Are you prepared for the changing landscape 2024 will bring? Is your business sustainable, agile, and profitable? Set your business’s foundations for success this year. I brought Luke Holman to the B2B Go To Market Leaders Podcast to learn how. 

Luke is a serial entrepreneur and current Chief Innovation Officer of Applied Frameworks. He shares his expertise on agile business methodologies, pricing and packaging strategies, and the 3 Pillars of Business Sustainability. Gain valuable insights into the art of client outreach, strategic pivots, and the influential role of a profit-first approach in crafting successful go-to-market approaches. Fasten your seatbelts as Luke guides you on making our business more profitable, lasting, and flexible.

Listen to the podcast here

Mastering Software Pricing: Innovation, Agile Business Tactics, and Profit-Driven Pricing with Luke Holman

The signature question: all my listeners love that I start the show, and we dive right into the meat of a topic, which is how do you view and define go-to-market?

Well, go-to-market is a set of comprehensive activities that help the organization take what they’ve created and bring it to their customers through any number of direct or indirect channels, any number of partner relationships, any number of sales team structures. Sometimes we have direct sales; sometimes we have indirect sales. We have sales reps; we have sales engineers. So, there’s a whole set of go-to-market activities that make sure that the organization is prepared to realize the benefit for themselves of what they’ve created for their customers.

Totally. I think you touched upon critical points, right? One is, obviously first and foremost, it starts with the customers whom you’re really targeting and who you’re solving for. That’s one, and then the intern aspect, you got the product team, you got the sales team, making sure that they’re aligned. Of course, you have a product, you have marketing, you have sales, and you have customer success, if it’s a software-as-a-service organization. So there are a lot of these teams that have to be aligned internally while bringing that product and taking it to a customer. 

That’s right. 

That’s a great start. So looking at your career journey and path, clearly, at least in the early phase of your career, you were very deep and very involved in the product development aspect of things. So we’ll dive into Agile practice. But just to expand and bring all our listeners up to speed? And can you share your career story like where you started? Why, what was your first job like what did you become and who you are today?

Well, I have had a long history in the technology field starting working for a very large company called Electronic Data Systems. And EDS had many, many data centers, and I was working in the technical area, literally crawling underneath the floor, cabling computers. I was working in network, networking, and then one thing led to another, and you get promoted; you become a developer. I picked up a bachelor’s and master’s degree in computer science and computer science and engineering from the University of Michigan. I went back to EDS, and I became a vice president of engineering at a subsidiary. 

But there’s this journey in my career of always wanting to learn how to do and create and build the best products for our customers. So that journey led me through user interface design, and usability, but I actually ended up centering on product management, which is really trying to understand the needs of the customers as best you can and then build solutions that meet those needs in a way that creates a profit for the company. 

In that journey, I became associated with the Agile software development movement, and at the very beginning helped form the first Agile conference way back in 2003, served on the board of the Agile Alliance, worked with the Scrum Alliance, have wrote several books, have started and sold companies have acquired companies. But in all of these areas, I’d say there was the foundation of Agile software development practices in Agile product management practices, all associated with creating a profitable solution.


Very cool. Definitely, we will get into the companies that you bought as well as the companies that you had a good exit. So, you did mention why you got fascinated and curious about agile and agile development and the Scrum process. So you did tie that back to how products get built and how they go to market and you’re really curious about the efficiencies and the gaps during the development process.

I wouldn’t equate at all Scrum with Agile. I would say that Agile is, according to the Agile Manifesto. Agile is a set of values and practices. There are many agile methods, Scrum being optimized for small organizations or a couple of teams in the Scaled Agile Framework, being by far the leading technique or method, optimized for large organizations or large numbers of teams. I have been more associated in my career and more aligned with large-scale development initiatives, with dozens of teams to hundreds of teams working on extremely large and complex systems. 

And of course, I am a SAFe fellow, which is the highest distinction you can have in the SAFe community. I was a former SAFe contributor in both agile product management and in Lean portfolio management. So I’m more associated with the challenges of, in terms of a consulting capacity, the challenges of large organizations creating profitable solutions for myself, right? I’m an entrepreneur, and so my organizations are smaller. So I think it’s important to consider which of the two perspectives I’m being asked about.

 One perspective is, how do you help large organizations with globally distributed teams work more efficiently? And also, for your own work? How have you created software companies? And then manage them? Because they’re slightly different forces? And sometimes radically different forces when you’re working with one or two teams versus say, 400 Teams? Right?

Scaling Agile with SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework)

For sure. And I would like you to share that expertise. I mean, as you well articulated it, look, when you’re building your own companies, you’re obviously small and nimble we’ll be applying one methodology versus when you work with the likes of just not to say that they are the clients, but the likes of large organizations like Google or HP or Cisco, or Microsoft, right? I mean, they have huge dev teams spread across the metrology that they will use for product development and delivery.

That’s right. So let’s go back to where you want to be if all you ever want to be as small and stay small, then a method like Scrum is probably fine. For me, I’ve worked in companies, and even in my own company, every family, every company has to have a way of making a financial decision. That’s portfolio management, whether it’s you and your partner, your pair bond partner, your wife, or your husband. If you were to sit down and make a financial decision of significance, like buying a home, or buying a car, or taking a family vacation or having a child, you would do it together. Similarly, when you’re a small company, you still have a portfolio because you’re still making significant decisions. And when you’re a large company, you’re making significant decisions.

 So when people, when people equate significance with a dolllar amount, they devalue the kind of decision being made. So let’s say I’m Cisco, well, my decisions would be hundreds of millions of dollars. In terms of significance, right? That’s very different than the decision I would make at a small company. But both small and large companies have significant decisions to make about how they invest their money, how they spend their money, and where they put their attention.

No, totally. I think you hit it correctly. The significance does not or does not correlate or equal to the size of the business. But the significance matters, right? For example, my own journey – when I work at startups or for my own consulting company, as we sit today this week, I was figuring out where I should invest my time, energy, and money. Should I pursue a different go-to-market strategy? Should I invest in building a new content portfolio that will be relevant for demand gen and demand creation? Or should I work with a co-founder friend of mine where we know for a fact that I’m blacking out the AI compliance space? A lot is happening in that space. Is that the right investment area? 

Yeah. Absolutely. 

And then the scale of the decision-making and the factors will go many for like 5-10X when you talk about companies like Cisco and Microsoft, right? So, you are the founder and CEO of Conteneo. Was it a consulting practice or a software product company or both? What is that journey like?

Well, most companies are a mix of both. Most companies have some kind of a service component. It’s just the degree. I mean, some absolutely pure software companies don’t. But most companies, as they grow and evolve, have a services component. Conteneo was based on my book “Innovation Games.” What Conteneo provided were software platforms for doing games online and consulting services that would help organizations design and produce both in-person and online innovation games events. So, in the Agile community, there are many well-known games like Sailboat or Speedboat, product box by a feature. All of these games have an in-person expression, and many of them have an online expression. So Conteneo was a bootstrapped company in the B2B software space where we provided to our customers a platform for doing innovation games with distributed teams and in an online setting. We bootstrapped it. So we didn’t have outside VC funding, which is a little rare in Silicon Valley. And then we ended up selling Conteneo to Scaled Agile a few years ago. And that was a great outcome for all stakeholders.

Innovation Games by Luke Hohmann 

And again, as this is a go-to-market podcast, it’d be good if you can, at least at a high level, talk about your go-to-market journey, but continue, like early days to how you scale it and the exit?

Well, there are many aspects. I think the question is, to what degree does a given company consider its marketing strategy a go-to-market strategy? I consider that many times the marketing strategy is intimately related to the go-to-market strategy. So we followed a pattern that’s somewhat successful in business where we wrote a book, we built training. The book creates awareness and interest in the training. The training teaches people how to use the techniques, and it creates demand for consulting services and online platforms. Once we had the online platforms, we were able to serve the demand that we had created. In terms of a go-to-market strategy, that’s where I think you start to see the distinctions between how you intend to go to market and then the feedback from going to market. 

Let me explain one of the pivots that we made at Conteneo. We’ve been talking about innovation games, which is a discrete event of usually between four and eight people; they can come together and work together on a business problem. Well, we thought the right way to price that was per game, because you can think about the unit of value being a game, right? What happened was that it created a variable spend, and our customers didn’t like variable spend, especially when so much of what we do in business now is a monthly fee. You have a fixed monthly fee, but you have variable usage; sometimes you’re using the platform more, and sometimes you’re using the platform less. So we found that in our go-to-market strategy, we were charging the right amount of money, but we weren’t charging the right way for the money. That’s the kind of go-to-market change that people need to be aware of. We call that a value exchange model. In our new book, “Software Profit Streams: A Guide to Designing Sustainably Profitable Businesses,” we talked about, as part of your go-to-market strategy, you have to get your pricing, packaging, and licensing down, and there are choices that you need to make as a product manager, as a product team. How do I trade money for value? The value exchange model needs to be aligned with how the customers both perceive value and how they want to pay for value. Those were some of the changes that we made in our own go-to-market strategy and our own go-to-market journey.

Software Profit Streams by Jason Tanner & Luke Hohmann 

The brilliance that stands out in your go-to-market journey is you touched upon a very key aspect. I’ve studied go-to-market leaders, understanding what sets them apart. Think of the NBA League, with 30 teams. However, something magical happens when you peek under the hood of the operations of the top two or three basketball teams consistently making it to the playoffs and winning titles. It comes down to two or three things.

So, concerning go-to-market teams, it boils down to content, community, and experiences/events. Three crucial elements. One aspect you’ve nailed very well is content, exemplified by the book in your case. The innovation games in your earlier company, and now focusing on software pricing. What led you to that thought process? First, creating and writing a book. Then, deriving training material, followed by consulting and software development. What influenced you to embark on this path?

That’s a no. No one’s ever asked me that before. So, that’s a really interesting question. I learned the power of writing a book when I first moved to Silicon Valley. My first company in Silicon Valley was a company called Origin Systems. Origin Systems was an absolute breakthrough company. It was wildly innovative. What we did was take all of the world’s patent data and put it into a data warehouse for analytics. In terms of the utility of a patent, how does a patent get monetized? What is the patent related to? What are the opportunities for innovation? It was based on the work of a couple of gentlemen, most notably a gentleman named Kevin Rivette. I remember when I joined the company, the head of marketing was a guy named David Polio. That’s where I learned this pattern. David, in one of our leadership meetings, said, ‘Hey, when you’re creating an entirely new industry, an entirely new thing, you have to get the content first. The way you get the content first is you write a book.’ So Kevin Rivette wrote a book called ‘Rembrandt’s in the Attic,’ which was considered a breakthrough and groundbreaking book associated with intellectual property licensing. That book, in combination with our software platform, really drove that company to a successful outcome. I credit David Pulizia with showing the power of content and then building out the community and the software platform. At Origin, we didn’t have a lot of events, but we had a great software platform. I think, Vijay, the notion of the content is partially correlated to the degree of innovation or the degree of novelty about what you’re offering. 

When I wrote ‘Innovation Games,’ it was the first book in the genre of using serious games, serious game techniques, and collaborative games to solve problems. Since then, we’ve had other books like ‘Game Storming’ or ‘Reality is Broken’ from Jane McGonigal. But when you’re the first one, you really need to create that content to cement the industry and the breakthrough. That’s why we did that with ‘Software Profit Streams,’ the new book. There are books about pricing, but the problem with books about pricing is that they’re pricing pens and menu items in restaurants and wine. 

You know, consumer products pricing. 

Even in the business world, pricing gets wrapped up into things like supply chains and Bill of Materials, which are all important. But software is so different that we decided the prior work was no longer sufficient to meet the needs of what’s happening in the world. Andreessen is right; software is eating the world. We need a means by which we can look at pricing, packaging, and licensing for software-enabled solutions because those are unique in the world. We needed something new to really capture that.

Well said, and clearly, you learned your lessons, and you got the playbook. Going back to what you mentioned about Origin Systems, you really learned that system from your head of marketing back then. And you apply that in your own consulting career.

He’s brilliant. And, I think it’s a consistent pattern. We’re not the only firm that applies that pattern. But there’s enough proven success around that pattern that we should look at that.

Absolutely. So, did you take the time to write the book first, launch it, and then start the consulting practice and the training, or what is…

The book was mostly informed by years of consulting experience. We were able to mine the experience of ourselves and our customers, really looking at all the different work we had done over a near 20-year history. Applied Frameworks has been around for more than 20 years, so we had a very rich and deep history to draw from as we were writing the book. Now that the book has been written, we’re working on the software platform called Horizon and have it in the market. Now we’re just following good agile practices, continuing to improve the Horizon platform for solution profitability management.

Fantastic. So one of the questions I typically ask my guests, and I do that more in the latter part of the show, but clearly, when it comes to you. So one of the questions I ask is, what is our special secret sauce? And what should people come to you for advice? Clearly, in your case, it sounds like you’ve mastered the game around go-to-market, in terms of content, sequencing, and applying Agile and Scrum practices. That’s how I see it.

I think I would add that I would be cautious, again, about, for example, we’re not a sales training company. The art of go-to-market is treating your sales team. Our expertise is in pricing, packaging, and licensing. For example, too many organizations try to get to a good, better, best pricing model when sometimes good, better, best pricing isn’t needed. Other problems we see are companies, especially large companies, will create a solution. Then they deliver more value using Agile techniques, but they don’t raise the price, or they don’t have a strategy of how their solution architecture captures value. We see applications just get bigger and bigger. Sometimes the better approach is to keep the main application tight and focused. Then add modules or add-ons that an organization can acquire to enhance their offering. It’s really that strategy that you’re looking for that will help you determine your actual price point and how to make the most amount of money at it.

I’m looking at your book, the Software Profit Streams book. And as with any top-tier books, you would also provide a canvas. Can you walk us through the canvas for the profit stream? Absolutely.

So canvases are powerful tools; we have the business model canvas and the profit-sharing canvas. What a canvas does is it allows us to quickly and effectively capture the main elements of a causal system. I’m an engineer, you’re an engineer; we have an engineering background and think in terms of systems. When I deal with pricing, I have to manage three really related items. First, I have to manage my solution sustainability. What are the needs of my customer? What does my solution provide to my customer? How are they evolving over time? Because customers are not static, and problems in the world aren’t static. I have to have an ongoing evolution, a roadmap, etc. The second kind of sustainability is economic sustainability. Does my customer feel they’re getting good value, which is more value than what they paid? Am I creating a sustainable business? Am I making a profit? Is my revenue greater than my costs? The third element of sustainability is what we call relationship sustainability. There are really three relationships that matter for a software-enabled solution or a company. The first is my suppliers. Everyone is licensed in various technology components. How am I managing my in-licenses and my relationship with my suppliers? The second is my relationship with my customers. Software isn’t sold; software is licensed. There’s a license agreement, terms of service for a website, or a complex agreement for traditional software that defines my use of that software. What are the terms, conditions, and entitlements? How am I managing my relationship with my customers? The third component is compliance, which concerns how am I managing my relationship with regulatory agencies, and with standards? Let’s say that you and I wanted to build a website together, and we wanted to make it accessible to people with disabilities. Well, now I have to honor the WC3 web accessibility standards. It’s not a law, but it’s a choice that I’ve made. When we look at compliance, we’re thinking about laws and regulations ranging from, say, GDPR or the Australian Privacy Rights Act or in California, the CCPA, to standards and agreements. How I manage my relationships determines my relationship sustainability. If I routinely create poor relationships, it’s going to be hard for my business to continue to grow and be successful.

I think that’s a good canvas. I’m definitely going to refer to that, and I’ll highly encourage other listeners to go check out the book ‘Software Profit Streams‘ in terms of pricing and packaging. Perfect. Wonderful. Quick note, this is the end of part one. So if you can just click on the link and join the second one. To my production team, that’s the end of part one. I’ll see you on the other side. Great. So yes, I think you’ve shared a great framework there when it comes to pricing and packaging. Switching gears a bit over here. Obviously, as you and I know, go-to-market, there are so many flavors. You will see successes, you will see failures. It’s not always up and to the right. So if you can share either from your own personal experience or working with the various clients that you have, a go-to-market success story and a go-to-market failure story. That’d be great.

Sure, well, for a go-to-market success story, one of my clients is CVS Health. They had an extraordinary go-to-market success story with the introduction of their app for scheduling COVID-19 vaccines. It was created in a time of crisis, so people were stressed. It was rolled out in record time for a large company—a very complex app when you think about scheduling for a vaccine with 1000s of stores across the United States, geolocation, capacity planning, store hours, and a tremendous amount of logistics and data. From a go-to-market standpoint, they were able to create and deliver that app. In this case, pricing and packaging were not relevant because it was free. But in terms of a go-to-market success story, that would be one of them. Another one related to our work in pricing and packaging is a company called Knowify. Knowify creates construction management and billing software. When we started working with them, they hadn’t adjusted their pricing and packaging for a couple of years. They had been successful, but we got involved because they just got a post-seed funding round from a venture capital firm, Companion Ventures. Applied Frameworks works with venture capital firms and private equity firms to improve the pricing and packaging aspects of their portfolio companies. One thing we worked on with Knowify was changing their packaging. Before our work, about 20% of their customers signed up for the annual plan. After adjustments, we got that number up to 60%, improving cash flow and making it easier for their sales team to guide customers through changes. It was an amazing change for their go-to-market process and approach from a pricing change.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cvs_health_logodownload-e1705519283117.pngFantastic, a great story, and great success stories for both. So, I’ll click on each of them. CVS, you mentioned obviously it happened in the time of crisis, the COVID pandemic scenario. So what prompted CVS to reach out to you? I’m assuming they reached out to you, and who from CVS did that? And why?

Sure. So we had a prior relationship, as in so many arenas, with their head of Agile. They reached out to us as part of our normal relationship, doing agile work and scaling agile. In the case of Knowify, the outreach was initially from the venture capital firm that made the investment. Companion Ventures made the investment and then told Knowify, ‘Hey, you should work with Applied Frameworks to improve your pricing and packaging.’ Usually, in this kind of world, you’re going to see word-of-mouth referrals, etc., which is still a significant part of the business.

I think that is a smart move, obviously, on your side to work with influencers. In the first case, it was the head of HR at CVS, a good relationship over the years. In the second case, it was the venture capital that influenced it for sure.

Now, of course, as our software package becomes more prominent, we’re doing more traditional go-to-market strategies, like webinars and podcasts. Also, advertising, blogs, and normal content optimization, content generation. Those are all parts of the go-to-market mix. It’s important for people to remember that when you’re smaller, your go-to-market strategy might be more intimate. When you’re larger, your go-to-market strategy might be more volume-based with less intimacy. Either is probably right; it’s just different. Go-to-market strategies and teams need different techniques and results.

Going back to the case study and success story of Knowify, you mentioned a great result where annual subscriptions increased from 20% to 60%. So what is the process like? Going back to our first question and our discussion, it’s about go-to-market. What is the go-to-market process? I would assume that you guys had to dig into and look at all the CRM records, the pricing, and so on, and the number of customers who did that, and then why people are not switching.

