February 28, 2024

From UK Start-up to Global Sales Tech Leader with Guy Rubin of Ebsta

Join Alper Yurder and Guy Rubin as they discuss his journey as a founder and the challenges of being a UK-based startup in a US-heavy industry.

Meet our guest

Guy Rubin, Founder and CEO at Ebsta

Guy Rubin is a leader helping B2B sales teams scale their revenue engine. He founded Ebsta in 2012 with an aim to score the world's business relationships.

Key takeaways

  • Take the time to learn and gain experience before becoming a founder.
  • Partnerships can be a successful approach to entering the US market.
  • Businesses need to become more data-driven to improve sales performance.
  • Understanding the DNA of top performers can help level up the rest of the sales team. 
  • AI-powered call analysis and qualification can streamline the sales process and improve qualification accuracy.
  • Building strong relationships with customers is crucial for revenue growth and success in onboarding and customer success.
  • CEO communities provide valuable support and networking opportunities for business leaders.

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Watch the highlights

Early career lessons

Rubin started his career by leaving school at 16 and working as an accountant. He then transitioned into sales and found a passion for it. He also developed an interest in data. Later, he co-founded a business in the recruitment industry, where he learned the importance of data quality.

“Well, look, as I say, I was always very passionate about the profession of selling and I've always had a keen interest in the influence of data. So in our first business, the world of recruitment was changing and companies were going from receiving resumes through a fax machine to receiving them via email.”

Rubin believes that your 20s are for learning and gaining experience by working for others. He advises people to focus on learning and building a strong foundation in their 20s, rather than chasing quick wins or high income. This will allow them to build a sustainable career with consistent income growth in the future.

“So I think having the discipline to work within someone else's environment for a decade, get through that in your 20s, in my opinion, gives you the best possible chance of succeeding in your 30s. And bluntly, while those in the 20s won't necessarily want to hear this, it's OK to be broke in your 20s. It's OK, but it's not OK to be broke in your 40s and your 50s.”

Expanding to the US as a UK-based company

Guy Rubin, the founder of Epsta, shares his experience and advice on expanding to the US market as a UK-based company.

“I got so much advice for new founders as they go on that journey. I think, you know, first of all, do the planning. I think it's probably fair to say I've made every mistake in the book over the years, but I just try and make only I try and make that mistake only once at a time. So or only ever make the same mistake once.”

Rubin acknowledges the challenges of being based outside the US, such as the need for frequent travel and the difficulty of hiring salespeople. He also highlights the high cost of traditional sales methods in the US.

“Yes, as I mentioned before, I've made every mistake in the book. So we've tried hiring people in the US. We've done things in lots of different ways. I think the partnership motion took time, a lot more time than we expected. I don't think we saw any material results for 18 months. But now, over the next year, I expect at least 30 % of our new business revenue to come through those partnership relationships.”

To overcome these challenges, Rubin recommends building partnerships with US companies. He emphasizes the importance of finding partners who can integrate Epsta's product into their existing offerings and incentivize them to promote Epsta to their customers. Rubin also suggests that product-led growth (PLG) can be a viable option for some companies entering the US market.

The role of data-driven sales insights

This podcast section talks about how to improve sales and revenue through data-driven insights and relationship building.

“I think the market has changed. I think SaaS businesses are cutting out tech rather than introducing new tech now. There's a huge consolidation going on. So I think your low-hanging fruit as in all B2B sales, relationships are driving revenue. And therefore, knowing the people you've got a relationship with are the first place to start. So depending on where those relationships sit.”

Guy Rubin, the founder of Ebsta, emphasizes the importance of understanding the DNA of what good looks like in sales. By analyzing a large amount of data, Epsta has identified that the top performers are twice as likely to self-source their own opportunities and are much clearer about which leads are the ones they want to work on. Additionally, top performers are ruthless about only working with qualified leads and closing deals at least 30% of the time.

“The customers you are most likely to retain are the ones you've got the closest relationships with. The customers you're most likely to cross-sell and upsell to are the customers you've got the closest relationships with.”

Rubin also suggests that companies should leverage technology to automate tasks and free up salespeople's time to focus on building relationships. For example, Ebsta's call AI features can automatically record and analyze sales calls to help identify areas for improvement. Overall, Rubin argues that by using data and technology to enable salespeople to focus on the things they are best at, companies can improve their sales performance.


