The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 1 month ago

Ep 146: From Sales Led to Product Led Growth w/ Samir Smajic, CEO GetAccept

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Ep 146: From Sales Led to Product Led Growth w/ Samir Smajic, CEO GetAccept 

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

Thank God it's monday. Welcome back tothe Pavilion podcast where we break down the tips, the tricks, the tacticsthat you need to be a successful revenue leader. I'm Tom Lehman. I'myour host today. Excited to get into this conversation with Samir. It'smagic. Who is the ceo of get Except we had a great conversation about hisentrepreneurship journey, some of the stuff that they're doing in the salesspace, what he foresees in the sales tax space, and we also spend some timetalking about going from a sales led to a marketing lead to a product ledgrowth company and P. L. G. Is all the rage. I hear it come up onconversations every single week, whether it's the podcast or salesconversation. So if that's your mode and you're trying to get into thatworld, I think there's a lot that you can learn from Samir. So before we getto that full conversation, let's get a quick word from our sponsor. Thisepisode is brought to you by Sandoz. So send also, the leading sending platformis the most effective way for revenue generating teams to stand out with newways to engage at strategic points throughout the customer journey byconnecting digital physical strategies companies can engage, acquire andretain customers easier than ever before. Now, let's get straight intoour episode. Alright, Samir Spike, Good evening to you. Welcome to the Pavilionpodcast, how'd I do on your name. Perfect. Perfect. Hello everyone andnice to be here today. Yeah, excited to have you on. I'm pretty confident in myfour years of podcasting. My first guest in Sweden. So there you go. We'realready breaking breaking records as we're kicking this thing off. Yeah,happy to be the first one. Happy to be the first one. I love it. So we've gota lot of ground to cover today. You know, you're obviously running getexcept started the company about six years ago, curious just if you take meback to what you were doing back then, I think you were ahead of products at astart up before that. What did you see in the market? Like what was theimpetus to start get except back then? Yeah, so I was head of a product at thecrm company here in the nordics was a little bit uh like working very closeto sales reps on that product and doing a lot of meetings with them. I reallythought that doing sales was being done in such an old fashioned way. So when Istarted get accepted the team that I started with, we said like we want tochange how sales is being done, we knew what, how a good sales rep is, Likewhat they are doing and how they should be performing. And we wanted to see ifcan you do that in a new way in a more digital way. And that was back in 2015.So that was the whole part that that took us off the ground. We were salesreps ourselves in one way or another and we just wanted to make a big changein how sales was being performed in a more digital space. So that was howeverything started and you went through y Combinator. Yeah exactly. So wepitched exactly 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 digitalsales motion, but we want to beat our people, we want to be personal, we wantto communicate, we want to engage face to face and again this is 2015. So wethought like okay maybe are we are wrong on this, this whole idea. And wethought that that U. S. Is a little bit ahead of time when it comes to salestools. So we went over, we felt that we got a little bit more traction pitchingto different people. We were actually collision conference in Vegas in early2015 and said if we can get 100 business cards, who said that they areinterested in this this product, then we'll do something. And then we gotthat and we said like how to start something in us. And then we found outabout Y Combinator applied and they really got the whole motion that wewanted to do move it in a digital space,...

