SalesTechStar Interview With Matt Darrow, CEO and Cofounder at Vivun
Matt Darrow, CEO and Cofounder at Vivun chats about the growing importance and need for building better end-to-end buyer experiences in this catch-up with SalesTechStar:
Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat Matt – tell us about yourself and more about the Vivun story: what inspired the platform and how has the journey been so far?
I led the PreSales team at Zuora from a very early stage through IPO. I was constantly frustrated by the lack of tools available to me and my team – we had to make do with clunky CRM customizations, spreadsheets, and homegrown solutions.
Post IPO, while on a sabbatical in New Zealand, I started prototyping what a true PreSales solution would look like – one designed to be a beautiful place for teams to do their work and elevate their strategic impact, while also integrated perfectly with Salesforce. It had the ability to create a feedback loop between the field and the product teams, intaking the insights and data captured by PreSales at the moment prospects gave feedback. I became very passionate about what I had created, and Vivun was born.
It’s been a tremendous journey so far. The company was incorporated in 2018, raised our seed round in 2019, and we’ve already surpassed 100 customers, 130 employees, and achieved our series C financing. It’s been incredibly rewarding to deliver a solution to a completely overlooked – but extraordinarily valuable – B2B persona such as PreSales.
We’d love to hear about your latest funding (big congratulations!) and what the near-future looks like in terms of plans / goals for Vivun?
Our latest round of funding is a big testament to the recognition of the opportunity to create a brand new category of enterprise software, one that enables B2B companies to meet the demands of sales-proof buyers by delivering incredible buyer experiences. Championed by the technical sales team (i.e. PreSales), this is a massive opportunity in a greenfield market with a department who has evolved from their past lives of being sales assistants who deliver demos.
We are always thoughtful about our investor mix as we have built the company. We’re thrilled to have Salesforce Ventures lead the round as they give our company a strategic boost when it comes to partnering on go-to-market, technology, and best practices. There was also an incredible culture fit.
With the new funding, we seek to replicate our success in North America across EMEA. We recently hired our VP & GM of EMEA who will be building our growth engine across the pond. Simultaneously we are continuing to double down on our core products, Hero and Eval by Vivun while further enhancing our first-of-their-kind AI capabilities. New products are also on the horizon.
How are you seeing buyer experience platforms in today’s market change the game for end users? A few ways in which you’ve seen businesses enhance end results with these type of tools?
The impact of market trends have made it an imperative for companies to improve their Buyer Experience.
The short version of the story is that the nature of buyers have changed. They’ve become sales proof – resisting old-school tactics such as torturous sales cycles and never seeing the product until the fifth meeting. They want to educate themselves without the help from sales reps, and they want to talk to product experts when they’re ready to enter into a buying cycle.
The best companies taking advantage of these trends are leveraging PreSales earlier and more often in the sales process to help buyers get value as quickly as possible. They are transparent, they hold themselves accountable, and in some cases, they only compensate their sales teams when the customer is actually using the product – not when they sign the contract.
Companies that use these new playbooks will continue to grow quickly. Those that continue to rely on outdated tactics will see growth pass them by.
Besides choosing and deploying supporting technologies to enable efforts, what in your view should salespeople/marketers do to drive the overall buyer experience today?
Make sure the buyer gets their hands on the product quickly – and has access to solution experts to help answer questions and discuss use cases. The first part of that is a very standard Product Led Growth motion, but the second is more strategic: put the right team members on the case so that the buyer is empowered to make a purchasing decision as soon as possible. Transparency, collaboration, and shared accountability are paramount to sales-proof buyers. Engaging them openly and directly – working as one team – will differentiate vendors greatly.
In addition, a larger culture shift needs to happen. Rely less on recording prospect calls, complicated sales stages, and sequenced emails. Focus more on delivering incredible value and putting the buyer in control of the purchasing cycle. Finally – and this one is extremely hard – align all departments around the needs of the buyer, including product, customer success, and engineering. Right now those groups often work in silos, and the buyer experience suffers.
A few thoughts on the top trends you feel will shape the salestech / B2B tech marketplace in the near-future?
I do believe that PreSales is truly at the “center of influence” of modern B2B selling, because they’re the group that touches all other relevant departments – not just Sales and Customer Success, but also Product, Marketing and even Engineering. There’s a strong case to be made that PreSales will find its way to the C-Suite – think of something like a Chief Solution Officer – and will be responsible for all aspects of the Buyer Experience.
In some of Vivun’s customers, we see this starting to happen. It will be fascinating to see how the trend accelerates as buyers continue to demand more autonomy, control, and realized value in the sales cycle.
Some last thoughts, takeaways, before we wrap up!
It’s an exciting time to be part of B2B selling. As a result of the pandemic, the impact of product-led growth, and the trend towards consumption-based sales compensation, the whole nature and trajectory of selling has changed. A lot of these trends weren’t on my radar when I first created Vivun, but they’ve validated and reinforced our approach as well as tremendously accelerated our growth.
I think of growing a company as rounding a series of “switchbacks” – the way you do when you mountain climb – and we’ve only rounded the first few ones. There’s a lot of mountain to climb, and it’s a fantastic time to do it.
Matt Darrow is CEO and cofounder of Vivun, a global provider of Buyer Experience (BX) software. Its AI-powered platform supports a family of products that enables B2B businesses to meet the demands of today’s sales-proof buyer, differentiate from the competition, and accelerate revenue. With PreSales at the forefront of the buyer experience, companies can align Sales with Product, provide repeatable workflows for their solution experts, deliver on-demand product expertise, and win more deals with transparency and trust. Leaders at Okta, Autodesk, Dell, Snowflake, Elastic, Fivetran, and Harness are powering incredible buyer experiences with Vivun.
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