Full episode transcript

Alper Yurder: So today in the therapy chair, I have an amazing guest, Guy Rubin. who's somebody that I have been looking forward to having on the show. He's the CEO and founder of Ebsta, a revenue intelligence platform, which is lovingly used by almost 500 paying clients across the globe. And actually, he's one of, in my eyes, one of the UK's top innovations in sales tech, which we'll talk about because it's a very US-heavy industry sometimes and standing out and… Becoming a leader in your industry, I have things to learn as another UK founder. But Guy built his career in sales and revenue and recently was recognized by Pavilion as one of the top CEOs in the world of SaaS. And he's also a Pavilion ambassador. We'll talk about his success, the joy, the pain, and the journey. With that, welcome to Sales Therapy Guy. How are you feeling today?

Guy Rubin: Alper, thank you so much for the introduction. Yeah, feeling good. It's been a busy week, lots happening in our world. And yeah, just got back from the US and heading back out there on Tuesday. So yeah, keep busy.

Alper Yurder: Oh wow. How frequent are these communes lately?

Guy Rubin: I'm probably spending almost half my time in the US at the moment, so it's keeping me busy.

Alper Yurder: Oh my God. Okay, there's the reality for my co-founder, to whom I always say at some point, we're going to have to end up in the US and we'll talk about that. So, Any Good Therapy starts with growing up years and how it shapes your values, the person that you are today, how you act in business as well today. So, can you tell us a little bit about your younger years? You are currently in London, if I'm not wrong, but are you from London? Where did you grow up? Tell us a little bit, the story up to, you know, work life.

Guy Rubin: OK, so yeah, I did grow up in London, although I lived in Colorado for a couple of years in my early teenage years. I was never a particular academic. School life wasn't really for me. I wanted to get out and earn money. So I left school at 16. Just very driven, I suppose. I wanted to change the world. And I suppose I felt that the best way of doing that was to...

Alper Yurder: Was there a particular reason for that?

Guy Rubin: to get into the real world as quickly as possible. So my father insisted that if I was going to leave school at 16, I needed to go and get some sort of qualification. So I trained as an accountant until I was into my early 20s. And then I stepped out of that world into software and sales. And...

Alper Yurder: Alright.

Guy Rubin: found a passion for everything that is the profession of sales. Really, I'm a sales geek, it's probably fair to say, and also a massive data geek as well. So that was kind of the two things that drove me into the directions that we went into. And then I was involved in another software business that was selling technology into recruitment companies. And that's where I met my business partner that we then left.

Alper Yurder: Love it. Good.

Guy Rubin: that company and set up on our own and Ebsta is now 12 years old. So that's the journey we've been on.

Alper Yurder: Wonderful. 12 years old. Yes. We'll talk about all of the journey, but because I'm curious, I ask a few things. One is things that I am absolutely curious about very selfishly myself because obviously, my guests are people that I look up to, I admire from afar, and then I meet them and I'm like, OK, I want to learn this from you. And then there's questions that come from our audience or our users who are in the world of sales, customer success, especially complex sales and RevOps. So definitely today people are in for a treat. Let's talk about the road to success a little bit. Like obviously achieving it is not easy. People look up to you and they say, okay, wow, this guy, it feels like he's living the life. He's making it in the world, his impact. How did your career journey start and how was it for you coming to today?

Guy Rubin: Well, look, as I say, I was always very passionate about the profession of selling and I've always had a keen interest in the influence of data. So in our first business, the world of recruitment was changing and companies were going from receiving resumes through a fax machine to receiving them via email.

Alper Yurder: For my audience, you need to describe Guy what is a fax machine.

Guy Rubin: Yeah, well, there we go. So in the early 2000s, people were still submitting their resumes via post or through a fax machine. So we saw that change and everyone started the explosion of the job boards and people emailing in their resumes and suddenly recruitment companies who were inundated with far too many resumes they could ever manage. And so our original business,

Alper Yurder: Oh my god, okay.

Guy Rubin: turn those resumes into online profiles and then we could keep those profiles up to date in one place, irrelevant of which recruitment companies the candidate applied to. So I suppose it was a LinkedIn model before LinkedIn existed. It's fair to say we never made it as successful as LinkedIn, but it was a really interesting business model and took us down a journey of recognizing the impact and the importance of good quality, consistent data in a central customer system, in a system of record.

Alper Yurder: I mean, having seen a lot of people in my 15 years of sales career, there are some careers that give you tough love and teach you things in a very tough way. And recruitment is cutthroat at times really difficult where you have to be resilient. You deal with people on both sides. Your product is the people. It's such a challenging, complex sale. Don't you feel like? And I'm sure people right now in our world where firing is the word, hiring must be really difficult and helping hire is difficult as well.

Guy Rubin: Yeah, I think so. And again, I think it's a brutal place to learn your trade. And if you can be successful in that space, then I think there's all sorts of other opportunities. But the reality is that the recruitment industry is quite a small industry compared to the wider sales ecosystem. So for us, it was a great place to learn and to have a big impact on.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, exactly.