In the case of Knowify, we didn’t spend a lot of time, so I would say that you’re correct. In a normal case, you would be looking at your CRM data, looking at conversions, etc. In the case of Knowify, we were able to determine improvements through what we call a customer benefit analysis. We deconstructed their features into discrete benefits, reverse-engineered market segments, and repackaged the offering to better align with the needs of specific customers. So in the normal case, we would be looking at CRM data, win-loss data, and discount data, but in the case of Knowify, we had a strong signal through customer benefit analysis that we could change the packaging to better align with customer needs.

Fantastic. It’s great timing that you shared the story. I’m working with a client where we’re doing a positioning exercise. The positioning involves identifying target account characteristics, distinct capabilities, and features, and value themes. You got the account segments or characteristics, and features, and then you map them to hone in on the best fit, the 20% or 30% of customer segments that translate to 70-80% of the value stream for you.

We call that a solution benefit map. Once I know the benefits my customers are seeking, I can look at my features and the relationship between features, benefits, and the targeted segment. It’s a rigorous process but doesn’t take as long as it might sound. It can be done quickly when working with existing customers or companies with existing data

And then going to my earlier question, which is, yes, you’ve got go-to-market success stories. But I’m sure we all have go-to-market failure stories. Anything that comes to your mind from a go-to-market failure story?

Although, I think the question becomes if I have a go-to-market failure story, to what degree of failure am I talking about? The ultimate failure is when the company itself fails. So you could argue that it’s not a go-to-market failure; it’s just that it wasn’t a viable company. It’s harder to find go-to-market failures because if the solution is successful or if the company is successful, what that meant was they had a go-to-market experiment, and the explored experiment didn’t work. So they tried something else that did work. If we had persisted in trying to force the market to accept transactional pricing, the company would have failed. But we adapted, took the feedback, and adjusted how we worked. That’s pretty profound because go-to-market is like product-market fit. Sometimes people think, ‘Oh, I have product-market fit, and I’m done.’ But product-market fit is like getting on a highway; it’s the on-ramp. Once you’re on the highway, you have to constantly monitor and adjust your driving. You’re always doing micro-adjustments, and the faster you’re going, the more subtle and frequent the adjustment. Product-market fit and the initial go-to-market strategy get you on the highway, but after that, it’s a very strong repeat process of how am I doing, and how am I adjusting.

I think that’s a very good analogy. In my mind, as you’re speaking to that, it clearly shows that product-market fit is not once and done; beyond product-market fit, it’s scaling, tweaking, and iterating. Going back to your analogy, driving on the freeway, I have to constantly adjust to oncoming traffic, traffic ahead, change lanes, slow down, pivot—all these things apply to the go-to-market world. It reminds me of the conversation I had with Geoffrey Moore, who said exactly along the lines of what you mentioned—that there are not really failures; you either have success or learnings, and there are learnings even if the business fails.

Right, and even if the business fails, there’s learning associated with it. But it’s not clear that it’s a go-to-market failure. It could be just a failure as a business because it’s the right idea, but it’s too early for the market. We’ve seen that in the technology field where ideas get recycled. An example is the original idea for Uber and Lyft, patented about a decade before Uber got started. But the technology just didn’t exist at that time. As technology evolves, things that failed in the past become viable in the future.

Well said. I think that’s a great perspective. Going back to your favorite topics and how you built your businesses around Agile and pricing and packaging, and, of course, my favorite topic, product marketing. Typically, as seen and you can attest to this, it’s a combination of product management and product marketing that has to tackle these two areas. What have you seen, the challenges, as well as things that have really worked when it comes to product management and product marketing in these areas around Agile, thinking about prioritization delivery, and pricing and packaging?

Well, I think, Vijay, that the Agile community is a little better at working on the product marketing side because we do have this idea in Agile that I’m creating a constant flow of value to my customers. This is part of the Agile Manifesto. It’s the set of metrics that we track in SAFe is what we call the flow metrics. We look at things like how frequently are you getting value from your customers. And what’s your batch size? Are you taking on features that are about the right size, so you can continue to deliver value to your customers? The reason we wrote the book is that we’re getting agile organizations who are delivering a flow of value, but they’re not producing a flow of profit. Let’s think about this from the executive standpoint. Let’s pick any size company. Executives aren’t compensated for value. That doesn’t mean anything, especially in a public company. You’re not compensated for value; you’re compensated for creating a profit. And so what we’re seeing is a bit of a backlash in the Agile community, to be honest. And what I mean by a bit of a backlash is that you’re seeing, for example, Capital One firing hundreds of agile coaches and Scrum Masters. You’re seeing different companies say, “Look, we’ve been putting millions of dollars into agile in training, etc. And we need profit, especially with our macro economy. With high inflation, high inflation rates, high cost of capital, people need profit.” So what we’re saying is, let’s evolve. Let’s own proof. Let’s actually move from creating value to creating profit. Now, let me not talk abstractly, let me ask you some really basic questions. If I go to a company that’s doing Agile, I’ll ask them a simple question. They’ll say, “I don’t worry about your Agile process. Like, I don’t care if you’re using Scrum or less or SAFe, whatever, right? Last year, have you consistently delivered value to your customers?” And if they’re an agile organization, the answer is almost always yes, we are consistently delivering. And then I say, when was the last time you explicitly raised your pricing or you explicitly changed your packaging to make sure that the value you’re delivering is resulting in more revenue for your company? And it’s not as easy as answers. Many times, the response is, “Wow, we haven’t raised our pricing in eight months, 12 months, 24 months?” And I’m like, “Okay, you haven’t raised pricing in two years? Have you paid more people in salary and people?” Then I get the response, “Well, you don’t understand. Look, we’re growing as a company. And so we’re fine.” And I’m like, “Yeah, but you’re not. No one can grow indefinitely, right? There’s always some limit to the size of the market. And you want to condition your customers that when you’re creating more value for them, you’re gonna get more value back.

So two things come to my mind when you say that. One, it took me back in time to my MBA days, when my marketing professor said one thing, which really stuck in my mind, even to this day, I’m talking like 15 years plus, it’s still very top of mind, which is pricing is the single biggest lever when it comes to revenue and profits. It absolutely isn’t. Right?

You know, pricing, typically, well, there’s two elements to this, Vijay. One is pricing improvements always, almost exclusively fall directly to the bottom line. It’s very, very frictionless. I mean, if I build a new feature for my application, and it’s really significant, well, now I have to do a press release. And I have to update my documentation, I have to update my sales team, I have to educate them on how to talk to the customers, which is great. That’s an expense. But if I simply were to raise my price, I might have some small costs associated with communicating a price increase to existing customers. But that’s a really powerful lever because it’s a low-cost lever. The second is that McKinsey has data that shows that roughly a 1% increase in price creates a five to 8% increase in actual profit and unit margins. So it’s really curious to me that organizations are not investing much more in their pricing and packaging. It’s kind of just curious to me.

And then when you’re making your other case, again, well put in terms of like, how are you measuring value and if you’re delivering the right value? So in my mind, the second point that came to me was pricing is a good test to see if you’re delivering the right value or not. Increase the price and customers are still sticking, not complaining a whole lot, and not churning. That means you’re, first of all, leaving less money on the table. And the second is customers still see a lot of value in what you’re delivering. Right? Right? Yes, for sure. All right, I know we are coming up against the R, L here, we can go on and on in all these topics.

The last two questions for you are, what resources or communities are people you lean on to stay up to date? In terms of go-to-market practices? Agile, you said Agile community. I can imagine that pricing or even understanding your target customers’ problems, like, how do you stay involved?

You know, it’s funny. I’m not as familiar with any specific communities associated only or exclusively with go-to-market. I tend to think of go-to-market as part of what product management and product marketing do. So I tend to associate with both agile and less agile aspects of product management and product marketing like the Product Development and Management Association is a very classic organization about product management. You see also in the SAFe, the Scaled Agile community, we have a lot of agile product managers from the Agile product management course. And so those are some communities that I stay involved with. And then, of course, there’s LinkedIn, there’s a couple of groups on LinkedIn that are useful. I personally don’t use Facebook. So I am sure there are communities on Facebook. I just don’t participate in those communities. Yep.

And then the final question here is if you were to turn back the clock, what advice would you give to your younger self, granted, you will be happy, and you’ll be satisfied with where you are and how things shape, but if you were to give advice to someone who’s younger in their career.

Well, yeah, it’s funny. We had a dinner party one time, not too long. A couple of months ago, and one of my friends was over, Danny, and he was just eating dinner with us. Like, he said, “What’s the one thing you would change in your life?” And everyone around the table had something they would change, and I had nothing I would change because my life I’ve lived as how I’ve gotten to here. I wouldn’t change anything, the good or the bad. However, there are useful things that, because I do consult with and coach and mentor some young entrepreneurs, right? And so I enjoy that because I was given advice from people, and I think we should pay it forward. So some of the consistent pieces of advice that I like to give to younger people include the idea that you can constantly be learning, and you can constantly be reading and listening to podcasts. Podcasts are marvelous like this because they really do expand our ability to listen, and when you’re driving in your car, why would you waste your time listening to something that doesn’t give you nutritional value? I’d rather you listen to your podcast, right? So I think it’s always about being hungry, staying humble, learning, and growing as generic advice. And now and then very specific advice. It’s staying tuned to the profound technological changes that continue to shape our society and our world. A few years ago, the most profound change was the introduction of the blockchain. Now, Bitcoin and all of the cryptocurrencies aside, blockchain is an important technology, and understanding what that technology is about and its potential uses is important. Another obvious thing that’s going on right now is AI and large language models. And that’s just I think the generic advice to younger people is we all live in very exciting times. And we get stale when we don’t stay current, so do your best to stay current.



B2B Go-To-Market Leaders | Saranya Ramamurthy | Product Marketing

 B2B Go-To-Market Leaders | Saranya Ramamurthy | Product Marketing


Are you exploring product marketing? How should you break into the product marketing roles? In this episode, Saranya Ramamurthy, the Product Marketing Director of inFeedo, explains why she shifted from consultant work to product marketing. Saranya also shared her efforts in structuring her product marketing team and the role of the designer in marketing. Her magic touch in her position made an amazing impact on her leadership team. Let’s join Saranya Ramamurthy today and learn how she made a difference as a product marketing director of inFeedo.

Listen to the podcast here


Product Marketing: Saranya Ramamurthy’s Journey Into Her Role, Efforts To Build A Product Marketing Team, And The Role Of A Designer In Marketing

Thank you once again for taking the time to tune into the show. I hope you’re enjoying it. I sincerely request that if you love it, please refer to your peers and your friends. If you can take a minute or even less to rate on whatever platform that use, that’ll be great. The more important thing, and what I’m excited about right now, is I’m getting to host another B2B go-to-market leader. This time it is Saranya Ramamurthy, who is the Director Head of Product Marketing at inFeedo. Welcome to the show, Saranya.

Vijay, thank you so much for hosting me.

I’m excited to have you. I know you’re based out of India. You are the fifth guest, so we are starting to see more guests coming from India, which is a great thing. Something that I’ve started noticing and observing is the go-to-market maturity in Indian organizations is definitely on the rise, which is exciting. I’m sure we’ll dive more into this as we talk.

There’s a lot of advocacy going on, so definitely on the rise.

The standard question that I always taught and ask the guests on my show is how do you view and define go-to-market?

If you simply ask this to anyone, there’s a textbook definition. If you ask a product marketing manager, they would say product market managers are the ones who are building the product and taking the product to the market. I would like to add a little nuance here. I would probably approach it like this. It’s about educating your ICP, which is your ideal customer persona, about the solution you crafted for their pain point. It’s pure, clean 100% education, in my opinion. It’s about knowing your ICP, knowing their problems, knowing which channels they’re active on, and delivering that message with an educational note. Once you’ve educated them, and if the persona is confident that it’ll solve one of their pressing problems, and it is also one of their priorities, they buy it. For me, education is everything.

This is an interesting perspective. I’ve not spoken or had a lot of product marketing folks on the show. It’s funny I say that because I started my marketing journey and career in product marketing. I’ve seen that evolution. When I started back in the day at Microsoft, I was super excited, and enthusiastic, because my job title said Go-to-market. I was eager to find out what that was.

As I learned over the last decade or so, working at large and small companies, something that I’ve noticed is go-to-market, first of all, the definition so varied. Also, something that started percolating and became more and more clear to me is that go-to-market is not just within the realm of product marketing, even though that’s part of the job responsibility. If you see the job spec, they say go-to-market aspects and activities.

What I would like us to deep dive into is first of all, the role of product marketing in go-to-market, but then also the gaps. I have a few thoughts, but I want to pause and get your thoughts because I’m sure you must have seen this in different organizations. You are at leading brands. What are your thoughts on go-to-market specifically when it comes to product marketing?

Go-to-market is product marketing. That’s how we are seeing it in India. It’s part of what we do, and maybe what we do here is define the messaging and the ICPs and tighten them for the market. Taking it to the market or doing the ads is something that an integrated marketing team or segment marketing team would do. PMN scope is validating the ICPs problem which is the first part of PMF in itself. If you have a new product that you want to launch in the existing market, or you want to launch an existing product in the new market, for example, you start with a problem validation. That is an important GTM exercise. It’s a pre-GTM exercise, I would say.

Once you’ve validated your ICP’s priorities, for example, your ICP could have this unmet need that you have defined, but they might probably have ten-plus unmet needs. Where do you stand? What is their priority and how is their willingness to pay a price for a solution like yours? This is the PMF stage, and during the GTM stage, we take all the learnings and craft the messaging for it. That’s a very important step. That is your delivery, educating.

B2B Go-To-Market Leaders | Saranya Ramamurthy | Product Marketing
Product Marketing: Take all the learnings and craft the messaging for it. That’s a very important step.


For me, it is education, because I’ve done most of my job in TMF. Right now what I’m doing is educating that I know you have a problem like this, and I have this solution for you. This is what we do in a product marketing function related to GTM. After defining the channels and what communication goes on each of these channels, there’s a different team that takes it over.

What you touched upon is an important, but one piece of the go-to-market. The first step is product marketing, and typically what I’ve seen is product marketing in conjunction with product management peers would do the problem discovery, validation, and come up with a hypothesis for the product market fit. The product marketing function would then run with, “Now that we believe this is our hypothesis, this is the problem we are going to solve for this persona, in this market and for these channels, now we start creating content.” There is also the sales enablement piece that has to happen and a lot of other things.

Beyond product marketing, that’s the initial step for go-to-market, and then it goes to sales. You got SDRs. You have other aspects, and then there’s customer success. Once a product is sold or bought by the customer, based on the product problem hypothesis. Now, are we ensuring that the customer is seeing value? First of all, are we onboarding them in the right way so that they can see the value? For me, go-to-market is a more expanded view. It starts with product management and product marketing, but then there’s a much bigger view that spans across product, marketing, sales, and customer success as well.

A lot of alignment is required in there. This is just one part of it that you’ve covered in the first bit. Imagine you are doing an ad and somebody’s landing on your website and becoming a lead, you put in a message, and the sales talks about something different. There’s a total missing. That’s why this has to be extremely connected. From the messaging that they see on the ads to the website landing page to what the SDR talks about, and what the AE gives as a demo. Onboarding them on a pilot program or onboarding them on a trial package, whatever it is since they should see the benefit that we have promised in the messaging.

I’m sure we’ll cover a lot more of these nuggets in detail. Let’s step back, zoom out, and then tell our audience who Saranya is. What is your journey like, and how did you end up in what you’re doing now?

I’ve been a marketer for decades now. I’ve worked with both SaaS companies and agencies, a good blend of both B2B and B2C. I worked on social media marketing, regional marketing, GTM, and product marketing for a combination of both B2B and B2C companies. If you look at SaaS companies that I work for, it includes Freshworks, Zoho, and Airmeet. From an agency experience, I’ve worked with brands like Facebook, Vodafone, and Lenovo. Regionally, these companies were focusing on markets like APAC, the UK and the EU. At Zoho, the predominant focus was the UK and EU. At Freshworks, I was looking at both APAC and North American markets.

During my agency experience, I’ve got a good market until about the Middle East and Africa market. This is predominantly it. I joined as a consultant for a software reseller. That’s where my foundation came from. I slightly moved away to an agency environment to get the skills of all the things that a marketer should do, all the creative skills, and then dive back into the SaaS space. That’s my journey overall.

Get the skills of all the creative things that a marketer should do. Click To Tweet

This is something that I’ve started seeing. Founders in India, when they think about a software company, they’re not just talking about the Indian footprint or the Asian footprint, but it’s more about how we go global. That vision or that pursuit is translating to different functions as well, including product marketing. That’s the biggest change I’ve seen over the years. It’s cool that you got to work in agencies and got firsthand experience in how the different parts of the regions worldwide, like marketing in the Middle East, are entirely different from how you market in APAC versus how you would market in North America.

A lot of regional nuances to note here.

You started your work as a consultant, and then you shifted to the agency. What specifically were you doing in an agency?

At an agency, I was predominantly doing marketing strategy and social media strategy. This is for all B2C companies. With Vodafone, we worked on their social media, and at Lenovo, we looked at their video marketing. With Facebook, it was more of a strategic partnership. We helped them with all their top 50 customers, ad creators, ad copies, strategic narrators, etc. It’s a mix of all things with agencies. It is just for you to dive into or explore all the creative possibilities, and all that you could do as a marketer. All things operations did all things creatives at agencies.

It is for you to die or explore all the creative possibilities you could do as a marketer. Click To Tweet

You shifted to product marketing. Was that like a natural transition? How was the shift and why did you choose product marketing?

Since I already had a software foundation, it wasn’t hard for me to move into product marketing. The role that I entered right after my agency experience is the role of a first marketer in the UK and EU team. The company wanted to explore a new market, and they wanted a full-stack marketer. They don’t want anybody that is doing ads. They don’t want anyone who’s looking at copies, messaging, or just an events person doing events for them. Even one of their primary demand-generation channels. They wanted a full-stack marketer with a primary focus on copy messaging and positioning. It was a right fit for me because I gathered all of that from agencies and the software foundational experience. It was a very smooth transition in my opinion.

Now you are the Director of Product Market at inFeedo. Are you the head of product marketing over there?


What is your charter? What is your responsibility at inFeedo?

Multiple things. I’m the first product marketer, and I’ve set up a team of five product marketers doing different things. inFeedo has two products. 1 looks at employee engagement, the other 1 is an employee support platform. We are looking at all things GTM, messaging, positioning, pricing, and sales enablement. Sales enablement is a very crucial piece because it’s a sales-led organization. We wanted a dedicated person to look at enabling the SDRs and AEs.

There is a product too which is a 0 to 1 product. It’s a very new product in the market. We are supporting the launch of the product, getting and exploring new markets, and how we launch this in the existing market. Launching also interesting sales plays like cross-selling, how do we capitalize from the existing customers that we already have? These are some things that we are doing away from the usual charter, like enablement of customer advocacy, AR and VR, etc. That’s the usual pillar, but these are some things that we’ve been touching about.

