing on, is there an opportunity to renew customers early. And as part of renewing early, can you expand? Can you understand their business scenario, maybe get creative? So, we spent on early renewals, right, to try and get a quarter plus out ahead of those, right, to secure the business, right. And so, we can focus on driving value versus negotiating the different point in time,  For our sellers and their quota, yes, we’ve made a reduction, not a drastic one. Some of you have seen some of the studies that are floating out around there, I assume what revenue collective put out, quota adjustments have been from zero to 50% or 60%. So, we didn’t ones across the board based on territories that were in line with some of the top line adjustments we made to our targets for the year. We used our own solutions to try and figure out what that should be based on where we were seeing those opportunities that were pushing where they were going to within the year. What we wanted to do most importantly, was to continue to motivate our sellers, to get to feel like they had a fighting chance. And quite honestly, some of the additional things we added in their plans were new logo, right? It is just as important as protecting and surrounding and bear hugging your customers is making sure that you continue to grow me continue to bring new logos into the family.

Scott
So, I take a bit of a different approach just because we’re smaller, right, but for us, going back and analyzing the assumptions we put into the comp plan to begin with and saying do those assumptions still hold or do we need to evaluate a changing landscape. And luckily for us, those assumptions are for the most part holding. So, we’re in a wait and see mode right now on quotas and we’re going to assess at the half year, take a look and kind of see how things are coming along. But I think the most important thing from my perspective is analyzing your assumptions. And if there’s major changes, then you’ve got to address it, or you will have morale trouble real quick.

Tony
Yeah, I think adversity is such a, it just reveals what your culture is, right? And for us, we were in a unique circumstance, in part based on the performance of the company. But the message from us has been, we think we can hit our plan, and we’re still marching towards that. But it hasn’t swung so far on the pendulum such there are a lot of companies that are saying that it appears tone deaf, right, Snowflake I think the history here is that we actually last year revised our plan mid-year, from a quota perspective, not the corporate perspective. And so, knowing that as the company was overachieving, but based on the fact that we resegmented our business mid-year last year, and the company did the right thing, has built a foundation of trust where people all feel really good about, hey, we can march forward. And we know that if this turns out to not be attainable, based on circumstances outside of our control, we have a belief that the company will do the right thing.

Soma
Got it. I want to switch to one question that came in from the audience. This is a question from Gabriel, for Scott. Scott, as you were talking about this is an opportunity or there’s a good opportunity where companies, particularly SMBs, or enterprise, or whoever you are starting to think about no technology stacks. As a way to sort of say, hey, things are changing, some things work. Some things don’t work. Let me sort of take a step back and think about what technology stack I have, or I don’t have an What do I need to do kind of thing. The question specifically is the following. Do you think that people are already evaluating their tech stacks because they want to find ways to cut costs, or what do you think is the reason why this is happening?

Scott
I think, just based on my experience in the limited number of customers I’ve spoken with, and there’s two camps, or people who are doing well, and now is a time for them to evaluate, how can we continue? And how do we shore that up? And then there’s the second camp, which is definitely. there are a lot of reactive companies that have instantly said we need to reduce spend by 40%. And so, we’re seeing people come back and say, okay, who are our more expensive vendors? What is our usage looking like? And they’re starting to make decisions based on those things. And so, we’ve talked about that a little bit as a group here today, but you got to shore up your customer base, for sure. And make sure usage is there, but more importantly, when you’re going after and having these conversations depending on your product and where you’re set in the marketplace there’s at least for us a great advantage to go get share from some of the bigger players that for years have been it price increases. And the value has gone down a bit. And so, we see it as an opportunity as people are evaluating tech stacks to really get in and display share from some of the bigger players in the space.

Soma
Got it! Thanks, Scott. Here’s another question from the audience. The question is this. We are getting a lot of sales email responses such as, let’s revisit post forward. How are you navigating those situations without pushing everything out? Kevin or Tony, do one of you want to start and try to answer this?

Kevin
Part of it depends on the persona of the person. So, for instance, if the persona is a Head of Sales, or CRO which is our typical, executive buyer, or CFO, we might come back with something creative says let us realize your budget frozen, realize you see value in our solution. Let us get you on it now in a creative way. If the persona is a sales manager or an operations director who is just starting to look, we’ll keep them engaged, we’ll keep them educated. But we’ll come back and revisit when we can actually start a real process with them. I think we were finding in this world we’re all working at home. At least on our side, it’s much easier for us to set meetings and get time with people. And we continue to actually overachieve on our goals in setting what we call our RS zeros. So, we’re still doing really well in creating demand, and setting meetings and having those meetings happen. And then it’s sort of a way of qualifying is this an opportunity or is this something that we just want to continue to nurture?

