How to “know and grow” your largest accounts
Devin Reed: Welcome to Reveal: The Revenue Intelligence Podcast powered by Gong. We're your hosts Devin Reed.
Sheena Badani: And I'm Sheena Badani. Revenue intelligence is a new way of operating based on customer reality instead of opinions, making data- driven decisions based on facts instead of opinions or guesswork.
Devin Reed: And it's made up of three success pillars, people intelligence, deal intelligence, and market intelligence, the things all revenue teams need and care about. Every week we interview senior revenue professionals and share their stories and insights on how they leverage revenue intelligence to drive success and win their market.
Sheena Badani: You'll hear how modern go- to- market teams win as a team, close revenue with critical deal insight, and execute their strategic initiatives, plus all the challenges that come along with it.
Devin Reed: Sheena, in sales there's a lot of good emails that you can get but there's one specific email that was always my favorite to receive, do you have any guess of what that email is?
Sheena Badani: I would have to guess that it's from a customer and it's when the customer is, green light, let's move forward, something like that.
Devin Reed: I had a feeling you would guess that and that is the second best email. The second best email is the green light email and that will shift your entire day, right? Can turn it around. But there's one more better email, do you want to take a guess?
Sheena Badani: When you get a really nice personalized email from an SDR.
Devin Reed: No, that's top five maybe. That's nice but as a seller you don't get that, now I get that sometimes. The best email is the DocuSign email when you close. Yeah, when you get the signature that is the best email.
Sheena Badani: Yes. Totally. Good one. I like it.
Devin Reed: And the reason I brought it up because if you saw the title or description of today's episode we got to hang out with the AVP of EMEA sales at DocuSign, one of my favorite tools as a seller because as I mentioned, helps you get deals done. And we had a good old time today, didn't we?
Sheena Badani: We did. I got to hang out with two people from Dublin, one a little bit closer to me and the other a little bit further across the pond.
Devin Reed: We were getting warmed up and she was like," Where are you calling from?" And I was like," I'm calling from Dublin, California." And I think she thought I was messing with her because I doubt Dublin, California is very well known in Dublin, Ireland, and then I was like, no. Gongsters think I moved across the seas but, no, in fact, just about a few miles east. But yeah, a true Dubliner and then this East Bay guy.
Sheena Badani: Exactly. And she has such deep experience with an enterprise sales and a lot of passion for her craft and passion for her company and the impact that it has on the world, not just for clients but just all of the initiatives around sustainability that DocuSign is focused on. So we talked a little bit about that and how she can really feel fulfilled through her work through a variety of ways, I love that.
Devin Reed: Same. So if you're listening to this and you have a proof of concept in your sales process, if you have a land and expand as part of your strategy or anything of the like, you are going to enjoy this because we break down both which is, how to set them up, things to look out for, how to measure their success. So if that sounds interesting then you are in for a great episode. So with that let's go hang out with Daniela.
Sheena Badani: Daniela, welcome to Reveal, we're so thrilled to have you on the show today.
Daniela: Hi guys, nice to be here.
Sheena Badani: And you're joining us from beautiful Dublin, Ireland, is that right?
Daniela: Absolutely correct. Couple of weeks ahead of Halloween, the term known, beautiful, and really, really happy to spend a bit of time with you guys.
Sheena Badani: Oh, great. Well, thanks for spending your Friday. And we were just chatting before we got started that we were hearing a little bit of white noise on Daniela side which she told us that was her wine fridge. So she's getting ready to head into the weekend right after this conversation so I think we're all in a good mood, it's a nice Friday today.
Daniela: Happy Friday.
Sheena Badani: All right. So Daniela, just to kick it off, you're currently at DocuSign, you're the area vice president of major accounts for EMEA and you've been in this position for about two years specifically focused on major account sales. And so I'd love to hear, what attracted you to this segment in the first place?
Daniela: It's always been a passion of mine. So I've been in the tech industry for the last 25 years leading organizations that are working with large enterprises and helping them on their digital transformation journey. And what I loved about DocuSign more so and the segment is just what the company and the platform can actually do for businesses and how we can impact some of the values and the causes that are really dear to my heart and how I could play a big part in really leading that business for EMEA and helping EMEA customers to really go on that journey. So that's really what excited me and why I ended up moving my career to DocuSign.
Sheena Badani: And, now, maybe you could tell us a little bit like, do you specifically have experience doing transactional sales in addition to enterprise and what do you particularly enjoy about the enterprise motion versus a transactional one?
