Sudhakar Jukanti

Director Go-To-Market Confluent

,

Confluent

   |    

July 18, 2022

the Enterprise Monetization Podcast, Sandeep Jain sits down with Sudhakar Jukanti, Head of GTM Systems at Confluent to discuss how Confluent manages its Usage-based Billing

Podcast Transcript:

Sandeep Jain:

Welcome to the 11th 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 monetization. Today, I'm super thrilled to invite our guest, his name is Sudhakar Jukanti. Sudhakar is an expert in Quote-to-Cash, his experience spans across like 20 years. Currently, Sudhakar is the Director of Go-to-Market systems at Confluent, which I'm pretty sure all of you about. Prior to that, Sudhakar was at companies like Apttus, Deloitte, and Oracle where he dealt with things related to Quote-to-Cash. Sudhakar is also LP at GTMFund as well which is a fund for sales and go-to-market professionals to invest in companies that build tools related to that area. Sudhakar, and I met three, about maybe four years ago, on a cold reach out, when Sudhakar was working at Apttus. And I was doing research in Quote-to-Cash. And that first conversation turned into those multiple conversations. So Sudhakar, welcome back. Super excited to talk to you.

Sudhakar:

Thank you Sandeep. Great to be here. I always enjoyed our conversations on this space. I really thrilled to be here.

Sandeep Jain:

Awesome. All right. So before we go talk about Quote-to-Cash. Let's talk about you first. Can you share a quick fun fact about yourself?

Sudhakar:

Yeah, sure. So there are a couple of things happening these days. Every weekend, I'm doing either one of the two activities. One, I'm doing a lot of practice hikes for my grand canyon rim to rim hike, which is next week. Second, my younger son is into Rubik's Cubes. He goes to competitive tournaments and taking him every other weekend to these tournaments. Then connecting the dots one of my nephew in India he does the short films. When I explained about this, he has a storyline about a Rubik's Cube name ‘Father and son hike’. He and I are currently working on a story. We want to do a short film by end of the year. That's where I'm spending my weekends off.

Sandeep Jain:

This sounds very fascinating. My son is also in Rubik's Cube though. I don't think he's in competitive thing. He's trying to get there. But I understand the whole drama around you know, saving each second, microsecond here. So it's cool. Wish you luck for your massive hike next week.

Sudhakar:

Yeah, sure. Thank you.

Sandeep Jain:

Awesome. Sudhakar, can you also provide some perspective on the journey that you took to get to Confluent?

Sudhakar:

Yeah, absolutely. So I'm in the space roughly about 20 years, I've started my first job with Oracle premiere in the pricing, pricing and order management team where I've built the pricing engine for Oracle that kind of sold interest in pricing use cases. So I started my journey as a developer in pricing team then later moved on to Deloitte, implemented pricing for many, many customers and later implemented Quote-to-Cash. I'm really fascinated about how the technology solves the business challenges. In 2014, I was looking at a transition to cloud as that's a new thing in the world at that time. Then I came across a company called Apttus, a CPQ company, building around CPQ. Then I spent about seven years in Apttus played various roles. I lead CPQ practice in professional services, pretty much touched every complex team the company has sold either in implementation capacity or pre sale or support or working closely with product and engineering teams. And later on, I've wanted to move it make a change to a different domain. Being adapt as I've seen many companies, I want to get into an internal IT role. Currently I'm at Confluent. I manage to Go-to-Market systems for Confluent primarily around Salesforce CPQ and financial force type of systems, but essentially delivering the value for the business partners in Sales Ops Deal Desk customer success, peers, and education.

Sandeep Jain:

Awesome. So let's go deep into Quote-to-Cash now. Can you talk, and you talked about your role at Confluent but can you tell like, how's the team structured the Go To Market team because sometimes there's RevOps team, there are engineers, I've seen even product managers. So can you give a sense of how this is within Confluent?

Sudhakar:

Yeah, sure, absolutely. So our team is structured around business system analyst, I primarily manage team of BSS and Program Managers. And I have BSA for each business domain, one for Sales Ops and one BSA for dealers, one for PSME, and other for customer success. And I also work with the engineering teams, which are managed by one of my peer. And we have an engineering and architectural team, my team works very closely with the engineering team, and also worked with our business to get the project enhancements and deliver it to them.

