GROW B2B FASTER

Ep 06 - Mårten Mickos - How to Increase Success Rate & generate Value for your B2B Customers

February 12, 2021 Sammy Gebele/ Marten Mickos Season 1 Episode 6
GROW B2B FASTER
Ep 06 - Mårten Mickos - How to Increase Success Rate & generate Value for your B2B Customers
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GROW B2B FASTER
Ep 06 - Mårten Mickos - How to Increase Success Rate & generate Value for your B2B Customers
Feb 12, 2021 Season 1 Episode 6
Sammy Gebele/ Marten Mickos

That's in it for you:

1. Sisu (Finnish for intransigence) as Marten's secret for success 

2. When entering a new market one should focus on closing deals first and let the marketing  follow

3. Stop focusing on deal sizes - just close deals and make customers happy. The rest will take  care of itself

4. In the digital world, quantity creates quality 

5. Which mindset to look for when hiring people

Learn from Mårten Mickos, the CEO of HackerOne, how to increase the success rate & generate value for your B2B customers. 

HackerOne is a fast-growing company out of Silicon Valley, helping companies like Goldman Sachs, Lufthansa, and Uber secure their platforms and systems with their "good Hackers". As of September 2019, the company had raised $110 Million.

Mårten is a seasoned professional and entrepreneur, who was e.g. the CEO of MySQL AB from 2001 to 2008. He grew that company from a garage start-up to the second largest open source company in the world.

This episode is sponsored by SAWOO - " We help you grow your B2B business faster"

Show Notes Transcript

That's in it for you:

1. Sisu (Finnish for intransigence) as Marten's secret for success 

2. When entering a new market one should focus on closing deals first and let the marketing  follow

3. Stop focusing on deal sizes - just close deals and make customers happy. The rest will take  care of itself

4. In the digital world, quantity creates quality 

5. Which mindset to look for when hiring people

Learn from Mårten Mickos, the CEO of HackerOne, how to increase the success rate & generate value for your B2B customers. 

HackerOne is a fast-growing company out of Silicon Valley, helping companies like Goldman Sachs, Lufthansa, and Uber secure their platforms and systems with their "good Hackers". As of September 2019, the company had raised $110 Million.

Mårten is a seasoned professional and entrepreneur, who was e.g. the CEO of MySQL AB from 2001 to 2008. He grew that company from a garage start-up to the second largest open source company in the world.

This episode is sponsored by SAWOO - " We help you grow your B2B business faster"

Marten: And that's how we will have amazing start-ups from all over Europe. I know that like the Munich area in Bavaria is very strong, Berlin area is strong, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Barcelona, that's it? But there will be other places coming. #00:00:25#

Sammy:  Yes, I hope so. I mean this can be something that transforms communities and even countries that are poor now to opportunities that they couldn't have before. If they're able to jump on the train of entrepreneurship and serve people world wide. #00:00:40#

Marten: It's true. If the entrepreneurs really learn quickly and become strong entrepreneurs, which has taken too long and as long as the government will change legislation to not be a hindrance. Stock options are difficult, regulation is difficult, employment law is difficult. So, Europe has a lot of burdens that keeps start-ups back that caused them to be smaller than American start-ups become. #00:01:11#

Sammy: Yes, absolutely. And I mean we will talk about that in a second but you have an amazing career. I mean, from founder over sales and then marketing lead to CEO and working with companies that are like super huge. And that's amazing. So, I want to get some of your secret sauce into our podcast. #00:01:34#

Marten: It's just sisu, you know, this Finnish word, sisu “S I S U”, it sorts of means tenacity, not giving up, just pushing and trying, trying until it works. And when you have that sisu, you can be stupid. You can be slow; you can be anything because you just never give up and you learn at every step. And then soon the others will have given up, but you haven't. That's my secret of success. #00:02:05#

Sammy: That's very interesting because there was a start-up fair recently it's called Bits&Pretzels it's one of the bigger ones in Europe and I'm a triathlete. And I like Jan Frodeno. He's one of the top triathletes worldwide. And they interviewed him and he said exactly the same: The difference between a world champion and someone who is not a world champion is never giving up and each day he says like, even now, each day after training, he thinks: Okay, what could I have done better? What can I do better next time? #00:02:37#

Marten: Yes. And you just have to do a little bit, you don't have to do much just a little bit better, but you have to do it every day. In the gaming industry, there are these brothers from Iceland, the Helson brothers, one started Unity. And one of them said that his father always told him: Son aim for the top. There's less competition there. And it's so true. There's a lot of competition in the middle. Like there's a lot of people who are in the middle are competing with each other and sort of become very envious of each other. And it's difficult and hard to compete. But if you really aim for the top, then there isn't actually isn't that much competition because so few people have the energy and persistence to try to go to the top. #00:03:29#

