Lightspeed Ventures graciously hosted our “Digital Democratization” event at Golden Gate University on September 21st featuring co-founder and President of EverString, J.J. Kardwell and Chief Marketing Officer of ThoughtSpot, Scott Holden.
With a full house attending, we initially dove into the stories behind the launch of these two innovative Silicon Valley pioneers within the rapidly evolving landscape of data analytics.
JJ described his frustrating experience trying to identify and qualify high-value prospects while in sales in financial services as a pivotal catalyst and inspiration for EverString, a comprehensive AI-enabled platform and solution for identifying high priority sales prospects and target audiences for B-to-B marketing and sales teams.
ThoughtSpot CMO, Scott Holden, a recruit from Salesforce, was intrigued by the 7 co-founders behind ThoughtSpot (4 from Google) and their groundbreaking idea to use search as a simple, fast and accurate way for sales and marketing teams to access critical data, displayed in digestible visuals, in seconds. (Product demo links below).
But what marketing issues did they confront when launching these two companies in 2012 and 2014? Both panelists cited the evergreen issue of aligning the sales team with the marketing team around key priorities and allocating time appropriately across initiatives. Scott also noted that balancing the simple message “use search to deliver human –scale analytics” to marketers with more complex messaging and detailed technical benefits to IT buyers was also challenging. Using personas helps…but doesn’t solve the balancing act. One buyer wants the result (marketers)…the other buyer (engineers/data scientists) wants to know “but how are you delivering that?”.
Their toughest moments so far? Scott noted ThoughtSpot’s initial strategy of using an appliance-based approach to sell into enterprise clients concerned about security. For SMB clients, however, that clearly wasn’t an option so they have recently launched a SAAS/cloud solution for that more price-sensitive market. JJ said EverString’s biggest challenge right out of the box was figuring out which market to go after. With so many potential use cases, the EverString team had to narrow their focus and priorities and quickly execute to build their customer list and go after more funding. $80mm later, they’re off to a great start!
We then honed in on this trend toward “digital democratization”, the increased ability of companies from enterprise to startups (note ThoughtSpot is an EverString client) to build data, databases and platforms which empower them to make better decisions – easily, quickly and affordably – across functions and industry sectors. More users…of more technology. How is this changing their offerings?
Our panelists noted that while many CMO’s and marketing executives are being given more control over bigger martech budgets, enterprise customers are a much longer sales cycle vs their SMB clients. ThoughtSpot mentioned that client onboarding is also critical to ensure that features and benefits are communicated quickly to clients post purchase and they are also adding smart data discovery “insights” (e.g. “you might be interested in looking at these queries/reports too”) to their relational database results to further enhance customer satisfaction. JJ mentioned that in the beginning, the EverString team thought that a prime benefit of their solution might be replacing people (productivity gains) but gradually they realized that better usability for highly trained sales teams was actually much more critical to their clients. Supporting the client (vs just supporting your product) also became paramount when clients needed extra help with infrastructure consultation and investment decisionmaking.
The MENG audience started drilling into the details.
Q: Where do you get your data? A: Internal, external sources and machine made!
Q: Are you successfully shortening the sales cycle from prospect to conversion? A: It’s more than that (EverString)…bigger deal sizes, more cost-effective, better lead handoffs, more conversions, tailored messaging.
Q: Multi-buyer sales? How do you manage those? A: Use solutions like LeanData, Terminus, SalesLoft to share info and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your sales and marketing teams, worldwide. JJ noted that he realized that EverString needed to hone in on situations where they had a great prospect but the sale was stalled for some reason indicating that there were process issues that needed to be solved.
Q: What about differentiation? What’s in your pitch? How do you compete? A: EverString noted that they invest in all layers of their product from a technical standpoint (from API…to data and application, infrastructure, data science layers in between). Also, they’ve developed separate training modules for different functional areas at a client. Scott noted that ThoughtSpot was now autopopulating data searches with common queries (using search history to predict what you might want) to increase the speed of searches and highlighting the usability benefits of their platform vs Tableau and other enterprise solutions such as SASBusinessObjects, Microsoft’s PowerBI, IBMCognos etc.
We ended our evening with product overviews and the discussion just kept on rolling! Thank goodness Golden Gate University doesn’t kick you out at 9pm!
Did you miss it?