[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.
Building top of funnel demand and predictable revenue is always top of mind for all executives, especially revenue leaders, but it's hard, right? As Steve Schmidt, the CEO and founder at TIDAL says top of funnel, if done right. Earns you a spot for the rest of the. So, how do you fill your sales funnel with the right prospects and accelerate revenue?
[00:01:00] Sponsor: 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
[00:01:38] Rosalyn Santa Elena: In this episode of the revenue engine podcast, Steve shares how you can leverage the science of high tech solutions with the art of human communication, to provide solutions to power and accelerate the revenue in.
Steve also shares how posting and sharing content on social media, specifically LinkedIn earned his team, the right to executive level conversations with accounts that quickly turned into customers. So super excited to be here today with Steve Schmidt, the CEO and founder at TIDAL. For anyone not familiar with TIDAL, TIDAL helps businesses drive more top of funnel demand, and predictable revenue with an omnichannel approach.
So we'll learn more about this as we unpack Steve's story. So welcome Steve, and thank you so much for joining me.
[00:02:31] Steven Schmidt: It's a long time coming and I reminded you of this the other day. I said it's an always an honor to get to ask to come on and speak to a show. Religiously listened to as one of your three kind of go-to podcasts. So it's, it's awesome to be here. Thank you for having me so much.
[00:02:45] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Thank you so much. I really appreciate the support also and just the feedback. So super excited to talk to. So let's start by talking a little bit about your background and about, you know, your career journey. You know, you've been in a number of different revenue, leadership roles.
You've been at companies like T-Mobile at Verizon, you've been at, at and T and more. So maybe, can you share more about your career journey, you know, kind of prior to, prior to TIDAL?
[00:03:09] Steven Schmidt: Sure. I was I'm was one of those telecom guys who, you know, telecom eventually. When I, when I first got into work in like 2001 my first job out of college was selling cell phones.
Well, if you fast forward to kind of. It was always to businesses, but I'd eventually evolved into telecom into cloud. So in the cloud infrastructure first was introduced in 2007, 2008. I was like an account manager at 18 T and we had about an, a book of about 12 million in revenue a month and our 12 million in revenue per year.
Pardon me? So I had big like international toll, free customers who did literally about. No, it was 12 million a month. Sorry. It was $144 million book of business. They did that. They did $5 million of international toll free over the phone per month. The cloud was given around. So, so really at that time, we're hearing about this for the first time, trying to understand the future economy.
Does this thing have legs or not turns out it does? It did. It was, it was, it was everything we heard it would be. And then some. I ended up really enjoying probably the most fun I had in telecom was right before I left to go to outreach with Matt Millen, who now is over at Reggie Matt's. Matt's one of my best mentors.
He's become a friend. Matt was my VP at T-Mobile and oddly enough, we were starting to demo outreach software. Cause I was trying to introduce it. The group, we didn't have any tech, but Salesforce. So. You know, I had introduced this to them. And two months later you said, Hey, Steve, I'm going to outreaches a CRO.
And I said, well, take me with you. I w I went over to outreach and, and was even able to do some things like made winter circle in the first three months and had a really good group of people. I shortly, like seven months in, I had to relocate went through a divorce and wanted to be close to my family, which.
Two decades of Minneapolis back to South Dakota and that career choice, it wasn't a career choice. It was necessity. I needed to go to rehab. I was addicted to booze and pills at the time. It was really messing my life up. And, and, and for me, I knew I needed to take 30 days and get busy. So I got closer to my family, ended up falling in love with my wife, who I grew up with.
And I was back. He was a terrible hallmark movie. Really. When you think about it, it was like, Boy comes home to go to rehab, sees ex-girlfriend in grocery store, falls in love and never leaves. And like I was the wet puppy dog, who she was like, I kind of feel bad for you, but talk to me when you get out of rehab, that'd be a really good move.
And so I ended up kind of, you know, coming out of this whole thing, going, man. Last thing. I knew I was at outreach having a pretty successful career, how to ended up in South Dakota. My mom's, my mom's pet. And that was call it. That was okay. That that all happened. Cause I think we all need to as family you know, support each other.
And I hadn't been around my family for a couple of decades like living next to them. And so that's when this. You know, I'd been at outreach and learned so much. I mean, that was really my first sales, tech experience, SAAS experience. Nobody would hire telecom reps into SAAS and they still kind of fame.
You know, they, they, they veer away from it, but ultimately I had to get stuck here to go. There is no job for me here and pre COVID, like nobody wanted to hire remote employees in South Dakota. Like that was even if I had a good track record. So I was, I was at a place right. I need to do something that makes me happy.
And I obsessed over the top of funnel, all the tech stack, just kind of the engineering that went behind it, how to make it not just go fast and do stuff, but truly how to make it revenue impactful. So I applied my own tech stack at a job. I ended up here being an eight year. Local managed service provider and ended up selling about 1.6 million against a $600,000 quota in just in record time.
And that tech stack, I was able to assemble my own. I bought it all myself, broke through the firewall and pretty much assembled my first tech stack, a Salesforce outreach. ZoomInfo RingLead on the backend and I just cooked with that thing. And so I would automate it. So I'd be driving six hours across the state.
Cause I had to go out to the black Hills, like Mount Rushmore, which there's like zero people for six hours. And then you get there to this beautiful place because they said, that's the only territory we have open. I said, I'll take it, but I would just leave at three in the morning so I could get that.
