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Explore The Data 

The Rise of Product Led Growth

October 22, 2020

Sara Howshar

1200 x 628

In this week’s episode of the Weekly Briefing, Jim Benton was joined by Shaunt Voskanian, Vice President of Sales at Datadog, to discuss the rise of Product Led Growth (PLG) and when and how you should use your product in the sales process. Shaunt runs all of Sales (Commercial, Mid-Market, and Enterprise teams) as well as Sales Development for the Americas.

Shaunt recalled some of the iconic teams that he has been a part of over the years like QAS, Oracle, and Google and the impact it had on his career.

Jim asked about what was the one thing that they did in Shaunt’s time at QAS that sticks out even now.

“They were very deeply committed to development. They made huge investments in not only outside training but also manager to rep training and development, and that’s something that not every company does well. That organization probably took it to the extreme, but it built a great foundation for me to this day. I think about the people that are in my network that have gone on to have great careers and a lot of started there. “

Jumping into the data, Jim shared that we’re seeing more and more meetings where the first looks at the product are being shown earlier in the process - somewhere between the first and second meeting.

We at Datadog think of ourselves as very customer-led even more so than product-led. For us, it’s all about what is going to create the best customer experience for the customers.

Meeting the Buyer Where the Are #

Shaunt shared “It’s a little surprising to see the numbers, but it’s not surprising to see the trend. While this may sound a little cliche, we at Datadog think of ourselves as very customer-led even more so than product-led. For us, it’s all about what is going to create the best customer experience for the customers. What’s going to create the least amount of friction in the process? And so, we are thinking about 'how do we meet the customer where they are in their buying cycle?' We might be talking to someone for the first time, but they’re probably at that point already fairly educated on the market and maybe even Datadog, so we don’t want it to feel like pulling teeth.

Our standard process is to understand the genesis of why the conversation is happening and what they are trying to solve, but we have no fear of showing the product very, very quickly. In some cases, they may be starting with downloading a free trial, and so we might be talking to them after they have already seen the product before we start the conversation. And showing them the platform is very powerful. Our standard process is geared towards discovery learning as much as we can about their business and then diving into the platform. Since there is so much breadth to it and it’s fairly technical, we can custom it to the areas that are going to bring the most valuable to them that way.”

Jim then double-clicked to show the data behind it:

  • In 78% of deals, prospects see some form of the product in the first meeting
  • In 12% of deals, prospects first see the product in the 2nd meeting
  • In Enterprise deals, it’s only 62% in the first meeting and 22% in the 2nd meeting
The Weekly Briefing Powered by Chorus October 22 2020

When Do You First Demo?

Making the Shift From Inbound to Outbound #

Jim asked Shaunt about his perspective on shifting to go more outbound in the sales process.

Shaunt shared: “ Going outbound was to sustain growth. It was obvious to us that we needed to go and find the organizations that needed us. From an inbound perspective, you have a little bit less control. We go and find companies that look like other successful companies before they even know they need us, and while it may take a little longer, we saw that deal sizes were much larger and we were solving bigger problems for the customer. Today, around 80-85% of our business is driven by outbound.

We believe in process top to bottom. And so, a big part of that is enabling reps to drive process through their messaging.

Investing in Messaging and Sales Methodology #

Jim asked “You’ve got a great DNA from the Sales side at Datadog. How do you think about the messaging and different methodologies that you put into that?”

Shaunt shared, “We believe in process top to bottom. And so, a big part of that is enabling reps to drive process through their messaging. We have a lot of individuals on the team that are great - super high potential and super high energy but don’t have a tremendous amount of experience. We spend a lot of time, focus, and energy in training and enabling our reps with a process that they can utilize and the language that we use while communicating both with our customers and internally as well.

We’ve made investments in Command of the Message and we use MEDDIC. We don’t just teach people these things, but we really, really embrace the language behind it all in how we talk about every customer interaction internally. It’s become a big part of what we do in our DNA. It’s all customer-centric. Command of the Message is probably one of the most customer-centric message methodologies that are out there because it's all about making sure you’re going in and understanding what’s going on in their environment today and what it would look like if there was a partnership with Datadog."

The Weekly Briefing Powered by Chorus October 22 2020 2

When Do You First Demo?

The days of holding back and only showing the product at the right time are over. We want to understand as much as possible, but again, we also want to create a frictionless process for our customers.

What it Means to Be Audible-Ready #

Jim shared “One of the other areas where we looked at the data is the use of decks versus demos and what is being used. We found that 58% of prospects see a demo after seeing a deck and 17% see a demo before seeing a deck. Going back to that initial question about do we demo on the first call, and I think that it’s about being audible-ready. You don’t know what you’re going to get in a call and what will be needed. To me, the key takeaway is how do we be ready for any type of situation, whatever is needed? We need to be audible-ready to make that change.”

From Shaunt’s perspective “Yes. For those who have done Command of the Message, a big part of that training is being audible-ready. Frankly, it’s really hard. Especially if you're preparing for a demo and preparing for that a certain way. But, I think that’s what makes the difference between a great rep and an average rep. The great rep is audible-ready.

To be that way, you need to have a real strong command of not only everything you know about your business and your products and your platform and everything that you're representing, but also the complete competitive landscape and what’s going on in organizations that are similar to the one that you’re talking to. And that’s hard. It takes a lot of work. But, that’s what I think it takes to be audible-ready.

In terms of success versus failure, we know so many of the deals and partnerships are won or lost early in these engagements. You get a question that you aren’t expecting and you are able to pivot and position the message in the right way. The prospect can tell if you know your stuff as well as you should.

The days of holding back and only showing the product at the right time are over. We want to understand as much as possible, but again, we also want to create a frictionless process for our customers.“

Coaching Reps Through the Deal #

“One of the other areas I wanted to get your perspective on is rep behaviors and how we coach. People will look at talk time and coach on that, but we find that when you’re demoing, we expect reps to talk more. That is part of the game, whether it’s the first, second, or third call. I think that it’s interesting and that we need to be more dynamic on how we coach our teams. Help me understand, how do you think about coaching during these different pieces of the sales process?" Jim asked.

Shaunt shared, “this is something that I think is a little unique about the way we think about just leadership in general. Sales leadership at Datadog - we embrace flying low and leveling down. So, first-line leaders are on most of these calls with the reps and a big part of the reason is that we’ve got a culture here where a lot of our first-time leaders were reps. We try to develop our people and grow their careers. They’ve been in the trenches and they know what good looks like, so they are investing a lot of their time."

Trials show off the fact that this tool that is obviously very technical and could be perceived to be in some cases complex is actually super easy to use and very intuit to set up.

Are We Capitalizing on Free Trials? #

"The data shows that as the pandemic ramped up, the use of free trials also ramped up. How do you think about free trials in your business?” Jim asked Shaunt.

“Free trials have been a big part of our business for years, so we didn’t really think about it differently pre-pandemic vs. post-pandemic. Trials show off the fact that this tool that is obviously very technical and could be perceived to be in some cases complex is actually super easy to use and very intuit to set up. Most people that are buying our product when they download a free trial can get it set up and extract value in under an hour. We’ve had tons of examples where they get a free trial set up and solve problems that would have cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions of dollars. And, when you see that, it makes the selling a lot easier because you know the product has effectively done the job for you. It’s not always that straightforward, but we want people in the platform as much as possible because that’s where the power is and it continues to be a huge part of our business," said Shaunt.

To hear more of the conversation, watch the video!

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