February 13, 2024

Building client success for zero churn at global scale-ups with Fadi Bassil

Join Alper Yurder and Fadi Bassil as they discuss strategies for success in sales and customer relations to reach zero churn in today's dynamic business environment.

Meet our guest

Fadi Bassil, Vice President, Global Customer Support at Incorta 

Customer Success Executive with over 20 years of experience leading and scaling pre and post-sales (Sales Engineering, CSM, Support) teams in high-growth software companies.

Key takeaways

  • Embrace opportunities for growth: Take risks and seize opportunities that come your way, even if they require stepping outside of your comfort zone
  • Transition from being a "doer" to a strategic leader by taking a step back to assess whether you're doing the right thing and considering fresh perspectives from others.
  • Execute fundamental strategies perfectly, emphasizing the importance of coaching, optimizing processes, and aligning leadership responsibilities with overarching business goals.
  • Understand and deliver value to customers, focusing on behavior-driven approaches to contract renewal and relationship management.
  • Enhance collaboration across revenue teams and align with buyer expectations by leveraging data-driven approaches to monitor user engagement and identify renewal signals.

Prefer audio format? Listen on Spotify!

Journey to London and EMEA

The conversation starts with Fadi Bassil discussing his diverse career journey from Lebanon to the UK, reflecting on how his upbringing during Lebanon's civil war instilled in him a resilient mindset of constant movement and exploration. Despite facing challenges in scaling his consultancy business, he transitioned to roles in analytics and data, ultimately finding his niche in sales engineering. 

“Five years in, I was thinking, hey, what am I doing here? I need something exciting. That's just too mundane. So in fact, my stuff, my wife and I just kind of flew to the UK and now, yeah, I've been in the UK for a while. Did my MBA here and then started a second company.”

Fadi's career-defining moment occurred when he seized the opportunity to utilize his French language skills, propelling him into a pivotal role that shaped his trajectory in the industry. Fadi's journey underscores the importance of embracing opportunities and maintaining a forward-thinking mindset.

“We were sitting in the office. The whole of EMEA was being run from the UK. And then the head of EMEA said, hey, we need a French speaker because we're starting to sell to France. And I don't have anyone who knows the product. Anyone's interested. So yeah, I am. So that was my first sales engineering role. And then that's how I fell into sales engineering.”

Founding a consultancy and leadership challenges

In this section, Fadi Bassil reflects on the highs and lows of his career journey, highlighting pivotal moments such as founding a consultancy in the UK and embracing opportunities like utilizing his French language skills to propel his career forward. He emphasizes the importance of risk-taking and adapting to life changes outside of work, which ultimately shape one's career decisions and trajectory.

“My biggest takeaway at some point was that I got to learn to sleep on the plane irrespective of what time it is or how long the flight is. You know, I think that's a skill and just wake up fresh on the other side.”

As he delves into his experience at Alteryx, Fadi discusses navigating the transition from a startup environment to a more corporate setting during the company's transition from private to public. He shares insights into the challenges and rewards of leading a sales engineering team through rapid growth, emphasizing the importance of embracing change, managing people effectively, and transitioning from a "doer" to a strategic leader.

“Because one of the roles of a leader is taking a step back and thinking, are we actually doing the right thing? Do we need to look at something totally differently? Do we need to get a fresh perspective? Do I need to hire someone external who thinks completely opposite to me because I'm stuck in my thought process? And being stuck to what I do makes it much more challenging.”

The new age for sales: Doing more with less

Fadi Bassil discusses the overarching theme of doing more with less in 2023 and 2024, highlighting the need to protect revenue and maintain high retention and efficiency within the team while fostering a positive culture. He emphasizes the importance of focusing on coaching, optimizing processes, and aligning leadership responsibilities with the overarching business goals. 

Fadi also touches on the evolving landscape of buyer personas, the increasing role of customer success in pre-sales activities, and the need for behavior-driven triggers in contract renewal strategies.

“I think we're executing and I'm executing on personally. And I see like this is again, a lot of the conversation and a lot of the folks that I've watched on your podcast as well in previous episodes, it's really going to basics, but then executing on the basics perfectly. And I see this, so separate from this, one of the things I guess that I've been a constant hobby of mine over the last like four years now is martial arts”

Moreover, Fadi shares practical insights into enhancing collaboration across revenue teams, aligning with buyer expectations, and leveraging data-driven approaches to monitor user engagement and identify renewal signals. He underscores the significance of understanding and delivering value to customers, emphasizing a proactive and behavior-driven approach to contract renewal and relationship management. 

