B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast
B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast

Episode 2050 · 4 months ago

Why Funding Won’t Solve All Your Problems

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Many founders believe that funding will solve all of their problems. Sure, it might give you more opportunities to make mistakes, but the truth is, throwing more money at a problem usually does nothing to fix it.

In this episode of B2B Growth, host John Grispon speaks with Max Altshuler, the founder of Sales Hacker and VP of Sales Engagement at Outreach, about why funding isn’t the silver bullet founders often think it will be.

What we talked about:

  • Building Sales Hacker
  • The challenges of a larger organization
  • How to approach data acquisition
  • The biggest error new companies make
  • Why more funding won’t solve your problems

You can find this interview, and many more, by subscribing to the B2B Growth Show on Apple Podcasts, on our website, or on Spotify.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for B2B Growth in your favorite podcast player.

Welcome to the Revenue series on GDPGrowth. I'm your host, Jon crispin, founder and sales coach at EarlyRevenue Today I've been looking forward to this one for a little while. I amhere with maX Altshuler uh an amazing list of accomplishments, my goodness.Um founder of sales hacker, he is on the executive team at outreach, he haspublished several books, he's a guest lecturer, he's an investor and advisorAnd he is also a part of many humanitarian efforts and lastlysurvivor of the nasty Austin Storm of 2021 welcome Max. Hey doing Yeah, I'msure we had a rescheduled during their, that's a couple of times. That was acrazy week. Yeah, it was insane. We caught some of that here in the midwestbut not as much as you guys did so, so just a level set. Everybody. Our guestsare are Ceos revenue leaders, marketing leaders like yourself and venture firms.And our goal is to share with early stage founders, tech founders and theirsales leaders provide them insights and best practices in the two topics thatare top of mind for those leaders, how to use of growing early state sales andfundraising. So thanks so much for being here today max. Glad you couldfinally make it. This is so awesome, excited you're here. Yeah, thanks forhaving me. So let's, let's take you back a little bit. So curious. You're,you're a marketer with some incredible sales skills or maybe it's your salesguy with some incredible marketing skills, not sure which it is andwhether you were, were you born with this was was this coaching? Was hisclasses that you took? How did this happen? Yeah, it's funny. I, I don'tknow what I would be classified under was uh, I'd like to think I got a lotof my education early from my father who was a financial advisor. alwaysworked from South as an entrepreneur,...

...taught me a lot about entrepreneurship,kind of, probably subconsciously, um, but definitely a lot aboutrelationships and you know, I just had to build them how to maintain them, youknow, the financial advisor role. I think the people that thrive in thatprofession don't just look at themselves as money managers, they lookat money themselves, money therapists and so, you know, you work withindividuals, it's really about understanding them and their familiesand their goals and like getting to challenge them and really understandwhat it is they want kind of life and how money is gonna help you get there.And I think there's a lot of similarities between that and what I do,you know, as a, as a salesperson, as a marketer, as an entrepreneur, inworking with customers are working with prospect. You know, one of the thingsthat are important to you and whatever this area organization, you know thatwe're talking about is, and how can I help you get to where you want to go?And you know, hopefully that's through using whatever it is that I'm soundinga marketing and if it's not, you know, you want to be a trusted advisor andsay, okay, well now is not the right time and play the long game with people.So I think it's really just building off of that foundation that I got frommy father, I know in this, in this financial advisory profession and andrelating that the things that I do in a day to day basis, so you got it earlyand you got it often and it was in a home setting and so how great is that?And what better way to, to launch yourself into the world? So I also wantto stay in the back, um, and talk about sales hacker, maybe first explain forthe founder, tech founders that are listening. They don't know what saleshacker is, because they're maybe not sales experts. And then how did youcome up with that original concept? Yeah. So you know, I was at an earlystage company called you to me as the online education marketplace, I thinkwas the eighth higher. We were maybe...

