In this week’s episode of the Enterprise Monetization Podcast, Sandeep Jain sits down with Glenn Hopper, CFO at Sandline Global to discuss the exciting things happening at Sandline Global and his book that came out last year, "Deep Finance, Corporate Finance in the Information Age"

Episode Notes:

Sandeep Jain: Hi, welcome to the 12th episode of “The Enterprise Monetization” podcast. And this is your host, Sandeep Jain. In this podcast, we invite thought leaders from monetization space that is CPQ and billing, so that you can learn about challenges, opportunities, and best practices in enterprise monetization. Today, I'm very pleased to welcome our guest, Glenn Hopper. Glenn has deep expertise in the field of finance. He's been CFO, I think more than 15 years now. Currently, he's the CFO at Sandline. And I'll let him talk about what Sandline does in a second. But prior to Sandline, Glenn has held CFO and leadership roles at companies such as GR Ventures and SCT investments. Now, one thing that is very unique about Glenn, and he has quite a few unique things, by the way. But he started his career in public relations. Then he moved to a product manager. And then he entered into the field of finance as a finance person supporting operations. I find this immensely unique. There are some of the unique things. I'll let Glenn talk about himself in a second. But with that, welcome to the show, Glenn.

Glenn Hopper: Hey Sandeep, thanks for having me. I'm excited to talk today.

Sandeep Jain: Me too. So before we start, Glenn, could you share a fun fact about yourself with the audience?

Glenn Hopper: I don't know how fun it is, I guess. The first thing I think of is my hobbies. In addition to being a CFO, I'm a triathlete and a marathon runner. And I've always wanted to be a science fiction writer. That didn't quite work out though. So I entered the field of finance. But I did find a way that I could still write and do finance. I wrote a book last year called “Deep Finance”, “Corporate Finance and the Information Age”. And that's out now at all your favorite book retailers, and it talks about not the space opera kind of stuff I wanted to write. But I talk about things like analytics and in data science and how they apply to finance.

Sandeep Jain: That's amazing. Let's talk about this for a second. So you said you're a triathlete. So are you doing Ironman, or have you done Ironman, or do you plan to do Ironman?

Glenn Hopper: So I did a half Ironman back in, or when was that? That was August last year, I've done mostly the shorter triathlons. My first thought after I did the Half Ironman last fall was, okay, now I'm going to do a full Ironman. And then I did a marathon in December. And now we're what at the end of May, early June. And I'm still gimpy from the marathon. So I thought, I don't know if I could actually swim a couple miles bike 112 miles and then run a marathon in that might not walk for a year after that. So I'm still aspiring to do it. I don't know if my 50 year old body is going to hold out and let me get to the point where I could do a full Ironman, but it's aspirational. I'd love to do one. I just don't know, we'll say.

Sandeep Jain: Hope keeps us alive, and you're doing it, by the way, so this is amazing. And it's amazing that you wrote a book on finance. Let's just talk a few minutes about the book. What is the Book about? Because there's a lot of books on finance. So what's unique about your story in the finance?

Glenn Hopper: So I've been doing a bunch of podcasts talking about this. And I didn't realize, at first why I was writing the book other than I mean, I'm always writing and I do enjoy writing. And I think a big part that's overlooked a big part of finance is your ability to communicate financials to people when no matter what their level is. And so I'm always, whenever I come across a new problem, I'm always trying to kind of write through it and figure it out. And so I was doing that with analytics and I'm looking at a lot of the way. A few years ago, I got a Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics. And when I was doing that, most of the classes were not about applying it in finance. But I realized the whole time I was in the program, I realized, this is all things that finance people, we may not have had as many tools back then. But this business intelligence goes hand in hand with finance and has for years and I've realized not till after I wrote the book that there's kind of a turf war going on. And I liken this to I've been in the business a long time. So I'm thinking about when the PMP is the first project managers came about and you had these operations people who had been doing it forever, and then you get this whole new industry, this whole new profession come up and tell you what you're doing wrong and how you're mismanaging your products and operations guys, like, you know, you guys are all over my turf right now you need to back up. And I realized after I wrote the book, and as I'm talking about it, that this is me planting a flag and saying finance people need to be responsible for analytics, it's in our wheelhouse, you know, give us a couple of coders, that'd be great, you know, if we had some true engineers, but the business intelligence analytical kind of work is what we in finance have been doing forever, all of our FPNA, all of our modeling, and everything is based on finding correlations and using internal data and external data, you know, to try to build the best model we can in my book talks about, well, we back up one more thing. So first, it's to plant a flag and say finance needs to own analytics function. But it also talks about if finance doesn't own the analytics function, I cannot think of and we can talk more about this, and we talked about our finance stat. But if I can't think of a single finance function, right now, that's not automated. So if everything in your department is being automated, what is the value you provide to the company, if all you're doing is giving people a report card, you know, looking in the rearview mirror, then that's not that valuable, because it'll a computer can do your job. So I'm trying to find ways and to tell other finance leaders to really get into analytics, really understand the data science, and understand the tools that are out there and own it and drives these digital transformations of your company. And what I'm really arguing for why it makes sense, while we're not the most technical people, why it makes sense for us to navigate the big picture this and have cross departmental help with the other teams, but really, I argue strongly that finance should take the leadership and digital transformations.

Sandeep Jain: That's a wonderful angle to the world of finance then. So this is amazing. But could you also not talk about your journey from a product manager to a person in finance? Because I don't hear that often? I've never heard that. So let's talk about that story.

Glenn Hopper: So I think, when I saw my first professional job was I was in the Navy, and I was not your typical sailor, I was a Public Relations/Journalist in the Navy. So you know, when I was doing that, I thought, it's right brain and left brain kind of stuff. And I thought, well, I can use my creativity and I can write stuff in this. But there's always been a part of me that is really wants sort of qualitative information, or sorry, quantitative information to really understand performance. So, you know, when I did public relations, got out of the Navy, went to business school, got out of business school, and it just seemed like marketing, because of my background in public relations. It seemed like that's where I should go. But I got into marketing and I enjoyed what I did. I was a product manager for a tool called the “Web Architect”, which was basically like one of these in this was back in 2000. So we were actually cutting edge back then. But I was at a telecom company, and one of our products was a web design tool, it's like one of these wicks or whatever, one of these kind of drag and dropped, you don't have to be a coder. And, you know, back then people were using Dreamweaver or whatever to make their website. So we added a tool that you could just, you know, basically fill out a form and it would spit out a template in a website for you. And I was a product manager that, and that wasn't where the company made our money. It was a telecommunications company, this was just an add-on products. So I found myself always arguing, trying to get additional budget, additional resources and I just couldn't get what I wanted. So I started getting really involved. I started going to the marketing VP, and just really pushing for let me see the budget, let me see what is budgeted. And then finally, I got my hands on the budget. And I would constantly be trying to say, well, we're under budget here. Anyway, I became a real advocate for marketing and getting us more budget dollars. And then with that, I would end up coming to the VP of Marketing would bring me to the more senior level and I was really junior, I was just a product manager back then. But I would get to go into the more senior level meetings. And after doing that a few months, the COO tapped me and said, Hey, I want you to do what you've been doing for marketing for my organization. And I'll give you a promotion and a raise and bring you over and do that. So I went public relations to product manager to being a sort of a citizen finance guy in marketing, where I was just you know, winging it and doing it on my own with without working directly with finance at all. And then I became the advocate for the COO because he was tired of getting knocked down by the CFO every time he requested budget. He got tired of trying to explain his models for how much headcount he needed and for all the different components. So he brought me in and my only job was to be the advocate for the CFO and meet up in those finance meetings. So I moved up. And till I was, after I did that a couple of years, I was managing about $150 million budget of OPEX and CAPEX, for the company, and we telecom back then we're doing a whole bunch of mergers, we probably did in the seven years I was there, I would guess we did 9 or 10 mergers. So I got pretty involved in M&A and went through all that. And it went from the small telecom company, when I started to getting to several 1000 employees and 450 million or so in revenue in a pretty big company. And I realized then that I sort of really liked this startup space. And I had an opportunity through one of the board members and one of the investors in the telecom company to come to a much smaller company that had just started. And it was a retail business with only three locations, and they wanted to bring someone in to professionalize their finance operations, leverage it up, create bank relationships, and help grow the business. So I left this really huge or not huge, but relative to where I've been since then, a really big company. And since then, I've been in the startup space. And basically, I've been the CFO of the first company back in 2007. And since then, I've been at about four companies. And as the CFO, my focus has been, if I'm not there at day one, whenever I come in it is to professionalize and get businesses ready to scale up so that they can either go to private equity, look for M&A activity, if they wanted to be on the acquiring side, or sell the business. And I've sold two out of my last three businesses. And that's kind of where I've been, it's just getting businesses ready for sale in that small space. I gotta say, compared to a big company, it's a little, little exhausting. Because at a bigger company, you've got much more of a staff and things are more set. And this is just a wild ride as you know, as wild ride in the startup space.

