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Leveraging Product Usage Data to Drive SaaS Growth

Play Video about Cliff Simon @Carabiner Group- Leveraging Product Usage Data to Drive SaaS Growth Video Transcript: [Music] welcome to founders friday this is the tell all for anyone that is in a revenue producing role we invite experts who are responsible for driving revenue for their respective companies to share their experiences here so we can all learn from them our goal is not just to educate but also entertain and so remember to share your secret Sauce keep your keep your responses punchy let's have some fun my guest today is cliff simon he's an advisor as well as an executive for several high growth startups where he utilizes his expertise in all things go to market and rev-ops he's also an active leader of uh in the in several go-to-market communities including red genius pavilion and others we with over 13 years of technology experience In sas service industries including consulting networking communications software and e-commerce and supply chain we're welcoming cliff here to our uh to our founders friday today welcome cliff and uh share a little bit of your professional journey and what brought you to the carabiner group and your current role there yeah thanks seem really glad to be here and having the opportunity to chat with you all um It's been a fun ride and i've been in b2b sales like i said for about 13 years now um been in sas for the last seven fintech for the last three and a half and everywhere i went i was that power user that always broke salesforce or told the admins hey i could do this thing that i probably shouldn't be able to do you might want to fix that because i don't think that's how approvals are supposed to work Um and having run into sheamus and been able to go on this journey with him to to help create rev-ops as a service um was really exciting to be so that it was a long way of getting here but finally in that position now we're working with a founder and working very closely to build something from the ground up that's amazing so you mentioned sheamus And of course the carabiner group tell us a little bit more about the origin of the company how it got started you know you're a fairly young company and growing really fast so share a bit with the audience what your mission statement is yeah it's been it's been a very fun year we're 15 months now in business um and we've grown rapidly fingers crossed will be hitting the 3 million dollar ar market by the end of This year and our approach to consulting has been very different we don't look for sows or project work in fact we don't want that quick money grab very holistic in the way that we approach our clients making sure that we're not just looking at the symptoms but looking at the underlying disease and what's causing these things to occur so that we can allow them and enable them to take that next step in business operations and looking at Business outcomes um sheamus who is the founder of firm until a couple weeks ago was the youngest ever trailblazer ranger in salesforce history he just lost that title to some 13 year old in singapore and i think that just in itself speaks to where the industry is right there's such a demand and such a need for talented consultants and people who know these Technologies to come and help this burgeoning uh sas face right there's so many companies now i think we're estimating another like five to six hundred new sax companies every year so amazing um yeah it's a huge ecosystem but he started the company 15 months ago and i had the good fortune of coming in very early on to help run everything go to market fantastic so um now i know that you're as a consulting company uh you know you You work on a recurring basis with your clients so uh help us help our audience understand a little bit of the model right what are they what can they expect to get out of that engagement and how do you typically operate and you use the word revops as a as a service i think that's just i mean that that's just brilliant in the way that you've uh crafted the story and and the business you're building out um you know we certainly have a point of view on that I'd love to share with you as well but go ahead and tell us tell us how that what that looks like from a client's perspective yeah from a client's perspective it's meant to be frictionless right i think of amazon how can you affect the buying experience so that's as frictionless as possible and sas companies just change so much right the things that are happening now Are very different from the things that are going to be happening three months from now and can we engage with our clients in a way that allows us to evolve and work through the ebbs and flows of their journey and their growth cycles with them so we've really designed the company to be able to do that to come in tactically put hands on keyboard and do the process that operational work of building but also be able to put arms Around them sit next to them at the table and or at the white board and help them really design what process clip looks like what are industry best practices what is good and what's going to enable you to get to that next milestone whether that's a revenue marker or another seed to series a the series b funding round gotcha and uh so cliff you're responsible for driving revenue for the carabinero group uh help Us understand a little bit of what that process looks like from your lens so you know how do you how do you go about uh finding new clients acquiring new clients uh what sort of the value proposition that you deliver to your clients yeah as far as being able to find clients and go to market with them it's really about being an expert for them and being able to be a sounding board for our clients Going to the places where they go to find help and making sure that we're delivering their giving not expecting anything in return but being able to be a good member of the rev-ops community and if an opportunity arises for us to partner together and to work together long-term then that's what we're looking for if we can help somebody in the short term by by giving them some advice hopping on a column walking them through An issue that they're dealing with that's great too that's great and um you know sales automation obviously is typically at the center of the crm strategy for most b2b sas companies but there's also a much broader footprint in the crm domain so help help us understand what does that technology footprint look like in you know where all do you get engaged yeah technology's funny um there's So many things that people use when they're a solopreneur or they're just trying to figure out what that mv mvp product is yeah and you see the evolution of it from folks using pipedrive or close dot io or notion some excel spreadsheets right yeah and then maybe you graduate over to a hubspot or a copper um most of the time we see people moving to salesforce right 85 of all companies That ipo are using salesforce and it's not easy right enterprise level systems are difficult for those of us who do this on a regular basis it's damn right frustrating for companies who are trying to implement this stuff on their own and don't have that level of expertise and the project management and the oversight of looking at an entire Tech stack yes you're you're picking up one piece but how does everything else from the marketing side to sales to customer success to product how does that all live in one center of truth and