Get in touch

Show Notes

Removing Friction: On this week’s episode of Track Changes, Paul and Rich sit down with Noah Brier and James Gross ahead of a Postlight event to talk about the new trend that is taking enterprise software by storm, product-led growth. We discuss why the shift to PLG is as big as a transition for enterprise as the switch from on-premise to cloud software and how this move to more user-centric products removes friction from all levels of product implementation. 

Transcript

Paul Ford It’s a set of oils that you use in the bath, that lets you sort of [Rich scoffs] smell like Salesforce. 

Rich Ziade That’s—what does that smell like? 

PF Like regret. [Music plays alone for 19 seconds, ramps down.]

RZ Ok, Paul? 

PF Yes! Richard. 

RZ We pay a bunch of money every month to a bunch of different services that pretty much make the company run. 

PF Oh. Like all of our money. 

RZ A lot of our money! 

PF I wanna talk about that 360 review tool that we have. 

RZ Yeah. So we have a—

PF Which I’ve never seen. [Music fades out.]  

RZ We have a tool to review each other—when review time comes around called Lattice.

PF Because we’re the cofounders we never see it. 

RZ We’re not allowed to use it. We have a tool called Ping Board [mm hmm] that handles paid time off. 

PF God, there are like three or four interface things with Ping Board that drive me bananas. 

RZ And it has an org chart which is a nice little bonus. 

PF That’s nice, that’s true. 

RZ We have Google Sheets for shared spreadsheets; Google Docs for shared documents. We have Abacus for expense tracking.

PF DropBox; Google Drive. 

RZ We have DropBox; we have Google Drive; we use InVision to share prototypes. 

PF Figma; Sketch. 

[1:11]

RZ First off, it’s pretty awesome to not install servers in our office. So let’s—a round of applause for AWS or [yeah, that’s true] whoever else is hosting all these nice services. 

PF That’s true, I don’t have like—I don’t have to double-click something on my Windows desktop and—

RZ You know what else is pretty awesome Paul? 

PF Paying for over 2,000 pieces of software a month? 

RZ No, that’s not awesome. 

PF No, ok, I didn’t think so. 

RZ You know what’s awesome? Is all of these pieces of software, we purchase them without ever speaking to a smarmy human being. 

PF Isn’t that the dream? 

RZ Now, look, the downside is there are six different versions of file sharing that we have [laughing] at Postlight and doc sharing [mm hmm] but! We’ve never spoken to anyone. I mean for a little company it’s actually the only way we can do this. We can’t go and buy big, industrial strength software. 

PF Yeah, we’re not gonna get SAP for Postlight. 

RZ Correct. But one of the most important tools we use at Postlight—it’s maybe the most important, is Slack. It is the primary communication tool. 

PF Also, a little something I like to call common sense. 

RZ Nine dollars per user per month [Paul laughing] for common sense. 

PF A little somethin’ called respect!

RZ So it turns out there’s this trend around how enterprise software is making its way into companies. And we’re gonna talk about—

PF Wait, does this one have some letters that go with it? 

[2:23]

RZ So the trend is called—it’s not a trend, it’s an actual movement, an important one. 

PF It’s a revolution. 

RZ It’s a revolution called Product Led Growth and we have with us—

PF P-L-G. 

RZ P-L-G. 

PF Ok. 

RZ In short. Product Led Growth and we have with us, returning for their second podcast—we’ve only done this with like three people—Noah, I just want you to know that. So this is a very rare opportunity to be back on Postlight’s Track Changes. Noah Brier. Welcome, Noah. 

Noah Brier Thank you for having me again. 

RZ And we have his business partner, James Gross. Welcome, James. 

James Gross I’m so excited to be here. 

PF We are wealthy in cofounders today. 

RZ Lots! Four cofounders on one podcast. 

PF Mm!

RZ They were the cofounders of Percolate, a marketing platform company, and now they’ve moved onto a new venture which they’re gonna tell us a little bit about. We’re gonna talk about Product Led Growth. 

PF What is variance and what does it have to do with Product Led Growth? 

NB So, the very trend you guys talked about at the beginning of this podcast, lots of companies have lots of tools at their disposal. Right? And they’re using them to a sort of varying degree. So, on average, just within a marketing organization within an enterprise company, they have 91 apps. 

PF That’s in a marketing organization. 