Through his experience and observations, Fadi emphasizes the human element in navigating the evolving dynamics of sales and customer success in the modern business landscape.

“It may not be a popular comment, but I think going back to the very early steps of the sales process and making sure that we're actually selling the right solution to the right buyer. But then once something is sold, again, what a buyer wants is really value realization and putting this as the critical step in a post-sales process.”


Full episode transcript

Alper Yurder: So today in the therapy chair, we have Fadil Basil, who is the VP of customer success at Incorta. He has over 20 years of experience leading and scaling pre and post sales teams in high growth software companies like Outtricks and Quartz Ad, those consulting where he led massive growth journeys from $15 million to over $120 million, actually a couple of times. So we'll talk about all of that. Fadi and I know each other through a community network. We'll talk about that too. So a fun conversation is waiting for you today and lots of practical tips about being a leader in the space of customer success. So we'll talk about your success, your joy and pain and the journey, Fadi. Welcome to Sales Therapy. How are you feeling today?

Fadi Bassil: Yeah, I'm feeling great. Thanks Alper looking forward to our conversation

Alper Yurder: Excellent. Any good therapist starts with a childhood and growing up? Your name resonates with me a lot because it's a Farsi name, right? Am I right or wrong?

Fadi Bassil: Well, I think it's a Mediterranean kind of East Asian type name. Yeah, I'm Lebanese originally.

Alper Yurder: That's a man. Ah, OK. You're Lebanese. OK, I thought it was Farsi. OK, good. You're Lebanese and we'll talk about childhood and the younger years because I love understanding how the growing up experience shapes the people we are today, how we act at work, how we perceive work. So tell us about your younger years first. Let's start from those growing up years.

Fadi Bassil: Yeah, so as I mentioned, I'm Lebanese originally. Grew up in Lebanon. Had my first company there. And then, I mean, yeah, for people who haven't worked in the Middle East, it was a bit challenging on the cash flow collection side. So I said, hey, you know what? I'll just find a job, get a good job, get married.

Five years in, I was thinking, hey, what am I doing here? I need something exciting. That's just too mundane. So in fact, my stuff, my wife and I just kind of flew to the UK and now, yeah, I've been in the UK for a while. Did my MBA here and then started a second company. I guess I didn't learn from the first. Doing text mining consulting. Kapt added for...

a few years but then I ended up I guess I just like the excitement so I ended up traveling most of the time to Oman now as a side note it's an amazing country so definitely worth visiting yeah but then I guess I spent most of my weekends traveling back and forth and it wasn't sustainable so I said hey you know I had like a young child at the time so I said hey you know I need to just kind of settle.

Alper Yurder: No.

Fadi Bassil: And then that's how I got into Alteryx.

Alper Yurder: So, how old were you when you moved to London then?

Fadi Bassil: So I was 28, 29. Already, yeah.

Alper Yurder: Ah okay, I moved when I was 30. So yeah, around a similar time. And did you wake up to a frosty icy UK morning this morning as well?

Fadi Bassil: This morning, yeah, I mean, yeah. So I live down in Kent and most of the time it's nice. But yeah, I mean, but to be honest, I think it's needed. Winter was late this year. So I'm happy with that. Yeah.

Alper Yurder: Yeah.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, oh yeah for sure yes. We're dying for some snow. Have you had some snow yet? You might have already.

Fadi Bassil: Just the day, a couple of weeks ago. Not enough to actually enjoy it.

Alper Yurder: Okay, yeah, I think a lot.

The last time I saw London properly snowy, I wasn't here last year when it snowed, I think, but three, four years ago, it was so pretty. Anyway, I get signed lying sometimes. I want to go back to the younger years a little bit, though, before you came to the UK and Lebanon is an amazing country I love and full of diversity. It's Mediterranean sunshine is my favorite thing. Blah, blah. Which city did you grow up in? Where were you born? Tell us a little bit about this. OK, OK.