Sandeep Jain: Amazing, amazing. So I think the moral of the story is, I think for audiences, if a senior exec moves you out of your comfort zone and ask you to do something, jump on it. Awesome. Okay, before we go on to the Quote-to-Cash, can you just quickly talk about Sandline? What it does, so that our audience is familiar with that?

Glenn Hopper: Sure. So Sandline, or Sandline global is an ediscovery company. And this is an industry I didn't ever expect to be in, but this is my second company in the industry. Ediscovery, the best way to describe that to people who aren't familiar with it, it's a legal technology. But think about if in a lawsuit in the discovery process. So the plaintiff and the defendant, both sides in the discovery process, you have to turn over any documentation that there is about whatever the lawsuit is about. So to get to that documentation, I mean, think about years ago, everything was paper, it wouldn't just be some paralegals are coming over some forensics people coming over with banker's boxes and going through file cabinets and pulling out files. And that would take a long time. But you know, thinking about that's looking at 100s or maybe 1000s of documents, but now in a digital world, that can be terabytes and terabytes of data that that you're dealing with. And so it's beyond what a human can do. So the way I got into ediscovery to begin with is, I'm not an engineer, I might want to be engineer, I might want to be a lot of things. But I have been fascinated with artificial intelligence and machine learning. And when I saw the way that ediscovery was using natural language processing to replace human reviewers, so the humans that were going through these documents and how courts are allowing this more and more often that with this, we can read millions of documents, depending on the size, if you're dealing with a really big company, I mean millions of documents, terabytes of data, and that's everything from emails to slack messages, teams messages, texts, CAD drawings, Excel files. I mean, it's so much data, it would take forever for people to do it. So seeing how ediscovery is using analytics and using these algorithms to find rather than just doing, you know, an old fashioned search, where you're just going by keywords or whatever, it's actually training these algorithms to find the data. It was fascinating. I don't work directly doing that. But I love being in an industry around companies that are using that kind of technology. So that's Sandline Global. We're in several offices in US. We just so this is a big month for us. We just opened our new kind of flagship office in Manhattan on Broadway, and I haven't been up there since the construction was completed. So I'm looking forward to seeing that, but our CEO is flying back from Dubai this week where he's standing up our office in Dubai. So our headquartered in DC, I'm in Nashville, we've got people kind of scattered around the country, as most people do and post our code. I don't know if we're post COVID, I guess we're still in. In the COVID environment, we have employees scattered all over the country. And we, let's say, so Frankfurt, Germany, Taipei, Taiwan. Now, Dubai, New York and a couple other offices in the US. And we're pretty small company to have that many locations but it's part of being able to provide services, you know, having an office in EU is very important because of GDPR, and all that, so that we can have a presence there and be able to sell there. And then so Taiwan is basically a round the clock service for us. We don't do any sales in Taiwan right now. But we sunset basically, when we cease operations in the US, we turn over to them so we can provide services for our clients 24/7.

Sandeep Jain: Great, great growing company, Glenn. Can you talk about your team as well?

Glenn Hopper: Yeah, my team is small. And I always you know, everybody in finance wishes they had a bigger team, probably everybody wishes they had a bigger team. But it's kind of what I was saying about when I left the telecommunications company, I had 30 something employees and since then the most direct of employees I've had or you know, in my organization is like eight or nine. So right now I've got a controller. Well, one part time AP clerk/bookkeeper, and then another, more bookkeeper type, and then I've got a full time accounts receivable specialist, and then a part time, HR person and that's my whole team right there. So it's only three of us are full time. So you know, we're doing a lot, we're few 100 invoices every month and a lot of still manual systems, but I'm working like crazy to automate as much as I can.

Sandeep Jain: Awesome, I'd love to dig deeper into that. So with that, could you talk about the different channels that that you guys have? I'm assuming it's primarily direct, but can you talk about that? 

Glenn Hopper: Yeah, you know, it is primarily direct, but we always are looking for adjacent businesses that we could have. I'd love to have a dealer channel and have VARs out there for our product. We just haven't found the right partnerships, we do have a review company where we work with, we're sort of dealers for each other, but we don't treat each other like we don't pay each other commissions, it's just sort of, they help us get business, we help them get business. So really, our sales are primarily direct we have, and this is probably true of the industry, the sales cycle is so long for new clients. And when a big law firm gets comfortable with a company that's providing ediscovery, it's very, I mean, if their company doesn't mess up, it's kind of, it's either the devil, you know, or it's actually someone that's doing really good. But even if it's the devil you know, people are scared of change. So once we get a client in house, I mean, there is we're doing everything we're bending over backwards, and we're just, is much reminding as much business from those clients. And we have some pretty big, top 50 law firms, as clients of ours, and those are great, because they can feed us a lot of business, but you want to keep that client concentration, you know, so we need to keep going or, you know, you want to understand diversify, so that you're not dependent on, you know, just a handful of clients. So we're always out there. And we're trying to come up with different offerings that maybe we could appeal more to smaller law firms as well. And we also go after corporate clients, we don't have as many. Those are always great to get because they're very sticky as well. So if you're, you know, if you landed a client that is, has a lot of litigation or whatever, they want to just know that they've got someone in house that they can always go to for legal holds and ediscovery and all that, those are great clients for us, but we're doing everything direct right now. I think in the next nine, you know, maybe the next three or four quarters, we might start looking at having some a couple of other channels.

Sandeep Jain: Glenn, let's talk about self-serve. So we talked about dealer and war channel, what do you think about self-serve? And I think it gave three customer profiles. One is the big law firms, that is the mid-sized law firms and he talked about corporate clients. So can you talk about the context of self-serve? Like is it relevant to any of these three?

Glenn Hopper: Oh very, yeah. So we have so many jobs that are, we will take jobs of any size from our clients. Of course we like everyone would prefer the bigger jobs with higher margin. But there are so many jobs that just there's some amount of data, it could be one phone collection that the data needs to be processed and, and pushed out in a way that can be reviewed and all that. So, you know, it may be Friday at 5:30pm. And the client calls and says, Hey, I've got this processing job, I need to get it done, you know, before I go home tonight, so we're used to that, and it's kind of part of the business, but what we really would love to do is the smaller jobs that we don't have to tie up our resources and the tools that we're using, now. You have to be certified to use them the sort of tools that we use within the industry. But you know, one thing that's on our development radar is kind of a drag and drop where people can come in, and they don't have to bother as they can just log in with their account credentials and put their files up, you know, their ZIP file or whatever, into a program. And we'll go through and process it and spit it out the way that our reviewers would, and that could lead to additional things. But it would be really nice. And it would increase our margin significantly if we didn't have to have human involvement in those. And I think it would increase customer satisfaction, as long as it was very easy for them to do that. If you're having them have to jump through hoops and do all this complicated stuff, they're not going to be interested in doing that. But if they if we can figure out a way to give them drag and drop, self-provisioning, that's going to be a huge win for us and will let us go even further downstream. And that way we could get some of these small clients so that maybe don't have these big lawsuits and but do have to do some eDiscovery, in what it is. And they just normally can't afford an ediscovery firm. But if there were like self-service that would make it easier for them. 

Sandeep Jain: Got it. And you talked about self-service in the context of new customers. But do you see self-service as helpful for your even existing big clients if they have to amend anything? So do you think that needs to be completely white glove as well?

Glenn Hopper: Well, yeah, so somehow, I'm going to talk on both sides of my mouth here, which I think is typical for a finance guy. So they're our industry has become very commoditized, there's been a whole bunch of M&A activity, a bunch of smaller companies rolling up, people doing very similar things. And it was just people at the beginning, were just competing on price and very familiar, just everybody's driving the price down. And so, you know, you can continue this race to the bottom, or you can do what our business and what many of us did, it's super white glove service. And like I said, if you make that call at 5:30, if you make that call at 11:30pm on Saturday night, someone at our company, you know, we've got 24/7 on call in the US or overseas, someone's going to pick that up and do it for you as quickly as you need it. So that's great from white glove, but at the same time, one of the things that we're looking at, and this does, we have to fix it, and finalize it internally first, but we sell managed services where there's basically a subscription, it's a big sis subscription. But if you've got a client who pays in advance for some amount, you know, a bucket of hosting, a bucket of processing, a number of users and a bucket of hours, that we let them have a flat fee and come in and if they go over it, you know, if they burst that, then they're going to be additional rates. But in order to do that, we need to give them real time or near real time, you know, maybe updated daily, but let them see where they are in their hosting, are they about to hit their limit for the amount of hosting we do? Are they about to go over an hour's and let them manage that? And then if they see that they're consistently going over the agreed upon rate, it would be great for us to let them just change their plan right there. It's on the roadmap, and you probably see this a lot. But it's the amount of development that goes into that like, first, we have to be able to really be sure we have a handle on that internally and you can display it visually. It's not just having the data, it's making it easy to access and having the dashboards, but that would be you know, our sort of global intelligence platform would have that and they will be able to get real time be able to see what their billing is make changes on the fly and not having to wait on us.