Guy Rubin: And then we took that learning into the wider sales community when we set up Ebsta. And that really kind of led us down the path that we're on now with our original product, which was all about fixing the data for customers in CRM, because you can't be data-driven without good quality data.

Alper Yurder: So you're one of the founders who was fixing his own problem in a way.

Guy Rubin: Exactly, yeah. So, you know, recognizing that relying on humans to manually log their activity, create contacts, or keep them up to date in CRM, especially if those people are salespeople, means that you'll never have consistent data. And so rather than trying to beat them up and train them on admin tasks, you're much better off putting an engine in place that takes responsibility for all of these admin tasks and then training your salespeople on objection handling. And qualification methodologies and things that are actually going to make them better at selling rather than just better at admin.

Alper Yurder: And in all these years of maybe like let's talk before you started Epsta and after you started Epsta, what would you say the highlights and lowlights of both have been so far for you looking back all those years?

Guy Rubin: I suppose that the highlights for me are the relationships we've built through the journey, right? So I very much believe that the people that we go through this journey of life with are your family, whether you share blood with them or not. And it's fascinating to see which people come into your life for a small amount of time versus those that come in for a much longer period of time. And the opportunity to work with some incredible people and to be surrounded by and learn from some incredible individuals. I've been very blessed to have that in my life and that's probably my highlight. I think on the low lights, again, probably losing some of those relationships. Sometimes you have to make some really tough decisions about rationalizing the size of the business or perhaps separating out, moving away from certain relationships over time. And I think that can also be quite a low light. So very much a relationship individual. And paths continue to cross over our lifetimes. And it's fascinating to see who continues to have a positive influence on your life and who just dips in and dips out.

Alper Yurder: You're obviously a founder for now, the better part of your career as far as I understand. Did you, so then you always knew you wanted to be a founder, right? Like for me, after consulting for six years, sales leadership for eight years, I never, I took a sabbatical and I said, I'm never going to be a founder. And then here is life because things aligned. But my co-founder, for example, he's always been a founder. This is for startup. Which… Which team did you play for? Did you always know you were going to be a founder and that's what you wanted to do?

Guy Rubin: I think, I suppose if I was to give others advice on this, I have quite a traditional view on things. So I believe that if you're a talented individual, could you go off and set up your own thing in your early 20s? Sure, you could, right? But should you? And I think my view on life is that your 20s are your apprenticeship years and surrounding yourself with people that are more knowledgeable than you, that have more experience, that are able to provide you with that knowledge and experience and expose you to process and consistent ways of doing things means that if you can have that discipline to keep employed during your 20s, because let's be honest, once you're a founder, you don't go back. It's very difficult to go work for someone else again, right? Which, you know,

Alper Yurder: Let's talk about that one too. Oh god, that's something I'm going through at the moment. I'm like, if something fails, will I ever go back? Will I ever be able to go back? It's gonna be super hard, I think.

Guy Rubin: It's very difficult to go back. So I think having the discipline to work within someone else's environment for a decade, get through that in your 20s, in my opinion, gives you the best possible chance of succeeding in your 30s. And bluntly, while those in the 20s won't necessarily want to hear this, it's OK to be broke in your 20s. It's OK, but it's not OK to be broke in your 40s and your 50s.

Alper Yurder: Okay.

Guy Rubin: So what you really, where I see people have struggled in the past is when they peak very early, when they're earning really good money in their early 20s and all of a sudden they build a lifestyle around that level of income and an expectation that that income is just gonna linearly increase every year, year on year, year on year. And I think when you peak early and then you have a dip, it can really affect your mental health. I think it can really cause you real challenges. And… And while I think the temptation is to go after the short cash or the quick win, I think having the discipline to focus on your learning in your 20s, they always say you should either be learning or earning. And if you can keep that learning curve as steep as you possibly can at all times through your career, but in particular in your 20s, and prioritize that over earning, then what you're doing is putting down really good solid foundations. So as you progress into your 30s and your 40s,

Guy Rubin: you have that opportunity to actually build on that foundation and build yourself a sustainable income that can grow consistently year on year, rather than kind of jumping at the shiny dollar early doors. So, well, I'm not sure that's how much people will take that advice on, but those are my views.

