Emplify's CEO Shares How His Team is Succeeding in the Face of COVID Challenges

Episode 24 May 21, 2020 00:53:37
Emplify's CEO Shares How His Team is Succeeding in the Face of COVID Challenges
The Breakout Growth Podcast
Emplify's CEO Shares How His Team is Succeeding in the Face of COVID Challenges

May 21 2020 | 00:53:37


Show Notes

In this episode of the Breakout Growth Podcast, Sean Ellis interviews Santi Jaramillo, CEO and cofounder of Emplify, a B2B company that combines software and consulting to deliver insights that unlock the potential in teams.
We discussed:
Beyond learning about Emplify’s approach to growth, Santi also shared insights into how teams around the world have been affected by the COVID crisis and ways to help them succeed despite the challenges. 
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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00 <inaudible> Speaker 1 00:03 <inaudible> Speaker 2 00:08 come to the breakout growth podcast where Sean Ellis interviews leaders from the world's fastest growing companies to get to the heart of what's really driving their growth. And now here's your host, Sean Ellis. Speaker 3 00:24 All right. In this episode of the breakout growth podcast, I'm speaking with Santee <inaudible>, the CEO and co founder of amplify a company that provides insights to unlock the potential in teams. In our conversations Nazi shares their journey to product market fit, which not surprisingly involved a few twists and turns as they pivoted to really dial in that product market fit. Once they had it, they used a pretty traditional model to scale it, so everything from lead gen through content marketing and thought leadership to SDRs to qualify leads, sales reps to then close that business and customer success to help companies have successes. They implemented the solution. Of course when code 19 hit, a lot of businesses changed how they were assessing different solutions and it obviously impacted their business like a lot of businesses have been hit. But what I think was great about the amplify team is that they were able to look at their mission and say, what are some of the new emerging problems that have resulted from the virus? Speaker 3 01:21 And how can we, how can we help companies deal with some of those problems? So some of the remote working and other stresses that are in people's lives. So Sandy is going to talk a bit about what they've done to tap into that, to help customers along the way. And then ultimately I think they're going to be able to connect the two to make the business even better. Coming on the other side of, uh, of the crisis that's really shut down a lot of businesses across the world. So let's dig into this. We'll get started with my conversation with amplify CEO Santee. Harmonium Speaker 3 01:58 hi Santi. Welcome to the breakout growth podcast. Thank you Sean. Excited to be on it. So this will be fun. I know a and all of our worlds have been turned upside down, so it's nice to be able to just kind of take a step back and, and talk about business. And, and probably reference a little bit of what's going on in the world, but more importantly, just at, you know, how, how your business is growing and what you've done to get to where you are today. So, um, before we really dig into that, how about you just give us a quick introduction to what amplify is and what problem it solves? Speaker 5 02:29 Sure. Uh, amplify is a software company that helps, uh, really do some consulting as well, but at software at the core and what we do is we help our customers solve the problem of organizational health and employee engagement. It can be so hard as an entrepreneur, as a CEO, as a head of HR, to understand what's the thing, what's the number one thing for how I could best unlock the potential of my teams and my people to create high performing teams and ultimately accomplish business. And there's so many ideas out there and we help them distill with clarity and confidence what is their number one thing. And then we help them actually execute on it. And so it's an entire, uh, methodology of seeking in employee feedback, prioritizing it. And taking action on things that matter the most, that will yield the most people growth and mission accomplishment for the business. Speaker 6 03:20 And then you, so you mentioned it's software, a little bit of consulting, but how do you primarily make money then? Speaker 5 03:28 Sure. So it's a, it's an a subscription, uh, that we charge for, uh, typically a year, um, and an organization, uh, would pay us or a team would pay us, um, for, for that year. And, um, that's how we typically make money. Speaker 6 03:42 So you're a cofounder, so you've been at it from the beginning, right? You got it. And then so when did you guys start the business? Speaker 5 03:48 Yeah, so there was a couple of pivots, uh, actually to that. And so really we've been focused on employee engagement measurement, this current category with this current product, um, you know, three, three years. Exactly. Okay. Speaker 6 04:01 All right. And so when did you decide that this was the right pivot? How did you, how did you hone in on it? Speaker 5 04:08 It was solving an important and costly problem and we were actually solving for our customers. We were really good at sales and marketing, uh, with the first couple and kind of brute force start way into some, um, revenue and then found out later that it had, um, we weren't solving that deep and existential of a problem for organizations and our growth was going to be kept. And so in this one we saw a large market, a time the products time was now and we had actually had deep product market fit around a problem that really mattered. Um, and that that was the set of ingredients that we knew were needed to build a larger organization, make a big impact and just one out of those kind of few variables for off every time. Um, and we would do the hard decision to pivot and this one, it felt like it was the right time, the right team, the right problem, um, and, and the right fit. Speaker 6 05:02 I think all of us are pretty driven and so it's, it's, it's, you know, you can't build a successful company without being somewhat driven and stubborn. So it's sometimes hard to move on before you kind of pivot into something that that's working well. What, what were the signals that said, okay, there's just, we're working hard and banging our heads. Speaker 5 05:18 Oh boy. You just hit on like one of the hardest dynamics of being an entrepreneur is figuring out when to cut your losses and where one more try is, is what's going to get you there. Um, so it's an excellent question. So for us it was a couple of things. Number one, it was it was really hard to hire sales reps and predictably getting, getting them to ramp without cofounder or VP of sales involvement in a deal. That was one thing. It was really scaling a, number two, there's