Sales Hustle is now Sales Transformation
May 2, 2022

#298 S2 Episode 167 - FAIL FAST, CHEAP, FORWARD: Gopalakrishna (Kris) Presents Practical Ways Of Working And Scaling Startups

As a Go-To-Market and Sales Growth Leader for WINsights, Gopalakrishna has exceptional knowledge in working with and scaling startups. Also known as Kris, he will be joining Collin Mitchell in this latest episode of Sales Transformation. Kris and Collin will be discussing what it means to fail fast and fail cheap, the importance of learning from criticism, and scaling startups to new heights.


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HIGHLIGHTS

Kris’ sales story
Fail fast and fail cheap
Learn from criticism, not from appreciation
Kris on scaling a startup

QUOTES

Kris: “you have to be agile and nimble and cheap in experimenting with what works and what doesn't. And then and then and then be successful at multiple experiments.”

Kris: “All startups are never an easy journey. Well, it's going to be an extremely valuable journey, but it's not an easy journey for sure.”

Collin: “Getting people who will be brutally honest with you with feedback is so important because it does you a disservice if there are people that are just saying, ‘ ‘Yeah, it's great. It's great.”

Kris: “Talk less, because when you talk, you're essentially talking about what you already know. But when you listen, you have the greatest opportunity to learn.”

Connect with Kris and learn more about his work in the links below:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sgcrishna/
Email: kris@winsights.com
Website: WINsights.Co


Connect With Collin on LinkedIn

Want to Start, Grow or Monetize Your Podcast? Book a Free Strategy Call HERE!


As a Go-To-Market and Sales Growth Leader for WINsights, Gopalakrishna has exceptional knowledge in working with and scaling startups. Also known as Kris, he will be joining Collin Mitchell in this latest episode of Sales Transformation. Kris and Collin will be discussing what it means to fail fast and fail cheap, the importance of learning from criticism, and scaling startups to new heights.

 

Join Our Free Podcast Community HERE!

Want to solve a leaky sales funnel? Get Signup for your Free RevenueGrid trial HERE! 

Want Your Reps Hitting Quota in 2022? Get Your Wingman Free Trial HERE!

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Kris’ sales story
  • Fail fast and fail cheap
  • Learn from criticism, not from appreciation
  • Kris on scaling a startup

QUOTES

Kris: “you have to be agile and nimble and cheap in experimenting with what works and what doesn't. And then and then and then be successful at multiple experiments.”

Kris: “All startups are never an easy journey. Well, it's going to be an extremely valuable journey, but it's not an easy journey for sure.”

Collin: “Getting people who will be brutally honest with you with feedback is so important because it does you a disservice if there are people that are just saying, ‘ ‘Yeah, it's great. It's great.”

Kris: “Talk less, because when you talk, you're essentially talking about what you already know. But when you listen, you have the greatest opportunity to learn.”

Connect with Kris and learn more about his work in the links below: 

Connect With Collin on LinkedIn 

Want to Start, Grow or Monetize Your Podcast? Book a Free Strategy Call HERE! 

Looking to start your own Podcats? Book a FREE strategy call. 🚀

Transcript

[00:00:00] In the world of sales, you either sink or swim or breakthrough to the next level. My name's Colin Mitchell. And this is sales transformation, a new kind of sales show designed to bring you through the epic life-changing moments of elite sellers. So you can experience your own sales transformation.

[00:00:29] Hey, before we start today's episode, I wanted to bring you in on the best kept secret in B2B sales. If you're serious about social selling and your only strategy is cold DMS through LinkedIn, you're missing the mark big time. Learn how I fully managed revenue generating podcasts can change your life and your pipeline@salescast.com.

[00:00:55] All right. Welcome to another episode of sales transformation. I'm very excited today to have Gopel Cristiana on he's a go-to market and sales strategy enabler. Um, over at wind sites, his purpose driven and passionate techno commercial professional fiercely focused on elevating sales performance, building C-suite relationships and orchestrating cross team collaborations.

[00:01:19] Uh, Gopel goes by Chris. So Chris, welcome to the show. Thank you for calling. Uh, thank you for having me, uh, with you now. Yeah, I think we connected on LinkedIn. I don't know. Maybe I saw some content that you had put out and really wanted to get you on the show. So I'm excited to dig in, learn a little bit more about your story and, uh, based on your experience, I know that we're going to be able to provide a ton of value for the listeners.