When I work with my clients, I help them either build or execute and accelerate any of these 6 to 8 product marketing programs. Starts with positioning and messaging. We have the customer insights. Do you have a good customer insights program in place? There is the sales enablement, as you mentioned, especially for sales lead organizations, you need sales enablement. You have a new product launch, a new market launch, and two related but entirely different concepts and approaches.

We then have how you build and do you have a good product content program in place? Adding onto that is how are you tracking and evolving product adoption within your customer base. The final piece is customer expansion, which you mentioned about cross-selling and upselling. Would you agree with these or would you expand with all these categories?

They are good. The important piece that we might probably have to add here is customer advocacy as a piece as well. More than intelligence, PMMs usually do advocacy as well. Go and ask them how they do their products. This is a building customer proof for your product. This is also a part of product marketing responsibility. That’s something that I observe as a trend in India. I don’t know how is it in the US, but that is one thing. The other one is AR and VR. That’s also one of the biggest pillars, talking to analysts and constantly keeping in touch with them, having a relationship with them, and informing them about what’s coming in the product. Keeping them posted about what’s coming in the product, and if there are any features that we could do with them.

That’s also one of the important things that we would cover under PMM. That’s predominantly it. You’ve covered it all. If you work in a very scaled-up organization, you will have timelines for these, like launching the new products in the market, exploring a new market in itself. Right now, we are doing all of these things. All you said, we are doing all of those things because inFeedo is in that stage, so we are a new product marketing team, so we have different spots taking care of different things at the moment.

B2B Go-To-Market Leaders | Saranya Ramamurthy | Product Marketing
Product Marketing: If you work in a scaled-up organization, you will have timelines for launching new products in the markets and exploring a new market.


How did you structure your product marketing team? You said you have five product marketers. What is your thought process in how you structured? What is your research methodology how do you build the product marketing organization, and then how do you structure the organization?

If you ask me, my usual way of looking at it is there should be one person who takes care of all things product launches and feature launches. There is one person who is dedicated to enablement and for customer advocacy and customer proof, anything customer intel, market intel, or intelligence comes from this third person. The fourth person takes care of AR and VR. That’s how I would probably segregate. Looking at the budgets that we have and the areas that we want to invest in this is how I’ve done it now.

I have a couple of people under engagement as a product, one person is closely aligning with the product and doing all things that the product wants, the product marketing to do, and the other person closely aligning with sales and customer success and the GTM organizations to enable them to grow and sell. That’s something this person’s doing. It’s an in-and-out enablement role. There is this third role, a little mature role. It’s an all-in-one end-to-end PMM role for a new product. This person does anything around product enablement, sales enablement, and customer enablement. Once we launch this particular customer and implement the solution in the customer please, how do we increase our options for that organization until then?

Starting from launching the product to going to the customer please and increasing adoption of the product usage. That’s something that we do on that part. We also have a generalist who does all things PMM for both products. There’s a designer to look at the design needs of the PMM organization, that’s how you’ve structured it now. There are some gaps. At inFeedo the interesting part is customer advocacy is handled by the content marketing team. Unlike the organizations that I’ve worked with in the past, Freshworks, Zoho, or Airmeet, here, customer advocacy is handled by content marketing. That’s one thing less for us to worry about at this point. That’s how I’m looking at it because there are a lot of things going on. AR and VR are something that I’m doing myself.

B2B Go-To-Market Leaders | Saranya Ramamurthy | Product Marketing
Product Marketing: At inFeedo, the interesting part is handling customer advocacy by the content marketing team.


Can you reiterate the customer advocacy? Who is responsible for customer advocacy at, inFeedo?

It’s content marketing.

Content marketing is fair enough. It’s primarily around case studies and success stories. That’s the angle that you’re taking for customer advocacy at inFeedo.

It’s a history and that person is very comfortable, very senior enough. I don’t think I can get somebody that senior enough to look at customer advocacy and the PMM team at this point. I’m super comfortable that she’s handling this for us.

You also mentioned about designer. Does a designer report to you within product marketing, or it’s adjacent?

The designer reports to me.

That’s unique. That’s a very interesting setup. For me, when I speak with other go-to-market leaders, I also peek into how they’re thinking about building their organizations and teams. Something that stood out for me, and that has to be called out, especially for product marketing, you need to have someone in design closely working with you. A good thing you’re already starting in that direction from the get-go.

That’s very important. That’s been a major miss in my previous organizations. I made sure that the designer came under the PMM purview so that everybody was comfortable getting the work done from them. It’s very important to have a designer in the house.

Something that I’ve seen, and this is a constant I keep getting from the audience and other folks I speak with, especially when it comes to design. What is your guidance and playbook? Just pick an example. Maybe it’s a product launch or a customer expansion program. How are you guiding your team in interacting with the designer on your team?

One thing that I’ve taken as an added responsibility is rebranding. inFeedo needs a little bit of rebranding in terms of how we present ourselves to the world. This is something that we have taken up with a consultant. The consultant will define a playbook for us. Right now we don’t have a playbook. We only have the colors and the font for now. We don’t have any styles on what photographs or illustrations to use, what style do we use. Every time, it’s me and the VP of marketing sitting and defining this process. Why it is very important that every time a designer starts a design work, they always start from scratch. There is no reference for them to go back. No playbooks or no brand guidelines for them to refer to.

They always start from scratch, which in turn takes a lot of time. For example, if they need to do a deck, they would take 2 or 3 days, unlike if they had brand guidelines, they would only take half a day. We invested in this effort rebranding that’s happening in this quarter in OND, October, November, December. It’s expected that the consultant will give us the brand guidelines with all the prerequisites that we already discussed, and that will act as a guide for the design. That’s something that we are looking at. All intel and insights from the CXOs would be passed on to the consultant and then we would arrive at something together. That’s a project that I’ve taken up. I don’t think this is under product marketing purview, it’s branding. We don’t have a branding person internally. I’ve taken that as a side gig.

Typically it’s under Marcom or brand who would typically do this, but sounds like you just mentioned it because no one’s taking that responsibility, just brand with that. You’re working with your VP of marketing around brand and design as well.

We’re looking at it as product branding because of the product brand. We are the ones who are naming these products. We are the ones who are naming these bots and naming any new products that we are launching in the market. If that’s the case, then we could also probably be a key contributor with branding until we have the senior branding person in-house.

B2B Go-To-Market Leaders | Saranya Ramamurthy | Product Marketing
Product Marketing: inFeedo could be a key contributor to branding until you find a senior branding person in-house.


What is the whole that the branding consultant is doing? Is it around the style guide, the content writing style guide, or is it something beyond and more than that?

It’s the design style guide. Messaging, positioning, and all of it will be done by us. All the content guides will be made by the content marketing and product marketing together. He would be looking at all things design. It will have that essential kit. It has a brand guideline like this of your website should look like, this sales skill should look like, and this of the social post should look like so it gives you all the guidelines possible.

For consistency across all channels, which is good. Saranya, that’s a great insight. Thank you for sharing how you thought about how you built your product marketing team and organization as well as the role of the designer in your marketing overall. Something else related to that is how you track and measure the impact of product marketing, like KPIs. You mentioned your quarterly offset and things like that. Talk to us about how you think about KPIs and how you show impact to the leadership team.

If you’d asked me a couple of months ago, my definition would probably be different but now my ideology changed a little bit. inFeedo gave a little bit of change in my thought process. To define it simply, product marketing wouldn’t have one universal KPI to chase because we are intersecting with multiple cross-functional teams. We are intersecting with sales and impacting revenue. We are intersecting with products and impacting adoption. Awareness, adoption, activation, and all of these KPIs. We are also doing a lot of awareness-related stuff. We are building pipe with growth marketing. We are helping with messaging for new advertisements or any change in the messaging pillars, etc. It’s about the goals that we own in that particular quarter, along with the cross-functional stakeholders.

B2B Go-To-Market Leaders | Saranya Ramamurthy | Product Marketing
Product Marketing: Product marketing wouldn’t have one universal KPI to chase because we intersect with multiple cross-functional teams.


For example, if the product’s focus is to drive activation for a particular feature at the end of this quarter, so many customers should be activated for this new feature. That means a product marketers, one of the KPIs would be around activating. We take a shared goal so that there is no alignment mismatch. You go to a cross-functional stakeholder. There’s been a lot of times in the past that I go to a cross-functional stakeholder and ask for something that I want to do, and it’s not even there in their KPIs. It’s not their job. They need not do this.

Right now it’s very easy because we all do shared KPIs, we all take shared KPIs. From a sales enablement perspective, we take KPIs on win rate conversions. It could be MQL to SAL conversions, any improvements there. It could also be a number like I need to do DLSs for so many deals so that we help the sales sell faster and smarter. That’s predominantly it. It’s multiple KPIs and each board will take multiple KPIs basis their alignment with product sales or growth marketing teams.

How do you track the two angles to this, which is you are giving your priorities to your product marketing reports and the designer to ensure that the KPIs are being tracked and you’re making progress? At the same time, you need to report progress to the cross-functional peers and the leadership team.

I should do that. For example, if I have a launch person in the team and they take a launch or activation. The bloated KPI is also my KPI. What does the launch help? It helps customer expansion and customer enablement. I’ll take a bloated KPI and the team takes an operational KPI or tactical KPI. Whatever the product wants to. There is part two, which is the enablement KPI, whatever the enablement per person has as a goal, building pipe, helping the SDRs to have a better MQL-SAL conversion and having a better win rate in the mid-market and enterprise segment or whatever it is. I’ll have a bloated or a combined KPI, all things covered, that will be my KPI two. Product will be my KPI 1, sales will be my KPI 2, I thought would be any strategic projects that we are doing, launching a new product in the new market, launching an existing product in the new market, or anything of that. All of it aligns with the company’s goals.

How you’re spending a budget? Do you have a budget or is most of the budget typically with the demand and the media side of things?

Product marketing here doesn’t have an exclusive budget. We have a shared budget as a marketing team. Basis priority, for example, how we got a branding consultant this quarter. That’s because two other stakeholders from demand had to let go of their priority projects. It’s us discussing and debating which is more important to the organization now. It’s just the overall marketing budget that we shared.

Talking about KPIs is something that I’ve seen, and obviously, you can relate to this. Product marketing plays a key role in go-to-market, but then the KPIs or the needle that they move, it takes 1 or even 2 quarters for them to see the impact that plays out. How are you beating the drum rightly so that your team is doing the right things and working on the right priorities, and how are you ensuring that the budget or the people are not taken away while people are waiting to see the results of product marketing activities?

This is how my VP of marketing puts it. Every other activity has a leading indicator and a lagging indicator. A lagging indicator could have multiple leading indicators to it. There are phases of this project that we need to define. At the end of phase one, I should operationally complete this task. At the end of phase two, I should have completed this task. At the end of the project itself, that’s when we start implementing this or rolling this out entirely and then start creeping the benefit of lagging indicators. This is how my VP of marketing puts it.

I would probably say that it’s not that difficult to have a metric-centric KPI for a quarter. It’s not all things are lagging. For example, if you say my sales lifecycle is huge, and that’s why I feel like all the things that I’m doing in DLSS will not probably help. Most of the deals like in the early stages and it not convert in this quarter. If I have a win rate conversion KPI, I would not need it. It’s impossible because we’re built on a pipe and there are a lot of deals in the closing stages in this quarter tool.

We can frame a KPI in such a way that we could put a metric that could also be achievable, and we can go back to the leadership and tell them that so far it’s worked that way. We’ve taken KPIs for two quarters and it’s worked well for us to date except for the branding project, which is not the product marketing project. It’s something that we are doing for awareness and better branding purposes.

Not everything is a success or a failure when it comes to go-to-market. Why don’t you share with the audience 1 go-to-market success story and 1 go-to-market failure story either inFeedo, Airmeet, Zoho or whichever brands that you are part of?

I’ll go a little confidential here. This company that I worked with had a couple of products. Imagine product A is our flagship product. Product B is the one that is new, very young, and isn’t giving much revenue to the company. It’s easy to call it the least favorite product. I was the PMM for this least favorite product, unfortunately, but I’m happy. We were able to do a lot of experiments there. We were running multiple validations in existing markets, and we were also running PMFs to enter into new markets.

While doing the research around the market on the competition, looking at our product sales in the last two years, we figured that 50% of the accounts that are using product B are also product A users. They are using this product together. We also spoke to a few of these customers and validated multiple things on the problems that Product A solves for Product B solves for. Also, we’ve validated this beautiful narrative that ties both product A and product B USPs. This is something that we’ve not done because the data gave us this, and then we started getting on calls with these customers and started validating this narrative, and it was all successful.

We figured out that with the help of product A, they were able to solve a functional pain point. At a functional level, there is a pain point, and the product A was able to solve for it. With both products, they were able to expand it a little further and create more visibility cross-functionally. It had some org-level impact. With Product A, there was a functional-level impact, and with Product B, there was an org-level impact. This was a huge narrative for us. That gave us a good reason for us to go behind the product A install base.

In weeks, we launched a cross-sell play. That’s a sales motion that we launched with a very lean effort we were a three-member PMM team and only one head of marketing and I focusing on this initiative. The sales members were already busy selling the flagship product. How do we motivate and train them? We launched this cross-sell like we launched all the training, we launched co-laterals, content pieces, and everything around it. We had a brand list that we went behind and we created a pipe of $1.5 million in just one quarter. All with the existing resources.

We even ask for extra budgets, everything organic. We even ask for extra team members, focus team members. The beauty here is that we have built this enterprise and mid-market pipe in the future with converts. It’s less likely to churn according to the data that we had as well. The learnings here are the sales motion that we are looking to create, the narrative that we are trying to craft, and the PMF that we are trying to find, everything is right in front of us. We need not start with a clean slate or a narrative, open an empty document, and start putting down data. There is something that you can get from your customer conversations or prospect conversations. You need not start a playbook without having an idea of what is making an impact and what’s not because there is already a lot of data in front of you, a lot of intel that is in front of you. That has been an eye-opener for me to rely on data.

That was a success story. The insight that he got was Product B elevated Product A functional impact, and Product B elevated it to a cross-functional and organizational impact. How did you arrive at that insight? What places were you looking at for the data?

We never combined product A and product B in the first place. We were looking at this as a product separately. At inFeedo as well, we are trying too hard to bring a story together for engagement and support as a product, but it’s not blending. Now, we never looked at a blended use case, but we knew that some benefits could happen, so we strengthened the integrations a little bit. Even during the validation stage and after validating, we came back, strengthened the use cases a little bit, and then it became a little more effective. Still, we were able to see the narrative through. It just has to happen. You need to discover, sit with data, understand, and see if there is a story behind every number that you’re seeing.

What were the data sources? Where were you looking for this?

These are our internal sources because it’s just our products.

Was it CRM or was it product adoption metrics?

It’s our internal analytics tool.

Switching gears a bit over here. What about the go-to-market failure story and the lessons that you learned from there?

A lot of interesting things there as well. We all have our successes and failures. A lot of failures. When you start, you fail the most. For me, also, it’s the same. When I switched to the SaaS company, that’s when I understood this is not how SaaS companies work. Agencies could probably work this way. That is the trend. I’m not a big fan of riding behind trends. From your agency experience, you could probably rely too much on trends, but in a SaaS company, it wouldn’t work that way. It failed me in a lot of places, I’m saying this because right now I’m working for an AI company, which is a trend these days.

Both the products are powered by AI at inFeedo, and I also used to work for a company called Airmeet, which was into virtual events during the pandemic, which was the trend then. I will tell you why I hate trends right now because trends could come and go but the product should already have a larger purpose, and it has to look at the larger problem that it should solve. For example, during the pandemic, the trend was virtual events. We use virtual events, we abused the term virtual events, literally. It evolved into a hybrid, once things started opening up a little bit. Everybody was talking about, “Let’s chuck virtual events. Let’s go into a hybrid.” Now it has completely changed, and I’m sure like every other virtual event looking at a different route altogether.

The trend is not here to stay. The flip side of the trend is also like, what if my current ICP is the HR leader, what if they don’t get this trend? They don’t know this, they need a masterclass. Or what if their staff are not trained to use an AI? What if it scares them? Everybody’s talking like, “What if it’s complex?” There are also multiple platforms like Lyndon and all of these learning sources and communities that talk about these trends, both positively and negatively. What if when they’re talking about the negative things about AI or virtual events, it would impact my ICP’s decision-making as well?

When somebody talks about the flip side of AI in an HR community, I would get more questions during my calls with the customers. The most important part here is if you’re looking at enterprise and mid-market as your customer segment, you clearly shouldn’t go behind trend because they would not rely on a fleeting trend. They know that it’s going to change. Now is AI, and next is something else. They always go behind a trustworthy product and trustworthy founding team. That’s why I’m totally against it.

The second thing that has failed me is the timing, both of these. We launched a focused team effort with the proper dedicated budgets. I told you about the cross-sell motion, which was a clean effort, with no budgets, but we still did it. This was dedicated. We got the budgets, we got the focus team as well dedicated to selling into a vertical, but this is when the companies were heavily downsizing, restructuring, and cost-cutting.

Cost cutting was an advantage for us because we wanted to replace a costly alternative. Still, now, nobody was evaluating all our bonds were not answered. Nobody was in the mindset ready to spend that time to replace a solution, give that implementation time extra. That’s also something that failed me. Trend timing, both are my villains at this point.

Timing and trend for sure. You mentioned something that caught my attention. A really important factor in how to become a better marketer. How often do you meet with customers and in what format or what context?

After the pandemic meeting them in a physical event has reduced. We are meeting them more virtually now. It could be every week we get on sales calls. We get validation interviews with customers to validate an idea or a solution. It’s not just you going on a call with them to understand them. It is also in the communities. You can go and be a part of the communities that they are most active in, especially HR communities. There are plenty of communities. There is a channel called Slack channel called People. There are a lot of HR communities on LinkedIn where they put their day-to-day problems. That’s where you consume this content.

It’s also important for you to consume raw content. When you’re going on a call, maybe you’re posting like, “Do you like this? Are you okay with this? Is this your problem?” We ask a lot of pointed questions, but when you go to communities, you tend to get raw data on how their day-to-day is looking. That’s also one of the avenues that I usually go on. The third could be any recorded calls. Even if I’m not able to catch up with customers in person, I go on customer calls, listen to them, understand their pain points, and admit their needs. Come back to my drawing board and make changes or tweaks in the messaging, if any.

Do you have any specific cadence or frequency for each of these weekly?

I do this daily. My 10:00 to 11:00 is blocked to know the customer.

That’s what I was hoping to hear. I’m glad that you said it’s daily. I want to give guidance to the audience as to how they should be planning the day and week when it comes to knowing the customers.

