The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 3 months ago

Ep 228: From Sales Led To Product Led Growth w/ Samir Smajic, CEO GetAccept (Throwback)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

From Sales Led To Product Led Growth w/ Samir Smajic, CEO GetAccept (Throwback)

Part of the TGIM (Thank God It's Monday!) series hosted by Tom Alaimo.

...areight, everybuddy. Welcome back to the pavilion podcast. This is a show where revenue leaders get the tips, tricks and tactics they need to be successful in their roles. Before we get to today's content, let's have a quick shout out from our sponsor. This episode is brought to you by raprise, the only complete demo creation platform that go to market teams turn to when they need to create live and guided demo experiences. Now let's get into today's episode. All right, Sa Mere Smite. Good evening to you. Welcome to the pavilion podcast. How'd I do on your name? Perfect, perfect, hello everyone, and Hello Nice to be here today. Yeah, excited to have you on. I'm pretty confident in my four years of podcasting, your my my first guest in Sweden. So there you go. We're already breaking breaking records as we're kicking this thing off. Yeah, you need it's happy to be the first one. Happy to be the first one. I love it. So we got a lot of ground to cover today. You know, you're obviously running get accept started the company about six years ago. Curious just if you take me back to what you're doing. Back then, I think you were ahead of product at a start up before that. What did you see in the market like? What was the impetus to start get accept back then? Yeah, so I was had of a product at the CRM company here in the nordics. Was a little bit like working very close to sales reps on that product and doing a lot of meetings with them. I really thought that doing sales was being done is such an old fashioned way. So when I started get accept, in the team that I started with, we said, like, we want to change how sales is being done. We knew what how a good sales rep is like, what they are doing and how they should be before performing, and we wanted to see if can you do that in a new way, in a more digital way. And that was back in two thou fifteen. So that was the whole parts that that took us off the ground. We were sales reps ourselves in one way or another and we just wanted to, yeah, make a big change in how sales was being performed in a more digital space. So that was how everything started. And you went through Y combinator. Yeah, exactly. So we pitched this actually in in the nordics and we did didn't get any good response. People said like yeah, we do understand what you're saying about this digital sales motion, but we want to beat our people, we want to be personal, we want to communicate, we want to engage face facetoface. And again, this is two thousand and fifteen. So we thought like, okay, maybe ore we are wrong on this, this whole idea, and we thought, but that US is a little bit of ahead of time when it comes to sales tools. So we went over. We felt that we got a little bit more traction pitching two different people. We were actually and Collision Conference in Vegas in early two thousand and fifteen, and said, if we can get hundred business cards who said that they're interested in this this product, then will do something. And then we got that and we said like how to start something in us? And then we found out about why combinator applied and they really got the whole motion that we wanted to do. Move it in a digital space and be able to communicate and still be a good sales rep but in an online motion. And Yeah, we've got into Y compreator in two thousand and Sixteen Winter January. Yeah, and there's so much more about y see in so much mystique, I feel like it. What was one of your big takeaways from that experience? I mean, yeah, it's really it's like a closed community in many ways. And and what's really good is that when you join it, you're always a part of that community. So you always have like a yeah, way into more or less any...

