Key topics in today’s conversation include:
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Pete Thornton 00:06
Hey rampants, Welcome back to the SaaS ramp podcast. Got an amazing guest for you today, got an amazing company for you today. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them before or not. They’re called Kandji, and the guest is Thomas Valdes. He’s the VP of sales at kanji. And Kanji is number one on okta’s businesses at work 2023 list of fastest growing apps. And so to give some perspective, figma if you are aware of figma is number 10. On that list, and that list has other amazing companies such as Grammarly notion Bob iron, that’s all this off the top of my head right now. It’s just amazing companies though. So they are leading and kind of by a longshot on that list. So I reached out, I had to have somebody from their sales leadership team talk to me about what it is they’re doing. And what you’ll hear in this podcast is that they’re utilizing a couple of things. I would not have guessed diversity of thought best idea wins as the culture there has a very high percentage of both female sellers as well, ethnically diverse sellers. They have a talent pool they pull from in Girls Club, and they find that this is extremely beneficial practice for all the individuals as well as the company. So listen for that. Also, just throw it out there with this company, what they’ve been doing on the investment side, on the funding sid Series A 20 million, 2021 $60 million Series B 2022 to $100 million, Series C. And again, just booming, founded in 2018. This is going really fast. So Thomas, unpack some of it for us. I think it’s kind of fascinating. Some of the practices they’re utilizing. Listen to the story of the SDR who is now a member of leadership and moved to the same organization. You tell me how frequently that happens. I know from experience not too frequently that it is really getting the most out of your talent. So very interesting show I’m looking forward to having you here at and let me let you know a word from our sponsor rampant maximize your gong strategy maximize your gong investment with rampant DOT cloud is a software services firm ramp it empowers clients and hyper growth SaaS by revealing and reinforcing reachable revenue. So what ramp does is leverage Gong AI and CRM data to uncover attainable revenue gaps between your top performers and middle of the pack. And then drive Gong lead enablement strategy to realize increased win rates, increased deal size, faster deal velocity for the majority of your team, it’s your information. It’s your insights, use them to maximize that gong strategy. And you can do that rampant. All right. Enjoy that show. Welcome back to The SaaS Ramp Podcast. I’m your host podcasts P welcoming Thomas Valdez to the show today. Thomas is the VP sales at kanji. Welcome to the show. Thomas.
Thomas Valdez 03:14
Thank you very much, Pete. Thank you for having me. And hello to the listeners.
Pete Thornton 03:19
Yeah, I had to have you guys, this is gonna be really an interesting show. Gotten to speak to Thomas already about a few of these topics. And points already learned a ton. But of course, we have to record it so you can get that value too. So away we go. Been a really interesting six months and in technology in the whole environment so for a company like kanji one more but kanji later, but for your organization, Thomas, what’s been the biggest challenge you’ve experienced about the last six months? Yeah, I
Thomas Valdez 03:50
I think a lot of us are in the same position. We’re trying to adapt to the macro economic climate that we have today. Right? For Kaanchi. It’s a little different. It’s more on the buyer’s side than it is on the kanji side. Right. I think we’ve really leaned into the challenge. And as we’ve adapted to the environment, we’ve really continued to experience a time of growth.
Pete Thornton 04:14
Yeah, that certainly seems to be the case like that macroeconomic climate, so has not affected you internally. But you’re finding that you’re having to walk through that speak a little differently for the sake of the buyer.
Thomas Valdez 04:31
Yeah, absolutely. I think the way somebody makes a decision today is dramatically different than it was a couple of years ago. Right? It puts it in perspective, I think, in the IT world. If you were selling to an IT buyer or a stakeholder, there’s one or two people involved in the decision. And I think today there’s more like five or six people involved in the decision,
Pete Thornton 04:53
okay. Okay. So the complexities of raise up so this kind of brings up the concept of have like a, like, it’s typically a more complex enterprise sale? And then of course, you know, not everybody’s an enterprise seller. So like, is there anything in particular that you can offer help with when folks aren’t just quite ready to do lately?