Alper Yurder: Perfect. That is... You know what, Guy? I have a tendency to cut people because at some point I think I have developed this ADHD habit now where I'm like, I lose interest and I'm trying to make sure that people say something interesting. In those last two minutes, you poured pure gold and such good life advice for people in those ages and it made me reflect on my life as well. So, you know, for two minutes I was like, okay, this should continue. Preach, preach guy. And I love that. I would love to actually deep dive into that, but I have so many questions for you. So I'm going to move on a little bit from there.  I have a question in mind, which is very personal. You're from the UK, I'm from the UK, and we play in a field, I think many sectors are like this, obviously very US heavy, US dependent, or either the technology comes from there sometimes, or the biggest market is there, et cetera, et cetera. And I discovered that sales tech, the one that we are in is that. But being a UK startup and the US market being such a big market and you now spending a lot of time there. A few questions on that, if you don't mind. What's the biggest challenge of being UK-based? And I know you don't like that word that much because obviously you're a global brand and that's what all we have to be. But at the end of the day, we came out of this country, right? How does that play into do you feel like there's a challenge to that an additional disadvantage to that or is it an advantage? Do you want to comment a little bit about that? Maybe like shed a bit of light to a new founder who is on that journey.

Guy Rubin: Yeah, I got so much advice for new founders as they go on that journey. I think, you know, first of all, do the planning. I think it's probably fair to say I've made every mistake in the book over the years, but I just try and make only I try and make that mistake only once at a time. So or only ever make the same mistake once. I think.

Guy Rubin: We're all, we're dealt the hand we're dealt. And we are, I'm based in the UK, my team is based in the UK and we're passionate about a market that is global. So we have customers all over the world, but I do agree with you, over half of our customers are in North America. So how do we deal with that challenge? And I think inevitably that is… That is an obstacle. As I say, I end up spending a lot of time on a plane, which can be a challenge and doesn't always help with the family situation either. So, also true.

Alper Yurder: Depending on which class you fly. I used to have that life as a consultant.

Guy Rubin: Yeah, also true. But, you again, every penny I spend comes out of my pocket. So, you know, you're also very conscious of that. So, look, it's I wouldn't necessarily say it's a disadvantage. I think it's just another challenge that we have to address. And so for us, you know, selling into the US in a traditional format is very expensive. OK, so if you wanted to hire a traditional sales function, first of all, having a lone wolf in the States doesn't really work. And then secondly, just hiring people in the States, my

Alper Yurder: There you go.

Guy Rubin: my limited experience of hiring salespeople in the US has been that everyone you talk to is an absolute god and a guru. Everyone you speak to is the, you know, if they were at company X, if they come from company X, they were the reason that company X was successful. And they've got these great narratives and they're very good at articulating how important and powerful they are and how big their black book is and so on. And I think that can also be a trap to fall into. I think...

Alper Yurder: I've agreed.

Guy Rubin: If you are going to establish a US office, then you need to bring the UK approach across. You need to bring the ethos of the UK team over there. So you need to go and be seen. You need someone from the UK to lead that charge if that's something you're going to do. Now, we tried that approach, but it didn't work for us, and we took a different approach. So the way we've been successful in the US has primarily been through partnerships. So having good strong relationships with partners and incentivizing partners in the correct way. If you are an ancillary feature or product or service over and above what the partner does, you will never get the traction that you need. If you want the partner to take you to market alongside what they do, you need to be an integral part of what the partner is doing. And incentivizing them at the same time makes sense. And if you get it right, you end up with a with a whole army of advocates in the US market actively promoting who you are and what you do. And, you know, we're a software business and we sell licenses and we're really good at developing amazing technology that helps sales teams to scale faster. We have a material impact on businesses' ability to grow, but we're not change agents. We're not consultants. But there are, there's a whole army of change agents in the market who are having an amazing impact on their customers and helping them to become a lot more data-driven and build sustainable, scalable revenue engines and sales teams. Now, by enabling those consultants, by giving them the tools, the technology, and most importantly, the data points they need to be successful, suddenly we're a key component in their value proposition. And so overnight, we now find ourselves as this small bootstrap business based in London with an army of partners in the US who are taking us into very different markets. We've got people that are taking us into the SMB space with us. We've got a free trial experience for HubSpot customers, people using HubSpot's CRM. We've got a mid-market play for those using Salesforce. And again, the expert advisors supporting the HubSpot community are different to the ones supporting the mid-market Salesforce customers. And then we have a go-to-market motion for enterprise, where again, once again, very different, much more strategic or strategy consultants are out there advising some of the Fortune 500 companies that have led to us becoming part of those relationships. So partnerships are a great way forward into the US market. And depending on what you're doing, if it's a light touch product, then PLG is also something that you can consider because then it doesn't matter where you are in the world because the customer runs their own sales process.