...five in the US and like three and inTurkey where the founders were from and I was tested building the sales side,the supply side of the, of the marketplace, which was gettinginstructors on board to teach courses online. At the time, there was reallynothing else like it. Most of the people that were teaching courses wereauthors, they weren't teaching other courses, they were either professorsdoing it in person or they were writing books and putting them on amazon orBarnes. And so we had to build this, this kind of marketplace from scratch.We get people to do this kind of heavyweight activity, which wasteaching courses and we had to do it at scale and do it fast because we hadraised a million dollar seed round and really had to share growth very quickly.And so we did some really hacky stuff. We were one of the first customers of acompany called Toyota, which was an early still engagement platform that nolonger exists, but them, we used a couple virtual assistants in thePhilippines as our Sdrs. Again, we didn't have a lot of money, so we hadto figure out how to generate more revenue, using less resources, which wecalled sales hacking And more and more founders and VCS were asking how we'regoing so fast. My VCS and founders were directing those folks directly to me. Iwas having a lot of conversations with people around some of the hockey stuffwe were doing. And that turned into a monthly meet up, which turned into aconference in San Francisco where we had 300 attendees and 12 speakers and acouple sponsors. And that really, that really kinda said to me, okay, maybethis is a real business, This isn't just a side project. So my thought atthat time was, hey, let's do this for like another six months to a year soyou can make out of it. And the worst case, it's just a really greatnetworking opportunity in a way to build your brand at the best case, youknow, it could be a real business. So we did a conference in new york. Welaunched the publication and now it is to go to resource for all things B twoB sales. We've got about 100 and...

...180,000 subscribers. Now. 300,000monthly unique visitors come to sales hacker every week every month to learnall the newest, latest and greatest in uh, in modern sales. And you know, wetalk about sales technology, we talk about best practices, strategies,tactics, you name it in all aspects of you to be sales. So we got thepublication, we got the podcast, two Webinars A Week, Virtual Events inPerson Events. And it's, it's actually part of outreach now, which is thecompany that acquired sales hacker in 2008 unions company tonight um, was anearly investor in and his company that I work at now as well. So that's afantastic. And so how all that happened over how long a period of time startedsales hacker in 2013 invested in outreach. 2015 got acquired by outreachin 2018 and here we are six years. Fantastic. So, so now you're part ofoutreach and it is the darling of the sales enablement world. I'm sure thereare different challenges at a large organization than when you're juststarting out. What were the biggest that you experience in terms of thetransition between sales hacker and outreach? Yeah. So you, when, when you,when you landed your your role and your responsibility and outreach, obviouslyyou had a much bigger team. Uh, what what were some of the sort of, Whoa,big change different than what I'm used to? Maybe budget was one of them.Obviously, I'm sure there's some other, maybe not obvious ones and I'm curiousabout those. We have reached that business and sales hacker. It was meand maybe three or four other full time employees. But plus a bunch ofcontractors, four or five plus a bunch of other contractors. It was a cashflow business. We were doing very well as profitable business but wellbasically traded that in for high upside stock in, you know what theycall a rocket ship business. And uh you...

...to me just uh sorry outreach has justraised around $65 million series C $515 million valuations and half a billiondollar valuations. So they did that. I looked at it, I was like, wow, I wantthe upside of this stock I think would be a $5 billion company and I couldn't10 or 20 X my upside, so he did mostly stock in the deal and you know I hadcome from a cash flow business you know I thought I was okay I'm good herelet's go for the outside now and uh came in um was installed at the VP ofmarketing at outreach and all of a sudden it's like often one on onefairly large budget that I have to manage. Your managing up you'remanaging down you're managing side to side. Like there were a lot of movingpieces things I hadn't really done at that scale before. You know you do memuch earlier in our business and now you know it's kind of thrown into thefire of a hyper growth company that was 2-3 action year over year and growthinto you know tens of millions of a. r. r. and there were a lot of there are alot of learnings uh you know I had to learn how to not be the ceo anymore, Ithink that was one of the first big things which was you know I was, I madethat an investment of man and I believed in his vision goodbye. Youknow I also had come from a company where I had the final say on things andI was you know I was our visionary and I understood our marketplace and youhave to come into a new organization, figure out how you fit in, where arethe areas that they need my help and where the areas that like in the past Iused to be more vocal that maybe here it's like well you know they got this,you know they don't even count it and even over time, even over 2.5 yearslater now it's still an iteration or evolution of that, you know, I'm alittle bit of a canary in a coal miner industry because you know, I have mykind of finger on the pulse and you...