a lack of inbound interests, um, folks coming to us and being interested in what we have to offer beacon back then we had to out and sort of cool and, and fight every ground of progress, you know, in the market versus it feeling a little bit easier. Like there's, there's like we're swimming with the current versus against the current. And number three, it was of course, um, a combination of churn or you know, other leading indicators of usage or adoption or leading indicator that happened before churn, but that, you know, told us that it was probably going to be later up. Speaker 6 06:25 Yeah. Using, they're probably not going to renew or eventually they're going to figure out that they're wasting their money. Speaker 5 06:29 You got it. Yeah. Speaker 6 06:31 And then, so, so you said now for three years you've been on this track and, um, how, how many people do you have working in the company now? Yeah, so over 40 now. Okay, cool. And then how has covet affected the business as it, um, has it, you know, obviously there's, there's some companies like Airbnb and Uber that are just doing massive layoffs and it's really, I think it's difficult for everybody, but, but some businesses are a lot more effective than others. So how, how would you rate your business in terms of how it's affected? Speaker 5 07:03 Yeah. You know, w we're neither, um, 3m uh, nor are we event bright, you know, in that way where it's just all a hundred percent extreme in one direction. Um, it's, it's a tale of two cities. Um, on the one hand, you know, we had exposure to market segments that were affected by COBIT and, uh, had to do layoffs or just cause indefinitely. And that's certainly, you know, when we had live deals and those markets or had customers affected in those markets, there was a lot of pausing on deals, um, or on, you know, sort of adoption of the technology. Um, but it's also led to some tremendous growth. Um, th that I think is, you know, we're going to talk about a little bit here later. Um, so, so for us, it, it really was a rally cry to say, how do we live out our purpose? Speaker 5 07:55 How do we contribute to this issue right now? It wasn't even about, frankly, the conversation didn't start with how do we mind this for, you know, more ARR, you know, and more recurring revenue. It was like, how do we lend a hand because the world is burning and we think we can help, um, how do we do that? And so the team got rallied around this idea of a judo flip. I'm sure if you're familiar with with judo, I'm not that much, but, but the, the basic concept of the beautiful is you use your opponent's energy and momentum against them, right? So they come at you and you use that moment to sort of flip them over. And so for us it was like, wait, how do we use this momentum to sort of flip the opposite? And, um, and that's, you know, we launched a, a free tool for managers. Speaker 5 08:38 No catch, no, no, like real upsell path for us. You know, at this point it was just a free tool that a manager in less than five minutes, um, can find out, can send out an assessments, really intelligently worded questions, and then a couple of days later, find out their number one opportunity to help their team, uh, feel safer and have higher sense of wellbeing as they go about their business, you know, in their company. And that has blown up to more than 10 X the number of customers on that in a couple of, in a few weeks. Then, you know, then then the results of three years of blood, sweat and tears to build up our paid customer base. So it's, it's been a bit of a tale of two cities, but I'm confident that, uh, obviously we're going to, um, you know, find the path and, and continue to deepen where it's working and continue growing in the directory that we have been for the last couple of years. Speaker 6 09:32 Right. So, so basically your core business has been looking at employee engagement and productivity and obviously in, in almost every company, people are pretty distracted right now, whether it's adjusting to working from home or trying to figure out how am I going to go grocery shopping and not get sick or you know, maybe even having sick people in the family. So it's pretty, pretty easy to be distracted and maybe less enthusiastic in day to day work. And so the problems that emerged around that, you've, you've been able to help companies with a, with a shorter term solution with those problems and then hopefully bridge that to your, to your core solution. That's, that's more of an ongoing, uh, employee engagement solution is that, is that about right? Speaker 5 10:17 Yeah. Yeah. You got it. Interesting. Of the data that we've gleaned from users is that, so back in December we did a study and it was about 60% of employees out there in sort of the technology and services fields where we researched or support burnt out, which is a really wild stat. And today the interesting thing is there's not less or more burnout happening then December, but it's coming from the home part of the work from home equation, meaning an employee's main source of burnout right now is trying to work from home and it's the work of the home stressors, the barking dog, the kids that need e-learning assistance, et cetera. That's the most stressful part of life right now. And, and, uh, you know, six months ago it was the work part of life, uh, was the stressful part. So no doubt that, uh, you know, what happens in our daily life, uh, can, can very much affect, uh, work and, and we're, we're know we're starting to see that bleed over to really paying attention to the whole person at work and the whole person at home. Speaker 6 11:21 Yeah. Well, it's interesting because that's like, yeah, a lot of people point to the lifestyle benefits of not having a long commute, but it's, it's pretty impactful. Like if, if, if you have the right type of commute, there's a pretty good unwind period from, from work to transition to home life. And I noticed myself more and more, I was already working from home before, but I noticed, you know, you get that like call for like come eat dinner and it's like, okay, I got instantly switched to like family head and not work head. And it's, uh, it's, Speaker 3 11:54 yeah, I'm, I'm, I've actually started to go down and, uh, have a little boat that I go and work on and, um, I'm so much happier at dinner if I, if I do the little commute back from my boat and see the sunset coming in and just like, okay, I'm on wound and I'm ready to ease back in. But it's a pretty major disruption for most people out there when, when everything gets blended, Speaker 5 12:18 it really is, you know, and about three, four weeks ago, there was a lot of novelty around it for the folks that had worked from home and did that. It was kind of a fun little experiment. And then we started seeing the data about two weeks ago, start getting really old and folks were like, okay, like this is, this is, this