#038 Sales DNA Unleashed with Guido De Vries
Navigating the Dynamics of Growth and Transformation in B2B SaaS
Guest & Host
Guido De Vries & Thomas Miltschuh
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 on this episode of Speak Revenue as host Thomas Miltschuh engages in a dynamic conversation with Guido De Vries, Country Manager for Miro in DACH. Delve into the world of B2B SaaS sales, exploring the intricacies of building success in the dynamic IT and sales landscape. Discover the strategies behind Miro's 5x growth in the DACH market and gain insights into the challenges and triumphs of expanding into traditional industries. From prospecting to a seamless sales execution, learn how Guido navigates the ever-evolving sales process and drives continuous growth. Tune in and explore the DNA of successful sales in the world of B2B SaaS.
November 9th, 2023
Thomas Miltschuh: Welcome to our new episode of Speak Revenue. Remember, revenue is not the goal. It's a result! But the result of what? In this show, we turn our eyes from the output towards the inputs. We speak to sales leaders and entrepreneurs about their journeys. Join us on our quest to uncover and learn the root causes of success. Let's unpack what worked for them, and what didn't. Today with our guest Guido De Vries. Hi Guido, welcome to the show. So great to have you here. Thanks for taking the time.
Guido de Vries: Hi, Thomas. Pleased to meet you. It's great to be here.
Thomas Miltschuh: Awesome. Let us know who you are, what do you do? Why are you so successful?
Guido de Vries: Thank you very much. Lots of good questions. In one sentence, my name is Guido, Guido De Vries. As you can see from the name, I've east region roots coming from the North Sea, but already 20 years ago I've decided to start my career in IT and in sales. So I was very lucky to get excited about IT early in my life. And same about sales. So I think that's maybe a first answer to your question, why I've built my success through the last years. It's a clear focus on IT and on sales. And yeah, I've spent the last 10 years more in B2B SaaS environments. So also following the SaaS sales method is something that I think is very important and helped me to be successful. Right now I'm with Miro. I'm the country manager for Miro and DACH and on the Go-to market over here. And we help our customers and teams to develop the next big thing on Miro.
Thomas Miltschuh: Great. I'm a big fan of Miro. It sounds fantastic. Really looking forward to talking with you about the revenue topics. Could you give us a quick overview of the big picture? What are your goals for this year and next year?
Guido de Vries: Yeah. So we have been incredibly successful in the market. So the DACH territory is the biggest market for Miro outside the United States. So we have grown from 200 customers on an enterprise plan when I started for more than 1000 customers. So it's very challenging, obviously, to keep up with a five x growth. But I'm looking for a continuous 50% growth. In terms of revenue that we have and to continue to build our customer base, it's more focusing on segments that are maybe not considered as early adopters that you can find very often in the technology and services sector, but also like in more traditional industries and expand our footprint over there. So this is one of my goals, but as well as making sure that we have a thriving hub and a thriving team in helping the team to cope with the current very challenging macroeconomic environments that we all have to face.
Thomas Miltschuh: That sounds exciting. I know bridging the gap from early adopters to rather traditional spaces or ICPs can be hard. Would you share a bit on your strategy there or maybe a framework you're following?
Guido de Vries: So definitely. So we have developed throughout the last couple of years a very good understanding of what our ideal customer profile is. Yeah. And Miro is used by various teams, but you often find those teams within engineering product and design areas. So for us, the strategy is definitely to be strong in these areas with our customers. But then think about the line of business expansion. So identify how we can move horizontally to other teams as well. This is going through different champions that we built that can help obviously spread the word within the customers. But this is also going through like understanding where our solution generates value. So for example, we have identified a range of use cases that are very strong in terms of the value that the customer is receiving out of these use cases. And what we do is to show at least these champions and then the other users as well. How can you actually use the product to generate more values in these use cases? And that's one of our strategies. Sounds pretty simple on an academic level, but it's definitely the lot of work. Rest assured.
Thomas Miltschuh: I can imagine that. Looks like customer retention and growing together with your customers becomes more and more important.
Guido de Vries: That's right.
Thomas Miltschuh: Could you let us know about your sales process and step us through it. From lead generation over closing to upsell? Would be great to know.
