#012 Revenue Success with Adam Stewart
Exploring the Strategies Behind Revenue Growth
Guest & Host
Adam Stewart & Steven Morell
Welcome to Speak Revenue, the podcast where we emphasize that revenue is not just a goal; it's a result. In this show, we shift our focus from the output to the inputs. We engage in conversations with sales leaders and entrepreneurs about their remarkable journeys. Our mission? To uncover the true root causes of success. Join us in this episode of Speak Revenue as we dive deep into the world of revenue growth strategies with our guest, Adam Stewart. Discover how Introhive, a SaaS relationship intelligence platform, achieved success by focusing on relationships, targeting bigger clients, and scaling their processes. Learn valuable insights on sales processes, customer success, and scaling your organization for revenue growth. Don't miss this conversation with a seasoned expert in the field of revenue generation.
October 2nd, 2023
Steven Morell: Welcome to our new episode of Speak Revenue. Remember, revenue is not a goal. It's a result, but a result of what In this show, we turn our eyes from the output to the inputs. We speak to entrepreneurs and sales leaders about their journey. Join us in our quest to uncover the real causes for success. Let's unpack what works for them and what didn't today with my guest, and I'm inclined to save online friend Adam Stewart. Welcome to our show.
Adam Stewart: Thank you Steven. Really happy to be here. Good to see you again, my friend.
Steven Morell: I'm really very excited to have you on the show. We know each other a little bit through multiple conversations over quite some years now, but our audience, I'm not sure everybody knows you. I'm sure everybody should know you real quick for our listeners and viewers. Who are you, what do you do and why are you guys so successful?
Adam Stewart: Perfect. Yeah. Thank you again, Steven for having me. My name is Adam Stewart and I head up the . Go-to-market innovation function at Introhive, which is a SaaS relationship intelligence and customer intelligence based platform.
Steven Morell: Real quick for our audience what does Introhive exactly do?
Adam Stewart: So Introhive is a business to business based SaaS platform that covers the area of what we call client intelligence, and that is . Helping firms understand their relationships with their prospects, partners and third parties. And then leverage those relationships to do more business. So to define more business, uncover more business wins at a better rate and then ultimately grow their organization through cross-selling and upselling.
Steven Morell: Introhive is not a small company. What's the headcount right now?
Adam Stewart: We're just over 200 people at the moment.
Steven Morell: So now this is a significant operation. 200 people need to be organized and managed and paid. How long have you been in the market?
Adam Stewart: The company's been around for just over 11 years now. I've been with the organization for eight and a half of those.
Steven Morell: Yeah. And I think I remember you are venture-backed, is that correct?
Adam Stewart: We were venture backed. We have since moved into private equity ownership.
Steven Morell: Oh, congratulations. I didn't even know that. So what were the driving factors for the success of the company?
Adam Stewart: I think one of the, one of the biggest things that was driving our success is where we started and where we started from our relationships perspective. So I. As opposed to trying to sign up all of the vendors that you have as customers. We went the bigger route, which was to sign up some of the bigger heavyweights in the markets that we were going after, which was Typically professional services. We signed up at one of the big four accountancy firms or consulting firms as a customer. Built a product that was able to service that market very well, knowing that the investment there was going to service well down the road so that, law firms, consulting firms, accounting firms. If we were able to satisfy one of those big four, we were certainly going to be able to satisfy some of the more nimble and leading edge types of organizations as well.
Steven Morell: Would it be fair to, to characterize this as you started at whale hunting and then moved downwards?
Adam Stewart: I would say so, like certainly there were different iterations of the company, but where we really started being successful was that. That whale hunting and, as we've talked about in other arenas, it's not necessarily the entire whale that you're starting, you're starting with, you start and pick a region and go after but prove your success and then go larger.
Steven Morell: Interesting. So step us through your sales process. . ,what do you do? Inbound, outbound. A B, M. How, tell us a little bit, how do you get people into your pipeline at all?
Adam Stewart: Yeah, that, that's certainly evolved over time as well. Where we are at the moment is a named account model. So an account based everything essentially. So we've put together what our ideal customer profile is. Looking at firms in specific regions of specific sizes, of specific di disciplines. Name them all. We have marketing, which covers the market. We have an outbound b d r team that calls in, calls into those. We've got inbound from the website. . But then I think probably that one of the, one of the biggest things that we have is account executives and strategic account executives that, that own a book, a business that are responsible for really understanding that territory those customers, those clients, what makes 'em tick, what what are the signals and the triggers for them being interested in our software, understanding the personas and the reasons for buying.