...know, in the weeds with our customersand our prospects and you know, a brand in a face that a lot of people haveconversations like this with and the podcast and other things like that. Soa lot of times I'm not able to relate, you know, some really great informationback to the team, whether it's the product in the sales team, themarketing teams, you name it, I want to make sure that I, I feel hurt, I feelvocal about the things that I'm seeing still to this day, also not stepping oneverybody's toes and letting people do their jobs. So as you, you know, from experienceanother way to do it. So you've got lots of different folks listening atdifferent stages of, I've got of companies start up what's the rightstage to consider adding a tool? Like outreach? Yeah, I mean I think as earlyas possible and I say that because you know, it always gets harder to changeprocess, but at the same time it's like, well why would you want to do the bestthing from scratch, you know, at any given point? I think, you know, somepeople feel like, you know, they want to get started on more of a trainingwheels style solution, we don't need that much functionality automation. Idon't believe it, I think you should be getting better. I think the way that Idescribed outreach against other solutions in the space is that weenable your entire flywheel and most other solutions are just a one flowfunction. So for example, you could probably set up email, phone, some ofthem automation. Yeah, I'll send out emails and make phone calls. You canprobably set that up for you. Probably set it up with some whatever brandsolution that's out of the box does like nice, the better mail merge,whatever. But you can't do if you don't have full visibility, you don't havethe dashboards and you don't have the data that's flowing through it. That'sallowing you to get insights. But you...

...can't optimize that workflow after it'sset up. So instead of the workflow, you're going off of open rates areparades. Those are great metrics to go off of because you don't know ifanything is actually working on a she just keep doing this stuff for doublingdown on stuff. Rick was the only platform that's gonna allow you to tosee what's actually working. What's not eliminate the things that are doubledown on, things that are and keep going. That's how we talk about our flywheelwhere it's you know the workflows provide data, data, provides insightsinto what to do. And then the insights allow you to optimize the workflow todevelop this flywheel where it keeps getting better every time you gothrough it. So you send out, you set up your sequence that sequence runs, youget information from that sequence that allows you to make that sequence better.You act on that information that sequence runs and so on and so forth.Are continually getting men. It's a traditional iteration. Like developersdo like good marketers do. This is the sort of the sales approach to it aswell. So I think a lot of people look at it another goal. I only have fivesalespeople. I'll go with a cheap solution because like, you know, wedon't know their business six months or 12 months or so that were still small.Yeah, that's one way to think about it. I think like this is the narrative skin.You should do the right things now because it would be the thing thatdecides if your business is going to exist. Six, wouldn't you want tocontrol the outcome as much as we possibly could? I think so. So, youknow, we're the only ones that allow you to tide of the outcome. We're theonly ones that allow you to understand the sentiment behind reply rates. Um,you know, I saw a tweet the other day from one of one of our competitors thatsaid, if you start emails with I instead of you, You'll get a 40 higherresponse rate based on now. What they don't understand is anything deeperthan in that response rate for them.

That's great. We're getting moreresponses. Let's double down on this. But if you use outreach, you'llactually be able to understand what type of responses there were. Those. Ifthey were all unsubscribed, take me off your list and nobody cares about whatyou want. I'm the prospect. You should care about what I want. Then why wouldyou double down on that? 40 more applies. But they're all terrible.Right? So like they're all negative if they're not conversions, exactly, ifit's not getting you to the outcome, which is a book meeting, then it's nothelpful. So yeah, down the right things on the things that work on the things,you know, work is never so maybe salespeople to get this with founders,it might be a little more challenging. How should founders look at data andthis data acquisition? I think you're really talking about is the foundationto measure and analyze their current state. What's the pitch that you giveto think about that, that data acquisition piece? Yeah, I mean like itdepends what stage you're at. So if you're, you know, you're still tryingto figure out product market fit, then like the data is actually where you'regoing to get customer development and evidence and understand what directiontake your product. And if you're still trying to understand pricing market fit,that's the same thing. You know that data, those responses and you know, thesentiment behind those responses are going to tell you, you know, if you'regoing in the right direction, not, I'm pricing once you nail those two things,product pricing market fit and then it's like, I guess we're gonna firethen you've got something that's come in, it's ready for proper GTM, go tomarket lotion. So you know, at that point now you're running the flywheelfor for sales for success. So you see plenty of startups, what's the biggesterror you see occurring in these early stage companies? Oh man. Uh Trying todo, go to market before you have product market fit our pricing market.Yeah. Trying to pour gas on a fire before we have a, you know, it's likethat type of wo uh let's go down here.

