47 Insights / Podcast  / Ep. 26: Breaking Down Operational Silos with Jason Reichl of Go Nimbly
Jason Reichl, Go Nimbly

Ep. 26: Breaking Down Operational Silos with Jason Reichl of Go Nimbly

SaaS Marketing Insights Episode 26: Jason Reichl, Go Nimbly

Jason Reichl, Co-Founder and CEO of subscription based revenue operations consultancy Go Nimbly is on a mission to break down the operational silos that still exist between Sales, Marketing and Customer Success, and explains how these functions can be effectively outsourced.

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Episode 26 Transcript

Paul: On today’s show I have an interview with Jason Reichl, CEO of Go Nimbly, hope you enjoy it.

Okay, i’m here with Jason Reichl, CEO at Go Nimbly. And, Jason, can you explain to anyone who doesn’t know yet? Just what Go Nimbly is? Because you’re a new kind of operation?

Jason: That’s correct. So we are the world’s first, as far as I know, but the world’s first revenue operation consultancy?

Paul: Can I stop you there, what does that mean?

Jason: It means that we use a very specific, generalist approached to Operations, centered around a couple of skills, which we can get into later. But mostly it means breaking down silos in organisations. So we really focus on either acting as or transforming organisations into being a new kind of model, a revenue operations. So I like to liken it to going from traditional development to agile development or going from manufacturing to lean manufacturing. So revenue operations is this idea of a centralised operations team that doesn’t report to say the head of sales or marketing, but directly the COO or CRO or CEO, and they’re focused on one thing, which is driving revenue for the company.

Paul: Okay, so it’s mostly sales, marketing?

Jason: Yeah, so if you think about your standard, go to market team being sales, marketing, customer success, maybe some people consider finance, part of that is to interact with the customer, that front end thing, that front end team, which we call the go to market team is your front end UI, the customer, right? The revenue operations team is the supporting function that supports that team holistically. So instead of having sales operations, marketing operation and customer success operations, you would just have revenue operations, and that team would take care of all of the operations for the business.

Paul: And you’re just doing this just for SaaS businesses?

Jason: Just for SaaS and PaaS companies. Because of the dynamic nature of SaaS and PaaS businesses, their operations need to be very flexible and moving, basically, for each milestone that they might go through in their their company’s trajectory. And because of that revenue operations makes the most sense. Any organisation should adopt it. I think, you know, 15 years from now, you’ll be seeing Coca Cola going through a transformation revenue operations. But it’s just we’re in a marketplace. And we get to experience this and change companies rapidly. And so we focused on that niche at Go Nimbly,

Paul: So we’re based here or we’re in your offices here in San Francisco. Correct. So I guess you working with a lot of companies in the valley, do you want to tell us some of the names, people we’re working with.

Jason: Sure, so we have offices in New York and here in San Francisco. And we’re primarily working with large enterprise SaaS companies right now. So Zendesk, Twilio, PagerDuty, those kinds of organisations, we focus primarily on stage C to IPO companies, really, when operations become a key value differentiator for your organisation. We want to be the default consultancy for all SaaS companies. But just because of the structure of it right now, we’re kind of focused on on that area right now.

Paul: So you must see, working with a range of SaaS businesses a whole bunch of different challenges. You know, they’re in different vertical sectors and industries. But you must see these repeated patterns of challenges. So how do you guys step in and get to understand a market that one of your clients is in and help to solve the challenges for them?

Jason: Yeah, I mean, I think the main thing to understand is a lot of the companies that we work with are after the same milestones from a business perspective, right. And we have always been pretty data driven here at Go Nimbly, so we know if you’re going from stage B to stage C, you’re probably going to scale your marketing team. And because you’re going to scale your marketing team, you’re going to need to these operational work streams, we don’t use the term projects, because we don’t think of it as a single thing. It’s an ongoing thing. Go nimble is actually a subscription based consultancy. So very much like the SaaS model they pay monthly.