[00:01:46] So Chris, just take us back a little bit. Um, give us like your professional background, where did. Sales revenue go to market story start. Sure. Um, that's a great question by the way. So I started my journey as a, as a sales exec or an account exec, um, primarily in tech startups, I made a conscious decision to, uh, be part of startups, either a co-founder as part of the core team, the reason being I want to excellent.

[00:02:20] I want to fail fast. I want to fail cheap. I want to fail forward. Right? And more importantly, this would, this would help me accelerate my learning, uh, by really, really getting onto the battlefield. And sometimes you get injured. But you leave it some, you know, battle scars and then you learn and you, you really, really grow from there.

[00:02:44] So that was a very conscious decision. And that really taught me very, very valuable lessons, dealing with customers from multicultural environment, uh, dealing with customers from, you know, C-suite to the vice presidents, to director, to line of business leaders. And again, internally navigating with your own organization with different priorities, all of these.

[00:03:08] Uh, I've learned all the many, many years in middle east to U S to India, to not America, to Australia, New Zealand. So a fairly global, and I hope that's been a valuable and enriching experience. Um, so a couple of things standing out there, right. Is you mentioned fail fast and fail cheap. Uh, sounds like something that is.

[00:03:35] Little bit, a little bit, can be a little bit tricky to pull off. So tell me what that means. Let's unpack that a little bit. Absolutely. So like I said, I made conscious decisions to be part of, uh, startups and also the scale. So, what it means is that in a world of startup, everything is extremely fluid and dynamic.

[00:03:58] You think something really going to change the world and then you do a prototype and go back and test it out in the real world to realize that there are literally no takers for what you think would have changed the world. Right. Now, when you come back and combat with that realization, then you have to pivot to something that would really, really work with the external world, especially your target customers.

[00:04:24] Right? So that is what I mean by dual pilot, go back and test it in the real world in a battle proof. It, you win, you lose, come back for those lessons and then go back as in a smarter and a better approach to what your customers. So that's what I mean by failing fast, because all this can happen within a matter of 10, 12 weeks.

[00:04:47] Yeah. Yeah. And then failing cheapies because you're building multiple prototypes and a prototype should not take more than let's say a quarter at the most. And then you're also not putting lot of resources onto one big idea because you don't know whether that big idea will transform, uh, anybody, uh, at all.

[00:05:10] So therefore you have to be agile, nimble, and cheap in experimenting with what works and what doesn't. And then, and then, and then B be successful at multiple lows experiments. So that's what I mean by failing fast and failing. Yeah. Yeah, no, thanks for breaking that down. I mean, I think that it's very common that a lot of startups, two things, right.

[00:05:32] One, they think they have the best idea ever. Right. And spend a lot of time, money, resources. In bringing that to, you know, getting that ready to bring to market before any feedback or any proper beta or, um, you know, doing the, the, the proper way of, you know, making sure that they are, you know, failing fast and cheap.

[00:06:01] Yeah. Um, and then the second part to that is that, uh, You know, a lot of times you could have the best product, like literally the best product that solves a very unique problem or is a first of its kind, or is solving something in a better way, or that's never been done before, but if you don't know how to sell it, you don't know how to bring it to market.

[00:06:30] Nobody cares. Absolutely. Yes. So that's why, uh, all of startups, uh, is, is never an easy journey. Well, it's, it's going to be an extremely valuable journey for sure, but it's not an easy journey for sure. No, no, definitely not. Or us, uh, uh, many more people would be doing it, right. Actually, no, tonight let's check in, in the thing is, is if you can fail fast and cheap, like it's actually extremely valuable.

[00:07:01] Um, because those are those opportunities to pivot or change or take the feedback or realize what you thought people wanted. Wasn't really what people wanted or sometimes, sometimes it's actually what they want and just the messaging is off, you know, sometimes like you're just not communicating it properly, um, where it doesn't land, where people are not understanding it or it's not feeling relevant to them.

[00:07:33] So sometimes, sometimes it could actually be the right solution. It's just the wrong messaging. That's when the, in the marketing could play an extremely important role. And, uh, the sales comes in where they can play an extremely important role in solving a particular problem or creating a particular opportunity for the customer.

[00:07:56] But often we get consumed by, you know, what technology, what functionality and you know, what differentiated this product can bring to the table. All of them are important. What is most important is how is it translating into solving a problem or creating an opportunity for the customer? That is where most of ours as sales, uh, probably are less than effective.

