Andy Zimmerman, CEO at ARInsights joins us for a casual chat to share a few thoughts on what it takes to build out and hire a high performing team in SaaS today while taking us through a few must-have tools that help drive business and team outcomes while being remote:
Hi Andy, welcome to V3 Media! We’d love to hear about your journey and the ARInsights Platform… what you’re most looking forward to in your new role?
Thanks, it’s great to be here! Prior to ARInsights, I was leading marketing for Salesforce Interaction Studio, the real-time personalization platform formerly known as Evergage prior to its acquisition in 2020. I was the CMO of Evergage for several years and the CMO of sales enablement platform provider Brainshark before that. What drew me to ARInsights and what I’m most excited about is the opportunity to lead a company that so effectively addresses a challenge I know very well from my many years of experience in technology marketing: analyst relations (AR).
AR is an important aspect of a tech company’s business strategy and requires thorough planning, regular and thoughtful interactions with the right people, and steady persistence. My teams used spreadsheets and Word docs in the past to manage everything, and that just didn’t cut it. ARInsights’ core platform, ARchitect, together with key add-on products, automates many aspects of AR, delivering increased efficiency, higher productivity and better results for AR professionals. Our solutions provide regularly updated contact info for several thousands of analysts from over 1000 research firms, analyst research feeds from 30 of the top firms, analyst interaction planning and tracking, content sharing and collaboration, event management, and analytics and measurement capabilities.
You have got a good leadership and a rich experience, what do you think are some of the ‘’best practices’’ that you have come across while building and hiring high performing sales/marketing teams in SaaS?
Two of the most important aspects of building out a high-performing team in SaaS are goal-setting and transparency. Your team is just that, a team. Identifying goals and KPIs for your sales and marketing teams to hit is important for generating and sustaining growth for the company and ensuring career growth and development for the team members. If your team feels valued in their roles and knows what they’re shooting for, they will perform better and take pride in their work. Transparency is equally important. For an organization to thrive, there has to be an open line of communication across all departments and levels. KPIs for the sales and marketing teams should be known by the entire organization with results shared on a regular basis. Transparency builds trust and accountability, which, in turn, motivate team members to perform at their best.
Can you talk about some of the biggest mistakes that you have seen SaaS founders making today when it comes to growing and expanding their teams? A few special tech hiring tips for SaaS founders and leaders?
Scalability is a critical need for companies of all sizes but something that can be a major challenge for smaller SaaS companies. While a lot of attention is placed on the scalability of the SaaS technology platform, not enough attention is paid to developing and documenting the many processes that enable an organization as whole to scale. I recommend employees simply write stuff down! Whether you’re tackling different projects or pursuing sales opportunities, start writing down the approach you’re using in each situation so you can reflect on it and improve upon it the next time. Share and discuss your approach with colleagues and incorporate their feedback, and before you know it, you have a documented process that you can refer back to, iterate on over time, and share with new colleagues that come on board. When it comes to hiring in a growing SaaS company, I recommend finding people who think this way and recognize the important role they play in defining processes that enable scalability.
How do you think about the leaders in tech today, specifically those driving revenue customer facing strategies need to align strategies to centralized tools to meet the remote working needs better?
Modern collaboration tools to address remote working needs have always been important but have become absolutely crucial since the onset of the pandemic. ARInsights has been an entirely remote company since its founding in 2004, and the team has gone through many different tools to find the right set. On top of the obvious web conferencing and document sharing tools a company needs, it’s important to provide some company-wide guidelines to help preserve the mental health of your team members. Video fatigue plagues us all and so doing voice-only calls, shortening meeting times, or eliminating meetings altogether when Slack or email is sufficient are all welcomed strategies. Additionally, remember to respect your employees’ time zones when scheduling calls and sending messages.
What are your views on some of the sales tech / martech that have helped enable your initiatives over the years?
At the core of that stack has always been the CRM, which for me and my peers at many SaaS companies has been Salesforce. There are so many products that plug in to Salesforce and deliver value across the organization. Other key sales technologies I’ve found valuable in my career include LeanData, G2, Skrapp and SalesLoft. A few key marketing technologies have included Google Analytics, SEMRush, Evergage and, of course, ARchitect from ARInsights!
And lastly, what are a few must-dos that every CEO in SaaS must follow in 2021?
First and foremost, don’t lose sight of your customers’ needs. With less face time with customers and prospects this year, it’s especially important to make extra efforts to keep in touch with them and support and address what they need to advance their business. And pay extra attention to your digital relationships. Is the experience they have with your brand and your solutions online as good as it can be? Take the opportunity to revisit and invest in your public website messaging and your logged-in customer experience to make sure it’s relevant, accurate and helpful. It’s a good idea to invest in brand awareness, too, this year by interacting more often and more effectively with industry analysts and improving your SEO efforts. Being less visible in public settings like trade shows and conferences means you need to find other ways to remain on people’s radar. Analysts continue to be key influencers of buyer opinions, while high quality content remains a proven strategy for maintaining or securing category leadership. These are all things we’ll be doing here at ARInsights under my leadership in 2021.
Thank you Andy for answering all our questions!