#047 Tech Talk: Revenue Edition with Pasha Irshad
Navigating HubSpot, Tech Stacks, and Success in Sales
Guest & Host
Pasha Irshad & 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 in the latest episode of Speak Revenue as we unravel the intricacies of success in sales and entrepreneurship. Our guest, Pasha Irshad, Co-Founder of Shape & Scale, delves into a dynamic discussion on decoding success in the ever-evolving landscape of customer-facing departments. From the nuances of HubSpot implementation to the challenges of change management in larger organizations, Pasha shares valuable insights gained from his 15-year journey in the industry. Explore the significance of the bowtie concept, the secrets behind a well-planned tech stack, and the critical role of communication in achieving business goals.
December 5th, 2023
Thomas Miltschuh: 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 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.
Pasha Irshad: Hey, it's great to be here! The latter part I'm not so sure about, but yeah, so I'm Pasha Irshad. I'm lucky to have been in this industry for probably 15 years now, and I've worked across really every facet of the customer facing departments both across B2C, first short stint, and then also B2B.
Thomas Miltschuh: Great. What's your current role?
Pasha Irshad: Yeah, so my current role is Co-founder of Shape & Scale. There, I'm heading up really our HubSpot implementation, onboarding training. And then revenue operations. So we're really acting as a kind of external consultant to help clients get the most of their technology. On my end, that's backed by probably eight to nine years of performance marketing. I used to be a VP of Marketing at a marketing agency where we served anywhere from, fast high growth startups all the way up to enterprise. So like Microsoft ,Booz Allen, Samsung, and then startups like DataBricks. We have a very wide range of clients. And then my business partner does tech technology PR.
Thomas Miltschuh: Alright. Often, what, what talking about the technology you're focusing on HubSpot, right? Are there some additional tools you're using together with HubSpot?
Pasha Irshad: Yeah, I'm a HubSpot partner. I've been a HubSpot partner for seven years. This is my second time, so very close to becoming a gold partner, but we mainly focus on HubSpot. Now. I have a few clients that have Salesforce integrated with HubSpot. And HubSpot's a platform, right? So when we think about like your choices in your tech stack, you have platforms which you're not gonna change out and you need to try to stick with it. And then you have layered on solutions like integrated apps and standalone apps. Think like Calendly and or something like, I don't know, databox for reporting. In all of that, we help our clients. Plan their tech stack operationalize their tech stack, call their tech stack. It just really depends on the ask and their goal.
Thomas Miltschuh: What is your ICP? Is there a specific company stage for example, you're focusing on?
Pasha Irshad: Yeah. That's a good question. For us, we serve anywhere from founder-led all the way up to series B, and then I do have an enterprise client but that's more of an anomaly. So I really like anywhere from 1 to 20 million in revenue series A or series B, and then usually SaaS and technology. You know, when it comes to SaaS, we apply Winning by Design's methodology, like a trained revenue architect which is very focused on the bowtie, right? There's this idea of the funnel, which is more into the flywheel if you follow Jacco and Winning by Design, there's the bowtie, which really looks at the point of activation and, looking past the sale. Because in SaaS to be profitable you need to have renewal, right? Like churn isn't gonna do you any good. So it's just a different way to be looking at that customer journey.
Thomas Miltschuh: Okay. So sounds really great as I'm a revenue architect Winning by Design revenue architect as well. So there's a lot to talk about together, about what makes things repeatable is an important part of this, but how do you advise your clients to implement the bow tie, taking HubSpot into account, especially.
Pasha Irshad: Yeah, that's a really good question. I think the bow tie itself is a concept of most clients. It's, I wouldn't say it's hard to grasp, but it's definitely hard to implement because if you're setting up HubSpot, there's a lot of automations you need to put in place. So you know, you're not skipping lifecycle stages, you're not skipping deal stages. It's really more around lifecycle stages. And there's just an architecture that you have to build in. And then there's also like there's a change management piece to getting the whole org thinking around that. So I'll be honest, as a consultant, I think it's easier to bring that up to a client and recommend it to them than it is to actually fully implement it. With that being said, I do think it just holds a lot of weight in the way people do business today.
Thomas Miltschuh: That's right. I heard that many times that people are struggling a bit with implementing this concept, but it definitely makes sense to understand it and to get the concept as a whole.