My 10:00 to 11:00 is to prepare and know the customer. It has links to all the communities that I follow. I can pick, go, and check if there are any new messages in there. Read anything or listen to a new chorus call. That’s all I do.

Based on what you shared, you’ve got a very good product marketing DNA and a product marketing muscle based on how you structure the organization, the right people in the right seats, and their prioritizing customer knowledge or insights. Given all these things, what would you put as the top 1, 2, 3 challenges for product marketing? Where is the biggest shot for gaps?

The biggest shortfall is you might tend to phase a lot of delays in decision-making because there are a lot of stakeholders involved in making a product marketing decision. For example, if you’re exploring a new market, it is not just you, but you are a part. There are CXOs in the team, LT members, leadership in the team, product leadership, sales leadership, and multiple people. It’s effective to get all their point of view, but curating all those points of view and having a proper plan of action could probably be delayed. That is something that we need to be extremely patient on. It is going to delay. This is something that I’ve been trying to solve for a long time. That is one of the biggest disadvantages.

It's effective to get everyone's point of view, but curating those views and having a proper plan of action could be different. Click To Tweet

The second would probably be not all your ideas will be approved. Getting a buy-in is difficult. Until an analyst backs it with data, you back it with all the intelligence that is available in the market. Getting buy-ins is not a joke. You cannot probably have an idea now and toss it to your cross-functional leaders the next day. If you have an idea now, you do your research the next day and then invest a little more time in talking to cross-functional leaders and understanding their perspectives on this on day three. Going to them with that. We always need to spend that time doing that research. Buy-ins and delays in launching something or delays in crafting a plan of action is something that’s a disadvantage.

Those are all valid. It can apply to any other function as well. Since stakeholders are part of the decision-making process, that’s a given. When it comes to those 8 or 10 product marketing programs that we talked about earlier, where would you put your finger and say, “That’s a challenge that I want to invest in going forward?” The positioning and messaging, customer expansion, new product launch, new market launch, AR, VR, product content, and customer insights.

If you look at it inside every other part that you’re talking about, there is a challenge. There is one challenge or the other. For example, in sales enablement, you might probably craft a narrative. You might think that is this the best thing that you could probably do. While taking it to sales, there are a lot of objections that you might probably want to handle. They will not implement it. They would say we are comfortable with the older narrator. Why are we changing this now? What are the reasons we are changing it now? Even after training, they would still be very comfortable with old change management and getting that adoption for all the sales that you’re creating. You might create ten of such usual collaterals.

Everybody will be reacting fire on it whenever you put it on Slack, but still there is no usage then you can’t show any metrics to the leadership team as well. That is one of the challenges in sales anymore. There are multiple things under each of these parts. It’s part of our job to tackle all of these challenges. I’m so used to sailing within these challenges that I don’t even look at this as a challenge anymore. It’s a part and parcel of life. That’s why I said something irrelevant to product marketing.

If you’re open to it, I can share some advice as to how I tackle that specific sales enablement challenge. This is for my clients as well. One thing that I do is I typically get a champion within the sales team and ideally should be the top seller. Get his or her buy-in, and pilot the program with them. If you’re trying to do a new sales narrative, pilot it with that seller, and then maybe she or he would do that pitch and then show to the sales team, or in the annual or quarterly sales kickoff, they’ll say, “By the way, with this new narrative, I’m seeing so much more pipeline growth and traction. This is cool. You guys should take this on.” Let your salesperson be the champion on your behalf.

This is something that we did as well. We had a closed loop of sales leadership that was ready to try it for at least 2 calls a week and we gave 1 month. We got perspectives from all those four core leaders, curated all of them, got them on a call, and let them launch it. This is exactly what we did as well. Having a champion is valid in a proper deal scenario we should have a person inside that deal and also in this case as well.

Brace yourself. It's completely normal to lose a battle. There are multiple battles that you'd be facing daily. But you'll only get stronger with time. So, product marketing grows on you. Click To Tweet

The last question to you is if you were to turn back the clock and look back at your career journey so far, what advice would you give to your younger self on day one of your go-to-market journey? This is more advice you can’t turn backlog and change anything, but then advice that you would want the audience to take away.

I don’t think I could save my angry self from any of the battles that I’ve faced. Maybe I would tell her to brace herself and it’s completely normal to lose a battle because there are multiple battles that you’d be facing on a day-to-day basis. We would be talking to sales or products, multiple battles, multiple buy-ins, and multiple decisions to be made. You would have battles and disagreements you will not probably have leadership sign-off or anything but you’ll only get stronger with time. Product marketing grows on you. You don’t get it, but you will get it someday. On day one, it’s not possible. As you grow, like PMM grows on you you will get stronger with time. That’s something I would tell my younger self and the audience as well.

Thank you so much for your time and for sharing all those insights, Saranya. Good luck to you and your team.

Thanks so much, Vijay.


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B2B 59 | Pillars Of Empowerment

B2B 59 | Pillars Of Empowerment


Building successful go-to-market strategies is all about collaboration, respect, and a culture of betterment. It’s a journey of breaking down silos and embracing the path to profitability, where every team member’s value is celebrated. For today’s episode, we will explore the heart and soul of a thriving go-to-market strategy. Meet our guest, Gianna Scorsone, CEO of Champion, who shares the secrets to successful product marketing, and how collaboration with sales and customer success can be the key to winning in the market. Gianna shares her five pillars of empowerment, shedding light on building a culture of betterment and respect within your team. Her journey from profit-focused startups to multi-million-dollar enterprises gave her plenty of lessons on how to build a thriving go-to-market strategy, and today, she shares it with you. Join us in discovering the insights, mentorship, and leadership that drive business success.

Listen to the podcast here


Go-To-Market Success: Pillars Of Empowerment, Mentorship, And The Customer Voice With Gianna Scorsone

In this episode, I have the pleasure of hosting another great and exciting guest. Her name is Gianna Scorsone. She is the COO of Champion. Prior to this, she was the GM Head of North America at a hot and fast-scaling startup Aircall. Welcome to the show, Gianna.

Thank you. It’s great to be here.

Let’s dive right into all this conversation with this topic and question, which the readers love as well as the guests love. How do you view and define go-to-market?

I love how we are starting with a very big, bold, and broad question, but I would have to say go-to-market, at its core or boiling it down, is how an organization or a company shows up in the face of the customer. It’s the convergence between marketing, sales, product, or services depending on what your business line is, as well as customer success. I’d say that customer success in the product has traditionally been left out of that equation when you think of go-to-market, but that’s something services do well in thinking about that post-sale customer interaction.

On the product side, there’s customer success in your traditional way, but we are talking about the go-to-market function and driving revenue from it. It focuses on identifying the market, the IPC, and the need, and how a company will position the value prop and show up for the customer wherever they are in that journey. That’s what I meant by product typically leaving out that customer in that post-sale as it relates to generating more revenue. That’s what everyone’s trying to scramble and figure out now.

We will get into that because you are living this day in and day out at Champion. It always starts with the customer and the problem that you are trying to solve, and how your product is solving that, and then you internally align your product, your marketing, your sales, and your customer success around that problem and persona you are pursuing.

You said it better than I did. You got it.

Let’s backtrack here. Let’s zoom out. Why don’t you share with the readers your career story as to what led you to what you are and who you are serving?

Thank you for that opportunity. It’s fun to be able to reflect and think about that journey and how much changed or grown over the years. I have had twenty-plus years as a go-to-market leader. I started in retail and I am so thankful that I got my start there. That is the foundation of who I am as a leader. I’d love to share a little bit more about that. I worked in a very high-volume store. What that meant was that I had anywhere up to 40 staff members working who were not on commission, and I had to learn how to communicate a common goal and how to tap into intrinsically motivating them to want to contribute to that big picture even though they weren’t compensated for it.

Retail has done an amazing job for decades in communicating the right metrics at the right time to inform the employees and the leadership how they need to move forward to beat targets, and at the same time, how you manage running that store, managing all of the customers, and giving that optimal customer experience in a way that feels very personalized but at scale because of the high volume. That was the precipice to understanding the inner workings but doing it live that translates to B2B sales.

Is this a time at Express or somewhere else?

It sure was. That was my time at Express. I got to give them a lot of kudos. Robin Summas was my regional manager and she was powerful in helping me understand what business meant. Likewise, I had a district manager, Liz Hughes, who was a coach and taught me how to coach a team to empowerment and success. That translates so strongly into the B2B tech world. From Express, I went to tech services. I worked for a company called Bluewolf. They were the first and premier partner of Salesforce and developed that blueprint of what partnerships meant within the ecosystem.

It was incredible to learn how to focus on the power of network and how to utilize your customers to be your catalyst to growth and success. We spun off from there. Another tech services firm was Mondo. I helped scale that business as an executive from $0 to $100 million and helped both Bluewolf and Mondo go-to-market. We sold respectively to IBM and the Addison Group. I then hopped over to Aircall moving on the product side for the first time.

B2B 59 | Pillars Of Empowerment
Pillars Of Empowerment: Focus on the power of network, in how to utilize your customers to be your catalyst to growth and success.


You did mention Bluewolf in the services industry around Salesforce implementation.

Salesforce implementation and customization, and then it brought into the full ecosystem HubSpot partnership and Marketo. We were early and fast movers around this idea of building a best-in-class tech stack within the SaaS arena.

Mondo, was it your first entry into tech products?

Mondo was also in services. That was tech and digital marketing staffing, which was a natural result of Bluewolf. They were sister companies for a long time, but we had superfluous infrastructure. To propel growth on both sides, we decided to split both companies, but first in the product was Aircall.

In between, you had a little stunt Women for Biden. That’s pretty interesting.

I felt like I needed to contribute to society. Tech has done me very well in the world. I feel very fortunate about what it has afforded me. I felt like I was able to take some time off. I wanted to give back to the community and to my beliefs in impacting society. I helped run the digital campaign, which was a grassroots effort.

A lot of powerful women from tech and media came together. We formed a group called Women for Biden. My role was part of this strategic group to help operationalize and help activate the hand raisers. I created a blueprint and all of the training to get all of these wonderful women across America, who wanted to contribute to this cause. We enabled them to become advocates and gain more votership. It was a cool experience.

I can see that excitement on your face. After that, you got a break into the tech world Aircall. How did you get that break? Your career journey until that point was in the services world.

It was services, but it was tech services. What I did within Mondo was build our best-in-class tech stack. I was using products all of the time. I ran RevOps. It’s this philosophy of how you use tools, how a user uses them, and what they need to gain from it. From there, honestly, services and products, it’s not that different.

I was able to grow the territory 2.5X or 3X in the year and a half that I was there in partnership with Jeff, my Cofounder of Champion. We were wildly successful. For my Bluewolf days, there was also a strong partnership play, and that was something that I brought to Aircall. That was our fastest-growing growth channel as well. We had a great team leading that front, but I had lived and breathed that ideology for a long time and was able to strengthen and gain more focus and budget around those efforts as well.

Talk to us about Champion. Why did you do that? You were one of the cofounders along with Jeff and your CTO. Tell us about what prompted the three of you to start this.

What prompted me to start with Jeff was I love Jeff as a human being and he’s amazing. Let’s say that. We have partnered with a third Cofounder, Courtney Crispin, who’s the CTO. She is the one who’s powering our ability to bring this to the market, which is exciting. She comes from the Salesforce world and has brought an engineering team that is just true geniuses. They come from the Einstein team and marketing cloud. It’s amazing to see that level of talent at such an early-stage company building that AI moat that’s going to power Champion.

Why we built it? Jeff and I are great partners at Aircall. He was the Global CMO. I ran North America’s go-to-market. What had traditionally worked in our demand gen funnel and our sales funnel was that mix between outbound and inbound, that traditional funnel, but we had this amazing customer base. There was always that thought that we should be doing more with our customers.

As I mentioned, I come from the services world where everything was about your network and harboring your customers to do more with them. That didn’t exist in the product world as much. Marketing traditionally does such an amazing job of focusing on pre-sales of generating leads and demand gen. The focus started to shift a few years ago into customer marketing and how customer marketing can impact revenue channels, but there was still that question mark of how. Honestly, it was a little bit fluffy because it’s so complex and there weren’t great tools to help facilitate that.

We are the first platform to focus on post-sale marketing programs to generate profitable growth through your customer base. As everyone’s talking about efficient growth, the huge part of that equation is driving more revenue and retention within your customer base, and now this is an easy way to execute regular repeatable programs to drive consistency and fill that gap where outbounds are not as effective anymore.

We are hearing from a lot of our customers that traditional demand gen efforts aren’t working the way that they used to, and they need to fill that data with a new revenue source. That’s your customers. I’m passionate about this because it’s a no-brainer. Everyone has talked about it for years and it’s known that it’s cheaper to sell within your customer base. It’s more efficient to do so. It’s easier to do so, and yet that focus hasn’t been there because we have all been hyper-focused in the SaaS world on net new. Now, the market is primed. That shift has come of the understanding that retention is what North Star metric expansion is and generating more hot leads that will convert faster to continue to prime net new as well.

At the surface level, I completely agree and align with what you guys are doing with Champion. I have two questions. I’m curious about how you went about validating the problem and the market size of this. That’s one. The related question is, there’s been this growing movement around customer marketing. There are tech startups that have been funded and raised a good amount of VC money in customer marketing. Let’s start with the first one. How did it go about validating the problem in the space?

How you go about validating the problem is by talking to as many people or your buyer as humanly possible. At this point, I want to say we have spoken to at least 1,000 leaders, and that’s not an exaggeration. That’s where it starts. Also, I or Jeff was this person. We are operators who have both respectively have scaled multiple organizations to the $100 million to $250 million mark, and we experienced these challenges firsthand.

The second related question was whether this falls in the AI domain of customer marketing. There’s been a growing movement in customer marketing. In your interviews with the prospective buyers, how are you focusing on that gap that customer marketing tech companies are not addressing?

That differentiator is we follow the whole customer journey. That’s vastly important because a lot of tech consolidation is also happening now. Part of why there’s a lot of tech consolidation aside from cost is that there’s confusion and complexity to getting all of these data points from all of these disparate tools impacting that one main initiative, which is how we continue to drive revenue and understand the stickiness of our customers.

When you have data all over the place for multiple teams or even the same team, it becomes complex to utilize them in a meaningful way. Where we are coming with our approach and philosophy is that we need to break down silos and understand that the byproduct of what customer marketing is doing impacts the sales team and the customer success team.

B2B 59 | Pillars Of Empowerment
Pillars Of Empowerment: When you have data all over the place for multiple teams or even the same team, it becomes really complex to utilize them in a meaningful way.


We view ourselves as this control center. I didn’t coin that. The head of customer marketing at Slack had said that, and I was like, “You nailed it, Bridget. That’s exactly what it is.” We are this control center for customer marketing to be able to do these plays that are going to impact sales like reference programs and referral programs. First of all, identify who the champions are. That’s where it all starts. That’s through our AI moat.

You get them activated and then you put them into these plays that are going to generate revenue, so references and referrals that will help sales. It’s looking at the user-level aggregate to help power customer success because their tools don’t have user-level visibility. We do. Also, it’s looking at job changes. We track job changes because that’s part of the life cycle of the customer journey. They are going to move on.

That’s your champion. You don’t want to lose them and you don’t need to lose them. Bring them back through the new company that they are with, and at the same time, start getting new champions within that logo that they left. That’s where we have differed from those customer marketing orgs that are out there, as you mentioned.

It’s up to your comfort level and space. Do you mind sharing where you are in terms of business growth, number of customers, funds raised, and revenue?

We are excited. We started our company in April 2023 and we launched our beta in early August 2023. We are very excited about what we brought about, and we have got our first cohort of clients, which is around ten, I believe. Now, we are securing our second cohort of customers. For all of the product people reading, you will be very happy to know all of the engineers out there.

We are doing a great job, Jeff and myself, curating the right list of customers who narrowly fit into the vision of our product. They are early adopters. They are helping us influence our continued roadmap. As you asked, how are we validating this? We are going to continue to validate by getting the right customers on board. We also don’t want to distract our engineering team. We are focused and we have a very acute understanding of the problem that we solve, and we want to make sure that we keep them hyper-focused without taking these peripheral or fringe deals out there.

Did I hear this right that you said you founded the company or you raised the seed down in April 2023 and the first beta went out in August?

We are a studio brand out of High Alpha, and so we had some initial funding from them and we are raising our seed round now.

The reason why I want to highlight that is it is pretty impressive in a short timeframe like April to August and having data customers. That’s very impressive.

They are enterprise-level as well, which is also part of our strategy. We are an enterprise platform. We wanted to go about the market in a way that was sustainable for us and where we wanted to go from the start. It’s incredible that our engineering team produced something powerful enough so that enterprise clients feel comfortable using a beta and are believing in this vision to grow the product with us.

My guess and hypothesis is it’s not that you started doing the market research and lining up the betas in April. That groundwork must have been done way before.

Jeff started in January 2023 doing a lot of this groundwork of talking to very many people. I came on board a little bit afterward, and that was my initiative in the first couple of months that I joined. We formally formed the company in April of 2023. You are right that there were a lot of months of legwork before then. Jeff and I are very successful operators who experience this problem. It’s years of culminating many conversations with people within our networks and peers as we were learning to do and excel in our jobs. This is something that peer-to-peer we have heard for very many years.

January is when Jeff and you guys must have incorporated Champion. In April, you were accepted in the studio, and then August is when you lined up.

January with the studio and April incorporated, but January to April was all about market research.

The reason why I’m asking is there are quite a few aspiring founders of this show, so this is good advice to them as to how to pursue the validation piece.

If anyone reading wants to ask more direct questions, feel free to reach out on LinkedIn. We are happy to have conversations with new founders as well.

Thank you for sharing the tactical piece as to how you guys founded, incorporated, and went to market for Champion. Switching gears a bit over here, you had a very storied and long career when it comes to go-to-market and go-to-market failures. You have seen enough of those, so why don’t you share it with us? It’s up to you if you want to start with a failure or a success, but we love to know both success and failure stories. It can be from Mondo or Aircall.

This is a silly example but it sticks with me because part of my experience and part of what I have done is build sales training. I have enabled thousands of reps over the years to have best-in-class practices. It’s so strange to now be back in the sales arena on the floor doing the sales myself. I feel like I’m rewinding to the beginnings of my career. You would think that I have all of the best practices down the path and that I’m holding myself accountable to all of them. My founder’s life was slammed, having to change hats from investor call to board call, to new client call, to internal meeting, and to writing content for the website, and I had a meeting. Honestly, I simply didn’t prepare for the meeting.

I realized, halfway in when they brought it up to me that we knew someone in common. Their boss was someone that I had previously worked with. Had I brought that up or had I used that network opportunity, it would have driven my credibility way up and it would have made for a much warmer conversation in the beginning. On top of that, it showed that I didn’t do my homework. If you are not putting the effort in for your customer or for your prospect ahead of time, why on earth would they think that you’d put the effort in for them afterward? It’s treating them transactionally.