Fadi Bassil: Yeah, yeah. So in Beirut, in Beirut, yeah, so I was born in Beirut, I think probably to add a bit of drama, I would say like the first 10 years of my life was during the civil war in Lebanon. I mean, yeah, it's unfortunate. Did it, I guess, affect me personally? Not necessarily, directly, but probably that's kind of where it created the mindset of, hey, we need to keep on moving. There's always a need to move forward, try things, don't settle.

Alper Yurder: I think that's the Lebanese psyche, isn't it? Like every Lebanese I've met, probably you guys are like 10 times more outside than inside your country and everyone's a hustler.

Fadi Bassil: Yeah, there's I remember What what what no what one of the hobbies is collecting passports? How many passports can you have right?

Alper Yurder: Exactly. Yeah, I agree. Yeah, it's the same. Yeah. When I got my UK passport, I thought four years ago, it was like, finally I can travel. And obviously, Brexit was already there. So again, another side topic. So coming to the UK, let's start talking a little bit about your career. Can you talk us through the involvement and your journey leading up to that amazing experience at Alteryx?

Fadi Bassil: Yeah, yeah, so as I mentioned, like I came here, did an MBA and then I was like in a position, all right, what do I want to do now? Get a job or again, do something interesting. And I think like one of the things that probably,

consistently in the back of my mind is, all right, what's out there? What's interesting to try out? And this is where it was like at the start. So I'm talking like 2013 when it was the start of open social media becoming a thing. So like everyone is on Facebook, everyone's on forum, posting stuff. And then the tools to collect and make sense of this data is also kind of becoming available or becoming available.

And then that's where I like the idea, all right, let's make this something that brands can consume. And that got us into like the, like myself and my co -founder got us into this consultancy on how do we get all of this rich data that's out there and help brands make sense of it. We kept that for three years. But again, like anyone who's done consultancy knows, like there's a challenge always in scale. 

Especially when you're taking something new to the market as a consultancy rather like on on demand and then we started getting kind of projects broadly outside the UK and in parallel like my first child my daughter was born she was four at that point four months and I was thinking hey you know that's not sustainable over like weekends and stuff like that so I need to do something that's more reasonable so I stopped the

Alper Yurder: Yeah, of course.

Fadi Bassil :and then moved to Alteryx in consulting. So Alteryx is in a kind of poor context. It's a BI and analytics. So still within the analytics and data space, probably more established. So yeah, I landed into consulting. I landed into pre -sales and customer success, like sales engineering by chance. But I guess we can get into that. But that's kind of, I got into Alteryx into consulting. Yeah, I mean, to keep it short.

As a side note, we were sitting in the office. The whole of EMEA was being run from the UK. And then the head of EMEA said, hey, we need a French speaker because we're starting to sell to France. And I don't have anyone who knows the product. Anyone's interested. So yeah, I am. So that was my first sales engineering role. And then that's how I fell into sales engineering. And then I grew from there, built the EMEA team.

at Ultra, skeptical for six years and then now moved to Corte, which is another BI analytics solution. Like I've been there for, I've been here for like, kind of half years. Yeah.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, yeah, yeah, welcome to that. So generally in this section, I asked people about their career defining moments. So for you, it was the parlez -vous français moment, I guess.

Fadi Bassil: I would say like potentially it's been like a few moments across this journey. I think it's one falling into... Yeah, yeah. So I would say it's possible combinations of highs and lows like finding the opportunity to set up a consultancy in the UK. There's definitely a high, but then getting to a point where I would say...

Alper Yurder: So tell us some highs and lows then.

Fadi Bassil: where my biggest takeaway at some point was that I got to learn to sleep on the plane irrespective of what time it is or how long the flight is. You know, I think that's a skill and just wake up fresh on the other side. And then exactly like another one being a par le voo francais and then picking up that job and then just kind of growing. But I think like probably career defining moments just kind of looking at.

things that come my way and say, hey, you know what? Yeah, why not give it a try? See what happens.

Alper Yurder: Hmm, I'll take it on. Yeah. Yeah, I think that risk appetite, first of all, of course, and it's in the DNA. The Lebanese in you, I think we'll say, let's take risks. But also, you know, things like, for example, I'm a migrant. You know, I changed five countries and always had work permits and stuff was an issue. Money was an issue. So now being a founder, some people say it's a luxury. It is true because only at the age of 38 now I'm a citizen where I can travel freely, you know, I do have a bit of stability, blah, blah, blah. So those things are actually the defining moments in your career, not just opportunities presenting, but like how your overall life aligns with your career, I guess.

