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Monthly recurring revenue is the holy grail of every business.
Sam Jacobs, the Founder of Revenue Collective, joins George this week to compare notes on monthly recurring revenue and the effectiveness. Sam explains how not only does a product need to have market fit but that the product has to be ready and deliver value beyond a testing environment. He goes on to decode the notion that sales comes first, when in actuality it should start with the product, then customer success, moving to marketing and demand generation, and then finally onto sales. Artificial intelligence is coming, what does that mean for our beloved SDR? George and Sam explore the importance of the human connection when it comes to sales.
Sam founded the Revenue Collective in 2016 and in a few short years and it has skyrocketed to over 600 members. The Revenue Collective is an exclusive membership for growth operators dedicated to providing support, assistance, education, and career growth to their members. He helps commercial operators change the trajectory of their careers. They are a global organization with official chapters in New York, London, Denver, Toronto, Boston, Indianapolis, and Amsterdam and more chapters coming online in the next few months and years. For the past 15 years, Sam has helped companies scale from just north of $0 in revenue to just shy of $300M. During that time, he’s developed deep operational expertise with particular emphasis on go-to-market strategy and execution mainly with SaaS and recurring revenue businesses. Sam has been a commercial operator at GLG, Livestream/Vimeo, The Muse, and Behavox.
George: Well, we are kicking off season three over the next couple of months. We’re excited that you could join us this week on the ever-popular Conquer Local Podcast.
George: This week I have a true treat for you. About eight months ago, a good friend of mine who you heard a few weeks back on the podcast, Butch Langlois out of Toronto, Canada. He introduced me to a group called Revenue Collective.
George: Now this bloody thing is taking up hours of my day, and I don’t even care. Because I’m learning all sorts of things and I’m collaborating with Chief Revenue Officers and VPs of sales from all over the world. It has really been a game-changer. Because a lot of times you try to look for resources to answer some of the questions in this crazy world of recurring revenue and predictable, repeatable models.
George: Yeah, you could read a bunch of books, but wouldn’t it be great just in real-time to reach out to eight people with the same size company as you? That are dealing with the same problems. And collaborate on how they’re coming up with solutions.
George: That’s what Revenue Collective does. They have this great mechanism, which is very, well, it’s actually where we got the idea to have the Conquer Local Slack community, was I belonged to the Revenue Collective Slack community. I can go in there and I can just ask a question to a bunch of Chief Revenue Officers in companies the same size as Vendasta. I get answers from that community.
George: Plus, they have some great social events that I can go to and meet people face to face and ask questions. When I started in this space seven years ago, that just didn’t exist. So we were able to coerce the gentleman who started Revenue Collective, Mr. Sam Jacobs, to join us from his office in Manhattan. In just a few moments on this week’s episode of the Conquer Local Podcast.
George: It’s another edition of the Conquer Local Podcast. You may think sometimes because I’m very boisterous. Is that the word that I would use? Boisterous? Is that how you describe me? Aggressive, excited. Too much coffee?
George: Do you know I haven’t been drinking coffee for six months? It’s just the way I’m built. I think that you get one life, might as well live it to the fullest. But I am very pumped, not very excited, on this one. I’m super pumped to have Sam Jacobs, the founder of Revenue Collective on the show.
George: Sam, I didn’t give a lot of context in the intro about your background because I’d love to hear it from you. I’ve read about it, and I’ve heard about it from our good mutual friend Butch Langlois. But I’d love to understand from you, how did you arrive here as the head of Revenue Collective? Then we’ll talk about what it is.
Sam: Sure, absolutely. Well, thanks, George, and I’m happy to be on the show. I guess my background is you’re talking to me right now from, I’m in New York City. It’s a rainy overcast day on the Island of Manhattan.
Sam: I’ve been building companies in this city for the last 16 years. My original background 20 years ago was coming out of undergrad in finance and economics. But then started a record label. That was a terrible exercise in futility and poverty.
Sam: Then I came to back to New York for the second time in 2003 and that’s when my career really took off. So I spent seven and a half years at a place called Gerson Lehrman Group. That was a recurring revenue business focused on providing information and expertise to primarily hedge funds and institutional investors. That business got to 300 million while I was there, from a starting point of 20 million. This year, they’ll do close to 600 million, if not more.