B2B 59 | Pillars Of Empowerment
Pillars Of Empowerment: If you’re not putting the effort in for your customer or for your prospect ahead of time, why on Earth would they think that you’d put the effort in for them afterward?


It’s treating them like a number as opposed to an individual with real needs, real pain, and a real story. It was embarrassing, quite frankly. I was embarrassed with myself and I have not made that mistake again. It’s about that balance and making sure that I’m maximizing every opportunity because, at this stage of the game, you have to and, at any stage, it’s the right thing to do. That’s how you build a thoughtful organization.

I can see why it led to an embarrassing moment, but I’m assuming it wouldn’t have been that expensive failure or that the cost was not that bad an option. Is that fair?

It wasn’t that bad. That’s fair.

Let’s switch gears. Go-to-market success story from your time at Aircall.

We worked very prominently in our partnership strategy. That was part of our major growth strategy for North America. We put a lot of focus and attention and had a world-class team running the efforts. We wanted to build something very thoughtful and we had a very strong integration with HubSpot. We knew that creating that opportunity and stickiness for our common customers or using that as the right demand gen channel of people who use HubSpot, and then use Aircall would be stickier.

It was how we continue to gain that market share, how we dominate within their marketplace, and how we get their attention so that HubSpot is seeing the value that Aircall brings to the table with them in that better-together story. Louis Dumortier ran the efforts and still does on the HubSpot relationship and the whole strategy.

He did an incredible job of that multi-pronged approach of thinking about rep to wrap, on how we are enabling an easier time for our sales reps to get to know their reps to get those leads. From an executive level, I was having regular monthly calls with their executive teams to get that buy-in as well and understand what some of the pain points were from their perspective.

We then had the whole ecosystem play within that as well. It was a multi-pronged approach. We got word that they were going to come out with this best-in-class tech stock report. They said to one of their executives, “I’m going to make it irresponsible for you guys not to put us on that list.” She was like, “We will see.” Unfortunately, it happened after my time at Aircall, but efforts were so there that they did name us their best-in-class tech stack. Must have, I believe, is how they named it. Also, that easy go-to-market strategy. As we mentioned before, it’s not just marketing and sales, but it’s partnerships and how you position to gain more market share.

B2B 59 | Pillars Of Empowerment
Pillars Of Empowerment: A go-to-market strategy is not just marketing and sales, but it’s really partnerships and how you position to gain more market share.


Leaning on your partners and partner ecosystem is a big lever in the go-to-market strategy. A lead-up question to that is what are 1 or 2 areas within go-to-market that people lean on you for? Maybe it’s sales, go-to-market, sales enablement, SDR, or BDR.

My passion and what I bring to the table is helping to empower emerging leaders to develop their ability to lead in a very meaningful way. It’s this cross between creating a feedback-first culture of betterment paired with arming emerging leaders to drive more success and helping them grow. These two things married together create this community of drivers and a community where every level of your players or teammates realizes the value that they drive to the overall big picture. This is what I do well. How this translates now is I mentor a heck of a lot of people that I have managed or have been in my teams throughout the years.

How do you do that? It’s not that you are doing something. It comes automatically and naturally for you.

It’s a playbook. It does come naturally to me, but you have to systematize it. When you are stressed out, it’s easy to lose sight of what works well. It’s like any process. I will share with you my five pillars, but there’s so much more to this. The five pillars of empowerment are this, and this is to the individual player. One, make their financial standings, like their salary, make it a non-issue. Make sure they are being paid market value. It doesn’t have to be top of market value, but there shouldn’t be a question of, “Am I being taken advantage of?” Pay them fairly, number one.

You have to systematize playbooks because it's really easy to lose sight of what works really well. Click To Tweet

Number two is to help break silos and help them see and respect the people around them. They have to feel like they respect the other teams and the people around them. That’s holding other teams accountable, that’s holding each person accountable, and that’s holding themselves accountable, but it’s also to break silos and drive mutual respect.

Next is to make sure they feel valued. How are you communicating to them that you see that they contribute to the big picture? That is constant every day that needs to happen. Number four is they have to feel they are doing valuable work. One is that, “I have to make them feel valued,” and the other is they have to feel that they are doing valuable work. They have to be stimulated in what they are doing. That also means making sure that they are in the right role and doing work that contributes to the big picture.

Number five, learning and growing. That’s the most important one. The minute people feel like they are not learning and growing anymore, this generational workforce, the Gen Zs, will move or they will leave. They love to learn and grow, and that’s what I love about them. There needs to be a feedback-first culture. They need to get constant feedback and how they can improve because then they feel like, “My time here is worth it.” I mentioned the five, but outside of the salary, if you have the other four, the salary becomes even less important. It has to be paid fairly. Where it starts is these five pillars, and then thinking about how you build programs, how you build communication, and how you build feedback to fill these five pillars.

This is great advice for people who are managing, mentoring, and growing. Thank you for sharing that.

You heard it here first.

That’s your expert and secret sauce. Switching gears once again. You did work on so many of the go-to-market teams. You led so many of the go-to-market teams. I’m 100% sure that you worked with product marketing functions in all of these in your various domains. What are the top 1, 2, or 3 things that you saw product marketing do very well that helped in your go-to-market?

The number one thing is to work with sales and work with customer success. The customer voice should power product marketing. How you get to that customer’s voice is sure products and different tools, but make sales and customer success feel a part of the product marketing function, building that roadmap, and being that voice for the customers.

The customer voice should really power product marketing. Click To Tweet

What I’m hearing if I had to articulate it is to work very closely with and involve folks from sales and customer success in the initiatives. Be it a product launch, be it building new product content, or even driving product adoption in various segments.

I love how you have broken it down into the different ways that product marketing needs to focus on different areas within that lifecycle as well. That’s exactly right.

Coming to the last couple of questions here, if you were to go back in time, who are the influencers, mentors, coaches, or managers that played a big role in your career?

I love this moment. There have been so many at different points. What’s so beautiful about this idea of a mentor is that they can come and go, and you will have different people influence you at different times, that readiness. The universe magically finds you those right people within your scope and space for what you need at that moment in time.

What's so beautiful about this idea of mentors is they can come and go and you'll have different people influence you at different times. Click To Tweet

I mentioned Robin Summas and Liz Hughes. Those were my early days at Express. They certainly impacted my ability to understand how to drive a machine in a very inspiring and motivating way. From there, I would say Bluewolf and Mondo days, Mike Kirven and Eric Berridge were the CEOs, two cofounders. Mike Kirven instilled in me the path to profitability.

He made us do things cheap because he was cheap. I loved the man to death. We built a $100 million business with 14% EBITDA, and it forced us to be extremely creative and understand how to create the right operational efficiencies to drive profitability. It made me think outside of the box, and it made me think about how to best support and enable the path to productivity for all sales reps in marketing. That was a valuable lesson and helped fuel my know-how in Champion.

Eric Berridge brought to the table to dream big and have great vision, see the opportunity, and not be afraid to be that market breaker who’s going to bring something influential, and that’s what we did at Bluewolf. We created that blueprint of what it meant to be a partnership ecosystem company. No other company and no big consultant firm did what Bluewolf did. That was Eric Berridge, Corinne Sklar, and Jolene Chan. They were truly amazing to learn from them. Also, Jeff Reekers, my Cofounder. He heavily influenced and it’s why I’m here now as well. I would like to believe he’d say the same about me. We complement each other well and we have had this approach of let’s play on each other’s strengths. We complement each other so well because of that.

Kudos to you for recognizing and calling out all those folks who played a big role in shaping your career.

There were so many.

That’s why I don’t like asking these questions. It puts you on the spot.

It’s a limit. We have to limit it so that we don’t bore people. During my time at Aircall, my entire team, the North America team, and also the people who were not traditionally in my org, we treated North America as one whole. The marketing team of North America and the sales ops team enablement support, we created this environment where we broke down silos and drove and respected each other. We all looked at what is the one goal we want North America to dominate and how we are going to get there together.

We did these workshops. Madelyn DePrey, who’s now VP of Customer Success at Aircall, led a workshop on the customer journey and looked at the experience through their lens at each stage of the customer journey. We grouped the entire North American team into that, and then we ideated and solved pain points and problems we saw along the way to improve our performance and therefore our results.

Everyone in North America at Aircall heavily influenced my growth as a leader because I was able to become that leader I’d always wanted to be and create a culture of betterment but of respect where everyone wanted the team to win, not just self. That was one of the most inspiring moments of my career. I thank them.

The list goes on and on. Something that caught my attention and this is big on my mind nowadays is how you build that financial muscle, the discipline around profitability. I don’t know if that person or the leader was from Bluewolf or Mondo, but you did mention building a discipline around thinking out of the box and around the metrics. Walk us through that playbook. Are there any rituals that you do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis? Maybe you work with the head of finance.

We work with the head of finance. I like having budgets upfront like, “Let’s do some quick dirty modeling. What’s our budget? What are we trying to achieve?” Let’s go bottom up and build to how we get there. If you do that, it’s quite simple. If you don’t hit your revenue targets, then the next quarter, you have to decrease the cost and figure out a way to get there. In a services firm, that’s a little bit easier.

From the product perspective, it’s acutely looking at it. We have got our metrics LTV to CAC. It shows thinking about, especially at our stage, even all those little extra costs like booking travel. Do it smartly so that you have that extra little wiggle room. Don’t spend superfluously. Every dollar adds up. It is being that scrutinous, but it is looking at and making sure that you have got the right metrics in place and it’s holding yourself to that standard. From the product perspective, what everyone is trying to do within SaaS now is readdressing what those expectations are. Resetting those benchmarks of what the ROI should be.

How often would you look at these numbers, the budget, as well as the spending and the pipeline?

I am looking at them monthly. You can’t go too crazy, and that’s what you need your finance team for. You don’t want to get too nuts. You also do need to invest to see a return as well. It’s having some trust also in what you are doing so that you don’t go too off course. Invest in events that are the right go-to-market strategy for you, or if demand gen isn’t working traditional outbound, what is working and how can you lean into that? That’s a little bit of how you can think about it. If your revenue figures aren’t there, then figure out what is working and lean into that. That’s a way to get to profitability in a more manageable way.

People can go crazy and look at a daily oracle. Weekly, I have seen people do that, but what you are recommending is monthly.

Finance is looking at it weekly.

The final question for you is, if you were to turn back the clock, what advice would you give to your younger self on day one of your go-to-market journey?

I would say trust yourself. You got this. A wonderful career is ahead of you. Take the opportunities. Know that you belong. Trust that every decision you make is going to lead to a path forward. Continue to take risks and adjust along the way. To be honest with you, I love my career. I’m so proud of myself. I don’t know that I want to change anything. Could I have done better? Sure, but maybe not at the same time. I’m incredibly grateful. To my former self, I would say trust yourself and enjoy the journey along the way.

Trust yourself. You've got this. A wonderful career is ahead of you. Take the opportunities and know that you belong. Click To Tweet

Thank you so much for sharing those insights and the journey. Good luck to you and the team at Champion.

Thank you so very much.


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B2B 56 | Leading Others To Success

 B2B 56 | Leading Others To Success


Gong is a revenue intelligence platform enabling revenue teams to realize their full potential by unveiling customer reality. Today, Gong’s Chief Evangelist, Udi Ledergor, shares his secret to leading others to success. As a B2B marketing executive, Udi has showcased his expertise in leading the Super Bowl ad success. He delves into product marketing, and the product marketing’s role is to tell the company story. Join Udi in this insightful episode and see how he and Gong will help pave the path for your success.

Listen to the podcast here


Leading Others To Success: Building And Scaling Your Marketing Operations With Udi Ledergor

I have the pleasure of hosting Udi Ledergor, who is the Chief Evangelist at Gong. I’m sure that if you are in the B2B go-to-market and marketing world, you have come across and heard of Udi. Without any elaborate introductions, let’s get right in. Welcome to the show, Udi.

Thanks, Vijay. I’m excited to be here.

This is how I always open the show with a guest, and everyone likes to get right to the topic, which is, how do you view and define go-to-market?

Go-to-market is the process by which a company identifies its target audience. They understand the value that they’re bringing that target audience and how to deliver that value to the target audience. In other words, who are we selling to? What are we selling them? How are we going to sell this?

I like the way and how we emphasize that it all starts with the audience. You didn’t talk about any of the internals or the intricacies that have to happen on the company side, which is the product, marketing, sales, and customer success. You left it out, although it’s understood you are referring to those functions.

Form follows function. If you start with who’s going to report to whom and what we are doing internally, we might miss the bigger questions of who are we selling to, what we are selling them, and how they want to buy from us. If we figure that out, we can build the right org structure, hire the right people, and build the right product to deliver that value.

It all starts with the persona, the people, the segments, and the problems. It all starts and ends there. Everything else is helping the persona to address their problems.

That’s where the elusive product-market fit happens. Many companies fail to find product market fit there. There are multiple reasons that this can happen. One of them is that they were obsessed with building a solution. They’re searching for a problem that that solution solves. Sometimes, they’ll find it, but often they won’t. The other way around, where companies obsess about a problem and look for the best way to solve that problem is usually a more direct line into product market fit and a product you can sell.

I would love to get into that specific topic. Before this call, I was with another founder who built a successful company. They’re still in the early days for several years. They grew from 0 to 400 customers. They raised $18 million in funding. It comes back to what you mentioned, which is the focus on the problems and the people and continuous focus on that. Let’s go to the big picture. Let’s go broad enough. How about you share your career story and journey with our readers and what got you to what you’re doing now?

The first relevant memory would be, as a teenager, I was doing a summer internship in my father’s office, who was working at a big tech/IT company in Israel where I grew up. I saw a bunch of people slouching over their computers, typing away. I thought, “What a boring job. I’m never going to go into tech.” Those are famous last words.

I always loved the performing arts. I dabbled in magic, music, lighting, sound, and everything you can imagine in between. Marketing is the perfect grownup job for someone like me who loves putting on a show, creating an experience, and experiencing that bridge between all the sometimes complicated, messy stuff that goes on in the back to create this clean, simple-looking experience on the outside.

Magicians and musicians do that. When the best of them do it, it sounds and looks effortless. That’s what great marketing looks like. It is when you create a beautiful, simplified experience for your audience where you can simplify complex technology into a simple use case of “Why should I care about this?” You make it seem easy and obvious that, “How did not someone think of this earlier?” That’s how I got into tech or what pulled me in.

Great marketing is creating a beautiful, simplified experience for your audience where you can simplify complex technology. Click To Tweet

In practice, I served in the Israeli military for several years, as most Israelis do, at least back in my day. Towards the end of my service, I was contacted by a company that had won an RFP with the Israeli military to build a simulator for a rocket system that I was an expert on at the time. They were looking for a product manager to be the domain expert and help them build a simulator that closely resembles the operational system. I happened to be the right person in the right place. I interviewed and got the job. That was my first job in tech.

From there, I started exploring all the different things and functions. I taught myself programming. I went along to meetings with the sales manager. I sat around the engineers to see what they were up to. I built prototypes and dabbled with everything. While doing the engineering stuff was fun, challenging, and interesting, I found myself enjoying customer interactions more than anything else.

Fast forward a couple of positions later, I continued in product management for several years. While I was doing that at a company that did not have a fully-fledged marketing function, I proposed building the marketing function myself. I went to my CEO at the time after several years of being a product manager, and I said, “It’s time we build a complete marketing function, and I have the guy for you. I want to take on that job.” He agreed.

After I had hired and trained someone to replace me as the product manager, who happens to be the CEO of that company now, I moved on and became the first VP of Marketing. From there, I did rinse and repeat. I found myself at five different companies as the first marketer. I always sub twenty employees. That’s my sweet spot. I want to come in when there are a lot of things to figure out. I like scaling things that I build myself in those early stages.

I was fortunate to join five startups based in Israel selling globally. We took a couple of them public, got a couple of them acquired, and for the last several years, I’ve been with Gong, which is the third time I’ve worked with my CEO, Amit Bendov. I’ve worked with him at two previous companies over the last several years. When people ask me how I got this dream job, I say, “He called me and asked me if I’m able to help. I said yes. That’s how I got the job.” There are no heroic stories there. I’m building a good relationship and hopefully proving I was valuable in previous roles.

In the last several months, I’ve been the Chief Evangelist. I’ve passed the baton of managing the marketing team to an awesome new CMO that we hired, Brian. I am now focusing on lots of thought leadership and speaking opportunities like what we’re doing here. I’m running an influencer program. I’m taking executive alignment calls to show other executives how I use Gong as an executive myself and enjoying this new phase of my journey at Gong.

Thanks for that CliffNotes version. I’m sure there are lots of ups and downs in there, but something that caught my attention when I was looking up your LinkedIn profile is this interesting and intriguing title, which is Simulator Specialist. That’s what you’re referring to in building simulators for rocket technology.

That was what I was doing. I’m not a rocket scientist, but I am a rocket specialist. I couldn’t find a better title than simulator specialist. In hindsight, everything I was doing was a product management role. I was bringing the user knowledge and preferences to the engineering team and telling them what they should create. It looks to be like the real rocket system that they were simulating. I might go back and change that to product manager at some point, although simulator specialist is a little more intriguing.

It is a conversation starter. You’re simplifying and not giving yourself too much credit, but something that stands out if I or anyone else were to look at your career is how you pick and choose the right startups because that’s where the real formula is. What was your formula in picking those 3, 4, and 5 startups?

I’m happy to go into that. I had a few successes and less exciting choices that I made that I learned something from. The number one thing that I look for that has usually guided me in the right direction is the right leadership. If I had prior knowledge with the leader, like I did when I joined Gong, that would’ve been enough because this is the third time working with Amit. I’ve been working with him on and off for several years. I have well over several years of directly reporting to him. He’s the best leader and manager I’ve ever worked for. If tomorrow he went and started some not-for-profit social impact NGO, I’d probably join him there.

Leadership is where you can’t go wrong. The first time I went to work for him, I asked a mutual friend about him. He said, “You should go work for him because everyone who’s ever worked for him says wonderful things about him.” That was helpful. Do your due diligence on the leaders you’re going to work for. As a reminder, even if you’re in an early stage, fear the later stage in your career. You should be interviewing the company no less than they are interviewing you. If you’re going to commit most of your waking hours for the next several years to the company, it’d better be somewhere with people and a problem you enjoy working on. Hopefully, you are doing some good for the world.

B2B 56 | Leading Others To Success
Leading Others To Success: Leadership is where you can go wrong. So, do your due diligence on the leaders you will work for.


Leadership is number one by far. To generalize that a little bit, I’ve seen more success working with second-time founders or executives who’ve done some meaningful roles before the role that I worked for them. I’ve had some of my more questionable experiences with first-time founders who were young, never had a meaningful position, and what they thought was a great idea and wanted to build a company around it.

Sometimes, the idea was great. Sometimes, it was not great, but their people skills were green. They could be challenging to work with. You can expect that from a lot of first-time founders who have never built an organization and think that having great ideas is enough, but it turns out that the day-to-day job is a lot about motivating people, giving them a sense of purpose, hiring great people and continuing to build the company that way. That’s a little bit about leadership.