Fadi Bassil: 100 percent, 100 percent. And again, like having life changes outside work. Again, that defines decisions around work, you know, getting a new child, moving places, all of them influence decisions. Again there's no kind of better or worse, but these are kind of the spots on a journey.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, exactly. Coming to that Alteryx experience, I think numbers always excite people. As the book Le Petit Prince suggested, give numbers to adults. They will always be amazed by that. And of course, we are amazed by the shiny, you know, 15 million to 120 million experience. Can you tell us a little bit about that? What were you doing? How did your first experience with these pre -sales, engineering, customer success, these terms started again, highs and lows.

Fadi Bassil: Yeah, so in a way, being into sales engineering, I think at that point, Alteryx was successful globally, but then getting established in EMEA, whereby I was the second SCE.

Alper Yurder: Let's hear the juicy story there.

Fadi Bassil: And then the whole group in EMEA was eight people. So while Yes, it's an established brand, and that's the nice thing. It's like a startup environment, but within where there is funding, right? And you would know this. So there's less challenge like funding, but then it's still startup -y. Right? So that's something that we have to worry less about. And then going through the face of really like six years there, growing from the UK expanding into the different regions in the market year over year. For those who are in the South, it is a land and expand model, or it was a land and expand model. Probably it still is. And the nice thing about it, I think that we can get to this about like the conversations today about like...

Does CSM make sense or not? But without going on a tangent right now, I think it was at a point where it just made sense to have account executives and sales engineers own the account, land the account, expand the account, and you're owning the full life cycle of the customer. And then that, obviously I mentioned the French component, but then, okay, let's expand into the markets.

And as you grow and you're growing the team and expanding into EMEA, and that's something that American companies in a way, especially coming to Europe, have to, I guess in many cases have to learn from what I've seen, is EMEA is not one region. EMEA is probably like 30 different markets that operate very differently.

And then figuring out how do you then negotiate the differences? When does it make sense to go into the markets? At what phase? What to prioritize? How to test it out? How to rely on the partners? And being this early on, yeah.

Alper Yurder:Yeah, yeah. What funding stage was this when you started?

Fadi Bassil: So if I remember correctly, I think Alteryx was a Series E at that point. They've been in business already for 15 years, doing really well in the US. Came to Emilia.

Alper Yurder: Oh wow, already okay.

Yeah, I had that, yeah, I had that experience just, just before actually acquiring it. And I, it resonates, obviously it's a start, still a startup, but at the same time you have money, but at the same time you're becoming more corporate. The old, old folks hate the new way of working. The new folks are a bit more likable.

Alper Yurder: You know, they have a bit more salary because you're getting the more experienced people, the commission structures change. Oh my God. I don't know. Did you have any of those things as well?

Fadi Bassil: Yeah, yeah, and it's interesting. Yeah, I mean, exactly. It's interesting because you mentioned this, because in a way that was kind of like when I joined was somewhat of the transition period. So I joined like late 2015 and then Alteryx went public in 2017. So you can think of it as 2016 being like that transition.

Alper Yurder: Ah, there you go.

Yeah. Oh my God. Yeah.

Fadi Bassil: between being private and public and like the whole set up of going there. It's fun, it's definitely fun, it's definitely like a good learning experience with the right bunch of people.

Alper Yurder: And, If anyone's in those shoes right now, like if any of our listeners are, you were heading up the CS team, right? Sorry, sales engineering team. Okay. Full life cycle. So how was that experience? And I guess what advice would you give to anybody who is going through that at the moment based on your experience?

Fadi Bassil: So the sales engineering, yeah, but sales engineering was full life cycle. So pre and post sales.

Fadi Bassil: Yeah, so I think the biggest, I think learning, looking in hindsight is accepting the fact that in high growth companies at that stage in this transition, change, potentially annual change, sometimes more frequent is a given. And in most cases, that's for the better, as in figuring out the changes to the playbooks.