...company in us, it feels like sometimes. So that's really good. The big takeaways is nothing new, to be honest. Like it's all about building what people really want or what your customers want. So that is something that you get trained in and and that you get questioned in a lot of time. I think many entrepreneurs they they often can let an idea go, they think it's so good for themselves, but they forget to Usk the customers. So so that was something that really took with us to always test ideas early towards customers and and if they don't work, then we'll will try something else. So that is something that we still are doing in get accept always trying to release early on features, not like totally full built out, often called an MVP, and and yeah, try to get feedback. So that was some of the things that that we took with us, but also in the end that that, yeah, why see as much about the team? So if you want to get in there, yeah, figure out what is the best team. The good thing we get accept is was not four different developers that came together because they were friends. It was actually one being very good on product that was me, it was one being very good on the commercial side, which was Matthias, and one being very good on the developer side, which was on us, and then we also add Carl who was on the sale side. So so we had like a good setup and and this is something that we always try to figure out growing get except now, like how to put together a good team and be very peeky in our recruiting. And now in the these days we're hundred fifty employees each but but I'm still available and and involved in many of the recruitments and trying to figure out is this a good culture fit, is it a good for this position? Can they be with us for not just one week or one year, but actually grow us to be something different going forward? And that's also something that we got from hy complator, to always try to figure out who can help you to take the next step, to hire for the next step, not for where you are today. So is that something that you try to find based on their past experiences? It a set of questions you ask because you're, let's say you're in a current revenue mode or current, you know kind of talk key focus area and you know that in a year from now the goals to be, you know, x, you know wherever it is. Are you finding people that have that background, that they work at companies that might be a little larger than you or, you know, a little further on the path? Or their questions that you ask? That kind of bet some of that out as well. No, but it's stricky, I mean, and it's one thing. Also don't want to pay for someone who maybe want to sit and be very strategic but also be hands on. So it's really hard to find those, those gems there. But we try to and we try to figure out, like what do we need in maybe half a year and one year ahead, and what are the biggest challenges and figure out like what kind of criteria then is put on that person. And of course one can be like that they have seen the movie before, but that can also be a big obstacle because maybe we are trying to do something totally different that has not been done before. And then maybe it's more important about finding people that has the passion, that has their eager to to learn and to do new things and to be able to test things then actually finding someone that just replicate an old motion. So there's no like perfect, like yeah, questionnaire that you can just run. But I think everything, also in our organization, at list at least, come back to the culture. We're very culture driven and much of our investors also say that it's one of the most amazing cultures on on on that we've seen on different companies. Everyone is helpful,...

...everyone wants to move towards the same direction as a team and everyone puts the company first. I think finding those things in different persons is maybe one of the most important parts that we look for hiring. How have you helped to shape that? Especially looks like you might be back in the office, or maybe partially back in the office now, past post Covid, but curious. How are you shaping the culture and keeping it intact and keeping it growing while everyone was remote and everything was kind of shut down? Yeah, yeah, but I think it started earlier than that, because when we were for founders. We put up key core values on not on the wall, but we discussed them. It was quite awkward in a way because we was us for followers and like discussing what's the key core values, etc. And we're like, but should we really do this? Don't we have better things to do? But we did that and even when we were set, been persis in total, we put in a tool where we could measure the temperature, the people temperature of the company, not because we needed because we could talk to each other around the table, because that was a part of how we wanted to grow. So when we were twenty people, we start to notice that this is really important and then we all understood what is good. You could, for example, in that tool, then say a I'm feeling like this. Maybe that's something that you don't want to say loud around the table, but you can set it it and numerously in that in that tool, and you can also describe what why are you feeling like this? So that was one way of how we created so that everyone can feel open and, in one way or another, around this this tool and say what's working, what isn't working, so that we always could yes, there the ship towards the right direction and put in the right things ahead of time to really funnel the culture that we wanted to be instead of like figuring it out too late and then it was so much broken that figuring it out maybe, yeah, we would just take too much time and then it's nothing that you can maybe handle. I think it was that early. And then when covid came, it was so natural for us to move home and and because we just continue to use that tool, but also having those same meetings, having the meeting structure as we had before, with responsibilities of how to run meetings and and everything was figured out already before going on at Covid the Home Office situation. So we didn't do too much different, to be honest. Yeah, I feel like when companies pick their their values or their principles and they put them on the wall or on the site, it can go one of two ways. I can go the way that you said, and it like helps you to find the right people and build it up and is if you're very authentic about it, I think it in really create a great experience. Or if it is just words on the wall and that's it, it can, you know, be a detriment imcre's. What are those? What are the four values? And one thing, they're on on the we don't have them on any wall. I often say that the companies who have them on the wall is the one who doesn't live them. Yeah, because you just want them up there. Just one thing done. So you paying them up on the wall. No, but we have five it's and we have it around Du text. So one is do more with less. So it's all about figuring out how to get shit done without asking for all money you can have in the world or all resource or wherever it can be. The other one is team wins. So not team work, because everyone can work in the team. But if you want to win as a team, it's a total different thing. Then you need to have the same goal and you need to line around them and you need to steer the ship towards that direction together. And then now you put me, then it's do tech, putting you on the spot. He or S. Yeah, exactly. Then it's a passion by heart.