...be able to communicate and still be agood sales rep. But in an online motion. And uh yeah we've got into y Combinatorin 2016 Winter January. Yeah. And there's so much lower about Y. C. Andso much mystique. I feel like what was one of your big takeaways from thatexperience? I mean yeah it's it's really it's like a closed community inmany ways. And what's really good is that when you join it you're always apart of that community. So you always have like a yeah way into more or lessany company in the US. It feels like sometimes. So that's really good. Thebig takeaways is nothing new to be honest. Like it's all about buildingwhat people really want or what your customers want. So that is somethingthat you get trained in and and that you get questioning a lot of time. Ithink many entrepreneurs they often can let an idea go. They think it's so goodfor themselves but they forget to ask the customers. So that was somethingthat we really took with us to always test ideas early towards customers. Andand if they don't work then we'll we'll try something else. So that issomething that we still are doing and get except always trying to releaseearly on features not like totally full built out often called an M. V. P. Andyeah try to get feedback. So that was some of the things that we took with us.But also in the end that yeah Y. C. Is much about the team. So if you want toget in there, figure out what is the best team the good thing would getexcept is was not four different developers that came together becausethey 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 Mattias andone being very good on on the developer side, which was Jonas, and then we alsohad Carl who was on the sales side. So we have like a good setup and this issomething that we always try to figure out growing get except now like how toput together a good team and be very peaking in our recruiting. And now inthe these days where 150 employees each, but I'm still available and and uhinvolved in many of the recruitments and trying to figure out is this a goodculture fit, is it a good for this position? Can they be with us for notjust one week or or one year, but actually grow us to be somethingdifferent going forward? And that's also something that we got from yCombinator to to always try to figure out who can help you to take the nextstep to hire for the next step, not for where you are today. So is thatsomething that you try to find based on their past experiences in a set ofquestions you ask because you're let's say you're in a current revenue mode orcurrent, you know, kind of talk key focus area and you know that in a yearfrom now, the goal is to be you know, x you know, whatever it is, are youfinding people that have that background that they worked atcompanies that might be a little larger than you or you know, a little furtheron the path? Or there are questions that you ask that that kind of get someof that out as well. No, but it's it's tricky. I mean and it's one thing alsoyou don't want to pay for someone who maybe want to sit and be very strategicbut also be hands on. So it's really hard to find those gems there. But wetry to figure out like what do we need in maybe half a year and one year aheadand what are the biggest challenges and figure out like what kind of criteriathen is put on that person. And of course one can be like that they haveseen the movie before, but that can also be a big obstacle because maybe weare trying to do something totally different that has not been done before.And then maybe it's more important about finding people that has thepassion that has the eager to learn and to do new things and to be able to testthings then actually finding someone that just replicate an old motion. Sothere's no like perfect like Yeah, questionnaire that you can just run.But I think everything also in our organization at least come back to theculture were very culture driven. Much...