Alper Yurder: Yes. Yeah, but it's not a magic wand we discovered. I mean, again, this whole section where you're talking about US expansion in your experience, it touches home so much for me. Maybe it doesn't resonate with everybody. I just want to clarify a few of the points you mentioned, which are super relevant. You being the product that enables the technology, the software that enables the change agent is so real because I think it touches on this. A few things that you mentioned, like the sales gurus, everybody's an expert, everybody's a change agent, et cetera. So if you, as a product, if you're competing in that space, that's not where you have to compete. You have to empower, enable those people to do their jobs better. So they're going to be like, you will have a mutual benefit from this relationship. Was that always very clear for you? You just explained that, you know, we have all these partners, all these go to M motion, which is built on these agents who can use AppStat as an enabler or did you come to that after some trial and error?

Guy Rubin: Yes, as I mentioned before, I've made every mistake in the book. So we've tried hiring people in the US. We've done things in lots of different ways. I think the partnership motion took time, a lot more time than we expected. I don't think we saw any material results for 18 months. But now, over the next year, I expect at least 30 % of our new business revenue to come through those partnership relationships.

Alper Yurder: That's amazing. Wonderful. Well done on that because I relate to that so much and I'm sure it must have been a painful journey to discover those things and the days are going and weeks are going, results are not coming. You're doing some mistakes and I feel like I'm in a bit of a similar journey where we're discovering, you know, what's the best way to sell ourselves and that's well done. When you say that 30 % of revenue comes from that, that's a very nice dream to look up to.

Guy Rubin: Well, no, I appreciate that. As I say, it's been a long slog, but the technology itself is almost a byproduct. It's more the data points and the insights in particular. So one of our USPs is we score engagement. So we try to digest as many data points from the customers as we possibly can. And most companies are using a whole host of technology, but most of these technologies write data points back into CRM. So if you're using Salesforce as your CRM, you might have… You might have marketing intent data flowing in there. You may have data points from core recording technologies. You know, obviously, we're interested in, we connect to your core records, but also your email traffic and your calendar events, not just to people that use Salesforce, but across your entire organization. Understand, and we use that traffic to understand who in the business you are actually engaging with and how much momentum or engagement have you got with each of those stakeholders. And we distill that down to a single data point, we call our engagement score. And we know that even in today's technology-driven markets, in B2B sales, relationships still drive revenue. Okay. And so by codifying what a relationship is and being able to look back over the last year or two and understand how much momentum you need with different stakeholders to achieve a certain outcome, you can start to codify what good looks like. And then once you've got that benchmark, you're then in a place to identify risk in the live pipeline by comparing.

Alper Yurder: Of course.

Guy Rubin: deals that are in flight, deals that have closed one in the past, to know that look, at this stage we'd expect to be this multi-threaded or have this much engagement with this persona and here's the gap. And that's what we need to focus on next as our best next action.

Alper Yurder: Love all of that. I mean, guy, I definitely have to have you back, but I have so many more questions that I'm going to have to move on because I want to get your insight and perspective on a few things. Maybe let's do a bit of a rapid-fire, maybe like under a minute, kind of your, your first thoughts on things. One thing that I'm very curious about is in all these years, your discovery of this following question, when is the right time to add a revenue intelligence tool to your tool stack? Revenue intelligence or customer engagement, let's say. When is that right time for any business?

Guy Rubin: I think it depends on the aspirations of the company. If you're only ever going to be half a dozen people sitting around the same table, maybe you don't need a CRM. So I think the answer to the question comes at the same time as the point when you bring a CRM into a business. The purpose of a CRM is a lot more than just becoming a central knowledge base or a repository of data or a list of targets or customers. The purpose of spending money on a centralized system is to help you scale your business. And one of the reasons we've got a free trial for HubSpot customers is because HubSpot CRM tends to be for smaller businesses, but it's quite light touch. And we effectively complement that with a whole host of intelligence features, whether that's pipeline insights or forecasting or cool AI features. We can enhance your experience within HubSpot and make the data clean and deliver you the actionable insights you need to move forward. I think what's really interesting is actually the larger the business that we engage with, the less change they can digest. So, you know, we talked briefly about the relationship intelligence piece of our solution, which is all about understanding what relationships are driving revenue within the business. The full suite that we have is what we call revenue intelligence. Now, when we deal with very large businesses, certainly outside of SaaS in particular,

Alper Yurder: Of course.

Guy Rubin: talking to them about revenue intelligence just blows their mind. It's just far too much for them to digest in any one go. And I think in SAS we beat ourselves up a lot.

Alper Yurder: I love it. Yes.

Guy Rubin: I think we all use acronyms by default. We all assume that the latest, greatest thing we were talking about last year is now old hat and no one needs to talk about that anymore. When you start talking to organizations outside of SaaS, they all look at us with envious eyes. The insights that we have, the data-driven approach that we have. We've got customers in the oil and gas space or in the infrastructure market. And these businesses are much, much more traditional. They're still working out of notepads, but, or at least a lot of the old sales reps are, but they have taken the step. They are in the cloud. They are using Salesforce and now they're, and they make this weird thing called profit, which is alien to us in the South, right? So.

