Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 146: Q&A with Matt Gorniak @mgorniak
By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
Over three years ago Sales Pipeline Radio, began. We’re live every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Pacific. The show is thirty minutes long, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.
We were thrilled this last time to talk to Matt Gorniak, Chief Revenue Office and Co-Founder at G2Crowd in an episode called, How to Optimize Reviews to Accelerate Sales for Your B2B Products. We talk about the power of reviews in B2B products. We use reviews either intentionally or subtly in so many decisions we make, whether we’re buying something on Amazon, buying an app on our iPhones. But reviews are just as important for complex B2B technology decisions. We talk a little bit about how reviews might be a little bit different for those complex decisions, but also what G2Crowd has learned about how important they are, and how directly linked they are to preference and decision making.
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Matt: Well thank you very much for joining us here on Sales Pipeline Radio. I appreciate everyone being here, we are almost at the end of 2018. I can’t believe this year is almost over. For those of you joining us on the Funnel Media Radio Network, thanks so much for joining us, really appreciate it. You’re listening live during your week as we wrap up 2018. For those of you on the podcast, thanks for subscribing. You can find us everywhere, find podcasts are sold on the iTunes store, google play, and elsewhere, and every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio past, present and future is available at salespipelineradio.com.
We are featuring every week, some of the best and brightest mind in the B2B sales and marketing world, today is absolutely no different. Very excited to have with us Matt Gorniak, he is the co-founder and CRO, Chief Revenue Officer, for G2 Crowd. Matt thanks so much for joining us today.
Matt Gorniak: Hey sure, hey man, good to talk to you again.
Matt: Yeah, likewise. Excited to have you here, and excited to talk a little bit about what you guys are doing. And really, I guess, in the power of reviews in B2B products, and I think, we’ve known or we use reviews either intentionally or subtly in so many decisions we make, whether we’re buying something on Amazon, buying an app on our iPhones. But reviews are just as important for complex B2B technology decisions. Talk a little bit about how reviews might be a little bit different for those complex decisions, but also what you guys have learned about how important they are, and how directly linked they are to preference and decision making.
Matt Gorniak: Absolutely. I think you’re right, it is different, but it’s not different, if that makes sense. So when we first met, I want to say 2011, I think that trade show, we just rolled out the first version of G2 Crowd years ago. And at that point the question was, obviously reviews are very much B2C just as you mentioned, and now it’s a given. Generations of buyers, I think ourselves included, our train of that motion right, but there was still that perception it wouldn’t work in B2B, this is different.
Now, my background, my co-founders background, we were selling B2B software, and we very much thought that process is needed, but has to be different. So the difference really is in the quality of the content, and to the degree, I’ll just talk about us, I won’t go into much detail, to make sure we have trust process in place, because the stakes are much higher. So the process of gathering content, making sure it is trusted, it is authentic, and everything goes with it is different, but the consumption is actually very similar.
And by the way, I think that will be actually be very interesting to a lot of B2B vendors, because I think they think it’s still different, and it’s not. So I hope that it answers the question a little bit, but it’s about the trust that’s different.
Matt: Yeah. I think when you think about the fact that there’s what, like 6000 marketing technology tools out there today, just in the Martech space, knowing which of a variety of competitors people should be paying attention to is important. Knowing where people have had a good experience is important, and knowing you have a place where you can go and find sort of trustful reviews is important. G2 Crowd’s been around, what, about six or seven years now, has emerged in what has become a bit of a competitive space. What was the opportunity that you guys saw? Because I mean, reviews are not new to G2 Crowd, not new B2B, but the way you guys are approaching it is new. What was the problem that you saw in the industry, and why did this model make most sense?
Matt Gorniak: Yeah, no, I’m glad you asked. It was definitely an itch we had ourselves, and there was two, and I think this is really interesting to say, but two itches. One was, we were selling software. Software that had a pretty high average sales price. In the process of conveying our value prop, you just run out of assets. How do you convey you went the extra mile to care of customers, which we did? How do you convey all these product features to deliver ROI? At some point case studies are interesting, a nice logo on your website is cool, but there is more. And we realized there’s an asset which is called, taking care of your customer, the customer voice, that’s not captured anywhere.
We also realized that the traditional analysts don’t capture it either, because they’re not really talking to the customers, they’re talking to the vendors. So that was kind of the opportunity we saw is, what if there was a platform that was unbiased, it had no voice, but had a trust process around gathering the customer voice, and from a vendor perspective, make that available to the buyers. Wouldn’t that be nice?