Daniela: I must admit, I've very little experience in transaction and sales so I have my entire career spent in applications or SaaS businesses with of course a larger or smaller engagements on that. But it's always been around value selling and ensuring that we are playing or the company was playing a part in creating a transformation piece on a journey for our customers. So when you think about what I have mostly done throughout my career is really help clients understand some of the most impactful steps in getting set on that journey and understanding what business outcomes they could get from investing in the right platform. So very much always been on the value enterprise sales side, not so much on the transaction side.
Sheena Badani: And just kind of a follow- up on that, what do you think has set you up to be successful in that type of sale? Is it some specific kind of training you had, maybe something you studied in school, just some personal interests? Would be curious to dive into that a little bit.
Daniela: Sure, absolutely. There's I think three elements to being an impactful sales leader. I think it's, number one, understanding business models, AKA, how does the business generate revenue? How do they serve their clients? And what are critical inflection points either to support a better customer experience? Or we've all heard the term about talent and the war on talent, how do you facilitate a better employee experience? And ultimately how, and nowadays super important, how do you have a positive impact also on the planet and your sustainability actions? So for me really understanding and having a good grasp on business and understanding what makes business work and how we can support that is super important to be successful, it's the first point. The second point is really having a keen understanding of data and data- driven insights. So when you run large organizations which I've had the pleasure of doing for many years it really is key to absolutely follow your instincts and opinions, however, also to double check with data and understanding your consumption models, understanding your engagement models, how many touch points you need to have in critical phases. And of course, and this is the final point, really relying on strong methodology that's delivered by a strong enablement team so that your team is set up and capable and able to deliver an outstanding service in the sales experience to your clients. So as a sales leader that has always been the three key areas that I've focused on, understanding business, understanding how you can impact that and the data that you need to drive meaningful actions, and of course finally, making sure that you have clear process methodology and enablement and support for the team delivering it.
Devin Reed: Well, I heard data crept into that answer and on the Reveal Podcast we're going to dive into that in a little bit Daniela. But before we get there I'd like to ask a little bit about the strategy. So a lot of folks have heard of landing and expanding, or as we're calling it today, knowing and growing, how would you define that exactly?
Daniela: How would I define that? I think knowing and growing is a nice term. I think it's how you define your starting point on a journey with a client. So if you think about, we used to call it years ago, proof of concept, or really getting a pilot started for one of a better word. So that classic land strategy, you have a strong sponsor in a department head and you work closely with them and their teams to really drive positive outcomes for the organization and by doing so really ultimately, A, proof that you do generate huge value to the business but also give comfort around the commitment that you have to the business on making them successful and driving outcomes and giving them almost an assurance that as they roll out across an enterprise wide deployment they can trust the service that they get, they can trust the partnership and they can trust the value that they will get out of the engagement. So the knowing and growing is very much, I think, emotion that is built around success, trust, and ultimately a proof of value.
Sheena Badani: I really love that phrase because when we say land and expand it's very kind of vendor centric or it has that sales perspective. It's like, I'm going in and I'm going to get in there and I'm going to expand the account versus knowing and growing is really the customer's perspective. And so I think that's a wonderful phrase and I hope that is adopted after folks hear it here.
Daniela: Right. For sure. Let's try a revolution.
Devin Reed: One of the big parts you mentioned was kind of the metrics or milestones, success metrics, right? Whatever you kind of call it as you're doing a proof of concept, Daniela, and I know a lot of the teams I've worked on have that, right? Whether it's in the sales process, right? Mid funnel, get them into a proof of concept and convert them into a paying client, or it could be just landing that initial deal and then obviously the expansion that can come in post- sale. I'm curious, how do you think about or operate in trying to get those milestones? Right? How do you make sure that you have the right success metrics with your buyers as you go into this land and expand or know and grow model?
Daniela: In any meaningful relationship, business or personal, I think it's good to communicate, right? So I always find we can share best practices on what obviously has worked in other companies or in certain verticals, number one, and number two, really spend time with the client to understand what outcomes do they want to achieve. Now, of course the ideal scenario is a mix of both so you compare yourself to what's best in class, what can we achieve together, but you absolutely have clarity also on your sponsor success and what does that mean to them and their business. So if they're asked in six months time, was it worth the investment? Did you get what you needed? First of all, that everybody has a clarity on, we did agree metrics and here are the three metrics that we agreed on and here's the results, and B, also to give them an opportunity to articulate that to the wider business. We often talk about turning our clients into advocates, and how do you do that? You do that by proving that they made a good decision and they made the right decision. And very often we assume that every organization is super organized and super set up for a metrics and data driven decisions. We all talk about it but in the heat of the moment when something needs to get done, those things sometimes get back engineered, not a bad thing but I do believe it's super important to always define for any IT project, what actually did we look to achieve? And then set a date and review and say, okay, have we done so? And if so, what are the learnings and what are the successes that we can take from it? And how can we share that with people around us?
