Sales Pipeline Radio – Paul Teshima on relationship marketing
Paul Teshima is a successful technology executive who has run services, customer success, account management, support and product management.
Paul is a firm believer that culture eats strategy for breakfast, and business culture can be built through storytelling. He has always have been a leader with a strong focus on sales and customer engagement.
- Helped lead Eloqua (marketing automation) as part of the executive team from $0 to over $100 million in revenue, through IPO and a successful acquisition for $957 million by Oracle.
- Now co-founder and CEO of Nudge.ai, a modern sales platform that uses A.I. to find actionable insights on your customers.
- Passion for building great teams and products that help customers grow their businesses.
Matt: Thanks everyone for joining us today on Sales Pipeline Radio. Excited to be here again as we always are live every Thursday at 2:30 Eastern, 11:30 Pacific. Glad if you’re joining us for the first time. Thanks very much for joining us. Hope you enjoy the broadcast today.
For those of you listening that have been with us before, thanks again for joining us again. Always humbled by the folks that are engaging with us both the live show that we do on the Sales Lead Management Network as well as through our podcast on the iTunes store and Google Play. You can check out every past episode if you want to catch up, not only through the podcast, but also at Salespipelineradio.com.
Each week, we attempt to feature some of the brightest minds in sales and marketing with a focus on B2B. Those that are both executing as well as creating some of the tools, strategies, and everything else that’s helping to make us create more scalable, more predictable, more efficient sales and marketing pipelines. Excited today to have joining us, Paul Teshima, who has a long history in the B2B sales world and spent quite a bit of time with Eloqua and Oracle, Roger’s Communication, and is now the co-founder and CEO of Nudge Software. Paul, thanks very much for joining us today on Sales Pipeline Radio.
Paul Teshima: Thanks Matt for having me. I’m pumped to be on the show.
Matt: Awesome. Well, you guys are doing some really awesome stuff at Nudge Software. I want to get into that. Talk about, a little bit, your background, where you’ve come from on the B2B sales and marketing side and how that came together a little over three years ago I guess, when Nudge was born.
Paul Teshima: Yeah, that’s right. It really started way back, to your point, with Eloqua about 14 years ago when Steve Woods and I started that company up in the marketing side of the house. I think through that journey and working with marketing sales execs, we saw time and time again how the best sales people did this incredible job managing relationships in their network and used that as part of the reason to get into a deal, to help move a deal along, or help close a deal. We wanted to really help sales people today, especially in this modern world of thousands of connections and followers to use their network better to close more business. That’s where we founded Nudge.
Matt: I really love what you guys are doing. Clearly, there are relationship management tools all over the place. Some people see that as part of what CRM does. A lot of people use LinkedIn and LinkedIn Sales Navigator. I want to talk a little bit about how Nudge is different and how you guys aren’t just reinforcing or communicating where relationships are, but leveraging relationship strength to help find the strongest path to deals, strongest path to velocity within target deals you’re going after. Talk a little bit about the importance of that as a differentiator in driving more efficient interactions with your prospects.
Paul Teshima: Yeah. I think it starts off with … By the way, LinkedIn is probably a fantastic business network and certainly will never be replaced. I think one of the challenges that’s been created from it due to its own success is that connections today on LinkedIn don’t always represent a true relationship and I think sales professionals that I talk to time and time again are saying that that is actually a challenge.
By us focusing on actually tracking the strengths of relationships by tying into the communications that matter like email, calendar, and phone, we can then provide sales professionals, sales executives, the ability to see who actually does have a good relationship at an account or with a buyer that they’re trying to engage with. As you know, 80% of all B2B buying cycles are started with a referral and as a rep, you always want to be the first in or be brought in through a trusted referral because it starts the relationship off on a really strong note.
Matt: Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Paul Teshima who’s the CEO of Nudge. You can learn more about Nudge at Nudge, N-U-D-G-E.ai. I definitely encourage you to check it out and give it a test drive because I’ve been playing with this tool. I love it. I use it literally every day and it gives me insights into not just my prospects, but also my network and where I should be putting attention. Is this a social selling tool? Is this a referral tool? Is this an ABM tool? Is it unfair to categorize it? How do you guys place that into some of the categories of focus for a lot of B2B marketers today?