When the sun was still coming up and I get to the office and in six hours away with coffee and I'd say, all right, who's ready to get to this new sober, curious version of myself would just I'd book meetings through automation on the way there, and just have, you know, calendar slots. And every time someone booked one, it would add through technographic drops that name and said, now I'm meeting with these companies.
And so it was automatically populating while I was driving out there. And pretty soon the calendar, I get alerts that say, you know, have no work calendar slots available. The only problem was I wasn't cognizant that there were. I would only put a half hour between meetings, but they were like 45 minutes apart.
And so I would drive six hours, drive another 10 hours going back and forth for two days. So I couldn't figure out how to do that one quite right. But I think that's when I said, man, if I can make this work for myself, I can probably make it work for other people. And I got hired shortly after that. By a couple of guys in the pandemic and they wanted to sell PPE.
I'm sure you've heard of that happening before we went on to sell about $170 million worth of it in six months. And I spun up a tech stack that had conversa weaving behind drifts, and we had a full sales ops department that we spun up in about a month. We hired 42 people in a month. And that's why I said, if we can do that, I'm going to go out and do this on my own for multiple companies.
I made a call to Jake Dunlap. I said, what do you think? You said you should go for it. He goes, I have no, I know a couple of people who need it. And that first call the Jake April 1st, 2021 was our first customer. We've had 117 since then and done about 6 million.
[00:08:45] Rosalyn Santa Elena: That's incredible. What an incredible story.
You're going to have to write a book. If you haven't done, have you haven't thought about it yet? That's just an incredible journey. I think, you know, like maybe another year or two when I don't know, whatever milestone you think is right. That your company gets to it. It was time to put all that in a book.
[00:09:02] Steven Schmidt: Yeah. I mean, I've thought I've thought about it just because it's, you know, everybody thinks, well, what would I write about? And then you end up listening to what I just said and said, well, I suppose if it can help other people, then, then maybe there's something there.
[00:09:13] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. Amazing. Amazing. Well, thank you for sharing all of that.
You know, I think about, you know, when you started the company, so it's actually only been, what about a year and a half or so?
[00:09:23] Steven Schmidt: It's we, we have been customer facing for a year and six.
[00:09:28] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Wow. Wow. So just a little over a year. It's amazing and growing it so much. So, I mean, I guess you touched on a little, a little bit already, but I mean maybe if you could share a little bit more about, you know, kind of how you started the company, what was that original vision and maybe even at, how has it changed if at all in the last, you know, 12, 12 months?
[00:09:47] Steven Schmidt: Yeah. So like anything I like eyes wide open, right? Life's like walking in with my lifesaving. Let's do it and then super excited you get one client. I mean, I was the BDR, the first, you know, the first day we looked back at a slack chat. We were laughing today. Cause I was like messages. I said, I'm in a call blitz.
I can't hop on right now. And, and, and, and now it's like, you know, we can't get off of a zoom meeting. So extremely grateful. And it was just a team of five of us at first. And my, my vision was, was always that top of funnel, if done, right. Could earn you a spot to the rest of the funnel. That's it should.
Right. And I thought if we can nail top of funnel, then the segment of customers that I felt needed to be served the most, which called software and services companies pre-seed to series B and maybe some C was, was the ICP that I know I'd identified in my head. And that was the only thing that actually turned out.
Right. I also thought, how are we going to get customers? I had no idea that by posting content, once a day on LinkedIn, every day, it took four months Roslyn, four months to get the first call it lead. And then it just, I don't know what it was if it was like the one post that happened. By July, we were getting three or four inquiries a day and I I've talked with other people.
I could talk to Chris Walker. Cause I know he gets a lot of stuff from LinkedIn. I said, it's interesting. It's never anybody who's liked or commented on anything. It's all coming through, dark social, up to the CEO, our call points, the CEO and the CEO will either reach out to. On LinkedIn and said, I'd like to meet with you.
And we'll always ask like, Hey, what was it that made it? And it's usually a post. And they'll say that video, you mentioned about this, this and this. We're having a problem with that. It could be something as simple as you know, not simple, cold callings and simple, but you know, it could be anything.
And if it resonates with what we do, we have a good meeting. If not, I refer him to. You and your group or someone else would be a good referral partner. So you actually, this isn't a good fit from us. You need refined labs or are you need, you know, you need rev ops consulting or whatever. Go down the list.
We don't try and play in areas. We're not good at, but I'd say right now, looking back, I would, I, would've never known. You can have the sort of discussions with C-level people, you can in the amount of intimacy you can have with these people about such an important matter because it's always revenue, right.
And everybody's trying to get it. And there's a. Fear a little bit that they can't get it because everybody's trying to go get it so aggressively right now. And there's some really good growth hackers out there. Some really good rev ops people, but I feel we're also all kind of sitting around after this bubble going, man, we all just kind of were spoiled the last two years in a way.
I mean, not so much with COVID, obviously, especially for those who were impacted by it in a very serious way. Money was going around rampantly in, in tech and VCs. We're getting studying record valuations. We saw gong and outreach. We were like, oh my God, four and a half billion, another unicorn. And, and I feel like now that some of that money is drying up.
We're seeing not that business is going down, but people are really, really fixated on price now. Right. Again, when they would, we could do a one call close and get a $60,000 deal, then
[00:12:47] Rosalyn Santa Elena: It's incredible. Maybe let's talk a little bit more about sort of the, what you're doing, you know, and you talk about leveraging the science of high tech solutions, right?
