Key topics in today’s conversation include:
The SaaS(ramp) Podcast explores how tech leaders scale from product adoption to enterprise success. Learn more at www.saasrampmedia.com.
Pete Thornton 00:00
All right, welcome everybody to The SaaS Ramp Podcast and host podcast Pete. I think you’re gonna enjoy today’s episode with Ram Parimi, Chief Revenue Officer at Kojo software company Kojo. If you’re listening closely, you’re going to hear references to something he calls the punchline first, in the overall theme of how do I do my job now aka How do you do your job now, because so much has changed in the marketplace? Really interesting theme nuggets everywhere. He expands on all the topics really nicely. So I hope everybody enjoys today. Quick message from the sponsor Rampant.io is a Gong-certified services firm solving the challenge of revenue disparity among sales team members. What is it that separates your top performers from your middle performers? How can we move the middle? So if you’re looking to maximize your investment in revenue intelligence, such as Gong to achieve measurable increases in deal size, deal velocity and win rates? Then please reach out and connect with Pete at Pete at the rampant.cloud. All right. Enjoy the show. Welcome back. Rampants To The SaaS Ramp Podcast. I’m your host podcast Pete welcoming Ram Parimi to the show today. Ram is the Chief Revenue Officer at Kojo, welcome to the show Ram.
Ram Parimi 01:21
Thank you, Pete. Thanks for having me. And I’m excited to be here.
Pete Thornton 01:25
Really appreciate you coming on, we were having a pretty cool discussion and just kind of like diving into some of the interesting pieces, we’re in an interesting time in software. And so no better time to just dive right in and understand if you would the biggest challenge you’ve experienced over the last six months and your role of CRO
Ram Parimi 01:46
Yeah, I think it’s probably I’ll speak at a broad level in terms of what I’ve heard from friends to it in what we’re doing. And just to give some people some context, we’re in b2b SaaS for subcontractors, it was at SMB motion. So ESPs, you know, are not above 40k. And, in general, what we found to be interesting is that we have this market shift that’s occurred, in terms of how people buy technology. And they’re doing more diligence with how they make those decisions. And they’re slowly rolling some of those decisions to ensure that they are thinking about this from a long term perspective, rather than a short term perspective. And some of the reason why is because people have more time now, you know, as a little bit too, to make those decisions. And they also have more people and more resources around them, to understand how to make them. And so with it, we’ve had to be much sharper, as a function in communicating value to customers, much earlier in the sales cycle, and differentiating the concept of why do anything. Because, in, at least specifically in our world, and in actually the world that came from before this, which is mortgage technology and consumer banking technology. Those worlds were bull markets, where in the mortgage world, if you remember, two, three years ago, we it was you couldn’t, everyone was refiling, everyone was doing the load because of interest rates. If you think about that same analogy across construction today, everyone has backlogs that last five or 10 years. So business is booming. You know, we’re not selling software to software people, which is a pure vertical b2b SaaS, so business is booming. So they don’t really need to do anything, because they’re doing pretty well. So why would they choose you, you know, when they’re already doing well, and that’s a different place to come from. And what we’ve found specifically is, we’ve had to do a lot more homework in how we prepare for and how we execute. The first two calls. First impressions matter. That homework applies to this, what I like to call punchline first methodology, which is get to the point, as you’re talking to execs faster, because that first impression is your first is your most valuable asset in an environment where you’re talking to an owner of a trade contractor business, or mortgage business, who’s got a lot of other things going on. And that punchline first has to come from two things, in my opinion, good account research and a deep appreciation for learning versus selling. And the third thing I would say is consistency. There’s a SMB or you know, in mid market sales you have the easy ability to chase the animal that’s, you know, there’s barking back at you right. Now, what I mean by that specifically is customers who will respond to your emails are getting all the attention. Well, those may not be the best targets for your software. They may be, you know, Some ways, but they’re also there to hit your numbers, you can’t just go after the ones that are responding to you. So we’ve had to find unique ways to reach people, which includes, you know, using gifts or lunches or, you know, making people sit down during lunch and paying for their lunch and sending them lunch. And so that engagement model has been, you know, if I can boil it down to like, two or three things would be one more homework, you know, to be more direct, earlier in the conversation, and then doing so with greater value and three, being consistent in ways you get people to the table and be creative in ways you get to the people to the table throughout the entire sales cycle.
Pete Thornton 05:42
Yeah, okay, that’s great. Like, I really liked those three bullets. And like it’s so more homework makes sense? Like, that’s the kind of timeframe everybody seems to find themselves in now to get to know a little bit more about your prospect to get through the noise. That second part, that punchline first, is this yours? Is this your can you?
