#039 Beyond the Metrics with Karl Ortmanns

Harmonizing Teams for Success in the Sales Orchestra

Guest & Host

Karl Ortmanns & 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 Steven Morell in an enlightening conversation with Karl Ortmanns, VP Sales at Agorapulse, on this episode of Speak Revenue. Uncover the secrets behind Agorapulse's success as Karl shares insights into their customer-centric approach, the intricacies of social media marketing, and the strategic blend of inbound and outbound strategies. Learn why revenue is a team sport, how leading indicators drive success, and gain valuable lessons from Karl's journey. Don't miss this episode packed with actionable strategies for revolutionizing your revenue game.

November 13th, 2023


Steven Morell: Welcome to our new episode of Speak Revenue. Remember, revenue is not a goal. It's a result! In this show, we turn our eyes from the output towards the input. We speak with sales and revenue leaders about their journey. So join me on my quest to figure out what are the root causes of success? What works for them, and what didn't. Today with my guest, Karl Ortmanns. I hope I pronounce that well.

Karl Ortmanns: Probably better than I could. 

Steven Morell: Great to have you Karl. For our audience real quick, you are the VP sales of Agorapulse. Who are you there? What do you do there and what makes you folks so successful?

Karl Ortmanns: So what I do, I have the very fortunate opportunity to lead the sales team. So in, in the sales org for us, which is maybe a little bit different, some so our sales org comprises the account executives, the SDR team, as well as the revenue operations team is all part of the sales team. So that's what I do there. And in terms of success one of the things that it really drew me to the company is the mission that our CEO has. And he had a very specific document when I was talking to him initially. And some of the things were very much like freaking care. And it says, freaking, but I thought he wanted to go with the other F word, but either way, but it's to the core of the company, it's woven in terms of the fabric of what the company does. So when it talks about how we really care, our customer base, if there's an issue, it's all hands on deck and we want to solve it. So it's really impressive when you start to look at our customers' CSAT and get awards for how our customer success is. So I would say maybe that's maybe brought into the success of the company.

Steven Morell: Yeah, so your success derives from being obsessed with the success of your customers. I love this.

Karl Ortmanns: Yeah, it's very much customer obsessed and also owns it. So that's one of the mentalities of the companies that own it. So if there's a problem, own the problem, own the solution, how can you make it better? What can you be doing? And those two combinations together make for a really dangerous experience with customers because if they have, if something's up. Its people take it almost personally to make sure we solve it.

Steven Morell: Ah, that's fantastic. For our listeners, maybe not everybody is familiar with the product. What does your product do? Whose problem is it solving and what is the problem that it's solving?

Karl Ortmanns: Yeah, so we're a social media marketing platform. So some of the people in the space for, that you might have heard of, companies like Hootsuite or Sprout Social are examples of customers in our space. The biggest thing we're trying to solve is when you look at social media today. I don't wanna say it's a black box, but it's the thing that people go to. And when you start to look at what the social profiles, you know, actually were doing a talk on this yesterday, a presentation and it's something 96% of companies use social media as their marketing. And so how do you pull that together? And there's, there were 150 million additional profiles created last year alone. And that continues to compound and scale and grow. So one of the things we're trying to do is control the chaos, probably the best way to say it, bring everything into one inbox and allow you to monetize what you're actually doing. So when you create a post, how can you make sure that it's tied back to a campaign without doing many, many steps? And we're really trying to simplify what your social media needs are and allow you to. Generate an ROI from it, because you can say: Hey, we created this post, there was this call to action. It translated into X dollars, and that all flows through our platform.

Steven Morell: Oh, so you do the attribution as well on social media.

Karl Ortmanns: Yeah. Yeah. And we call that social media ROI.

Steven Morell: Wow. Talk to me a little bit about who is your ideal customer and what is the persona inside that customer that you're trying to talk to?

Karl Ortmanns: Yeah, this is a really interesting one because this has been a little bit of debate with us as a company. When you look at the world of social media, most companies now have a social standing or some sort of social profile, LinkedIn, Twitter, or now X. Depending on where you go, maybe you're gonna have TikTok or Facebook or Instagram. And then you also have your Google Suite as well, right? So you have Google My Business and some of these. So the places that we do really well, I'll say it that way, are agencies where we do really well with them because they're typically operating for multiple clients. They need to bring multiple things into one inbox. Higher education, food and beverage, or what we call multi-location where they have, think of, I don't know, maybe I'll give an example. I'm in Canada, so I'll use Canadian Tire as an example. So any Canadians listening, Canadian Tire where there's many locations and you have to centralize all that in. Those are some examples of places that we do really well. But I, in terms of our ideal customer profile. It's companies that are going to have a social media team, or they have somebody who's doing social media. Let's say it's a small team on the marketing side. So you start getting into VPs of marketing directors of marketing. The CMO is now starting to have a little bit more of a conversation at the table with us because. They're planning out their annual budgets. We're gonna spend money on this thing called social media. How do we know if it's working? What is it doing? So those are the type of industries as well as personas of customers that we would work with.