is not working anymore. And uh, and so companies had to start facilitating some of the companies that we saw, engagement score increases and improvements in performance were the ones who realized that they needed to do a bit of a work from home reset. It's kind of like a start, stop, keep at Hey and helping their employees, uh, think through, you know, what changes do you need to make and how can we, the organization, the business helps support you in making those changes that is going to make this situation a bit more tenable for some, sometimes longer periods of time than we expected. Speaker 3 13:07 Yeah. So how do you, how do you separate out sort of lack of work happiness from general lack of happiness? Because I noticed you said about two weeks ago there was the shift, but I also feel like about two weeks ago there was a shift to much more of just people being really tired of being quarantined and, and you know, massive divisiveness where some people were saying stay in and be safe. And other people were like, no, it's over. I'm going to go and hang out with a whole bunch of people at a bar. And, and uh, and, and it just created a lot of stress for a lot of people. Clearly that's going to carry into work. And again, as we were talking like the home life and work life blending so much more. But how do you know if it's sort of a work issue or just a life issue when when people are unhappy it doesn't matter? Speaker 5 13:58 It's a good question. Um, it is, but it's by the questions we ask. Right? So that was one of the benefits of why, why we believe so many people signed up for this is because we did all the work of thinking through how do you carefully word each question to ask about something that is within the control of the employee of the manager. Because it isn't, if it isn't, we've found that it's very frustrating to surface insights to organizations about things that they can't control or they can't change. And so what we did is we worked with literal PhDs in organizational psychology, communications, et cetera, to craft really careful questions that asked about the work part of the experience. And then specifically we have one around work from home. So you have to start to tease into the home life, but only as it relates to how it's affecting their work life. Speaker 3 14:47 Right, right. And so that's one of the things that I know, um, when we had spoken earlier, and I think I also read it in some press that when you ran the assessment on your own team that you, that you found you needed to make some adjustments and, and it looks like you've got like Fridays off. I don't know if that's permanent or for a period of time, but I guess that's where it comes back to whether it's, whether it's work driven, life driven or just situationally driven, that if people are at, at, at their edge and they're not engaged in work, then whatever the cause is, you need to make the adjustments in order to get them more engaged in work. So how, how did, how did that come about and, and did I, did I characterize that right? Is it, is it Fridays off for you guys now? Yes. So, so Speaker 5 15:34 what happened is, is we of course use our, we had our own dog food, drink our own champagne and use our own tools and solution internally. And so we're looking at amplify RT own teams, employee engagement. And we actually found that we went too far on the curve of productivity. And you can actually go too far. I'm not sure if that's ever happened to you, but you've, you've gotten burnt out and if you stop being productive. And so that's what happened to our team is we rallied so well to release this wellbeing tool in two weeks at the peak coven and then reacted to the massive demand for a couple of weeks afterwards. And our team had all the signs of burnout. Uh, when, when I mean that, how could we tell several employee engagement drivers were low? The rest driver. So rest meaning can you come back to work? Speaker 5 16:19 Recharge was really low. Um, sense of competency was fairly low. Meaning I have the energy I need to hit my goals. That was really low. So we saw this pattern. It was, it became very clear, our team is tired. So what are we going to do about it? And we brainstormed different ideas, um, and realized that people felt really weird about taking time off cause they're not going anywhere. You know what I mean? Like they're not traveling. There's no spring break. The kids are already home. And so we realized that and I frankly, I realized that I myself felt guilty about taking time off and I'm the CEO and the co founder and I felt guilty taking time off. And so we realized that this sort of get over that stigma. We would have to sort of mandate some recovery and some rest time for the team. Speaker 5 17:01 And instead of, you know, teams being hobbled by having one person not there one day, one person out there, one day we thought, you know, the way to hit all these objectives is to just mandate one week off per week for the rest of may to give our team, you know, for three day weekends, actually one four day weekend here, uh, coming up for Memorial day. And that we thought that that could really help. And of course we're going to measure afterwards and see, see where our team is at in the, we actually took, that was an early and risky, nobody had done that yet. And my cofounder announcing it on Facebook, excuse me, on Facebook, on LinkedIn, um, got, it's not over 5 million views on LinkedIn that his post announcing it. So it went viral beyond anything. It just, I think it was the right at the right time and other people were feeling really tired and really wishing or hoping that their employees would making a choice. And it was an old call that when Adam first told me about it, I was like, sounds really risky. I wonder what our investors are going to think that we've gotten soft, um, or something. And boy, you know, did it turn out to be a decision that just needed a little bit of courage but it was so right for our team and seem to hit it struck, strike a cord on LinkedIn. Speaker 6 18:18 That's awesome. I remember a couple of years ago, um, I sat my team down and, uh, before, before I sold growth hackers and I sat the team down and I said, good news, everyone. I've, I've decided I'm going to Institute a work from home policy and you guys get to pick the day. And they were all really excited and I told them they could pick either Saturday or Sunday and they were very excited. So, uh, yeah, that was, mine was a little different policy I guess. That's hilarious. Uh, I had one of my colleagues record their expressions when they found that. Um, so, uh, what, what would you say have been some of the key success drivers up to this point? Like let's, let's say before coven, what were the, what was it that actually, um, kind of got you to the point where you could scale around that product market fit? Speaker 5 19:12 Yeah. You know, so it's