For our latest installment of The Revenue Leader Interview Series, we had the pleasure of sitting down to chat with the Sr. Director of Revenue Operations at Lucid Software, Brandon Bussey.
Our discussion went deep on topics around revenue operations, trends, as well as the idea that pricing flexibility can be a competitive advantage.
Below are excerpts from that conversion that have been edited for clarity.
Thanks for joining us today, Brandon. Could you give a bit of background about your career and what you are doing today at Lucid?
Thanks for having me, happy to be here.
I come from a finance background, which is what I pursued in college. Early in my career, I worked in financial services doing FP&A. However, when the financial crisis hit in 2008, I began to reconsider my options.
I made the decision to jump into the tech world and began working at a company called Concur, a travel expense tech company that has subsequently been acquired by SAP.
I was there for close to 5 years. In that time, I dipped my toes into a few revenue analytics and revenue finance planning initiatives which I found fascinating.
I then moved to Amazon for 4 years and worked with our G&A businesses ($1B+ expenses) as well as top-level sales forecasting.
Though I danced around SalesOps and RevOps when I was at Concur, I was starting to feel like that type of role might be more interesting to me.
Through an introduction by a friend, I took on a role at Qualtrics here in Utah that focused on SalesOps and RevOps and allowed me to get involved in both analytics and GTM strategy. It was fascinating and I felt like it perfectly fit my background.
I moved over to Lucid and fell in love. It was such an interesting fit with a unique GTM model and just a ton of fun.
Lucid is a visual collaboration productivity suite. We have four core products:
I’m presented with interesting challenges that require a heavily data-driven approach; I love leveraging data to tell the story. Being here also gave me the chance to run a team that has grown from 4 to 25.
Our RevOps team supports the full GTM machine – pricing/packaging, deal desk, order management, hybrid billing / audit, booking facilitation, and more.
Sales is such an interesting place to sit within a company. It has a real pulse on what’s happening in the business at any given time. Being in this role, I get to work in the day-to-day rather than just high-level strategy.
The RevOps function gets to touch not only decisions on the positioning of the product but more nitty-gritty things such as pricing and packaging strategies to win deals. We get to see tangible and visible impacts of our work on the business.
When it comes to Go-To-Market, what do you see as the major challenges for companies that are moving from a self-serve sales motion to an upmarket, enterprise motion?
What’s fascinating about our business vs. a traditional B2B company is that we actually started as a B2C. Though we pivoted to B2B, we still have that underpinning of a self-serve motion.
A lot of companies make that pivot into the enterprise, but we’re really trying to make sure that we can keep both motions humming and are synergistic.
We’ve had a lot of success in the self-serve motion, but there are always trade-offs. For example, if we require more info from users on sign-up, registrations go down. If we require more information at sign-up, we’d have fewer conversions. However, we end up having a much deeper repository, richer information for engaging with them. It’s a healthy debate we have internally.
How has COVID-19 impacted the way your team operates?
The most interesting change has come as a result of our Deal Desk.
With Deal Desk, we created a unified engagement channel for deals. If you need to engage with Deal Desk, you have to go through a standard process and a chain of command in terms of who you communicate with.
In general, folks who have been around for a long time are resistant to change. As a result, there were challenges with getting everyone on board with our Deal Desk process. Instead of going through the correct process, reps would bypass the appropriate steps and go directly to someone to get what they needed.
However, being removed from the office actually helped get everyone to comply with the Deal Desk process. When everyone is remote, the Deal Desk is able to maintain equality across all reps.
On the other hand, there have been a lot of challenges around communication. Slack is a great tool, but there is something to be said about having face-to-face meetings to overcome a challenge.
Prior to COVID-19, we were an entirely in-office company. However, we have really changed our stance on remote work; when all of this ends, we’ll likely make a few days a week optional work-from-home.
Let’s move to pricing.
Do you see any trends when it comes to pricing in the SaaS space? Have there been any pricing models you’ve come across that you think are particularly useful right now?
When it comes to pricing, it really depends.
The interesting things we are seeing are not necessarily around pricing, but more around purchasing process and deal structure.
For example, we’ll often forgo a price change if a company is willing to commit to a staged rollout in which they onboard with a lower package immediately, with the commitment for growth later down the road.
But we set rules around it and they have to make certain commitments around the number of sign-ups and other things in the future.
Our product is focused on an organic, “land and expand” model. We often get customers who tell us that, in the long run, they’ll need 100+ licenses, but that includes other departments as well. In these instances, they will ask if they can try it themselves first before bringing on other organizations within the company.
A pricing model in which an initial traunch of units is purchased, but the buyer has the option to add additional units at any time to be billed at the end of the pay period.
This is where we find a lot of value in the “True-Up” model. In this model, we provide an initial traunch of licenses but enable them to add as many additional licenses as they like which would then be billed at the end of the pay period.
Pairing this model with good usage data works really well.
A lot of times when you think of trials, it’s a pre-purchase activity. However, we are also seeing that customers are ready to have 100 licenses right away but want another month to try it with other departments.
The new model we are exploring is called “Post-purchase trial” in which we allow a customer to onboard certain departments, while still enabling others to trial the product later on.
From a pricing perspective, we believe strongly in having pricing integrity. We’ve had list price moves over time and we have legacy customers on older pricing, but we really try not to heavily discount our pricing on new customers.
A lot of times the problem isn’t the price per license, it’s the need of the buyer to work within a set budget. You can spend time negotiating with them, or come up with unique deal structures such as staged rollouts to overcome the budget issues.
We might give a one-time discount, but it won’t continue when they renew the contract and we make that clear from the very start. That’s where we end up being creative – not in pricing but in structure.
For any of these models, we need guardrails in place for our reps. We need clear rules and approval paths in order to leverage deal structures.
What are some low-hanging fruit with which businesses can find competitive advantages when going to market?
A lot of people think that the product is the only competitive advantage or value that they can have. But we’ve found that deal structure can be a real competitive advantage.
Deals are won or lost based on how they want to purchase; if you can’t support the way they want to purchase, you are going to lose the deal.
Sometimes sales reps don’t consider it, but when you get into the deal negotiations, it can become really impactful. A lot of companies overlook supporting the way customers purchase, but it’s incredibly important in enterprise sales.