[3:37]

NB Just in the marketing organization. 

PF Too many apps. 

NB It’s a lot of apps. But they exist for good reason, right? You know you buy all these things because they solve something that is a challenge within your company. 

PF You’re Facebook optimizer and your, you know, whatever. 

NB And so variance is a layer that can sit on top of any SAS application and can help every employee within your organization gain mastery over it. And so,  you know, the other side of buying all of these apps is that eventually work starts to feel like you’re just filling in boxes all the time, and we are trying to help shake that feeling, and from the employee side, make it easier to do their job more effectively. And from the company side, help them take advantage of all this software they bought for hopefully good reason. They bought it cuz they thought it was gonna have an impact on their business and if no one’s using it or no one’s using the right way then it’s not impacting them in the way that they hoped. 

PF But not necessarily replace all 91 apps, but rather orchestrate. 

NB We’re trying to sit on top of, be a layer that can help everyone get more value—

PF Get more value. 

NB We’re early days; we started the company a couple of months ago. We are gonna be going into alpha at the beginning of next year and then launching from there. 

PF Alright, great! 

NB We’re looking at a product led model where you start with individuals or small teams. They can put it on their credit card; they can try it at first; and they can get into using the product, and then it expands naturally. So, you guys use Slack. 

PF Sometimes—Zoom. 

NB You might’ve heard of some of these companies, DataDog here in New York. 

PF Mm hmm. 

NB I think if you look at most of the SAS companies that have gone public this year, they all have that in common, right? There’s very little friction in the process. You can sign up, you can try it, whether it’s for free or for a trial. You don’t have to talk to anybody. You don’t have to—they don’t make you get on the phone. And then you can start using it. And you can verify that it actually makes sense within your organization by verifying that it actually makes sense within your organization. 

[5:26]

PF Go back like ten, 15 years here and I need—What’s something that Oracle would normally sell me? This is like the classic. 

RZ Let’s make it even easier. Let’s make it something tangible: expense tracking. 

PF Ok. Ten, 15 years ago, I need to track expenses on a computer. What do I do? 

JG You talk to your local rep. 

PF Wlehh! 

JG And they might even—

RZ Man! 

JG They’re gonna pull out the portfolio. 

PF Ugh. 

JG And they might get a lawyer on the phone, they might not, based on what the terms are. 

PF That doesn’t sound like a good afternoon. 

JG No, it’s not. And I think that if you talked to most of the buyers that bought expense software 15 years ago they would agree with you. 

PF Is there any category that’s actually worse than expense management software? 

RZ Have you ever—I think it’s—I wanna take a shit on one of them. Can I do that on our podcast? 

PF It’s our podcast. 

RZ It’s our podcast. It’s called Concur. And it is a beast. 

[6:11]

PF Oh, you’ll see people melt down on Twitter about that. 

RZ It’s a beast of a p—has anyone here ever used it? [Faintly: no] The lights go dim in your house when you use it. It just drags your whole computer down. There may be a new version. This isn’t nice, what I’m saying right now, there might be a new, faster, cool mobile version of it but when I used it—

PF You have bad memories. You would do anything to avoid Concur in the future. 

RZ Yeah and it became very clear that this is something that came from on high. This is a deeply complex, deeply integrated system that was tied into the finances of this large company that I was involved with. And there’s something very beautiful about this, I will say. Because if you look at the rise of design as part of good product, you know, design started as a services group. It’s like, “We need a little bit of design. Can you make the colors nicer?” And then it became like, “If you don’t get the design right, this is actually gonna be bad,” and consumer tools and apps jumped on design cuz it’s like, “Oh, make it engaging, attractive, appealing.” But enterprise, it’s like Concur or tools like it just were handed to you. And this is what you were gonna use. So, this is quite a shift. You look at these tools and, first off, they’re accessible and approachable. You can’t go through a 30 minute training video for a Product Led Growth product, is that right? 

PF Well, it’s gonna depend how complicated, right? People will try to learn new things. 

RZ Yeah. 

JG The big thing about—as Noah was saying, when we started, one of the really nice things about starting a new company is you can kinda pick your head up and say, “Well, what can I do now that I couldn’t do a while ago?” 

RZ Uh huh. 