Devin Reed: Worded beautifully. And on the realm of communication a lot of times there's got to be communication between sales and customer success or account manager depending on kind of how the organization is put together there. Do you have any advice for teams on how they can communicate better, collaborate and make sure that it's a true internal partnership? Right? So it can be a good client partnership as well.
Daniela: I think there's two ways of looking at that. So number one, a transition from a technical platform point of view, AKA, do you have a platform that allows all of the supporting teams to communicate with one another? I think we all are familiar with the CRM term, but how you actually utilize that to make it seamless and make it a positive experience for all contributors to share meaningful information is key I believe. And that coupled with also some critical collaborative aligned engagements between teams that really are there to serve the customer is the second element. So if you want the machine element and the human element, to me are both critical in continuously creating a world- class experience for anybody's clients. And it's something that very often one or the other has continuous areas for either breakdown or improvement that unless we continue to engage with one another can really easily cause silos and have a negative effect on your customer experience. So therefore having almost that ownership mentality as a leader to ensure that the entire process is reviewed and is as sleek and as important as it can be for the internal business is really a key action to be taken for any sales leader out there.
Sheena Badani: So I'm going to give you two scenarios and you have to tell me which one you're going to pick. So number one, you get to start small with a new client and know and grow with them, or scenario two is, you have a full blown org- wide rollout from day one with a new customer, which one would you pick? What are kind of the things that you would think about in order to make that decision?
Daniela: I'll always go big, right? So I'll definitely choose option number two. Sheena, all joking aside, I would choose number two. But it requires certain maturity on either the customer side or the implementation team for two reasons, it is somewhat more complex to roll out enterprise wide multi- discipline and really have a clear plan in place to deliver that across 10, 000, 20, 000, 30, 000 employees. If you have that in place there's absolutely no reason why we would not go with a large engagement and really ensure that you create value at speed at the maximum impact to the enterprise. Very often in customer situations though, you have people from departmental levels bubbling it up and really struggling to get buy- in outside of their own department to really scale it to the enterprise. And in those situations I think also a small start, a know and grow ability, is absolutely the right choice for the client. But when something that adds value and is the right thing to do for the business and for the planet can be done in one big rollout, always go big.
Sheena Badani: Always go big.
Devin Reed: Always go big. Yeah. I asked Daniela about the success criteria for POC going well, I'd actually like to go earlier in the process and think about the criteria to enter a POC, a pilot, whatever you want to call it, because I think too having been on a sales force, if you know that, hey, if I can get people into a POC maybe I have a higher win rate, or I know if they feel the product that they'll be more likely to buy, but that can often inflate pipeline, right? Because then you have bad proof of concepts or unqualified proof of concept. So I'm curious, do you have any advice or criteria that you use to say, hey, I need to hit these check boxes before we're even ready to entertain a proof of concept?
Daniela: Absolutely. The number one criteria is client commitment and the client commitment has to come in a form of, when we do a proof of concept or a pilot can we agree on a set of actions to a fixed timeframe? And within that timeframe we have X amount of check- in points, we are jointly driving towards X amount of goals, and we will have both commitments from our side to guide you through it and from your side to make it happen. So proof of concepts genuinely are meaningful when clients are engaged and willing to participate. What I would always see as a red flag is a proof of concept that is left with the client unguided, unaided and the sales executive calling in, have you started yet? Have we started yet? Are we doing anything? And the reality is those are neither meaningful nor valuable to anybody. So when we have engagement and we have a commitment from both sides to invest the time to make it meaningful for the business, I'm a huge advocate. And again, I think to build trust and really prove that this is earned trust, it is a really good engagement, however, it should have a start and an end date and it should have clear milestones like any good project in practice to really showcase what's happening and should be measured around outcomes and metrics that were agreed prior to starting.
Sheena Badani: Here's a fun fact for you, the proof of concept was born in US aerospace and aeronautics in the 1960s. Although you may not be putting a man on the moon a successfully executed POC can rocket you to landing large complex customers. However, there are many factors to take into consideration, a trial period of your product actually lengthens the sales cycle, can be expensive and doesn't always lead to a sale. Over 78% of IT executives surveyed in Sapphire Ventures CIO Innovation Index said that less than half of the POC they participate in result in production deployments. So how long is too long? The research showed that POCs that lasts less than three months are three times more likely to result in successful commercial implementation, they don't drain as many resources and teams are able to quickly show how their product or service could drive business results for their customer. Showing our POCs help to maintain sales momentum and result in better commercial conversion rates. So if you have your initial kind of land, quote unquote, land, even though I don't love that term, so you have your person knowing session with a client and what are red flags that you would look for in order to determine, hey, this is off track and we're not going to be able to grow with this client? And how soon can you detect some of those things?
