[00:00:00] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Welcome to the Revenue Engine podcast. I'm your host, Rosalyn Santa Elena, and I am thrilled to bring you the most inspirational stories from revenue generators, innovators, and disruptors, revenue leaders in sales, in marketing, and of course in operations. Together, we will unpack everything that optimizes and powers the revenue engine. Are you ready? Let's get to it.
With buyers becoming increasingly knowledgeable, informed and demanding as consumers. We want to try a product we want to use. We want to engage with it and see if it makes sense for us before ever talking to someone from an organization. So having a freemium or a self service or some kind of try and by offering is becoming more popular for businesses to really engage their potential prospects where it makes sense.
But how do you know if this product led strategy and motion will work for your. And if it is, how do you know when, if ever is the right time for sales to engage with the user?
Today's podcast is sponsored by Outreach.io. Outreach is the first and only engagement and intelligence platform built by revenue innovators, for revenue innovators. Outreach allows you to commit to an accurate sales forecast, replace manual processes with real-time guidance, and unlock actionable customer intelligence that guides you and your team to win more often. Traditional tools don't work in a hybrid sales world. Find out why Outreach is the right solution at click.outreach.io/RevEngine
In this episode of the revenue engine podcast, Tim Geisenheimer or the CEO, and co-founder at Correlated and I discuss what companies are doing right. And what they're doing wrong when it comes to this PLG model. So please take a listen and as always make sure to listen to the end for a few surprises.
So excited to be here today with Tim Geisenheimer or the co-founder and CEO of Correlated. For those of you who may not be familiar with Correlated, Correlated is the first ever product led revenue platform that uses insights from the people using your product to alert your revenue team and trigger that next best action.
So welcome Tim, and thank you so much for joining.
[00:02:45] Tim Geisenheimer: Thanks so much for having me, appreciate it.
[00:02:47] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Thank you. So let's talk, let's, let's talk a little bit about your backstory, you know, your career journey. Prior to Correlated, you've had a long career. I saw in a number of different roles. You've been in sales. You've been in business development leadership, but you've also been a CEO, COO, a venture partner and a previous founder. So this isn't sort of your first. First rodeo. Can you share more maybe about your background and your career journey prior to Correlated?
[00:03:11] Tim Geisenheimer: Yeah. So you know, as you, as you noted, I've spent my career at a couple different roles, but predominantly focused on kind of the go to market side and, and sort of sales and partnerships and.
Got my start, my career in wasn't called SDRs back then, or a CEO role, but basically an SDR role. And so I've been around long enough to predate the SDR. And I was in a company called Siena, which is actually a media and advertising company. So I was selling. Digital advertising on their other websites.
So doing a lot of cold calling and cold outreach and kind of worked my way up there to eventually kind of run the largest territory and how I always felt sort of drawn by entrepreneurship though. And when a friend of mine left to join a small startup and asked me to help him run a new team there, a new division within that startup.
And I kind of jumped at the chance. And then I kind of went and did that built up a team of sort of BDRs SDRs there again, not really called that at the time. And we decided my friends and I actually just start a company. And this was an advertising and technology company called tap commerce.
We raised a few rounds of venture and eventually we were acquired by Twitter and I ended up running a, sort of a larger larger sales team. Well, while there a Twitter and always again, still kind of bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. And so I ended up leaving Twitter to attempt to start a sales.
Company, because throughout my entire career of running sort of sales teams of being a salesperson was always at the forefront of rev ops sales ops, and that side of the sort of sales part of the equation. And I always was fascinated by that the ops side. That that company actually didn't end up getting off the ground really.
And I joined a company called timescale as head of sales and that's actually where I figured out kind of the problem here that we're trying to solve at Correlated. And so obviously happy to dive into that in a moment. But yeah, following timescale that up, doing a little bit on the venture side with some former colleagues and, and then ended up founding.