Paul: So you match your model…

Jason: With the customers, right. Yeah, exactly. So that we understand all the pains they feel for that model, but also all the advantages that they have as well. And so we’ll help them move from one major milestone to another, say scaling their marketing team and setting up all the infrastructure, process tools, enablement and insights necessary to really scale your marketing, for example, in that b2c space that you might be in. If you’re going to IPO, it’s really about helping them become Sox compliant, and other things like that. So as far as where we map, we map these projects to where they are as an organisation.

To understand their specific business, we actually deploy a team of revenue operations consultants to them, and they actually act as if they operate that company. So we manage right now about 216 million dollars a month of reoccurring revenue for our customers. So that makes us… we’re managing around $2 billion. It makes us the largest operator of SaaS business in the valley, if not the world. So for us, it’s really about understanding how these organisations need to grow where they need to invest. You know, there’s a lot of smart people here, obviously. But I think the one of the key things that we realised is, even if you get a world class operator in and say that the CEO or the you know, they’re your operations person, the chances that they’ve seen sales, territory management, at where you are, as an organisation is probably, they probably touched it about four years ago, right.

We are doing that work stream constantly for, you know, last 18 months, we’ve seen pretty much every word stream four to five times. And so we have the ability to be very up to date, whereas the even if you hire someone who’s very, very operationally sound, there’s going to be that lag time, right and in the environment that we exist in with SaaS companies. That lag time can cost you a lot of competitive advantage, right. And I think what we’re always trying to do is make sure that we are maximising the potential spend LTV of every single prospect that our customer converts. So you know, one of the things that we’ve noticed is when you’re a traditional operations company just siloed into these individual silos, maybe you are, you know, you have your KPIs, if you’re marketing Ops, you’re trying to increase open rates or whatever you’re trying to do. Sales, you’re trying to increase pipeline. All that’s fine. But what ends up happening is that operation team as a whole only has about 10% impact to the revenue of the of the customer. So that kind of means a standard operations team, the way that we look at a standard operations team is if they stopped hireing sales and marketing people and operators just did their job. If you’re a $1 million company, one year later, you would gain 10%, right?

Because you’re gotten more efficiencies down, you scaled your customers, you’ve cross sell properly done all these operational things with revenue operations, because that’s one team and all they care about is a revenue impact, you can see about 36% increase. And so that’s the Delta, what we tell people that delta between 10% and 36%, is because you’ve taken your eye off the personalization of the customer, because you have your teams operate in silos, and they fill the gaps, so they don’t spend as much. So that’s kind of what we’re trying to eliminate. We’re trying to eliminate the gaps customers feel through operations. So I’m trying to turn operations into a revenue source instead of a cost reduction centre or worse, you know, viewed as a cost centre to an organisation.

Paul: Absolutely. So you’re one of two Co founders is that right?

Jason: Yes, There’s two Co founders and three partners. So there’s five of us on the leadership board.

Paul: So how did you get started in the world of SaaS? And you mentioned earlier that you started out in marketing, right?

Jason: Yes, I started out in marketing. And very quickly, just kind of fell in love with tech. And I was working at a company called Rackspace based in San Antonio. And while I was working there, I worked on the first redundant server cluster, which was would become what Salesforce is built upon, which would become basically the cloud, right. And I was like, this is really interesting, I’m very interested in it. And I ended up working as a consultant at a SI of Salesforce’s for about 10 years and running very large delivery teams, but always really focused on the idea of, you know, marketing, sales, buyer experience. And, you know, I came out to Silicon Valley started an arm of that business out here and got seduced by my love of marketing and product, I ended up becoming a product manager, became a VP of product, at a couple of Salesforce back companies.