Thomas Valdez 05:16
Thanks, Pete. I think, you know, it starts off with a technical perspective and the technical when let’s call it right. And this is, this has always been the case, you take the buyer through the product, you walk through their needs, you try to solve some of their issues, and you get the technical win. And that was most of the time for the last few years. That was all you needed. Now. However, you need the business when, like, what is it going to do for the business you need to finance when there is finance on board with it? You need the security team to be on board. And then the procurement team, the challenge there is ongoing and ever evolving in this climate?
Pete Thornton 05:57
Tech, the technical when the finance when the security when the procurement when, okay, okay.
Thomas Valdez 06:06
When ‘s the big one right there? That’s a challenging one, because you got people that are non technical buyers that want to know, is this helping the business? And how is it helping the business?
Pete Thornton 06:16
Yeah, yeah, these things. These are big challenges. And these can take those deals that you think are done, and just move them completely, to a completely different light, I guess we can just say that without showing how negative they can sometimes be? Well, those are big challenges, that has definitely changed. For a lot of organizations. It’s not the first time I heard that at all. So. So, Sam, what are some of these kinds of challenges that overlap from organization to organization, for sure. This won’t be more of an exercise because you do not get to do one thing for your, you know, month, week, let alone a day or an hour. But if you know, you had to only choose one thing, in order to have your org continue to grow, let’s just say with kanji continue to grow, then, then what might that be?
Thomas Valdez 07:04
Well, it may sound a little bit cliche, but I think the deal execution with new stakeholders across all segments of the business is where we absolutely have to get it right. You know, I think you brought up the point earlier, and at the enterprise, this is a traditionally typical motion, right? You have to have all of these stakeholders and all of these various different wins. But that wasn’t always the case in s&p commercial mid market. But that’s the case today.
Pete Thornton 07:36
So what is going back to that challenge of that macro environment, macro economic environment, transitioning, I guess, bringing some of those enterprise complexities down into the commercial mid market? SMB space? I would assume that’s where that said,
Thomas Valdez 07:50
oh, sorry. That was a yes, absolutely. Yeah, it really is. It’s an enterprise motion for a commercial team. It’s an enterprise motion for a mid market team in an enterprise motion even on the s&p.
Pete Thornton 08:02
So then, if deal execution is vastly growing, is the one thing you have to get right? Actually, let me stop before I even finish the question and give some context. I’m coming from like this enablement space. And in my space, like, you see a company growing as fast as kanji. And you know, how many new hires are coming in? You know, how many people are changing roles, you know, how many teams are being established? And just like, Oh, now we have this kind of team and have that kind of team and have that kind of team? Because it’s growing so rapidly? So how is it? This is a loaded question. So like, maybe pick up one piece of it, I don’t even know. But like, how is it that you’re going to advance deal execution skills? For a team that’s growing that fast? It’s so many different levels? Like, this is a sales leader question that I know many other people would love to hear the answer to? Yeah,
Thomas Valdez 08:55
It is a loaded, loaded question, right? Because there’s no one real answer to it. I think it starts with a culture of conscience. You know, our team is a group of amazing selfless individuals whose pure goal inside of the office is to help each other. Right. So I’ve been able to build out my enterprise team by advancing the careers of people that were on my commercial team. And I have a unique background that gives me a little additional business acumen than maybe some leaders. So I’ve been able to , let’s call it a small strike team, really work with my enablement team to get them up to speed on the enterprise. Sales motion, right? But because these are amazing, selfless individuals, they take that and in small groups, they mentor and they train their peers in the other segments. The enablement team has taken this information they’ve created, you know, the training and the follow ups, which is really how out. And then beyond that I actually have a role in the organization that I took one of my top account executives, and put him into a sales overlay role. So his job is to jump on calls with the account executives to provide them coaching where potentially the frontline managers don’t have the time to do it. That is very cool. Yeah. And I think the last thing there around the culture is a senior leadership team. It takes a village today to get things done. And there isn’t an individual that kanji in any leadership role that isn’t willing to jump on a call, or to listen to a gong call with an account executive and provide them coaching or help to get the deal across the line.