[00:05:07] Rosalyn Santa Elena: That's awesome. That's awesome. You know, sometimes, you know, you touched on it a little bit, but I think, you know, often when founders start a company, you know, stems from, you know, personal or professional experience or a challenge, or maybe it's a problem, right. So when you, and your co-founders decided to launch the company, you know, was there that kind of aha moment or maybe a specific problem that you faced that led to the
[00:05:29] Tim Geisenheimer: Absolutely, so, you know, I've had this background and as I just said in kind of sales and leadership, and I've always been kind of the. VP sales who likes ops you know, not all of us on the sales side are, are, are fans of getting our hands dirty on the upside, but I was always that person often in a startup, you know, as you know, first sales leader first sales person sometimes and running a team.
Standing up, Salesforce, myself, like doing a lot of the kind of early admin stuff, but I, I could tell from your expression and you know, you're like a little horrified to hear that, you know, I often hit it off to me.
[00:06:00] Rosalyn Santa Elena: I love that. I actually love that because when you talk about officer I'm like, oh, you're talking my language.
It's like anyone to dive into that too.
[00:06:12] Tim Geisenheimer: Just very ops centric. And so when I got to timescale, you know, this is wherever they experienced a problem that we're trying to solve it at correlate. It was kind of an ops type of problem, basically. Timescale is this open source database company. And I think you have a little bit of background open source databases as well.
So you might know this problem a bit. We basically had a ton of free open source users. We had no idea, you know, which companies are a part of. We didn't really know how they were using our product as well. And I needed to know on the go to market side, which of these people were hitting with surety in terms of product usage of the database.
And that was how I was going to really do a lot of my targeting and filtering for the good of ArkanSAAS. Because talking to people when they were too early in using the product, actually it wasn't productive at all. It didn't make sense for sales to have conversations at that point, especially when it was a free open source product.
And so we had to pull in product research data at the Salesforce. Kind of really painfully and manually to then use for filtering and targeting for on the sales side. And my co-founder who I worked with there. And I are now here at Correlated. She was the first product manager, really. She helped me do this.
So we kind of like, why is this so hard to do? And this is such a pain, but we were closing the initial deals based on. You know, using this data, this enriched kind of information about a product usage within the database. And so the light bulb kind of went off at that point. Like you can't, you know, it shouldn't be this hard for companies that have this sort of product led or free go to market motion to help their sales teams understand who's using the product.
And when they hit certain inflection points or signals indicate sales should, should be in touch with them. So that was kind of the impetus for the idea and why we started.
[00:07:46] Rosalyn Santa Elena: I love that. I love that, you know, I think everyone is talking about product led, right? PLG has just become such a, such a common term.
It's almost feels a little buzzwordy, you know, a little bit. But I guess what does, you know, what does product led mean to you?
[00:08:00] Tim Geisenheimer: Yeah, I think it's definitely gotten a lot of attention on it now and, you know, getting to the point where it can be meaningless, but I think that there has a really specific meaning.
And I think when people think of. Yeah, based on the definition, I believe it has. It starts to make sense. So basically if you have a SAAS company, a software company that offers a product that anyone can start using without any friction whatsoever, an individual user can just start using it. That's what it really means to be product led.
You can just start using a self-service product for that, that have any friction whatsoever. And so I think where the complexity starts to get layered in is once you have a bit more, a. Sort of the advanced operation where not only do you have that self-serve product where maybe someone can start using it for free, or they can put a credit card in and start paying for it.
I think things like Zoom or Slack or Calendly are sort of examples there, but then you also start to have an enterprise product. You start to have. Features that are more geared towards, you know, many different users, hundreds, or users are you know, more security focused approach because enterprises, the security features, then you have a sales team that might need to, you know, sell that product and have a bit more of a structured sales process around it.
The competition of that self-serve piece. And then the sort of more traditional sales piece is where things start to get interesting. Then you start to need to have. Different types of operations to and processes to help make it know more effective and potentially tools like Correlated to help you do a better job there.
[00:09:30] Rosalyn Santa Elena: So, so you said operations and processes in the same statement, and we have so much to talk about. I think we will have, we will have so much to talk about. So what are, what are the major differences from your perspective between being product led right versus being sales?
[00:09:47] Tim Geisenheimer: Yeah, I think the biggest difference in sort of product line versus sales load is that you know, sales line, which is how most enterprise software companies have existed for most of the history of enterprise software basically means, you know, you have a product.