With the art of human communication. And, you know, can you share more about, you know, what this means to you and how does this philosophy sort of play into what you're building?
[00:13:09] Steven Schmidt: So I, I I've, I've learned a lot. In, in terms of, you know, tech meets human for me, I was a communications major and a playwright and a theater major in college.
So, so the, you know, And by the way right now, I think you're well aware of this. Like, writing's a good thing to be good at right now, whether you're an SDR or a content writer, because there's never been a bigger demand for content as well. And so once I started seeing this, I realized one thing, we can get really good at that.
Nobody else seems to be as the phone. And so we pick the phone specifically, although we do the all channels and 97% of everything we set, we set about. 20 meetings a day comes from the phone. We use email like, like much more of a demand gen strategy where we don't have a call to action. In the first four emails.
We don't even ask a question in the first 14 minutes of a gates where we're really kind of giving gifts away at the top, if you will. Whether that's no white papers, of course, but call it. If I'm emailing you and I'm trying to get in front of you, I'm going to probably give you like a state of rev ops today and who's done what, and what's.
Who's strong and who's not, that might capture your attention, but it's still not going to ask anything from you. My hope is that when I captured it on the phone, that was something that was valuable enough, that when I refer back to it, now you can put the human person in the voice and it really connects versus these segment and cadences where I've always been the firm firm belief that the only reason cadences are ever linear is because people think, oh, it goes in sequential order.
I'm like the why, why can't I reach out to. You know, with like do a combo, like email, LinkedIn phone, and then give it a rest for two days and then go phone, phone, email, email, and the same day, like Sam in Sam sales is talking about like, she's doing two emails on Saturday, one in the morning and one in the evening and she's got the best response ever.
And so that's a little bit of an art with email, but we do push to the phone. LinkedIn is tricky. I mean, for a lot of BDRs, right? Like how do you use LinkedIn in a way beyond research, which, which we do a pretty good job at to go get business? Well, one of our BDRs had a really creative idea today. He did the thing where he literally posted, he posted, he posted a picture and tagged 10 prospects who had connected with him on LinkedIn, but hadn't responded and tagged them specifically why their company and how they could benefit from the solution that he was, you know, Working with one of our clients and in the comments of it, one of the CIO has responded and said, let's book a meeting.
And I thought that's crazy, but I mean, it's a little bit of, you got to find where they're at is, you know, and, and we found right now, they're just not living on email. I mean, we're doing everything we can to get email, to work a little bit better, but I, I want to say like, in this world of what we do, like, we want as much discovery as possible before the.
Right, because when you're setting it for a client, they expect you to not just provide the call recording, but give them some really good notes on qualification. Like what are they doing today? So we really have to make it into a mini, you know, five to 10 minute discovery session if they'll give us the time.
[00:16:12] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Got it. That's interesting. How, you know, I was just thinking about what you were talking about, LinkedIn and how you've done so much content there and really built out a really good pipeline and customer engagement. That could be a book in itself. As well, I was going to say, I think that's can build out a real, you know, really interesting story about how you build a business just from sort of content and that hunger from everyone, for knowledge and for content and for information and sharing and you know, all of the different things that we've, I think we've both seen on LinkedIn.
[00:16:43] Steven Schmidt: I want to give you a quick hack, by the way that we learned. I can't say it works at scale by the way. And I try and use as much data versus hypothesis. But since LinkedIn, you brought up is when we email out and we have thought leadership. So if we're working the client who has a good thought leadership voice, who's active on LinkedIn, what we will do is put the link to a post of theirs in an email, because even though.
They still don't respond to the email. What we found is now we can correlate like, oh, they've got 17 connections this week of people who went Reddit and then connected with that CEO. So now they get the forever feed.
[00:17:17] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Wow. That's interesting.
[00:17:20] Steven Schmidt: And so we're playing that in an interesting way. And it's, I think it's unique to our space quite frankly, because we have to capture their attention in tight time zones.
And by saying, you know, linkedin.com backslash, this is not a malicious link because it's linkedin.com. We show them the link, say what the article is about with a snapshot and say, I'd love to have you follow me. If anything, you'll learn that I post a lot about industry this and this. And then we never have to speak again, unless you're interested.
And it kind of lets them off the hook a little bit, but suddenly they see you every day in their feed and they didn't really realize what they did was the opposite effect of what they intended to.
[00:17:55] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. Yeah. I love that. I love that. Thanks for sharing that. That's interesting. You know, another thing that I saw about your business that I also thought was really interesting was you talk about sales development as a service.
Right as one of your offerings. And I think this is really interesting space as we were talking about a little bit before we started recording, because I, you know, driving top of funnel engagement is so tough. Right? You've touched on it a little bit as we've going through this discussion and especially in this market, right?
Cause talent is scarce experiences, scarce, right? Acquiring really strong sales professionals is really competitive. I wanted to ask you, you know, kind of what is sales development as a service really mean to you? And how has this approach contributed to your own revenue growth?
[00:18:39] Steven Schmidt: Sales, to me, sales development is a service and the way that we look at it, the way that we approach it is we, we aren't a bandaid solution.