Sandeep Jain: Got it. And could you talk about the existing systems that you're using in this Quote-to-Cash?

Glenn Hopper: Yeah, so we just did an upgrade. Like I said, I'm like, when I come into a company, I'm coming in to help them scale up for whether it's funding or, you know, M&A, activity, whatever they're going to do. I typically come in and I call it you know, the Gartner hype cycle, where you have sort of the first word companies building up and then you get to the trough of disillusionment, where all the hype is kind of gone, and you're kind of in a mess, and there's a little bit of a dip. I liken that to the business development process. And I think you can grow to a certain point using sort of cobbled together systems, you know, maybe somebody's running a SQL database on their personal laptop to track something and somebody else has their own, you know, some excel spreadsheet. It's getting emailed around and all that nothing is scalable, and it's just a nightmare. And you get to a point where, hey, these systems aren't going to work anymore. So when I come in, I'm usually looking to put in new systems or find, you know, just get whether it's API or ODBC connection, or whatever it is get their systems talking to each other. And that's really where I am now. And I've got this long term roadmap of all the bolt ons and things of things I want to do. And I won't go through our whole finance stack unless you really want me to, but the sort of the, the Quote-to-Cash stack is up front, we have a CRM that has not yet hooked into our ERP, because we're still trying to say what all we're going to put in that CRM and how much information we're going to get early. Of course, I'm always advocating for get as much information as we can get the, you know, the billing, contact, the sales, contact, the mailing address, the, you know, whatever we can get, let's get it up there. Because I have this dream of all that data carrying through all of our systems. And of course, salespeople are like, how can I do the least amount of work so I can get back out and sell? So we're trying to figure out where that right point is, and then you know, statements of work are always a problem. And I think it's because if you've got a PDF that is getting changed here and moved around, and you make a stipulation for one client, whether it's a longer receivable, you know, a longer time for them to pay, or they have a different rate, or whatever the danger is, human error can come in there, and then SOW can get messed up and somebody gets the wrong SOW, so they get terms that are different than what was negotiated. And I'm always panicked on that. And so how we love, I'd love to have the statement work be digital upfront. So we got the CRM, we've got the ERP, and we're doing billing now directly out of the ERP system. But I've been looking at some software that I really want to put in place, because in our current ERP, there is no way to click on an invoice and do like a payment online. And I would like to be able to have that capability and also to be able to send, you know, reminders on a consistent basis. And especially when you know, before it's invoices do and after and when people are paid, just have things set up on an automated basis to get paid, because we're really trying to focus on cash conversion cycle. And law firms, I think, law firms architects are both to industries I've worked with, and they're notoriously slow payers. And so cash conversion cycle is really important to us and that's a big focus for us.

Sandeep Jain: Got it. And Glenn, what's your CRM and ERP?

Glenn Hopper: So our CRM is HubSpot, and our ERP is NetSuite. And we moved from QuickBooks to NetSuite. And we're very green in NetSuite. So we're not using everything that we can yet. And in HubSpot, we haven't had really an administrator for it. So I know we're not fully using what we can up front they're in, because they're not connected yet. I just we have to define I'm big on define the process first and then automated, then connect stuff. So if we haven't even defined the HubSpot process up front, that's I'm kind of holding them at bay because I don't want to be in a garbage in garbage out situation. I wanted to find that process know what we need up front and then start taking the data out from them.

Sandeep Jain: Got it from that. And just so that audience can understand the scope or the size of the business, just really quick questions, like how many SKU’s do you have do yourself?

Glenn Hopper: So it's not that many SKU’s we're, I guess we're a transactional SAS business meaning we have some things that are build their usage based. And then some things that are based on the kind of work we're doing, whether it's forensic collections up front or project manager work behind the scenes, or we even do expert witness testimony and stuff. And so there's different rates for different kinds of services that we get give. And then we have, we process a lot of data. And there's one rate for bringing data in win rate for exporting data. There's hosting data we charge for users on the system. So it's a mix, but it's only about a dozen SKU’s. And we have no inventory goods. We do you know, we may sell hard drives if somebody's taking, you know if they're taking down their data or something, but we don't keep an inventory of anything. So it's all non-inventory goods and services.

Sandeep Jain: Got it. And how many salespeople you have?

Glenn Hopper: So in the US right now, the funny thing is, when I first got there, we only had one salesperson and it was really just a national account manager. So he just flew around and wined and dined clients all over the country and we went through COVID couldn't do any of that and it was actually you know, I'm always trying to find silver linings in things. And I think one thing that happened in COVID is we couldn't do the kind of sales that we did this sort of really relationship face to face based selling. So we made some changes. And we really leaned heavily on, it went both ways. We leaned heavily on our existing clients, and tried to get as much business as we could from them, but at the same time, not for our big clients but for the smaller clients, we had to be flexible with them. And we gave them longer payment terms and things. So anyway, it was getting through COVID was tough, and the focus shifted a little bit. And coming out of it now, at least as travel and face to face meetings are opening back up, we have two salespeople in the US two in Germany, we're about to hire another one. And they sort of have territories based on where they are, we've got one's in Texas now and one is in Utah, and they sort of the Texas guys sort of take some Midwest all the way over to the east, but we're this year hiring another East Coast based one, but it's a base, you know, we're internally mining existing relationships. But as far as going out and looking for new, it's going to its to right now going to be three in the US, and then two in Germany, bring in that new business. So the amount of revenue that we do, I think that's probably a pretty small number of salespeople. But you know, the contracts are big, they're bigger than a SaaS Companies contract would typically be.

Sandeep Jain: Got it. So what are your typical challenges are the biggest challenges in this Quote-to-Cash when salespeople generate generates a quote, and I get to generate invoices, and I might be a law firm that has increased the usage? So how do you manage this thing? What are the biggest challenges for you?

Glenn Hopper: Yeah, so the one that I already talked about is, it's the biggest one, I mean, it drives me crazy. And it makes me nervous as statements of work not being handled properly. I just, and I don't want to have to, you know, I'm the finance guy. And I'm not a lawyer, we have several in our company, believe it or not, in the industry that we're in, even our salespeople, but I don't want to have to evaluate every statement of work that comes in, and we don't technically do quotes, and this is another problem. So the salesperson will go out and talk to the client. The first kind of proposal he would give to the client, or potential client would be kind of a draft statement of work, and it doesn't say, quote, or whatever, it's just, here's what we can do sign it, and then they may negotiate it back and forth. So we don't we don't call it a quote, but I guess that's what it is. And I guess that's the biggest problem is things. When you have legalese, you know, blocks and blocks of text that they're, you know, somebody with internal counsel goes through and they redline it, you make a change, and then you have the salesperson go up and instead of pulling that original draft, they pull the one that's modified, and you have this ripple effect, where you have customer signing SOW that, you know that you wouldn't want to be standard terms. So that's an issue. And it's, I've got to say, we're much better at doing it now. And I'm making sure that SOW comes through, but I still, because there's so many opportunities to break that I still lose sleep over it. And the other one that we have is, again, this goes back to not having official quotes, but because our project managers work so closely with our clients, a client may ask the project manager to give them just give me an estimate on what this would cost. So the project manager who's not a salesperson, will give them an estimate based on what they know. But then the client will then go, you know, so it's a law firm. So they, if they take this estimate that wasn't packaged up, like a nice quote, and it didn't have all the thought that maybe the full quote would do, then they give it to their client, and suddenly it becomes the budget. So just an offhand conversation. So that's something I'd really like to and we address it internally by basically, we just had to tell our project managers, you can't quote anymore, someone from Solutions has to quote, but to your earlier point, if clients could just go do that themselves, if they could self-serve, you know, drag and drop and figure out what their plan they wanted, that would be an incredible thing to offer our clients.

Sandeep Jain: Got it. And you talked about some challenges and invoicing earlier, which is shortening your cash cycle. But any other challenges when this SOW signed generating invoices from that, or if there's no change that I'm assuming invoices are pretty simple thing to generate? 