Pete Thornton 10:45
Yeah, that’s excellent. So I guess culture pervades throughout, but like I’m hearing like a culture of growth from within. So these, there are places to go, there are these growth pads some big deal. I don’t know if people know how big of a deal that is. Sometimes you can’t move too far within an organization. You know, sometimes it’s just structurally, sometimes it’s cultural. But that’s a great thing. So now you even have people in coaching positions who come through various roles, which is excellent. That sounds like you have an enablement feedback loop going on, which is always great. You know, I love that background being and then leadership, like leadership, willing to roll up the sleeves, kind of know what’s going on at the ground level. And being able to kind of come in and lend a hand I love leaders like that. That’s pretty cool. Okay, well, that does lead in a little bit organically, it would be just worth unpacking kanji a little bit more. And then maybe we can take a step back into understanding how you arrived in your seat. Could you tell us more about the company and what the context is for this massive growth?
Thomas Valdez 11:47
Yeah, well, let’s start off with what we do. Right. So Kanji is the Apple device management and security platform. And we go beyond Apple MDM solutions really, by connecting device security, device management, just to keep every Apple user both secure and productive.
Pete Thornton 12:07
So we got Apple mobile device management, and then there’s an extra step that goes into this like this, you know, this kind of like, it’s a full lifecycle. I’m pretty aware of being young. Okay, when you actually when you just take it through those steps, because this is for somebody who everybody will have had the experience of getting something in the mail, and it being made, maybe an Apple product, probably in tech, and but like there’s a secret, there’s a secret cycle happening in the background that the end user may or may not know about? Hopefully not.
Thomas Valdez 12:40
Yeah, well, I think that’s the idea is to make it as seamless as possible, both for the IT team as well as the end user. So if you think about it, I think back to when I got my first MacBook. You know, it comes in this amazing box, and apples put a lot of time and effort into it. You open that box up, I’m telling you, there’s a smell associated with the yurts, you open the box up, you get your MacBook out. And we really wanted to streamline the process for the end user. So you open it up, and you power on, right, you have to determine the bare minimum, you have to determine what language, what region, any of them connect to some sort of either the Wi Fi or the internet, right? Once you do that, QCon she takes over comm she’s going to put it it’s sorry, our application on it. I’m sorry, our agent goes on the MacBook right there in secret sauce, the agent comes down. Now it takes over, it’s going to set up the MacBook, it’s going to make sure that you have access to the appropriate network, you have access to the appropriate applications. But also on the IP side, it’s going to make sure that all of the security products have been delivered. And they’re running the pretty settings exactly how you want it to be and what used to be, you’d have to meet with it go through for a couple of hours, you have happily done this on there, do this download this download that. Now it’s a you know, a few minutes. And you’re up and running as an end user on your first day of work, especially in the remote environment. It is absolutely amazing to see.
Pete Thornton 14:16
Yeah, that’s it, I can’t actually stress how important that is to have happened. Because the IT component was just security. Everybody pretty much understands security and that there needs to be accountability of what assets are going out and coming back. Then there’s the end user side, which everybody kind of understands because everybody has had that first day of work experience. And it’s awesome. You see it on LinkedIn all the time LinkedIn, they like to get my stuff, you know, they put out their swag. They’ve got their great Apple products and things like that. And then if they’re first, that is their welcome mat to come into a company a lot of times in these remote roles. And so you want that to be as seamless as possible because that is their onboarding like if they’re not there at headquarters or living right next to the HQ. It doesn’t happen as frequently anymore than that is what they do, that is how they’re being welcomed to the company. So we used to have this thing we said for new hire onboarding where they open up their laptop or see their T shirt from the company. And that’s the last time they know what the hell is going on. So that’s where we step in as an enablement to try to come and save the day helping them out, get them to those first 3060 90. But it sounds like Kandji is in there trying to make it all seamless. I’m really digging down into this, because I’m trying to find out if there’s some secret to this massive growth, being that Kanji is listed on the Okta 2023. It’s just like, businesses at work was the name of that list. And there are 10 companies that you’ve heard of, I’ve heard of eight of them just right off the bat. And Kanji is number one way out in front as well. And to reference this, like Figma, that everybody knows is at number 10. So that’s just kind of like, you know, putting the quarter next to the item on Amazon. So you can tell how big something is just for a little context. So they’re doing this Apple mobile device management and just wailing out in front of everybody else, something’s being done right over there. Well, thank
Thomas Valdez 16:06
you. I think, you know, if you look at the market, when the contract was founded in 2018, the existing solutions were either over simplistic, or incredibly complex, and neither really met the needs of the organization as of today or in the future. Right? So through automation and auto remediation I have the desire to end the state of the MacBook, right? This has really helped drive the growth and our founding team. You know, they drew on their decades of experience in Apple it and they really did, they saw this whole, like a dire need for a new device management platform that would accommodate scaling organizations, right? When you deliver that product to the market, in a state where people wanted it and people needed it, it definitely makes a difference, right?