You know, there's like companies like science memory, blue jump crew, they've all done a good job, predictable revenue. We all know predictable revenue, right? Like. They all do a good job. It kind of doing this a little bit differently for the most part. And what we said is we don't really want to be a bandaid solution.
We can be if need be, but it's just not that much fun to come in for three or four months and just plug pipe, right. Where we said, if anything, if, if we can start to assemble intelligently and you know, we have Tablo imported. So we're consistently using analytics and. Our rev ops and sales ops team does a good job of giving us great information.
Cause our rev ops is, is both external facing and internal facing, right? So we have really rev ops is, is interesting, but we, we really have to look at this like. What we're giving you should give you enough to know whether you're testing a new market, a new vertical or whatever it is is, is we're a good way to test something out for a good six months and come up with a hypothesis with our client success team, where, where you've got, what you need to now build your team around it.
And we did the testing and the mistakes you've got now. Call it two to 300 call recordings that you can go and put into a library that you can drip into the training, where they can feel like they're listening to something. That's educating them from somebody who's done it successfully before relatively successful.
And when we can do that, I think we have the biggest impact we were on with one of our, we have a hundred, it's a nice. Biggest customer. Yeah, it was $120 million year customer of series C funded. We've been with them for seven months. We get 10 appointments a month. They've closed a couple of big F F you know, fortune 100 logos.
And their, their ARR is 680 grand on average. So we love that one because we're doing the work that they need to now on today's call. I even thought they were asking, they were asking my opinion is how should we measure this to see how we could scale this out? So we just went through some fairly simple metrics.
But I said, if you're going to be comparing our reps versus the commute cumulative effort and looking for some differentiators, just to understand, they'll all be different because they're different people. Right. But, but so take it with a grain of salt. Like at the end of the day, this will be extremely meaningful.
It may be won't apply exactly. Because the reps that we have on there. Our former AEs, like these are, we pay our BDRs a hundred K like they're, they're making good money. Right. And so these people are experienced. And so I said, now, when you go hire BDRs, if you go hire somebody at a 65 K OTE, like this should help them.
But maybe it might take them longer, right. To develop sort of those enterprise chops. So we're almost giving them advice. Like if you're really in the enterprise higher enterprise BDRs and give them 120 K whatever it's going to take to get there, we know sort of the CAC involved and the cost of opportunity.
And so I think that we probably are the best fit. For a series B through C company and CRCA. Cause I mean, a bootstrap company holds on their money so tight. I know from experience that it almost becomes personal and it becomes a little less fun to work with people when they, they feel like if it doesn't work out, this could end up.
Or that they need this to work, to stay in business. Those are two situations, which we refuse to be a part of.
[00:21:48] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. That makes sense. Very stressful, very stressful. You know, when you think about organizations, you know, if they're thinking about sort of leveraging this type of service to drive revenue, I think you touched on this a little bit already, but what do you think are some of those key factors that really they should be thinking about?
To decide, you know, whether or not this is right for them.
[00:22:07] Steven Schmidt: Well, I think, I think it's not right for every, I mean, I think in some cases what I've seen is they're running to outbound when really outbound should always be there. That should really be focused on more of a demand gen strategy. Cause they really need to create the demand to support the outbound lift.
And I think to go outbound, you don't just need an MVP and understand the Tam. Those are all sort of table stakes. And hopefully every company knows. Simple metrics like this is my share today. This is the potential share that I can go get realistically, like peel away from the VC pitch decks. Like the reality is this, right?
Like the reality is if I can get an incremental lift and get 1% of the market, what does that mean to me? Not just now, but the lifetime value of that customer. And so we try and find the right customers for them that are going to be good lifetime valuable. You know, less than the friction kind of customers.
Obviously we call that the ICP, but they haven't always identified their ICP. And quite frankly, as it sits today, I can sit with them and do that. But we're not best suited for that. Like literally I would send them to you. Right. And I'd say, well, maybe she can help you. Or maybe there's another shop. Once you find that don't burn all your money, trying to find it, using us, find it, then let us go do it right.
And then we'll help. And not only get pipeline that you can show can be repeatable and scalable, but to me, it's, it's, it's really, how do you look at this in a way from a revenue standpoint, that's not just going to get revenue in the door today. The pipeline that you can nurture can pass on internally.
And you're patient enough to see that in six months when they have a need versus when you want to sell it to them. Now you're able to do the approach appropriate, nurture that then their decision times with you're still in business, they will come back to you, especially if you're nurturing, especially if you now you're connecting on LinkedIn in an authentic way.
And they're seeing you and you're seeing them to me, it's the impact of revenue, which the impact has to do with the timing it has to do to me a lot with did they go through a full sales cycle? Because I feel like they should, because I feel like it, when people rushed it very rarely works out. And so if you have a 60 days, the sales cycle and someone buys in 12, I always say that just seems off to me.
Like it feels to me like it was a knee-jerk reaction to, they might not really want to do this. They're doing that a fear more than they are to motivation.
[00:24:19] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Got it. Got it. Yeah. I love that. That's a really interesting way to think about it as well. I think there's some. There's a lot. It's very thoughtful.
And I appreciate that. I think it's very thoughtful and very insightful to kind of think about some of those, those key things that you really should be thinking about, whether it's right for you. And when, you know, I think that's the main question is kind of when is it right? What things have to happen before you can be successful in sort of implementing this process or this strategy?