Glenn Hopper: I mean, if we have standard rates and you know, you got your right card for all of your matters. And as long as it's a manual process now, but as long as the rate. So enter properly off SOW into the project management system. They get billed, you know, those pass through to the invoicing. And then at the end of the month, we just click through an invoice. But there is a huge QTC process around it, you have to make sure that there's someone didn't fat finger a number of hours, but we're addressing things like that, like, instead of having project managers manually enter their hours, there's a little clock that they click, and you know, it times them. And then when they stop, they hit the clock again, and it'll round to the nearest quarter hour or whatever. So it makes things a lot easier for invoicing that way. But for me invoicing, what I'm looking for and the challenges I have is, we have slow pay clients, and they're good clients otherwise. And I think that the amount of work that goes into the communication with them right now, we can automate a lot of that. And we're, I think at NetSuite, there's probably some ability to do that. But I've also seen some other bolt on tools that you could hook up with NetSuite like something like a Tresoria, or there's a few other that I can't remember where you can set reminders, send statements, and even have people click on an invoice to pay via ACH. And with the size of our invoices, I'd never do credit card, you know, because significant things with it. But that's I'd like to see some better automation with collections and reminders, and giving people more automated payment options to rather than having to go through and set up their wire ACH or send a cheque which we still do have some clients.

Sandeep Jain: And Glenn, you mentioned that you went from QuickBooks to NetSuite, can you tell us like one or two top reasons what made you shift from QuickBooks to NetSuite?

Glenn Hopper: It's really the, QuickBooks is great first, I mean, it's you know, 65,000, or more than that. However, many small business customers they have. It's great for small businesses, but it's very limited in what it does, it's just accounting, there's not the full range. And if you can extract data from QuickBooks, and you can tie in API's to talk to other systems. And we did that to some extent before we use tools like and AR collect are two things in Concur for expense management. So you could link some things in but we just ended up with these information silos and accounting being its own silo. And even our HR system was in a separate silo, and then the sales system and in the project management system, and it's great, and you can find ways to sort of, you know, capture data from each and make sure you've got a unique identifier that passes through all the systems. But I really think for what we're trying to do, as much as we could get everything into a single system, a full ERP that we can, you know, because NetSuite has that front end, they do have a CRM capability. It's not as pretty looking as like HubSpot, or Salesforce says, and I think there's a lot of people that use Salesforce and NetSuite or HubSpot and NetSuite and Bolton men. And my initial thing was, we can get rid of HubSpot and use NetSuite, and of course, sales and marketing people being very visual. And I think they were more impressed by HubSpot visuals. And that's why we're using it. But you know, and I'm fine with that as long as we figure out a process and have it connect, but I just think ultimately, NetSuite is giving us more data points that we can use for our business intelligence and analytics and for what we eventually provide to our customers.

Sandeep Jain: Got it. And, Glenn, any recommendation? If somebody's setting up the stack, the Quote-to-Cash stack from the beginning, there'll be a CRM in an ERP, for sure. But you have a requirement to generate quotes, you have to requirement to generate invoicing, and there is accounting part. But this should be stuff about generating quotes and invoicing. Do you have any thoughts about this being done as two separate systems or one system? 

Glenn Hopper: I think don't reinvent the wheel every time you quote somebody or come up with this statement of work. So I think I'm a huge process guy if I haven't repeated that. But I think you establish the process first. And instead of buying a system and making your process fit the system, you define the process and then you see can the system do this and I think that's the way you're going to be most efficient. So the answer to that would be if a single system can do everything, great, but don't you know it when you're in that blue sky period of being a startup and you don't have this baggage of. And it's maybe a different thing if you've got baggage of historical the way you've done things and the information you have. But if you're in a blue skies startup world, you're doing this for the first time. And that is a perfect time to just set that process up, and then shop for things that do what you want. So I would say if it's a couple of different systems, and you can get them to talk to each other, but they match your process, great. And if a single system does it, then that's great, too. But otherwise, I wouldn't lean towards a preference either way, except I guess to say, integration is, you know, just be prepared and know that you as a finance guy aren't going to be able to do the integration, you're going to need resources, wherever you go from other departments to help get those synched up.

Sandeep Jain: That makes sense, Glenn. And any advice or recommendations that you have for vendors who are building products in this space, whether it's quoting, invoicing, accounting, like this is your chance to talk to the vendors and say, look, folks, here are the things that we are most painful to a person in my role.

Glenn Hopper: I think that the first thing I would say is make it as easy as possible to use. I've never met a salesperson who loves to do paperwork and loves to get in the back system and enter all this data. Salespeople want to be out selling. But they you know, and I would love if you can afford to have a sales admin on your team, someone that just gets all this and puts it in, that's great. But for a vendor who's designing it, I would say, don't assume that they're going to have a sales admin and assume that somebody in the company like me is going to want as much data as possible, and that salespeople are going to want to spend as little time is possible entering that data. So as much as you can streamline and make it super simple, and super scalable and repeatable and error free that should be the focus up front.

Sandeep Jain: Got it. And, Glenn, I think we've touched upon this a little bit. But I think this is a topic that I hear from one of the transactional set aside about usage based billing. And I think your usage is maybe in a different context. But I want to have you talk about what usage billing means to you?

Glenn Hopper: Yeah, so usage based billing for us is it's that difference between I'm giving you a bucket of storage that you might burst, you might not, but you're gonna pay a flat rate for it, and you're going to like our managed services, you're gonna get a certain amount of hours and a certain amount of hosting and a certain amount of processing and users on the system, versus, we don't know, and you don't know how much data you're going to need hosted and all that. So we are every month we're like we bill, the high watermark for how much posting, they had the high watermark for how much and how many users they had, and we bill for processing on a job. So there's there can be hourly rates to it. But normally, it's a per gigabyte thing for that. So every month, we're having to take information from our tool that we use internally to actually the tool that we work in, and then pass that through to billing and be able to log that as a non-inventory good basically in bring it down. So it would be simpler if you just had a SAS concept where you're just you know, every month, it's the same thing, it so many few fewer errors in that system. And it's just reliable, and it's easier to model out and predict. So if you're out, whether you're talking to private equity groups, or doing your own modeling, when you have contracts that are there for a duration, and they're just fixed contracts for a certain amount of months, it's much easier to say what you're going to be, whereas us we may get a client come in, and we think, Oh, this is just gonna be a processing job, but then it turns into a much bigger job. And we maybe put it in a pipeline, as this is going to be a $12,000 job, but then it turns it into some kind of class action or multi district litigation or something where you have several law firms involved. And suddenly, this $12,000 Job becomes a $250,000 job that's going to stretch it out over several months. And so it just makes forecasting a lot harder.

Sandeep Jain: And Glenn, so from this internal tool to the billing journey, is that manual or is this automated?

Glenn Hopper: It's auto magic. The way that I see it, it appears because it's basically just I get everything dumped out in a CSV as if it were just pulled directly in the system. And it actually then, so we get everything dumped out from this tool and then we push it through another tool into the billing system. We're working right now on finding ways to automate it. They're just some rules that we're doing anyway. There's gonna be some element in it, but right now it's very manual. It gets kicked out in a CSV, where you've got all the jobs you did and the gigs and then that ties back to the RAID card. And then you have to plug it in. Well, I mean, that's automatic, once you jump in, and you know, it knows to get that RAID card, but pulling it down and pushing it up there. And then I think before I get the CSV, it's actually touched by a couple of people who are doing some data cleaning before I get it. So I get it cleaned up. And it's, you know, we have to get that on the first of the month, so that we can start our invoice cycle. And it would be nice if that just appeared automatically, and you didn't have to wait for somebody, if they got hit by a bus or got sick one day or whatever, then it can slow down the whole invoicing process.

Sandeep Jain: Got it. And I think you mentioned earlier about self-service, it's probably tied into that angle. Whereas a customer, can I see my usage in real time, or is it only at the end of the month? After you your team processes, that's when I get the surprise as a customer? Do customers get surprised when they see the bill is like, I didn't know that I exceeded this thing in a month, and oh, gosh, $12,250K.

Glenn Hopper: So, it's interesting, law firms know, and they can guess, but it's the end client. So if we, you know, our client is the law firm. And then their client is the company that's being sued or whatever, and they don't even know what ediscovery is. And then so the law firm gives them a bill and says this is for our services, and this is for your ediscovery services. And they you know, be a fortune 500 company and have, you know, a couple 100 employees who have been on this legal hold who we had to get data from, and they don't realize those couple 100 employees or you know, 12 terabytes of data of everything that they have. And then they get the bill for all that hosting and it can freak them out. So having to set expectations. And a lot of times there's a little bit of a wall between, sometimes between, sometimes we work directly with the client, but sometimes there's that wall between the law firms. So if the law firm, if we're not talking directly to the client, we're only working with the law firm, then that could be an issue where expectations aren't said, but there isn't right now, there's no visibility by the law firm or the end client until they get the invoice. So our Global Business Intelligence platform, the idea is that they'll be able to in real time or near real time, get that information. And we're probably and optimistically, 12 months out realistically, maybe more like 18 months out from having that.