interesting. Let me know if this is a question that you're asking or not. You know, before it really took an HR person, chief people officer, VP of HR at a company who had tried some other type of employee feedback, employee surveys, and it hadn't worked. And they realized that it wasn't just a software thing that was needed, but it needed expert consulting and approved methodology. And so they had gotten burned by our category of software only and they needed something different. And that's what got the sale. And then we realized that during coven HR froze up, meaning HR was overwhelmed by dealing with work from home policies and keeping people safe. They were not taking demos for new software vendors. They weren't do that. And we realized that the manager was left pretty unsupported by HR and by the situation and they're the ones on the front lines having to, you know, talk to team members and to switch their fears and make changes at a team level that would, you know, um, that would work for both the company and the individual. Speaker 5 20:10 And so one of the, I think one of the bowls, his decisions as we flipped our buyer, if you will, um, from the HR person, which would turn out for three years traditionally to the manager based on that. And that was what I believe on lock to so much, um, because it, uh, it would have gone nowhere, I think, uh, sort of targeting HR directly just because of how much they had on their plate. So I think that was one of the things that this, this wellbeing tool, um, hit on. I think the second, the second thing is we had built in product market fit in the sense that we understood what the number one topic was on a manager's mind. And the same number one topic was pretty much consistent across a hundred percent of our markets. Every, you know, for, for the, for the month of April, every single manager, um, pretty much in the U S said one thing, which was, how do I help my team navigate this craziness of covert, uh, and help them have emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing? Speaker 5 21:09 What, what do I do? Um, I'm overwhelmed by best practices and lists and things online, but what is my team on a personalized basis know? And we hit on that sort of the right topic at the right time to the right person, which was the manager, you know, user. And we made it really, really easy for a manager to sort of input their team's email addresses, you know, hit send and in just a couple of days come back and review their results, which of course we were able to cut out a lot of suboptimal user experiences because we had built those experiences before in our software. Right. How do you, how do you collect emails? Run a survey and display results. Speaker 3 21:50 Yeah. And then, and then before the crisis, it sounds like I'm in the business, did well before the crisis to get to the point where you are today by targeting the HR teams. So in that sense, what, what sort of, what worked to get the business to the point where it was before the crisis? Speaker 5 22:10 Yes. Got it. Um, I think so education and thought leadership were big, um, in the early days. Um, meaning we, I co wrote a book called agile engagement, really bringing the agile methodology that we all know in technology software to HR, which is a completely unknown place for that through Wiley. And then I went on a speaking tour. And so last year I spoke in 30 plus different cities and, um, traveled way, way, way too much. Um, and, and my founder spoke a lot and, uh, it created those early advocates who, you know, went out on a limb to buy, you know, our software, even though it may have had a couple of less features than our one of our competitors who had raised a hundred million and had been at it for three or four more years. Um, and it activated this, um, because they got to see my cofounder and I, you know, in person I'd activated this, this, this advocacy, this, this loyalty, this, um, word of mouth kind of engine. Speaker 5 23:08 Um, so I think that was one of the pieces. Uh, number two, um, we've been open sourcing what we learn, um, in terms of what we're learning from our collective hundreds of thousands, you know, of, of, of, of, um, of users that we survey and open sourcing that thought leadership, you know, in, in, in content. So that inbound engine, uh, begin to really work. Last year as we developed rich content, um, that was backed on data and it was so much so much content out there on culture and people and employee engagement satisfaction, that's just people's opinions. We literally measure it and know what drives engagement. And it's not snacks, it's not pretty your offices, right? It's not more benefits. Um, it's a bunch of the fundamentals of work, like my relationship with my manager, my sense of psychological safety, um, et cetera. So, um, so speaking contents, uh, inbound, um, I think also the first wave of renewals for our category was coming up when we started. Speaker 5 24:09 And a few early players in our space kind of pioneered it. We were not the first by any means. And then they took a software only approach that, that didn't really work and left HR doing most of the work. Um, and they had a hangover already. Um, and so we did a lot of second vendor kind of rescues, if you will, where they try it out. One of our competitors had a headache and we could say, you know, in a cold call, are you having these headaches? And they would say, yes, right now we do, we try this other way and it didn't work. And we're able to, you know, begin a conversation with them about how our more full solution with expert consulting and coaches methodology could better fit their needs. I think those were some of the things that that come to mind. Um, um, Speaker 6 24:59 as far as the consulting, was that something that you, you wanted to have that consulting piece in there or was it something that you realized that the software only isn't, isn't gonna work as well? And if we, if we have a consulting layer in there, they're going to get a lot more value from the software. Speaker 5 25:14 Yeah. You know, I'm not sure if you've ever had one of those, these things where you have a weakness, um, and then you focus on the weakness so much so that it becomes one of your strengths. Um, this was one of those we did not intentionally, this was, we had another product before this and we didn't have enough software engineering bandwidth to do two products. Uh, so we started a second product with a PDF results presentation that we built with third party survey technology. And then because the software wasn't really there, it was, it was just, uh, you know, three different other software vendors cobbled together. We had, we had, we, we had to cover up its gaps with humans. Um, and then we started to hear from customers that they really love a human delivering the results with them. And we're like, but it's all in the PDF and they're like, we