Sam: Then the last, and that was through 2010. Then from 2010 to 2019, two things have been happening. One, I’ve been essentially Chief Revenue Officer or SVP of Sales and Marketing at a number of different companies. A company called Axial. A company called Livestream that was sold to IAC and is part of Vimeo now. A company called The Muse. And a company called Behavox.
Sam: But at the same time, while I was doing all of those things, which is hiring SDRs, hiring account executives, building out the go to market motion for all of these companies, I had put together a community of other sales and marketing executives called Revenue Collective.
Sam: That developed a mind of its own and a momentum of its own and an energy of its own. So now that’s what I do full time. I am building and running Revenue Collective
George: Well, and a number of my good friends have become members in cities as far away as Amsterdam and Kansas City. You guys are growing like crazy. So what’s the goal behind Revenue Collective? I’m part of the Toronto chapter and I get it, but I’d love for you to explain it to our listeners.
Sam: Sure. There are two forces that form the raison d’être or the reason why we exist. I don’t even know if I pronounced that right, but it’s such a useful phrase.
Sam: Those two forces are these. The first is that the playbook for how to go to market is changing very, very rapidly. With anything related to technology, it seems to be changing at an accelerating rate.
Sam: That means that the tactics, the strategies, the tools, the software. Everything that you use to bring a product, particularly a software product, to market to get it into the hands and the fingertips of your customers, those strategies are evolving and changing. I can talk about how.
Sam: But there is no school, there is no blog posts. You cannot read enough blog posts, or even listen to enough podcasts, to truly become an expert in all of the novel ways that companies are using technology and using new strategies to get their products in the hands of customers.
Sam: So that’s thing number one. That is happening. I can talk about specifics. 10 years ago it was the rise of the SDR, the sales development rep. Splitting off the act of prospecting from the traditional account executive and creating a function that is just somebody whose job it is to get a meeting.
Sam: More recently it was account-based marketing. Which is instead of casting a very, very wide net, we’re going to go after a very limited number of companies and develop strategies just for that. More recently it’s been intent data. The point is how organizations are designed, how we do all of this is changing. That’s thing number one.
Sam: Thing number two is that meanwhile, the executives that are responsible for building and leading these high growth companies and deploying these strategies, their tenure is shrinking. So on average within Revenue Collective, the average tenure for a VP of Sales, a VP of Marketing, a Chief Revenue Officer, in role, is 17.3 months across our global community.
Sam: That’s not a lot of time to work somewhere for a year and a half. Those forces are converging so that we are, you and me, George, and particularly you as the CRO for Vendasta. We are in positions where there are very, very high expectations. How to hit those expectations and deliver on those expectations is changing.
Sam: As a consequence I wanted and we wanted to build a community that helps do a few different things. But the first of which is share best practices, insights, and expertise in real-time around the world for people that are doing the same job, roughly speaking. And create a community that can collaborate and support each other and help each other, provided of course, it’s non-competitive situations.
George: So you’re giving me a great segue as I explain what I do numerous times during the week. I go to my Revenue Collective Slack community, and I open that thing up, and I check out the various channels that I have subscribed to.
George: If I have questions about things that I’ve encountered throughout the week. That my very close group of advisors that I work with have not been able to answer. I’m able to reach out to a number of people in the exact same position that I’m in and ask the question as to how did you solve this problem?
George: Through that community, get a number of different views on how. Because I don’t know if there’s one silver bullet. It’s in that collaborative, and I’ve found that to be enormously valuable. So thank you for creating that resource.
Sam: Well, thanks for being a member. Absolutely.
George: So we’ll do the membership pitch a little bit later on because I think we’ve already teased people enough about that. But let’s first talk about recurring revenue.
George: Because I always kind of laugh about this. When I was starting to sell radio a number of years ago and listeners to the podcast will know that it was a long time ago. The goal for us was to stop doing episodic sales, where you would sell a 13- or 26-week campaign, and sell to a customer where you had a recurring billing that that customer committed to.
George: We had various ways to sell it to that client. We’d maybe give him a trip to Mexico if they committed to enough. We told them that, “This is how you budget. That you know that this is how much you’re going to be spending every month.”