And then while I was there, I was like, man, I really love doing this product stuff. But I kept having this nagging feeling that, you know, the companies that I worked for had great products, but they didn’t have great businesses. And I was like, man, I would hate to see this product not exist in the marketplace. Because we don’t know how to operate. We don’t know how to scale our sales team, we don’t know how to market this properly. And so I was like, I think there is a little bit of a need for me to use my skills and understand how to operate these businesses at scale, and kind of show these organisations how to operate their business, because I want them focused on building amazing product. If you go to SaaSter, or any of these kind of events, they’ll often say, like, hey, the fact that you’re in this room probably means you have an amazing product, but how you operate your business is actually going to be the difference between, you know, the success you want and the success you could have.

I think that’s a really important message. And you know, and there’s a lot of things changing in Silicon Valley right now, you know, I think when I started 10 years ago, in this in a space, you know, the average age of a startup founder was, you know, 26 or 27. And now it’s 33-34. And I think what’s happening is, uh, it’s not their first go around, maybe they’ve had something that failed, or maybe they just know they could do better. And so they’re more open to these ideas of operating more successfully than they ever were before.

Paul: Yeah, I think everybody sort of knows what the ground rules are now, you know, SaaS is a relatively young industry, isn’t it, you know, as a delivery mechanism. 20 years for the software. But yeah, subscriptions go way back. And, and so we’re all standing on the shoulders of giants, and learning.

Jason: And everybody wants to be the next Salesforce. You know, and I think that the pressure is so much higher than it’s ever been for these organisations.

Paul: Yeah. Yeah. Especially with investors.

Jason: Yes, absolutely.

Paul: Everyone wants a return and they want it yesterday.

Jason: Yeah. And, you know, we work with a couple of VC firms, and we see even they’re taking, spending the same amount of money but willing to, you know, diversify it across more companies. So that means you’re not going to get as much so you don’t, as a SaaS company, you don’t have as much ability to waste. You don’t have much ability to just rely on growth numbers to really push you forward. Right, you need to show that you can operate this business.

Paul: Yeah, it’s got to be efficient. So how long has Go Nimbly been operating?

Jason: Yeah, so we’ve been operating for five years. But in this model for the last three. We’ve seen since we’ve adopted this model, 100%, year over year growth, this is the first year that we actually marketing the company, it’s been all referral based up until that point.

Paul: All word of mouth.

Jason: Yeah. And I think there’s a better way to do this. And so we’re starting to market the company. And we expect to double again next year, and hopefully continue to do that for the next couple of years.

Paul: So what do you see? You know… you’re one of the players in this market. How do you see what you’re doing changing the way that SaaS businesses operate going forward? Being a lot leaner, meaner, outsourcing robots. Do you see any other big changes?

Jason: Well, I think, in general, this is my bold statement, there’s gonna be people who are obviously watching this or listening to it are going to go, this will never happen. But I think that it’s a very real possibility that 25 years from now, companies will not think twice about BPO’ing out their entire operations, everything to a company like Go Nimbly. Who want essentially, to know that it’s being run well, and know that all this kind of stuff is being implemented, and it’s at the right place in time to scale it. And so my big bet is that you’re going to see a lot more BPO offerings emerge in the marketplace, a lot more of like core competencies, you see this already in accounting, and you see, you know, Atrium, you know, in the law, firm tech space, you see a lot of these organisations that are really service companies.

So if I really made a bet, I’m going to think that… we’re going to see a big investment and a big wave in technology enabled service companies, who, you know, you see it with Uber and all these other companies are for the consumer side, usually the consumer side, is, is an indicator of what’s going to happen on the B2B side, right? And so if I can provide the same kind of experience at much cheaper and much higher scale, I think that a lot more organisations will really take seriously BPO’ing or using this service company to run major parts of their business.

Paul: Yeah, so yeah, it’s just all about efficiency, and they can see there’s an opportunity to to make it more efficient.