[00:08:22] In, in messaging, the value proposition or the business impact it could potentially create for the customer. So that's, that's, that's also a big, big challenge in the world of startups, I must say. Yeah. Yeah. And it's tricky, right? Because if you don't have somebody who sells on the founding team, then you got to hire for that role.

[00:08:44] But if you don't know how the market's going to respond to the product, um, there's only a handful of people that are gonna, you know, be willing to take that role, you know, where there's not already a proven track record. There is maybe no playbook or a sales process. Right. So what I have learned and what I also advocate within my, uh, customer communities, Leverage your network as much as you can, because there is a, there's a trust, there's a certain level of relationship and that's another level of equity that is already created within this relationship.

[00:09:23] So leverage that equity and then let them be your ankle customers. Hopefully they like what you are built and they give you a ton of feedback for probably exchanging for no commercials in mall. And if they start using it and start giving you more and more feedback that becomes a basis for you to build a truly a valuable and a relevant product to a larger set of customer base.

[00:09:51] Yeah, I love that. Leveraging your network, um, is a great option because those people in your network that you already have, you know, a relationship with, um, They're actually going to give you probably the most honest feedback. They're going to tell you if it's a bad idea or, you know, if you're maybe not thinking about something or if there's maybe, you know, something that should be changed or done differently.

[00:10:16] So getting people who will be. Brutally honest with you with feedback is so important because it does you a disservice. If there are people that are just saying, yeah, it's great. It's great. You know, and, and there's only few people that actually are willing to give you honest feedback. They're hard to find because they don't want to hurt your feelings.

[00:10:36] They don't want to tell you that this thing that you've been putting everything into is actually maybe. Not that great. Yep. Yep, yep. Yep. So, absolutely. So it's extremely important to get that honest feedback. In fact, focus on criticism then appreciation because our precision does not do any good for you.

[00:10:56] Yeah. Only the criticism does of course, constructive criticism. I like to say success is a bad teacher, but failure is a great teacher. Yeah. So therefore failure in terms of, you know, success and failure and failure teaches you a lot in terms of a pre-session criticism, criticism teaches you much more than appreciation that.

[00:11:17] So focus on focus on these things. I will say. Yeah, don't tell me what you like about it. Tell me everything you don't like about it. That's the, that's the great part of it. And also, I always tell my customer communities that, you know, listen with an intent to learn and talk less because when you talk, you're essentially talking what you already know.

[00:11:44] Right. But when you listen, you have a greatest of what you need you to learn. So why would you trade off for listening with talking? Right. So that's something that I always advocate and hopefully I also practice. Yeah. Yeah. Listen. And I think it's hard for a lot of, especially like first-time founders, right?

[00:12:03] Because they're so passionate about their product or their, their business. Right. Um, that they just want to talk about it all day and tell everybody about it. And, and, and, and that's a key. Learning there because learning how to listen more than you speak is so valuable in so many ways. Um, but also, you know, listen to learn.

[00:12:28] Right? So don't take the feedback personally. That's that's huge. I mean, it's not, you know, uh, you got to create a safe place for people to give you feedback where they don't, you know, and if you take it the wrong way and, and take it too personally, you know, they might be a little bit more reluctant to give you a feedback next time.

[00:12:48] Um, so, you know, I think the key is like making sure you're in a good head space to receive that feedback before seeking it, uh, is really important. Absolutely. Yeah. Okay. So let's, let's, let's take this a little further. Let's say you've, you know, you've got a product. Um, you've gotten some feedback you're ready to go to market.

[00:13:13] Um, then what, then I would say, since you are talking in the context of a startup, you be very, very short about who your ideal customer profile is. Right. There may be. Many many customers or many, many segments of the customer that you would be keen to sell to, but it is extremely important to choose one segment, which is going to be highly positively impacted by what you've got to sell or solve bright and only, and only, and only focus on that niche, which is.

[00:13:55] Which is what I call it. An ideal customer profile and then zero in on ideal customer buyer, community, usually in a B2B sales, there could be more than one ideal buyer, maybe two or three or four. So ensure that you're focusing on ideal customer profile, which is a target account, and then map the ideal customer buyer and then create different messaging and value proposition to each of those stakeholders.

[00:14:22] Right. And then start reaching out at a scale to those individual accounts and individual buyers with a very, very personalized messaging. And, and hopefully you must be using a data, uh, an automation tool, right? With smart content and analytics to be able to reach out and then start tracking. How and what your retort is actually telling you in terms of the data and the results.

[00:14:51] So that's extremely important to use the data, data analytics, as well as the automation for, uh, a scale.