Guido de Vries: So Miro is definitely a company in the SaaS space and the business to business side of things. Yeah we run a typical SaaS sales method over here. However, maybe the contrast to more top-down solutions that you are selling is that there's a very strong product, net growth engine that we have. So that means that there's a self-service opportunity to sign up for Miro. And a lot of users, and a lot of customers are doing this. And this is for us obviously a great pool to test like customers and markets as well. So the first step for us to generate leads is ultimately to reach out to these customers who started small and help to understand how we can even deliver more value and make them bigger. So that means prospecting into these customers is one of our first steps that we do in terms of the sales process. And then we follow a land and expense strategy. So for us, it's important that we land an initial deal. That means we have a really clean and stable contract that is helping our customers to fulfill all the standards that we have in the EMEA market in terms of security standards. And from that contract on, then the client can grow. This is exactly in line with the SaaS sales method. That means we are focusing on after the initial sale how the customer can onboard successfully, use our technology successfully, and then expand successfully. So that means we have a high investment in our customer success teams and account management teams as well, that help the customers then grow and help to materialize actually the full value of Miro. So leverage PLG motion. Actively prospect through an outbound motion close fast, land and expand. And then making sure that we have our customers materialize value and ultimately expand the usage so that Miro is used by all the users at the customer.
Thomas Miltschuh: Okay. So, do you also use it by marketing as you try to expand your customer base on more traditional markets?
Guido de Vries: Hundred percent. Yeah, 100%. So we have a central marketing team, obviously, and also a local marketing entity. So helping us to break into as we connected on earlier, more the traditional industries where there is maybe no usage at all today. In contrast to a lot of customers who already have thousands of Miro licenses and maybe the IT is not aware, there's also customers who are just not using us today at all. And leveraging our marketing team as part of our demand strategy is a clear strategy that we have. So we have identified verticals that are on the one side the most potential vertical for us as well. But on the other side also customers that would benefit most also from Miro. And yeah, we have a content marketing strategy over there. We have a field marketing strategy where we are investing in the right events and activities that we are running. So it's like the full more traditional multifaceted marketing outreach that we're using over there.
Thomas Miltschuh: Oh, alright. Is there one most important marketing channel for you?
Guido de Vries: I would say it's not the one, it's the technique. How you coordinate all the different activities to align with the sales process of the customer. So if you look at, like the awareness phase, the education phase, and all the phases that are happening before the actual deal is signed, that you make sure you have activities that are helping the customers to take the decision in the respective step of the sales process. So I would not say that there's one activity. That stands out here in this case, it's more that the coordination of the different activities is key and that you keep the marketing team very close to the sales team and aligned.
Thomas Miltschuh: Yeah. And maybe even customer success.
Guido de Vries: And to end customer success. Yeah. If you look at the different steps that need to happen, for the most. Biggest accounts, we are running account-based marketing strategies as well. So if we look through an account strategy and account plan, it's obviously crucial that in line with customer success and account management, we understand who are the personas that are the most relevant for us, and then making sure we're running account-based marketing are planned against those personas as well.
Thomas Miltschuh: Great. If you have a look back, you've been with Miro for a while. What are the most important milestones for you regarding the sales process or the pipeline processes?
Guido de Vries: I think in the beginning we had a big focus on the right discovery because like when we started to go to market motion I mean we were in the areas of 600% growth on a yearly basis. So it's a really high dynamic that we had over there. So It's crucial to identify which opportunities as a sales rep you should focus on, and which opportunities you should not focus on. We are using MEDDICC or MEDDPICC. This is one of our methodologies and really helpful to making sure that we are qualifying in and out the opportunities. That's earlier stages more later on in the process, it was becoming more important to align on the right game plan as well. It's always an important distinction. Like the discovery tool helps you to understand where you spend time, but ultimately it's the game plan that helps you then to win the deals as well. So we have called this the Miro way where we have clearly identified an engagement blueprint, if you want to say. So, how to successfully win customers, and that was more in the, let's say second year when I was here, getting more important when we had the prospects with the customers, but we wanted to make sure that we are really growing with them successfully. And right now it's like everything is there. We have established and laid the foundation, so you need to make sure that the productivity is high. Yeah. So that you really execute as well. So making sure we have a flawless sales execution, the right operational rigor is very important. And to keep yourselves up to the standards that you have laid out a year or two years ago. That's currently the focus.