George: I tried to find 50 or 60 of those customers that would give me that recurring revenue. Then I blew my budgets out of the water. As soon as I figured that piece out and got that working, I started to really excel as a salesperson.
George: Then I arrive in this SaaS space, where it’s all about MRR and building out that monthly recurring revenue. But in order to do that, and this is what I’m leading you into, can we talk about some of the challenges around building a predictable revenue stream?
Sam: Sure. There are many challenges.
George: Well, I guess my question is, is what’s-
Sam: Which one would you like to tackle first?
The Guide to Building a Recurring Revenue Stream
George: What’s the biggest challenge today? Because as you mentioned earlier, it’s changed quite a bit. If I were to have asked you this question four years ago, I’d probably get a different answer.
George: So as we sit here in the latter parts of 2019 and moving into 2020, what do you think the biggest challenge is in building a recurring revenue stream?
Sam: So there’s two. The first one that I’ll mention is not something that we as sales leaders or operators often have a lot of power to control.
Sam: But the first is that there’s a tremendous amount of capital going into companies that are all looking to sell recurring revenue services. The products are not yet ready for prime time. The consequence of that is that it creates all kinds of economic challenges for the business as it tries to scale, namely around churn.
Sam: But so let’s assume that … What I mean by that is that there’s so many companies that think that they have product/market fit because they get a bunch of early adopters. They then try to go big. They raise a large amount of money. Or they just invest heavily into their sales and marketing motion.
Sam: And they don’t realize until it’s too late, that actually the product isn’t quite as delightful as they thought it was initially. And again that manifests itself in low lifetime value, if we’re going to use acronyms and jargon from the recurring revenue world.
Sam: The consequence of all of this is that the customers don’t stick around. The whole framework for recurring … and Revenue Collective itself is a recurring revenue business. Recurring revenue businesses are beautiful for their predictability. But the whole thing of them is, and the difference between single or transactional sales and recurring revenue sales, is that you have to continuously deliver value and great experiences to the customer.
Sam: Now the framework is we’ll spend a lot of money to acquire the customer. Then again, this is like the central economic thrust. Is we will spend a lot of money to get the customer because it’s cheaper to keep them than to get them. If they stick around long enough, it can be a very profitable exercise.
Sam: The reason that all of these B2B enterprise software businesses are quote/unquote they’re burning so much capital, is because the idea is we’re going to spend a tremendous amount of money to acquire the customer. But once we acquire them, hopefully they’ll stay for a long time.
Sam: So of course it’s all predicated on them staying. If they don’t stay, then it’s really not very useful. I always talk about this as it relates to Revenue Collective. Revenue Collective currently is 80 bucks a month for people outside of New York. $80 US a month.
Sam: Well, the reality is I don’t really need $80 as an organization. Meaning I as a proxy for the organization. I need $80 for four years a month. I need $80 in 48 instances of $80. That actually turns out to be quite a lot of money. I can invest in it. But if they don’t stick around, then I don’t really have very much of anything at all.
Sam: So that’s the first challenge. I can talk about the second challenge. The second challenge is largely that people’s attention is harder and harder to get. So from a sales and marketing perspective, assuming you have a great product, the consequence of their attention being harder and harder to get is that it’s more and more expensive to acquire them.
Sam: That means that you have to have a product that sticks around, as we talked about. But you also have to be charging enough money to justify all of the money that you’re going to spend to acquire them. Or you need extremely cheap ways to acquire them, such as freemium models like Slack itself might use their Dropbox.
George: Well, so I want to dig into both of these. Because we could probably do episodes for months about each one of these.
George: But that first item of the product/market fit. Because the 30,000 salespeople that listen to this podcast and have a log in to our platform, out there fighting the good fight in the local market space. If you were to say the word churn to them, if they came from media they would be like, “What do you mean churn? I have a 70% churn month over month. I got a group of customers that advertise with me in June and there are a different group of customers that advertise with me in January.”
George: But when we’re talking about building out that product/market fit, you need a product that you can charge, and it’s probably less. The thing is moving advertising salespeople over to sell digital marketing services, which is a big part of what our company has been all about, it is less money. But it stays a hell of a lot longer and it’s there every month.