Sandeep Jain: Got it. Glenn, this has been a super interesting conversation, you're my first guest, which is in, I would say non-traditional SaaS that as we know about it, especially in the legal context as well. So this has been most illustrative conversation, at least for me, and I hope that audiences find the same. My last question to you, Glenn, of course, actually, on my first guest, who was an author. So I asked this question about a recommendation on a book or a podcast or something that that sort of touched a nerve. So you're an author with a book Deep Finance. I urge all my audiences to take a look at that. What is there something else besides that you would want to share with our audiences?

Glenn Hopper: I've read several business books in the past couple of years, but maybe the two that have stood out the most to me one is it's called “Competing in the Age of AI”. And it's by two Harvard professors Karim Lakhani, Marco Iansiti. And the reason I like that is it talks about the change that artificial intelligence is the promise of it, and how it's changing the business world, and how, you know, people have been talking about digital transformations for, I don't know, 25 years, maybe longer than that. And people used to think of a digital transformation as a one and done but now we're realizing, because we've been talking about it this long, it's not one and done. It's more it's not a one-time thing, it's more of an evolution. And what I like about this book, competing in the age of AI is, it doesn't get overly technical, but it talks about practical applications. And because they're Harvard professors, there's a million case studies in there too. Many case studies, you know, they're not like full blown, but it talks about this, this how ant financial, used artificial intelligence, and they go through and this is how Google did in this case. And there's several different case studies, but it's very accessible, even for non-engineer types to understand what artificial intelligence is doing in the business world. And then the other one is just a straight business book, that it's what's called “Lead and Disrupt” by Michael Tushman. And what I love about that, there's two, two things that come out of that is explore and exploit. And the main lesson of that book is exploit is be continuous improvement on what you do is the core function of your business. And always be trying to get better, incrementally better at that. But at the same time, you have to apply some resources to exploring new opportunities. In that, you know, there is an example of why you do that is, Blockbuster was awesome at the stores where you went and picked up a VHS, tape, or DVD ultimately, but they thought of themselves more as we're just a brick and mortar store, this is what we're doing. They weren't exploring new ways of content delivery. So they're able to get disrupted by someone, like, Netflix coming in. And there's, you know, Kodak, there's a million different examples of this. So I really like the idea. No matter what phase your business is in, no matter what industry you're in, keep getting better at what you do, that's great, that's needed. But you can't take your eye off of the business world is always changing. You have to find ways to change with it and to be on the leading edge. So focusing on both. So competing in the age of AI, and Lead and Disrupt.

Sandeep Jain: Awesome. Hey, Glenn, this was a very fascinating conversation today. Thank you once again for your time and your notes. 

Glenn Hopper: Yeah, thank you for having me.