JG Right, so, for instance, we started Percolate in 2011. One of the things I always was like so jealous was you talk to infrastructure engineers, you talk to other people when they talk about, “Oh, well, man, when we started the company in 2001, you know, we didn’t have AWS, we didn’t have these things.” And now you can pick your head up as an entrepreneur in 2019 and you can see the way that companies can now support you on the product side, and the type of things that you can get off your product whether it’s event data, product analytic systems, and you can basically just say, “Ok, I can go to market entirely differently.” Which, you know, again, always being on the go-to-market side, I was always so jealous that it seemed like, you know, the infrastructure guys always had these new tools every ten years but go-to-market was always the same which was, you know, you try to acquire a customer through a marketing qualified lead, then you went to a sales qualified lead, and then you went to a sale, and then you went to a renewal. And now all of a sudden with new products in the market, you can really take a different approach to how you think about going to market and that’s just utterly amazing. 

[8:33]

RZ I wanna dive into that phrase: going to market. Going to market used to be very different in a pre-Product Led Growth world, what was going to market? I mean going to market was the big splash; that you’re gonna reveal it at the conference; and then there’s this big marketing campaign; advertising; billboar—I mean what is go-to-market and what is it today in this shift? 

JG Well, so I’d say the most dangerous sentence in enterprise software was when your venture capitalist asked you how many sellers you needed to hit your quota. Right? That was the question. 

RZ Sellers

JG How many sellers? How many salespeople do you need to hit that budget that you just put in front of me? [Mm hmm] And literally you would have a massive budget that oftentimes a venture capitalist would give you and they’d say, “Ok, you plug in the seller here; you plug in how long it takes them to ramp up,” meaning how long it takes them to get to a place where they can actually sell the product cuz they’ve been educated on it, “how many of them do you need? What is the rate at which they’re going to turnover?” [Sure] And, ok great. So then—

RZ Go. 

JF Just go. 

PF It’s dangerous because you’re losing all your scale—suddenly you have this like linear growth thing that you need to accomplish. 

NB And you’re assuming the product’s working. Right? 

PF Right, right. 

NB You’re assuming that like, “Oh, ok, well, it’s like you pour water on the plant and it grows.” Without thinking through that root structure and everything that’s underneath it. And so it’s the most dangerous word in SAS. But that was the go-to-market model, right? The assumption is—

RZ You gotta go out. 

NB You’ve gotta go out and the assumption is product market is there and then it just comes down to, again, this very linear way of now scaling the company. 

[9:56]

RZ I gotta imagine there are examples of really lousy products that were hugely successful from a revenue perspective that got pushed out in the world. 

NB Totally, yeah, I mean I think there’s two sides to the Product Led Growth thing, right? There’s one part of it which is what James is getting at, it’s about the signals that you can get out of your product and your ability to use those signals to understand how people are using your product to better qualify them as leads and opportunities. But the other side is just pretty tactical and basic which is that the old way of buying software was that it was a big enough purchase and, you know, nevermind before SAS, right? But it’s a big enough purchase that somebody, somewhere decided to buy it for the whole company. They basically said, “Hey, we have this need,” regardless of the difference in the needs that always exist within a large organization and that, “Now you all have to use that.” 

RZ It descended from on high. 

NB It descends and there’s very little care for how it works—

PF Well that’s every system where you have to fill something out at your company—

RZ You ever try to pay a [sic] electric bill online? 

PF No, no one does that. I don’t know how my electric bill gets paid. 

RZ I think I set it up online so that it gets paid automatically. You probably did the same thing. 

PF Or my wife did but you know—

RZ Or your wife did it. 

PF One or the other. 

RZ It is incredible. The tools—like and this is something you’re gonna use. You’re not gonna mail in the check anymore, right? It was unbelievable. It’s like you’d gone back in time 15 years. I’m talking—this is New York City. 

JG You know inside a company, the more direct the software is to you getting paid, the more likely you are to use it regardless of how bad it is. 

PF Mm hmm! 

[11:26]

JG The one that’s closest to how you get paid is HR software. Right? You can’t get paid if you don’t put in your direct deposit and whatever else. My wife had a story a couple of months ago where she got an email from HR, it was an urgent email on a Friday night that said her direct deposit wasn’t set up right, and they sent her a 17 page PDF of how to go back into the tool [Rich chuckles] and set it up properly. And so I think the other really big change here is just it’s a true move to being more user-centric. Which has become, unfortunately, sort of a very big buzzword around what we all do but, you know, it is meaningful when you’re like, “I actually care about the people inside the company who are using the product, not just the people who bought it.” 