Soma
Okay, Kevin, I have a sub question that is there a way where you got to think about changing your positioning or the value proposition to make it more resonating with people and They say they’re going to either wait for six months or whatever it is kind of thing, as opposed to, let’s engage now and continue the conversation. That kind of thing.

Kevin
Yeah, I think, obviously our offering is actually vital instrumentation now. So, we do, we have sort of pivoted our messaging to confidence, revenue, confidence and instrumentation and being able to help a company navigate, what is the impact this is having on the business? And how to, especially in a mobile world, where everyone is working virtually, how do you help kind of drive a consistent sales methodology and process across your entire sales organization? We really help companies do that. And so, our teams have really been enabled to continue to drive that. And obviously, we leverage challenger as part of our selling methodology and to challenge the status quo and to end in a way that we’re teaching so we’ve pivoted from what would be considered a pitch deck to a teach deck and trying to help educate our potential customers that we can help them through this environment, and it’s resonating.

Soma
That’s great. So, let me go to the next question. And this is a question that I also had, so I’m going to sort of frame my question and then sort of go to the specific question from the audience. Prior to a month ago, or a month and a half ago we were always looking at, conferences and events and other kinds of sort of physical, get togethers  as a way to reach out to customers to get leads to increase our leads to get more people to the top of the funnel, and all that fun stuff, right? That’s not happening now. So, to me, this feels like a phenomenal opportunity to say, how do I double down on what I call digital marketing? How are you thinking about doubling down on digital marketing in this current environment? And the specific question is, can you give some specific examples of how you are successfully generating leads, especially now with physical boundaries?

Tony
Yeah, I’ll take that one because one of the characteristics I would say about Snowflake in the past Soma, was that world class field marketing and that is that is central to our strategy with respect to top of funnel and influencing existing pipeline. Kevin mentioned earlier, his company being well set up and I think Scott agreed, well set up to support remote and we’re the same way, we practice what we preach as a company at Snowflake. So, we’re all in the cloud, we’re a data-oriented company. So, the pivot for us was really, really quick. And I’m just so appreciative, our entire field marketing effort. It probably took about a week to do a 180 and pivot to a virtual marketing team, and the amount of webinars that we’re doing and the thought that’s being put to behind those webinars and the ability to take our partner ecosystem and them in and let them draft off us and then attach to some of the things that they’re doing has been nothing short of remarkable from  our perspective and all of the statements that were made earlier in terms of people being at home, being able to look at things like this, there’s more time people are in less meetings, all of our digital footprint is going up every single week, and is already at record highs.

Scott
I think I throw out a couple learnings just on the smaller end, we really quick realize we weren’t spending enough on digital. And as the landscape has changed, some parts of digital have come down in cost. Others have gone up 5x. If you’re not paying attention to on the digital side, what your costs are looking like and what the rest of the market is doing. You may be spending the same amount of dollars and not getting any return right now and wondering why and those are all things you’ve got to be on top of. The other thing I just throw out real quick is just I think companies that are going to succeed through this, at least in the short term, have good outbound emotions. It’s taking that control of your own destiny and being able to know who your ideal customer profiles are, and sitting back and saying, Hey, have those ideal customer profiles changed in the last two weeks, three weeks, and then being able to. proactively go get in front of those folks. And obviously, that’s more for the enterprise sale, but I just throw that out there that digital is important, but I think success comes without bounding.