Ram Parimi 05:59
I’ve been quoted, for like a long time, especially a vertical b2b SaaS, like this, prior to this, I was, you know, 10 years ago, we were selling to hotel sales folks who are going from on prem to the cloud. So again, punch line first, right? Or you get their attention. Same thing in the mortgage, you’re selling to banks, or credit unions, or independent mortgage banks on either side of the house, the consumer or the home lending side. You’re, they’re busy folks, right? And their first thought is, how do I get my customer relationship to be stronger? Now? How do I buy technology? And so again, punch line first. In our world, specifically, right now, it’s talking to folks who are literally spending 95% of their day outside of the office. So that 5% There in the office. Imagine how many people come at you and you go to the office for five 5% of your day, and you’re president of a company, everyone swarms you. So how do you get attention? Make it crisp. So if you are that clear in your communication as a rep, that can be translated or in the game of telephone, be passed clearly to other people in a very punchline first type of way.
Pete Thornton 07:14
Yeah, I like the way that rolls off like it isn’t. It comes off like a sales book and is very interesting. Dave Chappelle actually has a joke where he tells the punch line first, and there’s no way that’s even going to be a podcast irrelevant, or it but it’s like, it’s just it’s interesting. He says it for like, when you hear it first, and then you work your way towards it, you’re more willing to listen afterwards if you’ve heard where we’re headed. Yeah, I think it’s like, with the end in mind,
Ram Parimi 07:36
using the comedy analogy. I had the pleasure of bringing Mitch Hedberg to my campus in college. When I met Mitch Hedberg, he was very direct. If you look at his comedy style, he has a statement, and then he backs into it. People love that, you know, so it was a different style. Mitch brought a totally different style, you know, recipes, obviously. But yeah, it was like a unique moment where I was like, wait a minute, using your comedy analogy. Other people have done it. And all those little moments are around us. And, and I think we don’t really think about them day to day. But if we think about how we like to receive information. It’s personally Firstly, a good example, Pete is when you Google something, and you don’t get the result you want? What’s the feeling you have inside?
Pete Thornton 08:26
It doesn’t exist? Like, I don’t know, I don’t know where to go. Now. I won’t even go to the second page looking either. Yeah,
Ram Parimi 08:31
no, you want to click down. But would you even think it’s like you lose energy in searching? Yeah, that’s how I feel about the buyer. When we go to the buyer, we have to make it clear that when they search for something, they get the result that educates them in a way that, you know, achieves and gets them to their goals.
Pete Thornton 08:49
You mentioned the third thing, and I, you know, I don’t want to stay too long. But it was interesting, because you call it a consistency, but like I wrote it down to stay true to your targets. And that’s an interesting point. Because usually the ones who will bark back as you put it are not necessarily the targets you are looking for, they might have a little time to unpack these things that might not be the person who’s gonna make the decisions, or maybe the budget holder or something like that. I’m a former business development rep. I’ve done that before. And all you’re looking for is some communication, especially in harder times. Do you have any tips or tricks around just being like, Hey, this is our ICP? This is where we stay. These are our targets versus these are the people who might be willing to speak to us. Yeah, I
Ram Parimi 09:31
I mean, I think fundamentally, ICP evolves every quarter. And, obviously, your roadmap is unleashed as well. So I think I would boil it down in today’s environment to the following concepts. We’ve been lucky enough in software in the last three years, to be in an environment where everyone had cash and everyone had you know, was looking to spend it on getting better, and they could because cash was cheap, regardless of industry, right? The cache was cheap. So with it, you have a lot more people searching for stuff. In an environment where resources are constrained, you have to go out and use your BDR analogy, you know, inbound is going to be the one that usually responds back to you. Because you’re in an actively engaged conversation, outbound is when you’re hunting it, so you have to create the engagement. So I would think about it less as ICP, I think there’s plenty of probable leads out there. For software companies, I think I would look at it deeper as like, Where have you invested your? Where have you invested your time in research? What’s your pipeline complexion look like? Right? How much of it is inbound versus outbound hunting, because you and I both know, the inbound piece is expensive, and harder to come by, especially as you scale sales teams, that there’s territories, everything gets shrink, you don’t get as map. So you’re gonna have to go hunt. And when you hunt, you have to actually, again, go back to research, you know, meaningful value props that are that share of social proof. And then with it, you know, that consistent