You want to sell it to somebody who, if someone wants to use it they have to talk to somebody first. They have to maybe go through some sort of vetting process. They fill out a website form that says, Hey, I want to get a demo. They then, you know, have that for, you know, sent from marketing. To the right salesperson, routed to a salesperson saying, oh, we got a demo request that salesperson might ask questions.
Maybe there's a BDR SDR that, that asks those questions first before Salesforce is even looped in the first place, then they get the demo and and potentially there's more process that goes into place before they're even allowed to use the product often with a enterprise software, you have to pay before you're even allowed to use the product.
And so that's like the traditional sales lab. Approach that enterprise software has seen for decades. I think we're product led has kind of put things on its head a little bit is allowing people just to start using a product for free or with a credit card with no, no need to talk to any human don't need to go through any kind of hoops to get into the product.
You can just start using it immediately. An open source is a good example of that. You know, you can just download a free package and as developers are using the thing, but then there's countless other examples. Some of which I gave before, like Calendly for, for meeting bookings or zoom for, for doing meeting video meetings or you know, slack for communication.
So all those are examples of things you can just download and start using without going through that kind of more traditional sales process. So those are kind of the core differences I see between the in product live versus.
[00:11:28] Rosalyn Santa Elena: That's great. Thank you. Thank you. So in the early days of the company maybe when you were in stealth mode or maybe when you were just starting out, right, you probably did a ton of research on how companies can be successful, right.
With a true product led strategy in motion. So when it comes to the strategy in motion, like what are you seeing companies doing wrong in their approach?
[00:11:50] Tim Geisenheimer: I mean, I think what often happens is many companies who. You know, didn't start with a product line motion from day one, we'll say, Hey, we want to offer maybe like some sort of free version.
And they'll. Offer something for free, but the product experience is it really designed for end user to get a ton of value upfront. It's really just designed as kind of a lead engine. And so, you know, that could be effective to a point. But it's often going to lead to maybe a disappointment and then lead to maybe some friction between that.
Free product usage is limited. And like the sales process of you that you'd had in place before, which was probably working to some extent of, you know, doing that discovery, doing that qualification, you know, going through a kind of rigorous set of needs requirements before you get someone into the product in the first place.
So I see a lot of companies seeing kind of that tension there. I think there's another kind of by-product that we often see for companies that aren't product led from day one. They'll immediately have salespeople kind of talking to, you know, a seltzer as if it's a lead when it's not really a lead, it's not a lead in the sense of, you know, an MQL or, you know, a sign up saying, Hey, I want a demo.
You know, those kind of more high, intense type of reads it. This is someone who is coming in and they're trying to see if this product is interesting to them. If they can get some valuable. And there, the intent there was to use the product, not necessarily talk to sales. And so I think those are some of the key pitfalls that we often see as companies embark on this journey.
And maybe you're trying to layer in a self-serve product or a product led approach to a preexisting.
[00:13:30] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I'm I was smiling a bit because I've had that experience in companies that I've worked for, where we start to go, it was kind of the self-serve motion and marketing wants to jump in.
Sales wants to jump in and I kind of give the analogy of farm, right. Where it's it's you're just laying out the seeds and you're just going to kind of let them sit there and see what sprouts up. Right. You're going to nurture that I'm going to water them, but going to leave them alone for the most part, right.
Until they're sort of at a certain point. Yeah. That's how I kind of think about it in a sense you'll have to use that, but I think it's, you know, as soon as it gets to sort of a certain point, then it's right for somebody to go in and, you know, give a little bit more water, give it some fertilizer and then maybe pick it right.
And start to talk to it. But it's, I think it's really hard for companies who are in that traditional sales led motion to not want to jump in and start to engage. Right. So it's almost like just let this, you know, put the seats out and let it. Lay and don't, you know, don't bother it until it gets to a certain point.
So that's great. I love that. I guess one of the same lines, what are some of the things that you see companies doing, right? Or maybe, do you have any tips or advice for companies who, you know, who have this?