You know, talking about strategy a little bit, you know, obviously when it comes to driving. Predictable revenue, which, which is what everybody wants and revenue growth, which everybody really wants. You know, I think strategy is really critical, but you know, coming from a rev ops background, obviously strategy is critical, but also is the execution, right?
When you think about. Yeah. When you think about some of the things that you see companies doing really right. When it comes to sort of approaching revenue, strategy and execution, what are some of those things that you think companies are doing? Right? And then maybe what are some of the things you see them doing wrong?
[00:25:18] Steven Schmidt: Well, I think if you look at fast, you would say that's the wrong way to do it, right? Like the com you know, I can't believe that companies would, can, you know, if he gets so much cash and, you know, you got to burn through a technically in 12 to 18 months. I think what I see wrong is I go by all the tech.
Right. All of it. And I'm going to put it all in the top of the funnel. Well, please, don't forget about rev ops, please. Don't forget about all your other techniques, people who. How does that tech fit throughout the architecture of the organization? So I'll give you a really boring example, but this will make sense with you in our world.
Project management is a pretty big thing. And so we have client success and then project management backing it. So I who live in Salesforce, had to get driven to start to use Monday. And I was like, oh my God. I'm like, I'm not used to this. I want to go to Salesforce when I want to see something. And so they would sync and they would correlate, but that.
Ended up being the best tech stack purchase, where you could get and not the most expensive at all. But, well, actually it, I mean, it's, it's not expensive compared to our ZoomInfo and Salesforce spend, which is, you know, half a million bucks or whatever it's, but it's the most powerful tool to keep us in line with customer expectations.
So how do we then care you Monday throughout the entire organization? Make sure that it's riding within Salesforce. So my policy is as long as everything can go back to the. And as long as it can, everything you consolidate cleanly to show you history of activity, history of account, whatever you want to see.
I think that to under-invest this tech is probably smarter than to overinvest, because number one, over investing puts you into long lengthy contracts that you simply can't get out of it. Now we're going to be married to the tech if you use it or not. And I think software usage right now is even sitting around 60%.
A lot of people aren't using it at all. Anyways. The adoption and that's a CX thing. But if you look at your own adoption of tech, right, it's who made the decisions and who came up with a plan and was it consistent enough to have someone in tenure for two or three years in position where they actually were to see through their plans?
So the biggest thing I've seen broke is you get big, bold leaders who come in, make tech decisions, and then they get their time in a year and a half. They leave, they put their stamp of approval on it. Someone else comes and says, let's get new tech. This is what I like. And all of a sudden you're. You're going through another tech adoption and lift, and it's very painful for people to go through tech changes.
And I've seen more tech fatigue in the last two months from people than I've ever seen, because I mean, I had three Chrome extensions the other day that were there, Reggie lavender, and another one I'm like, I don't need that. Like they all essentially kind of do the same thing after a while. And so that would be it.
It's just be thoughtful about how you're expecting tech to lift your revenue because I've seen tech accelerate it, but when you pour tech on bad, it accelerates bad very, very quickly.
[00:28:00] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah, that's great. I, 100% wholeheartedly agree. I think the tech stack and having a strategy even around that next is incredibly important because there are a lot of really, really great tools out there.
But you've got to be really clear on, you know, what is the use case? What business challenge are you trying to solve? How are you going to use it and make sure that you're driving process around that technology and then making sure you're driving adoption and continuing to iterate the technology. Cause that's another thing that I've seen quite a bit is, you know, as you mentioned, they'll sales leader or a leader comes in, they bring in their own tech stack.
They want all of these things. They leave and the next person comes in and they'd layer on, right. Instead of looking at, you know, what do I retire and get rid of right before I start to purchase something else, or what can I use that I already have, and maybe using a different way or use a little bit in a different in a different manner to get more value.
So love that. I love that. So let's shift gears a little bit and talk about brands. You know, on your website, you talk about, you know, building your brand on LinkedIn is like fishing. So brand is just so incredibly important, right. And can really help accelerate revenue if it's done. Right. But I think, you know, a lot of companies do this really well.
It sounds like you're doing a great job at, but then some. Well, they don't do it as well. Right. So maybe, can you elaborate on this analogy of fishing and you know, what does it mean and what tips or advice do you have for companies on how to build a better brand?
[00:29:34] Steven Schmidt: Yeah, so I think for me I'm going to peel it back to what I can speak of personally, and then talk about the brand.
And we've all heard about personal brand trumping the company brands. So I think what, what, what I saw with Brandon in the fishing analogy with. We can be ourselves, which is highly encouraged, especially in my house. I don't know about yours, but like there's no other person to be than yourself now from a brand perspective, that's, that's incredibly important to be authentic, but it doesn't mean everything you say is going to hit and resonate with people.
And so for me, for example, the first four months I chose to have an effort. I mean, I hired. I hired a firm to help me come up with ideas around LinkedIn. And I remember thinking like at the time I thought I was like, oh my God, $2,000 a month. Like, this is so much money, which it is, you know, but when you're thinking about your marketing budget, like that was hit a year ago, like, and so I, it took me four months to get a post, to get more than like eight likes, I think.
And we were sharing this beforehand and really what I was trying to do was see what was biting on the fish line, not to just dump more. Not authentic stuff on it, but to say, well, it needs to resonate. I mean, I, I, I'm not here for fun. I mean, I love LinkedIn, but ultimately we're all here for business and to help other people.