RZ Does every Product Led Growth story have to have some aspect of virality like for it to spread around? I mean when I think of Slack, all I think of is just—it just was so flammable. Like as a tool you didn’t have to go and explain to someone why it was great, you actually didn’t even wanna talk about it, you just wanted to have them in the channel so you could chat. Yeah, there’s a chance you may never see it again. You only use it that one time. But it’s pretty slim. And once you experience it, you are in. Is that a requirement here? Is that like one of the traits that’s necessary for a Product Led Growth type of product? 

JG I think it comes down to the type of product you wanna buy. I think if we just go old to new world and this idea of Product Led Growth. In the old world, your scope really came down—or your Total Adjustable Market or TAM came down to usually the person you were selling to. What did the buyer have scope over? So was it a function like marketing? Or was it IT? Where they could—you know, like Noah mentioned, the HR software, they spread it to everyone and everyone has to use this. From a virality perspective in the new world it comes down to what type of product you’re buying. So with Slack it’s a, you know, symmetrical way that you might communicate and naturally you might wanna use it across your entire enterprise. But it really just comes down to like, do you wanna build a product for the entire enterprise? Or do you wanna build a product for a specific function? Specific types of teams? 

RZ Mm hmm. 

JG And then within the product, there’s a lot of innovation whether it’s virality or just thinking through the types of ways that you actually have a freemium model to actually allow or potentially to cast a wider net, so you can go—you know you could go with an object-based model like Notion is a very good example where you could have as many people as you want inside that product for free until you get metered on an object-level enough that the option side of the database are being used that they charge you but they don’t care how many users you have. 

RZ It’s different trip wires. 

[13:47]

JG Different trip wires but yeah, on the virality side, I guess you wouldn’t have a viral product that didn’t work with your product, in a sense, right? But there is danger there—

RZ Yeah, like Zoom is another example of a very viral—

PF You know what the tell is? It’s that page that has the three tiers on it. That wasn’t there five years ago. It’ll be sort of like, “Free plan—” 

RZ Basic. 

PF Yeah and then it’s like, “Supreme: Excelsior!” And the price range is usually like, “Oh $5.99 a month.” And then you see on the top right there it’s like 14 hundred dollars or get in touch. 

JG I think what it comes down to is . . . this thing is still landing, right? People are talking Product Led Growth in different ways, I think there’s some different definitions. To me the simplest one is it’s just about removing friction. Right? It’s removing friction from buying a product, from using a product, even potentially from cancelling a product. Certainly some of the best success stories are viral. Right? They’re companies like Slack and Zoom because that is an easier, faster way to grow when people are recruiting the other people for the product but I mean, you know, hugely successful Product Led Growth companies is MailChimp, right? And, you know, they’ve been around for awhile but what they introduced was a really, really simple way to get started sending marketing emails and now like a much more complicated product where you used to have to pay, and you used to have to talk to somebody, you used to have to do a demo. Right? The tell—the difference is can you sign up? Or do you have to do a demo? 

PF Well and Slack, too, and also Zoom, I mean you live inside of them and you use them to communicate with other people. So it’s very easy to overemphasize them as the success stories cuz you’re likely to spend hours with them. 

RZ You’re making a good point, I wanna go back to you said there’s a simple sort of entry point. Like I didn’t have to climb a mountain to leverage MailChimp. If I just wanted to use that top five percent of functionality, I could. And I could get going. That approachability, I think is really important. If I decide to dive in deep and see the whole console and everything it offers, fine. But I can see value quickly. Versus diving into the deep end before I see any sort of value. Is that a characteristic of good thinking around—

JG Yeah, I think so. I think they all have some frictionless or low-friction entry points. 

RZ Give you a taste. 

[15:50]

PF What does this mean for like a Salesforce? Right? Like Salesforce—it’s not Oracle. It doesn’t come to your house and hit you in the face. But it’s expensive and it’s—

RZ It is waiting in the yard though. 

PF You got that and that’s big and that kinda runs a whole part of the world. And now you’ve got this sort of new strategy emerging that I think you guys are pretty locked into. You think this is gonna kick some ass across the enterprise market. Does Salesforce have to be afraid or is it gonna be able to shrug off? 