[00:15:03] Yeah. And I think the most important thing there is like a lot of startups think there, their ideal customer profile is anybody who's willing to pay him. That's his, whoever will write us a check. Um, and I love it when, you know, uh, you talked to a startup and, you know, you ask them who their ICP is and they're like, Oh enterprise with teams of this size.

[00:15:29] You know, everybody wants to go after these really large targets. And in some cases it may make sense, but in most cases it does not make sense because, um, there's a lot that you learn along the way through serving. You know, SMB to mid-market to then working up in everything that you learn in serving those segments, prepare you to be able to serve the enterprise.

[00:15:55] But, uh, it's so common that they want to go right to the top right away. And there's definitely some, uh, exceptions there, but most often than not, you've got to work your way up to that. Absolutely. And then how do you reach at scale? Right? There are so many, there are only a limited number. That you know, the fortune thousand fortune 2000, you want to target, but when you're a no name, You want to be able to target at a scale, to be able to find that traction, right?

[00:16:28] And once you build a traction and you have the cashflow coming in, you have more conference, more referenceable customers to go for the big boat, begin of the town kind of enterprise customers, right? So otherwise you will be frustrated. You will spend the same time, same money, same support, but no results with the enterprise.

[00:16:48] What's this focusing on, let's say SMB segment, which is more likely to respond to your outreach. Yeah. Yeah. So let's talk about scaling. So you mentioned using automation and nailing your messaging, um, and maybe having different messaging for these. So you got your ideal customer profile and then you map it to these different, um, you know, buyer personas that you have, you know, um, I'm assuming here, you're looking, you know, for what the pain points are, you know, who the person of influence is.

[00:17:17] Um, you know, what business and pains they have, um, what you, you know, how your solution is different and shaded to solve those and what sort of results you could provide. Um, and then looking at maybe some, you know, proven results from either early on current customers, uh, or, you know, um, maybe, you know, positive responses from maybe your beta or whatever it, depending on where you're at.

[00:17:39] Uh, so once you have all that information and you've really nailed your messaging for these different approaches, How do we scale? No. If it is really resonating, let's say with, with the set up customer that you're going after. Right. So we always do with the inside sales growth platform, we do AB testing.

[00:18:01] Although we are very confident that this will work, but we are not an arrogant. Right. So what we do is we leverage on the experience that we have built and create. Two sets of campaigns for AB testing. Okay. And then we then launch that at a scale, let's say 2000 prospects on certain type of campaign and 2000 prospects with a certain type of campaign and led this campaigns go together and see what the data is telling us right now, when you do that at that scale.

[00:18:36] And when you track the results through the data analytics now, How many opens, how many forwards, how many replies? Positive, negative, neutral. And where are they coming from? Are they coming from what size of the company? What industry are they coming from? What role are they coming from? Right. What part of the country are they coming from?

[00:18:59] So you all these data analytics establish a certain time. To where your messaging as a better resonance was as the other approach. Now you double down on which is giving you better resonance with the market and you do more of that and try and elevate your performance even better. Right? So there is no silver bullet.

[00:19:23] You do your homework, you understand, and you leverage your experience, start proofing it to the market and let the market tell you what works best and what doesn't and then, and then learn and improve your game from there. That's our, that's what I believe is the right way to scale. Yeah. Yeah. And I think the important thing is something you mentioned earlier, right.

[00:19:46] Is, is tracking all of this, right? Because this is a testing. Yes, you're trying to get some positive results and earn some business and close some deals. But this is still a phase where you're trying to figure out what's landing. You know, who's responding, what's working, what's not working and really keeping track of that.

[00:20:06] Making tweaks, making changes, AB testing. Um, these are all important steps. That you can't skip or else you're just playing it like a numbers game and you're destined to fail. Absolutely. I think, you know, that's such a, that's such a disservice that you do to your own company and to yours. Because there's a tremendous amount of data that's already available.

[00:20:31] Yeah. Um, in terms of even zeroing in on the ideal customer profile, an ideal customer, ideal buyer community as well. Yeah. I mean, one of the things that we do is a sales intelligence, right? In the sales intelligence, we give you so many data points to really, really make that as an input to your go to market stress.

[00:20:53] Even before you spend any dollars on executing that go-to-market strategy, we give you ton of insights. So you can actually be very smart about who you want to go after, right? And then after that, then you put together an automation, data analytics to execute and then start learning from those insights, with the, with your, hopefully your own sales, automation tool or marketing automation tool might give you right.