Paul Teshima: That’s a good question. I think we have two parts to the tool. Certainly, one is for more a social personal network. Almost like a personal CRM and that’s the free product that you can get. The one that’s come out more recently to B2B team product is really focused on outbound sales. Certainly, we’ve been bucketed under the ABM, ABS category of tools, especially for sales and again, when you think about outbound, going into accounts, those accounts is much more about quality versus quantity and effectiveness versus efficiency. The idea that you can use AI, use relationships, to help better position yourself in a large account is certainly where we’re focused in delivering value.
Matt: It’s a great way to position it and I think as a sales person coming from a small consulting firm myself where I am the sales team, it’s enormously helpful. Talk a little bit how this scales. If you scale this out to a broader sales team, is this a sales … I think you guys call this a modern sales platform. Is this something the sales team is bringing in? Is this something marketing is bringing in to the sales organization? Where is the primary entry point? We have people that are in the sales side as well as the marketing side listening. How do they bring this in and what’s the opportunity for scale across an entire sales or marketing organization to make this effective?
Paul Teshima: You know, I think to be fair, a lot of times we’re going in through the sale organization first because we do have this free product and we have ten thousand users on that, so they’re already getting the chance to try out part of the value proposition very quickly. We have brought in sometimes because we have ten sales users at an account and then we get introduced to the manager or director level who then we can show them the enterprise product.
More and more we’re seeing situations, I’m sure you are as well Matt, where an ADR team or an SDR team may report into marketing and we may be brought in through the marketing side of the house as well because they are responsible for cultivating accounts and bringing them to a certain point that you can hand them off to a sales organization. I say sales to start, but we’re starting to see more interest from the marketing side as well and especially in an ABM play.
Matt: Yeah. It’s interesting to hear you say that. I think as more and more companies develop dedicated sales enablement teams, which sometimes come from the marketing team, sometimes come from within sales, but as that effort is focused on increasing efficiency of sales teams, providing content, tools, technology to not only provide more efficiency, but I think in your position, you talk about the strongest path to buyers. Are you seeing more marketers look at this? Is it from a sale enablement perspective? Do you see moving forward, this as a bigger opportunity for marketers to embrace work they can do to more directly impact sales effectiveness and conversion?
Paul Teshima: I think so. I think that if you can take a step out of Nudge and just think about the marketer’s dilemma, especially in account based scenario, you have a lot more of a move to a support function versus source of leads, right? These are named accounts. Sales people are already engaged in some groups and some groups are less. They have larger buying committees. What they are left with is, how do I make sure I don’t over-target the people who are already engaged and focus on the influencers who aren’t necessarily showing up to the meetings?
They really to get a better understanding of where the relationships are starting to build between a sales team and the account and where they’re weak, where they’re not doing well at getting penetration. With a tool like Nudge, you can actually provide that data on a real time basis at a contact and account level to a marketing automation system, so they can really target the support function around key relationships that a sales person is already building. That’s a very important thing to do in account based strategy.
Matt: I want to take a quick step back and go a little back in the way back machine. You started at Eloqua in September of 2000. You were there for about 13, 14 years. What number employee were you at Eloqua at that point?
Paul Teshima: I was number three.
Matt: That’s amazing. You were there from the very start of Eloqua, just like you are obviously with Nudge. Talk a little bit about similarities of early stage companies. Eloqua clearly is a success story on a number of fronts. Has become one of the largest marketing automation platforms on the planet, successful IPO, successful acquisition. In the early days, I’m sure that it was not quite that clear or quite that sure of a thing. Talk a little bit about what it’s like to be back in an early stage company. You guys are well beyond employee number three at this point at Nudge, but what is it like to be at that early stage company? What are some of the lessons you learned at Eloqua that you’ve been able to port over to your time at Nudge?
Paul Teshima: Yeah, it’s a great question Matt. I’d say that right off the bat a key similarity is wow, it’s still a lot of hard work. There’s no magic bullet to making a startup successful other than working hard, thinking smart, and trying to out-beat your competition by hustling. I think that is the same although there are probably more startups than ever today, but still I think there are some key differences aside from me not having to move back to my parents’ house to live, which was what happened in the Eloqua days. We’re also startup entrepreneurs second timers.