George: That is the key to that monthly recurring revenue piece. The product/market fit is important that they’re seeing value month after month. Because as we know, there are all sorts of other people that are beating on their doors.
George: I read a stat the other day, it says there’s going to be a million independent software vendors in the next 14 months around the planet. A million groups that are out there trying to figure out how to sell this thing that they’ve sold, and they’d love to do it without a salesperson. They would love to just have the robots do it, but I think we’re a ways away from that. I would love to get your take on that.
George: But the product/market fit is such an important piece of the puzzle. Because when we dig into some of these organizations, what we find is they’ve got to a certain level just by sheer muscle. Just by throwing bodies at it and making that investment into humans and not having a true recurring theme.
Strong Success Motion in a World Changing at an Accelerated Pace
George: But what I guess I want to dig into on this product/market fit, how important is it to have a very strong success motion after you brought that client on board?
Sam: Well, it’s very important. I mean, again, I’m the salesperson that doesn’t believe in sales. Now, what do I mean by that?
Sam: I mean that sales … I wrote an article on LinkedIn. Sorry to talk my book so to speak. But it’s called “The Order of Operations.” It’s the order, what departments need to become excellent and in what order as you think about growing a business.
Sam: I often say that sales is the last department that you should think about making excellent. When we look at … The first thing you want to make sure of is that people like the product, that they use the product, and then you can build all of the muscles around.
Sam: If you do nothing else other than focus on making your customers delighted, that’s also going to lower your customer acquisition costs. Because how do you get … In this world of a million software vendors, how do you scale a business and make sure that you can acquire those customers profitably?
Sam: What is the way that you can get a new customer without spending a dollar on sales and marketing? The way that you can do that is that that customer tells their friend. And their friend comes and wants to become a customer. Then they effectively, and that’s what we call a net promoter. That’s why net promoter score is so important.
Sam: So you have to build something that people truly and genuinely love. Then from there you have to … and that’s of course the investment in customer success. At the end of it …
Sam: By the way, I invest in marketing before sales. So my order is make the product amazing, then invest in customer success. Then invest in marketing to build up your pipeline so that you have a big number of people that really want to become customers. Then salespeople can turn that demand into money.
Sam: But I think the mistake a lot of people make is they assume that salespeople are responsible for both creating demand and turning the demand into money. In the modern world of SaaS and recurring revenue, we can talk about that. But the demand generation function is a different function than the function of turning demand itself into money.
George: So when we talk about the various, I call it sales motions. Used to be, it was a man or a woman with a bag and probably a one-sheeter, maybe laminated after the years went by, and a list of accounts. We’d go around calling on that account and we’d sell them something. Sometimes we’d even go to the truck and deliver it to them right at that moment.
George: Then we go out and upsell them. We probably would handle their phone calls if they had a problem. It was just one motion. But today, we need those multiple motions to truly make an engine that can deliver these products and services.
George: I just had a guest that has been working for 30 some odd years in the media business and he is building lead gen teams. I’m like, “Oh, everybody’s moving towards SaaS.” But it’s just such a great way of doing it.
George: So yeah, I love it. You’re going to get the product to be great first. Then we’re going to figure out how we’re going to delight those customers with our service or success motions. Then we’re going to figure out how to build demand from that delight.
George: Let’s talk about now the revenue motions, the sales motions. The first one is, you mentioned off the top, which the rise of the SDR.
Sam: By the way, again, the point I will make, and this is why Revenue Collective exists, is that today it’s SDRs. It’s not perfectly clear that that function is going to be around in 10 years. So these tactics and strategies are evolving and we’re all, I don’t know if we’re the antibody and they’re the virus or we’re the plate.
Sam: But customers and buyers are responding and evolving as we change our tactics to get their attention. But what is the SDR? It was about 10 years ago, and they existed as BDRs, at Salesforce.com. I think even Oracle had some concept of it many, many years ago.
Sam: But Aaron Ross wrote this book. This guy Aaron Ross, who built the SDR team at Salesforce, or at least has taken credit for a tremendous amount of that success, wrote this book called “Predictable Revenue.” The whole point of “Predictable Revenue” is dis-aggregating all of the different discrete behaviors and actions that you might take in the construct of going out to a customer, getting their attention, turning that into a meeting, and turning that into money.