Sandeep Jain:

So this engineering team that you talked about Sudhakar, is this like Confluent engineering team, or is this an engineering team within IT where I believe you're part of?

Sudhakar:

Right, it is engineering team within IT.

Sandeep Jain:

Got it. And how big is the team?

Sudhakar:

So we have roughly, including contractors, the engineering team, around 20 to 30 people.

Sandeep Jain:

I see. And these engineers work on tools like Salesforce, financial force, the things that you talked about earlier?

Sudhakar:

That's correct, Salesforce CPQ, financial forces, etc.

Sandeep Jain:

Got it. And is that the model that you describe? Because the reason I asked this question is, when I talk to customers, they're trying to figure out how to architect their team, or how to structure your team, because you need engineering folks, you need product managers sometimes and IT, is that the best model you think is out there?

Sudhakar:

Right. I think the way we further structured. So recently, we have started an Agile transformation journey, we had an Agile coach to look into our processes and help guide us on what should be our future way of working. And the recommendation came from them is to have individuals scrum teams, the scrum team consists of a product manager, product owner from business primarily, and the BSA from my team, and an architect and developers, I think this scrum teams type of model, I've seen it other companies do, that kind of helps us to deliver at the speed of business. It makes us nimble, it makes us able to react to the change and deliver in time for business.

Sandeep Jain:

Cool. And you also talk about your peers owning the engineering team. So can you talk about little like, how your team not like managing down but sideways? And of course, how is that structured?

Sudhakar:

Yeah, sure. So my peer managers team of architects, and engineers, and based on the business requirements, my team does the analysis and work with the engineering team, and which also consists of QA team, and we get the stuff delivered, that will work with business for you at individually take it to production.

Sandeep Jain:

Got it. Cool. Can you describe the Quote-to-Cash stack at Confluent?

Sudhakar:

Yeah, sure, definitely. So I think if we look at our sales motion, like we sell primarily through direct channel, as many companies do. We also sell through marketplace, like multiples consisting of the Google Cloud, Azure, AWS will sell through that channel. And we also sell through our SA partners, or our various partners, SA, SA’s, and ASVs. And we also have PAYG motion, Pay As You Go, customers can sign up and start using content as solution. So to cater to the various channels of operations, the toolkit we have is we are heavy Salesforce shop, we also use Salesforce CPQ, NetSuite for finance, and our product end team build some in house tools to support some of these use cases.

Sandeep Jain:

So you are actually the first B2B Company that I'm speaking with in this podcast that's pressing all the levers of Go To Market. So you have self-serve, you have sales lead, sales motion, you have partners, and then you have the marketplace as well. So your Quote-to-Cash stack must be very interesting. So tell me, what do you do for partners? Like how do partners quote from for Confluent?

Sudhakar:

Yeah, sure. So we are in the initial stages of the journey. So currently, we have a partner portal where the partners can submit the deal that deal which process is more automated, but the quoting process is still done inside CPQ. We haven't exposed our quoting tool to partners, we are not there yet. But currently, they work with our field teams to get the quote out to the customer.

Sandeep Jain:

Got it. And the reason I asked this was this, because what I've heard is partners have this indirect workflow. So I was curious if they you have a direct workflow. Marketplace, how is that thing structured because that's what I've heard is that it's very manual process today, where you get these usage reports from these different cloud vendors and then you take these usage reports and put this in your financial or accounting system. Is that what it is done at Confluent as well?

Sudhakar:

Right. So it is kind of evolving, as you know, even the marketplace partners themselves, you know, considering AWS, Google or Azure, they're also ever evolving their processes, and how do we interact with them? There are certain manual operations that we currently have what we're working on a huge consumption transformation initiative to automate many of those processes.

Sandeep Jain:

Got it. What about self-serve channels Sudhakar? Is that hooked directly to NetSuite or do you use a different billing system? What about quoting on self-serve?

Sudhakar:

Right. So our self-serve is primarily credit card driven. It's a developer persona, if they want to try Confluent, they can log into our website, we give free credits up to $14 for anyone's to try our solution. So beyond that, if they want to use more, that's charged, the billing will be done through credit cards on file and information will be fed back to NetSuite for the financial transactions.

Sandeep Jain:

I see. Is there a separate billing system where you manage the self-serve or…?

Sudhakar:

No, it's embedded in NetSuite.