[00:14:40] Tim Geisenheimer: Absolutely. I mean, I think a lot of the ways that we're helping companies and seeing companies and adopt Correlated, you know, basically are, you know, comprised some best practices that anyone can.
With, or without us, I think we can help you kind of pour gas on some of these, but you can adapt some of these things without, without our product. So I think one of the big things that we're seeing great companies in this space do effectively is develop what's called a PQL or PQA model or a mix of both.
So that would stand for product qualified leads or product qualified accounts. And so essentially what that entails is kind of like that farming. That you just mentioned, you know, what are some of the characteristics that you can look for in your user base that indicates that they're ready for maybe some engagement.
From a human being and that doesn't necessarily get back to in a second. It doesn't actually have to be sales. And so that could be things like I described at timescale. Like, you know, you've hit a certain level of maturity with with the product and for us, that was a metric on data in the database.
Did you get to a certain amount of data in the database? Okay. Now, And you actually have like probably a real, you know, production database going, there's an application maybe being built on top of this thing and maybe a sales person or a solutions engineer can contact you and say, Hey, it looks like you're, you know, using this, using this database, can we help you know, help you be more effective with our products?
So that's kind of the second piece. It doesn't necessarily have to be sales. That's using this product. Kind of concept. It can be there's different titles we've seen or types of roles sales assist. So someone that's like a bit more technical or a bit more product focused can come in and try and help provide more resources and get people more successful.
It can be customer success or, or solutions engineering. So different roles can, can use it as well. So there's kind of two techniques bundled together, but first would be this product qualified lead concept of. Figuring out what product usage kind of signals indicate that someone might be more ready to have a conversation after they've gotten the value of it with the product.
And the second would be what are some of the operational processes? Things you could do that, that are just strictly sending it to sales. There may be having different teams that are having a different kind of skill sets. Talking to those, those folks to, to qualify them maybe in a more of a sales kind of conversation.
[00:16:54] Rosalyn Santa Elena: I love that. That's great advice. You know, I think as buyers, you know, and consumers, you know, we become smarter, we're more informed. We're also a lot more demanding, right? We want to try a product, we want to use it. We want to engage with it. And then we may decide to purchase or maybe purchase more. Right.
We do this often times through this kind of freemium offering, I try and buy, you know, some kind of self-serve type of offering. But I think that, you know, as you touched on a little bit, you know, the key is really knowing when right. And. To engage from a go-to-market perspective. So what are some of your thoughts on this shift in the way I guess people are
[00:17:33] Tim Geisenheimer: and I think it's for the best companies with his model, it can be really powerful because a lot of what these companies are doing is basically offering a very frictionless way to spend more. So that could be in terms of having, you know, people pay with a credit card and it's just, you know, you add a seat without any friction at the top of the sales are just like click invite and then it's billed to you. It could be. You know, you're charging on a usage basis.
So even if that's through an invoice or on a credit card, if you hit a certain threshold of contacts in your database is HubSpot's pricing model. You know, all of a sudden you're spending more with HubSpot, you know, surprise your, you know, your bill is going up. And so I think there's a lot of power for companies that have those kinds of pricing models and have that frictionless way to spend more.
And it's like a really beneficial. Model from, from a sort of cost efficiency and sales and marketing efficiency standpoint, you don't necessarily need people on your team to be doing that. And I think it maps exactly to what you said, which is buyer preferences. You know, you may just want to buy more contacts or add more seats without having to talk to anybody and being able to do that.
Frictionlessly is very pro the buyer is pro. Yeah, the person on the other side, who's trying to make that decision. If they could just decide, they want to do more without having to go through a sales process, then, then that's great. So I think it helps both the company, the vet, the vendor, as well as the buyer.
And it's really a powerful thing for some of these SAAS companies in terms of power in the.
[00:19:01] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. Yeah. I love that. I love that. So, so how does this Correlated, help organizations, right. In terms of like, not only identifying the right time, but help to enable those sort of the right workflows. Right. Cause there's all that next steps that have to happen right. Once you've identified that time. And how do you like to help them identify that, you know, based on obviously data and insights.