that you said it right, staying true to your goals, thinking about multithreading, right? How do I get more people in the conversation in a way, and that is, you know, probably the change has happened over the last, you know, one or two years, like budget decisions are getting scrutinized a little bit more and more people are in those decisions, which means you have to multithread and get more stakeholder alignment throughout the entire sale, regardless of its SMB mid market, or enterprise enterprises used to this motion. But now it’s applying back into mid market and SMB. And, and if you look at the talent profile you typically hire for SMB or mid market, they don’t really have the multithreading skill set. So now you’re in right now you have to start educating on cleaner value props communicating on value, which is more of an enterprise muscle. And that’s, you know, being replicated downstream. And I think, everyone I know, I’ve been the psychopath who’s decided to only sell to industries that are like really low adopters of technology, you know, hospitality, mortgage. And now in construction, the common thread across all three is that you have to educate first on how they make the buying decision. And you have to educate multiple people, because people are not going to be willing to make that decision on their own, even at a $5,000 deal or a $10,000 deal or $20,000 deal, you still have 5000 you might have, you might expect one person, but it’s actually two to 3-10 1,000, you might have you think one or two people, but you might have for, you know, 20, 30, 40, you have three to four to five. And, you know, you’re starting to look and that’s really important to bring. interview for a lot of these SMB mid market reps is there is no you know, you have to go in, find multiple people do homework on all of them have clear value props for all aligned back to their specific goals and how they benefit. And, and then execute consistently across the funnel to tie those points of view together to create a business case. And you and I both know, that sounds like much more enterprise sale, but in a mid market motion, SMB motion, you gotta figure it out, which four deals are willing to do that with you. And, and spend, you know, if you think about closing one to three deals a month to hit your number, or four or five, you know, you divide your time accordingly, how much energy you put into this month versus how you keep the pipeline engaged for next month. And I think that’s the, and that’s been tremendously challenging for reps in a remote environment. Because they don’t have to do that, you know, and how they organize their day, how they organize their pipeline has been challenging. And that’s really kind of where data and DevOps have been, you know, have been critical to the success of these folks, these teams.
Pete Thornton 13:55
So very helpful on like, the clarity of like, what the consistency piece means, because it’s definitely different than what I was thinking like that’s like, it’s like where you’re spending your time inbound, outbound, kind of like that ratio, and then followed up by like, getting multithreaded. Now for this month’s quota. Don’t forget to look ahead for next month’s like, whatever your deal velocity is, maybe it’s this quarter next quarter, but yeah, very helpful to know. You just mentioned something that we should probably chase a little bit. You’ve mentioned the role of Reb ops in the space based on remote sales. Would you tell us a little bit more about that?
Ram Parimi 14:31
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s been super challenging. I have a lot of empathy for RevOps, right, because I think the last few years, it’s been about buying technology and implementing it, and there’s probably a little less, I don’t know, scrutiny on how much people were using that technology. Now, there’s a lot more scrutiny and every piece of tech, and then everything you choose has to be totally implemented well. So I think RevOps you know, to me, I define it as marketing ops, sales ops, and then naval Let’s all under one umbrella. And that’s how I define it. Other companies might define it differently. But that’s how I do it. And the reason why is because it’s not, it’s your intelligence layer, but it’s also your reinforcement layer. And reinforcement doesn’t mean that there’s no partners, I think the partner for enablement is typically sales managers, or sales leaders, or SDR leaders, whatever it is, especially product marketing as well. The partners for revops, sales ops and marketing ops, you know, really understand what’s what we’re getting from the market? What, what’s creating interest across the funnel? And how do we meet them at the right point of time, and what’s the best way to engage them. And so a good example of that, in terms of what it means to a sales rep is, if I look at this concept of after close three deals a month to hit my number, right. So in order to wrap up the squeeze, super helpful to reps is to figure out how to keep a funnel of 12 12-15 apps that are engaged on a monthly basis, so I can have a 20-25% close rate on those And with it, you know, what, uh, what have we seen in terms of what’s working in terms of getting them to, to move to the next step, it’s not about closing the deal, I think what relevance is more helpful is how reps even manage their day, their