Sandeep Jain:

Got it. Okay. So tell me, so one of the biggest challenges for you, when you look at the scope to Quote-to-Cash stack, and I think you mentioned about improvements that are happening in marketplace in partner workflow. But if you have to name like three key challenges, or three top of the mind thinks for you, what would those be?

Sudhakar:

Yeah, sure, differently. So as a company, we are a consumption based company. So we are evolving our business process around consumption. So being in the technology space, the number one challenges for me is to build a system for a business that is evolving. And there are not many vendors out there who can address all aspects of consumption into end. So that's kind of a number one challenge, or how do I build the technology stack for a business that is evolving and support all the use cases, then the ecosystem around consumption is not fully baked, for example, working with marketplace partners, the marketplace partners themselves are building some functionality to make it easier for vendors like us to work with them. So now, once they have builder’s toolkit, how do I ensure that the technology stack has building works well with those partners and delivers the results for our business. So that's the number one challenge that we have. And I would say number two, is around having the renewal information accurate. As you know, in the business in CPQ, there are a lot of transactions that happen, then how do we ensure that any given point of time, we are getting the right renewal information’s, if we were to do renew, do we know the right product, right price, and right terms, etc, we have some challenges around that. Along those lines, we are in the journey to build an entitlement system. So that kind of covers or tracks everything that customer actually entitled to in terms of the substitution information, support information, or provisioning information, or also for internal teams, if they want to understand a customer, and what is the information they need to have an intelligent conversation with the customer. So that's kind of renewals find entitlement is the second challenge that we have.

Sandeep Jain:

Understood. So renewals, I'm assuming is primarily done with Salesforce CPQ because that's where the information is. Is there any specific challenge or is it just like the data is spread in like 50 places? So how do I get it together, or is it like a tooling problem like, or is it a data problem?

Sudhakar:

Right, right. So it's more of you know, as we are evolving the business, so not every business processes automated. Like, for example, for the consumption business process, we have done the new sale fairly well. But the expansion scenarios or the multi-year scenarios, we still have some manual process. So now, when you are looking at this customer holistically, because of some of this manual process, the information that we have is not always accurate, we need to do a lot of manual processing to get to the right level of information.

Sandeep Jain:

So it looks like there is a process and a data problem because the process if it is manual, it will create a data that's not can be easily collected. Okay, understood. What about entitlements? Is it a separate product that you're building inside with your engineering team?

Sudhakar:

No, we are still in the analysis exploration phase. It is at this point at an high level we're thinking to expand the CPQ contracts that we have and add additional data elements to support the entitlements we have but ultimately our goal is that if anyone at Confluent wants to talk to a customer, we want to have everything in place for them to have an intelligent conversation with customers. So we have just started the journey, we are still in the defining phase.

Sandeep Jain:

One of the things that I've heard again and again is in this Quote-to-Cash stack, is the data model of one tool is not compatible with data model of another tool. Is that your experience as well?

Sudhakar:

Yeah, I think working at Apttus, that's definitely the experience, because Apttus had everything built on one data model. And we have seen the advantage between CPQ and billing primarily being on one data model, how effective it was to support all of the CPQ process, not only new sales, but amendment, renewals, expansions, multi-year deals, it made the billing really elegant, because the source data is fed through with a CPQ. But when I started implementing it other places, primarily having CPQ in one, tool and billing in other tool, I've seen a lot of integration challenges to feed data from CPQ to billing. I honestly believe that having everything in one data model will take advantage.

Sandeep Jain:

Understood. And with this, in your particular case, when you're looking at different tools, is there an internal thought about let's get to one data model, or is that what your entitlements would do as a data model or is just entitlements only because the data model will be Salesforce CPQ and NetSuite, I guess?

Sudhakar:

Right. So I think we will be expanding on the current data model that we have. So currently, we use Salesforce CPQ contracts primarily. So our thought process at this point is to enrich the contracts data that we have, and add additional elements that's needed for various tips.

Sandeep Jain:

Got it. And Sudhakar, a lot of people that we speak with, and a lot of listeners of the podcast, our high growth companies that are just, you know, getting and biting their teeth in this Quote-to-Cash stack. What strategy would you recommend to them? Because they are, I'll give you an example. Like I was talking to another company yesterday, they're doing the CPQ through a Google Docs and an order form, which is I believe everybody does that. Invoicing is manual. They're like scratching their head as to what to do for CPQ billing. What would it be your advice to them? And it could be like, hey, CPQ and billing, keep it separate or keep it together? Any guidance that you can give to the audience?