...of our investors also say that it's oneof the most amazing cultures that we've seen in different companies. Everyoneis helpful. Everyone wants to move towards the same direction as a teamand everyone puts the company first. I think finding those things in differentpersons is maybe one of the most important parts that we look for hiring.How have you helped to shape that? Especially it looks like you might beback in the office or maybe partially back in the office now post covid. Butcurious how are you shaping the culture and keeping it intact and keeping itgrowing 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 fourfounders, we put up key core values, uh, not on the wall, but we discussed them.It was quite awkward in a way because it was us four founders and likediscussing what's the key core values etcetera. And we're like, but should wereally do this, don't we have better things to do. But we did that. And evenwhen we were seven persons in total, we put in a tool where we could measurethe temperature, the people temperature of the company? Not because we needed,because we could talk to each other around the table because that was apart of how we wanted to grow. So when we were 20 people, we start to noticethat this is really important and then we all understood what is good. Youcould, for example, in that tool then say, hey, I'm feeling like this. Maybethat's something that you don't want to say loud around the table, but you cansend it enormously in that in that tool. And you can also describe why are youfeeling like this? So that was one way of how we created so that everyone canfeel open and in one way or another round this tool and say what's working,what isn't working so that we always could, yeah, steer the ship towards theright direction and put in the right things ahead of time to really funnelthe culture that we wanted to be instead of like figuring it out toolate. And then it was so much broken that figuring it out maybe. Yeah, Iwould 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 forus to move home and, and because we just continue to use that tool, butalso having those same meetings, having the meeting structure as we had beforewith responsibilities of of how to run meetings and everything was figured outalready before going on on that covid home office situation. So we didn't dotoo much different to be honest. I feel like when companies pick their valuesor their principles and they put them on the wall or on the site, I can goone of two ways I can go the way that you said and it like helps you to findthe right people and build it up and if you're very authentic about it, I thinkit can really create a great experience or if it is just words on the wall andthat's it. It can, you know, be a detriment. What are those, what are thefour values and 11 thing there on on the wall, we don't have them on thewall. I often say that the companies who have them on the wall is the onewho doesn't live them because you just want them up there just want them done.So you paint them up on the wall. No, but we have five. It's uh and we haveit around do tech. So one is do more with less. So it's all about figuringout how to get shit done without asking for all money. You can have in theworld are all resource or whatever it can be. The other one is team wins. Sonot teamwork because everyone can work in a team, but if you want to win as ateam is a total different thing, then you need to have the same goal and youneed to align around them and you need to steer the ship towards thatdirection together and then now you put me then it's uh do tag putting you onthe spot. Yeah, exactly. Then it's a passion by heart. It's like run thecompany as you are a founder and take decisions around that, like not aroundyour 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 and founder and Imean all those ones and how how to live them is not by putting them on the wallis about communicating. But then also one thing that I think it's hard formany people is questioning when people don't do the right thing and faces theones that are doing the right things and that's things that we for exampledoing that tool. So we can say, hey Samir 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 toquestion someone who doesn't because it's very clear like not by writingpolicies, but actually that everyone can say, hey that wasn't okay becausethat maybe don't help this team to take the next step. So we have that respectin the team because yeah, it's it's all about like understanding what's rightand what isn't. So I think that's a better thing to, to discuss and beingtransparent and being open about how to use these core values in the day to daymotion instead of just putting them on the wall. I love it. I want to pivot toproduct led growth which I feel like if you checked the amount of googlesearches or the amount of times it's brought up on a blogger, a podcast inthe last you know six months it's skyrocketed but we're talking pre showthe folks started as a sales growth company evolved to marketing growth andnow our products led growth some curious, you can tell me a little bitabout the evolution of that, forget except yeah, we've done the oppositeway. No, but we when we started to get except we actually said this is theperfect viral product like it has a viral itty built in because everyoneusing get except is exposing others to get except by sharing and opening upsales deals rooms and sharing content in there and then we get sign ups fromthat but we also knew that we, as founders were very sales driven. I havebeen working with sales before the other ones have even the developer havebeen doing his calls so we said like but this is this is something that wecan get moving very quickly by just doing what we know we can do very wellbeing hammering that phone, getting a little bit of inbound and converting.So that was how we got started and, and that actually flew very well. We evenhired and and got the sails set up that was really efficient on and we couldclose like even smaller deals very quickly. But then we figured out and weknew that that it's a cap thing and if you want to scale more, you need tohire more and need to hire more. So we said like we need to move over to amore inbound driven model in that time we had like maybe five out of 20 dealsthat you got in per rep was inbound back then when, when we got up and nowit's 70 to 75% and that was a motion where we hired a new CMO and that wassomeone who has done the CMO work before, who had leadership skills butmaybe not in the sauce world, but she knew how to build a team, how to get inthe right talent and I think that was important more than having one has beenrunning sauce And scaling those kind of businesses because we knew that weneeded a team. So that was the first motion and like six months later we hadalmost like 4050% on inbound by creating content by talking in theright forums but by just rebuilding and rephrasing how we pitched that producton the web and most of that is actually direct also by building brand and as wenow approach the product lead, we came to party in the in the journey, we'llfigure out like, okay, even the inbound has, has its flaws in the long run nowwe need to run paid maybe two to get to the next step. So how can we get thiseven scalable in the future? And since we had this very viral part, we saylike, okay, but how can get except use...