time, what their engagement model is, if you look at like their ticking Gong stats and saying listening time versus talk time, you know, understanding what, when customers are responding to emails to and how they’re being engaged, you know, and like, what, what is the right motion? Is it one demo? And then, you know, and then Close? Or is it on average, take two demos to close. And what I’ve been, you know, using robots for years is defining kind of a path to goal. And that means, specifically, how many days on stage does each, you know, opportunity need to be to maintain a healthy to be healthy? And what is the appropriate amount of time to go from stage one, to stage two to stage three? And when are you unhealthy? And, and when are you moving a little faster, and how many people need to be in each deal each at each stage. Especially in SMB mid market, we have so many data points, right? That we can look at, like, hey, at stage two, we typically when a deal closes, if you look at a win loss analysis, for example, you know that that second stage has two people in it typically to win a deal. So if you start communicating those benchmarks back to the field, like here’s what good looks like. And if you take that and work backwards from here’s how your pipeline looks against what good looks like. And then you take that even a step further and say, Here’s sales managers here, the one or two things that we can start doing this month, to move the needle specifically, for your rep or your team, we’re starting to see a pattern with your team, you probably start looking at a couple things. Well, some sales managers might be taking shortcuts on one part of the pipeline or one part of their, you know, whatever, the motion, and you start saying, Hey, by the way, I’m noticing all your sales reps are single threading until say, stage three. But we know that at stage two, if you add a second person, the close rates improve, you know, pretty significantly. Why don’t I help you this week? And that partnership, I think is really what is a good rev ops function, you know, is they’re communicating at the manager level and the rep level, where they’re able to be. I’m a diehard warriors fan, right? And if you look at the Warriors coaching staff, Steve Kerr doesn’t give it to every player every insight. He’s got assistant coaches, right, and assistant coaches, our secret weapons, as you might know, Mike Brown was an assistant coach for the Warriors now leaving the lead in the Kings doing this Coach of the Year this year, right at assistant coach is kind of what your Reb ops leader should look like, in my opinion. And I think that is really a foundational shift for Reb ops leaders as they are designed to act that way and be that kind of that other lens, you know, to the equation. And so that’s how I define it. And then where enablement comes in fundamentally, is to be a partner, it’s not to say, Hey, you’re not doing this. Well. It’s like, if you do these two or three things differently or better, you can make a meaningful impact on your own ability to hit your goal. And so it comes from a lens of how am I helping reps, not? How am I, you know, telling you close rates that are a result of rep actions? So that’s a lagging indicator, right? A leading indicator is the actions we take. And I think that’s where if I could boil it down to something really tight, it would be rev up should help inform the actions more than the outputs themselves, the inputs more than the outputs themselves.
Pete Thornton 19:58
Okay. Is it where Revops maybe is like, you know, the always here insight to action, insight to action. So as rev ops, maybe the, I don’t know, trailing quarter to four quarters insights, depending on how the market has been shifting. And then enablement is kind of like trying to take these actions and roll them out, reinforce them within the sales team.
Ram Parimi 20:17
Exactly. Yeah, I think. And I would say not even looking backwards. So looking forwards, right, because revOps has historical analysis, probably they can do from last year’s, q3, or last year’s q4, right. And you’ll probably start seeing some buying patterns along the way. In some cases, you will know that the market shifted, it could be different buying patterns. But revOps is looking in terms of buying behaviors, and what could potentially change next quarter’s sales cycles, like a good example is what I just said before more buying people are in the decision, right. So that means sales cycles are typically longer. Well, if you want to maintain the same, we know that we have to accelerate the second demo too much earlier in the conversation. Right, or we know that it takes two demos to close a deal. If you want to maintain the same sales cycle, you have to, you know, you have to basically make blink of the word but to consolidate, consolidate, or Yeah, or, or condense the sales cycle to those second demos being three days apart from each other. Another good example is, hey, we’re starting to see that when you set a meeting three weeks out, don’t hold a 5% rate. But when you set a meeting out, three days out, or one day out, the old rate is 50%. So okay, how do you then, you know, that’s where enablement comes in and says, By the way, I want you to, we should work with sales leaders to create a spiff for getting meetings to be set three days out versus three weeks out.