Sudhakar:

Yeah, sure, definitely. So being adapters working in this domain for many years, I've seen many CPQ implementations. And the number one advice I would give is to look at this project as more business transformation projects rather than a technology project. And the reason I say this is, many times when you don't start the transformation and just jump into technology, you really don't understand the depth of the use cases. Just as an example, in CPQ world, the new sale scenarios are pretty straightforward. Many of the companies or many of the tools does the new sales process very well. But then when you add the complexity around amendments, complex stuff renewals, that expansions and you tie that with [inaudible 18:15], you tie that with solution itself, when you add all of these scenarios, when you layer this, the business scenarios becomes very complex. And many times even the business teams are not super clear on, how does that flow should work or should look for them considering all the nuances? Now, the resultant outcome is that, as a company looks for metrics, CPQ is a source of most of the financial metrics. And when you are looking to calculate those metrics to get to the right metrics without really understanding the depth of this process, then it'll be challenging. So many attempts, the project goes in circles, you start with something, you think it's working, but when it goes to these complex scenarios, and then it doesn't work. It will go through multiple iterations. I've seen many companies where they have done CPQ implementation two, three times to get it right. So my suggestion would be to document every aspect of the complexity of the business process, see if we can simplify to an extent. And also think of all of your metrics, what metrics you want to generate out of CPQ and ensure you're capturing enough through the transaction to support your metrics.

Sandeep Jain:

That's a great advice Sudhakar in terms of thinking it from a requirements, cleaning up requirements, and what you need from your CPQ perspective. But in terms of architecture, so like the companies I'm speaking with, they are thinking about self-serve, there is a CPQ for direct sales, usage billing, invoicing, this self-serve billing, what's your guidance on how to solve these problems?

Sudhakar:

Sure, sure, definitely. So I think from an architecture standpoint, I think we should have a common engine that supports various channels. Like for example, no matter how you get the transaction in, the flow from a quote configuration to pricing, generating order form. And following through subsequent renewals expansions, I think that flow has to be standard, then you have to layer in a channel in front of it. Okay, how does this look like if you have indirect inlet? How does this look like if you have a partner inlet? How does it look like you have a self-serve? And if you don't have a common engine or common flow, if you have complexities or many nuances around the flow, then it becomes very difficult to expose this engine to various channels, don't you need to build different solutions for different channels. Now that will limit you from adapting to change that if you have to add any new feature, you have to think through that in order that feature work, or you may need to do it at four places to support four different channels. So from an architecture standpoint, always have a common engine that covers the core aspects of the business like record configuration, pricing, discounting, order form, and renewals, I think if you have the quote laid out, then you can have the nuances on the front end, channel specific nuances on the front end, that would help customers.

Sandeep Jain:

Got it. And Sudhakar, if you have a system with multiple tools, and you're doing any pricing change, or packaging change, what's your suggestion of how much time would it take to make those changes? Like, what is the best practice that people should aim for? Is it like weeks, days, months like what's that? And I know, it's depends on the scope of change as well. Like, if people are listening is like, okay, this is the benchmark that we should hit. Is there something you can share on that?

Sudhakar:

Yeah, definitely. So that's a great point. So whenever that app test when we were implementing it, various customers said, one of the common challenges we hear is that, hey, our [inaudible 22:05] process is so long, it takes literally months for us to introduce a new scheme. Then when you bill on it, and that's this genuine problem. But then the details are fake, it is not a technology problem, right. So for any company to introduce a change in the scale, or change in pricing, pricing is a little easier, but add to introduce new skills, it really needs the cross functional collaboration from how do you sell to how do you market? How do you do support to the product? How do you build it? Then how do you drive enablement? How do you do a level [inaudible 22:41]? How do you generate in advance? So to get alignment on the requirements from all stakeholders is probably the one that makes more time, then building in the system. So to your point, what should be the, you know, ideal time? I would say if you can do anything between four to eight weeks, that's a good sweet spot in my experience. What if you are introducing a brand new category of product that needs a different revenue recognition pattern, for example, or a different pricing or discounting structure that may come along, but anything between four to eight weeks is just enough.