Sandeep Jain: Hi. Welcome to the 8th episode of “The Enterprise Monetization” podcast. And this is your host, Sandeep Jain. In this podcast, we invite thought leaders from monetization space that has CPQ and billing, so that you can learn about challenges, opportunities, and best practices in enterprise monetization. Today, I'm pleased to invite Navin Persaud. To this podcast, Navin has a deep expertise in running sales and marketing ops. He's currently the Head of Revenue Ops at a company called 1Password. I'm pretty sure all of you would know what that company is for. But for those of you who don't know, 1Password is a private company based out of Toronto, Canada, and they do password management for both businesses and for personal use. So they are like a Product-Led Growth company, if you're familiar with the term Product-Led Growth. Prior to that, Navin managed operations at several companies such as Fixed Software, Ceridian, Leader, Lenovo and IBM Canada. With that, I want to extend a very warm welcome to Navin. Navin, welcome to the show.
Navin Persaud: Thanks, Sandeep. Happy to be here.
Sandeep Jain:  Awesome. So, before we start, can you share a quick fun fact about yourself that you'd like to share with the audience of this podcast?
Navin Persaud: Sure, sure thing. I think people who know me know I love to fish fishing. I'm not exactly a great fisherman, but I love the analogies that that fishing offers me in my work life to my personal life. And really that persistence, the amount of effort preparedness, these are all things that work in both elements, whether, you're fishing or whether you're that sales rep trying to close that up order.
Sandeep Jain:  It's interesting. I don't fish but I could never call it that analogy. Well, we've all seen the fisherman just sitting and just waiting for the hook to be engaged. I don't know, what's the right phrase there? But I can imagine the patience and the diligence required to get this thing done, it's very interesting. Do you fish often, by the way?
Navin Persaud: Anytime I can get.
Sandeep Jain:  Wow. Okay. So I'm assuming you're close to a place which allows you to do what you want to do?
Navin Persaud: Proximity water doesn't stop me. If I have time, I'll go find it
Sandeep Jain:  How much is this, if you don't mind me asking this, the paying for this activity is like a few hours like what's the time commitment?
Navin Persaud: Yeah, usually, you have to know that you're gonna go a day before because then you have to pack the vehicle and make sure you have all your gear, have bade know that you're waking up early the next morning, and then you go.
Sandeep Jain:  Got it. And once again, my goodness, but is it kind of a solo sport, or is it?
Navin Persaud: It's either, but like, the great joy for me is taking my son. So my son is 18. And he loves fishing as much as I do. And sometimes he's pulling me to go fish when? No, I'm not thinking about it. So it's actually really great.
Sandeep Jain:  That's interesting. That's interesting. My son is eight years old, probably, that's a good dad and son bonding exercise, I guess. So thank you for sharing this, by the way. Let's come to some other fun stuff that we want to talk about today, which is monetization. So I give a quick summary to our audience. But Julie, just quickly share about your professional journey. You know, it seems that you started in marketing, sales, and then you're now into revenue operations, which is sort of an over encompassing thing?
Navin Persaud: Sure. I started my career as an IBM 15years, right at a university, I thought I was going to be a lawyer at IBM. Opportunity at IBM was amazing, as you know, entering the workforce, starting off as you know, an operations moving into sales roles, finding a home operations, and then eventually moving into SaaS organizations Rev Ops 2015. And then learning SaaS from there on in having never experienced Salesforce, didn't really know what SaaS was never sold software, moving from like a commodity based business to software and, you know, looking back, I wish I had done it sooner.
Sandeep Jain:  Go ahead and dial up one password. Can you talk more about the company and your role at 1Password?
Navin Persaud: Sure. I've been to 1Password for just over six months now. It's been an amazing journey, their Product-Led Growth Company, they serve as both individuals so like a B2C model, and companies as a B2B model. They're on an incredible growth curve at the moment. Product-Led, and my role here as leader of Rev Ops is to really just look at the internal processes and systems and sort of help the team remove obstacles, to just keep that efficiency rolling out, it's been a great journey. I've enjoyed the ride. And I look forward to more projects and initiatives that we're about to embark on here shortly.
Sandeep Jain:  Understood. And could you talk more about, like how your role is structured within is apart of the sales organization? Because revenue operations crosses the multiple boundaries of multiple functions. So that's why I'm curious about how it is organized at your company.
Navin Persaud: Yes, for sure. So I reported to our CRO, so we're part of the go to market organization, which is effectively sales, and that's typically what I've seen in my career. I think, once I've reached this particular level, I've always reported into either CRO or CMO. But generally in sales, because that's where the pain is felt. That's where they need someone to help them with the systems, and the process, and the reporting and the data. So it's a natural fit, and a natural home sales affords you the opportunity to be on the same team on the same page, so that you're working with each other as opposed to against each other, which is always great. In order to get things done, get buy in, and to generally just move initiatives forward.
Sandeep Jain:  Understood, and what companies have a separate revenue operations function, do they also have a Sales Ops as a function or is it kind of merged with the Revenue Ops?
Navin Persaud: I think Rev Ops is a new creature in the last few years, it's a buzzword. I think sales ops was more of a legacy term that companies are sort of just shifting away from. In the past, I've seen sales ops, I've been a sales ops leader, and it's really about, you have an MQL, you've created a customer, you have an MQL, you've created a customer like that was the journey. And your role was to operate within that. Whereas Rev Ops is a lot more encompassing is you have an MQL, you have a customer, then you have an upsell, you have a renewal, you have a churn, you start all over again, you have expansion. It's more of a full cycle. And it marries well into organizations where you have a CRO, who owns not only the new customer sales teams, but also the customer success and expansion teams as well. So it's a nice little wrapper.
Sandeep Jain:  Awesome. I think you explained this very well. And I mean, I've talked to quite a few people on that, but I think explanation hits the mark. So thank you for sharing that. And so look, we talked about a Product-Led Growth scenario. So can you talk about the challenges in this journey that you talked about, from a view point of a Product-Led Growth company?
Navin Persaud: Yeah. So first of all, it's great to be working in a Product-Led Growth company. Because here you have great virality in your product, great demand. And really what you're coming in, at least from my perspective, to fix are effectively the plumbing of all the systems and the billing and the process and the lead flow sand how all of that works in behind the scenes. And your hope is you're just trying to fix things and those processes to get out of the way of a product. So that the velocity people can you can acquire new customers that can move through your sales teams, and then into your customer success teams at great speed. Whereas the inverse is if you're not working in a Product-Led Growth company, you're really trying to fix those things to help drive velocity where it doesn't already exist, and that's where it's really challenging. In terms of challenges, I would say, having the ability for customers to self-serve is paramount. Lot of Product-Led Growth companies has the ability to acquire customers. So they would have like an Ecommerce solution where customers can sign up for a trial and then buy on their own. But not a lot of them have the ability for customers to move to different forms of payment. They have to get to a human in those instances. And that's where these bottlenecks start to appear and surface. And if not built and sort of planned appropriately. You run into scaling resourcing issues, because then all of a sudden, this, this big wave of customers who potentially needs to be upgraded or pay in a different way, needs a human to do it. And therefore you need more humans to kind of meet that demand.
Sandeep Jain:  So let's just focus on that. So this is the B2C workflow that you're talking about. And is there like the tools existing tools don't have that. They don't have an answer to that workflow that you're looking for. And you have to build these experiences yourself, or the experience is not great from the like, what's the problem there?
Navin Persaud: Well, this is actually B2B as well. But I find that a lot of Product-Led Growth companies, their product, and the way in which they bill is something that is inherent and built within their product from the get go. And over time, they extend the reach of the product to service billing and integrate with other systems. Sometimes it's not ideal, like it's not the best way or not really what the intentions of the product were solely there to solve for. And then you reach that period of limitation where it's either you, you scale back what the product is, and you buy something that just doesn't well in the market to solve for those pains, you just have to reach a certain amount of growth where you have to make that decision. And in the meantime, you have to make things work with the product you haven’t place, and the structure and a process that's already built into your platform, to scale allow for growth, and give that flexibility and upgrade paths etc.
Sandeep Jain:  Understood. And with respect to this particular like there are two workflows from B2C and B2B.And the tool that comes there is the CPQ, which is workhouses, the product catalogue, do you see any challenges there having a CPQ service these different channels, where your customers are coming from?
Navin Persaud: WithB2C, it's pretty simple. Like you try the product, you like it, you put down a credit card, you pick your tear away, you go, it's really not, from what I've seen, the CPQ use case there, where CPQ is most prevalent is on the B2B side, specifically, where you have a customer putting their hand up saying, you know, I hate pricing. CPQ is really your subscription engine, your ability to understand what the customer needs price of that quote, and then turn it into a customer with a subscription and a contract to be able to amend upsell down, sell churn renew over time. And it's really the management of that engine across 1000s of customers that makes it complex, if not done quickly. And in an efficient way, I've seen significant challenges with companies where they've waited. And then they decided, yeah, you know what, we need to go do this, and the work is just a lot longer, a lot longer. So because CPQ, and the systems I've dealt with are complex, it's that you have to translate or almost rinse everything that what was built into the CPQ framework, so that it can spit out what you need for it to go forward. And that's where all the challenge lies.
Sandeep Jain:  Understood. And then you'll experience Navin, for product like good companies, even for the customers coming from B2B. Is there a requirement for a self-serve CPQ that I don't want to put my credit card, but I'm gonna do a deal of several $1,000 or10s of 1000s of dollars. But I'd still want to talk to a salesperson, is that a valid scenario that companies should think about?
Navin Persaud: Absolutely. For the point that I raised earlier, if you're aren't building a fly wheel within yourself serve engine, your website's always on, and the ability flexibility for customers to buy what they need, without necessarily always having to talk to a human to get it done. You're hurting yourself, because then you're really relying on your ability to scale on the people that you have to service that demand in a timely fashion with the right price points, and all the other administrative actions that follow it. Companies who are Product-Led Growth and build that flexibility in from the start before them the ability to ramp sales teams over time to be extremely targeted, focused on a specific cohort of customers, whether it be in your enterprise or specific industries, or specific product types, etc. that’s really powerful. But if you're really requiring on the humans to service your demand, because you have a limitation of what someone can buy on their own, then you're sort of at the bit at the mercy of the people that you can hire and putting see.
Sandeep Jain:  Got it. And so one side of the CPQ may have been but the other side is a billing for that. Do you see any challenges with billing for both your B2C and B2Bcustomers?
Navin Persaud: Yeah, from personal experience, B2C is a new thing for me, so I won't go into that. I see. That's pretty straightforward. A lot of vendors out there I think Stripe was one of the most predominant ones. From a B2B standpoint, yes, because even if whatever CPQ you decide to choose and use, you then have to play nice with your billing system, a lot of companies that I've been with almost all of them, except for one, use NetSuite, which is typically your ideal stack. And you have to basically have the two systems play nice like you're going to do a set of calculations and understanding of ARR, and subscription and term and everything else and then basically tell the other system, here's what you need to go and do with that data. Here's how you need to create sales orders and invoices and renewals and billing schedules. And at any point, we may send you something else to upsell and down sell, etc. and your systems need to be handling that. I've never seen it. I've never joined a company where that process was great at the get go.