At the same time you brought up something else that the Martech 6000 vendors, we started buying a lot of software ourselves as a company. And we realized they were super confused about what to buy, because a lot of disrupted technologies were not covered, there was nothing on them. So there was nothing to read, there was no opinions, there was no quadrants on them, so basically you’re just kind of guessing. So we felt that connection sparked the idea behind G2 Crowd, and turns out that transforming in software in the world is very real, as obviously you know yourself, and there’s thousands of apps being added to G2 Crowd monthly. And so that’s what we’re trying to solve, but it came from those two problems we experienced ourselves personally.
Matt: Well, it’s not just reviews, because I think review is a function of as a means of providing advice. And I think purchase advice has come from a variety of people in the past. I think a lot of companies still will look at the Gartner’s and Forrester’s of the world to provide some sort of expertise and advice. But as opposed to having sort of one person whose looking to cross every sort of consolidate that advice, now you’ve created an open playing field for anyone to provide that kind of advice. Talk about the pro’s and cons of opening up that opportunity. Obviously you’ve got a lot more people that are able to provide, and crowdsource ideas, and advice, and expertise for a potential buyer. You’ve also got the opportunity to corrupt some of that advice for a variety of emotional and sort of devious reasons. How do you balance that to give your audience, the people that are increasingly coming to G2 Crowd to learn about software advice? How do you balance that?
Matt Gorniak: Right. Let me start with first one. So I would say, I mean yes a review, and it’s actually more than a review, because what we’re doing is, we’re not only, I’ll talk about us, but it’s not about just the content, but how do you have a standardized way of asking these questions, and compare and contrast them. Have a standardized way of looking at data, right, which is really cool. Because one is to read a review, and others is to have 10,000 reviews of a product, thousands across other products, and now you can start comparing them. So that’s kind of powerful there.
But I think what’s really interesting is, one of the crucial questions in the decision process is, “Does this stuff even work?” So if you think back how a lot of vendors communicate with E-mails, inbound campaigns, whatever, a lot of it is based on value props that is really hard to back up, the customer voice is missing. So that’s the problem number one. The other problem is then, “Hey, how am I faring versus others?” But I think a lot of folks mistake that it’s all about comparisons. It’s just about, “Hey, I actually, this stuff does work. It generates value.” So that’s coming from, you’re right, there’s more to it than just a review.
As far as corruption. I think we took a lot of great care of making sure that the contributors of G2 Crowd are vetted. You have to have a LinkeIn profile to contribute, and there’s a host of processes, automatic and also human, that we do to ensure Q&A. So I’d say we have a lot of resources dedicated towards that. If you do that right, then the data becomes very powerful. Again, the question for you Matt is, “Who of my peers uses this? What results are they getting? How does it fare?” And at the end you’re right, it’s not the end all be all, there’s other sources they’ll consider, but if you look at it without platforms at G2 Crowd, you don’t get at the peers, right. That’s the missing link, “Does it work, and who else in my network uses it?”
So if you go G2, find your favorite marketing application, you can actually click on a button and it shows you your number one connections on LinkedIn that left a review. So that’s another indicator of like, “Wow, that’s pretty cool right?” For some applications I need to go to and just read a couple of reviews, it’s not a big investment, it works, “Hey, Matt what you do think?” You’re like, “Oh, it worked great for me.” I’m done, let’s go. So people also forget that for some it’s just accelerating of buying, they already have an idea, just want to confirm. For very big projects, it could be part of an RFP process. But again, “Who else uses it? What results are they getting?” That was before platforms like ours, a big missing link, anecdotal.
Matt: Well, an opportunity to go into a place where there’s existing data, and existing opportunity, and provide a little disruption that benefits the consumers. I mean this isn’t your first go around in this. With you and Goddard you guys were both instrumental in building, and successfully selling Steel Brick into Salesforce. One of the first real quote to crash platforms that existed in the market, and doing that now with G2 Crowd. We’ve got Matt Gorniak today, he’s the Co-founder and CRO at G2 Crowd, a company that’s raised another $55 million a couple of months ago to continue transferring the way businesses are buying software.
Matt, before we take a quick commercial break, I wanted to talk a little bit about, what is it like to go from six, seven years ago where you’re sort of a bootstrapping entrepreneur to now really having an awful lot of venture capital behind you. Does it change the way you think about product strategy, does it change the way you think about sort of trajectory and sales strategy, and where your focus there is from that stand point going into it now 2019?
Matt Gorniak: Yeah. I would say that we really didn’t need to raise the money quite kinderly, but we do feel like right now it’s gelling in a sense. And you kind of eluded to it with one of the comments with the 6000 Martech products, there is thousands and thousands of categories that are long pail, but very important to the buyer at that moment. So for us it’s just getting there faster, if that makes sense? People want insight like this, the vendors want to apply for what it can have truthfully, just focus on what they do well and express that without much overhead. And then at the end we’re kind of looking at this a little bit more like, “Have they buyer find their perfect software, whatever that may be.” But if you look at these categories, there’s literally thousands of them, and we’re adding hundreds of them per year. So it’s about getting there faster.