Fadi Bassil: messaging, how do we become more precise, how do we expand, how do we tune to the market. So one part has changed. Now, the other I think, and that would be a personal defining moment, I would say, in my career, is through this constant change again, people are a big component. And a leader's role is to

Fadi Bassil: take people on this journey. Change obviously is uncomfortable, exactly, and being aware that it's a responsibility of the person to be able to, one, know this, take it into consideration and make sure they are making the change as seamless as possible. Obviously it cannot be completely seamless, but taking the human component really changes.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, the hardest thing.

Yeah, I think there's a huge, huge difference between like being the doer, learning how to do, creating the playbook, then trying to onboard people, different skill sets. And I don't think, although we always presented careers linearly, it's not like some things people like some things they don't, you know, you might love the client interaction, but not love creating that process and trying to train everybody on it. Right. So I'm curious, like, what were your responsibilities when the team was smaller, when you joined and then how did they evolve as it got bigger?

Fadi Bassil: Yeah, I would think it's maybe somewhat typical of these transitions where it initially is more of a player coach type role. And then I would say, and I have two different experiences, my current experience versus the experience at Altres and they are both valid. And I would say they are important again, broadening or kind of grounding someone's skillset.

In Alteryx's days, because I would like to talk a little bit as well about the current world, because it's slightly different. In Alteryx's days, again, as a player coach, growing a team and being part of the team makes a lot of things easier. In the sense of having the initial respect when you're one of the early folks on the ground, knowing and being in someone's shoes almost creates like the inherent sense of people respecting you and listening to you, and there's less of a need to develop it. Now, the flip side to this, though, is over time, as they're all transitions from, like when, when then there are managers in place and they are, there are directors in place and there are like three layers of folks, right, operating the business, then the transition becomes, right, how do I learn?

Alper Yurder: Management, yeah.

Fadi Bassil: or unlearned being a doer. Because one of the roles of a leader is taking a step back and thinking, are we actually doing the right thing? Do we need to look at something totally differently? Do we need to get a fresh perspective? Do I need to hire someone external who thinks completely opposite to me because I'm stuck in my thought process? And being stuck to what I do makes it much more challenging.

Alper Yurder: I love that.

Alper Yurder: Alright.

Alper Yurder: I absolutely love that. How do I unlearn being a doer? Oh, God, that's so nice and juicy. You gave us a gentle nudge there to come to today, which is the third section of the show generally. So coming to today, I want to talk a little bit about the current issues CS is dealing with and you are dealing with. I generally like to ask the question in this way, but feel free to respond in your way. Generally, I go, what broke? OK, so what brought you to therapy today? What problems are you solving in your business?

Fadi Bassil: Yeah. I think that's fair, yeah.

Yeah, yeah. So I think problems, I would say 2023, 2024, the theme of this year, I think personally, and it seems like it's a broad theme is how can I do a lot more with less? Now, that's a constant in business. That's a constant in business. What makes it different,

Alper Yurder: Haha, great. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Fadi Bassil: Though, there's a sense that this is now reality and therefore we need to figure this out. And it has multiple components and I want to go back to the human element to it because doing more with less is two parts. How can I protect churn using the limited resources that I have and that's a combination of technology and people.

Alper Yurder: Yeah.

Fadi Bassil: The other component of doing less with more is how do I incentivize and keep the individuals on my teams productive and positive without all of the support, SPFs, bonuses, like all of the financial incentives that are historically there.

which were somewhat of an easy answer to drive positive engagement. So that's kind of the constant part.

Alper Yurder: Yeah.

Fadi Bassil: I think we're executing and I'm executing on personally. And I see like this is again, a lot of the conversation and a lot of the folks that I've watched on your podcast as well in previous episodes, it's really going to basics, but then executing on the basics perfectly. And I see this, so separate from this, one of the things I guess that I've been a constant hobby of mine over the last like four years now is martial arts.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Fadi Bassil: and specifically like kickboxing and then coaching around kickboxing. And I see a lot of parallels because like in the amateur level, you see like everyone doing all of these fancy moves and like spinning and jumping and like just kind of trying to be impressive. And then as you go up into the professional level, you see like everyone is sticking to the basics, but they execute them perfectly, like perfect timing, perfect movement.

Alper Yurder: Oh, I love that. I love that.

Fadi Bassil: And that's what we need to do in business.