Sandeep Jain:  Understood. Well, from a NetSuite perspective, running subscription billing, do you find this, is this flexible? What do you think about the flexibility of the tools to support the amendments and renewal cases? That's something that is brought by all, every time I speak with somebody who say I have a very complex or unique renewal process or an amendment. And so what do you think about the complexity of the tools or ability of the tools to do service, this core requirement of SaaS businesses?
Navin Persaud: It's never really that can solution, do it. It's almost always do you have the skill in house to make it happen? I've seen this time and time again. So I mean, we just came off of a CPQ implementation, it was a huge lift. We're now sort of like cleaning up thereafter. But now we're focused on the next piece, which is like how do we integrate this data that we're getting on a CPQ, to our billing system, and what needs to change or what needs to be accommodated so that we can automatically send data back and forth. So it's not a capability issue, it's whether you have the skill and hours to turn on the feature functions that are necessary to accommodate. Quite often, I've seen that suite instances really just be stood up to generate invoices, and a lot of manual work being done by a finance team, just to accommodate that. You really don't want to be building like a massive building team, because that's just an administrative burden into GNA. What you want to be able to do is understand the areas whereby you can automate things, so that you can eliminate the time it takes for you to send out invoices, so you can improve the time it takes to collect cash, so that you can keep customers happy and renewing. So you can just be sort of pro active. And so like to recap, it's never the capabilities of the systems. It's the complexity and the resources of skill to actually make it happen.
Sandeep Jain:  Got it. And Navin, any thoughts on usage-based billing?
Navin Persaud: As a customer, I've seen it. So I've bought a lot of SaaS in my SaaS career. You have Salesforce and DocuSign, all these other solutions. And I'm constantly managing how many users do we have available today team, because we're hiring more people. And I need to make sure that I need to either go buy some or use what I have. And some companies do really well, they get you right when you need that license. You know, you can go into their self-serve like Sales force, the greatest example, I can go on self-serve my own licenses right now, whatever I need, I don't have to talk to anybody, will I get a deal? No, but I will get the licenses I need right now. If I'm thinking I'm going to need to make a bigger purchase off to call up my rep, and we'll have to talk through it that way. But night or day that's afforded to me, and that's available. Other companies have soft caps. I've dealt with a number of vendors whereby you can go over we'll catch you on a true up either at renewal or at some interval that you reach through their head. It's easier for me as a customer, because then you know, I can deal with it. It's more of like a deferred pain and it doesn't interrupt my business flow. I sort of liked that model being the vendor. I'm not sure how much I like that model, because I'm potentially leaving some error on the table, or I'm potentially hoping that my team has the right visibility to the reporting to understand where those trips scenarios exist. So they can go after that revenue at the right time.
Sandeep Jain:  Understood. So you're talking about mostly like a seat-based model where your number of seats are growing…
Navin Persaud: Unless you're also referring to like how much you use the product, DocuSign is a great example of that, I believe they have two models. I've used both where you have seat based or you have envelope based. An envelope base where they basically say, you get this many envelopes in a period. And you can just have as many different users in the system as you want doesn't matter, we're just going to charge you based on the number of envelopes you send out. And when you exceed that, we're automatically just going to bump you to the next year.
Sandeep Jain:  Got it. So I was asking more about that use case, which is, as a revenue offset, 1Password,that's if you decide to have usage billing for your own product. I don't know if you have it currently or not. But if it is based on I don't know, number of different sites, or number of different licenses that are stored in 1Password,and you charge your customers on the basis of that, does that add complexity to your own billing, like how you build your customers and how you do your operations for your customers?
Navin Persaud: On the self-serve side, companies like that, not really. I mean, every time you add a user, you get a charge. And when it's done through like systems like Stripe, or otherwise, the get you as soon as you add the user your credit cards on file, you get sent an invoice immediately. Where it becomes more challenging is when you have to move to invoicing as terms of payment, or something other than credit card. That's where you're having to understand that the change in usage, translate it into your billing process, and then issue an invoice. That's where it can be more complicated if you don't have the right systems talking to each other at the right times to actually automate that work. If that work is manual, it's not scalable.
Sandeep Jain:  Got it. I think the first use case which is more an advanced sort of billing, so pre-buy is what you need. So if I'm going from 5 seats to 10, I go and do the transaction on the website, which is going to be simple versus the scenario where somebody has to monitor how much I'm using. And then at the end of the quarter, month or year, generate an invoice based on how much I used; this requires a different billing scenario.
Navin Persaud: Great. Other companies are also adopting like packs or bundles, whereby you can pre buy, you know, like a bundle of 30or 40 seats. And then you can, you know, start using them and filling them upas you go for the company. You get the immediate purchase of that number of licenses straight up for the user, you have a threshold right away that you can fill and then figure out once you get past it.
Sandeep Jain:  Got it. So, Navin, when you look at this from now, let's say 100,000 foot view, B2CB2B,CPQ billing usage. And you look at this whole thing, is there one big challenge that sort of comes out for you saying, well, if somebody would have solved that actually will make sense or make your life easier as a RevOps person?
Navin Persaud: So I'll say this, the start, I love Salesforce. I'm like, I absolutely adore the platform, because it has made a different career for me. But the way that it's designed, unless you have the right skill in house, and your know what you're doing, and you have a plan, you can fall off the Yellow Brick Road in an instant, you can then decide to go and customize a bunch of things. And then realize, oh my god, I should have just configured some things because now it's so much complexity. You know, CPQ is a great product. I've implemented it three times now. And the biggest challenge each time that I've implemented, it was that we didn't start with it. We ended up with it. Because we realized the homegrown or existing process we had just wasn't going to cut it anymore, was creating downstream problems with our billing our ability to invoice, track renewals, understand churn, we needed something systematic programmatic. And moving to that system was the biggest pain every time that I've done it, not because the system is a pain, it's because you have a wealth of migrated data that you have to translate over. So there's advice that I could give to someone, it's don't wait. Don't try and build it on your own. Figure out a plan that's scalable for your business now, and portable life and when you need to move to something else. But if you don't allow for that, you're just deferring a whole lot of pain for your future ops team that's going to come in here and try and solve what you didn't plan for from the get go.
Sandeep Jain:  Got it, got it Navin. Anything about the interface between the CPQ and the billing systems. I think you alluded to that earlier. I think he talked about NetSuite versus and there could be other accounting systems as well, or billing systems, I should say?
Navin Persaud: You really need a partnership there with your ops team or whoever is going to manage your CPQ and your billing systems because you know, your hand in hand, you have one solution, generating quotes and renewals. Another solution highly dependent on that output to generate invoices and ensure payment. They have to be speaking the same language from like how you're recording revenue, if you have ramp deals, what are you going to invoice, is it staggered? What amendments look like? And then related to that is compensation, something that we're not even talking about here, but you have another team and finance needs to figure out how to pay your sellers, and how to incent them, and how to ensure that the revenue and the data they're getting is accurate and aligns to the plans and programs that are in place. So it's not just billing and solving that issue. There's another element of compensation that also has to play nice in this world.
Sandeep Jain:  Got it. And follow up on this. This the management of this accounting system of the billing system fall into the RevOps team or the finance team sort of owns that, I'm assuming it's a mixed responsibility, but I was just curious too?
Navin Persaud: It is definitely a mixed responsibility. One I'm continuing to learn and understand and grow through. And in my world today, if it's in Salesforce, my team owns it in terms of understanding untangling, making sure the data is accurate. We then partner with our finance teams to ensure that their invoices are accurate, and they go out the way they need to go. Finance owns everything, once it's passed it over to their system, invoice collections, all that thing. The ongoing management of subscription is where you really need to ensure that you have the right resources in place, regardless of which team so that you can understand those one offs, those nuances, you know, sales reps will always you know, apologize in advance to all my sales reps, they will always take the simplest path again. And because that's the nature of the beast and I applaud them for it. And I'm always trying to make them have that simplest path. The reality is, you got to make sure it's right, because then you have so many other things hinging off the accuracy of that an accurate invoice accurate comp, a renewal that needs to go out in a year's time, an amendment that could happen at any notice, a notice of churn expansion, etc. All these things hinge off accurate data and your system. And if you're billing if you're CPQ engine isn't accurately you know, keeping track of that data and managing contracts, you've just created a cycle of pain
Sandeep Jain:  Actually a good segue to this is how to structure the teams. Like you have done earlier talked about Sales Ops being more tactical, RevOps is now being more encompassing term. But now there is also this billing piece we were just talking about. So what's your recommendation, how to structure the teams to sort of minimize the friction and maximize your and go to market efficiency, I guess?
Navin Persaud: Yeah, I can talk a little bit about my team, we’re structured into three pillars, I have like a technical side of the team that handles our CRM and all the related integrations. They manage for of our projects and what we prioritize, I have a Reporting Analytics and soon to be managing the subscription or deal desk function. There did generally ensure that you know, the top of funnel is working, pipelines progressing, deals are getting closed accurately, rinse repeat, and then the analytics from that. The third function is a newer one, one that I'm starting up in sort of like the growth ops function. A resource or team of resources dedicated to understanding the customer success business, to ensure that there are renewals and amendments and upsells and growth. A repeated trend that I've seen in every SaaS company had been with, you grow through expansion, you may acquire logos on acquisition, but you grow on the backs of your customers. So ensuring that you have the right level of insight and data around how your customers are performing over time, their health, their metrics, etc. is absolutely vital for that engine to be, you know, firing on all cylinders.
Sandeep Jain:  That's very interesting. You describe that, Navin. And so companies have a customer support function, which is a post-sales support, but there's also customer success, which is post sales account management. Is your customer happy enough? Are we solving their pain points so that you know once the time comes to renewal, you see the flywheel effect at that point. Is this, How is your this third pillar correlated with a customer success team?
Navin Persaud: So shout out to all my customer success colleagues, customer success as a function, they're the quarterback in my mind. If you follow sports, specifically football, they're the quarterback. So sales makes a sale, they get the glory, then it's off to the customer success rep to make you successful. So speaking as a customer, I've worked with some amazing customer success reps that have increased my time to value with their software simply by being a knowledgeable and accessible resource around their product. And that's no different now, like with our customer success mission is ensuring that we have successful onboarding, that we have a single point of contact on all product related questions that were up to date on new feature functions, that we have our renewals on time. Like it's a super important function, because any subscription business cannot succeed if subscriptions aren't renewed. And your customer success function is the one that is totally armed at making sure that happens.