Pete Thornton 16:59
Yeah, yeah, it sure does. That’s very interesting. And they just have that specific expertise. And that’s why they chose only Apple as opposed to being in like, maybe tech, agnostic or something and doing the same lifecycle.
Thomas Valdez 17:12
Yeah, we draw on our expertise. But I also think that Apple is one of the most innovative organizations in existence. How do you keep up with it if you don’t put forth the full resources of the organization?
Pete Thornton 17:22
Yeah, that’s 100% accurate. When you mentioned the new car smell, basically, I refer to that as the new car smell opening an Apple product, actually, it was like, damn, I actually know what he’s talking about. It’s pretty funny. That box that slides off just so well. Very cool. So you’re leading the sales team. And it’s like, this is VP sales in this fast growing organization. And you come through the ranks some but you have all these various other experiences? What is it personally and professionally, that kind of like prepared you or brought you to this? You know, this coveted seat? I don’t think people know how much work it is but the coveted seat of VP sales.
Thomas Valdez 18:00
I don’t know how coveted a Sydney chair is? We’ll see. But you’ve been there, you know? So I think you know, for me, I’ve always been a constant learner and adopter. Right? I have a unique background that has taken me on a journey that others haven’t. I did 15 years at Enterprise and rented a car, which is dramatically different, right. But I have a little story there for you. I remember back in the day, when I would have to do a review once a month, right? I would walk into a room and I’d bring my cell phone, I would bring my company card and my keys to my car. And I’d set them on the desk and I had full responsibility, I had to justify from an opportunity cost perspective and return of investment, total cost of ownership, anything that I did. And it was maybe a little, maybe just a gesture, right? Like, if I did well, I got to go home with my stuff. And if I didn’t, I was done. But that gesture really drove it home to me to really understand the business, which gives me kind of a unique experience as I come into this market and kind of an expert when I talk to my customers, right, because I can help them and thus help teach and coach my team to do the same on how to present the business deal. Like when the business over on white countries is important and how it helps. What are the outcomes for the business to justify the change?
Pete Thornton 19:30
Yeah, that really is like that fiscal responsibility that you have to build the muscle around and understanding like what inputs are supposed to garner what outputs for a business like that really interesting and our pre chat. I just wanted our audience to know like when we were talking through things, you know, sometimes you only have to deal with the top line revenue as a sales leader. That’s fair, like that’s why they have multiple divisions within an organization. But I’m talking to you, you work in the cycle every time with the Yeah, you know, the kind of the bottom line? And what’s this? And what does it look like from an investment standpoint and everything. And it did strike me as unique. And so that’s where we kind of opened up this can of worms like, where’s that come from? And then you talking about? Do I get to drive home? Or do I need to Uber today? How’s that work month over month?
Thomas Valdez 20:19
Yeah, it was mostly symbolic, but never left me. Right. And when I’m talking to a potential customer, or I’m coaching a session with a team, teaching them a little bit more about, Does this help their business continuity plan? Right? What are the opportunity costs and making a switch? What is the timeframe? And how much resources go into it? What do they do on a day to day? And how can we improve that? Those are the things that really drive the business when?