how can you make it so that that information is being disseminated throughout your entire organization so it's actionable no one thinks about that oh i shouldn't say no but most people don't seem to think about that when they're putting The different pieces together and that's something that we really try to help our clients think well through how do you make sure that as you're going from series a to b to c as you're adding on new head count how are all these tools working in concert with each other to avoid things like tech debt avoid the fact that you bought an expensive thing that you're only using 20 of maximizing on what you have and then Thinking well about when and how to add or migrate pieces yeah so you you brought up a couple of really good points uh in in that comment uh clip one around your product usage data and bringing that together with all of the other customer facing uh data points that an organization obviously has access to tell from our perspective obviously that's where we're focused on you know driving That connection from uh product usage to bringing that data into the crm domain and any revenue producing function can take advantage of it share a little bit more about that and you know you guys have worked on uh on similar uh implementations and technologies what's the value of product usage data to a sales and service team so i think everyone really gets caught up on sales and marketing because it's the sexy side of the go to market right It's where you're acquiring the new customers but i think something that many folks again don't think about very often is the fact in sas it's a recurring revenue business yeah you need that business to recur okay in order to do that you have to deliver a really great great client experience and if you can do things like nps csat looking at product usage data to give you that that very high level early indicator about turn risk or the chance to do an Upsell and and increasing that dollar retention those are things that are going to set you up for success and that's really where the bulk of your business is going to be one it doesn't matter how much you're running on the front end if you've got a massive hole in the boat so um i've seen product usage data be very valuable in several key areas but uh Again turn race probably being the biggest uh making sure that you're getting that turn as close to zero as possible if someone's purchased 50 licenses from you and they're only actively using 25 of them yeah good chance something's going to happen there yes on the other side you can see that they're using their licenses very well you pay attention to what's going on in linkedin or on indeed or have you and You see that those folks are going to be hiring good chance you guys have a chance for an upsell there so make sure that you're engaged and staying on top of that yeah now that's great and then you know the second comment that you made earlier about actionability right so this has been obviously a personal journey and something that's motivated me to and my co-founder just started mrsa uh You know we we've been in so many conversations and meetings and qbrs and whatnot over the course of my career where a lot of the discussions about what do we see on the dashboard where the issues are etc but then when it comes to actually doing something different that's always challenging typically a manual process so from your lens when you talk about actionability what does that what does that mean to you and then how do you help your Clients drive actionability you know give us give us a little bit of a flavor on that to me actionability means that take any type of recording function right within 15 to 30 seconds of excuse me of me looking at that report i should know exactly what i need to go do if i'm a high level executive c-suite vp i should be able to take that report that i'm looking at and very quickly Discern what that information means usually two to three different data points and be able to go to my direct reports and either tell them what they need to be able to go and do what they should be giving to their team to go handle or whatever it is i might personally need to be able to take on and and keep moving forward the operational goals of the business right all those things should be pointing me to whatever my kpis are my okrs and my Mbos yeah now that's great and i think i think the key point uh that i heard you make is around operationalizing those kpis not just you know setting them up for reporting purposes but actually acting upon it to continue to drive that that metric forward now um what advice do you offer clients uh before they you know engage with you to deploy a crm for train what are some of the some of the basic Sort of process or strategy work that either you help them do or they must already have in place in order for a crm the point we be successful so what does that look like and what advice you offer to clients that that are starting to work out in that position ourselves we're working through that now as you know um so love to hear what that advice feels like in the early days one of the most important things is Really understanding your buyer journey mapping that out and then you map out all of your processes to it right the way that you're going to move through crm in a sales cycle the way that you're going to move a client or potential client through your marketing funnel into mql and you're going to start hitting all these conversion rates across your volume metrics think well about that and design it in a way that makes sense for you and mirrors The way that you want to be interacting with your clients if you've got that set now start going through and clearly identify your entry and exit criteria across all the different stages throughout that bow tie right all the way from icp mql all the way to that net dollar retention on the back end clear have that clearly defined and have that written down and have all the stakeholders within your go To market function within your executive team agree to that make sure that everyone's on the same page so that you're always moving towards the same end goal it's no longer multiple runners going and going at their own pace everyone's working together now as a team when you have that alignment it makes it so much easier as a business i think cliff that's such good advice to have it written down and to kind of Think through what the from a customer's lens what does that journey look like before we start thinking inside out think outside in so i love that i think i think that's just really useful advice now um you know you guys offer a fractional web ops experience or what you call devops as a service so help help us understand the role that a rev-ops a good rev-ops function plays in a salesforce or crm deployment like what's the value of that function over Time so the value of that function first and foremost as you're implementing a crm or if you have one implemented and you're starting to get that pushed out throughout the entire org is benchmarking first off and foremost knowing where you are so you can understand what the future state looks like if you don't know where you are you can't You can't go somewhere right um as far as the rest of the org the idea behind revenue operations is to be able to take all the different pieces that are typically siloed off within your different business units and now we're sharing that knowledge and that information we're tightening up the feedback loop between the client to product the