Two is looking for product market fit. This is a big one. As a marketer, I excel by having something to work with where there’s an initial product-market fit, and I can go scale that. As soon as we have a product that a certain group of people think is valuable, it solves a painful problem, and they have the budget and authority to buy that solution, I can bring lots more people like that. I’ll find the ways and build an image strategy, brand, and category if I need to. I’ll bring those people to buy the product. If we don’t have that minimum of initial product market fit, we don’t know who we’re selling to, and we don’t know what value we’re bringing them, how can marketing succeed?

I have seen failure both personally and with many talented marketers around me who come into a company without doing their diligence on product-market fit or maybe had a misleading picture of what that product-market fit looks like. We’re all bound to fail. Marketing cannot fix product market fit unless there’s a strong basis there. It’s clearly in marketing’s mandate. If you’re not a product person and you’re not looking to create the right product for the market, but you want to do the core marketing of creating demand gen and bringing people to buy that product, you’ve got to ensure that there’s early product market fit.

There are ways of getting hints of that. If it’s already a product with some sales and not an early stage, there should be reviews up on G2. There should be customer testimonials. You can ask to speak to a couple of customers and see how crucial the product is to their day-to-day, how they use it, and how happy they are with it.

If the product is terrible, people are probably writing bad reviews about it. If they love it, they are writing great reviews about it. You can ask to speak with investors of the company and see what got them excited about investing in that company. Speak to other employees and see what got them excited and what they were surprised about after they started working. Was it better, worse, or the same as what they thought it would be?

Do your diligence and make sure you know where you’re coming from because nothing is worse than leaving a job or celebrating a new job. Several months later, you are discovering things are not as you thought, not as you were told, and you wish you’d done that due diligence. It’s way easier to do it before than be surprised after. I talked about leadership and product market fit. I would also look, especially at times like this, at things like runway. Assuming this is an early-stage startup, it’s early to discuss profitability but understand what the sales trajectory is. If they haven’t started yet, yes, this may be a huge opportunity, but it’s also a huge risk.

If sales have started, what have they been? What’s the trend in the last several quarters? How much money have we raised? When do we need to raise more? How inclined are existing investors to give us more money? If we need new investors, what metrics are we coming up with that are going to get them excited about joining the company? All these are valid questions for anyone joining a startup. If you’re going to risk your best years, reputation, and livelihood for a company, they should be upfront with you about all these things.

Thank you so much for enlisting those. The three things, if I have to echo, first is around leadership, second is around product-market fit, and third is around the runway. I wish I had reached out to you earlier in my career because I didn’t do the due diligence. I know many others in my network who haven’t done that. That was one of the reasons why I prompted this topic, especially in this hard or even improving economic situation. People are still looking out there for new jobs. I want to give this piece of advice to you. Thank you for sharing that. On a lighter note, how do your family members, or even your friends, describe or view what you do in your corporate role?

I was looking at the question, and I was smiling because my husband would explain well what I did. My children, who are ages 8 and 10, would struggle a little bit. That says something about how difficult it is to explain marketing. It’s way easier to explain sales because even as children, they go and buy an ice cream. They understand what sales is, but marketing is a little bit more subtle and indirect. I’ve got eight-year-old twins and a ten-year-old. I heard one of my eight-year-olds being asked, “What does your dad do?” She said, “He works for a company.” That was her explanation. I thought that was sweet, but it also clearly indicates a failure on my part to articulate better what I would do.

This is something that brings me a lot of laughter, even for the guests. A lot of times, unknowingly, we get way serious and head down into our day-to-day jobs. It is those lighter moments, especially when we are with our family members. Quick pulse check and see how they view us and perceive us.

On a more serious note, beyond the nuances of the day-to-day work and explaining that to the children, I hope I’m modeling hard work as an ethic that I’m trying to instill in my children that no good things come easily in life. If they do come easy, they’re probably taken away easily. Working hard, but also setting boundaries for work time and family time, and knowing when to log off, put the phone aside, and enjoy family time, especially now that many of us are working from home. There’s more of an opportunity to practice that and model that for our children.

No good things come easily in life. If they do come easy, they will probably take away easily. Click To Tweet

I’m switching gears. I want to dive into two different aspects of your time at Gong. One is the early days when Amit reached out to you. You happily jumped and joined his team. That was the first phase, which is the early company-building phase and your role, what you are doing as a chief evangelist. Let’s talk about the first and walk us through. What is the thought process? How did you, Amit, and others go about finding the product market fit?

The product market fit was initially there. When Amit called me several years ago, he said, “Remember the crazy idea I told you several months ago?” I had coffee with him when we were working at two different companies. He left one company and said, “I’m going to start a company to solve this big problem that I had as a CEO where we had a quarter from hell. I didn’t understand what was happening. Looking at the dashboards, I could see what was happening but not why it was happening. I listened to a few calls, but I didn’t find anything systematic. I thought there must be a better way.”

He joined with a technical Cofounder, Eilon Reshef, our Chief Product Officer. They sat down to think about how they could solve this problem and provide more visibility to business leaders and revenue leaders on what’s happening. They thought that by collecting all these customer interactions, using AI way before it was cool several years ago, and analyzing them, they could surface insights that are actionable that would allow revenue teams to see what’s working, what’s not working, and change their behavior accordingly.

They build something basic. Nowadays, there are dozens of these call recorders. That’s how Gong started. We always had this big vision of how we’re going to help revenue teams. They rolled that out to twelve beta customers in late 2015 and early 2016. Several months later, they thought it was going well. They decided to check how serious these customers were.

They told them, “We’re going to shut off the beta in a few days. If you want to continue using this, you need to write us a check.” Eleven out of the twelve beta customers wrote a check. They didn’t want to shut it off. That’s when they knew that they had hit early product market fit. That’s when Amit called me, and he told me what I told you. He said, “I think we’re ready to market this outside of the friends and family. Can you come to help us?” That’s when I joined.

Did it take about six months from the idea to getting those early?

They started in mid-2015. By early 2016, they were in the markets. In several months, they had the first prototype out there.

We all know once we see the success story, 2020 is hindsight, but that’s typically the blueprint for successful high-growth startups. It’s all about customer validation and not hearsay but what you emphasize there. If I pull the plug on beta, are they ready to shell out money? Are they happy and okay with going away?

B2B 56 | Leading Others To Success
Leading Others To Success: The blueprint for successful high-growth startups is all about customer validation.


That goes back to what I said earlier about being obsessed with a problem and gradually building a solution to address it. We came out with the first solution that we thought would provide some relief from that problem. Once we got that validation, we kept building on top of it. Looking at some other companies where they tinker with the product and they build this whole house of cards over something that they don’t know how stable it is because they haven’t validated with the market, that can lead you down the wrong path.

We do something less drastic because the product is already out there. We’re not giving anything for free anymore. We’re not switching customers off when they can’t pay us. What we do now for new products and new capabilities is we survey customers and ask them on a scale of 1 to 5, how disappointed would you be if we took this away?

We’re not seriously taking it away, even though we do get some angry responses like, “Don’t you dare take this away because I need it.” It is always a good sign, but we want to see at least 40% of our users saying they would be disappointed or very disappointed if we took this away to know that we’ve hit product market fit. That’s a softer way of doing it rather than shutting it off unless they write a check.

You’re the Chief Evangelist at Gong. What does that entail?

Chief Evangelist is a unique role that I was able to put together with the help and support of Amit, my CEO. He used a great analogy when we started this process of adding new executives to Gong. In the last several months, we’ve hired a new chief revenue officer, a new chief marketing officer, and a new chief customer officer, and we’re on the hunt for a chief people officer.

The way Amit explained it to the company was when NASA sends a rocket to the moon, it’s not one rocket like that cute emoji that goes from Earth to the moon. It’s a multi-step rocket that the one piece gets us out to the edge of the atmosphere and falls off. Another piece ignites, and that gets us into the moon’s orbit. When that falls off, the final piece does a gentle landing on the moon. To get back, you’d need a different system.

There are few executives that have taken a company from zero to IPO, not in the CEO seat, but in the CMO and CRO seats, because you do need different people for different stages. I’m an early-stage marketer. I’ve joined five companies with sub twenty employees. I was always marketer number one. I’ve never inherited a team or a marketing operation. That’s where I thrive.

Speaking with other CMOs, I’ve realized that even going as far as I have. I’ve done the zero to tens of millions multiple times, but zero to $250 million as Gong, that’s rare. Most marketers are capped at zero to 50, 50 to 100, or 100 to 500, but zero to 250 ish is a long journey. It was time to bring in folks who have seen the hundreds of millions to billions part of the journey. Those are the people who joined Gong.

I carved out a new, fun role that takes on a lot of the things that I make the most impact with and also happen to enjoy. I mentioned speaking opportunities, thought leadership, running an influencer program, and executive alignment calls. I made that the core of my new role. I’m still making an impact without running a 60-person team. I don’t have an executive assistant anymore. I miss them all. I’m running my own calendar. I’m booking my own flights. I’m getting back to getting my hands dirty and doing work I enjoy without a lot of the red tape that comes with running a large team at a pretty large company.

You’ve shared a lot of insights over there. The most important thing that I took away, especially in the early days of the validation, plus your role as a VP of marketing and the CMO. What is the rationale for you and Amit to switch your role from being a CMO to a chief evangelist? The next segment is more around go-to-market success and a go-to-market failure story.

Before we jump into that, I was listening in and understanding your thought process. How did you build Gong? Even that famous show and talk of yours where you share the secrets around getting 4,000 plus leads from industry trade show. Something that I caught is first principles thinking. That’s the key if I were to convey your formula to others. Would you agree with that?

You’re putting it even more succinctly than I would, but many times, the success of go-to-market motions and marketing campaigns specifically is not about spending millions of dollars. I had a call with a CMO of a large company who wanted to learn about my experience with Super Bowl advertising. He told me, “It’s time for my company to build a larger brand. I saw what a great job you did with the Super Bowl. I want to learn more about that because I’m thinking of doing that.” I said, “I can tell you everything you want to know. I’ve done a couple of Super Bowl ads. I don’t think that’s what’s going to build your brand. It’s going back to the basics. It’s this ‘boring’ day-to-day demand gen stuff.”

It’s not boring, but it’s the stuff that doesn’t get headlines. People love to talk to me about the Super Bowl, and it was a nice cherry on top because 90% of what we were doing in demand gen at the time was working well. I could swing that budget and do an experiment that nobody knew if I was going to succeed or not.

In hindsight, it was fun. I’m glad we did it and elevated the brand a bit, but it was not a pivotal moment, at least not the way I see it in Gong’s brand building. It’s the day-to-day stuff. If you’re going to send an email campaign, and every marketer sends out an email campaign, and you don’t get the performance you want, you’re sitting there wondering what’s wrong, and you start throwing money at the problem. Let’s hire writers and do paid advertising. That’s not what’s going to save you. It’s looking at that email campaign hard and saying, “Would I want to consume this content? If not, why am I sending this out? Why do I expect anyone to read this if I wouldn’t read it? If this is pretended content that’s a thinly veiled sales pitch for my product, why would anyone want to read this?”

Thinking about, “How do you create content that is so good that you would want to consume it? If you want an even higher bar, how do you create such amazing content that people would want to pay you for it?” I know some people laugh and think that’s theoretical. Who would pay you for B2B content? When we created the Gong Labs articles, we would get, every few months, an email from an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, where they have sales courses. She would ask in the name of her professor, “How much would you charge us to license this material because we want to teach it in our university course?”

Another sales and enablement manager is excited about our content. She’s been passing it around internally. She wrote us asking how much it would cost her to license our material because she wants to use it in her official onboarding courses. We love hearing that because we know that we’ve hit that standard of creating content that is good. People are willing to pay for it. To avoid any doubt, we never charged a dime for it. We tell them, “Give us some credit from Gong, but use it as freely as you like because we’re not a content company. We’re a software company. We use content as a marketing investment.”

If your content is not hitting that bar, thinking that you can throw money at the problem is not going to fix it. It’s going back to basics. I like how you put it, Vijay. First principles, why would they open this email? Stop right there. Look at the subject line and look at the sender. Tell me why they would open an email that comes from or Why would anyone open that?

Think about all these little basic things. They don’t cost you money. They need you to switch your brain on and think as a consumer, not as a marketer because you have to rush a campaign out the door. As a consumer, why would I open it? Once you open it, why would I keep reading it? <Once you keep reading it, what would make me take action and click here to watch the webinar, download the white paper, or ask for a demo? If you can’t tell yourself a convincing story about why someone would be persuaded to do that, it’s not going to work. Don’t send it. Stop until you figure it out.

I can hear a lot of audience who go, and their main complaint would be, “You got things working for you, and that’s where you could invest that.” For them, it’ll be either the CEO, the marketing leader, or the sales leader saying, “Spin that next campaign and get those damn leads in.” On your behalf, I would go back and say, “Did you do your due diligence?” Going back to why you picked this job and why you picked this role, leadership, and product market fit. Have they worked on understanding the person and the problem?

Sometimes, multitasking leads to a lack of attention. If you’re trying to do five things at the same time, you’re not giving any of them the right attention to succeed, especially if you’re the first and only marketer or if you’ve got a small team. If you’re asking yourself and them to do many things, you’re not giving yourself a chance to succeed.

If you've got a small and ask them to do too many things, you're not giving yourself a chance to succeed. Click To Tweet

Cut down the number of things you’re doing and do a few things, and they will give you all the pipeline that you need rather than trying to spend money and do twenty half-baked things. None of them are going to work well enough. Focus on fewer things and get them right. Once you’ve got one right, you can scale that. It runs on almost autopilot. You can go figure out the second thing and the third thing. If you are trying to do 5 or 10 things at the same time, there’s almost no likelihood that you’ll get them right.

I’ve been studying similar to the NBA. We have 30 teams, but there’s something magical about those 1, 2, or 3 teams who make it to the playoffs consistently. It’s the same analogy that applies to marketers and CMOs. There’s something magical about those CMOs who’ve been on an ongoing basis. I’ve done research. It boils down to these three things. You can correct me and add to that, but it boils down to content, experiences/events, and community. If you layer one on top of another versus trying to do all 3 or 2 at the same time, that’s a magic formula.

There are variations on that. Some companies have succeeded without building a community. In hindsight, it took me time to realize that we had built a community, even though we never had that as a stated gold when we were putting out all this Gong Labs content. They have started forming a lot of conversation and discussion around it. The same people were commenting on the posts, sharing our articles, and showing up at our events. We created a community without calling it that and without labeling it as an effort to build a community.

We built such a huge following that not only is an audience for what we’re saying, but they’re also becoming ambassadors for what we do, speaking amongst them and arguing about what we’re doing, which is wonderful. The worst thing that can happen is that people ignore what you’re doing. If people are arguing and some of them hate it, that is a wonderful thing because that creates a conversation, and that’s what you want. If nobody’s commenting about your content or about what you’re doing, it’s boring. If nobody hates it, probably no one is excited about it either.

Let’s dive into a go-to-market success story and a failure story. You can pick outside of Gong Labs and the Super Bowl ad because people have heard that story so many times.

I’ve got many to pick from. I’ll pick a random one. A great story was when COVID started several years ago, and we were a few weeks ahead of going out for a road roadshow. We were going to hit 5 or 6 cities because we did a similar one six months earlier. It was a great success. We had everything lined up, booked, and dates, and the world shut down. We needed to decide what to do.

Many companies at the time decided to sit and wait. I don’t blame anyone. Sometimes, you don’t know what to do. You sit and wait because nobody knows how long this is going to happen. Are we going to be home for two weeks or two months? I don’t think anyone imagined it was going to be a few years. Nobody knew. We decided that being biased for action is almost always better than sitting and waiting. There are times when you need to sit and wait, but I’m personally not good at sitting and waiting. Ask my family. I’m much more biased toward action. Sometimes, I’ll take the wrong action, but I’ll take action. Most of the time, it works out well.

Here’s one way that our chief product officer puts it in other contexts. You can think of life as a series of decisions. Most of the decisions are a revolving door. If you realize you took the wrong turn, you can turn around, go back, and take another turn. Most of the life decisions are. There are few decisions that are past a point of no return. You make a decision, and you can never go back from it. There are few of those in life. Jumping off a cliff might be one of those, but we don’t often have to jump off cliffs. Deciding which marketing campaign to run is not one of those decisions.

B2B 56 | Leading Others To Success
Leading Others To Success: Think of life as a series of decisions. Most decisions are like a revolving door. If you realize you took the wrong turn, you can turn around, go back, and take another turn.


When everyone was sitting and waiting to decide what to do and see what happens, we decided, “We’re not going to skip a beat. If we said, in two weeks, we’re doing a roadshow, we’re going to do a roadshow, but we’re not going to do it in person because we can’t, the world is shut down. We’re going to switch to a virtual roadshow.”

I gave my team two weeks to figure out which platform we were going to use and how to run a virtual event. We’d never done that before. Let’s figure this out. We did it. For the first virtual event that we decided on two weeks before it happened, we had a thousand RSVPs, and a few hundred showed up for the live event. We went, “That’s more people that would’ve shown up to the combined road show that we were going to run. Let’s keep doing these and get better at them.” We did.

We got good at virtual events. The numbers eventually went up to multiple thousands of people joining an event and being amazed by the experience that we were able to provide them. We got to a point where we had an average attendee time at the event of over two and a half hours. We had some crazies who stayed for 6 and 7 hours because we were running a full day of events. Even during the lunch and bathroom breaks, we had live musicians, DJs, and magicians. It was like a three-ring circus to keep people excited. I could see them dancing and commenting nonstop in the chat. They were having the time of their life. It didn’t feel like a conference. It was like a party in their bedroom.

That was one of the many things that my team did well when we had to pivot very quickly and adapt to what was happening. The easiest thing to do, but the laziest thing, was to sit back, wait and see what happens. We decided, “No, we’re going to take bold action.” We might get it wrong. We spend a few thousand dollars on a virtual event that maybe won’t work, but if we get it right, we’re going to pioneer virtual events for our space. We’re going to get people excited before they get fatigued out of it, which happened a couple of years later. That was a story. I’m proud of what my team did there.

On the flip side, you’ve got type one decisions and type two. That is irreversible but always optimized for the reversible. Most of them it is reversible. On that note, what was a failure story and the lessons that you and your team took?

There are many failures to choose from. Anybody who only tells you about success stories, I would doubt their sincerity. We have lots of failures, but here’s one that I personally learned a lesson from, and this was also during COVID. This was in June or July of 2020. This is after the horrendous murder of George Floyd. It was in the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement.

We had a quarterly campaign to run to collect reviews for a review site. We had done those campaigns a dozen times before, and we found that we could increase the participation rates if we offered folks a $25 gift card for Amazon or Target. Nothing ever went wrong with those campaigns. We have the idea of what if we try and do something good and we tell people, “We’d like you to write a review for us. We will gladly donate $25 to the Black Lives Matter organization for every review that you write us.”