Sam: So this is where they split the act of getting the meeting, essentially, from the act of turning the meeting into the money. That act of getting the meeting became this function that is known as the sales development representative. Or the BDR, the business development representative.
Sam: That person’s job, and many of us have received those emails and those phone calls. That person’s job is to reach out to the target customers, the ICP, the ideal customer profile. And have something interesting, or novel, or unique to say in whatever context they say it. Such that that prospect is willing to take a meeting.
Sam: Now different organizations at that point do things differently. Sometimes the SDR is running the discovery call. I don’t advocate for that. Because there’s a relationship that’s built between the prospect and the seller and you want that account executive to have that relationship as early as possible, in my opinion.
Sam: But regardless, the point is SDRs create the meetings. Their KPIs, their key performance indicator is how many meetings do they book? How many people show up for those meetings? Then from that point, they hand it off to the account executive. The account executive takes those meetings and hopefully runs a repeatable, a structured sales process.
Sam: Again, the point is repeatability and predictability. So what that means is, as many people doing the same thing in the same way over and over again. Such that whatever the inputs are, we can realistically predict the outputs over any given time period.
Sam: So that’s been, the BDR, the SDR. I can tell you from personal experience, back in 2010, 2011, 2012, the new thing was, and really the sort of … it’s hard to call it a revolution. But the thing was, take the emails away from marketing and put them in the hands of these SDR functions.
Sam: Stop putting a bunch of HTML and things that might get thrown into the spam folder, and have a human being write a plain text email that is very, very simple. That asks … and Aaron Ross’s original idea was the right direction email. Which is the subject is “Right direction?” The email is, “Hey, I’m looking for the person in charge of purchasing media on behalf of this company. Do you know who that person is?”
Sam: That was the initial thing that happened. So the person would write back, because they hadn’t received 10 million of those emails at that point. They would say either, they would say two things. Either, “It’s George and here’s George’s contact information.” Then the next thing that you do is you put in the subject of the email line, “George recommended I contact you.” And all of a sudden you’ve got a recommendation.
Sam: Or they say, “It’s me. I’m the person that’s responsible.” Now you’re communicating, now you’re interacting back and forth. Then you say, “Great, well, we have this thing. We help people in this and this in such and such a way. Do you have 10 minutes on your calendar where I can tell you more?” Then at that point, sometimes you hand it off to the account executive.
George: We have a-
Sam: That all happened 10 years ago.
George: It’s interesting. So six years ago we had a young gentleman, he takes a lot of heat on my podcasts because Justin and I have worked together for quite some time. Justin’s a great sales guy and he’s a good friend of mine. I have slagged him a couple times in the podcast for doing typical sales stuff. I also could put myself in there because I’ve been a sales guy for 30 years.
George: But I will never forget the day that Justin Babiy discovered that if you phone the person the moment after they open the email because we knew that they had just opened the email, that his conversion rate increased by 10 fold. It was five years ago.
George: I’ll never forget the morning where he came to me and said, “You want to know why I’m doubling everybody else’s sales? Because I know when they’ve opened the …” We’re at the time we’re using Yesware. Now, it’s proprietary inside our platform. Everybody’s got that tool now.
George: It’s super creepy to tell the client that you know they’ve opened the email, by the way. But it was a game-changer in the way that this evolution happened. Because he was hammering the phones, he was getting the appointments, he was doing the presentations. But he didn’t really know when they were engaged and had the mindset to speak to him.
George: So it’s interesting to speak about that. So your term for the closing rep, or the person that gets the contract, is account executive. Then how long are you seeing these account executives stay along, stay around, stick around in the relationship, before the clients owned over in customer success?
Sam: Really depends on the type of deal, the length of the sales cycle, and the ACV, the average contract value. So in an SMB, or mid-market sale … and some people might call that the commercial team.
Sam: But if we’re thinking about an average deal size of 20, 25, $30,000 a year, maybe $50,000. My perspective generally is you can close probably up to 50 on the phone without having to meet them in person. So we’re thinking about inside sales teams.