[00:21:21] A combination of. Um, data insights to narrow down your GTM focus and then applying the best practices for the execution and learn from the data analytics on what it is saying. A combination of these two, uh, I would say guaranteed to, uh, for you to be successful. Of course, as long as you are, so-called five P's really.

[00:21:47] Yeah. Yeah. Um, okay. So now at what point does a startup, you know, really start to scale the sales team? What have you seen? What are your recommendations? Cause this is always a big question of like, you know, do I hire, you know, let's say we have a founder that sells, or we don't have a founder that sells, um, you know, hiring a sales leader, hiring an SDR BDR team.

[00:22:14] Uh, what have you seen work best? Um, staying in the theme of fail fast and cheap. So I would say the core team must be managed by the organization itself, but anything that you need in terms of extra bandwidth, in terms of time, in terms of people in terms of skillset, then you could certainly look at. And extended team, which specializes in what you're looking for.

[00:22:50] Right. So for example, if you want to build pipeline yeah. At scale, now you can look at two things, one bringing in a done for you platform, which can, so you've got out many aspects of your sales prospecting and get you the qualified leads. What are you to qualify for that and then do the selling part so that the significant aspect of the prospecting either all sorts to a done for you kind of a company.

[00:23:26] Yeah. That's one way to solve this problem. The other way to solve these, you can engage with a specialized agency and say, I am going to pay you a certain baseline amount. To run the operation cost, but I will pay you more money, but the outcome that you create, for example, having a qualified meeting with a target account and a target buyer.

[00:23:54] So now you as an organization, ideally have meetings booked for. By this agency, which is getting you 30 minutes of face time with an ideal customer, an ideal buyer. Now, imagine if you want to do all of that, to that stage, it is going to cost you a lot more than a specialized agency doing it for you.

[00:24:17] Right. So that when you can be. You can be agile with a core team and have this done for you. Automation company help you with this velocity of leads, as well as having an agency help you with book two meetings so that you are able to progress further into your sales cycle and focus more on leads and conversions and the deals rather than prospecting as a heavy lifting aspect.

[00:24:44] Yeah, well, it's a great, it's a great point because there's even still a lot of learning that needs to be in your sales process of once you actually get a meeting, closing deals and such, right? So hiring people internally is expensive, takes a lot of time. And if you haven't even figured out that piece of the equation, Expensive for you as an organization.

[00:25:08] Um, but it's also a disservice to bringing people into the team too early, before you're ready. Um, because they're not going to be successful, right. Until you have a proven track record and have some things figured out. Um, but I love how you mentioned, you know, finding an outsourced agency. That's, you know, there's a base amount and then there's also some additional upside for them, um, which is, you know, incentive for them to perform.

[00:25:33] Um, but there's so many of these agencies, right? I mean, there's so many, um, what are some good ideas or suggestions of how to find the right agency that you know, can perform for you? Right. That that is a homework that you, as a, as a sweet, sweet, or a founder or co-founder of an organization, a must to the best way to do is get some references from your network who have already gone down that path.

[00:26:07] And I've owned some success down that pat, that is the best way to also go out there and try yourself. Right. That's that I would say is a first and foremost a thing that you need to look at. The other way to look at is look at a platform like LinkedIn and look for a certain thought leaders, right? Who are really, really, uh, they know what they're talking about, and they're demonstrating their thought leadership to very, very valuable content and the.

[00:26:39] Now you directly reach out to them and ask for help. It is highly likely that people who are experts or thought leaders in that field are very well connected themselves, and they'll be able to help you as well. So I would say these are the two most. And the safest ways to onboard a new vendor who will hopefully deliver results for you.

[00:27:05] Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Chris, thank you so much for coming on today. Really appreciated tons and tons of value in this episode. So really appreciate it. Where's the best place for folks to get in touch with you, connect with you, um, if they wanted to do so, um, all available. So Gopala Krishna and Chris, you can say I'm always available on LinkedIn.

[00:27:30] You can connect with me. You can shoot some questions more than happy to help. It does not have to be commercial. It can be even a. Um, non-commercial, uh, help as well. I'm always happy to help. Other than that, I'm available on email, which is Kris K R I s@windsites.co I'm always available on email as well.

[00:27:56] Great. We'll drop that in the show notes for everybody. If you enjoyed today's episode, please write us a review, share the show with your friends. It really does help us. And then as always, we're listening for your feedback. You can go over to sales, transformation.fm, drop us a voice DM, and we will get back to you.

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