So I'm like, if I'm going to make content either should help somebody or hopefully can get people to want to talk to us. And then once I really started saying, I'm going to, I'm going to really try and settle on pillars of content. That makes sense to me and, and, and iterate on those. That's when it started to work.
And once it started to work, maybe share with you at 90, 91 0.2% of our revenue on a 16. Run-rate came from LinkedIn organic. And that's how that worked personally. And so I would say, look at spec it, for example, right. And they've been like all the bees knees lately in terms of a little bit of buzz, you know, awesome female CEO.
They are doing such a good job of branding and nobody really is talking about spectrum. Although like the other day, like you look at a photo on LinkedIn and there's a little speck of stuffed animal on its way to the airport in Austin. So that, to me, in, in the world of SAAS, at least as a way to get that brand to permeate both personally, until you can graduate to that really well known brand and then brands, I feel like a brand, like if you're a brand, you better understand what the brand stands for.
Like, what is it? You stand for like a word we've embraced in our four pillars of, of our company is a word we embraced. Love and love to send me some people means accountability, right? Love to other people makes it means we make you feel good. This is psychological safety, but we have to emphasize love because it makes sense to us and it, and it resonates with us.
Right. And love means customer love and this and that. And so that words worked really well for us. And we can carry out every day. So as we transfer, someone told me to see, they said, Steve, you're going to find that as you grow, like you have to. Be more about the company and have less of your face and more of others.
They said, well, number one, I'd gladly have other people on camera. Nobody in our company wants to be right. Like guaranteed. They've had the opportunities guaranteed. They're like, you keep doing it. I have nothing to do with that. Please keep doing it now. And if I, if I don't post, like for a day by 4:00 PM, they're texting me, like, are you going to post today?
And so it's interesting to see that, but to me, the brand we need to do the journey is year two, year three, is it doesn't need to be Steve Schmidt. I don't want it to be Steve Schmidt. They think of, I want it to be the company's name. Our brand carries more weight than anything I can say. Because that is important to me, both personally and professionally, that the people in our company can feel like they're not on the Steve Schmidt, social media ride, that they're truly making an impact as a company.
Not that's another Steve lead. Let's go knock it out. Like I want us to feel like it's us, not, not me. And that's extremely critical to me, I think.
[00:33:15] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. I love that. I love that, but I do think the personal brand, it's just amazing how it has really taken. Yeah. You know, as you said, personal brand kind of trumps company brand these days, it's, it's really kind of crazy.
Cause there are a lot of people who follow, you know, individuals and then they learn right about the company. Then they say, oh, well, what do you do? What does your company do? And then that drives this interest in the business that stems from, you know, an interest in that person.
[00:33:43] Steven Schmidt: That's interesting is I'm going to ask you a question and see how you answer it.
Would you rather go, like I know you'd rather hire a team, so let's say you're not where you are right now. And you just got a new job at a new company. And someone said we can either go hire a sales team. Our, we can go get Kevin Dorsey, John Barrows, and. I just go down the list, right? Of people who are going to now speak on our half endorses in an authentic way blah, blah, blah, cause like Mark A.
Smith who's our advisor is on LinkedIn with like a hundred thousand followers. We, I met him on LinkedIn. He, he went to, he asked if I could come meet with him about his company. He ended up quitting three days later, he became our advisor. Mark gets at least one or two leads from us a day. Just because he's in conversations where you said, Hey full disclosure, I'm one of these guys, I'm their advisor, but you should talk to these guys.
So he sees so much cause he's in the crossroads of it all with a hundred thousand connections. Right. And so that influencer brand, like if you had to pick, what would you pick if it needed. You don't know in revenue, what are you going to bet on a team that you can get tickets to the next 12, 18 months of revenue?
Are you going to try and get a call it an influencer imprint to get out there in front of the masses?
[00:34:54] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. That's probably an easy one for me because I really believe in this kind of personal brand and the value of people, you know, and that thought leadership. So, I mean, I would definitely go with the higher, a couple of really strong people who are experts in this field, right.
People who really know. The business and our trusted advisors and trusted thought partners, right. That have that credibility in the industry, especially when you first get started. Right. I mean, because they will help you build that brand and show credibility again, and kind of show that you demonstrate that you're a, a valuable partner and kind of know what you're doing.
Right. And have that, that behind you. And then as you start to establish your brand and you start. Customer credibility. You have customer success stories and you know, all of that, then you can, you know, obviously work on, you know, you'll, you'll be at the point where you can hire more salespeople and you have a message at that point, right?
And you have product market fit. You have all of the different, you know, a lot more things that you can leverage to go after new customers. But yeah, that credibility is just incredible. Important.
[00:35:59] Steven Schmidt: That's what I worked credibility.
[00:36:00] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. It's the credibility, because I think, you know, in some of the companies that I've worked at, where we sell into a rev ops, persona, you know, jumping on a call with a prospect and talking the same language and, you know, you understand their pains, you know, what's important to them.
You can kind of speak, like, I always talk about the ops therapy, right. Because it's very therapeutic to have. The ops discussion. And then you immediately build credibility and then they say, oh, well, what does your company do? You know, what does the product do? How do you use it? And you can kind of, it, it just builds a story there and gives you a path to that, to that discussion in that conversation.
But yeah, the credibility is incredibly incredibly important.