I mean like this funeral software, and it’s a very competitive market for people that sell funeral software. I can go on and on in all these categories, and the whole world, and by the way, the other thing is, we all think Martech’s over, I mean I don’t think that, but some people do, or CRM. What is your Martech provider in Australia for governments, how does that compare to the Singaporean government? So the world’s just getting user software anyway.
Matt: Yeah, we’re going take a quick break, pay some bills here. We’ll be right back with more Matt Gorniak. We may or may not talk about funeral software, we’re definitely going to address the question of whether Martech is over. But we’re going to go pay some bills, we’ll be right back. This is Sales Pipeline Radio.
Paul: Alright, we’re going to speak softly today here, so everybody turn up your volume. Are you tired of sending sales E-mails and wondering if they’re ever even opened? Well, so you may need Mailtag. Mailtag is a Chrome Browser extension for your G-mail that allows you to track your E-mails in real time. You receive alerts right in your desk top as soon as your E-mails are read. And as a special thank you for being a listener this show, you get, get this, you get to not only start a free 14 day trial with no credit card required, but if you decide to sign up, you get 50% off for life.
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Matt: Paul that was next level commitment to the show. That was impressive, and I would argue that it’s entirely possible this could their best episode ever.
Because you made it, I mean you usually do a great job with the reads, but that was serious.
Paul: Serious. You know, maybe we should do them all this way, because when you speak softly it pulls people in.
Matt: I think everyone just pulled a little closer to the … “What amazing, important, critical technology is he bringing to the table today?”
Paul: Exactly. Well, didn’t want to think that I’m setting up your next segment on funeral discussions here.
Matt: No, no. That was … Well, you said it, not me. So I don’t know how I transition from funerals, but just want to thank again our sponsor, mailtag.io. If you are in sales, if you’re a business development, heck, if you’re just using G-mail and want to have a better sense for how people are interacting with your E-mails, the chance to use this tool, very much appreciate the mailtag team. Hey, if you’re wondering as you send E-mails, potentially over the holidays, are people engaging, are they working, are they not, if someone E-mails you back, or if someone opens or clicks your E-mail next week but doesn’t E-mail back right away because they think you’re on vacation, maybe that’s an opportunity to engage with them. So definitely check those guys out, mailtag.io is the Heinz tag, check out and get a pretty good deal on that.
Well, like I say Paul, we’re here at the end almost of 2018. We’ve got one more episode of Sales Pipeline Radio in the works for next week. We’re going to have TJ Waldorf, he’s the Vice President of Global Marketing for INAP. We’re going to talk about the agony and ecstasy of annual budgeting and planning. This is an episode that we’re actually going to play on the show week. We recorded it earlier today, so that everyone can be off in the week between Christmas and New Years, but you’re definitely going to want to check that one out.
Coming up in January, we’ve got some great guests. We’ve got Scott Ingram talking about lessons from the sales one percent. We’ve got Tiffani Bova, who is going to talk about her new book, Growth IQ. But today we’ve got a little more time here with Matt Gorniak. He’s a co-founder and CRO at G2 Crowd, has been at a number of released aged companies, and a number of companies that have been really sort of at the forefront of the sales and marketing technology world.
And you said something before that break Matt, that there are people that think that Martech is over. I know a lot of people that have very expensive, very extensive marketing technology stacks built that might be alarmed to hear that. So what are you hearing, and what do you think? What’s your opinion?
Matt Gorniak: Yeah. I figured you would take this out of context. No, what I meant to say is in the context of review sites, that’s actually not what I meant. What I’m saying is, people are thinking back to the 6000 logos out there, or vendors, it’s not over. That was going to be my other point. There’s more and more tech coming, to just conclude that point. You know what I mean? It’s getting more and more confusing, that’s what I meant to say.
Matt: Four years ago, it was 1500, now it’s over 7000. We keep thinking we see a lot of consolidation, we see companies getting bought, companies going away, companies merging, but the number keeps going up. I think what’s exciting is that there is more and more technology that can solve a more diverse set of problems, but I do think companies have a hard time trying to decide what they need and why they need it, and I think it’s why sites like G2 Crowd are so important. So I tease a little bit. Next week’s episode Matt, on the agony and ecstasy of budgeting and planning, and in that show that we recorded earlier, we talk a lot about sales and marketing working together. Talk about as you guys grow, as in expectations for growth with your investors continue to grow, how do you work successfully with marketing to plan out the next year so that you can continue to hit your number?
