Posted March 21, 2016

“Yeah, I’m the best to ever do it bitch
and you’re the best at never doing shit”
-Lil’ Wayne, We Be Steady Mobbin’

Back in the days when I was CEO, I noticed something interesting in my organization. Within any function, be it Sales, Marketing, Engineering, Finance, etc., everything worked well. People communicated, were on the same page, processes ran effectively and efficiently. Things rarely needed any help from me and if they did, then it was probably time to replace the functional leader.

Cross-functional communication, on the other hand, was something else entirely. Early on, it was quite possible that Marketing would successfully hit their lead generation objective, but Sales would claim that they failed to hit their number due to a paucity of leads. When I asked both teams how that was possible, I got back a blizzard of defensiveness, finger pointing, and accusations. “Everybody in my group is killing it, but those other guys? Completely incompetent!”

How could this happen? Couldn’t we all just get along? For starters, teams couldn’t even agree on what basic words meant. A “lead” to marketing was something entirely different than a “lead” in sales. Deeper than that, leads lived in two different software systems with different customer records and different people administering them. From the company’s point of view, the sales process started in marketing then travelled through sales and finance, but from a systems perspective there was a marketing process, a sales process, and a finance process and each one was largely independent of the other two. As a result, sales process reconciliation and systems reconciliation literally became a CEO problem. Or, more specifically, my problem.

This was true in other areas as well. In fact, any cross functional work from the sales process to quote-to-cash to customer escalations was fraught with miscommunication, finger pointing, in-fighting and belligerence. What was a CEO to do? A large portion of my job became fixing cross-functional processes. All the while, I hoped that some smart software vendor would come through with a product that would run a process across my systems, normalize the data, and let me measure the things that my business required rather than measuring the artifacts of my organizational design. But when I was CEO, that vendor never arrived. If wanted that particular systems problem solved, I would have had to buy insanely expensive integration systems then hire an Accenture team for basically a lifetime. And even then, based on their own customer references, it would likely never work as planned.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when Michel Feaster showed up at my door with her idea for Usermind. She planned to build my dream product: a system that would coordinate and measure processes across organizations and systems. After showing Usermind to my partners, we immediately signed up to be Usermind’s first and largest investor. Here are my three favorite irresistible use cases:

  • A real marketing funnel In my career, I’ve seen hundreds of so called “marketing funnels.” The idea is that the sales process can be represented as a funnel where some number of leads filters down to qualified leads then opportunities then highly probably deals then deals. But every marketing funnel that I’ve ever seen has been fake. They have been fake, because the leads at the top of the funnel are unrelated to the deals at the bottom of the funnel. Everyone represents “this months leads” over “this months deals” when the important thing is the rate at which leads turn into deals. I.e., you want a cohort of deals in process rather than the raw number of current leads and deals. Why does everyone present this incorrectly? Because there is no reconciliation between the marketing system and the sales system . . . until now.
  • Sales process governance In almost any company today, when a rep does sales call on an active opportunity and multiple people download white papers, the marketing automation system “automatically” creates multiple redundant leads. In the new world, Usermind detects the new leads and matches them to the account domain and then fast-tracks them into contact records in Salesforce and attaches them all to the right opportunity.
  • Collections and paid invoices Smart Wall Street analysts pay close attention to a little-known accounting term called DSOs (days sales outstanding), as it measures the distance between when you sell a customer something and when they pay. If customers take a long time to pay, that’s a good indication that they might not be totally satisfied despite the company promoting a high NPS score. Of course, sometimes late payments are more of a systems issue, because historically, it’s been difficult to coordinate activities across sales and finance. Usermind connects usage analytics, sales force automation, and financial applications to run a tight, closed loop process across these functions. When a customer is late in paying, Usermind will find out if the customer is using the product and forgot to pay or failed to deploy and needs customer support attention then take the appropriate action.

For all these reasons, I am delighted to part of the team that will make the world safer for CEOs everywhere.




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