client to marketing the Client to sales enabling sales to sell and talk about different use cases that you might not have addressed with your initial tam or for marketing to be able to bring in additional value propositions that again you didn't think about in that initial offering for product to be able to iterate faster about the things that you know are going to help bring you more business and it's everything that people want to Be doing but they don't always think about and if you can tighten that up and create an operational cadence around that to deliver that information to the different units rev-ops is designed to do that got it got it and um and i click i mean you've you've uh been in this industry for some time now you're very active on the communities in the forums here What changes do you see happening in the devops segment like do you see the role evolving do you see the function changing what you know what direction is it headed i think it's being adopted more and more and more if you look at the job postings that are out there there's a ton of rev-ops openings whether that's at a director level home manager level or someone That's coming in the door and learning yeah um and you're seeing it too with the great migration or the great resignation or the shuffle whatever people keep calling this but rev-ops used to stay in a role anywhere from 18 to 22 months before they left and now we're seeing that significantly decreased like 10 to 12 10 to 14 months so companies are losing that tribal knowledge and people are coming in well there's a lot Of consultants out there now we're we're actually serving as that business continuity plan and the keepers of the tribal knowledge for these clients um because people are coming and going so quickly because there's a lot more money that they're being thrown on another table somewhere yeah yeah yeah no that makes sense i think the the point you made about uh the rap you know rapid sort of shift that's occurring right now um and particularly the the short-lived Aspect of this role because people are moving so quickly from one thing to the to the next i think just kind of emphasizes uh how important this is in terms of having the right processes and systems so as people move and change you can maintain some continuity in your business from from one person to the next um now when you look to hire somebody you know as a sas company we ourselves will be in that position uh at some point in the near future Uh looking for rev-ops higher what are some of the characteristics one should look for what what are some of the uh you know what's the kind of skill set and what are some of the personal characteristics that one should look for in this higher sure man we're going through this too right we're constantly hiring we've gone from three to 16 full-time employees in the last year we're i think we've got six new hires starting in january Already um the things that i would recommend looking for especially if you're a series a series b company same kind of things that you're looking for in the rest of your team someone that's going to be a self-starter someone that's scrappy that's willing and understands the need to be adaptable because things are constantly shaking and moving like the ground underneath their feet is Never steady at a startup right you're going to be asked to wear many hats and that person's got to be willing to go and grab a problem by the horns and take it i think that's probably the biggest thing i look for is someone willing to take on a challenge that their direct supervisor is struggling with and are they going to go ahead and take that on in addition to being highly competent at what their Day-to-day roles and responsibilities are yeah um someone who's hungry to learn i think is also a really good good spot to be in and then from an eq perspective are they humble are they willing to concede points when they're not right um are they a good human being for us we've never done traditional hiring where i'm gonna give you a test or a technical exam or make you walk through a thousand hoops If you say you can do the things you say you can do i'm gonna believe you until you give me a reason to doubt yeah and are you a good person and i think when you've got a leadership team that's really focused on taking care of the people that work for you that all plays out really well great great um so one last question here now you're part of several professional communities around web ops if someone's just starting out in this function wants To learn more from others in the in this uh in this community what are some of the places you recommend that they go uh invest their time in yeah if you're brand new to rev ups and you don't have a lot of money to be able to sink into professional development the number one place i would recommend going is youtube winning by design has a ton of free videos on there i'm a certified revenue growth architect through them their content is amazing And it's being adopted widely within the greater sas ecosystem jocko's awesome fellow dutchman much respect um if you have the ability to spend time in slack channels and learn from others rev-ops co-op wizards of ops and pavilion are all great resources pavilion out of those is the only one that's not free but the level of people and learning there is fantastic and they Also offer many courses on revenue operations um just in all those communities just great people whose brains you can take toss your hand up ask a question and your good responses grab time with folks and just learn from people you know take the time to take 30 minutes an hour a week and find people To talk with great great no um i i think uh all of these communities that you just outlined you know we've engaged with them in one way or the other and really useful content and more importantly really good people that we've come across so including including yourself we've had over rev genius i believe so yeah so um so cliff thank you for joining us today it's always a pleasure to speak With you and to learn about how your business is growing and how fast you guys are moving um can you share with the audience where they can reach you uh besides linkedin of course uh are you on twitter are you on a specific community that's easiest way is usually linkedin um pretty straightforward uh backslash cliff simon you can also email me on clip and then within the different Communities i'm in pavilion red genius revlops co-op wizards of ops um in most of those with that any any one of those different communities yeah i try to be active in all of them um i think that they all offer really great resources and they're all they're all worthy of saving their time so yeah cliff thank you so Much for your time i learned a lot today i learned about you know what it takes to deploy a successful crm strategy what are some of the what's some of the prep work that needs to happen particularly focusing on the buyer journey before you have even embark on the crm uh deployment approach um and just the value of uh product usage data and driving actionability and and uh you know really enjoyed the conversation uh we'll look forward to Welcoming you the next time as well and uh thank you for your time today for our audience if you're interested in learning more about how you can bring product usage data to uh to your sales and service teams to drive actionability check us out at and thank you so much for your time again uh cliff think talk soon yeah thanks for having me appreciate it [Music]