NB I mean Salesforce you can give a lot of credit for being sort of—I mean if you think about how Benninghoff started, I guess, originally breathing—he was sort of the antithesis of Ellison and Oracle and the way they went to market. Clearly though, Salesforce was built in a different era when you still needed what I think technically called product assistance . . . in the sales process and so now, of course, they have a very big sales org and I would say it runs—not to insult them or anything—but I would say it runs much more like a traditional enterprise software sales go-to-market strategy. 

RZ I’m looking at it right now. They have Salesforce Essentials. Do you know what this is? I’m gonna read it. “With Salesforce Essentials try the out-of-the-box, small business CRM. Start instantly with simple setup. Sell smarter and faster with built in intelligence. Scale as you grow.” 25 dollars a month and it’s just a form. 

PF I gotta say that’s good copy though. They’re good at [chuckles] what they do. 

RZ Well, but it’s fake because I still ended in Salesforce, essentially. They were just trying to kinda use a lot of these good characteristics that you guys are describing, but I fell back into the same—

JG What that is, though, that is the market . . . in many ways working. So [yeah] Salesforce is competing there on the lower end with HubSpot which is a newer company, it’s actually defined as a PLG company from the PLG index from OpenView Partners. One of the first PLG companies, actually, and they go after the lower end, after the SMB. They have a freemium product and they built it in a way that’s fairly user friendly and you can get up and running without any sort of, you know, salesperson or friction, as Noah mentioned earlier. And so that’s Salesforce realizing, “Hey, I’ve gotta know compete potentially at that lower end with a product that needs to have less friction in it.” 

RZ But it’s hard to just bolt that onto your culture and onto how your software was made. 

[17:50]

NB Yeah, I think that’s a big bat, right? Fundamentally that when you build a product knowing that no service person is going to spend 40 hours configuring it on the customer’s behalf [yup] then you build a different product. And that I think is a pretty fundamental part and that’s really, again, to the thing James is saying earlier, that’s possible because we just now have better instrumentation, right? There’s Amplitude and Pendo and there’s a whole bunch of companies in the space that are helping you understand the products and how people are using them in a way that, you know, literally, those companies didn’t exist ten years ago—

PF You know what’s critical here? Is that because people are gonna be picking these things up and figuring out how to use them as they go, design has to do about a hundred times more work than it ever did before. 

NB Everything: the design; service instrumentation, right? How does someone get lost in a product where before it was just, “We’ll call customer service.” Imagine if you’ve gotta actually solve that problem through the product, right? And, again, that’s very much a design. 

RZ It’s exactly where pressure should be though, right? Make it usable and good and this’ll go well for you. 

PF For anybody who happens along. 

NB And hold them accountable based on whether people are using it. And I know this sounds ridiculous but this is as transitional of a moment going from, again, being an entrepreneur and starting a company in 2011 to 2019 and the tools that you now have and the instrumentation you know have, I believe is as big as going from like literally on-prem to cloud. This transition that’s now going on with software companies, and the competitive edge you can have by being cloud-based versus being in that on-prem world. That is now available to entrepreneurs starting companies in 2019. 

PF Why is it landing in enterprise now? Like what’s that gap between 2004 and 2019 where suddenly this idea is everywhere? 

JG I mean that’s a good question. I think a lot of it comes down to just the natural way that, of course we know enterprises move slower. I don’t think there’s any question that enterprises move slower than consumers. But then if you look at the way that traditionally the buying model was set up and the gatekeepers were set up. So of course we’re coming out of a world where literally all software—it used to be owned by IT, right? Inside of a company. Slowly we started to federate that out, allowing functions to buy it on their own but there were still gatekeepers, right? So just like there’s the famous saying, you know, “No one got fired for buying an IBM.” It was also, “No one got fired for buying something that Gartner or Forrester recommended.” 

[19:59]

PF So you’re in the magic quadrant. 

JG It’s here in the magic quadrant. 

PF “I did my job!” 

JG Yes and so that entire model of category creation, of the way analysts work, that’s all predicated on sort of having gatekeepers and allowing the vendor and the analyst to define what they enterprise should buy. And then through that process you’d have, you know, request for proposal, and of course there was gates up to paying anything. And so you basically try to do all this work before you actually touch the software. 

PF Sure. 