We didn’t think this through. We felt intuitively that there was a little bit of sensitivity there, but we didn’t realize how much. We sent out the campaign to 6,000 people that we wanted to get their reviews from. Within an hour, I got half a dozen responses. It’s negative. People are writing to me personally, saying, “Udi, this does not look like a Gong campaign. I don’t know what you were thinking. If you want to donate money for a good cause, donate it. Don’t tie it in with something beneficial that you’re asking me to do for your company.”

I got a handful of those in the first hour. I had to make a decision, “What are we doing next?” You could make an argument that if I only got six responses. I pissed off six people, but I sent it out to 6,000 people. That’s one-tenth of a percent. It’s not a big deal, but I decided it is a big deal because my assumption was that for every person who took five minutes to write me an angry email, there are twenty people who are angry. They’re either too angry to write me because they don’t, they don’t care about improving me. They’re angry at me, or they couldn’t find the words or time to take the time. My assumption is if you’re getting a handful of bad feedback, there’s a lot more. They’re not writing.

Within an hour, I decided, “Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to send an apology email to all the 6,000 people that got the first email. It’s going to come from my name, owning the mistake and explaining what we’re going to do about it.” We immediately took all the budget that we had allocated for donating to Black Lives Matter. It was $5,000. We immediately donated it without waiting for a single review and letting people know that we’ve donated it. We apologize for the wording of the campaign that went out. It was insensitive on our part.

I sent out that campaign. Within an hour, I got 40 responses. All of them were positive, saying, “Thank you for owning up to that mistake. When we got your previous email, we knew something didn’t quite feel right, but we didn’t have the words to put a finger on it and tell you what was wrong with it. We’re glad that you figured it out and made it right.” That was an important lesson learned.

The two lessons, if to break it down, are one, be hypersensitive to social issues like that and do not do anything that could even be perceived through any lens as taking advantage of a painful situation to benefit your company. That’s one lesson learned. Two, if you do F up as we did, be quick to take ownership, make it right, and apologize. You’re going to get a lot more fans out of doing that than letting it drag out and see, “Let’s see how many people pissed off. If it was only six, it’s not a big deal.” We did the right thing. We got a lot of good karma points for doing that.

B2B 56 | Leading Others To Success
Leading Others To Success: If you make a mistake, be very quick to take ownership, make it right, and apologize.


It also talks to your leadership and as a person where you are being vulnerable in admitting your mistakes. That goes a long way where you’re creating that convenient or comfortable space for your team. It also shows that you’ve got a good pulse on your customers and audience.

That’s the way to do it. This story was a serious one, but we had other cases where we sent out an ugly typo in a subject line that went out to thousands of people. We also send out an apology email with a little joke in it, owning up to the spelling mistake. It was silly, and we’re all human. Why not admit it? People love doing business with other people who are real human beings and not just shiny brands that pretend that everything is always perfect because it’s not.

Something that comes across during our conversation is, as a marketing leader, a CMO, and a chief evangelist, you emphasize and focus a lot on content, demand, and brand. Something I’ve not heard a lot of is about product marketing. If I speak with a lot of founders and marketing leaders, it goes to 6 to 8 categories. You have the positioning and messaging, competitive intelligence, and sales enablement, especially if you’ve got a sales-led organization. You also have new market launch, new product launch, product adoption, and product content. There are more. What are your thoughts on the role of product marketing and go-to-market? What do you think are the challenge areas for Gong or others that you see in the industry?

Product marketing is the area that I’ve messed up more than any other area. At Gong, we did well with brand, creative, demand gen, comms, events, and content. We built some amazing things in ops. We did a lot of amazing things. In product marketing, I messed up multiple times. I got away with it for a long time because we had that early product market fit. Initially, it was easy to explain the value that we bring, to whom, what it does, why you need it, and why you should care. I didn’t have to build a strong product-market function.

When I did have to, I scrambled and made a few mishires that were good people who did not succeed for multiple reasons at Gong. That team is being rebuilt for a third time. I’m crossing my fingers. They get it in ways that I did not. With that disclaimer aside, the biggest role of product marketing is to tell the company story. You can break that down into company, platform, product, and competitive differentiation.

The biggest role of product marketing is to tell the company story, and you can break that down into company and platform and products and competitive differentiation. Click To Tweet

Gong went from being in a mostly non-competitive space for a long time, and we were the only player people were talking about, to a competitive space because the category that we envisioned all those years ago, we helped usher in as a reality. Everyone agrees that revenue intelligence is a must-have. It’s here to stay, and it’s not a question anymore. We have to shift our product marketing message from explaining why there’s a need for a category like that or what problem it solves. That’s been established. The needs are how we are different and better and why should you care about it compared to all the other solutions in the market. That’s the journey the product marketing is going through.

Product content has a role to play in positioning and messaging. Product adoption is a problem area, given how good the product is in itself.

We’ve been blessed with widespread adoption. Gong has over 4,000 customers and hundreds of thousands of users. The product is being used. That’s why I said it was easy for me to get away without great product marketing, for the most part, because the product did a lot of the work itself. A huge kudos and credit goes to our product and engineering teams that have built something truly incredible. None of my marketing success or my team’s marketing success would’ve been possible without the product that we were supporting.

It’s product content and sales enablement, given this new shift in the messaging. I know you have other things you need to get to in a busy workday. I have a few questions for you, Udi. Who are the 2 or 3 people that played a key role in your career growth?

Amit Bendov was a huge mentor to me in our previous jobs. That made me a candidate for my current job and the CMO job at Gong. I will always be in his debt for helping my career the way he did. Other people that I haven’t necessarily worked closely with, but resources that I keep going back to, are Robert Cialdini’s book Influence. I keep referring to it. Even though it was written in the ‘80s, it is still relevant as ever.

Everything that is happening now on social media and mediums that Robert never imagined in the 1980s is all built on the same principles of human persuasion and psychology. If you dig into those, and I’ve read dozens of books and topics, you’ll create better campaigns. You’ll understand consumer behavior and create better campaigns. That’s another huge resource.

One more is to understand market shifts. It’s a bit of a cliche now, but a good book is Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm. It’s another classic from the ‘80s that explains how markets move and how your marketing, go-to-market, and product needs to change as you move from the innovators to the early adopters, to the early majority, and the later majority and the laggards.

B2B 56 | Leading Others To Success
Crossing the Chasm Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers

What are the resources that you lean on? You mentioned books and people. I’ve seen your LinkedIn. You’re a big player in Pavilion and other go-to-market communities.

Now that we’re back into in-person meetings and communities, I’m enjoying leaning into some of the communities I belong to. One of them you mentioned is the Pavilion, which holds great events. We have small chapter dinners, larger events, and summits where I enjoy hanging out and meeting people who are friendly and helpful. None of us are pretending that everything is going perfectly. We can sit down and crack problems about team structure or certain parts of marketing that are becoming more difficult and hear how others are dealing with it. I try to go to a lot of those if I can.

I’m also fortunate to be an investor in GTMfund, which is run by Max Altschuler, Scott Barker, and Paul. We had a wonderful weekend offsite a few weeks ago in Napa. Eighty of us came together and had a wonderful weekend together, meeting people who are at similar stages as me in our careers and figuring out what’s next for them and how to balance their full-time jobs with investing and speaking. Doing other things was a huge resource for me.

If you don’t belong to a community that meets in person, that’s ideal. Depending on where you live, it might be hard. If you’re in a small town somewhere, you might have to start with a virtual community and hope they have a couple of in-person events that are even worth flying to. I would highly recommend finding an in-person peer community of like-minded people at similar career stages and functions as you go and share the day-to-day burdens. Even hearing from others about their difficulties and realizing that maybe things are not as bad as you thought for you is also a great relief that you can get from those communities.

Find an in-person peer community of like-minded people. Click To Tweet

I’m part of Peak Community, among other communities. I’ve seen you on the show with Sandra Malders.

I’ve spoken at Peak. That’s another great community there. There are many. There is the Product Marketing Alliance. I’m sure I’m going to offend a bunch of others if I keep going.

My point was not about, “You miss these communities.” It is more about the importance of being part of a community. The final question for you is, if you were to turn back the clock, what advice would you give to your younger self on day one of your go-to-market journey?

Become best friends with sales. That was a realization I came to way too late. Become best friends with your sales leader. You’re never going to succeed unless you do that. If you have this adversity or rivalry with sales and the finger-pointing and the blaming, why aren’t they following up on my leads? Why is marketing bringing crap leads? That’s not going to lead to success. You have to work like a two-headed dragon always together. You can’t win alone. If you try pointing fingers, you’re going to lose out. Become best friends with your sales leader. I’ve written an article about it and done some speaking on it. Welcome to Google Sales Marketing Alignment and my name. You’ll find some of my thoughts on that.

Thank you so much for your time and for sharing a lot of these insights. Once again, good luck to you and the team at Gong.

Thanks so much for having me, Vijay.


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B2B 42 | ArmorCode

B2B 42 | ArmorCode


By analyzing the issues and collaborating with our clients, we can comprehend their concerns and provide specific remedies that effectively meet their requirements. For today’s episode, LingRaj Patil, VP of Marketing at ArmorCode, reveals the company’s go-to-market approach. He shares how ArmorCode prioritizes customer-centric problem-solving to drive meaningful impact and innovation within the cybersecurity industry. LingRaj emphasizes the significance of starting with problems and working closely with customers to fully understand their pain points. By articulating and offering targeted solutions, ArmorCode effectively addresses the problems faced by its customers. LingRaj also shares his career journey and the trajectory that led him to spearhead the Purple Book initiative. Come join us for an informative episode where we explore go-to-market strategies, solving problems with a focus on the customer, building communities, and the strength of collaborations in the continually changing field of cybersecurity.

Listen to the podcast here



ArmorCode’s Go-To-Market Approach: Serving Customers In The AppSec Space With LingRaj Patil

I have with me the pleasure of hosting LingRaj Patil, who is the VP of Marketing at ArmorCode. I’m super excited with the things that ArmorCode is doing and what LingRaj and his team are doing. Without further ado, let’s get right into the conversation. Welcome, Raj. How are you doing?

I’m doing very well. I’m looking forward to this conversation with you.

Same here. As always, I always start the show with this question with all my guests, so you’re going to be no exception to that. How do you view and define go-to-market?

In its basic sense, go-to-market is a way that you take your product or service to the market. I think there are a couple of distinct steps within that one, the way I look at it. The first one is the problem that you’re trying to solve for the customer needs to be very clear. A very good understanding of what the problem that you’re trying to solve. Especially in a startup, it becomes very important because you’re in a new space and championing a problem and a solution for that one. Sometimes in a startup, when you start out, the problem that you think is the problem customers care about is not the problem that they care about. Understanding the problem is very important.

Marketing the problem is very important. That’s the first step because customers don’t latch onto the problem. They will not latch onto the solution that we’re going to propose later. The second one is then articulating the solution and the unique way in which you solve that particular problem better than anybody else. Those are the two steps that I would say are part of the go-to-market. As time progresses, I’ve also found that it’s very important that you grow with the customers and the problems that they’re facing. That’s where building on being very tight with the customers and understanding the evolution of the problem and the evolution of the solution that needs to happen with that.

This is how I look at go-to-market. Of course then, there are different strategies and tactics like whether you use events to take that engagement with the customers, community, one-on-one engagements with your customers, prospects, or sales contact engagement. That are the tactics that I would say is what’s working in the go-to-market journey.

I like the way you put a lot of emphasis on the problems. You’re always starting with the problems. You also mentioned working with the customers and then articulating or repeating the problems. As you’re doing that, you articulate and push out the solutions of the products and services you’re building and how you’re solving those problems.

Totally. I think this is where a lot of companies go astray by not spending enough time on the problem but jumping straight to the solution, assuming that the problem they are trying to solve is an urgent problem to solve. There are problems to solve and there are urgent problems to solve. Meaning this problem needs to be fixed right now. Understanding that urgent problem to fix right now is very important. Championing that is very important. Also, the problem needs to be a problem that is a problem for enough people that it’s a big opportunity for you as a company.

One of the challenges that I’ve seen in the startup space is that they have maybe 3 to 4 design partners and their top 15 people. They found their opinion about what is the addressing problem by talking to those 10 to 15 different people. The thing is, the problem needs to be a bigger problem. With a startup, you’re always struggling with the lack of resources and time that you have and how do you reach to maybe hundreds and thousands of people. Understand that the problem is affecting those people.

In my mind, one of the things that I look at is, “Is the problem a problem for 3 people, 30 people, 300 people, or 3,000 people?” We want to solve a problem that’s a problem for 30,000 companies. That’s the market space that we want to go after. Not a problem, that’s a problem for just 30 people. The way we have found to do that is by engaging them at scale. We have used Purple Book Community as a way to basically articulate or understand what problems these leaders we seek to serve are facing and champion it for them. Sometimes the problems that they are facing need to be championed for themselves because, in organizations, they are not getting the word out.

This is a problem that needs immediate attention in terms of budget reallocation and in terms of conversation with their own peers in the industry. They’re all fighting this battle. How do you bring those forces together so that it becomes a movement? That’s what I feel is needed to solve problems. Of course, the product we come up with helps solve part of the problem, but it doesn’t quite solve the people part of it. The people part of it is very important. That’s why when we are defining problem, there is a whole groundwork that needs to be laid out to make it a success that people buy the problem, want the problem, champion the problem within their companies, and then we help them with that as well.

As you are talking about the problem size and the market size, one of the questions that came to me is, how do you estimate or how do you know that this problem is good for a lot of people? You answered it in your own words, which is one way to do it is through a community. You mentioned Purple Book Community. We’ll definitely deep dive into Purple Book Community during our conversation. Switching gears here, let’s take a step back. Why don’t you walk the audience what is your career journey like? How do you end up doing what you’re doing today? It’s not like you started your day one of your career journey and you start and thought about Purple Book Community. What is your current journey like so far?

In terms of my education, I did my electronics and communications. I was doing computer programming. I used to do networking programming, building switches and routers that powered the internet. If you go back to the late 1990s and early 2000s, that was the hottest thing at that time. The internet was very big and a lot of infrastructure had to be built. I was doing programming for that. I remember an experience that changed my perspective toward technology and marketing. I was part of a project. It had about maybe eighteen people. I’m talking about the mid-2000s. It had about maybe eighteen people, and the technology was so cool that the team was very excited about working on it and how it’s going to change customer’s life.

While I was working on it, I was pulled aside for a customer request that came in for a problem that he was facing. It was a team of four people and maybe we did that work for 3 to 4 people. It actually became a bother for me. Why are they taking me away from the school project? I just want to change the world to work on something so small. I did that. I came back but I didn’t pay much attention to that.

About maybe a year and a half after this was done, I met the product manager. I asked him about how this particular big project did in relation to the small project. He explained that the small project I worked on and didn’t pay much attention to actually had become more revenue and more profitable. I started thinking, “Why is this project, which is not even that cool, ended up becoming that much more popular among the customers?” I learned that was because it was solving a problem that was very urgent and important for the customers.

The big project that we’re talking about. We, as engineers, were excited about it. It was a cool technology that we all wanted to change the world, but this was the one that we were facing. That made me think the technology might be very exciting for the technologist. At the end of the day, it needs to solve a problem for the end-user or customers. That’s what got me thinking. I then did my MBA. I got most fascinated about how you take technology and articulate the business value of that. One thing led to another.

Technology might be very exciting for technologists, but at the end of the day, it needs to solve a problem for the end-user, for the customers. Click To Tweet

Within Ericsson, I moved into marketing. For a period of time, I have gone from a bigger company progressively smaller. Ericsson has a global giant. After that, I worked in two mini-funds, maybe 1,500 to 2,000 people. That was very exciting before I ended up at the company that I’m at. I’ve been involved with naming the company to basically being where we are now. We are a Series A-funded company now. We are close to three years old from the time of conception.

Actually, on May 13th, 2023, we are going to celebrate the second anniversary of the launch of the company. Little did we know when we started on May 13th, 2021 that the journey we would have for those two years would be so phenomenal. I feel that journey from working from a bigger company to a smaller one, and on this startup makes me think that I should have started my journey with the smaller company much earlier because of the impact they are having.

This is a great story and journey for sure. Even I can relate to a lot of these things. Even I started my journey in larger companies. That eventually progressed to the early stage and smaller companies. In hindsight, if we were to connect the dots, it’s the experiences in the larger companies that gave us or helped us arrive at the moment where we are now. I completely agree with a lot of things that you mentioned, Raj.

One thing that I want to transition into is what you mentioned about ArmorCode. You’ve been involved with the founder from day zero, our writer inception, and you’re hitting the two-year mark on May 13th, 2023. Congratulations to you and the team on that big milestone. Tell us a bit about ArmorCode. Who do you serve and what is your go-to-market approach for ArmorCode?

In ArmorCode, we solve an application security problem. To make it very simple to understand, I can explain it to you. There is a lot of new software that is getting written. Software is being written not just by the software companies. Traditionally, non-software companies are writing software in the journey for digital transformation. These companies, when they write software, are under pressure to release software faster, and they release faster to give a sense of perspective software that used to release. When I started out as an engineer, we used to release software once a year and do it twice a year. Now, we’re at a point where companies are releasing software every month, sometimes every week, and sometimes every day. That’s the piece at which innovation is happening.

Now we are at a point where companies are releasing software every month, sometimes every week, sometimes every day. That's the pace at which innovation is happening. Click To Tweet

The security team used to get tested the software. They’re not getting it right now. They are under pressure to release it faster. Consequently, a lot of vulnerabilities in the software are getting shipped. Speed is one problem. The other problem that’s happening here is there is rapid adoption of open source. What that means is, earlier, most of the software was created by you. Now, in some cases, 70% to 80% of the software that we’re creating is created by somebody else. That means if they have the vulnerability slip in, or worse if they were a hacker and they injected the vulnerability so that they could exploit it later, you’re ingesting it. That’s the second problem that we are talking about.

The software has gone from becoming monolithic software to more microservices. What we do is we help companies find out vulnerabilities that need to be fixed before the release goes out. Earlier, the customers had to look at 1,000 or 10,000 problems and figure out which ones to fix, not having enough time to fix, and just shipping it like that. We tell them, “Instead of these 10,000 problems, these are the 50 problems you need to look at before you ship it.” We give a prioritized view of what’s important that needs to be fixed so that it’s possible to fix it in the one-week release cycle you’re having.

Clearly, that technology is needed, given all the different security horror stories that we are hearing in the industry. Not just businesses but even common manner individuals and consumers are being affected by it. Who are your customers and the personnel that you serve around these AppSec problems?

The people that we serve are security leaders and security engineers. Within security, these are application security and product security. If you look at security, we can classify them to two broad teams. One team is entrusted with enterprise security, meaning making sure that my enterprise network is secure and it’s not hacked.