Thomas Miltschuh: Looks like you've defined clear entry and exit criteria for each pipeline stage.
Guido de Vries: Absolutely. Yeah, so that's part of the mirror way. Every time a stage is entered, there's a clear entry criteria and also exit criteria, so there's no stage skipping.
Thomas Miltschuh: What else do you do? Apply in addition to a game plan to make sure that the motion is flawless.
Guido de Vries: Yeah. I think it's important that you are working together as a cross-functional team. Like Set up where you have a land expand motion and customers start small. You're spending a lot of time after the initial contract is signed and you're spending time in the expansion motion and to make sure that the execution is flawless. Yeah, I need to do a little bit of advertisement over here. We are intensively using Miro ports as well
Thomas Miltschuh: Yes.
Guido de Vries: as you would imagine. Particularly for account plans. We build account plans together and really try to understand large organizations. We have almost all these strategic accounts in the DACH market more than 120, the range of 10,000 employees plus. So it's sometimes even difficult for an employee or in contact to understand who's responsible for what. Even more difficult for an organization like ours to look at from the external. And Miro helps a lot to coordinate all these different teams that you have from customer success solution engineering. But then you mentioned marketing, partners are very important as well, so that we have our partner network who help with specific consulting or our professional services. So you see Miro a lot in the Agile practices. So if, for example, a company is using SAFe and they're doing PI planning, for example, we can help them with partners who are specialists in this area to adopt this practice. And then it naturally is flawless on Miro. Coordinating this on a Miro bot is very helpful to answer your question, to ensure that we have this flawless transition of activities in our teams. Yeah.
Thomas Miltschuh: Yeah, that's right. I also had this experience. So
Guido de Vries: So you are mirror user as well?
Thomas Miltschuh: Of course!
Guido de Vries: Very good.
Thomas Miltschuh: Talking about partners or maybe other tools would you recommend any, tools talking about tech Stack or maybe if it's just in general.
Guido de Vries: Yeah, tech stack in the sales landscape obviously is crucial from my point of view. So we are adopting a wide range of SaaS tools, but at the core obviously is a good CRM. So we have Salesforce as our CRM, but from my point of view, the most important addition that we are using is Clari for forecasting in particular. So it's really a nice tool that helps to. visualize in a very nice way the forecast that you have, but also to provide the forecasts on the run. So it removes a little bit the obstacles that maybe Salesforce has. And also, like even from a mobile use case, for example, it's very convenient to update your forecasts on the go if you want. So that's for me an area where I spend a lot of time in. But then also I think outbound prospecting is important. So we are using Outreach for outbound prospecting. We're using Gong a lot for call coaching. In our area like EMEA, particularly Germany, it's not always so easy that customers also accept the recording of a call. But for us it's very helpful because particularly our first line managers. But also myself, we are using this for coaching and looking at these calls and this helps us to just get better in what we are doing on a daily basis. So I would say in terms of tech stacks those are the most important ones. And then, yeah, as I said, Miro is an integral part, particularly for account planning, but even for forecasting. So you are able to pull in different data sets and then start working and interpreting also as a team on your forecast board, which is something that we use really on a weekly basis here at Miro. Yeah.
Thomas Miltschuh: As you've mentioned you spend a lot of time on tech stack. How do you Realize makes sense to switch a tool, maybe try out something new? Any method there?
Guido de Vries: Yeah, we have had for example, if you look at the up on prospecting. We have used different tools before and also like Gong for the call coaching. We've also used different tools. I think we have always seen the development that you maybe start with smaller companies or maybe the new kids on the block because it's maybe simpler or easy to use or maybe also cheaper. But at some point of time when you reach a certain scale you need to make sure that all these tools are integrated and working flawlessly, and you often find that this is happening with the bigger vendors on the market. Yeah. So I would say we switch those tools at that point of time when we recognize that we don't have a seamless workflow integrated and we need to make sure that we actually use more functionality and a good workflow. This is when I see that it's time to maybe switch a tool or something is not working.
Thomas Miltschuh: Maybe also usage. If you see people are just not using, is it? Although there might be some benefits, something has to be changed.