It's like run the company as you are a founder and take decisions around that, like not around your own how you will develop as an as an employee or oh, it's all about me, me, me, and how I will develop, but run the company as you are on fat and founder, and I mean all those ones, and how to how to live them is not by putting them on a wall. It's about communicating. But then also one thing that I think is hard for many people is questioning when people don't do the right thing and and phasis and faces the ones that are doing the right things, and that's things that we, for example, doing that tool so we can say, Hey, Samar you get Kudos because you did X, y said, and I give you the team win Kudos, so that everyone can understand, oh, someone who does that is doing the right thing and you're allowed to question someone who doesn't, because it's very clear, like not by writing policies, but actually that everyone can say, hey, that wasn't okay because that maybe don't help this team to take the next step. So we have that respect in the team because we yeah, it's all about like understanding what's right and what isn't. So I think that's a better thing to discuss and being transparent and being open about how to use these core values in that day to day emotion and instead of just putting them on a wall. Hm, I love it. I want to pivot to product led growth, which I feel like if you checked the amount of Google searches, the amount of times it's brought up on a blog or a podcast in the last, you know, six months, it skyrocketed. But we were talking pretty show. The folks started as a sales growth company, evolved a marketing growth and now our products led growth. So I'm curious we could talk tell me a little bit about the evolution of that. For get except, yeah, we've done the opposite way. No, but we when we started to get accept, we actually said this is the perfect viral product, like it has virality built in because everyone using get accept is exposing others to get except by sharing and opening up sales deals rooms and sharing content in there, and then we get sign ups from that. But we also knew that we as founders were very sales priven and I have been working with sales before, the other ones have, even the developer have been doing her his calls. So we said like, but this is this is something that we can get moving very quickly by just, yeah, doing what we know we can do very well, being hammering that phone, getting a little bit of been bound and converting. So that was how we got started and and that actually flew very well. We even hired and and got the sales set up that was really efficient on and we could close like even smaller deals very quickly. But then we figured though out and we knew that that it. It's a cap a thing and if you want to scale more, you need to hire more and need to hire more. So we said, like we need to move over to a more inbound driven model. In that time we had like maybe five out of twenty deals that you got in per rep was in bound back then when we got up, and now it's seventy to seventy five percent. And that was a motion where we hired a new CMO and that was someone who's done the Cmo work before, who had leadership skills, but maybe not in the sauce world, but she knew how to build a team, how to get in the right talent. I think that was important more than having one who's been running sauce and and scaling those kind of businesses, because we knew that we need a team. So that was the first motion and and like six months later we had almost like forty fifty percent on inbound by creating content, but talking in the right forums, but by just rebuilding and and rephrasing...

...how we pitched our product on on the web, and most of that is actually direct. So also by building Brown and as we now approach the product led, we came to part in the in the journey we figure out like, okay, even the inbound has has its flaws in the long run. Now we need to run paid maybe to get to the next step. So how can we get this even scalebur in the future? And since we had this very viral part, we say like okay, but how can get accept use this viral part in a very good way to generate even more in bound a brand awareness, and right now we're focusing a lot on that part and how to build a very flawless and the delightful tool that you can start using yeah self serve. The time to value should be in a couple of seconds, off to your sign up more or less, and that's where we're moving now to yeah, be able to grow in the future, which just released also Freemi, so you can run get acceptably for free. That was a little bit of a hassle, of course, because you have sales reps who want to sell, but now we ever freemium blocking them, but also, like we've been talking about product lets in day one, even internally. So I think everyone was a little bit ready for this move. So I think even if they are blocked, they do understand that it's okay because the freemuing customers will become pqls, will become engaged about product and when I then contact them, they are already ready to buy. If they already haven't bought, get except. So I think in the long run everyone understands that that part. So that is how our journey was through like becoming more peelg driven. So that's great. I'm curious how did you or how are you working with the sales or right who was used to you? You're hunting and you know, banging the phones and driving all the outbound and now in Plg it's not that you don't need sales teams, it just is a different motion and it might even create a more strategic opportunity. Right, if you see it, an account is use. You know has a lot of end users that are starting to get sticky within the product and it might open up a larger conversation. So I'm curious how do you change the sales team's mindset from you know, now that you're doing more of like the fremium model, things like that. We're still in the early phase. So freemi was released in May. But what we're trying to do is just put some not restrictions, but we have like a certain Self Service Group of prospects and lads thatcom are coming in that we now say like, okay, but these are not MKLS, they're not sales. Qualify Them, beclose and you are not allowed more or less to touch them. That was people that we maybe did touch and closed like on one call before. You know, so even if it was like it could sound like. But how can you close something with the two Thousan ACV and be efficient? We could. So now maybe we're leaving attle bit of that money on the table, which is comer some for some sales for it because they need to hit their quota up and but we're also trying to figure out, like, okay, but if we leave them here and can we wait for three or six months and they convert by themselves and you then focus on the bigger ones, as you said, the ones that now have maybe five accounts are five users and they are running on the free but can't really get to the next step and and maybe have a more educational approach than a sales approach. So that is how we're trying to to, yeah, educate our own sales reps and how to do this, but I also have to steal say like there's still an outbound motion going on, yeah, which we can now handle ourselves more, which we can steers more towards the right direction.