Alper Yurder: I was gonna say, and they have the money.

Guy Rubin: And they look over at that and they're interested. They want to know now more about the way that the new worlds operate. And so you start introducing light touch features. If you're selling to bigger businesses, for us, introducing one data point to a global business, Fortune-500 company, if you can introduce one data point around, in our case, around engagement, around which relationships are driving revenue within their business. We're not talking about giving anyone any new buttons to push.

Alper Yurder: Yeah.

Guy Rubin: We're not talking about training reps on, you if you've got, if you've got two and a half thousand reps, you know, training you on a new feature on you, but that's a lot of work, right? But if what we can do is just enhance the experience they've already got, you know, we went into an organization the other day, we analyzed two and a half thousand mailboxes.

Alper Yurder: May I, Guy, may I just interject something before you go into the example and maybe you can touch on this too. This is such an amazing topic and I think the echo chamber of the SaaS world is real. And I'm very curious to hear how you evangelize it with others and you already started mentioning that. One thing I'm curious though is how do you, maybe you can also mention a bit like how do you target your first industry outside of SaaS to go after? Like you mentioned oil and gas. Why did you choose it deliberately? How do you tip your toes in the water? How was that experience for you?

Guy Rubin: Honestly, partner leads are the truth of it and try to understand the challenges within a particular market. So for example, in the pharma space, if you're trying to launch a new drug, there is a lot of regulation about what you're allowed to monitor and manage and targeting reps on revenue is not necessarily appropriate if you're trying to launch a new drug because that's not necessarily allowed. However, measuring their relationships they have in the hospitals or the pharmacies or the doctors or surgeries, all of a sudden, well, that is appropriate. And actually encouraging the reps to achieve a certain number of relationships or engagement, all of a sudden, that's a milestone that can be measured. So again, the more conversations you have, the more visibility you have of what the challenges the customers are having. So asking the right questions, doing the right discovery.

Alper Yurder: Yeah. But on the flip side, I guess why we are lazy and we go with our SaaS world, especially in the early days of a startup, is it's early adapters, it's easier, less bureaucratic processes, blah, blah. Is that true or is it a myth? What's your experience of trying to tackle other industries?

Guy Rubin: I think it used to be true. I think it used to be true. I think the market has changed. I think SaaS businesses are cutting out tech rather than introducing new tech now. There's a huge consolidation going on. So I think your low-hanging fruit as in all B2B sales, relationships are driving revenue. And therefore, knowing the people you've got a relationship with are the first place to start. So depending on where those relationships sit, you know,

Alper Yurder: Exactly.

Guy Rubin: will dictate when we left our recruitment software business, our first customers were recruitment companies in our new product. Now, it's fair to say that's not necessarily our core focus anymore, but when we started in business, we had to start somewhere. So we use the relationships that we have.

Alper Yurder: Yeah. Yeah. You've, you've definitely inspired me to resume some of those conversations that I have put on pause saying, oh, you know, too old school, too traditional, too complex. Definitely in March, I'm going to make it a priority to make one of them happen. So thank you for that. What do you think about our space that, you know, in general, in some ways, you know, allowing the understanding, the champion getting revenue insights, etc. Those are maybe a lot of tools that have it, but mutual action plans, digital sales rooms, everything about complex sales, multi-threading, etc. What do you think of our space of, you know, Flowla?

Guy Rubin: Well, I mean, look, I think sales organization, every organization that has a front office needs to become a lot more data-driven in the way that they operate. And so you'll be aware that recently, this is the third year of our B2B benchmark report. So we've literally, I think yesterday it went live, our 2024 B2B benchmark report where this year we analyzed more opportunities than ever over

Alper Yurder: Yes.

Guy Rubin: I think over 4 million opportunities were analyzed representing over $50 billion worth of revenue. And for the very first time, we also analyzed over a million hours of sales calls as well. And really, it's fascinating. Yeah, the data, the output was incredible. And I think what became apparent is that one of the biggest takeaways is that only 20 % of reps last year hit quota. And that's a real challenge because it's just not sustainable.

Alper Yurder: Oh, that's fascinating. Yeah.