Alper Yurder: So what are those basics you are trying to execute perfectly Len? Give us a few practical examples.

Fadi Bassil: So within customer support and customer success, I think like a few things. One, being super clear on what it is that's adding value in the interactions with the customer. Everything else that we deem fluff should go away. Because again, when you have the same amount of hours in the day with a lot fewer individuals on the team, you need to be very, very and prescriptive about what you're engaging in. In the process, obviously, definitely doing a deep dive in process reviews. Again, what is it that we can optimize? What is it that we can take away completely? Can we look at something totally different? And again, like probably bringing in Elon Musk, he's a divisive character, but I recently saw that one of his drivers of success is the fact that he looks at something that's been done for a long, long time and then thinking, all right, if I go back to basics and then redo this from the start, do I actually need everything that I'm doing in here? Can I cancel it? And I think that's essential today.

Alper Yurder: Oh, I love that. And last night we had our founders dinner and we were thinking, what would you do differently if you were building Flola from scratch again? And I think that was kind of a similar conversation. Excuse me. Apologies. So, okay, you've given me so much. I'm like, okay, which, which direction I go, but I think I know where I want to go. I do have a few generally in this section. I take a few of the practical questions that our users ask me.

and then I relay them back to my guest and they do their best or not. So for example, doing more with less is definitely something that everyone's struggling with. And I'm wondering, is there a way to share tools, budgets, processes across the revenue team to make things a bit more effective, to make things or processes even more effective? And...

Fadi Bassil: I think that's a very good question, Alper. I think I would like to get on something that, again, one level higher.

Alper Yurder: Does that actually create value or does that maybe create some friction?

Fadi Bassil: Along the same line of what you're asking, I think one of the things of doing more with less is actually at the leadership level, looking at it as a leadership team with everyone responsible for the business versus responsible for their function. And again, nothing new. It's taking a step back and saying, all right, my primary responsibility is to the business and my

Fadi Bassil: peers on the leadership level or on the executive level. And if that is the case, yeah.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, but that's difficult what you say there. I mean, that's you're saying the ideal thing, but let's get real. Like, okay, you have a team you need to motivate and the other guy has their team. They need to motivate, you know, the traditional things like commission, blah, blah. That's already getting blurry because there's convergence and CS is becoming even more important in business. I mean, sorry for cutting you there, but I, I just want to make it real for people. How do you navigate that freak friction?

Fadi Bassil: Yeah, yeah. No, and. But this is where, again, we go back into the practicality of your question. So with this in mind, then the practicality of the question is, so if we are looking at it as a group of executives or a group of peers, where are the points of savings? Where are the points of collaboration? What are the things that we can reuse or share? If I am looking at it as an information exchange, then do I actually need to have separate systems for everyone? Or can we collaborate? Again, the scale of the business, maturity of the business comes into picture. But then part of it is that mindset. Going back on...

Yes, so one of the things that I wanted to make sure that we did mention, because it goes to the point of collaboration, sorry not collaboration, like incentivizing and how do we do it outside commission. The other part of the human element of this is actually then the focus of spending more time with the individuals, with coaching, like focusing on coaching. Again, back to basics, it's not rocket science.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, it's not rocket science. I think the basic, the challenges, the basic human psychology comes in.

Fadi Bassil: But it's time. It's time.

Alper Yurder: Well, it's time because I mean, yeah, the buyer dictates the economy dictates, but the problem there, for example, with collaboration, no, no, no, like everybody knows, don't get siloed, collaborate, et cetera. But I think we go into our day -to -day routines and days become weeks, weeks become months. We don't even say those things, you know, unless you have some conscious nudges in your process to say, hey, it's been a month and we haven't had a chat about this incentive or this, you know, I don't know, efficiency.

Fadi Bassil:Yeah. Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm. Yeah. And 100%. So it's not just, and if we go back to execution again, it's the discipline. All right. It's.

Alper Yurder: Let's have that. And I think that that becomes really difficult when things are stressful as well. Like, you know, money is low. You need to be concerned about other things, but not just I guess, I would say.

Fadi Bassil: figuring out that it is the importance of actually having team conversations. It is the importance of setting time to align, like you mentioned. And that's part of leadership. It's not easy.