So right now we're also trying to figure out how to do the outbound motion towards to another segment where we can maybe get on hire ACV on ten to fifteen to twenty k going forward, instead of just focusing the sales trips on the inbound that actually are coming in, so that we overroll get their total total output that is bigger. Yeah, yeah, I feel like it's it's just a different skill set that a salesperson might need to learn and in some ways it can be actually a maybe even a more fun sale, right, because you're not, you know, trying to knock down maybe a lot of velocity small deals, but you get to be more strategic and consultative and educate the prospect on what you're doing. So I like that. I'm curious. I saw that you recently launch or featured in Gardner on a digital sales room. Yeah, so tell me, tell me about that, tell me about what that is. Yeah, it's fun because, as I said, they're in two thousand and fifteen. This was actually what we pitch to Y combinator, but pitching it, pitching it to the crowd out there was more like I you're a little bit earlier, maybe, and and the timing wasn't perfect, to be honest. But of course covid and working remote, working digital now and most of the sales reps actually sit behind the desk and facing a camera instead of a person. This came up as a big topic and we've been working closely, too close, closer to g to crowd to figure out this new way of doing deals. And what is the tool actually called that you're that you need, because to run a process from start conversationation, from an a to close contract, you need to do a lot of things. You need to communicate, you need to engage, you need to build trust, you need to be personal. And how do you do that? Through an email thread? It's impossible and you can't meet because it's covid and now people are like used to this and they think this is quite efficient. I don't need to get on the bus or I don't need to take the train and the flight over there and it's quite quite nice to sit there. So, but you still need to be all those things. So we're pitching like you need a room at place where the sales will happen online in a more natural way, where you still can communicate, engage understand the stakeholder structure. And you do that through having this digital sales room where you start your journey, you share your first presentation, you continue to share your meeting notes in there, your yeah, white papers about why they should buy this, how you've helped other customers and in the end you come to proposal contract and then you get that sign. So it's a all in one tool for the A to handle the more online driven sales nowadays. Yeah, yeah, yeah, no, I I really like the idea because I feel like a lot, you know, some of the more joyful parts of sales. You know, I'm a sales rep right in like a lot of the joyful parts of sales have been removed in the last year and a half of get it. I like getting on the plane and I like going out and seeing customers and not only does it help you sell more, but it's just fun. And so I think the way they create that connection and find a way to do it digitally is a great idea, because there's just we all know there's there's something special about getting someone in the room and you know whether it's in person or, in this case, digital versus going back and forth on email right like about, you know, negotiating terms on a contract or something like that, or then bring up your competitor, and so creating a space where you can really connect with people digitally, I think it's a great idea. And also understanding the stay colder structure, because now often, I think you talk to less people because it's an online meeting. Hey, but you can talk to Joe, he will he will then run it with me, and I mean and you lose that connection because if you were meeting them there and then...