Kevin
Yeah, I think as a company, we really spent the last eight months before COVID-19 getting our top of funnel in order. We weren’t great at it before that. A lot of it was the right leadership, the right instrumentation. And so when this happened, obviously, like everyone else, we canceled all of our paid events, but we also had to cancel the events that we were doing and we do a lot of in city networking events where we bring sales operations and revenue leaders together in an online sessions like this where we share best practices and we talk. So, we continued that process virtually, where we have these regional virtual dinners. And we’ll actually send to those that are attending a way for them to either get food delivered or wine if it’s at night. And what we found is there great networking sessions and usually on them, I’ll have a couple customers who will comment, and I’ll have prospects and they’ll start actually selling and I’ll just take a backseat, those have been really effective for us. Our SDRs have gotten amazingly creative. They will share a rejection email with the team and that team will craft the response email together and that typically will get a person to react. So, I’m just I’m seeing unbelievable creativity coming out of our inside sales machine, which has been super important. I think one of the most important things that I think all of us can do as leaders for our sellers is, we’re now in a remote world and in a moment remote world, you now become more transparent. Right? We all now in front of each other on zoom, and having sellers, quite honestly who are open to being critiqued or open to being transparent on how effective they are. Are they making the calls? Are they having the meetings? I know I was one of those people, when I came to Starbucks, I had to transform I couldn’t hide. just behind the phone anymore. And so, if you can get your sellers to transform where they can now use data, and this, they’re going to become much better in this environment. The SDRs are now going through that process on our side.

Soma
Great. Thank you. And for the for the last question before we get into rapid mode. This is a question from Brad. Are you seeing projects that were classified as priority in normal times needing to be repositioned as lifeboat projects in COVID-19 times to achieve funding?

Soma
Do you want to take a crack at this?

Tony
Yeah, I would say pretty commonly, I’d say that’s a that’s a, maybe a daily occurrence in our world. So, yeah, absolutely, I think there’s everything is being reprioritized. So, things that were at the top of the list are now getting shuffled to, the middle or the bottom or uncertain. And then there are some things that were not even on the list that are now the top priority issue for our customers. And I think that just goes back to the key theme of being able to be intimate enough with your customers and your prospects to be able to have those conversations and stay close in terms of cadence and communication and understand where are things today versus yesterday or this week versus last week is the key there.

Scott
Well, I would just say that the one of the things that I think that we’ve seen important and I don’t know if this is going to directly answer the question or not, but getting close with the customer, both where they’re at so going to the communities that they’re in and listening to them, talk to their peers about what they’re experiencing, working with the channel partners to understand what they’re experiencing and what they’re going through, and taking all of these different data points into your decision making. And really getting frontline, I think that’s become much more imperative, at least for us than it was three, four weeks ago.

Soma
As part of wrapping this up, we’ve got about a minute or so to go. I thought I would summarize some of the key things that I heard in this conversation. And one of the things that you guys all have said consistently is, this is the time to strengthen your relationships with customers, or with existing customers to protect the base with pipeline customers and inside your own sales and customer relationship teams. My phrase is, you cannot overcommunicate in this environment. So please think about communicating whether to the customers or with your teams, as much as you can and need to. The second thing is customers appreciate transparency, honesty and going above and beyond to help them through this time, it’s all about engendering customer loyalty. And the more you learn, and the more customers love what you do for them, and that they will be with you for the long term. Third thing is, every customer and company has individual challenges. So, you have to be flexible, somebody mentioned, hey, it’s not a price reduction, but price flexibility. And I thought that was a fantastic way to think about, hey, what, what kind of things that we can be doing, or we should be doing to work with our customers in this tough situation. The other thing is be creative in how you work with customers, from helping them with internal insights, to helping laid-off employees land somewhere, and anything else that you think they’re facing as key challenges. And I think both Kevin and Tony mentioned this, one of the things that we do is, particularly for customers that are both existing customers, and also customers in the pipeline, categorizing them as customers who’re having tailwind and customers are having headwinds. And being able to both flexibly and creatively work with the customers depending on what situation they’re in. I thought that was a fantastic sort of piece of wisdom to keep in mind as we navigate through this. And finally, from an internal perspective, use this time to tighten teamwork, analyze internal sales assumptions. And as they are changing, because things are still changing and fluid, be ready to adjust them as and when you see changes as opposed to waiting until after the fact. These are what I thought were some of the key pieces of information that came out of this conversation. So, thank you all again. Thanks, Kevin. Thanks to Tony. And Thanks, Scott, for taking time out, and I know you guys are all busy, but. taking time out to be able to share your journey, your experiences and your learnings in terms of how go to market teams and sales teams are navigating through this tough situation. All of you be safe and take care.

Erika

Thank you for joining Founded and Funded. If you enjoyed this podcast, please like and share it with your friends. Please stay tuned for more podcasts to come your way and send us your ideas. We’re always looking for new content ideas, especially during this work from home and transition, we hope, back to the office and back to work period of time.