really love talking to a human. Speaker 5 26:07 And I'm like, wow, but it's in the PDF and I want to log in and the software, why don't you just read it? And it's like way cheaper for you and you can do it any time. And they're like, yeah, we like that. But we also like talking to somebody who has had this conversation 50 times and who can, who can connect some dots in the data that I don't see and who can live, have a thought partnership conversation about this because there's no one internally that I can chat about this with. And we were like, are you sure? And they're like, we're very short. So we, so we, you know, so we started thinking about this, what, what does this mean? Are we going to become a tech services tech enabled services? We said, no, no, no, no, no. There's actually a way to be software very much at the core and then use technology to scale consulting in an extremely scalable way. Um, and, uh, that's, that's what we've done. So it started off covering software gaps that the humans and the services, and then it ended up being one of our core differentiators. Speaker 6 27:04 And then were you ever tempted to try to build kind of an independent consulting network or did it always make sense since it was pretty light touch consulting to keep it in house? Speaker 5 27:15 So both. Um, so we do our parts. Um, we do the, the um, uh, the credit, call it the 80%. Think about us almost like a primary doc, you know, in a way where you, you go to us and we can handle 80% of the symptoms and of the issues without, without involving others. And then there's 20% of the time, the long tail of cases where we have to refer customers to a specialist. Um, but they really need more help. And of course we have the choice of do we build that consultancy in house? And then we realized there are companies out there who have been doing this for decades and are extremely good at this very narrow, you know, long tail service instead of building it ourselves and putting all that on our payroll. Um, let's partner there and bring, introduce our customers to best of breed partners. Once we've diagnosed, you know, the system. Speaker 6 28:05 Okay. Yeah. So it's a part of it is then your, your, your system and your internal people can, can really help to pinpoint what the problem is. And then sometimes these specialists are going to be specialists in solving that type of problem. Is that, is that right? You got it. Okay. So cool. So what would you, I feel like I have a pretty good idea of sort of how you got to where you are and then, and then how you've navigated through the crisis to even now extend the impact of what you're doing to a lot more companies, especially those who are at a time of need. Sounds like you've gone beyond HR to directly to the people who are suffering, the managers who might be having an issue staying on top of how, how they're, I mean, one, they're probably remotely managing their teams and so it's a little harder to get a sense for, for where people's heads are when you can't sort of look, look at the expressions on their face day to day except in the occasional game face of a, of a zoom meeting. Um, and then, uh, and then so, but at the same time, like the, those HR teams are in less of a position to help them right now. So you went direct to the direct, to the managers with a solution, a lightweight solution, and um, and so now you've been able to make a bigger impact. So it feels like there's a lot that's gone well. What would you say has been, um, the biggest challenge that you've faced through either the current situation or, or prior to to that in terms of driving growth? Yeah. Speaker 5 29:35 You know, I think one of the, one of the ones that come to mind is, um, being excellent at software alone is hard and being excellent at consulting is hard alone. And then trying to do both well is either exponentially harder. And so I think the operational complexity of having, of deciding what needs to be software and what needs, what is uniquely human and is truly best done by a human, and then what is a combination of both, um, just adds an extra layer of complexity to product, uh, to whole product decisions. Um, that a software only or a consulting, you know, only company doesn't have to deal with that complexity. Um, I think that's been one of the challenges, um, for growth. Um, number two is, you know, in the beginning it was, uh, how do we get our, you know, software performance very consistently, typically, uh, humans are not as predictable, uh, as software is in general. Speaker 5 30:37 And so how do you, uh, scale, uh, grow and maintain a high consistent quality experience with customers on, on the human side. And I think consulting and services companies are typically much more used to sort of navigating those challenges. Software companies are not, and so we have to grow that muscle, um, to, to succeed. Um, and then lastly, um, you know, how do we scale our go to market machine from the early days and make the leap to scaling where, um, I can't speak every other day in a different state, um, and neither can my co founder. And so how do we, how do we scale that? Um, and so, you know, that's been a thorough combination of, um, online content and webinars and podcasts and sort of other channels that, that pull out our personality and who we are more than a blog mites but is more scalable than flying to a city and giving up, you know, one time keynote. Speaker 3 31:43 That makes a lot of sense. So what, what does the team actually look like for onboarding a new customer? So, reaching out, connecting with a, with a new potential customer, and then onboarding them and getting them to, to become an active customer. Um, is it, is it all one team that does that, or is it a combination of a sales marketing growth? What's, what's sort of the organization look like on that front? Speaker 5 32:10 Yeah. You know, so, so we're considering how we evolve that, um, it, you know, as, as we think about, um, sort of a manager product or a manager approach, but traditionally it has been, you know, a marketing and a sales team. Um, and typically, you know, we're, um, tin STR sales development, um, either generating the lead the opportunity or qualifying it, sending it over to, uh, uh, inside sales team who takes a virtual sales call demo, et cetera. It gets to a decision and then, um, you know, closes close the deal. It's constantly the progression and obviously they find out about us from the beginning and top of funnel for many number of ways, content, speaking, paid ads, et cetera. Speaker 6 32:52 And what, um, you know, without that I saw on the site, it doesn't look like that you necessarily list the pricing on there, but sort of what's the, what's the kind of general level of pricing just in terms of, you know, does, is, is it expensive enough to do on site, uh, kind of selling? Is it, is it something that is more of a higher