Guido de Vries: That's right. That's right.
Thomas Miltschuh: What do you share with us? Something that just didn't work in the past. Big fail.
Guido de Vries: The big fail. I would say there are plenty of them. I think for me the most outstanding one when I started at Miro was my personal underestimation of the challenges in recruiting in the DACH market. I've spent hiring people throughout the last 10 years in the market, so it was not new, but there's demographic change for sure. I'm based here in Munich. There's high competition. And like during the last years, obviously the market is. And it was very hot, right? So from that perspective when you see that opportunity I often heard one of my mentors saying, okay, Guido, when you have more than one headcount open you need to invest more than 50% of your time. And always said, okay, are you serious? There's lots of business to do. I should focus over there. But no, if you're not filling this role on time, then you will regret later. And yeah he was right because every month that was on the ticker. In terms of time to hire, I had the quota, I had the meter running if you want to say so. And I had to cover everything by myself or with the colleagues that were there. And that caused lots of. Stress and anxiety. So that's maybe the one lesson yeah. Focusing on this and also owning it. So what do I mean by owning it? That means it's not the recruiting team that needs to have the roles. It's you, as the hiring manager who needs to make sure that you're hiring the roles right. Partner with your recruiting team, making sure you help them to build the right ideal candidate profile, helping them with the prospecting as well. Be active on social media, LinkedIn, et cetera, as well, help build the employer brand and then it will turn out it's an effort. And only if you go all in, you will be successful over there. Yeah. That's maybe the one thing in regards to recruiting and the other thing in that direction is. Maybe spend one month more, or even two months more. If you're not sure about the candidate. If you maybe at some point of time have to let someone go because it was just not the right one. You're losing so much time again, right? Starting this whole press at once and also like this person, it's obviously not nice, right? So making sure you really select the right candidates is I think a big lesson that I learned as well. Yeah.
Thomas Miltschuh: Yeah. I could definitely underline that. So it's important in my experience to have continuous communication with the HR team. It's not a one-time thing, like telling the qualification criteria and some information on the profile. It can change and channels for recruiting can change and it's a dynamic process like sales probably.
Guido de Vries: 100%. Yeah. I've seen some of the best recruiters becoming very successful salespeople as well at some point of life.
Thomas Miltschuh: Exactly. Yeah. Or vice versa.
Guido de Vries: Maybe something else, which is interesting. If I look back as I said, you often make mistakes, obviously. You have to learn from it and yeah, make sure that you're not doing them twice. I think that's the key. But we've experimented with lots of different license models as well. So from more traditional license models in the beginning, shifting to what we call flexible licensing programs, that was very successful because customers enjoyed the, let's say, possibility to grow with us on the go. So it's actually a true SaaS promise that we are giving over there on the other side. We have learned that this is particularly with big customers, strategic customers, large organizations who run a very structured license like model and process. Often not the best setup because they need cost control. And if they see, hey, this product is so widely adopted and used, then every month the usage is increasing. They are doing all kinds of mechanisms in order to avoid further harm . Tools, sprawl, if you want to say so, which is a big topic with a lot of CIOs at the moment to consolidate technology. And I would say, we have learned this and we have adapted around this. This is one of Miro's core values as well, is to learn and grow and actually drive change. And we have now switched to more like . At this point of time, traditional models as well, giving customers the freedom to really adopt mirrors widely and remove the blockers of like administration or also high costs. If you roll it out to a larger extent, I would love it in retrospect to have realized this maybe a little bit earlier. This would help us to be even like a better partner to our customers. Yeah.
Thomas Miltschuh: When and how have you realized those blockers?
Guido de Vries: I would say for the recruiting piece when . We are not succeeding in terms of time to hire. And also my quota was ticking and I actually had to do the double work. Yeah. I was really doubling down on the investment over there. And yeah, for the, for actually for the license piece that I mentioned, just it's customer feedback. At a later stage when I saw, okay, why are we not growing with this customer anymore and what's behind? And then when you dug deeper. And talk to the clients. It was pretty clear that like at some point of time the license model was a blocker for it. And it's a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it helped us to grow, but on the other side we also like to go into this next chapter. We had to iterate on our model and that's what we did. So actually it was when I was seeing the growth of the expansions. Shrinking or not growing at that point of that speed anymore compared to the beginning.