Pete Thornton 20:49
Yeah, that’s a good call. That’s interesting. Because you do want to go through all of those things, these are the things that the prospect potential customer or thinking of whether you bring them to the forefront or not. And in this kind of environment, where two buyers turned into five or six buyers, the CFO might want to get involved more so than ever before. Those are the questions they’re gonna want to ask as well. So frontloading that or making that part of the cycle? certainly makes sense.
Thomas Valdez 21:16
Yeah, cost isn’t everything these days. Right? If you’re cost neutral, does it really make sense to make a shift? What’s in it for the business? Is that everything?
Pete Thornton 21:26
Yeah, that’s great, that’s a great kind of way to put that. Anything else in the transition? Like that is an unusual background? Was there anything else that prepared you before you jumped straight into VP sales?
Thomas Valdez 21:42
Yeah, it was, somebody took a chance on me at a payroll company that sold HRIS. And that was my first introduction into some sort of SaaS role. And I fell in love with the technology. I didn’t really have a passion for payroll, but the technology was pretty amazing. And I was on board with it. And I did that for a few years, incredibly successfully. And in eastern Washington and North Idaho. And there was a local recruiter that I had run into a couple of times that asked me if I wouldn’t be interested in working for Verizon Wireless, and their b2b team, which is an amazing organization. And that b2b team, they have their own SaaS products. They sell indium, they sell really great IoT technologies. So it kind of fed that desire for me. And I did that fairly well, quite successfully for a number of years. And one of my mentors, and a good friend of mine, ended up at a startup and reached out to me on his first day and said, Hey, bro, I need you over here. So I went over there. And that was my first opportunity to use SaaS. I actually took a step back, and I was an individual contributor for about six months to really learn that cell cycle into a management role and an incredibly sex successful and wonderful organization called Ignite, you may have heard of them. I learned so much there. Now, how did I get to kanji? Well, gosh, I had a friend who was interviewing, fell in love with the product, fell in love with the leadership team, was incredibly impressed and called me up one day and said, Hey, you have to take a look at this. And I did. And when I met our, you know, our founding team, and our CRO Nathan Sparks, and they wanted me over, I couldn’t not be a part of this organization just because of who they were as human beings, their vision. And the product is absolutely amazing.
Pete Thornton 23:36
Yeah, that’s all. Yes, great. It really does matter. When you’re initially a smaller company, you said you founded 2018. Like, those pieces matter. And if they get the founding team, correct, and a lot of cases, that’s the last touch point you have. And that brings on additional talent, because you’re impressed and you’re like, Oh, I think these people are gonna guide it in the right direction. And I can, you know, I can play it. That’s cool. That is a cool story. And then now, I’ll not to be redundant, but like 2020, I saw the series, a 21,000,020 1 million funding series, a 2021 60 million Series B 2020 $200 million, Series C. And these are milestones, just because investment organizations come and look at you and do the full, you know, nobody’s putting in $1, let alone $100 million, unless they’ve fully vetted it. And so, year over year, they’re just like, oh, let’s keep going. Let’s keep going. Let’s move the needle. And then this year, of course, the Okta list comes out. So very impressive. You chose wisely. Thank you. Okay. There’s something else we had spoken about before that would be great for the audience as well. And that is, that’s a little bit about like, the uniqueness now whether it should be unique or not, I guess it’s up to everybody to decide the uniqueness of your staff and you’re pretty passionate about it. So If you wouldn’t mind unpacking that for us, that’d be great.
Thomas Valdez 25:02
Yeah, absolutely. It’s one of the reasons that I came to Conchi. It’s because I felt that it was an incredibly inclusive organization, right? Where I was encouraged to be my true self. And I wanted to make sure that we continue to do that. And so, as a team, as an organization, and me personally, my passion, we are all committed to building an incredibly diverse sales organization. And we’re constantly striving to make that organization more diverse and more inclusive. I think currently, if you look at my team, 40% of my team is female 45% is culturally diverse. And, you know, although that’s well over industry averages, I think to myself all the time, is it enough? And more importantly, how can we do more?