[00:36:39] Steven Schmidt: Yeah. Yeah, it is. And so I would pick the same that we'd want to know now of just because of. Credibility and revenue and speed to market. Like I'm surprised more companies haven't done that. I get why they are sheepish about it. But I mean, I've, I've even heard lately where, you know, venture capital is almost looking at funding, personal brands in the next five years because they know that investing.
Worth it because they see what's coming. And it's interesting to me and I'm not talking like Instagram. I'm like they really want to buy people of influence in any line of anything. So they can get a lifetime value off of everything that that person touches. And that gets scary. And also it's like, well, that makes sense because.
That that, I mean, if we can do 6 million in year one by spinning up a LinkedIn account and making pretty good content, like, okay, I'm assuming someone else would say if I wanted it, which I don't need Steve, come be our CEO, do the same thing. No, I don't really want to, but that's worth a lot of money and, and, and intelligence, and, and like you said, credibility that you can get instantly, they want, and you kind of bring the audience with you.
Now, if that person leaves, they kind of leave with them to. And so it's an interesting thing. And I think that that will forever perplex me because. You know, let's, let's admit it. Most people on LinkedIn, even an influencer are going to post something and then go back and look at it about 20 to 30 times to see who looked at it.
What are they saying? Well, we all have some egos, right? We, but we also have to be aware of like, who is looking at this? Is it somebody who's a prospect? Is it somebody. When expected, normally do that. And so, as long as you're getting fresh people and not the same echo chamber in your group, and it's building over time, you are absolutely headed in the right direction, whether you're starting at one or a hundred thousand followers.
[00:38:21] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. Yeah, that's right. And I think you mentioned this earlier, probably before we started recording, but even, you know, when you post and it's surprising that even though folks will see what you posted, they read your content and they follow you, but they may not actually engage. In your post, right. They may not comment.
They may not like, or have a reaction to it, but they've seen it. And then they, you know, then oftentimes there's a lot of folks who are more comfortable kind of reaching out, you know, directly versus, you know, putting themselves out there on social media.
[00:38:51] Steven Schmidt: So the trust, the trust, it builds by them seeing you I've had people walk in. They're like, man, I feel like I know you, like, I've been looking at. And they've already heard kind of what you have to say. So they came for a reason. So cut the first 50% of the, the whole cat and mouse game. It's gone. Right. And. That I know you, and if they know you, then they're going to say, well, then he must be a good person because she would not associate with bad people.
And so it's a little bit of the profile of developers say, okay, this person, you kind of pass the sniff test. I don't have to even ask for referrals.
[00:39:27] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah, that's right. That's right. That's amazing. Well, you know, as I think about. You know, I think about the revenue engine in this podcast, I'm always hoping right.
That others will be able to learn how to accelerate revenue growth and how to power the revenue engine. And I think we've talked about a lot of things here and really appreciate you kind of sharing a lot of those insights. And I think there's a lot of learnings there already. But I guess what I would ask is sort of, from your perspective, you know, are there like the top, maybe two or three things that you think, Hey, all revenue leaders should really be thinking about today?
That will really make a difference in accelerating revenue.
[00:40:02] Steven Schmidt: Yeah. Up to me. You have to not be so bullish on creating your own team and having to build it from the ground up because it's a fun thing to do, but sometimes you have to augment and that might be. Go down the list of, of call it best in class.
Those people, whether it's in demand, gen rev, ops, or lead gen, you don't have to build it in house day one. So I think sometimes you got to bring the heavy artillery and to get it right versus trying to build with you know, at market OTs, because you're going to get what you pay for. And so if I'm there, I invest heavy on the front end to preserve my kind of revenue.
Legacy of revenue in that companies that can last as long as possible because the average tenure of a CRO is right around what a year and seven months, eight months it's pretty short. So you got to make an impact and make it quickly. And I think that that's the first piece of advice I would get is, is load up heavy on people who are consultants.
Around your core team, build the core team slower than your consultants. And then the consultants will probably help you build your core teams. So whether that's you scaled Chris Walker don't care, you'll find them, right. That's the first piece of advice. I would've done that more so than I even did. And I did it a lot to begin this cause it helped me guide the journey.
Number two is I think it's okay to lose early and lose often and make sure that when you're looking at Salesforce that you have. Whatever your thing is whether that's mine right, lose early lose often and then nurture the heck out of whatever detail we got out of that. So we know how to classify that lead score.
That is, is that's. The second piece. Third piece is I would from a revenue and revenue leader. I'm hiring two people right away and one is not a CRO. So if I'm a revenue leader and I'm a CRO, I would hire, I would hire a very, very solid head of rev ops. I would hire a very, very solid head of demand gen I would have.
Maybe a small one or two person lean inbound team to convert. And then I wouldn't build an outbound team until year two. I would invest heavy on those things so I could get it right before I try and scale and go to market. And my market's now warmed up through demand gen and rev ops has made it right and profitable and everybody's in siloed and everything synergistically working together.
And so year two, you can sort of have an easier time than just racing to revenue and growing like crazy. Like everybody is growing and growing well, growing sucks. Growing is hard, like growing it's fun. And I like driving down the interstate, like with a convertible, sticking your head out the roof. And I can tell you the, one of the things I didn't take seriously is at least, you know, bootstrap Ville, where we've been living is growing causes so much cashflow problems because the second you think that your P and L is tight and you have Rocky growth or churn, or are really rapid growth.