Pete Thornton 21:41
Interesting. Yep. Do you have a split? So you mentioned Gong is, do you have a particular stack that you like, for gathering some of this data? For your rev ops team,
Ram Parimi 21:51
We use Gong, I’ve used Gong before, like, I think Gong is a phenomenal tool and has a lot of great insights. There’s a different number of I don’t want to speak to specific tech stacks, because I’m not selling any one or the other. You know, but I think reality is having a call recording system that you use well, is really important. You know, Gong is Rs Rs tool of choice. Some people use outreach and SalesLoft, on the earlier side of the funnel is looking at email engagement, and leaving people. You know, I think fundamental, LinkedIn is super useful. I think his secret weapon in a lot of cases, especially in vertical b2b SaaS, where they’re in is to also look at industry or organizations, websites, and just like Google, literally look at like, where these chapters exist of like normal cohorts of customers and all interact with each other in a specific Geo, you know, and then with it, I think there’s what the real thing people don’t ever read or the news, they haven’t Google news alerts set up for every single one of your logos is no brainers. Yeah, and so it’s like, that’s the kind of stuff I don’t think there’s a specific tech stack, I would say, like, I’m going to endorse, but I think what I’d say is having something to you know, listen, game film, having something to engage customers. And obviously, you know, earlier in the funnel with marketing, we can talk about a lot of different things and attribution and things like that. On the product side, I’ve always been a big fan of Pendo. And like, understanding well how customers use products to, to then help inform ces on where there’s activation opportunities, but really, on the pre sale side, call recording, engagement, metrics, and then good old fashioned like Google LinkedIn, I don’t think you need to make it that fancy. You can see a high clarity and all the other things on the planet, if you want to atria quick, great tool, but like it’s, there’s a bunch of different things you need to do.
Pete Thornton 23:44
Yeah, okay. Yeah, it makes sense to me. And you were mentioning so much on the, on the conversational insight side, and it sounded like you were doing a lot with what most people don’t like, they have a lot of kind of latent data. And they don’t necessarily take advantage of that. And it sounds like one of the things that you put your particular Reb ops team on is to like, can we look at that and like, start to extract some of these pieces and insights?
Ram Parimi 24:08
Yeah, you know, I think I forgot to use like, we use Salesforce. So people use HubSpot. You know, again, your CRM can be a secret weapon, it can also be just a black hole. So I think that’s where Reb ops, you know, having views that are easily easily digestible thinking from the lens of like, how are people going to consume the information? Not how are they going to input it into it is actually more important?
Pete Thornton 24:32
Yeah, yeah. No, it is. And that can be a black claw. I’ve worked in the Salesforce ecosystem before so we know how easy or difficult that can be. Yeah. Okay, there were some there were some asides there, but they were like, really good nuggets for the audience. So we just kept on a ribbon. Then, okay, there’s a there’s a general theme that we touched on when we were kind of speaking before that captured my particular interest because I know that I have a lot of conversations in this says this often comes up, and it’s around how do I do my job now, and that is just because there’s been a massive pivot, you made mention a mortgage just before I think I’m the last person in the world to get a sub 4% rate. Because it was just and this is the last year early last year, I was like, oh, click it in. And sure enough, it went crazy from then on. But things have changed very rapidly lately. So under the theme of how I do my job now, you’ve mentioned some of these pieces already. So I know that might be somewhat redundant. But do you have any kind of track around that when you gather your reps together? And you’re like, Hey, fellas, Hey, gals, like, here’s how we’re gonna have to move forward.
Ram Parimi 25:39
Yeah, I mean, I Well, I think the job changes based on like, what, where you are and your maturity? You know, if you’re at Google, it’s different from where you are at an early stage startup. Right. And to be in this, obviously, tons of companies in between. But the point I’m trying to make is, I would if I was someone who had marketing and sales, or sales and CS, or marketing, sales and CS, who all reported to them, I would think about it from the lens of like how do we get more information in a way that can help me be actionable in how I make changes on a day to day basis? And how am I deciphering signal versus noise right now, because there’s a lot of you know, there’s a lot of that. And what, let’s just say operating cadence Am I running in to ensure that my team is in lockstep? Because, and the reason why I bring that up is if I think about the overarching theme of like, hey, buyer, behavior has changed rate over the course of the last few months. Yeah, you can’t just look at data on its own. You have to start. If I’m a CRO, I’m talking to customers regularly, right now. Right, not just in the closing cycle. I’m doing it much earlier in the funnel. Right?
Pete Thornton 26:59
What are you looking for there when you’re going to have the conversation? Yeah, I mean, are you just trying to be a rep and drive the next steps and just see what it feels like? Like? Are you asking them particular questions that a rep might not just be because your role is different?