The one thing Steve and I have the luxury of is one, knowing when we have to ask for help. Then know who to ask for that help. That’s because we did invest in our network through the 14 year journey at Eloqua. When we don’t know how to do something or something is new, we can go to that network and say, “Hey. You’ve done or seen this before at least two or three times more than us. Can you give us a version that maybe could help us to get us going?” We never did that in the early days at Eloqua. We never were smart enough to do that and I think that’s a big change.
Matt: A quick follow on that before we have to jump off to a break here. I think I’ve seen most entrepreneurs that have done this multiple times have seen failure. Failure is a part of that path to innovation. I’ve heard different schools of thought that say, “Listen. If you’ve been through a successful company and exit, as clearly Eloqua was, that that really set you up for the next thing.” Some people say that actually going through the pain of having an unsuccessful company is more valuable.
I could argue either way and sometimes I think having people with both of those perspectives is part of that. You mentioned Steve a couple times. Steve Woods, who is your co-founder. One of the co-founders of Eloqua. Fantastic thought leader in the industry as well. What’s your perspective on starting this again? What are the experiences that prepared you for success or at least best armed you for success moving forward?
Paul Teshima: I think the part that’s maybe hard to understand if you haven’t had a big success is that through that big success, there was probably many, many serious failures along the way. We were just lucky enough to get through those times that were pretty well close to almost dead failure. I think even at Eloqua, in the early days I remember in order to avoid paying rent because we couldn’t actually collect enough money from customers to pay rent, we had to sleep in the office, take turns, so that the landlord wouldn’t kick us out, until we collected enough money.
That was as close to failure as we got along that journey and it taught us one, the importance of sales customers. Two, the importance to collect money up front. Some important lessons in SaaS that were early learned. I think that on the path to success at Eloqua, there were many more failures, serious failures along the way that we had to recover from. We were just one of the lucky ones who got through those enough to actually get to the finish line.
Matt: I love that you shared that story and I think that it’s important. Anybody who is at a company that even if things are going well, there’s always things that aren’t going the way that you want them to. One of my favorite books from last year was Shoe Dog by Phil Knight who is the founder and chairman of the board at Nike. The book starts before he started the company. It ends right before the IPO. Most of the book is chronicling the many, many, many times the company almost died. They were almost out of money or just on the brink. Not just failures, but just things that didn’t go the way that you want them to. I think that is the entrepreneurial journey.
I appreciate you being willing to share a couple of those stories. Even for those on Sales Pipeline Radio here that aren’t startups or aren’t going through entrepreneurial journeys themselves, just to know that that’s part of the process, even in the company you’re working for. In sales or marketing, that is the path. There are no shortcuts, the path to success in any startup. The elevator is broken, you have to take the stairs, and sometimes the stairs are broken.
Anyway, we got a lot more time to spend here on Sales Pipeline Radio. We’ve got Paul Teshima, who’s the co-founder and CEO of Nudge. We’re going to be talking a lot more about relationships, selling relationship marketing. How to do that at a strategic and a tactical level. We’ll take a break, pay some bills. We’ll be right back at Sales Pipeline Radio.
Paul: All right. Let’s pick it back up with Matt and his guest. We did have a Twitter question come in. I don’t know if you want to take that or not, but somebody wanted to know since this is a program about sales pipelines, how long did it take for Eloqua to develop a predictable sales pipeline?
Matt: That is a great question. I’m going to write that one down because I definitely want to have Paul address that. I’ve got my perspective on that as well. Maybe Paul has the magic pixie dust that I have not found in the number of years I’ve been doing this. Paul, if you have some, I think you should shut down Nudge and just sell that because that is what everyone is looking for. I’m excited to have Paul Teshima, the CEO, co-founder of Nudge.