velocity sale? Um, just generally from a, that level of pricing and insight? It's about, it's about, Speaker 5 33:20 um, mostly, uh, high velocity insight selling, um, with some, uh, larger opportunities. So we go onsite. Speaker 6 33:28 So sub $10,000 a year or above 10,000 as a sort of a starting price, Speaker 5 33:33 uh, typically starts at about 10,000 a year. Speaker 6 33:37 Okay. Okay. Just to, just to get the general idea, cause obviously, um, the price point makes a big difference in terms of how you can really approach growth on these things. And then as you've scaled the team, what, uh, what are some of the challenges on, on scaling the team? I mean, you talked about on the, you know, from the software side, software tends to scale pretty predictably, um, on the consulting side. Um, you know, just even like consistency of what one consultant does versus another consultant and, um, how, how you get people up to speed. Um, but what, uh, what is sort of been the, the, the, the team scaling challenges and what have you done to overcome those? Speaker 5 34:22 That's a good question. Um, you know, so I think, uh, leadership is always, uh, an interesting question. Um, in terms of the right mix between sort of content, content brand, um, versus more of a demand gen kind of focused. Um, you know, marketing leader or sort of even marketing leadership group. Um, I think, I think that's part of what's interesting is we have some offline events, trade show channels, we have online ones. Um, and we also do brand content, PR plays as well. And so it's a fairly, it's a fairly broad mix of go to market activities. And so finding, um, the right mix between the marketing leader and the marketing leadership team if you will. Um, has it been really challenging you sort of go brand first or demand gen first, brand second. Um, that, that's, um, that's been a really interesting challenge on figuring out a skill of the team. Um, and then we did, um, filler and did an experiment with a field sales model, you know, onsite sellers, uh, and then Cove it happened. Um, and so that there's a lot of conversation right now going on, on the viability of, uh, uh, field sales, um, and for how long that, that is just going to be a more expensive and least, or at least equally effective but more expensive. Uh, you know, sales sales channel. Speaker 6 35:54 Right. And so I know one of the things that, um, when we had had had a brief conversation earlier that this, uh, this assessment tool that, that came out with, with Covidien, uh, came more from the, from the product team. Is that, um, am I remembering that correct? Yes. And so, so what's the, do you feel like that you've, like your, your broader team, the different functions across the company are all pretty well in sync with, with working toward the same shared vision? Or do you ever have any of those kinds of cross-functional challenges as you've gotten bigger and in terms of getting people to always pull in the same direction? Speaker 5 36:32 So, so many, um, so many, for sure. We, we recently made a decision to put marketing, product and customer success all under the same roof. Um, uh, in terms of this, the same department under Andrew, which, which you've had a chance to meet. Um, and so that really helps that it's like not cross, I mean it is cross-functional if you will, but it, but it's under one, you know, executive. And so he can really oversee from prospect, you know, from signup of the tool to a lead to maybe a calmer, you know, to, to all the way through their experience, product and services. Um, and kind of stake stick with them really the entire customer experience except for the sales function. And that's really helped. Um, but it takes so much intentionality to define a very clear vision and really clear strategic outcomes along the way to really align the teams and not have them be here or marketing. Okay. Ours and here is product, okay. Ours but have something broad enough that spans the two departments so that the same goals are done. One thing we're also doing is aligning variable compensation to be paid out on the same variables between marketing and product. Um, so that they're not having to be asked to make the right business. Speaker 6 37:48 This number, my number. Yeah. That goes on that, that, that leads to, uh, some hard conversations. And so are you familiar with the concept you were talking about, you know, different OKR, ours can sometimes lead to some problems. Are you familiar with the concept of a North star metric and have you, have you played around with that at all? Speaker 5 38:09 Yes, a weekly manager usage for us. Speaker 6 38:14 Cool. So that's that, that's weekly manager usage is going to show that those, those managers are engaged on a weekly basis. And so as you were saying earlier, you knew the leading indicators of churn and in some of the earlier things that you were trying to do were you weren't getting the engagement. So even if you hadn't seen the churn yet, it was sort of the writing on the wall. Um, that's great that you have something that, uh, and then it did, do you feel like that weekly manager engagement is something that, uh, from the sales team to, to marketing that everybody understands the role they play in moving that number? Speaker 5 38:51 Yeah, I'd like to think so. I think we're getting there. Uh, but, uh, but it's, it's, you know, probably six months old or so. Um, I think we're still sort of operationalizing and, and working out the kinks of all of that. But I think, uh, at a high level, yes, yes. Speaker 6 39:05 Yeah. I mean, a lot of times with that it's, it's, I, I've seen some companies just have such a complicated kind of formula number for their North star metric and then no one can recall it anyway. And so sometimes it's just having something that's simple enough that's reported on a regular basis that people start to, um, start to manage to try to move that number. And so that, that could go a long way. And then, you know, the more that they can understand what their individual role plays in, in moving that number, that can, that can help a lot. Um, so how, how do you, how do you figure out new, uh, new ways to accelerate growth? Do you guys do much testing? Speaker 5 39:45 We do some. Um, one thing we're starting to do is, um, create, um, specific, uh, uh, we call it star compass, O S and back into Polynesian days. Uh, when, when folks used to sail, they wouldn't use a compass is because they didn't exist or maps. What they did was they have a star compass. And so they memorized, um, they memorize the positions of the stars in the sky and then between putting their hands literally in the current and the ocean and looking up at the stars to get figured out how to navigate. And so that we're trying to instill a sort of a similar sense of that team of, of here's our North star metric, um, how do you do weekly, daily experiments around