Why Buy from Hypocrites? – by Mark Kosoglow

I was reflecting back on the 2+ years Outreach has been helping salespeople (our own and our customers’). Honestly, it was a humbling few minutes of daydreaming which inspired some quick mental math. I wanted to share the results because they beg the question every company needs to ask when evaluating a sales acceleration (or any) solution: Am I about to buy from a hypocrite?

He just put up the definition of hypocrisy. WHAT!?!

Are you cringing a bit? I am as I type this. Ouch! That word hurts. That is a tough question to ask as answering it requires us to make a judgement.

So why did this harsh question pop in my mind after such satisfying reflections on my time at Outreach? Simple. Responsibility.

Everyday, my team is asking startups, fast-growing companies, and industrial behemoths to make significant investments when purchasing Outreach…investments in money, time, strategy, and most importantly, trust. If I am going to ask hundreds of sales leaders a month to risk their results and reputation on what we claim Outreach to be (both in terms of product and delivering success), then responsibility requires me to regularly ask myself if our product is at the very heart of fueling our own revenue growth*. In other words, integrity check up.

The beauty of numbers

So here’s the math I did: Our frontline sales and success teams total 60+ people as of today. Looking back at our growth from 3 incredible people on that team (David Lewis, Theron Glenny, and Jacob Turner – all still with us btw) to 60+ killers over the last 2+ years, I began to wonder how much of an investment would we have made in paying for our own tool if we hadn’t gotten to use it for “free.”

You see, our tool is the #1 reason we are successful. We’ve experienced unbelievable growth in 2 years on the back of our own platform….practicing what we preach. After 2 years, it continues to be extremely rare when an appointment is booked outside of an Outreach sequence or generated task.

I plotted the headcount growth for Outreach users in our own company over time. We use Outreach holistically. Literally, every customer-facing role here (SDR, AE, SC, CSM, Recruiters, etc.) uses Outreach daily to make sure we get the meetings we need to fill the funnel, drive deals through the pipeline, and assist our customers in using on our product to hit their numbers.

I calculate we would have spent $110,000 to date on our own product, all inclusive. This would have been, by far, our greatest expense beyond salary & benefits, bigger than even Salesforce.com licenses. This begs the question: Would I have paid for Outreach had I not gotten to use it for free?

Yes. Absolutely. Out of my own pocket.

We crossed $10,000,000 in revenue in 2016 with the core sales technology being our own platform, a $110,000 investment. Based on achieving that milestone, that’s a 909% return on investment.

Of course that 909% number has contributions from other sources, but not as much as you’d think. We have a lean tech stack on the sales side (only 4-5 other tools). We’ve run extremely lean on sales headcount. We’ve had next to no marketing. Admittedly, we have overloaded on resources to fuel our customers’ success like few companies have risked to do, because we know the power Outreach can have in the hands of a sales professional. All that to say, Outreach is the main driver of revenue growth — Outreach, the solution, is the engine of Outreach, the company.

Back to the hard question

I felt compelled to share the ROI story of our tool fueling its own growth after doing the math. They say perpetual motion machines are impossible. But, we’ve built one, and Outreach is feeding itself.

It’s a natural natural outcome of the research/results/reinvestment loop our Chief Product Office and co-founder, Andrew Kinzer, has created.

This loop is at the heart of why we will never be hypocrites. It says that the product/engineering research we do must lead to results for our own sales team (and, by extension, our customers’) in our own product so we can reinvest those results (a.k.a. revenue) back into more research to fuel more results…and on and on. I think very few products have such a direct path to betterment, dedication, and honesty. Being cognizant of that fact is a step toward corporate enlightenment and builds a culture and passion we are extremely proud of.

I challenge you to come to any of our sales offices to see if we are drinking our own champagne. Others have and here are the questions they’ve had answered, which helped them see the integrity with which we sell.

  • Do we rely on our own tool to sell? Yes.
  • Does every sales person have an Outreach window open in their browser at this second? Yes.
  • Is 90% of our SDR’s day spent in Outreach? Yes.
  • Would we pay for Outreach if we had to even though it’s our own product? Yes.
  • Do we sell in an account-based manner (and have all of the sophisticated sales ops process/systems in place to support that in an on-going manner – hats off to Manny Ortega and Scott “Eff’in” Wong)? Yes.
  • Has our product allowed us to completely understand how to toe the line of personalization quality and activity volume to maximize returns? Yes.
  • Do we have the visibility we need to properly help our sales people be successful using the data our product produces? Yes.
  • If you listen to any podcast or read any article we put out there, come to the office, and will you see that content in practice? Yes.
  • Would you see us using the best modern strategies versus just writing posts about them? Yes.
  • Are we so hooked on our product we even use it for non-sales functions like building out our engineering team and other recruiting efforts? Yes.
  • Do I, as a senior sales leader, use Outreach everyday? Yes. Really? Yes, used it 15 minutes ago…and loved every second of knowing the person I am trying to get on the horn is about to get followed up with like a champ without me having to do anything! Did I mention how much I love my own product? Damn, it’s awesome.

So before you place your trust, reputation, and revenue in the hands of someone’s solution, ask yourself, “Are we buying from hypocrites?” If the answer is not unequivocally “no,” run to the place where you are served the same champagne we consume everyday to toast the successes of our customers.

*I encourage you to ask some of our vendor/partners like Datanyze, Zoominfo, Node, Pattern, ChiliPiper, and Ambition about how fiercely I enforce the mantra “We refuse to build our company outside our own product. It’s hypocritical.”

Trapped in the back of an athletic shoe store in 1992 in rural Mississippi watching 14 VHS tapes on consultative sales, Mark Kosoglow’s sales career began. He went to college to learn how to sell, and after graduating, got his first job selling where he built one of the nation’s largest sales territories in the education-fundraising industry. Currently, Mark is the VP of Sales at Outreach.io, a sales communications platform helping sales teams outwork their competition by automating their sales processes. You can connect with Mark at LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

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