...this viral part in a very good way togenerate even more inbound a brand awareness and right now we're focusinga lot on that part and how to build a very flawless and delightful tool thatyou can start using Yeah, self serve. The time to value should be in in acouple of seconds after your sign up more or less and that's where we'removing now to Yeah, be able to grow in the future. We just released alsofreemium so you can run get accept fully for free. That was a little bitof a hassle of course because you have sales reps who want to sell but now wehave a freemium blocking them But also like we've been talking about product,Let's in day one. Even internally. So I think everyone was a bit ready for thismove. So I think even if they are blocked, they do understand that it'sokay because the freemen customers will become Peaky Els will become engagedabout product and when I then contact them, they're already ready to to buyif they already haven't bought get except so I think in the long runeveryone understands that that part. So that is how how our journey was to likebecoming more P. L. G. Driven. So that's great. I'm curious how did youor how are you working with the sales or right, who was used to you know,hunting and you know, banging the phones and driving all the outbound andnow in P. L. G. It's not that you don't need sales teams, it just is adifferent motion and it might even create a more strategic opportunity,right? If you see a an account as you know, has a lot of end users that arestarting to get sticky within the product and it might open up a largerconversation. So I'm curious how do you change the sales teams mindset from,you know, now that you're doing more of like the freemium model and things likethat. We're still in the early phase of Freeman was released in May, but whatwe're trying to do is ah just put some, not restrictions but we we have like acertain self service group of prospects and leads that come are coming in thatwe now say like, ok, but these are not empty shells, they're not sales qualifythemselves and you are not allowed more or less to touch them. That was peoplethat we may be did touch and closed like on one cold before. So even if itwas like, it could sound like, but how can you close something with the $2000a CV and be efficient? We could, so now maybe we're leaving little bit of thatmoney on the table which is cumbersome for some sales rep because they need tohit their quota, but we're also trying to figure out like, okay, but if weleave them here, can we wait for three or six months and they convert bythemselves and you then focus on the bigger ones, as you said, the ones thatnow have maybe five accounts or five users and they are running on the freebut can't really get to the next step and maybe have a more educationalapproach than a sales approach. So that is how we're trying to educate our ownsales reps on how to do this. But I also have to still say like there'sstill an outbound motion going on which we can now handle ourselves more, whichwe can steers more towards the right direction. So right now, we're alsotrying to figure out how to do the outbound motion towards to anothersegment where we can maybe get and hire a CV on 10 to 15 to 20 K going forwardinstead of just focusing the sales reps on the inbound that actually are comingin so that we overall get a total total output. That is bigger. Yeah. Yeah. Ifeel like it's just a different skill set than a salesperson might need tolearn. And in some ways it can be actually maybe even a more fun saleright? Because you're not, you know, trying to knock down maybe a lot ofvelocity small deals, but you get to be more strategic and consultative andeducate the prospect on what you're doing. So I like that. Yeah, I'mcurious. I saw that you recently launched or or featured in Gardneraround the digital sales room. Tell me...

...about that. Tell me about what that is.Yeah, it's fun because as I said there in 2015 this was actually what wepitched to y Combinator but pitching, pitching it to the crowd out there wasmore like ah you're a little bit earlier maybe and, and the timingwasn't perfect to be honest. But of course covid and working remote,working digital. Now when most of the sales reps actually sit behind the deskand facing a camera instead of a person. This came up as a big topic and we havebeen working closer to g to crowd to figure out this new way of doing dealsand what is the tool actually call that you're that you need because to run aprocess from start conversation from an a to close contract. You need to do alot of things, you need to communicate, you need to engage, you need to buildtrust, you need to be personal. And how do you do that through an email threat?It's impossible. And you can't meet because it's covid and now people arelike used to this and they think this is quite efficient. I don't need to geton the bus or I don't need to take the train or the flight over there and it'squite, quite nice to sit there. So, but you still need to be all those things.So we're pitching like you need a room, a place where the sales will happenonline in a more natural way where you still can communicate engage,understand the stakeholder structure and you do that through having thisdigital sales room where you start your journey, you share your firstpresentation, you continue to share your meeting notes in there, You'reYeah, white papers about why they should buy this, how you've helpedother customers and in the end you come to proposal contract and then you getthat sign. So it's all in one tool for the easy to handle the more onlinedriven sales nowadays. Yeah, 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 repright? And like a lot of the joyful parts of sales have been removed in thelast year and a half of getting, I like getting on the plane and I like goingout and and seeing customers and uh not only does it help you sell more, butit's just fun. And so I think the way that create that connection and find away to do it digitally is a great idea because there's just, we all knowthere'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 onemail, right? Like about, you know, negotiating terms on a contract orsomething like that or then bring up your competitor and so creating a spacewhere you can really connect with people digitally. I think it's a greatidea and also understanding the stakeholder structure because now,often I think you talk to less people because it's an online meeting hey, butyou can talk to joe he will, he will then run it with me. And I mean, andyou lose that connection because if you were meeting them, then they werethinking like, okay, we need to bring the whole group in the room here andthen you can meet with everyone. So, but my whole idea what this is like ifyou build up this room then the one that is a stakeholder maybe aren'tthere 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 phase. Hey, you can just enter the deal room here toget all the information, what it is. What's the pricing structure is, whatthe pitch is. What is the pains that we have discovered together with the salesrep and figure that out more or less yourself. And if you then enter thatroom being joe, I can, as I says, rep, see like it's someone new entering thisdigital sales room. Hey, maybe I can start the conversation suddenly. Maybejoe has a question, Hey, what about this pricing structure or what aboutthese terms here? We need to figure this out in a better way and suddenlyhave a conversation with the guy or the girl that actually maybe take thedecision, which you couldn't have if you're talking to someone else. I thinkthat's also part of, of how to enable that part because everyone wants tohave a joyful way of both buying and...