Pete Thornton 25:49
Yeah, that’s great. That’s really, it’s really great. You kind of shared to me to like some of the reasons why that’s been so impactful, like how it like brings a certain type of mentality to just the day to day meetings, like it doesn’t have to be anything special, not a board meeting necessarily, but just like the day to day operations, would you care to share?
Thomas Valdez 26:09
Yeah, absolutely, I think, expand on the diversity piece just a little bit there. I also look for various different backgrounds, right? I don’t, I don’t go after like a lot of people when they’re trying to skill a sales team. I think the easy route is to go after a big tech firm, and recruit 510 people and go to the next one and recruit 510. That’s not what I want to do. I think that hiring from various different backgrounds makes a difference, right? I point to my top account executive, he came from the payroll industry. I look at one of the young up comers, and I’d say young, just new to his career here in the SaaS world, he came from the elevator industry. I look for people that have various backgrounds, because it really comes down to diversity in thoughts, diversity and ideas, right? We collaborate here, and most people do. But if you hire 10 people from big tech, who all have four to five years experience as an account executive, you’re gonna get one or two ideas when you have a challenge. Because I have people at various levels, I hired some STRS. For two years, I’ve hired people with different backgrounds, and cultural differences. I got 10 different ideas. And that is where the true magic happens, right. And sometimes it’s a combination of four ideas that are smashed together. That is the best idea and it goes to one of my founding principles. The best idea wins. I don’t care if you’re day one or date 700 best ideas gotta win.
Pete Thornton 27:46
That’s cool. That’s cool. I love that. So it’s like diversity of resume, diversity of gender, maybe ethnicity, like the best idea wins. And you get more ideas when you have that diversity on staff.
Thomas Valdez 28:00
Oh, absolutely. And it actually goes beyond that, you know, I have a passion for the STARS. You know, I think I’d set it you know, several of my top performers were STRS, for me. And I think that there’s a challenge there in the industry as a whole. If I may, I think that the systemic issue with diversity in tech sales really starts because the entry level position, a lot of times is SDR BDR, you got college graduates, there’s plenty of diversity there, right. So the application that you get is incredibly diverse. But if they don’t have a career path, they don’t have that path to the account executive or into leadership, well, then they leave tech sales altogether. And then that diversity as you continue to go up all the way to the C suite gets more and more challenging to accomplish. Yeah, yep. Now you take some STRS, with some people that have been account executives, and we have an outbound sales motion. And I have to get those account executives to learn how to be somewhat of an SDR and get that outbound motion. While I have that expertise on the team, and those STARS that need to learn how to run a deal cycle or run a discovery call. Gosh, I can lean on the account executives. And what it does is it builds this culture of peer led coaching because of their skills that are so diverse.
Pete Thornton 29:23
Yeah, that is right. Yeah, I love the peer led coaching piece, just because it’s because they respect each other, they know what they want to learn from the other and then they can come and do it if you can have it go both ways. Very unique, very unusual. Okay, that’s great. That’s it sounds very practical, as well as like, kinda like the right thing to do.
Thomas Valdez 29:43
Yeah, I think though, the biggest challenge that maybe I can help with is how do you recruit those individuals, right, because that’s a tough one. You know, you’re in a, you’re running a business or a sales team and you’re essentially getting applications and you pick the best candidate you’re doing the right thing, but how do you get a more diverse pool of candidates? Right? So first of all, you partner with the team, the Talent Team, which we have an amazing talent team run by VP birdshop. Brett hacks. She’s amazing. And she partners with me exceptionally well, so that we can, we can do things that others don’t. There’s an organization that we work with called Girls Club, right? It’s a sales leadership program specifically for women in sales. They offer leadership training, confidence building, and really networking to help female sales professionals rise in tech. So we sponsor or sorry, we offer or sponsor the scholarship for somebody internally each year as well as externally. Right. And I think if I look at it, one of the individuals internally, a young lady by the name of Kylin, xenon, who started out as an SDR for me, worked away into an account executive. And as she was transitioning, or about to transition into a management role, she got a scholarship with Girls Club, man, the trend, the transformation they had with her is absolutely amazing. Specifically in the confidence realm, she became a holding person, she earned her way into a leadership role and has become, you know, became one of our if not the top leaders that we have in the organization. Right. But beyond that, that girl, so there’s a lot of clubs out there, but girls club is one where you get access to a candidate pool that you wouldn’t have otherwise. And that’s how you do it if you find a way to get to the candidate pool.