Steven Morell: Now you've been in the market for quite some time. That helps in collecting all the learnings, understanding what works, what doesn't. but at the end of the day, you need to make contact. How does that happen?
Adam Stewart: Making content. Sorry, is that the contact so making contact, yeah, absolutely essential there. And this is a key element of our platform, right? Is understanding the relationships that the organization has in order to do more business. So there's standard tools out there in the market for understanding who you should know, and potentially who you are connected to. Where Interive really shines is, Understanding those relationships that may be a little bit more hidden in the communications and whatnot that you're dealing with. When we started our founders and myself and our sales leader had very good contacts within these organizations through prior businesses. So we had pitched them on a few different ideas and ways that we could impact their business. And then they were able to help us make the connections to the appropriate people in the right regions to take those ideas further and get the deals across the line.
Steven Morell: It sounds like you eat your own dog food you do rely on introductions.
Adam Stewart: In introductions are essential. We, you say, eat your own dog food. We like to talk about it as drinking your own champagne, but absolutely.
Steven Morell: How does that work on scale? How many introductions are you generating, say, per month?
Adam Stewart: Sure. So I think it probably a good idea here to take a little bit of a step back and look at what my role is here. So as head of Go-to-Market innovation, I basically have overall responsibility for revenue operations and . Enablement as well as two customer facing functions, which is our solutions consulting and our business consulting teams. So that all of that kind of works together to help our go to market teams, whether that be marketing, sales, BDRs customer success and implementation and account management be in the best position to to win. So how do we operationalize those introductions? So the platforms that we use on our own and others are Give you the ability to identify the personas that you want to be going after, and then either pulling that data into a centralized system like a Salesforce or an outreach and putting people in a position to action them. So pulling those relationships in understanding who those people are, who those personas are being able to create Personalization at scale, and then sending out those sending out that, that outreach where something like our
Steven Morell: Let me ask you here, sending out an outreach that sounds awfully a lot like an email. Somebody on my show recently said everything feeds into email and email feeds into everything. At the end of the day, you are gathering all this information, but you reach out to those people by email.
Adam Stewart: A lot of people do reach out via email, but I think it's gotta be multi-channel, right? So from a professional perspective, I think communities that people belong to, social networks that people belong to are ways to reach out. I. I'm still a fan of picking up the phone and making a call. Although being the, being on the other end of that's not a fantastic solution. I know it's a difficult job in order to do that. Inviting people to events, meeting them at events, trade shows and whatnot. I think there's multiple different ways that you can get your message out. But email probably is pretty core to it.
Steven Morell: Somebody said it wasn't me. I'm not that smart. There are only four ways of telling people what you do. Number one, the first divider is people that know you and people who don't know you. And the other divider is, I can do this one-to-one. or one to many. So doing a billboard on the street are people who don't know me, and it's one to many sending cold emails is one-to-one because it's a lot of emails, but it's still, every email is a one-to-one communication to people who don't know me. and posting on LinkedIn, for instance, is people who know me, but it's one to many. So if we segment this in those four sectors in which do you fall mostly?
Adam Stewart: I think we, we play mostly in the one-to-one of people that, that, that know us and people that, that don't know us. And when I say. don't know us. They or they certainly will know us through their network. So they're peer firms. Some type of connection. So there is that brand or name recognition from that perspective, One too many where they don't know us, obviously that's marketing's role. That's the billboard of roles. And that's the brand building. And we are starting to do more of that work. But historically, our businesses and a lot of the businesses that we help solve are relationship based, right? So we're trying to help them use one of the best resources that they have is their relationships.
Steven Morell: So it sounds to me if I put this together, it sounds to me like you do brand recognition so that more people know you. and you do that one to many and through events and things like this. And then once they know you, you do this in the one-on-one channel, mostly through email, but call call lukewarm calls and things like that. Is that a good summary?