Yeah, I think I think I have the latter. More likely as where am I extension of the leadership team? And how do I help come in? How do I build a brand and every single conversation, right, because people buy, you know, people buy brands, and people trust in that brand. And for me to come in later and close a deal. It’s kind of airdropping in you know, and that’s not really a really good customer relationship. I think what you’re trying to build as customers for life, you know, as people have said, but if you boil it down to the actual actions, doing so by being part of the first conversation allows you to be much more thoughtful, including asking, how did we get here? So you can give a punchline first. That’s a punch line first type of question you ask customers? Another question is, how are you going to make this decision? Like what’s going to be involved in you making this decision? You know, that it feels direct and uncomfortable in some ways, but that’s the kind of stuff if you’re talking to an executive exactly like, well, this is how I’m gonna, you know, it’s how I’m thinking about it. And then having your reps say, here’s the guidance that gives you and how other customers make the decision. So they don’t make you feel that they’re not alone, not only in being interested, but also in how they buy. So supporting them, and guidance is what I’d really say are the key goals of the first call: supporting them and how they make the decision is my job, not selling them out the gate, it’s supporting them from day one. And how they made a decision. That’s the point of the second piece I’d have is how are CROs listening to calls like I would listen to calls and be with rep get rep signal a lot more right now, field signal is very important right now, early stage, obviously CROs later stage, you know, probably have a bunch of people, but they can, can get this for them. But I think you still want to be interested in getting that signal from your field. So you have the customer point of view, you have the rep point of view, your field point of view. And that field includes se point of view, SDR point of view, a key point of view, CS point of view, you know, marketing point of view, it’s having that kind of pipeline Council, if you will have people that can help inform what’s happening at the internal level. And the third piece I’d have is like, just what are the insights telling you when loss analysis you’re doing on a monthly or quarterly basis? What are you getting from QB ours with customers and the CSI that you’re just starting to see some data and usage? If you start seeing a certain feature getting used more by customers, how do you weave that back into the sales cycle in terms of communicating the value of that to customers and the presale side, so that triangulation, if you will, of having, you know, you know, customer field and then the data insights is kind of how you do your job right now. And then micro micro changes, right, which is, what could you do in enablement that they can take on the first week and implement that helps them Over the course of the next month, next three weeks, and do it again, rinse and repeat. Rather than trying to make this enablement thing, this kind of big heavy thing that you try to certify, like, what are the one or two things that we want to pinpoint and shift every month? That’s really important to buy.
Pete Thornton 30:14
Okay. Okay. And I imagine that’s like, like, a basis for what the size of the company and how fast the market is shifting and maybe how fast the product is shipping? All those kinds of things that yeah, that makes you want to check it out that direction? Absolutely. Yeah.
Ram Parimi 30:29
So that’s kind of where, you know, the guidance I would give is just, if I boil it down to like, punch line first, which I haven’t been that much on this podcast, you know, is your ground in triangulate. And that’s where we’re at right now. Then that’s an important place to be in their ear to the ground is, you know, you could do it at trade shows, you could do it at university in the garden calls, you could do it being on calls with customers, and talking to your field more. And giving them space to do so. And I think that’s some of the best CROs that I know call customers when they lose them. And you say, hey, you know, what feedback do you have for me? And that seems uncomfortable for most people. But then that’s a healthy conversation.
Pete Thornton 31:17
Yeah, it’s because there’s no, there’s no, there’s no more human motivation to not kind of say, at that point, honestly. So that would be a good one.
Ram Parimi 31:28
Yeah. And last thing I’ll say is integrity. I think that comes, that’s what customers are really trying to buy as far as what you’re selling me really going to do what you say it’s going to do. And that’s the job of the CRO, at the end of the day, is to have the highest standards for integrity across the entire funnel, and to communicate that consistently to customers and internally.
Pete Thornton 31:51
Okay, okay. Yeah. How do you wrap all of this into like, just these techniques, they’re very, like, commonsensical. But again, there’s a lot going on. So you do have to, like, pivot and move and do these things on a monthly basis. And we’re looking back at data, but we’re looking forward to some actionability. And there’s a lot going on. How do you create a culture? Like, how do you what kind of culture do you hope to have to actually deliver on this, you know, week in week out to?