Alper Yurder: And in the current role you mentioned there are parallels, but there are differences to Altrek's experience. What is your main limit right now? What are you trying to achieve and improve in 2024, for example?

Fadi Bassil: So where priority for me in 2024 is really protecting revenue. So it's an objective of zero churn. I mean, however, again, this is executed against bias, really zero churn while making sure that I have high retention within the team, high efficiency within the team and a positive culture. Now, it's still a growth business. And obviously, the other side of this is making sure that new business, I mean, we have a new business, is driving new business. And the collaboration, so I'll give you a practical example of collaboration. And it's common in some places and some places it's not. But customer success post sales playing a role in...

the pre -sales cycle because they bring in realistic value, they bring in peer relationships. Everyone today is talking about one of the key selling points, like a CFO buys from another CFO before they buy from the salesperson, before they buy from the vendor. How do you create these relationships? Again, post sales can play a significant part of it.

Alper Yurder: Thank you.

Fadi Bassil: Part of this, along with other teams, obviously. And this is where collaboration comes into the picture, where I'm looking, all right, we're no longer into this phase where, oh, it's not my job to be in pre -sales when I'm part of a post -sales team. No, we're all looking at this growth target. We're all looking at this revenue target. When I'm protecting revenue, I'm also helping the sellers not have to worry to fill the bucket, which is very common in sales.

Alper Yurder: Yeah. Okay. There's a lot, there's a lot of good stuff, which is very much in line with what we preach in our strategy too. Like we just brought the CSX, but before the salesperson, for example, honestly, the way I see our process right now, our whole sales playbook, the first contact, the first, we don't call it a demo. It's a guided discovery, I guess it's all about hand holding, understanding the problem. The first contact to me is like the first touch of onboarding, to be honest.

Am I going to onboard you or am I not going to onboard you? And if I'm not going to onboard you, how do I make you an ally, a friend? How can I give you advice, a tip? So I think that mentality of always closing sales, you know, manufacturing line, it's kind of gone out the window. I hope it's never been my experience or what I preach, but do you feel like sellers are adapting to this new reality where client success is becoming even more?

Fadi Bassil: So I think it's a transition. It's a transition period where there's a...

Alper Yurder: Crucial, important, collaboration is becoming more important. Do you feel like they get it?

Fadi Bassil: Again, it's like depending on the vendor. I think I'm in the lucky position of being both part of a vendor, but then also being a buyer in my role. And the way I see it, it is a transition where there's a tension between having existing playbooks that have proved successful in the past and then we need to do them. An example being a QBR, where as a buyer, I would sit on a QBR and think, you're right, why am I here?

It's like there's literally nothing. They are showing the data that I already know. So what's the point? But then also moving into solutions and all things probably that I'd mentioned and I'll do the plug for flow now because one of the things like I gave you a feedback on this. What I look for as a buyer today is really the solution and the vendor that I'm trying to buy from moving out of my way. Right. Because I don't care about the technology as a buyer.

I don't care about who is doing it. What I care about is does it solve my problem? And if it solves my problem with the minimal interaction and minimal learning, I mean, that's even better, right? Because I can solve my problem now, not in two weeks time when someone has taken me through like 20 demos and like seven training sessions. And I think this is where businesses are transitioning into.

Alright, so if these are the buyers, and again, it's a transition, it's probably a generation of buyers, then we need to change how we sell to them. And then on the flip side, it goes to training. I mean, today, if I look at myself, probably half of the time I go and learn stuff off YouTube. If I look at my children, who are nine and six, and probably when they are the buyers, I mean, they do everything online.

Like there's nothing that they need to learn, they don't go and ask anyone. Everything is online. And I guess that's the change that we're going through right now..

Alper Yurder: Yeah. And how do you have the buyer at the center of things? How do you remove friction, complexity? I mean, it's really difficult because buyers, based on our research, want more autonomy, availability, but at the same time, they still want human interaction. You know, when they want, they have a question, they want it to be solved immediately. So it's going to be fun, fun to watch all that. And one step that I want to share actually on the call is, I read somewhere about this, this, this buyer trend.