Pasha Irshad: I think like in that, you're looking at really like three things, right? You're looking at time-based metrics, conversion-based metrics and volume-based metrics. And I think that really everything, right? It's like how do we convert from stage to stage? How much do we need, right? Like, how much of an input do we need to achieve a result? And then how long does it take to do something, like if you put that on the spreadsheet and columns, you start to get a sense of what you need to measure, right? It's Hey, our sales cycle is X and hey, it takes 15, 15 calls to get a meeting. And it takes, we're converting like 13% from SQL to opportunity. Once you have those inputs, it's a lot easier to put in place like a model. To operationalize it and solve for it, right? So you can start to identify areas in the bow tie where you're having breakdowns. And then, and again, it doesn't have to be the bow tie. I think generally if clients understand. Like the lifecycle stage progression in HubSpot, they'll get a pretty good sense of where things are going wrong. MQL is not converting the SQLs well. Maybe we have a targeting problem, right? SQL not converting the opportunities. Maybe we need to, we have a sales enablement problem. Opportunity not creating, closing. I know in my business I definitely run a much smaller scale of that when I'm or just a mental framework to apply when I'm thinking about business problems. And I think that's what Winning by Design brings to the table.
Thomas Miltschuh: Yeah. And I think it also helps with understanding their own business model and finding the right GTM strategy that fits for this model.
Pasha Irshad: Yep.
Thomas Miltschuh: Yeah. To get it aligned the right way.
Pasha Irshad: Yeah, I think that's a big piece, right? Like when you think about the go-to market, I've seen clients that are trying to do like PLG and like they're trying to do a little bit of PLG, but then there's like this weird like enterprise motion, like really understanding what your ACV is, right? Like lower ACVs, faster sales cycles. Possibility for more churn and then obviously higher ACVs, longer sales cycle, more sales reps, could be target accounts. Being able to just map that out and understand what's best to support that is really important because that's gonna set up your tech stack too, right? It's if you're running PLG, you need telemetry to guide some of your decisions if you move to sales assist, right? And it's what we have set up for that? Do we have custom events and custom behavioral events and HubSpot, we need HubSpot Enterprise, or do we have Pendo running? Which is like super is not a very easy tool to understand. There's just all these considerations. I think most people probably don't take into account when they're thinking about just going to market because go to market has just become this catchall word that you see thrown everywhere, but you know about it scientifically. It's just literally, it's like the backbone of, like who you're selling to, why they care, right? How you gonna take them along the journey.
Thomas Miltschuh: SO how do you find that out? Let's say I'm a new client. How would you go step by step to find out my stage what needs to be improved exactly throughout the buyer journey.
Pasha Irshad: Yeah, I think it just depends. Usually we start with just basic business questions, right? I need to understand financials. So again, like what is your ACV? your average sales cycle? What does your team make look like? do You have a clearly defined ideal customer profile? Again, if it's founder led, that's usually gonna be no, because it's pretty product market fit. So I'll put that aside. But I think as you start getting into series A it's more about just focusing, right? So how can we focus on a subset of your ICP where we have quickest time to sell and quickest time to value and can start to really prove out some of our hypotheses and you get right? That's when you start finding your go-to-market fit in which point usually you're able to scale and meet the market. When I say meet the market, if you have three to four competitors entering a vertical at one specific time, and we're all kind of finding go to market fit, you got about 18 to 24 months to own that, or else you're gonna be number two and number three I'm making it sound way easier than it is obviously, but that's in theory, that's the way that it works. And I, I would say even that 18-24 months has been shortened at this point in time.
Thomas Miltschuh: Okay. What do you think or is there any that your clients typically are really struggling with? Is there something to highlight? Is it? Broader go to market topic marketing sales or customer success. Anything to highlight there or is it different from client to client.
Pasha Irshad: That's a good question. I think it differs, it differs a lot. I think at larger organizations, usually we struggle with change management, right? If I'm coming in with an enterprise client and trying to really put in place a revenue operations framework, right? Like where we're trying to get a cadence of meetings between leadership from, like siloed departments. That's very hard to do as an outside consultant, right? Unless you have full card blanc, access to leadership, all of that stuff. So I'd say the larger organizations. To me, it's change management. That's the hardest part. I think with smaller organizations, there's probably a lack of focus. I think. Too much technology, too much, like too much data. Just too much of everything. And I think there's this idea that you need to bite up so much more than you can chew. I'd rather just focus on, it's hey, we've got, 20k ACV, we've got a, I don't know, maybe one stage sales process like an ae. We're running some inbound, it's like focusing on one channel. Really get your outbound down if you're doing it, like doing it the right way. And then having a clear focus and just sticking with something to see if it works or not is probably gonna benefit you more than what I see. And also I would say for smaller companies that a lot have taken the easy way out. None of my clients currently, but like I do and have seen in the past where it's like, Hey, you guys are maybe doing this the way that it used to be done. We would recommend doing it this way. And they just keep doing it the way it used to be done. Because again, that's easier. That could be just lead generation with content syndication, which we know just amounts to anything that runs cold outbound across your main domain, then damages. a lot from a technical perspective. It's just taking the easy way out.