[00:19:20] Tim Geisenheimer: There are a couple of problems that we're helping to solve and we kind of package it together. First is that database, which you mentioned. So what we do is kind to sit in between your customer data and that's often residing in places like your CRM.
So Salesforce or HubSpot, it could also be residing in places like like a CDP, so like segment. So customer data platform, and then the third big category, we're seeing a huge amount of adoption and we're we're integrated with is data warehouses. So that would be snowflake, Redshift, or big query. And so what our platform does is allows you to take kind of those three different sorts.
And then bring them together in one place within Correlated so that you can have sort of a full view of your customer, whether it's product usage, billing, what sales is doing, what marketing's doing, support tickets, going to anything we're able to kind of ingest that into our. And then the sort of other side of the equation is what kind of playbooks do you want to run as one of these product companies?
How do you do proper engagement? When someone has, has kind of is ready to talk to sales and how do you set those rules? And so we help you to easily kind of build those playbooks where it's, you know, I only want my sales team to talk to somebody when they've hit a certain level of kind of usage within the product.
And then they also have. Maybe our ICP criteria, they're there, you know have over 250 employees and their title is VP or above or whatever it might be. So we help you kind of mix and match those different criteria about your customer to set those rules now for the sales time set sales side. And then lastly, we're kind of plugging into a lot of the top tools that their go to market teams use tools like outreach or SalesLoft tools like Salesforce.
Slack, HubSpot, et cetera. And we all you to do actually dynamic personalization in a tool like outreach, for example. So you can say, Hey, this person just came in. They started to use the product. They invited five users in yesterday and you can connect that to an outreach sequence. Hi, you know, variable first name I saw you invited five users in which is a dynamic variable that we've put in.
So it really allows you to do personalization at scale and in a way that that's really not been possible today. I really run these playbooks in a way to engage much more relevantly to the customers. So that's how we help today. And that result is sort of driving more pipeline and actually helping to get those conversions from the self-serve funnel into the sale.
[00:21:42] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. I think a lot of companies struggle to. Bring all of that data together. Right. Which is probably the problem that you, you identified initially was just, I mean, because the data sits in all of these different disparate systems, right. And to bring it all together, but also to not just like dump all of the data and do like a data warehouse or into some kind of BI, you know, use a BI tool, but be able to make sense of the data and then have, as you said, workflow in playbooks that follow along based upon certain criteria.
So I think that's amazing. I can see how definitely how powerful that can be for go to market teams. You know, when I think about. Well, I think about the revenue engine and then this podcast, right? I'm always hoping that others will learn how to accelerate revenue growth and help power that revenue engine.
I think we've talked a lot about different things that they could be doing, especially in this product led world. But I guess maybe from your perspective, You know, what are the top couple of things, you know, two or three things that you think, Hey, all CEOs should be thinking about now, you know, today that are going to really have the biggest impact on their revenue.
[00:22:42] Tim Geisenheimer: that's a great question. I mean, I think for you know, other CEO's, it depends a bit on sort of stage and maturity of the business. So, you know, if they're a CEO kind of in my seat know seed to series a early stage company. Yeah. The biggest thing is where are my distribution channels? What, where am I getting.
Kind of new business today. How can I, you know, productively and profitably drive revenue, what are those channels look like? And you know, w where can I invest the most and, and driving more from those channels. I, it's really more about new, new business and figuring out kind of the right right playbooks and right approach is there.
And so now I've done this a few times through my career, and it's often, especially at the earliest. A lot of iteration and experimentation to figure those out. And then once you kind of find something that's working, it's just really doubling down, tripling down, quadrupling down on on that strategy until, you know, that maybe stops working just productively and you're easy to find kind of other things.
And so, you know, I think. Provide some tangible examples for B2B, oftentimes it's outbound themselves and doing, you know, an account-based model. Like we know we can really appeal to a certain kind of a ideal customer. So we're going to go and kind of knock down those. And then, you know, it's finding the top logos, ideally knocking down some like top ones and categories that go into every other company in that category and saying, Hey, we're working with.