Steven Morell: Do you see the rise of social selling in your customer group? I feel that our audience, VP Sales reps, and AEs increasingly are faced with the responsibility to own their LinkedIn presence, for instance, in the B2B context and produce content and engage with social media. Are you seeing this as a trend?

Karl Ortmanns: From the rise of social selling, one of the things that I would say is we are starting to see that, right? And my comment here is: Social is learned, it's not taught! And actually this is something that I actually became a little bit more passionate about, because when you start to think about having somebody join your company, whichever role they are, let's say sales, let's use sales as the example for this one. You give them tools like LinkedIn, you give them tools like Apollo or Outreach or some of these different tools and you just say: Hey, have at it. Go and find your customers. And what we typically do is we start online, right? We start in this research and discovery phase and we maybe look on Google or LinkedIn or SalesNav or Reddit or even now using ChatGPT. But my question, and this is where I think it's really interesting, is: who's teaching them how to use these tools? Who's teaching them the tips and tricks? Who's teaching them these things? Because if you take it from the B2B sense, this whole show me, you know me. Cool. But if I was to tell you I think I said 94% of businesses are using social media. So in 2023, there's more than 4.8 billion social profiles online, billion with a "B", and, there's more. On a quarterly basis, from the last fiscal year, last calendar year, 150 million additional social profiles were created, which represented a 3.2% change in all of social media. And coupled that with the fact that the average number of social platforms that people use is 6.6.

Steven Morell: No.

Karl Ortmanns: Where do you start? And then if you take it even further, the world's most used social platforms are in the top five. Facebook, then YouTube, then WhatsApp, then what? Then Instagram, then WeChat. So in those top five and TikTok is the next one in those top five Meta owns three of them, right? So then you start to go, okay, so they're in all these different places and then marketers are really investing in them. Facebook, then Instagram, then LinkedIn across the board. But when you break it back into B two B, LinkedIn is still the most popular. From the Bt2 perspective, there's more than 900 million members on LinkedIn, 58 million. Are registered companies, and so when you even go the next layer deep, there's 61 million senior level influencers and 65 million decision makers on LinkedIn and most and then 80% of leads are also coming from LinkedIn. So this whole show to me, and the benefits of social selling, how, how, are you teaching your people? How are you helping them? Where do you go? We all heard the benefits of social selling. Also, remember that a sales rep, a salesperson have quotas, they have territory plans, they have monthly reviews, quarterly reviews, et cetera, and they also have to run demos, discoveries and prepare presentations. So the role of sales is more encompassing than I think we consider. But if you factor in all of those data points that I just said, where do you start and who's teaching you? Oh, and by the way, there's a new algorithm that doesn't allow you to do this. Oh. But if you do this thing and you add three hashtags, you're gonna get more success. Oh, no, don't do that anymore. You want to add 10 likes within the first hour, and then it'll hit the algorithm. Oh. And now there's this new thing that you have to look at. How do you keep up on it? It's a learned skill. It's not taught. And I think that's one of the gaps here with most companies, is we give them tens of thousands of dollars of technology and say, here, just go figure it out. But when I started again doing some research I looked at, I did a quick search about LinkedIn Sales Navigator and I got 10 videos that popped up. And in those 10 videos, 543,000 views of 10 videos of how to use LinkedIn sales navigator. How come we have to go externally for that? Who's looking at it internally? How are we teaching people? Is it just, you've learned it and this is where I believe that it's a learned skill. It's not taught. I don't know if I answered your question, but…

Steven Morell: Yeah. Yeah. No, you answered my question and you created a whole bunch of new questions. But before we go deeper here down into this it's not a rabbit hole. It's a freaking universe that you're opening here for us. Let's go back real quick to your organization. How do you enable, how do you reach out to your customers? What is your lead gen move? Are you product led? It seems to me on your website that you might be heavily product led, but then again you have a sales team.

Karl Ortmanns: Mm-Hmm. 

Steven Morell: How does your lead gen move inbound, outbound? 