Daniela: There's a couple of indicators. I think, first of all, by doing old school discovery, asking questions. So if the client has had no time to consider outcomes, it's not a red flag but I would certainly want the team to discuss that and kind of say, okay, well, how does this become something that is a must have from a nice to have? And again, let's talk outcomes that really will matter to your business and get clarity around that. So one point, and I think if that's not to be answered, that's always a little bit of a red flag for me because then somebody who has been living with a challenge for 10 years, why not live with it for another five years? So what's that why? And how are we going to prove that that why matters to your business? And the second thing is if there's a gazillion other priorities. And in many cases there may be a huge priority, there may be one project that is critical to de- risk something important to the business or that is compliance related and it's a must do and that trumps any other project. And I think sometimes it's also okay from the client side to say, we have X amount of priorities, at the moment you're priority seven, and then it's okay to say, okay, when do we engage? And when is it meaningful for you to really invest the time that it deserves to be talking about, in our situation, about your contracting opportunities. And really, I think this communication and honest dialogue is super important when you talk about a land opportunity. And the final bit, if there is a lot of uncertainty and risk perceived, let's talk about it. What do you need to understand from us around security, around trust, around certifications rather than you going through this process and then probably being asked these questions by your IT team and being overwhelmed. And again, when you talk about land it's mostly at departmental level so people that not necessarily have a technical background nor should they, nor do they need to have. But I think it's critical that we have these red flags or areas of concern articulated and addressed.
Sheena Badani: All right. Daniela, one of my favorite things to do is to quote people, whether it's something they said or something they wrote, and you said something in the prep call for this podcast which is, you're only as successful as your first adoption. Can you expand a little bit on what you mean by that?
Daniela: Yeah. I think it's very hard to come back, it's possible but it's hard to come back from a failed implementation or a failed rollout. If you have had a client engagement, trust was built, you work on bringing it to life and for whatever reason it doesn't happen or you haven't discussed it enough, or the client convinced you that they were mature enough to do it on their own, it's very hard to come back from that. So for me it is at most important that we always start with the end in mind and again, another quote from Steven Covey on Highly Effective People, one of the habits, I'm sure most listeners here have read the book and I live by that, because if you don't understand what the end goal is, how are you going to create success? And I often see people are in a motion where they get carried away and they forget that success and impact and value is the ultimate desired outcome from any project otherwise we wouldn't be doing it. And therefore my quote in that regard to really ensure when you start a partnership with a customer to really be thinking about, okay, how do I, A, get the technology adopted? How do I get the users trained? How do I get the executive team understanding the value of it? And how do I impact either the customer experience, either their employee experience, either their sustainability goals or speed to revenue? Whatever metrics and areas of impact that you are supporting with the solutions that you're providing to your client they have to be meaningful and they have to be attached to these key goals for any business.
Sheena Badani: So Daniela we started this conversation just touching on some of your passions, I mean, what really drew you to DocuSign and I'd love to just dive into that a little bit more to hear what are some of those aspects about your role, about your organization that really get you amped and excited.
Daniela: Absolutely. Pleasure. So we have this program that our CEO Dan Springer is very passionate about called the work of your life, so really everything is centered around making sure we create an environment where all of our employees have the opportunity to create the work of their life. So picture 20, 30, 40 years forward here in a rocking chair in Dublin, California, having a nice beverage, would you look back and say, wow, those years I spent at DocuSign were the best years of my career and here are the three reasons why? That's the candid ethos of it. And around that ethos are programs like IMPACT which is our social corporate responsibility program, and within that there's, as you would expect from a company that is really strongly pushing paperless office and making sure that we have sustainability goals upheld and achieved, an initiative around DocuSign for Forests. So really making sure that the most important element that creates oxygen and a livable space for us humans is sustained and actually regenerated so again, we're committed to planting millions of trees with this initiative every year. Alongside many other social aspects that I'm passionate about, so I'm the executive sponsor of the women ERG, which I can see also Sheena on your shirt you're also a proud member of, and it's something that is super important to me as a woman leader in an industry where it's still not a 50- 50 space, it's much better than it's ever been before. But centering some of the programs around ensuring we lift up the next generation of aspiring women leaders, that we have role models sessions for external groupings like children, girls, in underprivileged areas to really give them hope, give them inspiration and give them maybe access to something that they were not aware of before, understanding career paths, the important of education and really by that effect allowing them to choose a different path than maybe the ones that they're familiar with based on the environment and the families that they were born into, for instance. So hugely, hugely passionate about these areas and all of these areas are very much at the core of the culture at DocuSign. And again, something that for me certainly when I look back at that career, the areas on that side of impact on future women leader and young girls in the community and all of the different initiatives around sustainability that I know I have 100% pride in looking back and saying, yeah, that was incredibly rewarding, it was the right thing to do and it built a legacy that I can be very proud of.