Sandeep Jain:

Got it. And Sudhakar, I don't think we covered this point earlier. But Confluent, I think you said is the usage based model that we all know of. So what do you do for usage billing? Have you built something internally, or do you use an external tool for that?

Sudhakar:

Right. So for usage, we have built in house solutions, so our Product Entity built internal systems that kind of captures the usage and data usage. And once it is done, it's sent to NetSuite for invoice.

Sandeep Jain:

Okay. Do you have any thoughts on because I think it's mostly the popular question you get yourself is build it or buy it. Any thoughts on how people should consider either of these options?

Sudhakar:

Right. So usage is always a very tricky aspect of the architecture. So the reason is, it is tied so closely with the product. So, no matter what product you sell, when you're in the usage model, you need to track the usage and the tracking has to tied with the core product that you're selling. So if any vendor that's coming in, it will be difficult for them to get all the information that's available in the product. So to your question of buy versus build, I think at this point as we speak, the consumption business is still evolving, there are not all the nuances of consumption is [inaudible 24:45] up. For example, how do you comp your reps? Each company does differently. There is no gold standard not defined format on those aspects. Similarly there are many nuances of consumptions are still being evolved. So from a technology company standpoint, I've not seen any tech companies solving all of those nuances. I mean, they don't know to be honest, because the business itself is always. So once we reach at a stage, like subscription business today, many aspects of subscription are mailed out, it's relatively easier to build a technology solution for a subscription business. But for consumption business, I think the business is still evolving. Once we reach a stage businesses can a business process or stable or standard across industry, then if any company builds a tool at the time, probably might explore to buy but based on the current state of things, I would incline towards billing it.

Sandeep Jain:

Understood. And Sudhakar, are there any intricacies? Because if I would assume anything related to usage, billing, or quoting that a company should be aware of this like, Confluent would understand this, because you guys must have seen it all. Are there any interesting scenarios around usage, quoting or billing, that it may not exist. It may be like, it's all simple. But are there any uniqueness to this usage use cases that you can share with audience?

Sudhakar:

Yeah, sure, definitely. So one thing that comes to my mind is when you are doing expansions, for example, with customers, one of the key aspect is how much customer already used, and that information keeps on changing, depending upon day of the sales cycle. As sales cycles, typically tend to between weeks to months, depending upon what point you started the transaction, the usage, information could be different from what time you close. So having the dynamic nature of information while doing a sales transaction, is kind of makes it really interesting. Even for customers, they don't know how much actually they need to expand, as they don't know when actual the deal will be closed.

Sandeep Jain:

If I were to understand what you're saying is, at the time when you close the deal, you thought you need ‘X’, but when you actually close the deal, your usage has jumped to ‘Y’, what you're saying is you're quoting or how you sell usage should account for this delta?

Sudhakar:

Exactly. And the delta is more dynamic. If it's a static, it's probably you can have some logical formula to do it, as it's dynamic. How do you kind of incorporate that into your coding process? It's kind of interesting use case.

Sandeep Jain:

And I just thought of this thing. So for enterprise customers, it's probably a prepackaged thought through deal. But for Pay As You Go, P-A-Y-G customers, it's like, here's a credit and you use it, do you see any challenges between supporting both workflows, usage workflows, or differences or similarities?

Sudhakar:

Right. So Pay As You Go is primarily more of a land motion. So this helps you to get new customers. But as customers become big or use more, then they will transition to the commit based model, because they will get better pricing with commit, as even companies when they commit for a larger amount, you’ll give better discounts. So I think in terms of challenges, and both of them in a way are different workflows currently. And in terms of the revenue that we get from commit versus PAYG, there's a huge difference. It's primarily commit. So as we have different workflows for both of them, but I don't see any challenges that such.

Sandeep Jain:

Got it. And with this commit business, I just thought of another question as well. Is it ever to business models there? One is that I'm a customer, I come to a company called Confluent or anybody else. And I say, Look, I'm going to spend $100,000 with you this year. And so I'm doing a commit, but I'm gonna pay you at the end of the year, or is pre by usage where I say, well, I'm giving you $100,000 cheque right now. And I'll use as much as I want in this year. So which one is this, is this arrears, or is it like P&L?

Sudhakar:

Yeah, it's both. It's both. That's very penetrating of CPQ or Quote-to-Cash, why it is complex is, the nuances around how do you sell them in your question. We do support both type of models. But when you layer then we layer that with multi-layer that makes it even more complex.