Like you've got one customer that paysyou a lot because they treat you like a consultancy at a custom dev shop. Andthen you've got, and then you've got five other customers who are paying,you weigh less, then it ever makes sense to run this business. You don'thave a business yet. You gotta figure out a business before you can startreally focusing on gps because if you go to the market and you start sellinga bunch of those bunch of your licenses for what you currently have customersat and you can never survive as a business for that. You're gonna be outof business in short order or worse, you're just going to be running at aloss for a very long time or scraping by on your teeth just for whatsomething that will never be a business. Would you rather go have those yearsback? You know, it was, yeah, They say in sales like no, a quick note, right?Like no is the second best answer. You'd rather be the company that waslike disqualified seven months ago. Then the company that was like theloser in the last stage of the evaluation movie. Right? Because thenyou could have, you just couldn't. That's right. That's right. That'sright. So you've been a part of raising funds for your many endeavors,including these early stage startups. What's a, what's a commonly held beliefabout funding that you just flat out disagree with? Oh, that's going tosolve your problems. And for the most part, funding runway gives you a lot ofability to make more mistakes, uh, because it is kind of lipstick on a pigsometimes that are raising a lot of money like to throw money and stuffover raised or over index, you know, over index towards capital will solvethis problem. More often than not, it doesn't. And you actually have to gofigure out how to solve the problem is that throwing more money at. And so Ilike backing scrappy founders. And uh,...

...and a lot of those founders have beenimmigrant founders. You know, who have been raised much differently than, youknow, people like myself have and our scrappy by nature. So they're good withthe money, they keep it in the bank as long as they can. And, you know,they're, they're wise with it and you know, like, you know what's worththrowing money at? And I think some of that, a lot of that kind of stuff comeswith experience and making sure you have good mentors around you and not,yes, men who are saying, oh yeah, it's great area. That's a great idea. Uh,they're pushing you to think they're challenging. Yeah, you don't want justdon't just want to have a name or a title that's advising you want someonethat's actually gonna give you concrete evidence. That's, uh, that's maybe evena subject matter expert, right? I've seen a lot of that. Yeah. Somebodywho's been there, done that, you know, who's, who's seen where the bodies areburied and says, oh yeah, you can throw a ton of money. Is that it's thelocking on. It's not going to fix it. You know, they stop burning throughhalf your runway. So you've had, you've had experience with sales, you haveexperienced marketing, you have a part of your life where you're an investor.How are you balancing all of this? It's a lot. Uh huh. It is. You know, I likeit. You know, I don't play golf on the weekends and I don't binge watchnetflix at night. They don't go skiing, snowboarding, uh, you know, twice amonth or whatnot. So I've got time to do these things. I genuinely like whatI do. So let me let me ask the question in a different way to critical part ofsuccess is, and growth is taking care of yourself. So I'm just curious how doyou prioritize yourself and your family? Yeah, it gets tougher and something Iknew you better job at. I think, you know, my wife would probably tell youthe same thing. You know, it's tough. The one thing I do do for myself, Uh,tonight Tuesday nights I play hockey, I...

...found a men's league. It's a blast toget back in there after 16 years, played growing up a lot. Supercompetitively. And in line are you scare you on skate on ice? Both so yeah,Tuesday I play pickup for both. The Tuesday nights is in line, so it's justfun. It's fun to get back out there. What else do I do for myself? I mean Itry and spend as much time with the wife and kid as I can. So we've built apretty good routine. Wake up in the morning around 66 30 Help get the babyafter school, baby goes to school at eight And then I'll work out for anhour, get online at nine. And uh And then I'm working from 9-5, I get off offive, I'll Hang out with the wife and the baby until they go to sleep. Theyusually go to sleep together at like 7:30 And then at 7:30 I get back onlineuntil probably about 10, finish up my work and then go to sleep. So there'snot a lot of buffer in there. Like there's not there's not there's reallynot, I'm there with you. I've got I've got a seven year old, a five year oldAnd a three year old. And uh so there's lots of lots of noise. Yeah multiplehours 18 months old and one on the way. And we'll do this every two years thingprobably for the three as well. But at some point we'll we'll hire help. Youknow unfortunate position. Well we want to do that. It helps. It certainlyhelps. I just want to make sure I'm not outsourcing my the things that matteras a parent and I want to coach my kids themes and I want to be there for themand fortunate enough to be in a position where I think well I'll be itoutreach to I. P. O. And who knows you know I don't I don't really want to doan operator role. Again I like feeling to the B. C. So I could see myselfbeing an outreach for a while and doing the D. C. Thing on the side and beingable to be present from my family a...