Sandeep Jain:  Got it. So what you're saying is, look, there is a place for customer success as a project manager or as a quarterback to make sure that the account is overall successful. But this third pillar that you talked about, how does that function relate with the overall customer success team?
Navin Persaud: Yeah, partner in crime almost like to help that team, understand their customers, segment them, help them understand renewal, help them coalesce all of the data that comes that companies like us collect to understand the health of that customer adoption usage, whether they're happy, generate a health score, which can then understand customers that are likely to renew customers are not likely to renew, what actions can we take to mitigate? What actions can we take to create advocates and promoters to grow and expand and create virality within your product, and more advocates, all of these things are data points that lives scattered in your CRM, or if you're lucky enough to have like a solution, like a gain site. They live there. But you need people to help pull it out and present it in a way that you can action it on a daily, monthly quarterly basis.
Sandeep Jain:  It's really interesting you're talking about this. Over the weekend, I was talking to a friend, he's a Sales Engineering Director at a security company, they are like the 5 billion in value that file. So they're a big company. And he's like Sandeep, I'm in sales engineering, I need visibility into what happens. It is what is happening with my existing customer accounts. And I think they're using gainsiteas well. It's like, well, I don't know, the visibility into the data that I can give to my team that they can make some sense out of it, and they can start helping them. So his particular ask was, look, I need to find out what features are being used by certain sort of customers like, what are the tickets that they're finding out? Are there about feature requests, which means that you're engaged with the product, or is it about more complaining that, hey, this thing doesn't work? So he's like, I'm flying blind. So can just somebody provide me the data? And so I can kind of relate that comment with what you were talking about, is there's a separate customer success team, but your team is in the middle that can help provide that visibility.
Navin Persaud: Absolutely.
Sandeep Jain:  So very interesting. Another related question, when you look at this whole B2B and B2Cworkflows for a product, lead growth company, is there like one of the minimum number of tools that you think teams off such as yours have to deal with to get things done? Now there's a CRM going to be there, there is a billing system CPQ. Like for usage, would you think about another system? Like how many systems do you think people shouldn’t?
Navin Persaud: Generally, SaaS companies have what I call like the SaaS spinal cord, you've got your marketing automation, that passes through your CRM, and then you have your billing system, and then connected to all of those things should be your product or way to provision it. Those are like the four core things that should be standard in every SaaS company. How are you marketing acquiring customers? Are you managing pipeline? How are you billing them? And then where are you provisioning them? Every SaaS companies should have those elements, it could be all one element. And then you have another element for your product, but they've got them all represented in some way or another. Each of those pieces of tech though, require ownership. So that you understand both the process and the data as your workflow moves through them. Without like naming any names, but I feel like companies tend to focus in one area and not so much in the other and they leave these bottlenecks. For example, great acquiring leads, but don't really think about how to make sure they get to the right humans at the right time so that they can make the right impactful connections to create pipeline, where they have a great CRM and don't think about, how are we going to sell a product? How are we going to price it quoted, renew it, etc. We're having an invoicing system that just does invoices and leads you to hire so many people in finance, because it's all manual. And lastly, don't have a means to provision the product in a timely manner. That's probably one of the things that I've seen in a lot of other companies and that it's super manual, it's not connected, there's no connective tissue when you close the deal, it says it starts here, when does it actually available to the customer for use? Those are all like, I say that the four key areas that you need to have structure and teams around and specific ownership to those systems, and then they all need to be sort of working together collaboratively. So if there's an operational function across those departments, they should all be talking to each other.
Sandeep Jain:  Got it. And Navin, if there's one or two things that you think can solve your biggest pain, what would those be assuming Gods are smiling at you today?
Navin Persaud: Let's play this fictitious example. Let's say in year two, I landed another SaaS company. And I get in there, I'll be like, okay, day one, I wouldn’t know how I'm doing it today, if you're selling anything, if you're just starting out, or if you have at least some inertia, we need to standardize this now. Because the pain, it's a road of pain, to get to CPQ once you have a lot of customers, because then you have this massive amount of history to crawl through to accurately understand all of your customers, their commitments, what they're worth, when they renew, etc, that the project that could be simple, becomes quite extensive. And I think a big barrier for a lot of companies is that, yes, Salesforce is a great product out there. But they feel as though they have to reach to a certain size before it makes like financial sense to get there. Totally get it, they got to figure it out somewhere in between, because like waiting, makes what could be simple, really difficult. CPQ like the Salesforce product, it's not hard to implement. What makes this hard is the time that you've waited, before you actually decide to go and do it. That was that's what makes it difficult. So they need a bridge, that there's definitely a market for companies that are atX to X size, that needs something to just manage that within their CRM in a more structured function. Format, don't do custom will try and build something, find something that's successful in the marketplace, it's compatible, and run with it.
Sandeep Jain:  One thing that's a great piece of advice, Navin, and one thing that I was thought about while you're speaking is if I'm a customer, and I will self-serve experience. Now if I'm dealing with two separate products, one with a CPQ and billing. So I need to self-service experience for buying. So that's brought by the CPQ. But I also need a sales of experience for invoicing. Now, if those are two traditionally separate systems, what happens to me as a customer? Am I looking at two different universes then, or how does that work? Actually, I'm just thinking aloud here.
Navin Persaud: Yeah, from a self-service standpoint, if it's a credit card transaction, it's typically one system. You buy you transact, you get invoice it all in one, sort of stripe is making a killing. It's when you get to limitations in your product, because your product is sort of like an extension or a legacy billing system that is maybe reaching a little further. And you didn't build a way for customers to move from tier one to tier two. And you then say, well, you've got to talk to a human. So there's a little problem, you have to go to a human. And you add, like inadvertently, you're adding friction to that.
Sandeep Jain:  Yeah, got it, Navin. Actually, I was referring to that particular workflow because what I've heard from folks is, look, credit card payments is easy schmoozing. You know, that's everybody gets it. But the problem is when the deal size goes up, your number I've heard is more than $2,000, some companies have limits on how much money you can put on the corporate credit card. So they say well, I need an upgrade for $3,000. I know what I want to buy as a sale person, so could you give me a quote, a self-serve quote that I can give it to my team. And I want to get an invoice as well there, but without talking to anybody. So that's where the self-serve CPQ self-serve billing, and bank to bank transfers and all that thing sort of comes up, which is I think what you're saying is a human has to get involved. As the consumer doesn't want it, the vendor does want it. But it just so happens that that you have to deal with.
Navin Persaud: Huge pain point, think of government entities, nonprofits, companies with you know, certain invoice requirements, like a lot of companies would love to buy self-serve, but can't because they have rules and policies that requires a paper invoice or a digital invoice, or they have a VAT ID or they have some kind of requirement that prevents them from transacting through a credit card. And that almost always in what I've seen remains talking to human.
Sandeep Jain:  Got it. So how do we get human out of the quote of the cash?
Navin Persaud: It's not always how you get out, its how do you ensure that you're deploying your humans in the most effective way as possible. Like, if you're you know, I love sports,so it's a great time loving sports right now with football and hockey and basketball and baseball going on. And you think of yourself as a manager, how do you deploy your players so that they can be efficient and lead you to winning outcomes, and deploying sellers to small transactions that are high volume, that's not success? That's employee churn. That's difficult to manage, it's difficult for your reps to get to quota, your response time suffer. So those are the things that you've got to look for to understand, okay, you've got great volume and velocity here. But you don't have an automated means to. It's all for it. And what you really want to do is put your humans on these larger customers to expand them and grow them. And that's what maybe takes more time. This smaller flywheel stuff that opens and closes quickly, you need a system to do that quickly. You know, there's a stat out there today that says, most buying decisions are 60% made before even talking to a human. And I agree, any SaaS that I've looked to buy, I've already done my research, I've taken as much of my demo, I've gone into G2 crowd or Trust Radius. I've looked at their support documentation. I've done everything that I think I need to do. Then at the last point, I'll be like, Okay, let me see your demo and send me a quote, that's when I'll engage as human.
Sandeep Jain:  That's a good way of putting in. And it's not about taking people out of the equation, but figuring out where they are most useful. And I think that's the big, big challenge in quote to cash today. Awesome. I did hear that calendar bell, a few seconds back. So I know the clock is ticking. So before we let you go Navin, do you have any recommendation on a resource, like a book, or a podcast, or maybe a blog that you want to share with our audience, that something that you identified with, and you want to share why as well?
Navin Persaud: Two things. One, I'm a huge Ted Lasso fan. Anyone who knows me probably knows the character that I fit in really well there. So I won't say it. The book that I've really enjoyed, as I've worked through it, as it's called “The subtle art of not giving enough”. And it's a great book, it really just summarizes that. There's only so many things in your life that really requires all of your attention, and effort to actually like, throw your passion behind it. And really be upset when you don't have the outcome. Everything else just work through it, it happen. Because if you don't, you're just going to stress yourself out. You're gonna have these outcomes, you're gonna have this all around you where people are not going to want to approach you, you're going to be combative, you're just never going to be happy. And once you realize that there's this inflection point in your life where so many so many things that I can manage within my control, to really, really care about and the rest, I still care about them. And if it's out of my control, it's out of my control. And it's a super resource. Mark Manson is the author, the subtle art of not giving a f$%^, basically the counterintuitive approach to living a good life. I recommend for anyone in a high stress situation.
Sandeep Jain:  So between fishing and this book that's how you manage your time, I guess.
Navin Persaud: I do. I try and get away from the screens as much as possible connecting with nature. And it's really for me, it's not about fishing. It's about being somewhere, some quiet some nature, focusing on just a single thing that bobber in the water and letting everything else just kind of like leave my mind. It's amazing. It's refreshing. It allows you to recharge and come back. Focus on the 30 things that enter my mind, the minute Monday 8am rolls around.
Sandeep Jain:  I love this, Navin, and I'll actually read this thing. The book that you suggested is just makes so much sense. While I hear you say that. So hey, look, it's been a fascinating conversation. I wish you the very best of luck at 1Password. The company is doing awesome. That applies for a lot of growth, which means a lot of work. Good work for you and your team. So best wishes there and thank you for your time today.
Navin Persaud: Great, thank you. Take care.