Sam: That’s more often this much closer to a factory assembly line. Where the account executive signs up, the minute the contract is signed, boom, you’re handing it off either to a customer success person. Sometimes they even split out the onboarding team. So you might even be handing it off to an on-boarder and you’re kind of removing yourself from the conversation.
Sam: On the other hand, at the enterprise level. Now sometimes it still happens at the enterprise level, but I don’t like that motion. I don’t generally love the motion anyway, but I really don’t like it at the enterprise level when you’ve got 12 to 18 months sales cycles.
Sam: I spent last year before focusing on Revenue Collective full time, selling big data machine learning platform to big investment banks. Those were 18- to 24-month sales cycles. So if you think about that, the account executive has just spent a year and a half getting to know these folks. They have a deep relationship before the contract is signed.
Sam: It doesn’t really make sense to all of a sudden lose all of that institutional knowledge, and immediately flip it to somebody brand new that doesn’t have any of the insights.
Sam: The other thing that you can do though and what we do, and again this is for big enterprise deals, these are seven-figure, eight-figure deals. Is have basically what I really like is everybody does everything. What I mean by that is the salesperson, the account manager, or the customer success manager, the sales engineer, they are both pre-sale and post-sale.
Sam: There’s a team, there’s a deal team that you assign to the customer. That deal team is with that customer for their lifetime. But some people do that. Some people don’t do that. I personally like that approach.
George: Well, let’s go to that 50K number because I’ve asked this question of a number of our guests. It is getting bigger. You can close bigger deals over the phone. There’s a group of customers that don’t need to see a person across the table.
George: What you’re saying on the enterprise side, those are seven or eight-figure deals where you need that deal team motion. What about the upsell? Who takes care of the upsell if it’s living over in customer success? And the AE is out closing another deal?
Sam: Well, as you and I know from being in Revenue Collective, and these are questions that are asked almost every day, there is no perfect answer.
Sam: Again, if you’ve got a great product, and you’ve got a market that wants the product, any one of these approaches can work. If you’ve got a terrible product, then none of them will work.
Sam: So there’s a school of thought that the customer success is a slash, and it’s slash account manager. Then that person is responsible for getting the client to use the product and they’re responsible for renewing the customer at the end of the contract. And they’re responsible for presenting new products and upselling. That’s one way to do it.
Sam: In that world, that customer success persona, that profile of the person that you might hire is closer to a salesperson. It’s somebody that is motivated by money. Their KPIs are around not just customer engagement and usage metrics, but really around revenue. And they’re motivated by that.
Sam: There’s a different world and that different world is that … It gets complicated. But there’s an account executive that sells the business. There’s a customer success person that is remunerated and compensated based on non-revenue indicators, like usage or NPS score.
Sam: Then there’s an account management team as a third team, that inherits the business from the account executive and is the person asking for money. The benefit of that model is that … or the theory of the case, is that the customer success person has no economic interest but to serve the customer.
Sam: Whereas if they’re motivated by money, maybe every recommendation they make isn’t actually in the spirit of serving the customer. It’s actually in a spirit of getting more money out of the customer.
Sam: I still like the former model more than the latter model. I still like … also because it requires so many people if you’re going to have three or four different functions. So I like a customer success organization that is responsible for the renewal and at least tees up the upsell opportunity. Either back to the account executive or to the account manager.
George: Yeah, again, it’s two different schools of thought. I don’t have my horse in either race at this point. Because I do know that I’ve kicked this can down the road so much over the last four years on customer success.
George: We’ve had a lot of success recently with our VP of Customer Success that I found in Melbourne, Australia, with one of our customers and had them move him and his family here in January. But he actually lived in that function of customer success for a number of years with the previous company. So he kind of understood it.
What’s in the Future for Salespeople?
George: But I’m glad that you put the caveat on it that all of these things, like will SDR be a thing in five years? Maybe AI will just take that whole thing. We won’t even need it. I guess this leads me to a question. Are the robots coming? And are salespeople still going to have a job?
Sam: Well, it’s a great question. Well, I mean, it’s obviously would be easy for me to say the traditional conventional answer is the robots are coming. There will be a role for salespeople, but they’ll have to be more consultative. They’ll have to add more value. They’ll have to really be thought sort of trusted advisors back to the customer.