Sandeep Jain:

Is there one preferred model that you think companies should be doing or is it like, it depends on what the customer wants?

Sudhakar:

Yeah, I mean, ultimately, we need to serve our customer’s needs. Some customers like pre-paid (with inbuilt discounts) and some customers prefer pay-as-you-go (lower amounts). So I will say, multiple options, whatever works for customer, we choose that.

Sandeep Jain:

Understood. And Sudhakar, what are your top priorities for you and your broader team in general, for the next quarters?

Sudhakar:

Yeah, sure differently. So one of our priority is consumption transformation, as I mentioned, so build that toolkit to support all of the consumption use cases for our business, that's one. Second, automation, we are looking at our current processes and tools and identifying the opportunities to automate, we have a lofty goal of saving couple 100,000 hours, by next year, we are working towards that journey. Then, third one, we survey our internal teams every year, through culture lab, we get the scores on whether the teams have right tools available to support or do they have the right process to help themselves. So we kind of look at the scores every year, and we benchmark against their peers, and we try to constantly improve scores for our field teams. So that's another priority for me in coming soon.

Sandeep Jain:

Got it. Did you say when you say automation, did you said a couple of $100,000? Is that what you want to save by doing automation?

Sudhakar:

It's a couple of 100,000 hours.

Sandeep Jain:

Hours.

Sudhakar:

Yeah, man hours that needs to be saved.

Sandeep Jain:

Got it. Got it. And this is for automation, around quoting billing?

Sudhakar:

Exactly, yeah. All class of the company.

Sandeep Jain:

Got it. And actually, I should have asked you this earlier, what's the scale of Confluent like selling like, how many salespeople you have? And how many SKUs you have, or what you're selling just so that audience have an idea of the scale of the problem?

Sudhakar:

Yeah, sure, definitely. So I think we are around 2000 people company, roughly 1000 People in sales. We have 1000 sellers. And in terms of products, we have broadly two category of products, one, our subscription product, which is Confluent Platform, the other is a cloud product Confluent Cloud. But we have couple of SKU’s to support these two categories. And in addition to the quote products, we have SKU’s in professional services and indication that we sell as well.

Sandeep Jain:

Got it. And Sudhakar, a related point. Can you give us an idea on the metrics, what people should sort of track when they're putting these systems together? Like, what are the things that they should be looking at just held up these systems?

Sudhakar:

Yeah, sure, absolutely. So I think, one key metric is to capture deal velocity. How fast you are closing the deals, each step of the process. Are you making it fast enough to close the deals? Deal Velocity is number one, then number two is the number of quotes touched by the list like how much automation you have in the flow, that you don't need the list function to manually review the quote and bless it to automation around the quotes touched by the Deal Desk. Approval cycle time is one metric, I would say, then, Risk and Compliance, like how many list errors we have in terms of quoting or invoice generation, etc.

Sandeep Jain:

Got it. And Sudhakar, so that people understand these things well, could you give a sense of what these numbers typically should look like? So when you say Deal Velocity, is it a, I always get confused about this, by the way, is that the time when as a salesperson, I start creating a quote and stop what starts to the time that customer accepts the quote or when I send, is it like from a salesperson purpose perspective, or is it, how much time does it take to close the entire deal?

Sudhakar:

Yeah, I think it's a salesperson perspective. You know, starting from when you initially start opportunity to all the way to the closure, so how much time it takes.

Sandeep Jain:

Okay, and so is it about like, how, what is the right way to track this is like days, hoping not months, but is it like should be minutes for sending out quotes, like what's the right way to look at this benchmark this?

Sudhakar:

Right, right. So I think it varies depending upon the segment you're selling to between commercial and enterprise, the type of complexity and the durability, but ultimately, the goal would be, are you showing improvement in velocity in those segments, year over year? I think that's probably the better way to track percentage increments yearly.

Sandeep Jain:

Understood. And looks like we've got the 10 minute warning. So let's talk about the second metric. You said number of quotes just by Deal Desk. And this Deal Desk is like a hot topic at every companies because you have to have hire somebody. And could you give a sense of if everything's are the processes and technology are actually aligned, what percentage of deals should be touched by Deal Desk, like if there's more than that, then the red alarms or the red bells should go off and you need to come and fix the tooling or something like that?