Matt Gorniak: I mean I’m not sure that we do anything magical per say, but I think the important piece is to look at this as one. Now, I’m a big believer that marketing leaders have to have some percentage of sales in them, and vice versa, just to align that. And I think where I see the most this alignment or non-alignment, is basically where sales and marketing kind of could compete. And I think it starts from the top to make sure that it doesn’t happen culturally, if you will, and then own the goals together. And I would say it starts there, and then the culture of working on it together I think is important. So that’s kind of how we do it. It’s one goal to drive Pipeline, it’s not just, “You give me your leads, and I’ll convert them.” I think that creates a lot of, as you scale, it creates a lot of friction.
Matt: Well, talk about the importance of revenue responsibility, or at least revenue responsibility awareness across the teams. I know members of your team well, and I know they’re not like this at all, but you’ve got some marketers that really sort of act as glorified arts and crafts professionals, and you’ve got others that still appreciate the art and the science of marketing, still appreciate the importance of brand, but are focused on ultimately driving a number that you can buy a beer with. What are some of the keys to making that kind of alignment work when by definitions some of what marketing is doing still doesn’t directly lead to sales and revenue?
Matt Gorniak: I totally agree, and I think at some point a spreadsheet won’t get you there. I do think it starts with very top line alignment between myself, Goddard whose the CEO, and Ryan whose our CMO, and we set that culture and our standing flows down, I think that goes a long way. Then we can spend hours on the process, but I think that’s the pivotal, I think for anyone whose more at work, that doesn’t feel like that, that’s one of the culprits then of levels down it’s becoming, like you said, a pride. And then some parts are disjointed right, but then people always find a way to fine in back to the main mission or not, right, and that’s when the finger pointing starts.
It’s not a perfect process by any means, but I think, like I said, it starts with that vision, if you will.
Matt: Got just a few more minutes here with Matt Gorniak from G2 Crowd, and Matt, you’ve served in a number of different leadership capacities in start-ups over the years. What are some of the things you’ve learned either the hard way, or have just taken at facts to learn that people early in their career, maybe at the beginning of the ark that you’re on, that you wish they would know to increase their success?
Matt Gorniak: I would say that as an entrepreneur, I think most are very hands-on. And the ability to be hands-on, quickly understand the processes, and get the results, I think when you’re very small, and always realize that you have your hand in it, is key. I think I see some folks struggle, they may come from large organizations where things may happen despite them, and that’s just not the case when you start up, I’m thinking like a 10 person company now. But then the challenge is then, can you then switch away into delegating when the time is right, because that process very quickly, that’s a good problem, you’re successful, won’t scale. So that’s where I see that switching.
And like I said, it could be the other way around, where people join from a large company and they’re just not as hands-on, they like to delegate right away without getting their hands in the process. That becomes very challenging, I would say. So that’s kind of what I see as one of the issues.
Culturally, another thing is also being very authentic, which I think in small companies is natural. And as you scale, the key is to keep that authenticity as much as you can, which then leads to people sharing issues, or coming forward with problems that maybe, if it’s not a very authentic culture may kind of get buried. So as you kind of move up and grow, there’s various gears that you kind of shift up. So it becomes really interesting, because they’re kind of logical if you look back, but if you haven’t seen them before, they’re not easy to spot right away as the company gets bigger, and you get cluttered with just to-do’s, and lots of people running around, if you know what I mean?
Matt: I agree. Hey, last question for you Matt before we let you go. In your career, and in your own professional development, who are a couple of people that have been particularly influential and helpful for you? These could be authors, professors, people alive or dead, but who are a couple of people you might recommend other listeners check out, and try to read or learn from, that really helped you out as well?
Matt Gorniak: I would say the oldie but goody is The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clay Christensen. I think, especially now I think the younger generation it’s pretty, I think that book’s got what, 20 years on it probably, something like that. It’s a really good read, because anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur and kind of see the dynamics of how disruption could work, I think it’s a wonderful book explaining the dynamics, the commercial system that gets build up around a very successful company that becomes very big, and then how a disruptor can kind of take advantage of all the success that a big company has against it. So I would recommend that book. It may sound very date, and it kind of is, but I think the physics of it are very compelling. I just re-read it again two years ago, a year ago.
Matt: Yeah, there’s books like that and authors like that, that definitely stand the test of time, so good recommendation. Well, we are out of time unfortunately, we’ve got to wrap up here. Thanks so much for Matt Gorniak from G2 Crowd for joining us today. If you’re not aware, not familiar, and not providing reviews and learning from reviews, definitely you should check out g2crowd.com, that’s letter G, number 2, crowd.com.
We’ll be back next week with an on demand, pre-recorded version of Sales Pipeline Radio. Very excited to finish the year with an episode about the agony and ecstasy of planning and budgeting, and we’ve already got a great line up of new guests coming in January 2019. But for today, for my great, and hoarse, and recovering producer Paul, this is Matt Heinz. Thanks for joining us for another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.