...little bit more as I strike more of abalance and what that looks like. But right now it's a lot of fun. You knowI'll get on in the morning on a saturday or sunday do a little bit ofwork there. But other than that I want to hang out by the pool Kiddo, she'slearned how to kick her little legs and pool sounds very familiar you know and it'sinteresting. I was thinking back uh one of the things that drew me to want totalk to you was I saw a post Lincoln post of yours. I think it was early inthe pandemic and I was thinking man this this guy just thinks differentlyyou posted. I here it is saturday afternoon I've got $2,000 to give awaywhat charities list them. I'm sending money, Tell people about that. Yeah manit feels like so long ago right? Yeah We uh I don't know, I just felt good.It felt like people needed to picked and I think when you're most fortunateyou're able to do stuff like that, so we just started sending money. Twopeople at first we were sending the people who needed it. Like people thenthose and stuff like that, that I have a problem, we'll send it to charities.And then I had a couple people that send me money to send out on behalf. So,you know, I think I put $1000 in my own money to work and maybe another 2000 ofother people's money to work through that, but that was just it was cool.Look, I just wanted to do a little social experiment. I think it was asaturday morning, I woke up and you know, whatever. I remember, I rememberreading going, this is creative, I like that, let's see, let's see how it works.And then we did we did the the career board that we launched right after thatwhere, you know, people were losing their jobs, so we let all our outreachcustomers post what roles they were still hiring for, and then anybody Iwas looking for a job and go and contact them, and I think we helped alot of people get pleased. So it's...

...really just about giving back, and alot of my career has been about giving back, you know, sales hacker as a mediacompany and our, you know, our attendees and viewers don't really getcharged anything. We've we make our money through the sponsors which arethe companies that sell to our members. I think that creates a real win win winfor everybody involved. And, you know, I like to think that a lot of mysuccess has come from the business karma that I fostered and created over,over this amount of time and the relationship that I built and the waysthat I've given back and you know, hopefully people will never met mebefore, you don't know me, but see that kind of stuff like that only been like,that's who I am and that's what I do and I just have fun doing this kind ofstuff and you know, it's no, there are no strings attached giving money topeople and be like, hey, but you have to sign up for outreach or Yeah, right.Yeah, there's, there's none of that. I don't do that. Yeah. You know, I don'tcare. So it's so cool. So, so whether stuff like that, whether it was thegrowth of sales hacker, whether it's the exploding growth that youexperienced an outreach, I'm just curious because everyone that'slistening, all of these early stage founders want to get on that rocketship and want to see that growth and they're looking for the feeling thatyou have experienced. So I'm curious if you could describe the feelings thatyou've experienced as you watched the growth and evolution of your ideas, ohmy God, everything, uh, to roller coaster. I think like, I think as youget more experience and being an entrepreneur, your high, high, highhighs and low lows start to balance out like this just middle constant, likeI'm not gonna let that affect me in either way, it's not really a goodthing or a bad thing and it's really tough in context switching because likenow my wife will tell me something exciting, I've got a cool, cool, I'mexcited about this was like, oh, I'm sorry, I'm in work mode, I gotta get inreal life. Oh, that's awesome, you know, great, fantastic in the start up, youknow, life cycle hype cycle, it's just like, you know, you'll see names outthere, it's absolutely right one day,...