Alper Yurder: In 25, I think over half the buyer persona will be women, like buying from vendors, like in those buying decision -making positions. I think it was a Gardner study. And I was like, wow. I mean, that's a fascinating fact. And then people are asking me about our influencer element, like we just mentioned.

how Gen Z is already changing the world of sales, etc. And they were like, do you think it really has an impact? I'm like, yeah, because that's now becoming 30 % of your workforce and how they buy and how they interact, you know, is becoming your reality. So yeah, fun times.

Fadi Bassil: Yeah. Yeah. And I think part of it is going back and taking a step back and saying, all right, so we had like, as we're building our ICPs, we have some assumptions about the personas that we're creating in these ICPs. What has changed, right? Which assumptions are no longer valid.

Alper Yurder: Love that. Before we come to the end, I have one question which probably is in everybody's mind. Maybe if you have any tips, tricks, your secret sauce, this is the one. How do I make sure my contracts get renewed and I don't lose clients? What are your top tips, learning from this over decades of experience to help people, to help founders who might be listening to improve that?

Fadi Bassil: It may not be a popular comment, but I think going back to the very early steps of the sales process and making sure that we're actually selling the right solution to the right buyer. But then once something is sold,

Again, what a buyer wants is really value realization and putting this as the critical step in a post -sales process. How do I work with my buyer to define their value, not my value, not whatever I'm preaching, but their value and their perspective? And then how do I deliver that? And then keeping the relationships. But obviously, I mean, if someone is in sales, that's the core.

core skill irrespective. Again, challenges when original sales don't fit, or we don't have the customer realized value. Their value, not our value. Or we have a wrong definition of their value. Right? And then third, we're not multi -threaded. Like we have one champion, the champion leaves. And then we're stuck.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, just making a note of that. So I think one thing I'll add to that is generally I like getting this idea from my CS leader guests. How far in advance do you start looking into a contract? Like, you know, how far in advance before the renewal date? Or do you have a scale?

you need to start taking action. And I know like, okay, you have to have an ongoing relationship, blah, blah, but like, do you start three months in advance to do X or do you have those kinds of triggers?

Fadi Bassil: Yes, I think where we've moved in court and I've seen it in many of the analytics companies. And I think that's kind of the benefit of being in a SaaS software space. There's a lot of data. And I think now the playbooks are more behavior driven versus time driven. In the sense of, are we seeing the engagement and the interaction on the platform? If we're not, this is a trigger point.

Fadi Bassil: to have the conversations? Are we seeing change in the account? Again, it's behavioral now versus time -based. And these are the triggers that we're moving into.

Alper Yurder: I love that and it actually is a nudge to me to ask the question in that way. So rather than time driven and waiting for something to happen, like look at the behaviors, are we getting the right behaviors? Signals, I guess, right? Okay.

Fadi Bassil: Yeah, and that's the benefit of having a SaaS platform. You see what the user, ideally, obviously, ideally you see what the users are doing.

Alper Yurder: Yeah. And on flow that you see too. Ha ha, shameless plug there. Cool. So this has been an amazing conversation, Fadi. Thank you. I think there's a lot we could cover more, but unfortunately we're coming to the end of our time and like any good therapist, I have to, you know, close the show on time. Any closing remarks before we go?

Fadi Bassil: Nice. I mean, it's been a pleasure. I think one of the things that we need to keep on focusing on with everything that's changing again, just the human element of all of this. I think as people build experience, I think we owe it to the next group after us to support them around this, irrespective of what's their role. I think that's important.

Alper Yurder: I love that. I completely agree with that. And I think a few takeaways from this conversation, which were really practical for me. And by the way, the last few shows I've been taking notes and going in front of, if anyone's watching it, they might be feeling, OK, is this guy not listening? Whereas I'm actually making handwritten notes because probably I'm a boomer. But there were so many. I had two pages of notes on this conversation and I thank you so much for it. It's a pleasure. My side too.

Fadi Bassil: Well, it's a pleasure. Thank you for sharing that as well. Thank you. I appreciate that.

Alper Yurder: Excellent. So that's a wrap on this episode of Sales Therapy. If you enjoy the show, watch us on YouTube, follow us on Spotify. You know where to find us on LinkedIn. Probably Fadi is there to be found too. And also I maybe forgot to mention, but Fadi is the CS chapter head of our London community in Pavilion. And I think he's accessible through that community too. It's been a joy. Thank you very much. And watch us in the next episode of Sales Therapy.

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