“SaaS is a recurring revenue business. You need that business to recur, and in order to do that you need to deliver a great customer experience. Most of us measure metrics like NPS, customer satisfaction etc. Looking at product usage data as an early indicator of churn risk, upsell and net dollar retention will set you up for success.” 


Cliff Simon

About The Guest

Cliff is responsible for sales and GTM strategy at the Carabiner Group, where he advises several high-growth start-ups at an executive level on all things go-to-market and RevOp. He is an active leader in multiple communities focused on revenue growth and operations, such as Pavillion and RevGenius.

With over 13 years of broad technology experience, he has anchored GTM teams in SaaS and Service industries including consulting, network & communications, software and e-commerce, and supply chain. Having worked in both Fortune 20 and High growth startups, Cliff prefers the fast pace and high impact environment that comes with working at a startup. 

Cliff is married and lives with his wife and two children. He keeps active playing soccer and hockey, and volunteering at their local church.

What We Cover

In this episode, Cliff Simon takes us on a journey on how revenue operations has evolved as a role, and the increasingly strategic part it plays in driving revenue for product led growth (PLG) businesses. With his years of experience building RevOps as a service for high growth startups, Cliff shares actionable insight on how to build and scale this function for B2B SaaS companies.

Cliff walks through the key elements of  a successful GTM strategy – driving revenue, acquiring clients, and designing a seamless conversion and onboarding process. We take a fresh look at product usage data, how that can be leveraged to drive actionable insights and optimize revenue.  

How do you set up a revenue operations function? What metrics should your RevOps team use to measure sales impact at a SaaS company? What role does product usage data plan in a successful PLG business? Cliff addresses these and several other related questions in this episode of Founders Friday.

What You Will Learn

What makes for a successful CRM strategy at B2B SaaS companies?

How to set up a successful revenue operations function for your SaaS business?

How do you maximize the value of product usage data to drive a PLG business?

How to drive actionability for product usage data?

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