JG And now it’s just like—Well, look at Gmail. Like you just use it. And so now the enterprise is starting to get a hold of this . . . and of course we’re seeing it with the products that you guys mentioned like Slack and Zoom and others. I don’t see how the old sort of enterprise model of purchasing ever comes back. I think this is absolutely the future. 

PF You see that adoption in like the 20 to 50 person company space. Like that happened with Gmail. It was like, “Oh my God, we can’t do it with Outlook anymore. It’s drivin’ us crazy.” And then like the giant orgs don’t care, they can hire out five Outlook admins for the university or for the big—but for the thing where there’s one person kinda keepin’ things together and they have other responsibilities, if they can find that path they don’t really care about what’s approved or RFPd or whatever. They’ll just get it in. 

RZ I mean I can imagine that’s where it starts, right? Is doesn’t PLG target the smaller businesses first? Like they’re the ones who will never make those purchases anyway. They need the turnkey expense tool and the turnkey CRM. Like we’re not using Salesforce; we’re using something much simpler just cuz we’re smaller.

PF Let’s throw it back, you’re in the process of starting up your enterprise software company which will be a PLG-focused company. What size—like what orgs are you going after first? Do you start small? Do you start big? Where do you go? 

NB You know, you start more with the focus on who the users are. I think that’s one of the things you see in a lot of these companies is Slack and Zoom—they’re recognizing that companies aren’t a single, monolithic entity, right? Companies are teams. Atlassian is another company that exists in this space, right? Atlassian is famous for getting gigantic without having a single salesperson on staff. And Jira, love it or hate it, it’s a tool for teams and it starts with a team, and there’s a team and you can be a team of five or a team of ten and then you’re a team of teams, and then, you know, there’s 10,000 people using Jira. 

[22:08]

PF Jira’s amazing though because of all of these tools, it’s the one where if you were like, “This was forced on us by an enterprise software buyer,” I’d be like, “Of course.” 

NB They went out and bought Trello, obviously. And they’re spending a lot of time thinking about sort of what is the lighter weight version of Jira? And how do you get people up and running in a more easy way? And so I think that part of the idea here is that you take a more sort of user-centric, team-centric approach, right? And ultimately you’re looking at how can you grow within these organizations? So you start with a team. It can be five, it can be in a company of a hundred, or it can be in a company of 10,000 but it’s still a team of five and then you can start to move out from there. 

PF This is a good point. It’s a cuckoo’s egg situation where you’re like you’re dropping yourself in there and, you know, maybe they’ll buy one license. That doesn’t mean you’re done. You wanna spread through that organization like a cold or a virus or a delicious treat! 

NB That’s where the work starts and I think the bigger question on the targeting side becomes, “Ok, well, it’s really how am I gonna get those initial users? And how am I gonna get—you know in the sort of language of Product Led Growth—” ultimately what you’re tryin to get is a product qualified lead. That means somebody signed up to test out your product and they’re using it in some way or another. So you know that if they’re using it, they will potentially pay for it, right? 

PF You know what’s tricky though? All the products that I use along these lines, they’re always trying to get me to tell my friends. And the bonus is always kinda to me but it just is so tacky. Like it’s just like, “I’m not gonna tell my friends about your database as a service in the cloud,” like it’s just never—

RZ It’s more effective when it’s not you telling your friends, it’s you inviting four of your colleagues into some tool because you wanna work together on a thing. 

JG One thing on the Product Led Growth, just in terms of how you think about go-to-market: the danger in actually attacking the enterprise first with a Product Led Growth model, I believe the most important metric in Product Led Growth is time-to-value. Which means how long is it gonna take me to get someone to use the product and find value in it. Anyone that sold enterprise software will tell you: you can literally sell a product and the timeline that IT or the timeline that they’ll put on actually getting to usage of that product . . . can be 18 to 24 months. So you could literally sell a product in, start charging the enterprise, and they could actually not use it for a year and a half to two years, and as a startup you’re killed. Like you can’t wait that long to see if your product’s working. 

PF Right, right. 

[24:19]

JG Like you need time-to-value and you need product usage immediately. So naturally going at the lower end, going at smaller teams is the way to go. Trying to sell into the enterprise where potentially they’re gonna put you in their IT roadmap and wait 18 months will literally kill you. 