that and how do we structure structured experiments so that on Monday, you know, every two weeks we're designing experiments that started on a Monday, we'd end on the next Thursday, and then that Friday, you know, we're reporting back, uh, across functions, what we learned and what didn't. So almost doing learning sprints in a way. Um, and that just is giving it, I don't think there's anything magical about that other than just giving learning and experimentation a bit more focused. Speaker 6 40:51 Well, just understanding the broader machine. The more you kind of test around the different parts of the machine, the better you start to understand where the sensitivities are and how, how you can start to accelerate. It's like even failed experiments make you smarter about how, how the overall growth engine tends to work. Speaker 5 41:09 It's true. I think we're still on the journey of learning how to design really good experiments. Speaker 6 41:16 Well, I think especially when it's B to B, it's, um, in the B to C world where you have a lot of velocity and you can get statistical significance on a quick AB test, it's, it's way easier than when I guess you talked about, uh, even on the product side, you, if, if consultants are sometimes it's just, it's really hard to control all of the variables to, to actually run a pure test, but at the same time having this desire to constantly improve your ability to, to deliver more value to customers. Uh, it's, it's tough because you want to keep figuring out new and better ways to accelerate against the mission of the business. But, um, yeah, in B2B it's definitely a lot harder. Um, so speaking of which, why don't, why don't we end by kind of looking at the typical journey someone takes from how they, how they discover, and you've touched on some of that already, but how, how they would initially kind of get amplify on their radar screen at all and then, and then to the point where they become this raving fan and, and, uh, and you know, they're telling other companies they should be checking this out. Speaker 6 42:25 What, what would that path typically look like? Yeah, Speaker 5 42:28 I think the first step is they come across our content and that can be from a LinkedIn posts we posted, um, from, you know, tier one publication like Forbes or fast company who both just ran stories in the last two weeks, you know, about the, uh, you know, taking Fridays off, uh, you know, piece, um, uh, hearing me speak good, attending a webinar. So in some way consuming content, some form of content that we developed, and then they probably find ourselves, find themselves on our website. Um, and they, they check us out and, um, and um, either they get, um, they fill out something. So we, we either contact them via email or via phone number or, or they contact us, but either way, um, they end up in a conversation with one of our, um, sales development folks who just want to make sure that they are passing them onto the right person to, to have a conversation with certain about qualification, um, uh, events. Speaker 5 43:27 Um, and then they would speak to, um, one of our sales. So we're talking about the more traditional path. Um, they, they would speak to one of our sales reps, which would do, you know, five to 10 minutes of high value education at the beginning of the call. Just helping frame the context and sort of the world and then the trends around employee engagement and organizational health and would then ask a bunch of questions, uh, of the other person, uh, to make sure that we can help them. If by the end of that call, that person feels like we can help them and they fit our criteria because we don't work with everybody that we think we can help them. Um, then, um, you know, we'll talk about next steps, um, to, to, to sign a deal or schedule a demo with the broader leadership team or something like that. Speaker 5 44:11 And then obviously they become a customer. Um, and then the immediately get introduced, um, to their account manager who's, who's kind of their cruise ship director in a way, connecting them to the right people at they're in the right organization. We do a kickoff call, um, where we understood deeply on when we get there, try to get their CEO, CFO, chief HR officer to really talk about where's your business headed? Like w w what's your strategy, what are your goals? Um, to understand how their business strategy maps to their people strategy. Cause I think that's a huge mistake that many HR teams, uh, do initiatives that don't contribute to the business strategy. So we want to make sure that we connect those dots. And so it's really just about setting an intention and success criteria for the engagements. What tell us if we can do this for you, you would be a happy customer, thrilled and renew with us. Speaker 5 45:01 And we define those outcomes. And we write them down and we use those outcomes to manage the entire relationship. So we say, okay, we can, we can get you those outcomes. Here's what we're going to do. So we clarify the roles. Here's what we're going to do to achieve those outcomes and here's what you're going to need to do to achieve these because we can't just do it for them. Right. Um, but we play an important part so we clarify roles and then, you know, we can, we kick off the project. Um, um, and then, you know, a couple of days later, um, we, they, they have, they have a call with us, um, and access data either on demand with on their software platform, um, or we walk them through that data call. Um, and the first time it's, it's just interesting cause this is maybe one of their first time they really have seen their culture in their teams visualize in a heat map in terms of how engaged they are with the organization and their work. Speaker 5 45:52 Um, and then over time they begin to say, I want to focus on their area and we help them know what to do. And then they actually go and do that area to do that action and fix that problem and the score increases. And then something in the business massively changes. Um, like, Hey, my customer success team is pretty burned out. Um, and so then they change their PTO policy to make it more flexible or something, just making up a scenario. Um, and then all of a sudden their customer, three months later, their customer NPS goes up, their rest drivers go up at the same time and their turnover of customer success managers is down by 15% in the, in the exit interviews. Um, they say that, um, um, you know, the, the part of it was, was that too, so we get confirmed. So anyways, so they see some meaningful change in their business. Speaker 5 46:44 Um, and then they get promoted or they get celebrated and they're like, Oh, wow. Like, I kind of knew that this was an issue, but I didn't fully have it confirmed and amplify came in and the data helped confirm. My gut hunch, helped me find clarity on how to state what I kind of had a hunt