Pete Thornton 31:37
That’s interesting. You mentioned this to me. I don’t know We chatted a week ago or something like that. And since then, I don’t know because it’s almost like you get a new car and everybody else has the new car, you just notice it for the first time. I saw something on LinkedIn about the founder. And I was like, oh, that’s what Thomas had referenced about. So girls club like a BNI. Yeah, access to a very interesting candidate pool. And that is an unbelievable story from SDR into a leadership role. And not because so many STRS don’t eventually become leaders, but within the same organization, very unusual. It’s, I find, it’s typically hard for an organization to see an individual in one role, and have them move more than one role ever. If you can, you typically have to leave, rip, replace, you know, it’s hard on the individual, it’s hard on the company as hard as the next company to onboard them. Because there’s not the career pads in place. So this is kind of solving a couple of challenges, like for individuals, but also for the organization. So that’s yeah, that’s fantastic. And it’s so funny that y’all are grouping this within four, five years, whatever, if the company is only found in 2018. Because a lot of times, if you’re going to have something that’s an internal machine like that, you’ve got to get big, you’ve got to have a corporate structure in place, it always seems like it’s a very arduous thing to have happen. But it just seems like that must be part of the culture. Because it’s already such a red machine at this point, just a few years in. Oh, absolutely.
Thomas Valdez 33:01
I mean, it started for me. And it was the same in my last organization, too. It’s a passion of mine, I think, if you take somebody’s smart, bright, talented individual, and you stay close to their career goals, or aspirations and those change over time, you may get an account executive who may be you see in that lake could be a leader someday, but they don’t want it. And it’s not right for them. And then the opposite can be true where somebody comes in the door and wants to be an account executive or their peak could be I want to be on the Enterprise team. But at some point, they realize they have a passion for helping others and in the environment that we’ve created. That happens often. And when I get some people, a small group of people that are you know, let’s call it a year or just over, and they have identified that they want to look into leadership, will I do a class weekly, I actually did two with two different groups, where I start coaching them and teaching them on both leadership as well as daily management. Because it gives them an opportunity to really learn, do they want to do it? And what is it going to take? And it gives them a skill set so that as they progress in their career, as opposed to making that transition from account executive today to manager tomorrow. And having a it’s a challenge, right? Because you’re sitting there amongst your peers and tomorrow, you’re their manager. It alleviates some of that challenge. And it really prepares them for the future. Whether that’s here or somewhere else, it still prepares them for the future.
Pete Thornton 34:38
Okay, that’s interesting. That’s the ingredients. Fantastic. That’s really good. That’s definitely it’s intentionally pouring into your people in a regular cadence like that. regular cadence, regular topic, data management leadership. That’s actually the first I’ve heard of that although I’m sure everybody has good intentions to do it, but that one, you know being time stamped and everything like that, you know, because unless you prioritize it. A lot of growth happened, and it’s hard to make those things come to life. So that’s very cool. Is there something I can do? Is there a specific leadership moment that you’ve had this been a favorite? Or is it just this combination into this passion? Like getting the cycle running like you have?
Thomas Valdez 35:18
Gosh, there’s so many, you know, when your people first type of leader, you know, and you pour your blood, sweat and tears into the people in the organization, it really makes a difference. And so many people stand out. I think I mentioned Kayla, I think there was a moment. Over the course of a couple of years, she actually went to school while she was working, finished her degree in, I want to say, in computer programming, right? So she has transitioned now, to a senior revenue analyst role for us. This is such a unique thing. You know, you have your revenue operations team. And you have some great operations people. Not every organization is fortunate enough to have somebody who is incredible at the sales side, who can speak kind of trade. I don’t know, translate between the two groups. Yeah. Right. Because rev Ops is looking at data and the data is telling them one thing, and the sales is looking at the data, and they’re getting something entirely different right? To have this individual who has grown from an SDR to a manager an incredibly successful one, understanding both sides of the business has been game changing for us for both teams.