Thomas Miltschuh: Can really take time and also cost money to realize and then steer into the right direction. Would you say it became easier to hire talent or is it rather the same compared to, let's say one or two years ago?
Guido de Vries: The SaaS market was very hot two years ago, that's for sure. So we don't have that craziness over there anymore. Particularly with the macroeconomic change. And also if I look to DACH specifically, the candidate profile that you have often is looking for security as well. So I would say yes, maybe the demand or let's say the supply is not there to that extent anymore. But on the other side, people are also just skeptical about changing jobs nowadays. Yeah. Because they want to look for the security at the moment. And together with the democratic change, I'm pretty sure this will continue to be a challenge and like the war for talent is continuing to be ongoing in the next couple of years. So in the beginning of the year when lots of tech companies had layoffs, there was a bit better availability of resources. But I would say it's now back on . Like the same thing we had before. So it remains key focus or should remain a key focus if you are a hiring
Thomas Miltschuh: What makes a great sales rep in your view? What is most important?
Guido de Vries: Yeah, it's a very good question and thank you for that question. A great sales rep needs to have sales. DNAI always say sales is a lifestyle, right? And if you are in sales you are selling every day, right? You enjoy it! Yeah. It's fun for you. Sales often has a, like a bit of an image and I think it's one of the beautiful jobs that you can have because you interact with people. You are enjoying the success of helping a big customer. Winning a big customer. And I want to see this sales DNA, I want to see the joy of being in that job because like when you have . Joy in this job. And success will fuel more success, right? It's very important. It's like the fundamental then you need to have let's say the coachability to learn and adapt this role. People are debating if it's in arts or if it's in science. But the science aspect of it is very important as well, right? So you need to yeah be coachable, learn new things. Sales methodologies are evolving and if you are that kind of a person, I've done this for 20 years, and I do it the same way I've done it for 20 years, then he will not be successful. So you need to continuously change and evolve. So I would say a good salesperson has this DNA of credibility, the willingness to learn and really to master his sales practice. And I always quote my old martial arts trainer here. I was doing Karate for more than 10 years, and he was also in Guido. "You never should copy one master. Yeah. Learn from the best and create your own style". And this, I think, really shows these continuous like developments continue to learn and become a better version. You will never be perfect. And I think this is the other one. And of course if you look to bring in good salespeople I would say the cultural values are very important as well. Because you often have very let's say, specific characters in this role as well. And some of them might be very successful in a shorter, shorter timeframe. But sales is a team sport as well, particularly if you're selling complex B2B enterprise products, you need to be able to orchestrate all the stakeholders internally from management and the cross-functional teams, but at the customer side as well. And you need to have this ability to be a project manager internally for these kinds of activities as well. Sometimes it's even more difficult to get terms and conditions approved internally than to find an agreement with the customer and you need to have both skills, right? And I think that's another important aspect. I think I can go on for another 50 minutes here, but those are maybe three areas…
Thomas Miltschuh: I would like to go on for hours actually, but yeah. But what I hear most often on this topic is willingness to learn, and I really like the approach of, learn continuously and adapt it to yourself. There are so many frameworks out there. I think it's better to have a framework instead of none. But still, if you orchestrate them the right way and use it for yourself, apply it to them for yourself. You need to adopt it in some way for the company, but also for yourself. It really depends on the goal. Yeah.
Guido de Vries: 100%. I think as well, maybe what you are referring to as well, is you need to still be an authentic seller, right? A customer. It's all about relationships at the end. If you're able to build lasting relationships, you will be a salesperson. And you cannot just train a methodology and be a salesperson, it helps. It's one of the elements, but yeah. Make it yours.
Thomas Miltschuh: Alright everyone, that brings us to the end of this episode of Speak Revenue. I want to thank my guest Guido de Vries for joining us today, sharing your valuable insights. A huge shout out to all our listeners, your support needs to be told to us. Remember to check out our website: speakrevenue.com for a full transcript and additional resources, and if you enjoyed the show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you go for your listening needs. It really helps get the word out. Also, follow us on LinkedIn and Instagram or on YouTube. We'll be back soon with another great guest. Until then, stay curious and keep listening.