If you like what you’re hearing, this is what we do on Sale Pipeline Radio. I hope you’ll join us each week. We are live at 2:30 Eastern, 11:30 Pacific. Make sure you check out the podcast as well for all our past episodes, on the iTunes store, and Google Play. Coming up in the next few weeks on Sales Pipeline Radio, next week, the first day of June we have Kerry Cunningham and Terry Flaherty, two senior analysts from SiriusDecisions. They’re going to be talking to us about the new Demands Unit Waterfall from SiriusDecisions. It was unveiled last week at the SirusDecisions Summit. Lots of advantages, lots of improvements, one enormous caveat that I’ve given on that Waterfall that actually Kerry and Terry agree with and we’ll talk about that next week.
Followed by Grant Cardone. He’s going to round us out as we head into June. Talk about how to 10X your results. Grant is a prolific writer, author. Often controversial. We’ll see what we can do to stir the pot a little bit with him. Then following that, we’ve got Daniel Gaugler who’s the CMO at PFL. We’re going to talk about Omnichannel marketing, online, offline integration to get the results you want. Today, we’re going to spend a little more time with Paul Teshima, who is the co-founder, CEO of Nudge and spent 13 years at Eloqua. He was the number three employee at what became a publicly traded company and a highly successful acquisition from Oracle.
All right Paul, so the question comes in; what did it take to build a predictable pipeline at Eloqua? I’m sure that you’ve spent an awful lot of time on the customer success and the product development side, product management side at Eloqua, but I’m sure that you were involved as well on acquisition and have some scars from seeing that pipeline grow and create some consistency. What do you have to share from that?
Paul Teshima: It’s an interesting question because at that time, if you remember back then, SiriusDecisions, they had just come out with their Waterfall methodology and really this idea of integrated marketing sales funnel had just started and we were part of that journey and helping build and put that and put a feedback loop on what works. I would say it took us awhile to get to a point where we had integrated that as part of our overall process and we’re driving innovation around it in terms of the sales pipeline. I will say that I’m not so sure we ever got to what I would call the truly 100% predictable pipeline, but we actually got to a point where at least marketing and sales were agreeing on the different elements of that pipeline, what was important, where we should focus, and where the problems were.
For me, that was as much a win as anything because I think before that time, that was the biggest first step issue that most marketing sales organizations faced. I don’t know what you think Matt, but that’s where we landed, seeing that scale at 80, 90, 100 million in revenue.
Matt: Well, there’s the play book, right? There’s the things that have worked elsewhere. There’s things that work in most companies and then there’s your company. I think if you read the book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things, you realize that no matter how many times you read predictable revenue, no matter how many times you read good to great, you can read all the strategy and all the insight books you want, but it’s figuring out that for your industry, your business, your moment in time, is difficult.
I guess to round that out then, take all that learning, all that success from Eloqua, applying that to Nudge. I’m sure there’s plenty of places where you already have an advantage because you’ve done it. You’ve learned it. You have some of that play book, but now you’re in a different business with a different product, with a different everything. Those lessons aren’t always immediately transferable are they?
Paul Teshima: That’s absolutely correct. In fact, I would say that the biggest thing Steve Woods and I always check ourselves on is that what we learned 10 years ago or eight years ago, doesn’t always apply into this new world of modern sales and marketing. Look at companies like Slack or Intercom where they’ve taken a very product led, go to market strategy, and they’re supplementing enterprise sales revenue with sales service revenue. It’s a very different model where you can land and expand with 10 sales seats or 20 marketing seats and then grow from there. I do agree with you completely that based on your business model, your go to market, and your industry, it can be different.
Matt: Just to go further on this Twitter question we had, I think behind that question might be, I don’t want to infer what someone is thinking, but it might be like when is this going to work? When is it going to be easier? I’ve had a lot of companies come to us and say, “Listen. Once we have a couple more successful companies, once we get some case studies published, once we launch our 4.0 product, it’s going to be easy. Everyone is going to be knocking down our door.” I have yet to find a business or an industry or a situation where selling is easy.
I think the best situation, and I wrote about this on our blog a couple years ago, the best possible selling situation that I have seen in the environment is a couple years ago, the Golden State Warriors were just beating everybody. I think it maybe it was last year or the year before when they had the Super Bowl in town and the Saturday before the Super Bowl, they had the Oklahoma City Thunder were in town, and so it was a big game right before the Super Bowl. A bunch of celebrities in town.