Thomas Miltschuh: Talking about larger organizations, how many employees?
Pasha Irshad: Talking about a thousand and up. Yeah.
Thomas Miltschuh: Yeah, Yeah that's interesting. They probably depend on the background of the company, but sometimes I'm surprised how much they need to improve with regards to change management because they must have been able to work in an agile and dynamic environment as well.
Pasha Irshad: Yeah. Yeah, I think it just depends, but like when you make a lot of money and you do it in spite of yourself, perhaps like a lot of bad habits get in place and those bad habits are very hard to correct after the fact. Unless you have a true revenue operations function internally, which again, I mean if you think about revenue operations, it's rather a new thing, it's a new thing. So it is, and it's not.
Thomas Miltschuh: Yeah. And yeah, as the bigger companies grow, the more the structure grows just historically and also political topics are probably taken into account probably.
Pasha Irshad: Yep.
Thomas Miltschuh: Let me tell you about something that didn't work for you. Is there something you would like to share with the audience?
Pasha Irshad: In terms of something we've tried to apply, or just something that we've seen that doesn't work.
Thomas Miltschuh: Something you've worked on yourself, any kind of.
Pasha Irshad: Yeah, like I, I would say things that don't work, like I said earlier, if you're thinking about lead generation as usually the idea of content syndication, right? Like you're paying a company to push out your white paper and you're getting. MQLs, which they're not MQLs. anything, they're just email addresses and pushing that into your CRM and then having your SDRs pound them with email after email. Yeah. That doesn't work. It's never worked for me. I've never seen it work at any company. actually challenge anybody that listens to this to tell me when it's worked, because I'd love to see it. It's still huge, it's still a huge cottage industry. Yeah, and I just, that, that's one thing I feel pretty strongly about.
Thomas Miltschuh: Is there any specific project you're having in mind?
Pasha Irshad: Not really. I've worked in a lot of content syndication projects and I don't wanna integrate anybody I used to work with. So I don't wanna go too deep into that. But I would just say I've never seen it work. I just don't see it work. Logically why would it work? And, today and the era where buyers are more savvy than ever. Why would reading the white paper make you wanna purchase a product? Doesn't make sense.
Thomas Miltschuh: Yeah, and the question is when do you realize and how much money have you wasted until then?
Pasha Irshad: Yep.
Thomas Miltschuh: Would you say that there's any lesson learned you would like to share with the audience? Something important? Anything that comes to mind.
Pasha Irshad: Yeah, I think the lessons learned are just, I think one thing that will never go outta style is just communication. And I think communication is so important in any organization, right? Again, if I look at it from the role of a consultant, your relationship with a client is only as good as the communication between the 2. And I would say, inter organization like communication is paramount to getting things done. And today we've got global teams, we've got distributed teams, we've got Slack, we've got email. I think like being able to have a cohesive structure in place and to communicate up to manage up, to share findings is really important. And as I go through some revenue operations training with somebody I respect, like I'm reminded of that, like he talks about the rhythm of the business. Jeff Ignacio for anyone that it's, yeah, really like one of them, he's one of the smartest people I've met around the topic of Revenue Operations, and Yeah, just thinking about that, right? Like the rhythm of the business and that to me goes back to communication.
Thomas Miltschuh: So how do you achieve that?
Pasha Irshad: You plan for it, right? I think like anything else, I think it's to like, how do you, it's having a clear plan for the quarter, for the year, and it's these are our, these are like smaller touchpoints, these are our bigger touchpoints. Having a clear, clearly stating upfront, like what goals for meetings are, what goals for reporting is, like making sure there's a shared, there's shared meaning is a big one, right? Like making sure sales and marketing both understand what metrics they're being measured on, why it's important. MQL, SQL, whatever it may be. Just like making sure everybody's on the same page earlier. You get that done, the easier it is to like, correct and do the actual work.