More money's good, but more money costs, more resources, more tech stacks, more tools, more problems. Cause customers innately like we didn't hire client success because customers are easy. They should be difficult and they get problematic once you bring them on board. So the second you recognize revenue is when your problems start in.
So get your problems diagnosed and set up as well as possible. I'd say on the tail end of month, four and six of that, I would hire a phenomenal CX person and build a three to four person CX team before I ever hire my true. Sales team, because now I've got a founder, led founder built thing. It's cooking, it's making revenue, and now I'm sticking in the outbound team to go make it happen fast, repeatable, and over and over again.
And I'm still going to go the best. And I don't know why people aren't. I mean, I'd be always going to hire the best if I had the money. And funding to do it. I would literally call you up and say, I want you to run rev ops. You'd say Steve, I'm really happy and say, well, I don't care to run wrap ups for my company.
And I, quite frankly, I need you. And you're probably going to say no because you're happy and I want to go to the next person and the next person, because I would want somebody who's good and has done it multiple times before. To get me to where I'm going now. You've probably, if they, if they've been through a series a before and they're, they, they've kind of made it out the other end, I doubt they want to do it again, unless it's a really special and meaningful relationship.
So it's tough to do, but I would, I would say it's very well worth it to get that Sherpa alongside you to take the ride.
[00:44:06] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That's great. That's really, really great advice. And thank you. I'm flattered. As well. Definitely. Well, so thank you so much for joining me. I'm Steve, but you know, as we wrap up and before I let you go, you probably know that I always ask two questions.
I'm always love to know two things. One is what is the one thing about you that others would be surprised to learn and to what is the one thing that you really want everyone to know about you?
[00:44:33] Steven Schmidt: I think they'd be surprised to know that in 2014, My first midlife crisis. And I thought that become a powerlifter.
And then I started going to like these regional competitions and you'd end up at like an, a super eight hotel in the conference room, lifting weights on a Saturday, but I really poured a lot into it and I get my bed, my, whatever, the deadline, I think my deadlift was like 600. 10 pounds at my top, I find I was really into it, you know?
And so, so it's really, I knew it. I was living that life and now I haven't touched anything since that, like that, or the slip not tattoo down my back. My might be one of the two things that scare most people. I used to have 11 piercings, eyebrow tattoo inherit onto my shoulders, but I was a singer for a rock band.
So I'll give you three things. That one, let's see. One thing, one thing about me, the second question was worded how again,
[00:45:27] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah, that you, something that you want everyone to know about you?
[00:45:30] Steven Schmidt: Hm. Yeah. I think that for me, I'm a, I'm a, I'm a very trusting person. Doesn't mean I'm the best person in the world. I just tend to trust quick.
I've also learned to professionally through coaching on how to not do that because it actually, the thing it's like your super power becomes a kryptonite and that has, and when you go to start a company, you're your niceness. People will take advantage of you and they might not even know it. Right.
They may have never intended to that to do that. But. It's hard to be nice and be a founder because I'm a people first person all the time. And I do think about people's families, but if you're not performing and you've been on a plan and we've really tried to get you there, I'm really not going to feel that bad.
If it's time to say we got to part ways and you know, I've had to do it. What two, 300 times in my life now it's never easier ever, ever. It never feels good knowing that it feels terrible to them. And most of them take it. On the chin. But I think hiring slower and in a year two for me is, is really not trusting up front.
Not, not that I don't trust, but you have to earn it. And so I think there's a happy medium there where you can get. Thanks. Someone's commendable. They've got an acumen. That's great. They've got a good heart, but it doesn't mean I need to trust and go all in on them. Day one, I think over time is for me is I'm always going to welcome in people, right?
I mean, I'm hugging people within two seconds of meeting them. I'm telling them my life story. They're like, you share a lot, Steve, I'm an oversharer. And for me, that quality is also, I will say it allows you to be so transparent and business people immediately, most of the time immediately trust you because you don't have.
Bullshit hanging over you. Right? You don't have that salesy glossy. Like, I still love to self stuff, a lot of stuff, but I'd love to have. To the point conversations. And I'm sure they're very similar to you because you've just got that demeanor. And that's why you're successful. You're person first that people like then secondly, you're a hell of a rev ops leader.
It's like, that's why people are doing business with you. And that's why your personal brand matters. No, one's listening to the show because they think you're an amazing rev ops. Well, lots of people are, but first and foremost, they wouldn't listen to it. If they didn't like you. And then the is second.
[00:47:38] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Yeah. While all the amazing guests like yourself coming on the show and really just sharing your stories. I just think that in every and every episode with every guest, I mean, I, you know, as much as people tell me, oh, I've learned so much. It's like, I actually learn a lot. I actually go back and listen.
Like, as, as soon as we stop recording, I'm going to go back and listen to what we talked about, because there's just so many good, great insights. And I think that's what makes this podcast so special. Because people like you will come on and be super transparent and just very open and very giving, which I incredibly, incredibly appreciate.
[00:48:12] Steven Schmidt: Yeah. It's been fun. It's probably been one of the more fun podcasts I've been on. Quite honest with you. So thank you for having me.
[00:48:19] Rosalyn Santa Elena: Thank you so much for joining me. And again, just really appreciate your time and super grateful for all of the experience and sharing. So thank you.
[00:48:28] Steven Schmidt: Yeah, you're welcome. Thanks so much.
This episode was digitally transcribed.