A friend of mine runs Premium Sales and Sweet Sales for the Warriors. You would think in that moment in time, he has the best sales job in the world. He said, “It was incredibly stressful. Yes, we had great demand. Yes, lots of people wanted stuff, but we were still trying to get top dollar. We weren’t just trying to fill Sweets. We were trying to get people to buy food and beverage. We were trying to get them to get the mascot to show up.” As soon as every one of those games ended, the inventory was gone.
Even in the best of conditions, selling is hard. There is never a time that I’ve found where it gets easy or it gets automatic. You are grinding on a regular basis and if you’re in sales, if you’ve done sales, you know that there are things that can make your job easier, in-bound leads can make things easier, market awareness can make things easier. You’re a big well-known company and it makes it so the people might answer the phone more, but you still have to get the deal.
You still have to get people to sign. You still have to get someone who’s distracted and busy to make a commitment. I don’t mean to discourage people. I think more just to share from both Paul’s perspective as well as what we’ve seen across multiple different industries and businesses. Look, you can create that pipeline. There’s always going to be a level of challenge and difficulty in making that work. I’ll get off of my soap box. Let’s talk a little more about Nudge. How about that? Hey, for those of you that are interested in learning more about this great relationship selling tool, I definitely encourage you to check it out. Go to Nudge.ai. That’s N-U-D-G-E.ai.
One of the questions I often get Paul, from people, whether they’re using Nudge or they’re using LinkedIn Sales Navigator, they’re getting buying signals, they’re finding opportunities to engage. Translating insight into action can sometimes be difficult for people. Understanding, okay I see that I should contact someone. I see that something happened in their business. How exactly do I reach out? Do I just call and say, “Hey, I saw this?” Do I call and use that as a way to sell someone? What are some of the best practices you’ve identified and that you guys evangelize at Nudge for how to translate those insights into a next step and an action?
Paul Teshima: That’s a really great question actually. The question actually that we are right now working with a lot of customers on because it’s very different from say a BDR perspective having an insight where you maybe just want to high level mention something to show. All you’re trying to show in that situation is, “Hey. I have actually spent some legitimate time looking at you and your company and your situation” versus just blasting out a series of emails without a lot of thought, versus in a sales process when you’re actually engaging, where you actually have to provide context around the insight because you’re not just now trying to say, “Hey. Respond to my email.” You’re actually trying to show you understand their business.
What we actually developed is a series of play books that looks at different insight types, whether it’s an exec change or an earnings announcement or and MNA event or a new product line. Then allowing that to tailor by the role within the sales process because it is different.
Matt: Those play books sound interesting. Now, are those available primarily to customers? Do you have those available up on the website as well?
Paul Teshima: Yeah. Right now they’re with customers, but certainly we will be publishing them because we think that that type of content is fantastic for anyone to consume and also to prepare a feedback loop as other people develop their own play books against insight driven type sales activities. Yes. The answer is yes, that stuff will be available soon, but right now we’re working on it with customers.
Matt: That’s great. I definitely look forward to checking that out. I think that is a big gap for a lot of companies and I think as companies not only think about how to do this with individuals, but how to scale it. Like what can they do to achieve that. All right, well we are unfortunately running out of time already one Sale Pipeline Radio. I want to thank our guest Paul Teshima who’s the CEO and co-founder of Nudge. Again, highly recommend checking out their site. Check out the product, give it a whirl. They got lots of great content on relationship selling as well. Check it out at Nudge, N-U-D-G-E.ai.
We’ll put a link to that in our show notes. Speaking of show notes, if you want to hear a replay of our conversation with Paul, you want to share that with some of your colleagues, you can check that out in a couple days at Salespipelineradio.com. We’ll have a transcript and a highlights blog post featuring Paul and his comments today on Heinzmarketing.com here in a couple days as well. Make sure you don’t miss any future episodes of Sale Pipeline Radio via our podcast, Google Play, iTunes store. Lots of great episodes coming up featuring even more insights from some of the thought leaders and some of the leading experts in sales and marketing in B2B. Thanks very much for joining us again today. On behalf of my great producer Paul, this is Matt Heinz. Thanks for joining us again on Sales Pipeline Radio.
Paul: You’ve been listening to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio, part of the many shows on the ever growing funnel radio channel for at-work listeners like you.