Adam Stewart: I think that's a good summary. Now you have to be aware of the markets that you're playing in, right? So we've spent 10 years building some of these markets. So in those cases, all of those relationships, all of those one-to-ones, all of that success has helped us build up name or brand recognition in those markets. So we have to . Be present in those markets from a messaging and a marketing perspective and leading parts of the conversation. But it's less icebreaking as it would be in other markets.
Steven Morell: Yeah, mind you, I said people who know you, you don't necessarily need to know them. It's not two, always a two-way road. It's enough if they know you or know who you are. Then it's already different. Okay. We know that it's headcount 200. How big is your sales team?
Adam Stewart: Our sales team our go to market team is just under 80 people at the moment that the sales team comprises. About 30 of those folks.
Steven Morell: Yeah. And do you have SDR / BDR account ex executive pairing, or do we have full cycle account executives? How is that set up?
Adam Stewart: Yeah. So there, there's a mix of full cycle reps as well as BDR , AE pairs. And then we've got our strategic side of the business which is a little bit larger of a pod but much tighter focus on specific accounts.
Steven Morell: You used the keyword pot. I wonder how it works. Pairings and full cycles. Do you go by territory or by industrial Vertical. How is that set up? Shine some light on that.
Adam Stewart: Yeah, so we've tried a bunch of different mixes over time, and it really depends on the number of resources and the people in the seats and whatnot. But typically when we are doing pod based structure it's either specific accounts. It's always specific accounts, but specific accounts possibly in a specific industry. So this could be the legal focus group versus this is the accountancy focus group versus those new markets that we may want to go after. That needs to be a bit more of a utility type player that understands that the value props and that the selling motion but it's a little bit more nimble or agile when they're talking to somebody else. A different persona, for example.
Steven Morell: Do you segment the teams by the size of the target company?
Adam Stewart: We, we, we have in the past. Right now it's a bit more hybrid other than strategic accounts. The strategic accounts are a clearly defined tier for us. And then our sales team has newer people that are running at the smaller accounts and larger or. Larger accounts are handled by people that have been around for a while and have built up their book of business, their relationship capital as we like to call it.
Steven Morell: I heard two terms. That for the educated listener points towards two sources for inspiration. I heard you using the term seats. Are you using e o s as an organizational, entrepreneurial operating system?
Adam Stewart: We are not using that methodology by definition today.
Steven Morell: But that's a concept of seeds and I heard that there. And then for the knowing listener, I heard words that Point towards Jacco van der Kooij and Winning by Design. Maybe in, in a few short words, how did you implement and we'll, our viewers can maybe see it behind you as the bow tie artwork. Can you tell us a little bit about how you implemented and how you used the teaching of Jekyll I. I'm inclined to say the Winning by Design methodology.
Adam Stewart: Yeah so Winning by Design specifically the revenue architecture piece is a piece that, that I got involved with in a number of years ago, and a big fan of, so I, what I love is this concept of the bow tie where re recurring revenue is a result of recurring impact or value that you're dream Delivering to an organization. And then some of the key tenants are looking at the various stages throughout that bow tie. And for people that don't know, the bow tie is essentially the sales and marketing funnel on, on one side, flipped on its side. And then the growth side, which is taking in account from, activation right through to renewals and growth on the other side, the key tenets there being that Incremental impact, sorry. Incremental changes are going to have a huge impact of end of the rev revenue as a result of improving the flow from stage to stage, and the fact that it's a SaaS organization or renewal space business, everything that you do early on is going to drastically improve your output or your revenue at the end of the day.
Steven Morell: Let me follow up on this. Once your AEs close the deal, what happens next to the customer? Now it's a customer.
Steven Morell: I'm very interested in the technical details here. It sounds like there is a solid and expanding motion behind this and I wonder, Have you segmented your, how do you distribute your customer success teams? And maybe you can first say something about that.
Adam Stewart: Sure. Yeah. So we do have segmentation or classification of our customers through a . Pyramids, like tier, obviously you've got your highest growth or highest potential At the top. The mid tiers look at potential growth and then the lower ones are either smaller organizations that maybe are fully tapped where they're going to be more on a , we're gonna keep our presence and make sure that they're pointed in the right direction. But there's less of an opportunity for growth. And they, the ratios between accounts and CSMs change obviously as you go down through there. And there's the, some of the lower tier ones are assisted by digital type of, or automated type of channels.