Ram Parimi 32:22
Yeah, I think the name of the game right now and culture is, is fundamentally being super transparent about where we are at and what needs to happen. And what I mean by that, specifically, is being very clear with the field and manager in a message that is understood, at every level of the organization, a good example is the following. You’re behind on forecast. Right? And so it’s easy for that there’s this whole forecasting model, right, you know, like the full quota roll up, and then like, you know, percentage of sales managers get a haircut, and the rep, and the rep, you know, there’s a board level haircut, etc. And you get some CROs that can choose to hide those waterfalls, right? I’ve been exactly the opposite. I’m like, here’s how we get measured. Here’s what minimum standards look like, here’s what our standards internally look like. And, you know, minimum is not where we’re going to be. So the culture has to be, we’re all in this together. Like, we all know that minimum is not who we are. So to get to full quota roll up, that’s it. That’s everyone’s goal. That’s not that, to me, 100% 100% is to go. And making it anything short of that gives people a door to lower their standards. So right now, it’s a standard game. In my opinion, culture is a result of the standards you create, and you communicate, and you emphasize on a day to day basis, and I say right now, but I think always, it’s a standard scale. So maintaining high standards, regardless of marketing, market environments, but you know, having the flexibility to listen as a CRO, to adapt your standards to how the field is feeling is important, too. Right? So a good example is I would like every meeting to be set and held within 24 hours. In fact, they’re allowed to be set and held within 24 minutes, it was up to me, you know, that’s not reality based 1000 different reasons. So what is the field willing to commit to? You know, and how is it their standard, not mine. And that’s what I’m alluding to, is a culture is a standard that we all align on and create together. And we believe together it’s not my standard or the manager standard, or the rep standard, or the board standard, right? Using the forecasting analogy. We all have the same standards. And anything short of that is my is I have the internal feeling that I didn’t hit my own standards. Now my manager is going to tell me that I didn’t hit my goal. I know I’m off path to go, I’m forecasting. I’m saying, Hey, I’m gonna miss this quarter, but it hits it this month or this quarter. Here’s how the next quarter looks. And here’s what adjustments I’m making. That is a different type of rep than just saying, Okay, let’s just move to your new month, new day, you know, yeah. And I think the key thing I’ve noticed a great people do is reflect regularly, and they use reflection to adapt their own behavior so they can improve their own performance. That is something you typically see leaders do. But why should that waterfall through every step of the organization? And again, in this type of environment, that reflection needs to be more consistent, more regular daily.
Pete Thornton 35:44
Yes, interesting. Is there Yeah. Is there any practice, like at a practical level, that you could roll out as a leader to see if you could, if all sailors could do it?
Ram Parimi 35:52
Yeah, so my manager asked me this question, actually. And I said, Look at my calendar every day at 4:30. It says, like, I don’t skip that. I look at data, look at all the slacks that were sent to me that I didn’t read, or like I’m triangulating a bunch of things. I’ve opened my mental space to reflect on Sure. Am I more tired towards the end of the day than the beginning of the day then yeah. And then eight in the morning, I will set a half an hour to look at and re-look at those reflections and make and get ready for my day. So I’ve told my managers to do that. Managers have told their reps to reflect on Hey, what went well today? How do I prepare for the next day? So again, it’s that signal of just me having it on my calendar is sometimes enough for the field to know do they have the space to take off half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening to step back? Look at what they can do differently to make the next day better?
Pete Thornton 36:45
Yeah, yeah, that’s a good practice, a really good practice. I call them on closing day like I just put it. It’s like five, and it’s just like, closed the day down. And it’s just like, can you take a moment to actually like, see all the things that happened and rocket and it was more of a function to set up my next day. But that’s it’s all part of that kind of mental headspace of like taking everything after it’s gone through and just trying to clean up a little bit and then see where it’s going to be for the next day. Yeah, so
Ram Parimi 37:10
a lot of people put it on the calendar. No love, people do it.
Pete Thornton 37:13
Yeah, no, that’s true. Because it dings on like, the hell is that? I’m like, oh, that’s that thing where I’m supposed to? I like it? Yeah, it just depends. I think it can just be another time blocker,
Ram Parimi 37:22
especially right now, I keep saying that. But I think in history, time management is what separates good sellers versus poor sellers, right is how they structure their day, their week, their month or quarter. Your experience matters, but managers can play a big role in that too. So you know, frontline managers just spend a lot more time looking at where reps are spending their time and energy, and how they’re structuring their day and their week to achieve their monthly or quarterly goals. Sounds trivial in a lot of ways. It’s the only currency we have is our time.
Pete Thornton 37:58
Yeah, yeah, it’s the same across the board. It is wild, but it must have to play in part to the success of it because it’s the one thing that you just can’t argue with. Time and time, time and time and add time. Wait for no man. I’m like, Thanks, Dad. What are you talking about? It’ll go Yeah, exactly. What I’ve kept you I’ve kept you too long. This is really insightful. It has been really awesome to kind of gather some of these in maybe a closed with, with two things if you happen to have and just because you are Chief Revenue Officer, not everybody is and that’s a definitive, the definitive sales leadership role. So do you happen to have a favorite leadership moment coming up or in the CRO role?