PF Well, to Noah’s point earlier, frictionless cancellation, if you’re really locked into this ideology is good. Cuz then it’s like if they really don’t want it, they’re gonna tell you, and you’re gonna go, “Damn. We lost that one. What could we have done differently?” And if you have that instrumentation, you know why—roughly, like, “Well, they weren’t using it. They said they wanted to use it. They used it for a week. We can see what happened, it trailed off and now they’re gone.” Most of these things really don’t want you to go. 

NB Well, I mean, that’s the thing, I think it’s if you’re truly brave and you can confidently say, “I can fire my customer . . . because I know I’ve got I’ve data that shows that I’ve got other customers using it appropriately.” 

PF Mm hmm. 

NB I mean that is a power play position. Versus: “I’m gonna fire my customer and actually I gotta fire all of my customers cuz this thing doesn’t seem to work.” That’s a very dangerous place to be. 

PF That’s not as much fun. 

NB That’s not as much fun and so I think that’s the potential leverage you have if you’re running the playbook correctly. 

RZ So this was great. Awesome discussion. This is the future. The future is now. I had a question about Zoho Suite but I chose not to ask it and I don’t want it answered to be perfectly frank. 

PF No. 

RZ I will ask one more question. One work answer. Is this the end of the Gartners and Forresters? 

NB Not really. 

RZ That was two but I’ll take it. 

PF Ah, that’s ok. 

RZ James? 

JG No. 

[25:44]

RZ Dammit! 

PF Ah, that’s alright. 

RZ Does Variance need anything? Are you hiring? Are you—where are you at? Do you wanna talk about what you need in this world? 

NB Sure! That would be great! We are hiring engineers. 

RZ Ok. 

NB So we are looking for somebody—a frontend engineer, a really talented one. We’re also looking for a backend engineer, where everything is being built in Elixir. So if that’s your style then we’re a good spot. And then we’re also looking for someone to lead growth for us and help with all this PLG stuff. And you can find those jobs at variance.so/jobs. 

RZ Just for clarity: geographically, not necessarily New York City or anything specific or?

NB We’re a New York preferred, remote ok. 

RZ This was great. I mean I thoroughly enjoyed this. 

PF This is not our day-to-day. Our day-to-day is people coming up to us and saying, “We need to build a product,” and we’re like, “Let’s get a team.” And then we ship it and—

RZ I will say this: I coulda taken this on a tangent because I think a lot of learnings here actually inform how people advocate for and evangelize and push software initiatives within their own organizations. There’s a lot of good stuff to take away from this and these trends, right? 

PF [Crosstalk] Well this is the power—the power move inside of an org and nobody really talks about this very much but if you can get your peer or the group down the hall to start using a piece of software, like a custom piece or something that you’ve adopted in and modified—

RZ Absolutely! 

[27:06]

PF It’s one of the things when we go into a really big organization [yup] and they want a whole lotta change through software but they’re not quite sure how they’re gonna get it [yup] [music fades in], you find that one advocate and you give them what they want, they walk right down the hall and show their friend. Look, and a lot of times it’s really basic like, “Oh my God, you can finally upload a video without wanting to kill somebody.” 

RZ Yeah, and we’ve done that and it’s counterintuitive for an agency to sell less . . . but sometimes we tell our advocate, “Look: just put a little somethin’ out there and let people latch onto it,” and then you can go from there. So, this was great. Noah, James, thank you so much for doing this. 

JG Thanks, guys. 

NB Thank you. 

PF Hey, Rich? 

RZ Yes.

PF What if I needed to get in touch with Postlight? 

RZ You should reach out at [email protected] We’re a digital products studio based in New York City. We build world class platforms and products for our clients. 

PF As good as Zoho Suite? 

RZ Well let’s not get crazy. Is Zoho Suite still around? 

PF Oh God, is Zoho Suite—it’s got like a big CRM. 

RZ I see. Zoho CRM. Got it. 

PF Yeah, Zoho CRM. You can get in there and really move some cards around. 

RZ Yeah they still use like the little baby building blocks. 

PF Yeah, they do. The little building blocks. You see it all around. I dunno there’s probably someone who’s listening who’s like, “I am a Zoho power user.” 

RZ Yeah. Which is fine. I’m glad they’re still around. 

PF Send us some screenshots, we’d really appreciate it. 

RZ Yes. But reach out: [email protected] We like to always connect. Have a great week. 

PF Alright, back to work [music ramps up, plays alone for six seconds, fades out to end].