...oh my God, this is gonna be a billiondollar company in the next day, like fire, we're done, we're fried, like,you know, let's, let's pack it in, you know, we're screwed over and it goeslike that for a while if you let it. So you really just have to do the job ofbalancing out and whatever you need at that time. Like don't let any of these,you know, self help gurus or other entrepreneurs to do certain things, youknow, affect you on twitter because you're not doing the same stuff. Youdon't need to wake up at four in the morning and take cold showers and do arigorous To our 200 mile bike ride and meditate, meditate for an hour andwrite in your journal and whatever you need at that time you can try thesethings and, and some things have worked for me in certain periods of my lifeand I haven't served me and others, you know, there have been times where Ineeded meditation and it worked. I'm not the type that's going to do it foran hour in general about it. But if I can get 10 minutes in everyday, starterStreet, I feel like I have a habit going, maybe that's just the catalystthrough, you know, what I needed at that time in my life to accomplish whatneeded to be accomplished or get over the mental powers that needed to behurdled. So I think it's really just about finding what works for you andit's ebbed and flowed so much in my life and ever since I had a kid, Ihaven't been able to do a lot of stuff up stuff who's got time for meditationeven during a pandemic kidding me like and had no time for that. But I tradedin the still meditation stuff and now we go for walks. I'll go for a walkwith my baby and you know, maybe just me and her and she sits there quietlyand stares at a bunch of stuff. You know, instead of taking calls orstaring on phone, that'll be my time to get my thinking, right? So justreiterate on things, being around kids, just changes. You're right. It's just,it's a completely different mental presence when you're with your kids,right? Yeah. I mean, you try, you try for sure and you should. Here's onelast question where what's something...

...you recommend that other founders startto do that you think is a top priority for them? I think like eventually youget a coach that's super helpful coach, really helps you understand what peoplearound you really think about you and the job that you're doing and howyou're interacting with others. So it's a really good way for you to get kindof coached up on how you, you're kind of like management 3 60 so how youmanage down how you manage laterally wherever it is. So whetherthat's a founder Ceo or you know, sea level employee of BP employee, I thinkthat's super helpful. Something I did when I got to outreach, it was reallyhelpful for me. It's something I see, I've seen our own Ceo do, he's grown somuch in like the six years since I met him, so, you know, that kind of stuffis super powerful. So, um, the ceo coach or even just mentors or somebodywho can, you know, be there to answer a question to keep an eye on you and makesure you're doing the right things and it has experienced with that type ofstuff. Don't ever think you're done learning, That's really a great point.You got to keep going. So what is the best way to get in contact with you maxif folks want to reach out to your, follow you on linkedin? Uh, yeah,linkedin, uh, is a great way to do it. That's probably one of the most active.So, catch me there other than that, check out outreach, Check out saleshacker after raising money, check out the GPM fund And uh, yes,congratulations on the most recent. Right, you just spec, it raised 12million, is that right? Yeah. Did spec it so, really excited, really excitedabout that investment. We've done a couple so far. Demo desk, spec it,trying to think what else is public laying that ai equilibrium ventures,two others that are in stealth company called Team flow Hybrid Future Work. Soif you're looking to raise money, there's a, there's a fund out thereavailable. That's awesome. Product...

...market fit price and market fit onceyou're ready to pull that gas on that fire. Very good. And it's also, it's,it's sales hacker dot com. Yes. Sales hacker dot com. GTM Fund. Okay, thereyou go. Well, thank everyone for listening to this episode of therevenue series on GDP growth. Again, I'm your host, Jon crispin, Thank youso much to max for joining us out and until next time I'm out. Mhm. Are you an early stage tech founderthat's frustrated by limited sales? Do you lack the time to dedicate to atraditional sales training program? John Grisham's early revenue salesprogram helps early stage founders accelerate sales in large accounts.He's built a playbook that transfers what he's learned as a founder andsales later into a condensed, easy to implement programs. If you're ready toincrease your startup sales capacity, visit early revenue dot com to getstarted today. One of the things we've learned aboutpodcast audience growth is that word of mouth works. It works really, reallywell actually. So if you love this show, it would be awesome if you texted afriend to tell them about it. And if you send me a text with a screenshot ofthe text you sent to your friend meta. I know I'll send you a copy of my book,content based networking, how to instantly connect with anyone you wantto know. My cell phone number is 40749033 to 8. Happy texting.

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