Karl Ortmanns: Yeah, a hundred percent. So you're definitely right. We are a PLG first company, which means that we also have an inbound motion. And I was brought on to build the sales led motion or the outbound motion. So now we have an outbound motion as well. On top of that, we also have a freemium motion. So when you think of the go-to-market motions, we kinda have four that are being played.

Steven Morell: How do you do outbound?

Karl Ortmanns: So for outbound, for us, we are doing more on a target perspective. So every quarter, the sales reps, each sales rep will create their top 50 accounts, and we break it down to 10 / 20 / 20. So in your tier 1 o f your 10, you can have no more than five existing customers. Tier 2, you can have 20, no more than 10 customers and 3, no more than 10 customers. Because you really want to make sure that you're not having your team fall into this notion of being an account manager. You still want to be able to find it and grow the accounts so we have it, we have that tiered perspective based off of our ideal customer profile in the different regions. And then we create our list segmentation from there as we start to, to go outbound using multiple mediums with, obviously social media is one of them. We have video, text, phone, even some of the fun things we've been doing are direct mails with a gift, as an example or a book to say: Hey, here's something I thought of, and the response rate is quite high.

Steven Morell: Talk to me a little bit about the structure of your team. It sounds a little bit like you are having revenue pots with SDRs and AEs pulled together and customer success. But walk me through this.

Karl Ortmanns: So customer success is led by our amazing leader, Kristell. So she handles customer success and has a global reach there. On the account executive side or the new business side, if I say it that way. So we do have SDRs and we do have Account Executives. There is a shift, which I think you can see if you look at some of the data from a PLG with Kyle from OpenView, the data shows you that you have to create an outbound motion when you hit 10 million of ARR. We sailed past that a few times, and still didn't create the outbound motion. So now this is where we're doing a little bit of catch up. So for us, what we do is we have an SDR aligned to a regional, and then the account executives are also aligned by EMEA and North America and broken down in that respect. So we haven't effectively created pods. However, it's naturally gone that way where we have focused areas for the team so that, as an example, France is one where we are headquartered. We do very well in France, so you have to have French speaking people. I couldn't put an English speaking person in France because it's not gonna go very well.

Steven Morell: Yeah. Maybe state for our listeners you said you passed that Revenue threshold. How big is the company in terms of headcount and how big is it in terms of Annual Recurring Revenue?

Karl Ortmanns: Head count, I think we're right around 180 today. And then Annual Revenue, we're right around 30 Million euros a year.

Steven Morell: That's a very healthy relation ratio between FTE and revenue.

Karl Ortmanns:Yeah, our leadership, yeah, our CEO and is just, I can't say enough good things about him. He, him and our co-founder, our CTO, they bootstrapped the company and have taken it to this, and we've continued to do really well. So, there's this notion of don't hire to hire, hire for a purpose, hire with a reason. And ultimately, as long as we're maintaining that focus of revenue per full-time employee, we're doing pretty well.

Steven Morell: How long have you been in the market?

Karl Ortmanns: The company's 12 years old.

Steven Morell: Okay.

Karl Ortmanns: Yeah, it's gone through some iterations, but yeah 12 years old. 

Steven Morell: Let's return to your sales motion. So you're obviously inbound is where you come from. You build outbound. How do you build outbound from scratch? PLG was all the hype a couple of years back. And I think rightfully so, because there were a lot of necessary learnings for all of us, but it's probably, at least in the B2B space, not the final answer. So how is it when you join an inbound and a PLG company? How do you start out building outbound?

Karl Ortmanns: Yeah, this is actually my second in a row that I've gone with this PLG first mentality, and you actually, even going back to my early days with Vidyard, we launched a product, which I don't think we understood what PLG was at the time. Called GoVideo where people can download it for free and et cetera. And we had another tool as well that was more, you could take a PowerPoint and you can convert it to a video. And so it was, I think we called it Studio. But anyways, I didn't really understand what PLG was back then, and now it's a great motion. I think it's one of the motions that you can have as part personally, because. When you put the product in somebody's hands, it allows them to really get a sense of what it does and how they can do the evaluation. But from the outbound perspective, when you start to look at it, you really have to be smart about who you're targeting, right? And you have to go with a purpose. So one of the things that we talk a lot about is if you don't have a, because then don't do it. And the, and what I mean by that is if I say: Hey, Steven, the reason I'm telling you is because, or if I have a, because then at least I'm going to guess you have a sense that I did my research and then that way I can explain to you the reason that I think that there's something here or there's a reason that I'm connecting with you versus: Hey, I'd like to book a meeting. Okay, what does that do for me?