Should we work with you now? So I think those are some of the key things for later stage. You know, I think it's a bit more of retention and expansion within sort of existing cohorts. And how can you think through both expansion within your core product, but that as, especially as you get a much later stage, what are multiple products we can sell?
Are there ways we can span beyond a single product to a multi-product portfolio? And go back to our existing customer base and get them to buy more. And then obviously new customers coming on, sell them a bigger bundle from the get-go ideally, and a lot of our customers right now fit into a bit of that later stage bucket.
And they're thinking about cross sell. They're thinking about multiproduct and we're, you know, in some ways helping them execute on those strategies. So those are kind of a couple of the tips I would say. That makes sense to me, based on different stages.
[00:24:54] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah, I love that. Thank you for sharing that. That's super helpful.
What about advice for. Other CEOs and founders like it. Do you have maybe one piece of advice, kind of that one thing that you think about makes all the difference when you start your own business?
[00:25:09] Tim Geisenheimer: Yeah. The thing that sort of, and I'm biased, because this is how I kind of choose to operate. What's been successful for me and my background, but like, I think a lot of founders are more technical.
Because they're, you know, if you're building a software business, you, you have to got to build and that makes total sense. But what I've seen often trip people up. There are maybe afraid to, to go out and talk to customers. They're afraid to show something that they're building before. Maybe it's ready or, you know, it's not necessarily good enough yet.
So we're going to spend six months, nine months kind of building and then we'll show people. I think there's, it's a real trap because you can waste a lot of time based on what. Funding, you know burn rate. You have to build a vacuum without getting valuable feedback from potential customers on whether or not you're building the right track.
And so my advice would be always, even if you're very embarrassed about the, your product, you should always be you know, showing people what it looks like and what you're building, and even, you know, mock ups and wire frames and pitch deck, you know, before it's even ready to try and understand, does this fit with.
Yeah, people will buy what they want. Is it solving the problems that I think it's solving? So I think oftentimes that's the way that people don't do too late or don't do enough of and that I would recommend you do.
[00:26:25] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. Yeah. I love that. I think that's so important because you could be building something that.
Really that interested in, or isn't going to use, I love that kind of bringing your potential buyers along right. For the entire journey. And those can be your early adopters. They can end up being your first customers, right. Beta customers and such. That's great. I love that. So thank you so much for joining me today, Tim, but you know, as we wrap up and before I let you go, I always ask all my guests two things.
What is the one thing about you that others would be surprised to learn? And two, what is the one thing that you, you want everyone to know about?
[00:27:00] Tim Geisenheimer: I think, you know, in the post pandemic world where we're all on Zoom, you know, most people who I talked to. Most people I talked to on zoom would be surprised to learn that I'm six foot four, so I'm actually pretty tall.
So I don't show up as very total on the zoom box, but I see me in person like, whoa, you're you're you know, you're, you're a good deal larger than than I expected. And I think the other thing that, you know, I want people to know about. I might be made fun of by my, my wife for saying this, but I am a very proud data, new Yorker.
And so a lot of people who live in New York come from other places, which is fine. That's great. But I grew up, I grew up here. I love all of New York, like a made fun of by everyone for being such a that's now everyone, everyone knows that. And I can be accused of being a homeroom some more for.
[00:27:51] Rosalyn Santa Elena: I love that there is definitely a pride in being from New York.
I mean, I'm from the bay area and I'm still in the bay area. Right. So there's a, there's sort of that
[00:28:02] Tim Geisenheimer: I know a lot of people from the band and there's a ton of bay area pride too. It's it seems very similar in some ways to the New York.
[00:28:10] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah, I was just going to say, I think it's very similar folks who kind of come from those areas are very proud of where they're at, where they come from in the area.
So, well, thank you so much for sharing that. Thank you so much, Tim, for being a guest on the podcast. Super helpful. I can't wait to kind of go back and listen to some of the things that you've talked about. Cause I think there's definitely a lot of great insights there and a lot of great expertise that, you know, our listeners will be able to learn from.
[00:28:32] Tim Geisenheimer: Rosalyn, thank you so much for having me on, appreciate it.
This episode was digitally transcribed.