Jason: It’s about efficiency. But I think really, what it’s about is allowing them to focus on the core of what they’re good at, right? I’ve not met a CEO at a SaaS company that wakes up every day passionate about the operations of their systems processes, you know, and so when you look at that side, you want the people who are passionate about that to be doing that work, right. And it’s not something where… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone in marketing as soon as they’re able, leave marketing and go work on the product. Right. And that’s because in those organisations, it’s not really as sexy to be part of the operating mechanics of it. And I think that you need those people who do believe and who find that job to be sexy, right. And, you know, everyone at Go Nimbly at their heart are an analytical nerd, who, you know, really wants to make these companies operate better, because we feel like our job is to make the workflow of our customers more enjoyable, right? It’s more enjoyable to have to work be less hard, less cumbersome, and get more return out of it. Everyone’s enjoying themselves a little bit more.

Paul: Yeah, they constraint on the stuff that they’re good at. You deliver the stuff you need to do for them. And the end result it’s more efficient but everyone’s happier as well.

Jason: Yes. Happiness is, is very important here in Silicon Valley.

Paul: Cool. So how do you see that interface? You know, the role changing? Because I know you guys, you got a chief revenue officer here, right?

Jason: Correct.

Paul: How do you see, you know, this BPO movement, changing the way that the organisations and the service interface?

Jason: Well, the first thing that I think that we have to sort of acknowledge is, you know, yes, subscription model, yes, SaaS companies, all that’s relatively new in the marketplace. But all of our businesses are still built on this very traditional idea of siloing the organisation into these very strict departments, right. Lets just do marketing and sales as an example, so we don’t name everything. You have marketing and sales. And, if you do a Google search, the first thing you’ll see is misalignment come up and you know the word hand off, which I don’t really believe in and all of these kind of things…

Paul: Artificial barriers.

Jason: Artificial barriers, but your customer doesn’t want any of that.

Paul: They don’t understand it, they don’t care.

Jason: In the B2C space, customers demand all this level of personalization, right? In the B2B space, we act like they have to, you know, they have to be exposed to how the sausage is made all the time. And I think what’s really interesting about the silos is, you know, we have the ability in the tech space to break those down through technology and process training, actually using data. And yet we don’t and so I think the big question is, why are we so… it’s probably natural for us to want to silo, there’s a lot of, you know… if you go back in history and kind of look at the story of the silo syndrome and where it comes from, it’s pretty natural for us to want to do these things, because we want to be told we’re good, and we have to rely on a bunch of other people, it’s actually very difficult to get that same result. And so there’s a lot of advantages for the silo. But the the main disadvantage is that you can’t grow your organisation and you can’t become, you know, you can’t steer it in the way that you want to. There’s too many individual boats, right, it’s really hard to push it towards towards this goal.

Paul: It’s like a flotilla of ships.

Jason: Exactly right. And so ultimately, what we’re trying to accomplish is sort of narrow that down to one Northstar that everyone can drive on, which is what we think is should be revenue, right? Everything around the organisation is around that and everything becomes, from metrics to indicators, right? So all the marketing metrics and stuff that we used to care about the outcome indicators are we pointed in the right direction were we are still moving forward, but the entire organisation can move towards this one thing, once you have that piece where the organisation can move towards one thing, it’s much easier to add on things like Go Nimbly, or, you know, other services, because it’s easy to point those in a direction, it’s even easier to hire people to even easier to use other services, it’s easier to, you know, bring contractors on, it’s just, it’s much more fluid, and you can actually move much faster.

I find that a lot of organisations, you know, take a very specific, tangible, tactical thing. They want to trust their data, but they know that their data is bad. So they can’t trust their reports, right. And you just look at that and you go, Okay, so you can deploy that across the board. Lots of companies want to work with Go Nimbly, but they feel like they couldn’t take advantage of our holistic offering, because they’re so solid, because they’re so broken right now. Right? And when do we make that transition to Okay, we are going to move forward. And we are going to point ourselves in this direction and kind of align all the ships, all the boats, right?

