Highlights from GGV CEO Dinner on NextGen Sales & Marketing

This past week, we hosted a GGV CEO dinner on next generation sales & marketing. In addition to 40 great founders and execs in attendance, we held a very informative chat with Bill Macaitis, CMO of Slack (and former CMO at Zendesk ), and Graham Younger, EVP WW Field Ops at Box (and former SVP & GM at Successfactors).


Thanks to the 40+ participants.

The conversation was rich in content and very interactive. I’ve summarized a few highlights below:

  • SMB Focus Doesn’t Negate Enterprise Opportunity As You Mature. One observation made is that higher velocity companies tend to focus initially on SMB customers. Although enterprise sales & support typically requires investment in higher touch resources, an initial focus on SMB enforces good habits. SMB sales & support keeps you honest, and you need to find ways to use analytics, metrics and minimum touch to help drive strong economics. Good SMB hygiene smooths a transition to enterprise later.
  • The Continuum From Product To Sales To Support Must Link Together. Both Bill and Graham emphasized the importance of all parts of the organization, including engineering, sales, marketing and support, taking “live fire” from customers to better understand what’s being used in the product and what features are missing to help delight customers. Listening is key when you get in front of customers. As Graham said, “use your mouth and your ears in the same proportion as you have them on your head.”
  • Freemium Can Be an Accelerator if Managed Well. There are several ways to allow customers to use your product for free in advance of a commercial relationship. Free trials with time and user bounds can be a great way to lower CAC and reduce friction. Think carefuly about your drivers to upgrade to paid usage before you launch freemium. You should also embed health checks and FAQs within the product to drive usage and engagement. Generally only a small percent of your users will read your blog, so rely on the product to get your messages across.
  • Creative Ways to Motivate Sales & Support To Ensure Customer Empathy. Aligning your company’s success with your customers’ success is a great way to gain traction. This may cause you to re-think traditional measures of success. Bill likes to remind people the “baseline is not the sale, its the recommend.” Ie, are you driving NPS, CSAT and DAUs? Consider compensating your sales and support teams based on these metrics as opposed to quota achievement to drive an empathetic organization.
  • Staff Your Organization to Be Customer Focused. Many of the comments above demand that companies relentlessly focus on the customer. Recruiting for people who value empathy is critical. Consider prioritizing empathy over experience when hiring to drive this type of culture at your company.

Thanks much to Bill and Graham for sharing their vast experience and thoughtfulness, and thanks to our attendees who made for an engaging evening. Stay tuned for content around the surveys we took during the event!

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