Steven Morell: Yeah.

Karl Ortmanns: But I'm coming to you be, with a notion of, I see that you have multiple social profiles. You have a foothold here, you have this, Hey, we have all these other things going on, and I also notice that you don't have this. The reason for me to connect is because here's some of the things that we can help do. Here's some of the pain points and try to drive that. But it is a little bit more when you go outbound, which I'm probably preaching to the choir, it's a little bit more of an education at times to try to get people to understand that they have a problem, but they maybe just haven't seen versus an inbound. We have the hand raiser saying, yeah, I have an issue and I did some research and I want to talk to you.

Steven Morell: Yeah. Yeah. Talk to me a little bit in our preparation call. You said something that really resonated with me. You said that you're using leading indicator scorecards now. I'm a Lean Master. I'm a Six Sigma Black Belt. And I'm a big fan of EOS, the Entrepreneur Operating System. I know that you guys are using that as well. What is the Leading Indicator Scorecard?

Karl Ortmanns: Yeah, so this was a bit of an aha. So my background is primarily in software as service, and then I took a bit of a hiatus and I went into the manufacturing and automation space. And while I was there, I learned a lot about Lean and Six Sigma and Kaizen and all these other things, and. I didn't understand what I was learning at the time. And for those of you that maybe aren't familiar with it, this notion of a daily visual management comes into play, which I'm sure you know all about, Steven, and you look at it from a scorecard perspective. Effectively every single day when you're in a high output manufacturing, did you hit your target or not? And the idea there is you can make decisions in a split second based on a color code. Red is bad, green is good. And so it dawned on me that I had to create an ability to do this from the sales side, from, how is the team doing? Are we red or are we green? If we're in the green, then carry on. If we're red, where do we need help? And continuing on going, okay, now that I understand what has happened, how do I predict the future? And this is where I started to look at all our leading KPIs, right? As an example, how many meetings were completed, how many meetings were booked. 'cause that's a future state. How many opportunities were created? Because the output of that meeting is in a future state, not how much revenue did we close today? Because that's already done. So what are those leading indicators that we looked at? And you break all those down for each company. They might be different, but you write out all your leading indicators. And then from there, work through your sales math to say we need to create, again, whatever it's gonna be. But here's the annual number, here's the quarterly number, here's the weekly, here's the daily. And so what we do now is I look at it from a weekly, per weekly basis and I color code it. So I use some conditional formatting Excel. If somebody has a better tool than this, cool. Maybe there's a business idea here, Steven, that we can figure out. But I use this in a mentality of going, okay, are we red, are we green? And if we're green, we just move on. But if it's red, okay, is there an explanation? If we're red two times in a row, then we have to do an inspection. If it's red three times in a row, then something's broken. We have to fix something, and we have to go all hands on deck. So that's allowed us to look at the business a little bit differently. Are we gonna be good for next quarter, next month? What does that look like? And your sales cycles will typically determine. So that's been something for me personally that I stole from the automation space. But success leaves clues, right? The automation space and Kaizen and all those, it's been very successful. And now translating that here, it's been an eye-opener for a lot of us.

Steven Morell: Super interesting. What are the metrics that you visualize that way? You said the number of meetings. What else is on the chart if you can share that.

Karl Ortmanns: Yeah, so we're looking at things like activities, calls, completed demos, opportunities created as well from multiple sources. So those are some of the main ones that we're looking at from that perspective. We're also looking at it now from looking to include it on the marketing side to see what are those leading indicators that if something is off the rails, gonna affect us in the future. So we're actually building that with our marketing team now as well.

Steven Morell: Another thing that you said, and that stuck with me was revenue is a team sport and you brought up, and that's not always the case when I talk to a VP Sales, you brought up customer success. And not only did you mention them, but you also mentioned how well they're doing and how that is measured. And you brought up marketing multiple times. You said revenue is a team sport. Explain it.