So I think that, you know, one key thing that’s happening in the industry is things like CRO coming up, because that was the original question, right. And with the CRO coming up, what we’re actually saying is, we’re actually going to put someone who is a generalist, you know, Chief revenue officer is going to be kind of in charge of sales and marketing, they’re going to be in charge of revenue as a product, they’re gonna be in charge, ultimately, hopefully, over the operations piece of that. And they’re going to manage this in a more generalised fashion. When you do that, then what you have to do is pick things that are in common between all those silos, right? And as soon as you do that, you start getting cross functionality built into your silos, which then change your entire organisation, alignment happens, right?

The reason the alignment doesn’t happen is because you’re not aligned. And I think people think like, Oh, we are aligned, because we all want X product to be the best product in the world. And that’s really not enough from a day to day perspective, it’s hard to understand how jobs tied to that. So I kind of see these sort of roles that are generalists getting more status, right, and people looking for them. And you know, a lot of times, people have this very clear idea of a CRO. And what they’ll end up doing is just promoting their best sales person to CRO, and they actually won’t know how to operate. They actually won’t know anything about marketing. And then the marketing team kind of is still over here. Right?

So there’s still a little bit of posturing right now, because people don’t know, I read the state of revenue operations, which is a guide they released, and it said that 46% of SaaS companies are trying to make transition to revenue operations as a framework. But of those 46%, 76% of them were failing, because they didn’t know how to do it. Right. And so, you know, we’re in a very dangerous place where people are hearing, oh, there’s a better way to operate. But there’s not enough people who know how to operate that way to actually guide people the right way. Right. And so all these companies are going to try this and they’re going to fail. And, you know, I don’t want… my fear as Go Nimbly is, I don’t want revenue operations, which is really a transformational operating framework to be tied to people who don’t know how to do it. Because there’s not enough information out there right now.

So that’s why I’m doing podcasts like this, so that we can talk about it so that people start to understand, oh, there are companies that know the how of this, not that there’s a transformational need. Not that we’re trying to break down silos, which is… I’ve never met someone who says, No, it’s not true. But really, there is a how, and there is a practical way of doing it. And so I think what I’m trying to do with Go Nimbly is paint that picture of how companies do it because I honestly don’t care if you use Go Nimbly. I think of us as a doctor, if the problem is severe enough, you’re going to come to us, we know how to fix it. We know how to build long term partnerships with you. But ultimately, all businesses from day one, when you’re in a Wework you should be using this framework from day one on how you can operate your company, it will save you so much money, it will save you… if you’re a founder, it will save you giving away parts of your company that you don’t have to give away.

Paul: Yeah that’s worth alot.

Jason: Yeah, so I think that’s what’s changing. I see a lot of people eager jump on I see the CRO title being one of those things that someone’s eager to jump on to, because it’s easy to create a title and put a job posting out there in the world. But there’s still a lot of lack of meaning right now and definition. And so I think that we will see in the next 12 to 13 months… maybe 18 months. I think what we’ll start to see is just more definition coming into the how. What is actually the job of a CRO? What is actually the function of revenue operations team, how do they operate? Who do they report to? You know, I get all the time, do they report to marketing or they report to sales. And I’m like, well, whoever has the closest relationship to the customer, and you know, wants to make that happen. That’s who they should report to. Because ultimately, everyone should be working in service of the customer.

Paul: Absolutely, Jason that is a fantastic summary about what you guys do. I know you’re a bit jet lagged.

Jason: Yeah.

Paul: But I think you explained that very well. Thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate getting to the bottom of what revenue operations is all about.

Jason: I’m glad you were able to do it so quickly. Thank you.

Paul: I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Jason. For more info on Go Nimbly, please visit gonimbly.com. For more info about this show, and to get our links to iTunes, Google Play SoundCloud, Stitcher and YouTube, check out www.47insights.com. And if you have any SaaS marketing insights that you’d like to share on the show, please get in touch. Until next time,

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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Founder & CEO

Paul is Founder & CEO of 47 Insights. He has been advising both software and publishing subscription businesses on growth strategies since 1995.