Thomas Miltschuh: Yeah. Yeah. Must be part of the strategy and company culture, right?
Pasha Irshad: Yep.
Thomas Miltschuh: May I ask you, what made you follow this path, found your own Company at some point of time and.
Pasha Irshad: I've been in the marketing and advertising agency world for 14, 15 years, and so I've always been consulting companies just doing it behind a, doing it behind somebody else's company. So I think a year and a half ago, my co-founder and I just wanted to do it for ourselves. I think the transition to more like technology focused HubSpot partner and revenue operations is that I, marketing is, I don't wanna say I got tired of marketing, but it's a very,
Thomas Miltschuh: Okay.
Pasha Irshad: I think when you're delivering a process to a client, I think it ends up being like, teach a man to fish. And I think that's what it boils down to. I think marketing for a lot of consultants and agencies just becomes hey. We need these leads. When are you gonna get 'em to us? You get it to us. They don't go anywhere. You've got three to six months of sales cycle, 12. It's just commoditized. Also, there's just, there's companies that do it like really well. I just don't think I ever really wanted to try to duplicate that because I've just done it so much and got exhausted. So I feel better on this path.
Thomas Miltschuh: Okay. How hard was it to get the first few clients?
Pasha Irshad: I think for us, we had a pretty. We got lucky in that we had a pretty big network being in the game for so long. So that was good. But yeah, like it's a challenge, I think the hardest thing about having your own company is you know, that you're then becoming a seller,
Right? So it's just even today, we'll have like great, you'll have a great pitch and it's just how do you follow up? How do you create a sense of urgency without being pushy? It's just, there are all these nuances that I know I'm still learning, sometimes I think I'm too passive sometimes. I'm definitely too passive when it comes to sales, not very aggressive, and I think that's just my personality. And, you just have to work on your system and your process around selling. It's probably been the hardest thing. I've learned a ton. But…
Thomas Miltschuh: Okay. I'm talking to several people who are thinking about doing their, or starting their own consulting company or maybe starting as a freelancer. Is there anything you would like to mention that definitely has to be avoided if you think about starting your own business.
Pasha Irshad: Yeah, I think the things that need to be avoided are like not having a clear path. And if you're working with somebody else, just make sure you're not aligned with your co-founder on your vision for the business. Let's say that I wanted to really scale the business and hire a bunch of people, which we could have already done, and my partner was like, I don't wanna do that. That would've been pretty much a deal breaker. I think that like having a, if you're a solopreneur, I think it's just understanding how lonely that path is, like going into it with eyes open. That's just, I think on LinkedIn and everything nowadays, everybody's oh, there's nothing wrong with working a full-time job. There's a lot of security. I would say for somebody going into business for themselves solo, it's just like having a clear understanding of how hard it is. And then I would say for somebody starting the business with somebody else, it's like making sure you have a shared vision.
Thomas Miltschuh: Yeah. Yeah. And you better find out as early as possible, right?
Pasha Irshad: Yeah, a hundred percent.
Thomas Miltschuh: As it's still a new company, do you let us know what are your goals for the remaining year and maybe next year as well?
Pasha Irshad: Yeah, I think for me we are like 20 points away or something from being a HubSpot Gold partner, which for a very small company I like, that's been a goal of ours for a while. So that, for me, that's like a short term goal. I think the other things for me are, and for my partner are just better clarifying like our services, how we deliver those services. you know, Point where we also have productized offerings, and we're able to, deliver work without. Being super hands on because I think that can bog us down. Financially. I don't know if there's any strong financial goals that we have. I think we're on a good pace for the year and we're gonna reevaluate that at the end of the year. I would say the only other thing is like starting to do, be a little bit more intentional with our marketing. Pretty much all like LinkedIn and relationships. Next year I think we're trying to create more content and just get out there more.
Thomas Miltschuh: Great. Very nice to get those insights from a Yeah. Really experienced person who has founded a new company. Just yeah. What is it, one and a half years ago? Yeah.
Pasha Irshad: Last was two. Yeah. June of 2021 at this point.
Thomas Miltschuh: Yeah. Yeah. Really exciting and interesting. So I think that brings us to the end of the episode, actually. So thank you so much Pasha for joining us today and sharing your valuable insights. You chat out to our listeners. Your support means the world 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 really helps get the word out. Also, follow us on LinkedIn at Instagram or on YouTube. We'll be back soon with another great guest. Until then, stay curious and keep listening.