Ram Parimi 38:42
Oh, I mean, probably dozens along the way. You know, I think that a lot of things I think one of my favorite moments started probably my Fisher Investments over 15 years ago, when we were the original BDRs you know, 400 hours a day three hours of talktime 3030 meeting set, you know, a few hold one closes, we you know, it was a very much a mathematical high velocity. Bottom 25% didn’t really make it to the next month. Physical on a board, you know, boiler room style environment. One of the things that really stuck with me is one of my managers. First one of my first managers said to me it was the call times of 6am to 231. day, one week, the next day was 1037. Right next week, it was 1037. So you switch shifts, hit the West Coast and East Coast. I had coffee at 6am. In the morning, I went to get coffee. And he said to me one thing is like, you just lost probably two hops, go to coffee 6650 in the morning. And what I found so interesting about that was even at that moment, is it truly it taught me a lot about standards about the fact that it was my second day and they call it a second day on the floor. Third day on the floor. It’s managed I was like I, anyone who works for me is going to I’m going to, you’re in seat at 6am. Making phone calls, you’re not getting coffee at 6am. So that was like one of the early ones. I think later on in social tables, I think you’re going from founder led sales to building out a sales function. One of the coolest things I realized was how much my opinion is, even though I, you know, I have a new position as director of sales, and I’m leading a sales team. It’s not about me, it’s really not about me, I think in like, I don’t know, being really cognizant of what you don’t know. And being very comfortable with that, that you’re triangulating information. That’s where that came from was like, it’s not really I originally thought, like, I know how to do everything, yeah, I’m closing all these deals, and then you realize, like, hey, there’s a growth path, the way you grow is by learning from everyone around you, and it and being more about taking in information rather than always passing information to others. And then blend that probably took to the next level, as we were, you know, pretty late stage. And we had some pretty big targets. And we were obviously selling to banks and credit unions. And pretty important is the level of integrity and how you approach every conversation. In the homework, the preparation that probably was really grounded inside of me and blended because we had such a great quality to how we did things at that company. And then now, you know, shifting back in my time as a Google, I think that the one of the biggest learning lessons was stakeholder management, how it’s not really a you know, working across, we were so distributed, right? Like, you know, identify 50 people, 100 people, I had to get everyone to sign off. So that means how much are you getting your ducks in a row, so you can get a sign off to hit your deadline? Preparing a lot earlier. Right? So that’s a compounding effect of the other things I learned. That stakeholder alignment comes from how well you’re prepared yourself to hit these goals, and then back to Blendo. And now Kojo, it’s fundamentally that name, the things where I would just keep saying is this whole customer first mindset. People have talked about a lot. But what does that mean? I think that the biggest thing I’d say to CROs, you know, folks, I mean, I’m probably at earlier stages, some folks and later stage and other folks, I would say is like, you know, I can’t, I would never stop spending time with customers. That’s like the number one gift that fuels us in our role. And fuels our teams, feels leadership and provides a 360 point of view. People always speak like the voice of the customer. I think your CRO should represent the voice of the customer.
Pete Thornton 42:47
Nice. Okay. Okay, because they have interacted and engaged that many times they can actually go speak on behalf of
Ram Parimi 42:53
Yeah, you are the I mean, I think to me, I take it that’s how I take my responsibility. And I take it seriously as I represent the customer inside our office. It’s not Oh, represent revenue, I represent the customer inside our office.
Pete Thornton 43:08
Yes. Interesting. Okay. That’s the mindset that that makes for conversations with your product team a little bit more, you know, sincere and endearing to them as well and have
Ram Parimi 43:17
greater depth. Right. So your CRO must have the depth on every and on your customers in a way that is deeper than even your CEO. Right? Your CEO is going to be visionary by nature. Right, your CRO has to have the depth on the customers today and the customers tomorrow to help tie vision to execution.
Pete Thornton 43:39
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that’s fantastic. It was really good. It’s been helpful. Like, there’s a lot to unpack and a lot of like, really good things like how we’re working today and some of these insights that are coming from a well rounded Chief Revenue Officer. Rob, thank you for the time like on behalf of SaaS RAM audience we really appreciate you
Ram Parimi 43:59
no problem at all. Man. It was thanks. Thanks for having me on. And thanks for giving me the space to chat and happy to be helpful to anyone who’s listened to talk in further detail.
Pete Thornton 44:09
Well, listen, if you have one takeaway go be punchline first, like I can’t get that when that is rattling my brain right now. I just love it. And, and then an aside for anybody who missed it brought Mitch Hedberg to a college campus. There’s a little knot in sales, a little nugget, if anybody needs something to go as a cool side. Ron, that was awesome. Thanks so much, man.
Ram Parimi 44:29
Yeah, awesome. Thank you.