Guy Rubin: And in fact, it's worse than that. Only 15 % of organizations had at least 50 % of their reps hitting 80 % of quota or more. So the data is stark and it's just not sustainable to live in a world where only one in five reps is hitting quota. So we need to do something about it. And historically, the answer was just throw loads more money at it because money was cheap and we'll just churn the ones that aren't working and hire a load more and then they don't work either and we go again. But that kind of “growth at all cost” model, it just doesn't exist anymore. And so we need to get cleverer. We need to do a whole lot more with a whole lot less. And it's very, very achievable, but it can only be achieved by becoming a lot more data-driven. By understanding the DNA of what good looks like, by breaking down what the top performers are doing at every stage of the sales cycle and understanding what they're doing well enough so that you can then replicate it with the mid -performers. because there's no reason we can't use this data. And what we've seen consistently through working with our partners is within three months, we can reduce the delta between the top performers and the average performers by half or double the number of reps in quota in just three months. And you can achieve that just by understanding the DNA of what good looks like. And so we try to break it down to the different stages of the sales cycle. So for those of your listeners, perhaps we can share a link to download the report. But...

Alper Yurder: We'll definitely share the, yeah, yeah, I will do that, yeah.

Guy Rubin: Very good. So in the report, what we've tried to do is break down what we're seeing the top performers doing differently to the average performers at every stage of the sales process. So for example, when we talk about prospecting, we see that the top performers are twice as likely to self-source their own opportunities. They're also much, much cleaner and clearer about which leads coming in the business are the ones they want to work on. And top performers at the qualification stage will close offers and lose at least 30 % of their opportunities because they are ruthless about only wanting to work through a sales process with someone who's in the market and has a budget and knows that they're going to make a decision on a definitive date. So and I can, you know, I can keep going through the whole sales cycle, but.

Alper Yurder: I definitely want to keep going on over it, but yeah, yeah, maybe. I mean, there's so many areas and they all coincide with what we're trying to do. Any other must-haves from the report, any other punchlines that you would definitely want to share, because those are fascinating facts.

Guy Rubin: Oh, look, so many. I think that the point is that delta between the average performance and the top performers two years ago was 4x. Last year it was 6x. And as we enter this year, we're sitting at nearly 9x. And we're living in a world now where those top performers can almost hold the business to ransom because they are so valuable and so precious. And actually, as leaders, what we need to do is help the rest of the sales team to level up. And we can do that by a number of simple things. Number one, let's take away any admin burden because frankly, they're not very good at it anyway. And actually relying on humans to do the admin means that the data we're leaning into to make decisions isn't consistent. So we need to put in engines in place to log our activity, create context, and keep them up to date. But technology can do a lot more than that now. So for example, I'm a huge advocate of qualification methodologies. So whether you want to use something like Spiced from the good guys at Winning by Design and Jaco, or you're a fan of Netpick or Medic or Band, it doesn't matter. But whatever methodology you've chosen to bring into your business, you can sit in a classroom and teach the reps how to actually fill them all in. But if you go back three weeks later, and believe me, we've done it, right? We've got a widget that sits inside Salesforce, sits inside HubSpot, and you can fill it in. And people love it, they buy it, it's great. But then when you look back three months later, no one's bothered using it. And why? Well, because salespeople are really good at building relationships, building business cases, closing business, building trust and so on. But what they're really bad at is the admin. So what we've recently launched, in fact, about six months ago now, we launched our call AI features where the call recording, the Zoom call or the team's call is automatically being recorded and the AI is analyzing the transcript and pre-populating the MEDPIC for the rep. And so the manager ends up with a green or red signal as to whether the opportunity has been qualified well enough to lead discovery. And instead of the rep having to do any admin, they're now just getting a flag and they only have to get a red flag once or twice before they… update the way that they do their qualification because they want to get out of discovery. They want to win. They want that extra flag. So yeah, currently using technology in a way that's going to enable the sales team and actually score every stage of the sales cycle so that we compare to deals that closed one in the past or the top performers means that the sales guys on the ground, they know what good looks like. If they can see in a picture format that, you know, a great one is we know that, for example, one particular customer did some analysis. When they're in an average sales process, they're engaging with three stakeholders. However, when they engage with six stakeholders in the sales process, they're twice as likely to win. Now, once you show that to the left on the ground in a picture, suddenly three months later, the average number of stakeholders they're involved with, six, right? So they want to win. And you've just got to enable them by showing them that, you know, if there's a particular persona within your organization that you sell to, that when they're involved as your champion, your win rates are much higher. Well, we did that with a particular customer. They knew who that persona was, or we were able to show them that persona, but only 8 % of their opportunities had that persona in as the champion. Now, again, by showing that to the reps on the ground, guess what? Three months later, 23 % of the opportunities they were working on had that persona engaged. And so you can enable these people by showing them what good looks like… and allowing them to focus on the things that they are experts at and take away the burden of anything that's admin-based. That's not to say we don't need the data, we absolutely do, but the machines are better at logging that stuff than the people are.