Sheena Badani: I really love that, the concept of work of your life and of the different initiatives that you've been able to be involved with. What would be your advice for folks who are looking to find that passion project within their own organizations and for some of them their companies may not be as far along and have robust programs like DocuSign, but what advice would you give to these folks?
Daniela: My advice is always simple, start, right? So an idea is wonderful, an idea is only meaningful with action. And there will always be somebody in your organization that will open doors for you so for you to find an ally is probably easier than you think, however, if you do not communicate your ambition and your vision of what you would like to do and how you'd like to make an impact, people won't understand. So two things, be brash and have conversations with people that you would perceive too senior to talk to potentially, because guess what? They have possibility to support and sponsor. The second thing is, don't just have ideas, take actions, and if it's smaller than you'd hoped for, it's a starting point so get started. And the third thing is, find mentorship around other companies, almost every established organization offers ERGs and has people that are willingly open and helpful and engaged to really support and really just understand what can be done and get going, that would be my advice. Ever had a situation where you came to somebody asking for help and they just went, no, I'm not going to do that, can we go and inspire young girls in an underprivileged area? No, we're not going to do that, can we do a mentorship program for young talented women? No, we're not going to do that, that just doesn't happen, right? It's just articulating that idea and making it happen. And I think really and truly people are incredibly generous, incredibly helpful, and sometimes it just needs one person to lead and bring people together to ignite that spark.
Sheena Badani: So true.
Devin Reed: Absolutely. Well, I want to cap off this lovely conversation with our final question that we ask all of our guests which is, how would you describe sales in one word?
Daniela: An adventure. There's two things that I really am passionate about, number one is, business and business impact and outcomes and number two, meeting incredible people, right? And I think when you think about what sales allows you to do it's to really understand business, it's to align a solution to the business and create impact. And you usually do that with incredibly smart people because you get the opportunity to work with the people that shape the customer experience, the employee experience, that shape whatever needs to be shaped in an organization to make it better, to make their services, their products, more engaging, and to create opportunities for employment, for innovation and for the next generation. And in sales, I have to say, no day is the same, you get to do things like this, speak to amazing people on the other side of the world and you really have the opportunity to be curious and to exchange a lot of information and time with a lot of fantastic business people around the globe. And what else would you want to be doing with your life if not sales?
Devin Reed: Worded perfectly. And I don't know, what would anyone want to do? Certainly not marketing. This has been great, Daniela, thank you so much for your time, we really appreciate it. Thanks for hanging out with us right before your Friday, go get one of those chilled bottles of wine, enjoy it and, I don't know, maybe send us a picture of you cheersing because I'm sure it's been a good week for it. Thank you again.
Sheena Badani: Thank you so much Daniela. Every week we bring you a micro- action, something to think about or an action you can put into play today. Daniela spoke about understanding your end goal and attaching metrics to your client's journey, here are five land and expand account management KPIs that might help you identify accounts that present genuine opportunities. First, average revenue per user, or ARPU, you want to track if there's an increase in ARPU from the time of landing. Second, adoption levels, follow the adoption curve of high value features for each and every account. Third, penetration level, determine broader penetration levels across the organization, so this could be across departments or at the C- level. Fourth, engagement metrics, frequently track the quality of engagement with higher level executives and decision- makers across the org. And finally, net dollar retention, this one might sound a bit financey but if a customer spends a dollar with you today, how much are they spending with you after a certain period of time? You want to make sure that's going up into the right. So there you have it, your five land and expand KPIs.
Devin Reed: Did you like today's episode? Subscribe now so next week's episode will be waiting for you on Monday.
Sheena Badani: And if you really liked the podcast please leave a review, five star reviews go a long way to help get the word out there.
Devin Reed: And if you're not ready to give a five, check out another episode and see if we've won you over by then.
Sheena Badani: And if you have any feedback or you want us to interview one of your favorite revenue leaders just email us at reveal @ gong. io.
“Land and expand” is vendor-centric. “Know and grow” is customer-centric. There’s a difference. Daniela Becker, Area Vice President Major Accounts EMEA at DocuSign, shares her secrets to success in enterprise sales. Tune in to learn how to set massive deals up for long-term wins – including the tactics that lead to record-breaking upsells.