Karl Ortmanns: Yeah. Yeah. I firmly believe that if you have a healthy and happy customer base, I have, I use this imagery of you know, actually leaning tower piece is a really good one. Or a skyscraper. It doesn't matter how big your skyscraper you wanna build, if your foundation is not strong, you're never gonna build on top of it. So that's my mentality of a revenue team. And the reason I'm saying that is because if we close the right customer, and I say close, if we partner, maybe that's the better way to say it, if we partner with the right customer. Whoever trusts us to give us their money that they are going to sign with us for a term, they become a happy customer. They stay with us for multiple years. That allows you to build your business because there's a predictability as part of it. In order to do that though. You need to have a really good product. So product is involved. Hey, making sure that you're able to, our Head of Product and I talk regularly about what's happening. Hey, maybe we didn't win this opportunity because of these situations, or we didn't do this. Or, Hey, we're gonna go into a new ICP and these are some of the requirements. How much would that be? So the product is very much involved in that. You also need to make sure that your CS team is involved as well, because you don't want to close a customer. You wanna partner and you wanna work with the right customer because again, everybody likes to buy things. Nobody likes to be sold to , right? So if you're just selling them on a dream and when the successful team gets it and they can't do anything with it. Then it becomes a bit of a challenge. You can't build a lasting business. And then even further, not even the marketing side, are we targeting the right people? Are we bringing them, are we attracting the right buyers? Are we able to create the right content? How does the entire company come together to effectively support the revenue? Because that's the lifeblood of a company. And it's not all on sale, right? Sales doesn't create demand. Sales can help influence. We need marketing to support. Sales can't change the product, but marketing can or product can, and they can say: Hey, by the way, I saw from lost opportunities. There's a hole in the market. We can do these things. You start to get into technology and like really looking at the future state. So to me everybody has to come together to understand what it is because if it's just finger pointing on sales, yeah, sure, sales owns the output of the number. But again, there's still a difference between bookings and revenue, sales teams booking, when do we accept the money as revenue? So I think that's why I look at it from a team sport, because if any of those are off . Then there's a gap and now you have one team that is overcompensating.

Steven Morell: What's your definition of a good sales rep?

Karl Ortmanns: There's a few things that come into play. One is I would say There's this notion to me, you have to be some level of competition because you have to have a competitive spirit to you. I wanna make sure that I do the right things. You have to have some empathy and you have to understand and have an empathy to it to understand what the customer's going through. It's harder to buy technology today than ever. If you really look at the landscape of what people are doing. How do you decide sometimes, so I think that there's an education and also on the sales side being creative and also being able to effectively be a bit of a solution. Oh, that's a problem. I know how to connect the dots there and not be rigid because Mark Roberts does a really great job in sales acceleration. And talks a bit about that. So to me, you have to be competitive. You have to have some empathy. You have to be a problem solver and creative. And ultimately, do the right thing.

Steven Morell: Yeah, I totally agree. Speaking about doing the right thing, if I had a time machine and you could send a postcard to the five years younger what would you write on that postcard? What would you do differently?

Karl Ortmanns: Yeah, I would probably throw in a couple of things, maybe a few things. The one I would probably say is, this too shall pass. It's only a moment in time. That's one thing I would write. The second thing I would put is build your network. You'll be very appreciative of what it provides you. And a lot of that is because, if you're leading a team, if you're the only person in your role, it's a lonely position. So you make sure you have your network that you can go, Hey: I'm having this issue. Does anybody else see it? And you know what, most times people are like, oh, done that , I've been there, done that. And then the last one is. Never stop learning and get involved with places like Pavilion. That, for me personally, has been a game changer from the education perspective  and really continues to level up and doesn't stop learning.

Steven Morell: Funny. I'm also a member of Pavilion.

Karl Ortmanns: See? Perfect. Yeah. And so I think those…

Steven Morell: To name others. There's also RevGenius and there's a bunch of others. But be a member of communities and talk to peers. I'll absolutely support this. Because it's a lonely space out there. And we all need revenue therapy from time to time.

Karl Ortmanns: Yeah and it's super helpful like RevRoom, RevGenius Pavilion ,sales impact, like there's all these out there, but leverage the knowledge of others because you're not the only one. There's others going through the same thing. 

Steven Morell: That's beautiful. All right, everyone. That brings us to the end of this episode of Speak Revenue. I want to thank our guest, Karl Ortmanns, for joining us today and sharing his super valuable insight. I enjoyed that conversation a lot. Thanks for coming. Huge shout out to all our listeners your support means the world to us. Remember to check our website: speakrevenue.com for a full transcript and additional resources. Maybe we can publish the numbers that you mentioned. And if you enjoyed the show, please leave us a great review on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you go for your listening needs, it really helps to get the word out. And it helps us. Also follow us on LinkedIn, on Instagram, on YouTube. We'll be back soon with another great guest. Until then, stay curious, keep listening. Stay safe and see you soon. ​

Copyrighted © 2022-23 Jaxx Technologies, Inc.

Copyrighted © 2022-23 Jaxx Technologies, Inc.