...they were thinking like okay, we need to bring the whole group in the room here and then you can meet with everyone. So but my whole idea with this is like, if you build up this room, then the one that is a stakeholder. Maybe aren't there all the time, but in the end or maybe in the middle, they can say like but how is it going with that process buying x, and you will go like, yeah, I'm actually in this face. Hey, you can just enter the deal room here to get all the information. What it is, what's the pricing structure is, what the pitch is, what is the pains that we have discovered together with the sales rap, and figure that out more or less yourself. And if you then enter that room being Joe, I can, as I says, is reps you like hey, it's someone you entering this digital sales room. Hey, maybe I can start the conversation. Suddenly, maybe Joe has a question. Hey, what about this pricing structure or what about these terms here? And we need to figure this out in a better way, and suddenly have a conversation with the guy or the girl that actually maybe take the decision, which you couldn't have if you're talking to someone else. I think that's also part of how to enable that part, because everyone wants to have a joyful way of both buying and selling, but it's quite unjoyful, I think, in an email and thread. Yeah, I think we all sides would agree with that. Yeah, all right. So I've got a few rapid fires to close this out with you. So, first of all, a lot of folks join pavilion because there's a oportunities to, you know, network and grow personally. I'm curious what's your number one networking tip? I'm trying to use, to be honest, me being then investor world. I'm trying to use our investors to get connected to as many people, being CEOS, CMOS, people have seen the movie before, to just have chats around different topics and and by doing that I get the connection. So then when I need to ask something in the future, I almost always have someone to turn my turn my question towards. So I think if you are in the investor world, if you can get that, like, yeah, connection to different people, that that's a good way of doing it. I think I love it. What is a book that has changed your life or your perspective or that you found very helpful? And it could be really any any topic is fair game, or it could be just the most recent book you've read. If that's too big of a question, good question. I'm not the big of a book reader, but I've been following, I mean this is my first company that ever created or started and and I've been following the inbound or the hub spot people a lot. So I think, for example, both Brian and Durmesh have a lot of really good plug posts on how to run companies, how to think about culturing a company, how to think about product and releasing things as I think that is where I'm poked up or got some really good inspiration of how to do things and get accept ye know, what would be one tip that you'd give to a fount, someone that was just starting as a first time founder? Surround yourself with people who can, like, yeah, contribute with different things that you can't like that that, yeah, brings a new nuance or a new like, not experience, but new way of doing things that you can't do yourself, because I think that's the hardest thing that you'd forget, because it's so easy to just take someone that you know, that is quite similar to you and that you can talk your talk to and and often you forget about the then you will just do what you would have done yourself. So maybe find someone that is different in a way but that you still can, of course, discuss and talk to. I love it. Last question for you. What what's one person...

...that could be a friend, could be someone you look up to, that you connect with, that you think would be a great guest for this podcast? Oh, I think, I think good question. We're putting you on the spot here to me. Yeah, exactly, exactly know. But I think there is a really good guy here in Sweden called in on winning temp called Paka, that I that I think should be on that on the call. He's run a really amazing company. Is actually that's tool that we use to to measure the people temperature. So I think that that guy could be a good person because he's been building a very solid and nice growing company. I love it. I think every leader or business owner wants to know the temperature of their people. So I love that. So swear at first of all, thank you for your time this afternoon and free wisdom. I really appreciate it and love the conversation. Before I let you go, what's the best place for folks to connect with you? If it's Linkedin or learn about get accepted, or if it's your email or company site, whatever's the best for you. What's the best place for folks get in touch? No, but I think, as usual, Linkedin is a good way to connect. The build something beautiful there on a network. So so that's an easy and good way to connect with me. If you want to learn and try and get accept out, I think the web page is the best way of doing it and, as I said, it's fully free. So yeah, just just get up and running. I love it. That time to value in seconds. Yeah, that's it. That's what we're chasy. We're not there yet, but hopefully soon. I love it. Thanks so much to me. I appreciate you coming on. Thank you so much. All Right, thanks for tuning in again. This episode is brought to you by Rapris. We're prettiest is a no code, enterprise ready demo creation platform that gives go to market teams the power to control the narrative of their demos and deliver custom product experiences without developer involvement. Easily convey your solutions value to decision makers with guided demos and live sales demos with reprieve. Try The reprieve platform for yourself and start creating winning demos today at reprisecom. We back next week with another episode. Until then, hit me up on Linkedin. My name is Tom lemo, and get after it. We'll see you next Monday, please,.

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