Alper Yurder: Absolutely, I agree, and all of the above. And I think there will be such great little digestible bites we can create from all that data-driven insights and best practice advice for reps. One thing before we go, I always like to ask this question to my guests is revenue is not just about the sales team. You know, there's others involved like client success is a big part of it. Onboarding is a big part of it. For you, in your experience, how did you improve the sales-client success collaboration in your organization? Or if, you know, Ebstre is helping with that a little bit, like how do you approach complex onboarding? Because the buyer, the user is the person that we need to really, you know, fascinate in the way that we provide the service. Do you have any tips, tricks to make all of that work?

Guy Rubin: Yeah, look, again, I could wrap it up and make it sound really complicated, but it's really simple. We know that relationships drive revenue and that revenue is just as important in new businesses as it is in onboarding or customer success, cross-sell, upsell and so on. Guess what? The customers you are most likely to retain are the ones you've got the closest relationships with. The customers you're most likely to cross-sell and upsell to are the customers you've got the closest relationships with. And… And not all relationships are equal. If you're doing your QBRs with the secretary, you're going to get a very different set of results if you do the QBRs with your principals and your customers. So knowing which personas are giving you the right outcomes, and they're not just, you know, went to a customer the other day and they were very proud of the fact they'd introduced QBRs. So great, fantastic. And what are the results? Well, they're mixed. I said, OK, well, why is that? Oh, we don't know. It turns out that the ones that are going really well, you've got buy-in from the C-suite. While the ones that aren't going very well, well, they're canceling meetings, they're not doing the QBRs, or they're putting a junior resource on it. Well, you're not engaging with the right personas, right? So knowing which personas your team are engaging with, encouraging them and setting up, almost incentivizing that. And again, if you've got an engine that's scoring relationships, that's telling you which personas they're engaging with, and most importantly, putting in gates and triggers so that you get alerts when specific relationships start to trend down is absolutely key. And that applies in all walks. We did a big piece of work with a huge consulting business and their average sales cycle can be a year or 18 months long. And they're spending hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars on that sales cycle, but they're only winning 30 % of their opportunities. And when we went in and did the analysis, we could show them very quickly that, look, the engagement on this opportunity started to trend off three months ago, but you didn't know that. So the sales reps coming in telling you how great they're doing, they've got a team of 50 people working on this opportunity. But it turns out the C-suite at the customer stopped engaging three months ago. Now, if we'd known that, we could have either done something to course correct and got re-engaged with the right stakeholders or made the tough decision to close the deal off as lost and move forward. And again, consistently, the top performers know when deals are not progressing at pace and they do something about it when they close it off as lost. But once deals start to slip, if you've got more than seven days without a next action at least agreed since the last meeting, the chance of that deal slipping is 65%. So keeping pace is absolutely key. And you'll see all of these data points and a whole lot more in the report.

Alper Yurder: Yeah, I have no words. I Love it. Okay. Now, as any good therapist, I'm gonna have to cut us on the clock. Just any closing remarks before we say our final words or any questions I should have asked you that I haven't.

Guy Rubin: Well, as well as being the CEO of Ebsta, it's also worth mentioning I'm also blessed to be the CEO ambassador for the Pavilion community. The Pavilion community is the world's largest community of execs for high-growth businesses. I'm particularly interested in the CEO piece of that. So there's a very specific motion for CEOs. And look, for what it's worth, being the CEO can be a lonely place, right? You know, the head that wears the crown, right? And I'm certainly not looking for any sympathy. However, having a community of other CEOs around you is always a good thing. And I've got so much value from that community. And I'd encourage anyone who's out there to think about getting involved in that. And if they want to find out more about Pavilion, I don't get paid any more money. I don't get any incentives for others to join or anything like that. But if you want to know more, please reach out to me on LinkedIn about what about Ebsta or about...

Alper Yurder: Yeah, don't worry about that guy. I don't even have an ambassador title on my thing, but for the last two years, I've been a Pavilion member and I contemplated for six months before paying for the membership. But once I have done it, I've probably referred five people who've become members in the past, whatever. It's yeah. Yeah. Well, definitely Pavilion is a great ally. Yeah, it's very special. It's a very unique community. And I hope we keep it that way, because let's be honest, there's a lot of toxicity in the sales community as well. And you don't want that. This has been an amazing conversation. Thank you for joining me, Guy. This is gonna be a wrap on this episode of Sales Therapy. If you enjoy the show, subscribe to us on YouTube and your favorite podcast platform. Otherwise, I'm looking forward to having Guy again on the show. I hope you enjoyed it too.

Guy Rubin: Good. Thank you so much for having me.

Alper Yurder: My pleasure. Thank you.

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