The other one is interested with product or application security. What that team does is whatever product and application we are building, we need to make sure that people cannot hack into that so that our customers do not get impacted by using our product. Our product is used by the team, what’s called the application security team or the product security team, now broadly called the software security team. That’s the team that uses it. Within that, application security engineers are the ones that use it. Their managers are the ones who are influencers. Chief Information Security Officers are the ones who ultimately write the check.

Who is your typical customer base? Is it mostly enterprise or mid-market? I’m assuming it’s not small to medium businesses.

It’s mostly mid-market and enterprise, even though the problem that we are solving is relevant. For somebody to use our product, they need to have a certain amount of scale for our platform to be useful for them.

Let’s talk about a GTM success story. One thing that I’ve been following and tracking ArmorCode’s success and the team’s success very well. Something that stands out is the way you went around, went about, and built the Purple Book community. Can you share some more details around what led you to come up with this whole community idea? How are we helping move the awareness of the problem with the personnel that you mentioned?

The community started way back in December 2020. I would say at least the conversation about it started then. It started out because as we were talking to security leaders for whom we were looking to solve this problem, we found out that there were lots of companies that were facing this application security problem. There were some companies that had put millions of dollars into making their application security program very robust. They had a very good understanding of what are the best practices, what are the case studies, and things like that.

There were a lot more companies that didn’t have that kind of a budget. They were not even aware of a problem like this, or they were just beginning out. We thought, “Why don’t we get together with the companies and leaders who are championing crusaders in this area and then co-author a book with them for the benefit of the rest of the community?”

It started out as a project to co-author a book with ten security leaders about the concerns, best practices, and case studies in this. Once we got these ten leaders together to write this book, they came together and said, “The problem is so big that we need to have more experts from other areas to basically chime in to fully characterize the problem.” Those people then started inviting the other industry expert that they respected. Before we knew it, that 10-people team had become 29 people team that came together to write this book. That was such a creative phase of this community that we spent a lot of time articulating the problem, challenges, best practices, case studies, and things like that.

It started out as a book which would’ve 4 chapters and it ended up as a book with 10 chapters. Once the book was done, people who were in the community had so much fun talking to each other and hanging out with each other. They said, “We need to have a community around it. Let this not end and the book writing is done.” That’s how the community continued. Now, we have 250-plus members. For the most part, it’s the only community that we have. That community is very near and dear to us mainly because we understand that the problem that we’re trying to solve is so big that it cannot be solved with technology or product.

Even though technology or product is a very important part of it, we believe there is a very strong people aspect to this problem that people are the ones who ultimately need to solve this problem. We need to have a movement around it. Mindsets need to change within the company. There needs to be greater awareness of the problem. Since we started, we have done things that we never thought we would be showcased on Nasdaq, where we have done an annual conference. In 2022, we did the first annual conference with 2,200 people from 24 different countries.

That’s the kind of scale that can be achieved only when people who are part of the community are championing the cause. Otherwise, a startup like us cannot think of pulling off a big event like that. That’s what I think is a difference. We are not a startup just focused on building a product. We’re a startup that’s focused on building a movement around the problem that needs to be solved because that’s what’s needed to solve the problem.

Something that caught my attention is you mentioned the community taking shape or taking birth in December 2020. That’s around the same time or maybe right after the startup was conceived and formally established. Walk me through the thought process between you and the Founder and CEO, Nikhil, as to what led you to this thought process of maybe you should explore and start a “community.” What led you to that point in time?

We saw that a lot of security leaders were trying to solve this problem in their own small circles. Also, there was no full characterization of the problem itself on how big the problem is and what are the best practices in solving it. There were lots of efforts that were going on. We felt that the problem that we’re trying to solve cannot be solved using technology because these people are not united in their fight. That’s when we thought we should bring all these leaders together in one place so that there’s an information exchange that can happen immediately. They can start getting solutions to some of those problems, at least the low-hanging truths, immediately by hanging out and talking to each other. That’s how we got them together. That’s how it started up.

B2B 42 | ArmorCode
ArmorCode: Problems cannot be solved by just using technology if people are not united in their fight.


This is a good validation for one of the principles of people looking to start a community. It’s always focused on 1 or 2 problems that the industry can rally around. I think that’s a very important point. It’s not about how a “community” can benefit your company or product versus expanding your thinking and view around why someone would care about this problem and why it’s important that people who are working on this problem come together.

The people I’ve seen when there is a problem, which is for any startup to be successful, we need to be attacking the problem that makes the maximum impact for the maximum number of people. The way to find that out is the way our community rallies around that problem. Let’s say for example, I was solving a problem that impacted me with 30 companies. If you try to build a community around a problem that 30 companies are interested in, you can’t build a community around it. Whereas, if there’s a problem that 3,000 or 30,000 companies are facing, then you can build a community around it. You can rally the team to build awareness about that cause.

Many times, what happens is the awareness that we’re talking about in many organizations, the security leaders are very much aware of the problem, but sometimes it doesn’t go up. We believe application security and security need to be a board-level problem. The board needs to be discussing it. Right now, look at security leaders. In almost all of the cases, they’re not reporting directly to the CEO. They are reporting to somebody who reports to the CEO. It could be a CIO or a CTO. Sometimes, they want CFO, Chief Legal Officer. This problem needs to be championed, and it’s very important.

I give an example. I think that not having a Chief Security Officer reporting directly to CEO is like not having the Head of Pentagon not reporting directly to the president of the United States. Imagine the Head of Pentagon being three levels below the president of the United States. How secure will the country be?

That’s a great analogy.

In our world, all companies are getting on a journey to digital transformation, whether they’re a software company or not, technology company or not. Even the companies that you traditionally consider, like manufacturing, didn’t have that much of a technology impact. There is a digital imprint of the manufacturing flow that they’re having. There is so much digitization that’s happening. There is a digital representation of the physical company that you’re running that needs to be secure. The knowledge about how to secure it cannot be three levels down from where the CEO or board of directors are. That’s where the community also helps. Build an awareness of the problem at a high level there is an awareness.

I think what you articulated there is very important around why it matters. You also shared some insights around why the Chief Security Officer should report to a CEO and why the security level problem should be more of a board-level problem, nothing less than that. Something else that you mentioned earlier while building the Purple Book Community is around the book, as it says in the name. Walk us through the process of why it matters around why and what led you to the thoughts of building and co-authoring a book with all these security leaders.

There was no book on this subject. That’s where the project started. We said, “We need to have a book that leaders can refer to on what’s the problem. How does it look like? You need to characterize the elephant first. What are the possible ways to basically tackle this elephant in the room that nobody’s talking about? That’s where the idea of the book came about, and the book became a community. I’ll tell you how it became a community.

Our original idea was to write a book, print it, and put it on Amazon. We realized the whole software security. Security is such a dynamic area that the moment you write a book and you say, “These are the problems. These are the best practices.” Put it, and you think you’re done. There’s going to be another attack that’s going to happen. You’re going to learn. We are in this constant process of learning and evolving. That’s why we say this book is going to be digital. We are going to put it on a website. That’s what people are going to read.

When it’s constantly evolving, that means there cannot be a date and time when we say the work is done. It needs to be community and it needs to be constant dialogue on it. What we thought we could characterize the problem. Say an elephant. We figured out it’s a shifting elephant, meaning it needs to be constantly recharacterized every attack.

What you highlighted, like community and content in this case, is a unique piece of content that you cannot get anywhere, which is the book are the centerpiece to what I have to do as a winning CMO playbook. By the way, years back, I continued to study, “What sets apart the top tier CMOs versus the rest of the pack? It comes down to three principles. You have content, community, and events or experiences. You can call it either way.

What I’m seeing happening over here with ArmorCode and Purple Book community is you got the community piece, which is the Purple Book Community. You got the book which is articulating or collating and brings all the best practices from all these best and brightest minds in the app security on security world. You’re also doing a series of events. Starting with one event and it looks like now you have chapters of events that are happening. It looks like you’re building all those things. The third piece we didn’t talk about is how are you thinking about our planning and doing all these own branded events around the Purple Book Community.

Can you restate the problem?

It looks like you are hosting and bringing together all these leaders. We are back in December of 2020 or even the early part of 2021. Sometimes you actually hosted the folks in one place. Maybe it was in Silicon Valley. That was the first. Since then, it’s taken its own movement or shape and form. You’ve got chapters and different places where these events are happening. Just explain on that.

The reason why we felt the need to have in-person events is because of the emphasis that we’ve put on building relationships. There are a lot of communities where information exchange happens, people come together and share information, but the focus is on information exchange. What we wanted to do at Purple Book Community is we wanted to build personal relationships with people among people. The kind of collaboration that happens. We have seen the magic of people meeting, discussing, and then coming up with ideas. We experienced it because we are having those meetups in Bay Area and we had a lot of fun just getting to know each other. Many of these Purple Book Community members have become friends with me now.

This is the experience that we wanted to take to different parts of the world. We looked at the concentration of all members. We saw that New York has a very big concentration. Atlanta has a big concentration. Those two cities have chapters now. There are other cities that are able to do this. India also had a concentration of members, so we have chapters in India as well.

To answer your question, why did we evolve from being one place to multiple places is to build that relationship and then enable those leaders to build a community around themselves. We have leaders in different chapters who now have their own local meetups run independently of us. That’s how w scale. You cannot be there in all the places, but these are the people who believe in the cause that this problem needs to be solved. That’s how we are scaling the community.

B2B 42 | ArmorCode
ArmorCode: Why did we evolve from being in one place to multiple places? It’s because we wanted to build relationships and then enable those leaders to build a community around themselves.


For me, why I’m excited about what you guys are doing with Purple Book is it reemphasizes the notion that in order to build and have a meaningful community, it’s not about the founder or the originator “broadcasting” to the community members, but facilitating that exchange of information, relationship, and knowledge between the community members themselves. That’s what I see happening now with these chapters.

In a way that the community validates the passion behind a problem, the moment you start doing these things, that’s when the community starts building momentum.

Switching gears over here in the sense of your role at ArmorCode. You are the VP of Marketing at ArmorCode. What are the different functions that you’re responsible for? Who are your team? How is your team set up?

When I look at marketing, I look at three main functions here. One is the brand and thought leadership. You need to find one problem and champion that. How you do that is your brand. Are you trustworthy? Are you a voice that people come to for advice? Are you looked at as a company that can be a confidant for the security leader? One is the brand part of it.

B2B 42 | ArmorCode
ArmorCode: You need to find one problem and champion that. How you do that is your brand.


The second one is product marketing, which is essentially having excellence in understanding our customers’ problems, how our product solves them, and communicating that. Also, enabling our customers to tell that story in terms of case studies or maybe podcasts and things like that. Basically, the material that you create to champion that. The third one is the demand gen part. Demand gen is very essential to create demand for the business. Those are three big ways that I look at marketing. I’m responsible for the brand, the content, and the product. For the demand, the way we set it up, part of it is done out of sales and marketing and the inbound. Some of the national events part is handled by in marketing.

The outbound is under sales versus the inbound is under marketing.

I wouldn’t say that’s a full description of it. For example, the national events, marketing still does the national events.

That’s a great story that you shared over here around the Purple Book Community. Clearly, GTM is a success story. Switching gears, it’s not every day that we see success stories like these. A lot of failures before we run into a success story like this. For our audience, can you share a GTM failure story and your learnings from that?

There are plenty of them. In a startup, one thing that we have embraced is the notion of, “Start something new, fail fast, learn from it, and then win to something that works.” There are a lot of experiments that we have done. Some of them have succeeded, and many of them have failed. In terms of the failure itself, we’ll take email marketing as an example. The effectiveness of email marketing is not very high, for reasons that I can relate to myself. I get so many emails from so many other people that I get half of them, I just delete them. I don’t even read because they don’t relate.

I feel a combination of an in-person touch or having some time compelling misconnection with the problem with the customers or the prospects, and then following it up with an email. That is a good combination. If you make email the primary tool without actually touching them, in some way, shape, or form in other formats, maybe on LinkedIn, on the website, or at events. It’s a combination of these three things that makes it effective. If you were to focus solely on email or open rates, the standard open rate is 20%. Sometimes we do better than that. There are CTRs. To progress customers’ interest or prospects’ interest using tiers, email has not worked across.

I think the big takeaway for anyone who’s looking to do or invest in email and outbound using email, is what you articulated there definitely makes sense. Don’t use email as the first cold outreach. Rather, invest in knowing that person, connecting on LinkedIn, building some “relationship” and then use the email as a secondary or tertiary vehicle to reach out.

That’s part of it, but there are limits to how many people you can meet also. You cannot always meet somebody in person and then follow it up with an email. The way you scale that is, for example, LinkedIn. We have a very strong presence on LinkedIn. That’s a lot of people who follow us and know us. That’s how we keep our followers or supporters updated about what we are doing. In some ways, they know us. We are at events. They know us even though we do not have that one-on-one interaction. If you combine that with an email, then you have a more successful strategy.

To the extent that you can share, what budget were you given to start this committee and the book project?

I think that’s probably a privy that helps to be privy to the company. I can share the details. Community is not about big budgets and big spending. The community is about identifying a problem that everybody’s passionate about and then rallying people beyond it. I feel people will do a lot of wonderful things, not for money, but for a cause that they deeply believe in. If you look at some of the biggest heroics, even in our real life, people do it not for money. If you look at the army, they’re not the highest paid, but they are the people who are so motivated by a cost that they’re willing to lay down their life for that.

The community is about identifying a problem that everybody's passionate about and then rallying people beyond it. People will do a lot of wonderful things, not for money, but for a cause they deeply believe in. Click To Tweet

When we tap into it, all of us have that innate desire to be part of something big and play a significant role in doing something like that. I feel in the community, we essentially tap that. You tap into people’s ability to champion a problem much bigger than any one of us and then grow from that. If somebody thinks that by putting a lot of money into a community, they can become successful, that definitely is not a way to do that.

All I would say is, in the beginning, find like-minded people who are passionate about the problem that we’re passionate about, and then let that passion build from one to another. If those people are then talking to somebody else about that and that person is talking about somebody else, then you know that you have a problem that is big enough for people to champion it on their own without any big money being spent.

It’s almost similar to how you know when there’s a product-market fit. It’s the same example over here. It’s more like a community problem fit.


Clearly, you’ve got a lot of cool skill sets that people lean on you for. You definitely talked about brand, thought leadership, community, content, and events. What are 1 or 2 skills that your leadership team and other folks in ArmorCode or in the industry lean on you for? What do they reach out to you for?

In terms of what people reach out to me for is, there is a problem that we need to put a spotlight on. If there is a solution to that that we need to put a spotlight on it and create a buzz around it. That’s something that I’ve had some success in creating. It’s either in terms of getting spotlighted by Nasdaq or being invited to speak in Davos during the World Economic Forum, or even building a community around a problem that needs to be created. You create that impact, not just with what we are doing but with the activities that happen around the company and community. That’s something that I have helped the company.

Talking about looking at the different trends or resources that you lean on, what type of resources or what is in the top of your mind when it comes to taking the go-to-market of your team to the next level?

Resources as in materials that I look at like a podcast?

Yeah, it can be a podcast, it can be a book, it can be maybe other communities that you lean on, or maybe it’s even a tool like ChatGPT.

For me, I would say podcasts have been a big influencer. What you’re doing is awesome because there is so much knowledge transfer information that happens. Podcasts have been a great resource for me. Talking to people has been great. Going to events has been fantastic. We are looking into ChatGPT, we are using it in some, but I’m sure there are a lot more possibilities with ChatGPT that we would like to learn more. Sometimes I wonder, maybe I should have one person called the head of ChatGPT just sitting there and thinking about all the possibilities of what ChatGPT can do for all businesses. We’re not there yet, but hopefully, we can get that level of focus on using the full capabilities of ChatGPT.

Same here. I’m super excited about what is possible with ChatGPT. It’s creating or carrying all the time and energy to explore use cases and testing things out. I think that really matters.

There are some things that ChatGPT is great at but ultimately, ChatGPT cannot build a community. Ultimately, it’s the people connecting with the people that build it. Even though there is a lot of human cry about the number of jobs that we lost, there are things that human beings are uniquely suited for that ChatGPT cannot provide.

B2B 42 | ArmorCode
ArmorCode: There are some things that ChatGPT is great at, but ultimately, ChatGPT cannot build a community. Ultimately, it’s people connecting with people that build it. So, even though there is a lot of outcry about the number of jobs lost, there are unique things that human beings are suited for.


Bringing the show toward a close of finish. Last two questions that I have for you. Who are the 1, 2, or 3 people that have shaped, inspired, or played a key role in your career growth so far?

I think there are a lot of people. Identifying 2 to 3 people would not be telling the full story of the people that have made an impact on me. What I am is a result of influences that people around are bad either in a personal capacity or in a work capacity. If I had to pick just three people, I would say maybe my parents. They’ve had a very strong influence in the way I was brought up. I remember a teacher in my MBA school. There was something about him. He believed in me in ways that I didn’t believe in myself. He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. I could see that he had duplicated about me. He made a great impression on me to stretch myself. There are a lot of managers that I’ve had in my career who I don’t want to mention one or the other that has played a huge role in my growth.

Almost always, what it comes down to, which I’ve seen, is it’s not the expertise of the person that has made an impact on me. It’s that person was not an expert but that person cared. That’s very important. That person cared for me as a person, took a personal interest, and I try to do the same thing with the people that I mentor. I don’t try to view my knowledge and walk away. At the end of the day, it’s the amount of cave that I give to that person personally. That’s what makes the difference.

Finally, the CEO that I work with, Nikhil. It’s the third company that we are working together. I would say he’s one of the most phenomenal leaders that I work with. So passionate, so energetic, and still so humble. He has accomplished so much but still has the biggest mindset. He’s very humble in learning. That’s something that I learned from him. He has been one of the great reasons why ArmorCode has the success that it is right now. Even the community, he’s the big cause that it is right now.

The point that you made earlier, Raj, is around when the key role of a mentor or people who have touched you is not about the time or not when they share their expertise. Rather, when they convey or show that it’s you as a person they really care about, they sincerely care about you as a person. The final question I have for you is, if you were to turn back time and if you were to go back to day one of your go-to-market journeys, what advice would you give your younger self?

I would say to care about the problem that you’re solving for the customers. That’s very important. As I told you, in the earlier days, I was enamored by the technology and what it could do that I lost that connection with the end user who uses it. If I go back and I say, “Connect with the people who are ultimately going to use the product that you’re going use, understand their problem, the most pressing problem that they would be willing to spend time and money on and help them solve it.”

Care about the problem that you're solving for the customers. Click To Tweet

I say help them solve it, not just with the product that you’re having, but in any other way you can. Community is a way for us to do that. We are not monetizing the community, but the thing is it helps the community come together. That’s what I would say care about the end customers or the people that you’re trying to help so much that they feel that we are sincere about making their life better.

Fantastic. Great conversation, Raj. Good luck to you and the team at ArmorCode. I’m wishing you all the best.

Thank you very much. It’s my pleasure.


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