around. And then I picked the right action and executed and communicated in the right way cause I had this expert advisor and amplify and something massively changing my business. Holy cow, that amplifies awesome. Like let me tell my friends about it. Um, that would be kind of the journey. Speaker 6 47:18 Awesome. Well, so, and then it sounds like, it sounds like it's such a solution, like there, there's that problem discovery and then you're mapping the solution to it. So it'd be pretty tough to, to offer some kind of trial or pilot with it. Is that, is that why you don't have something like that or do you sometimes offer a pilot or trial? Speaker 5 47:39 Yeah. You know, we have tried, tried, uh, trials and, and they don't, it's hard to scale, um, us doing kind of that human assistance. Um, uh, with all those trials. And that's really what's it's like stepping on a weight scale, you know, and if you're trying to gain or lose weight, and if you just see the same problem over and over again, it's kind of discouraging and you're not going to want to step on that scale again. Um, and so that's kind of what many times employee surveys can be is you already know the problem. Um, and you don't do anything about the problem. It doesn't get better. But if you can actually get a, call it a personal trainer in this made up example that can really text you every day and say, Hey, like how was your diet? Hey, did you work out? Um, that can really help. And then you go back to the scale and it, you gain five pounds or you lose five pounds, which is what you were trying to do. And, and you get that kind of reward and that keeps you, keeps you going. So I think that's one of the reasons why, but we're, you know, we're, I don't know if we're done frying trials. Speaker 6 48:38 Yeah. Well, I mean, I think that's the, it, there's never, when you get to the point where you feel like you have everything perfect, then that's, that's pretty scary. So there's always, yeah, there's always that tweaking to try to figure out is, is there a better way to, to accelerate how you can help customers. Um, so, so speaking of that, a question that I love to end with is, um, just what do you feel like you understand about growth now that you may not have understood a couple of years ago and not just growth in your business, but just growth in general, Speaker 5 49:07 growth in general. Speaker 6 49:09 And I mean, you can say about your business and we can then map that out to what that means to growth in general, but just, just, uh, yeah, how, how growth itself works. Speaker 5 49:18 I, you know, I think as I understand, I'm sure there's many more ingredients, but for us, um, we've had one and not the other ingredient at times. And for us it's required both ingredients. And what I mean by that is, um, having a really clear vision of where we're headed and then having one inch, one foot step forward experiments. And if we're, all we're doing is experimenting one foot on top of the other and there's not that North star vision that that constant, you go really, really slow because you have to kind of painfully validate each little step instead of looking up and you're like, Oh, I'm still headed toward that mountain, so I'm closer to it. Um, and or you could have a really clear strategy but not do the zigzagging. It takes the experimentation. Um, and that usually leaves you off a cliff, um, because you're not testing whether the next 50 foot is sure grounded, confident, cause you've got a vision and you think you know what the playbook is. But that inch by inch experimentation isn't happening. For us, it's at, it's at to be both a enough vision to be guiding, directing and guiding, but not at all tell folks how we're going to get there. And then relentless, high velocity, intelligent experiments, experimentation to help us carve the path, um, of whether we're going to go get there via the right way or the South way or the North way. Speaker 6 50:47 Right, right. No, I love that. That's, that's a, that definitely aligns with my, my thinking on things. And, um, you know, there's a quote that's been out there for a really long time and I was surprised that I didn't stumble across it until only a few months ago, but it's a Jeff Bezos quote from Amazon where he says, ah, our success at Amazon is a function of how many experiments we do per year, per month, per day. And um, yeah, it's just, it's just, there's no improvement without experimentation. And, and yes, you can experiment without learning, but if you, if you have that clear focus on what you're trying to achieve, like you said, that the clarity of vision, the North star around that vision and the experiments are steps that get you closer to that or accelerate against what, what it is that you're, how, how you deliver value to customers then, then you do keep getting better. And keep accelerating growth. So, um, I'm glad to hear you accurate echoing Jeff Bezos to some degree there. Um, Speaker 5 51:45 yeah, I think one of the best articles I've ever read was, um, it was in, it wasn't even applicable to me. It just introduced this concept of rate of learning ROL and how that is the most important metric for, and this was in the context of, here's one thing I wish I knew when in my twenties and this person's thesis was don't optimize for the brand. Like, you know, Apple or something on your logo. Don't optimize for the pay, how much you get paid, optimize for an environment. Well, you were, have the most rate of learning, where will you get the most opportunity and learning handed to you where you can just learn so much and that will serve you well over a 20, 30, 40 year career. So much better than optimizing for comp or brand or something else. And since then, I've always held onto man, I think, I think an organization's ability to increase enterprise value by delighting customers and delivering amazing value and delightful experiences is dependent on the rate of learning of our organization is like the leading indicator muscles. Speaker 6 52:43 Goodness. Absolutely. I love that. That's a perfect note to end on. So, um, Sandy, thank you so much for opening up and sharing everything that you're doing to, to grow, amplify, and congratulations on being able to, uh, navigate what is a really challenging time for a lot of companies. And, um, and, and I know it's challenging for you guys as well, but it sounds like that you're making the most out of, out of the situation to help as many companies as you can. So congratulations on that. And to everyone listening, thank you so much for tuning in. Speaker 5 53:16 Thank you. Speaker 1 53:16 <inaudible> Speaker 2 53:22 thanks for listening to the breakout growth podcast. Please take a moment to leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform and while you're at it, subscribe. So you never miss a show until next week.

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