...selling. But it's quite a new joyful. Ithink in an email thread. Yeah. All sides would agree with that. Right. SoI've got a few rapid fires to close this out with you. So first of all, alot of folks join pavilion because there's opportunities to, you know,network and and grow personally. I'm curious what's your number onenetworking tips? I'm trying to use, to be honest, me being an investor world,I'm trying to use our investors to get connected to. As many people being ceoscmos people have seen the movie before to just have chats around differenttopics and by doing that I get the connection. So then when I need to asksomething in the future I almost always have someone to turn my, turn myquestion towards. So I think if you are in the investor world, if you can getthat like yeah, connection to different people that that's a good way of doingit. I think I love it. What is a book that has changed your life for yourperspective or that you found very helpful And it could be really any, anytopic is this fair game or it could be just the most recent book you've readif if that's too big of a question, good question. I'm not a big of a bookreader, but I've been following, I mean this is my first company that I createdor started and and I've been following the inbound or the hubspot people a lot.I think for example, both brian and Dermish have a lot of really good plugposts on how to run companies, how to think about culture in the company, howto think about product and releasing things. So I think that is where Ipicked up or got some really good inspiration of how to do things and getexcept you know what would be one tip that you give to someone that was juststarting as a first time founder surround yourself with people who cancontribute with different things that you can't like, that, that brings a newnuance or a new like not experienced but new way of doing things that youcan't do yourself because I think that's the hardest thing that youforget because it's so easy to just take someone that you know that isquite similar to you and that you can talk your talk to and often you forgetabout yeah, then you will just do what you would have done yourself so maybefind someone that is different in a way but that you still can of coursediscuss and and toxic. I love it. Last question for you, what what's oneperson that could be a friend, it could be someone you look up to that youconnect with that you think would be a great guest for this podcast? Oh, Ithink, I think good question, we're putting you on the spot here. So yeah,exactly, exactly. No, but I think there is a really good guy here in Swedencalled on Winning temp called that I think should be on the call, He's run areally amazing company is actually that tool that we use to measure the peopletemperature. So I think that that guy could be a good person because he'sbeen building a very solid and nice growing company. I love it. I thinkevery leader or business owner wants to know the temperature of their people.So I love that. So first of all, thank you for your time this afternoon andfree wisdom. I really appreciate it. And love the conversation before I letyou go. What's the best place for folks to connect with you if it's linked inor learn about get accept or if it's your email or a company site, whateveris the best for you. What's the best place for folks? Get in touch? No, butI think as usual linked in is a good way to connect and build somethingbeautiful there on the network. So that's an easy and good way to connectwith me if you want to learn and try and get except out. I think the webpage is the best way of doing it. And as I said, it's fully free. So uh yeah,just just get up and running. I love it...

...that time to value in in seconds. Yeah,that's that's what we're chasing. We're not there yet, but hopefully soon. Ilove it. Thanks so much to me. I appreciate you coming on. Thank you somuch. All right, thanks for checking out that episode. All podcasts inoctober are going to be brought to you by the lovely people at Sandoz. So theydeliver modern direct mail, personalized gifts and other physicalimpressions that make your outreach more personal. I'll be back next mondaywith another episode Until then feel free to hit me up on linkedin. My nameis Tom Alamo and go out and get after it. Peace. Say something. Mhm.

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