If you’re attending any of the Sales Conferences this year, you may notice a distinct absence of a ToutApp booth. Whether it’s AA-ISP, Sales Hacker, Sales Machine, Sales 2.0, or even Dreamforce, we’ve made a conscious decision to not spend our money on paid speaking spots, and booths crowded into a hallway clustered with 10 competitors. In this post, I’ll explain why.
ToutApp is embracing operational ruthlessness so we can better serve our customers
There’s a massive change happening here in Silicon Valley on how technology companies are built. Where before the name of the game was to grow at all costs with a limitless supply of venture capital money — founders, CEOs, and board rooms across the valley are starting to value and respect a different mantra: Profitability.
It’s not a novel concept, in fact it’s a concept we’ve always embraced here at ToutApp, it just happens to be in style now.
We’ve always wanted to run the company in an operationally ruthless way, but it’s even more true today as our space consolidates, and our customers need more from us than ever.
In a crowded market for sales software, we believe it takes three things to win and deliver for the customer and rise above the rest. You need to:
- Have the best product
- Have an excellent customer experience at every touch point
- And, you need to be an excellently run company
Each of those three things takes a uniquely talented team to execute on and are hard to do in unison. But if done effectively, you are able to compete and rise above the rest.
The thing I’ve spent a ton of time on this year is thinking about how to be an excellently run company—a cut above the rest and adopt what I call operational ruthlessness so that we can truly deliver for our customers both in the short term and for the next hundred years.
A key element in being an excellently run company is to embrace metrics. Every company tracks metrics, but tracking the right metrics, and establishing the right discipline around making decisions through both metrics and gut is what really puts a cut above the rest.
In fact, I’ve found it takes serious courage to make certain decisions that the data tells you to do, the gut tells you to do, but is completely contrarian to what the rest of the market is doing.
Personally, I absolutely love the contrarian play.
Sponsored Speaking Gigs & Crowded Booths Isn’t What Moved the Needle For Us
One such metric that glared out at us was the immense cost in participating in Sales Conferences today. Each of these conferences are multi-million dollar businesses that are fueled by paid tickets and paid speaking spots — it’s brilliant!
From AA-ISP, to Sales Hacker, to Sales 2.0, to SaaStr, and all the way to Dreamforce, as we looked back at our Marketing spend in the past year, we couldn’t help but notice how paid speaking arrangements, booths, sponsorships accounted for a lot of our spend but not a lot of attribution to closed business or real pipeline. There was some, there’s always some.
When we truly chased down closed won opportunities, and how event sponsorships (which is different from attending events) affected our sales pipeline, we didn’t find much correlation.
And so this year, we made the conscious decision to not do any more event sponsorships. As much as we’ll miss paying to be on stage at AA-ISP, Sales 2.0, Sales Hacker, and any other conference that crops up tomorrow, we’ve decided to take our countless hours of research, our insights, and our thought leadership, and take it to the distribution platform that costs nothing: the Internet.
As with a lot of things about being an excellently run company, you sometimes have to make decisions that are contrarian – but we feel good about this one.
What does this means for your customers, prospects and the broader space?
It’s simple. We’re diverting funds to more effective ways of delivering thought leadership to our customers and prospects. We’re diverting it to things that have worked 10x better, for us and for the people we care about: our customers and direct audience. The specifics are our own secret sauce to marketing so I won’t go into it here.
We’ll continue to share our knowledge and what we’ve learned about the future of sales on our blog, at our Tout Live events (in partnership with Sales Hacker and Enterprise Sales Meetups), and the countless Tout-owned events we host across the globe with our customers and prospects — but, we won’t be spending our money for paid speaking gigs and booths that crowd us into a corner.
Instead, with all the money we save, we’ll spend that money to invest back into our product, pay our employees at competitive rates, and net-net, be an operationally ruthless company.
Additionally, we’ll invest in our own events in association with people we love.
An event we hosted at our offices with Jon Miller (Co-Founder of Marketo) and Lars Nilsson (VPS of Cloudera) at a recent Tout Live + Sales Hacker event. Check out the video and event recap here.
An event we hosted at our offices with our own CRO Frank Swain (who took two companies from $0m to $30m+) and SVP of Commercial Sales at Box Lesley Young (who saw Box through tremendous growth and an IPO). Event recap coming soon.