Sam: I think that’s true. I definitely understand. I think that all of the discreet, repeatable actions that many, many people currently endeavor to undertake, will probably be replaced by automation at some point. I don’t know that AI will replace salespeople, I just think it might take fewer salespeople to accomplish the same output because of platforms like Outreach.
Sam: Outreach is not, they’re not a robot. They’re not AI, but they enable you to send 100s of emails that all feel relatively personalized. And to send all of those people that got that email a little gift card from Starbucks two days afterwards. To make sure that they get et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Sam: So I think automation initially will not just … it’s not that it will replace one person, but it’ll make one person able to do much more. Which will have the impact of reducing the number of people required to get something done.
George: Well, I like what you said at the beginning of the answer there. Because what I thought I heard you say was the professional sales rep that brings value, continues to learn, expands their skillset, is valued by the customer.
George: Where they’re like, “No, I want Sam on the phone. He helps me in the things that I need help with and he doesn’t hide behind his email. I can get ahold of him and I can yell at him when things go wrong and he takes accountability. I want to work with that person.”
George: But the transactional things that are happening, where it’s a yes, no, and there’s no value in it today, they’re just going to go away.
Sam: Yeah, I think that’s what’s going to happen.
Revenue Collective: A Community For Executives
George: I’m sure we could go for hours because there’s all sorts of different topics to talk about. But what I do want to talk a little bit more, because I’m a big believer, is in Revenue Collective and what’s your vision?
George: I believe you’re in 10 different cities at this point. Where you actively have a founding group that are launching and things like that.
Sam: We have seven. We’re opening five more in the next two to three weeks. Those cities are New York, Toronto, London, Boston, Amsterdam, Indianapolis, Denver. I don’t know if that’s seven, if it’s not, I can think of more. But we’re also launching San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Atlanta, and Kansas City.
Sam: Then after that, some of the other cities that we would think would be obvious. Vancouver, Seattle, Austin, Texas, Sydney, Australia. So the point is we’re a global community. It’s 600 people, rough give or take at this point.
Sam: The goals originally for 2019 was to get to 500 by the end of the year. We’re obviously doing better than that. Why are people joining? Who are they? What is it? Again, it’s this community of executives. That’s sort of part of the point. The point is that the people that can join this community, everybody can’t join.
Sam: Most communities, the CEO can always join because the CEO is the celebrity, the founder of the businesses is the celebrity. But in our community, the CEOs and the founders cannot join. The people that are below Vice President level, meaning really the people that don’t run a team, and don’t make any decisions on behalf of that team, and don’t control budget, those people also cannot join. Additionally, investors can’t join and service providers can’t join.
Sam: So the point is, and one of the reasons people are attracted to it, is this is a community for all of these folks like you, George, that have a responsibility to hit a specific number. Their sales, their marketing, their customer success, and their operations. They’re all customer-facing. This is a place where they can, in a confidential, in a trusted intimate way, they can support each other and help each other all over the world.
Sam: So the vision is to take that community and make it probably … I was just looking on LinkedIn and there’s something like, I don’t know, three million people with the title of VP of Sales out there in the world. Some incredibly large number. Maybe it’s not three million. It might be 300,000. But there’s at least 2,000 people with the title of Chief Revenue Officer just in New York City. That’s what I was just looking at.
Sam: The point is to create a community of 10 to 20,000 people and create mechanisms for those people to help each other and support each other. I guess the final thing I’ll say is, but not just about how to be good at their job, not just about that. Because that’s not the only thing that’s changing. The other thing that’s changing is how to be a great, how to manage your career.
Sam: That’s something that I just have not seen a lot of places out there that are as focused on helping manage your career, given the fact that we’re all changing jobs so often and that the way that we’re going to be great at our jobs is also evolving.
Sam: So in that context, we want to provide a platform, and a community, and a set of resources that help people not just be great as the Chief Revenue Officer or VP of Sales, but also help them ensure that they have transparency and visibility into all of the different jobs that are out there.