Pete Thornton 36:38
Yeah, that no, that’s so so true. It’s funny, a leg of something that, that we do in an organization rampant is we do data analytics for folks. And it’s so funny, because I’ll say, Hey, we’re gonna run this data for you. It’s like fractional business intelligence. But we’ll come back to the sales later and be like, Hey, here’s 10 insights, these are impact behaviors that we’ve pulled from your revenue intelligence platform mixed with your CRM, as like, which three of them are you going to flick away right now as in like, which three are completely irrelevant, because you know, you’ll cycle and it will not interface with this data. And immediately, they’re like, Oh, that is irrelevant. That’s irrelevant. That’s irrelevant, because they know the sales side. So when you have somebody who speaks the sales side and data side, and they’re actually in your organization, it is hard to get those people to be like this, not left brain, right brain, but you just have not seen much. You don’t see much overlap in those two. So that’s pretty cool. Right? There is again, very practical, very cool, very practical. Yeah. Well,
Thomas Valdez 37:37
Thank you. And I think probably the biggest thing for me, in her transition, is how she worked so closely with my frontline managers, right? I mean, the most underrated, like, frontline management’s toughest job in the whole industry, right? They get none of the credit, they take all the blame, and there is nothing but pressure to perform every day. And it’s a challenge. I’m blessed that I have some of the best frontline managers I’ve ever worked with. Right. But I think you know, growing them from internal, some of them and some of them hiring the best candidate external for what’s needed for the team, having not only Caleb, but those managers that have come up through the system, understand kanji, understand their culture, and having heard translate between the two men. It is such a great symbiotic relationship where we’re not at odds ever, right? You know how rough ops can come to you, hey, here’s the problem. And we look at it and go, No, that’s not the problem. Here’s the problem. And they have her help us bridge that gap. So both teams are always on the same team, same side, and we look at things kind of the same, or different, and then come to the same. And we get to the conclusion that we need to make a decision on the business thoughtfully, really more informed than ever before. It’s been, it literally has been game changing for us to have all of the managers at that level working together on both sides.
Pete Thornton 39:12
It’s awesome. That’s awesome. Yeah, I love that. This is really helpful. I’ve got to send you back to kanji soon. They’ve been so kind as to let me have you for a nice chunk of time. But let me ask you, my little fun one just first, because a SaaS rant podcast, maybe lean into the rant portion of this. However, you can make up a nonsensical question. But if you had to What does SaaS ramp mean to you?
Thomas Valdez 39:38
SaaS, Ram. It’s funny. I read a book not too long ago called wrap it up. And I’m sorry, the author escapes me at this moment. And that’s really what it is. Everything that I look at has to be an Add Question and not an order question. Right? We’re moving way too fast to think about, do I do this or do I do that? out know, if we’re gonna ramp this car up, we have to make a determination on how can I do both? It’s an end question. How do I do this? And how do I do this? And that’s really what it means to me
Pete Thornton 40:14
is so oh my gosh, so it was like, like, that’s the most hyper growth answer I’ve ever heard, by the way. Yeah, I’m
Thomas Valdez 40:20
sorry. I bet the book was called to amp it up, but it made sense to say ramp it up here. Oh,
Pete Thornton 40:25
That’s perfect. This part of it. I’m not gonna dig in because I don’t want to know if I’m no, I’ll have to, I’ll have to display but no, and not in order to take away the paradox of choice. Like we’re growing fast. We’ve got to, we’ve got to do both. I don’t think you get to the top of that Okta list. Without doing and not or so completely makes sense. I’m not surprised at all. Thomas, thank you so much for your participation on behalf of myself, or the SaaS ramp audience. And I’m just really excited to see how things continue to go for yourself, your team and your organization, because it looks like everything’s headed in the right direction. So congratulations on all the success and let’s do it again in a year and see where we’re at.
Thomas Valdez 41:07
Thank you so much, Pete. It was a pleasure.