Sudhakar:  

No, definitely. So I think that's an interesting point as Deal Desk as a function typically gets involved in many of the deals, if not almost all the deals, I think as a process, we should always look at going the deals flow through as much as they can. So in terms of percentages, it varies by complexity of the business, but the segment the dollar amounts, etc. But at least there are certain scenarios of business that should just go without being touched by Deal Desk. As an example, when you're doing a flat renewals, you are renewing exactly the same terms as the previous deal, then those kinds of deals should not get touched by Deal Desk. And also if the quote is in the within the boundary of limits set by Deal Desk in terms of the discount thresholds, the dollar amounts, the segments, those has to naturally flow without being flagged.

Sandeep Jain:

And tell me what a Deal Desk could actually do on a quote, they would look at the discount and see if it is out of whack, or they edit the quote like what are the things that they would spend their time on?

Sudhakar:

Yeah, so Deal Desk, they're the experts on how a deal to be structured. So not all A's, may not be familiar with the intricacies of the right way to sell to your customer. So Deal Desk kind of guides them on putting a right quote together. And of course, as part of that they're looking at, you know, what they're selling the right products, or the right price, right margins, etc.

Sandeep Jain:

So it's not just an approval thing, but it's like taking a look at the deal holistically and say, oh, you should selling this product, your discount is too high. You should probably do a rap deal, things of like that.

Sudhakar:

Exactly.

Sandeep Jain:

Understood. And we talked about approval cycle time. Is this like, days, probably hours, I guess, maybe it's about measuring what you have, and see if it is going down or up?

Sudhakar:

Right. Approval is an interesting piece. Because when you start the CPQ journey, many other stakeholders, they want approvals. But when you measure approvals after one or two years after the implementation, at times, I've seen approvals becoming so much that people just approved without actually looking into the details. So you need to hit the right balance between sending the approvals but not sending way too many approvals.

Sandeep Jain:

Got it. And related to that, I know we talked about usage earlier. But what would be your guidance to RevOps teams that are thinking. Should we go usage, or should we just hit a pause on it and look at it later when the tooling becomes more commonplace, I guess? So should you or should you not go usage billing?

Sudhakar:

I think, personally, I think usage is the future. If you look at the evolution of selling models, you know, we moved from perpetual to subscription, now subscription to usage. And our CEO Jay calls it as an intellectually honest business model, where customer is paying for what they're actually using. So in the subscription model, you have scenarios where you sold, let's say 100 seats, but you don't know how many seats those customers are using. Customers may paying more than what they're using. But in the usage based model, customer is paying for exactly however much they're using. And that gives a huge advantage for customer and the companies as customers seeing the value on what they're paying, and we're collecting the money for what they're using. So I personally think usage is the future. The toolset is evolving. So is the business model. But eventually a couple of years, I think people will figure out on what's the right way to structure teams, RevOps, etc. I'm sure the technology will catch up and available for business to use.

Sandeep Jain:

And besides usage Sudhakar, is there anything else that you expect to see changing, or revolutionizing in this world?

Sudhakar:

Yeah, sure. I think the product lead goes broke, the PLG model would also become more prominent for any companies that they can at least sell without the sales teams to begin with. It's more of a land of motion. If you can use PLG to land and then you can go to your enterprise sales team further expand motion of the sales. I think PLG will become more prominent in coming years.

Sandeep Jain:

Got it. So Sudhakar, this was an excellent conversation going over usage, and CPQ and billing. But before we let you go. Do you have any recommendation on a resource like a book, a podcast or maybe a blog that you would recommend to our listeners?

Sudhakar:

Yeah, sure, definitely. So one of the books that I've read as a huge influence me as a leader is book named Trillion Dollar Coach. This book about a gentleman named Bill Campbell. Bill Campbell is a person who coached teams at Apple, Google, Amazon, likes of Steve Jobs and an entire Google executive team. And in his book he talks a lot about people management, lot about how do you personally connect with your team? Starting from how do you conduct your one on ones? How do you take your one on one seriously? There are so many examples of how Bill kid for his team, that's a huge learning for me. I highly recommend this work.

Sandeep Jain:

Awesome. Sudhakar, thank you again for your time today.

Sudhakar:

Thank you, Sandeep. It's nice talking to you.

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.