Sam: To help them negotiate for those jobs and to provide more security for them over the course of 10 to 20 years, not just within the context of their current role.
George: Well, I know when I sit at home with my dad and he looks … and I think I’ve only had five jobs in my 58 years. There’s a lot of people that are probably on five jobs last year.
George: But when we’re talking about our audience, and I will tell you inside our audience, there are a ton of media reps that have worked for the same media company, or maybe two media companies in the same town, for 30 years. That is not what the future holds.
George: The future holds disruption. For some of us, we look at it and go, “That’s awesome.” Disruption means opportunity and we live by that stuff. But for others that had been used to one job for 20 some odd years, it is a great environment to come to, to talk to other people that have transitioned into other roles.
George: I was reading a thread the other day where they’re talking about, “We as an executive decided that it was time for me to move on. How long should I stay before I leave?” I don’t think you would have had a thread anywhere around that five, 10 years ago.
George: Where it’s like, “Okay, what are the best practices? We’ve decided it’s not a good fit for either of us. It’s probably costing both of us money. How long do I stay so it doesn’t disrupt the day-to-day operations?”
George: Usually it would be, “Put your stuff in a box. Security is going to escort you out.” So it’s a different world that we live in and I think we all better wake up, smell the coffee. I love the fact that you are calling out some of these things so that people can learn from it.
George: See the train that’s coming down the track and get ready to make the changes. Because I find that human beings are amazingly resilient. They just need to be woken up sometimes. That they need to think about a new game that they’re playing. We are definitely playing a new game.
George: Sam Jacobs is the head founder and chief Poobah of Revenue Collective and on a mission to help revenue leaders all over the planet. We really appreciate you taking some time out of your day to join us here on our humble little Conquer Local Podcast.
Sam: Thanks, George. Thanks for being here. If anybody wants to learn more, it’s Revenue Collective.com. You can find me on LinkedIn. Linkedin.com forward slash the word in, forward slash Sam F Jacobs. Happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
George: Well, what a great episode from Sam Jacobs. I’m sure we’ll get him back in the future. Because we could just ask so many questions and get some great, very honest feedback. I love the fact that he’s talking about that the go to market playbook is changing so rapidly and you really need to have your head on a swivel.
George: Remember Al Pacino and the movie “Any Given Sunday.” He’s talking to the defense, he’s, “Man, you’ve got to have your head on a swivel.” That’s what sales is like and that’s what go to market is like as we move into the 2020s. Things are changing at an accelerated rate. Not even wow, things are changing fast. Yeah, and tomorrow they will change faster.
George: Revenue Collective has been built to allow a group of leaders, revenue leaders, to ask questions to a group of individuals experiencing the exact same things that they are, and to get that feedback. It’s a great idea.
George: Now the other thing is, is that revenue executives tenures are shortening. I think that all of our tenures actually are shortening. The days of being at a company for 30 years, I just don’t know if that’s going to be a thing.
George: There are higher expectations and the state of change is coming. Of course, we’ve got the robots coming and you heard Sam’s answer. The trusted provider that brings value and reinvents themselves will still be here. You’re still going to need that person.
George: But a lot of the mundane day-to-day things that we do, which actually we probably hate doing, those things will be leaving us as we get machine learning, and artificial intelligence, and robotic process automation. Just to mention a few buzzwords. Can’t have a Conquer Local Podcast without having some buzzwords.
George: You’ll note that I did not use acronyms in describing them. Well, I think I did with AI, but everyone knows that that means artificial intelligence.
George: We have more great episodes on the way. Season three, producer Colleen, she’s like, “I’m going to 10X this thing.” She’s been doing a great job of bringing us some new guests and they will be joining us in the coming weeks.
George: Including former HubSpot CRO, Mark Roberge. Standby for those episodes which are coming up with that gentleman. We’re very fortunate to have him on the podcast in coming weeks.
George: Please join the Conquer Local Slack community. You can get the link right here in all of our literature, and reach out to us. We read every single message. Dan, Susan, and John, thanks for reaching out to us this past week on LinkedIn. We really appreciate your words of encouragement.
George: We’re looking for future topics that you would like us to cover. Please, message us with those as well. We read every single message that we get. My name is George Leith. I will see you when I see you.