Steven Morell: And your customer success managers, how are they incentivized? Do they get commission? Do they have quotas on revenue quotas? How does that work?
Adam Stewart: Yeah, so at the moment, They are, they're both, they're team-based incentives for the customer success and implementation teams. And they're the two key factors there are renewals, so you know, re reducing churn as well as identifying cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
Steven Morell: And who does the upsell? Do the c m s do the upsell or do they call in the sales rep?
Adam Stewart: The CSM calls in the sales rep. Now it's a collaborative sale. It really depends on, again the size of the organization and the size of the potential as to how early that account executive is involved. We talked a little bit earlier about an organization's book of business. When we look at account executives, we, they, we are, we give them existing customer accounts as well as net new logos to be going after. They put together account plans and territory plans that incorporate cross-sell and upsell business from the existing clients and partner with their CSMs, and obviously are responsible for that, that net new logo business as well.
Steven Morell: I heard that your ci the, your customer success managers incentivized in teams to reach a certain goal, not individually. Is that correct?
Adam Stewart: They are.
Steven Morell: Team commission?
Adam Stewart: Yeah. And we use that in a few different departments that team-based commission. I think it depends on the state of your organization, the maturity of the organization and how . where that institutional knowledge lies, right? So as we grow, there's going to be customer success folks that have much more experience and we don't want to prevent them or dissuade them from helping out on other accounts that they maybe don't have direct line of responsibility for.
Steven Morell: Are you using the same analogy over in the sales teams, or is this individual?
Adam Stewart: On the sales teams, it's a direct quota. However, some of the supporting teams, for example, solutions consulting, business consulting and whatnot have team-based goals.
Steven Morell: Let me recap this. The AEs have their individual but supporting team sales enablement sales engineering, this type, they get team Commission or quarter based.
Adam Stewart: It is commissioned based on essentially a team target. So if we've got . Five solutions consultants supporting 15 or 20 account executives. You will have one person that typically works with an AE on 80% of their deals, but sometimes another solutions consultant or sales engineer will, will come in and help. And we want to Foster that type of collaboration, especially as we are a global business. We've got people on both sides of the pond and into Asia-Pac as well. From a time zone perspective, from an expertise perspective, we want the people that are gonna help win that deal, be part of that deal, and we wanna make sure that they all share in that success.
Steven Morell: It sounds like a really grown and a grown structure. With a lot of experimentation on the way that brought you here. My, one of my favorite questions to my guests is if I would have a time machine, I can send a message to the five year younger Adam Stewart warning you what not to do. What would you write about this time? Traveling postcards, Adam, don't do it please.
Adam Stewart: Yeah, I think that's that, that's an interesting thing to look at. So one of the areas that I would be very cognizant of, if I was sending this postcard to myself, is understanding that it's very difficult to scale you right to say, to scale your experience, the nuance that you have, the processes that maybe are. I would, I'll call them defined, but they may not necessarily be written down, or they may not be in a spot where you hadn't. You've anticipated every single thing that could possibly happen. So translating that and making it scalable is certainly something that's, that, that's difficult. So I would actually, as, as much as I dislike, from a documentation side of the business, that part's pretty, pretty important. Also, teasing out some of the nuances is important. So when I talk about this with sales leaders that I've been working with for a number of years, It's going through all the iterations, you know what to do in these different places. Making it more than obvious, but spell it out in terms of what people need to do in certain scenarios. That's what I think will help us and other organizations scale is to have that level of detail in there.
Steven Morell: I wish I would have gotten this postcard five years ago. Adam, thank you so much. All right, everyone. That brings us to the end of this episode of Speak Revenue. I want to thank our guest, Adam Stewart, for joining me here today and sharing his insights and learnings. Huge shout out to all our listeners. Your support means the world to us. Please remember to check our website: speakrevenue.com for a full transcript and additional resources. And if you have enjoyed the show please with a lot of sugar on top. Leave us a review on Apple Podcast, add on Google Podcast, or wherever you go for your listening needs. It really helps to get the word out and follow us on LinkedIn and on Instagram and now also on YouTube. We'll be back with another great guest soon. Until then, stay curious. Keep listening, and keep learning. Goodbye. Thanks, Adam.