Sammy: Yes, I absolutely agree. It's a long road and I've been an entrepreneur for 10 years now. And I started the company. I had to shut it down again. So, I did all the painful stuff too once, now we found, I think a pretty good product market fit with our company and it's fun. But then you have different kinds of problems. It seems like either you're going too slow or you're going too fast now. Now you have to find enough good people. You have to hire them; you have to train them. So, there's always something that is keeping you really busy, but that's an interesting part. Yes. #00:04:07#

Marten: Well, my observation is that start-ups nearly always start too early and move too slow. It's better to start later and move faster. And it's counter-intuitive because as start-up creators and innovators, we'd like to get going immediately, we think the time is now, and we lose the opportunity if we don't act, but usually we don't have to start immediately. But once we start, we must go forcefully, like really invest in growth and building quickly. #00:04:41#

Sammy: Yes. And finding, and that's totally off the topic of the podcast, but that's something that I thought a lot about and we are bootstrapped up to now for this reason that we wanted to have the time to find the product-market-fit. Because if you take on especially growth money too fast you can fail a potentially good ideas because they force you to grow without you having a fit in the end. And then you burn everything. (Marten: Very true. I completely agree. I've done it in my career) Yes. Me too. #00:05:51#

Sammy: What's a commonly held belief with regards to sales and marketing, because this is our podcast is about, that you passionately disagree with. #00:06:00#

Marten: Yes, some people say that when you enter into a new market or a new geography or new place, many say we need to start with marketing to build the market and only then do sales. And I disagree. Sure, marketing logically comes before sales, but if you're opening a new market, you need to go in and close deals first. That's how you test whether there's a product-market-fit. And if the first sales person can close deals without any marketing help, then you can hire marketing people. But if you start with marketing people, they will sort of spin their wheels and it won't be the real stuff because there's no sales person giving them the really hard feedback. #00:06:50#

Sammy: I absolutely agree with you on this one. And because I see it in our smaller start-up, so we test different markets now because it worked in the DACH region. So, Germany, Austria, Switzerland. And now we have a little test running in Spain and it already looks good. And we have a first test running in the United States and we noticed that the States are different. And so, we are still not ready in the States to scale anything up, but we learn constantly and we get better and better each day. And at some point, I'm pretty sure we crack the code and then we go for it. Yes. (Marten: Yes. And of course, it's a much bigger market to go to the US) Lets the one that you have to go after. I think for most companies, at least. So, when you grew HackerOne, I mean, you're already in a lot of countries now. But you're there for a longer time. Can you give a hands-on example and how you entered a geography or market with this tactic and what you learned? #00:08:03#

Marten: Well, we did it well, actually in Germany, we did it differently because we had, like, I know some people, I know some journalists who wrote about us in Wirtschaftswoche, long before we had a sales rep in Germany. So, we did build a little bit of reputation so that once we hired our first sales rep, we already had a few customers. We also closed a deal with Lufthansa long before we had a sales rep in Germany. So, it was a little bit different there. But then in France, we started by just hiring a sales rep and just saying, go out and find some deals, close some deals, just build a business and to show us what's possible. And now we do PR there and we have, I guess we have some marketing material in the French language, and we have French customers, so those are examples, but with our business model, at HackerOne, we have the benefit of selling to a progressive audience that is global by nature. So, whether they are in France or Germany or Austria, we have customers in Austria, they belong to the pioneers of the pioneers. For them buying from a US vendor is commonplace. They don't worry. They don't demand that the contract text is in the local language or anything. So, we have a good, we have sort of an advantage there as we start. (Sammy: Lucky you are, I must say. That is a good advantage to talk to early-adopters by nature) It is. Early adopters are very few. So, it's never enough. There's a risk that you are just a cool vendor with a cool customer, but that's never a sufficiently large market. You have to target the mainstream at some point. But you build up your presence and your ability to act and your reference base. And when customers say, who can I talk to? We always have a customer, who acts as a reference for us. And we have that in all European countries. #00:10:02#

Sammy: I would say, great.  What kind of attributes do you look for this very first hire? So, what, for example, to keep it really pragmatic how did you find the very first French sales guy? #00:10:16#

Marten: I didn't do the hire myself, so I don't know. But we use many first. We say, does anybody know anybody? Does anybody know anybody who knows anybody? And can we ask somebody, that's why I asked you. I said, can you recommend good sales reps in Germany for when we need them? But then typically now we use recruiters because it's a very productive way and they present candidates. And we look for, when you hire the first salespeople, they must be very capable. They have to be able to do a little bit of marketing, a little bit of administration. They need to understand the product. They have to be a little bit the sales engineer in their mind because they will not have the support in the beginning. So, they are in a way jacks of all trade, but they are. But they also create this very strong relationship with the customer because the customers are that this one person can serve them with everything they need. Later when you know, when you're buying something, there's one who's selling to you, one is doing the services when he's doing the marketing, like when he's doing the invoicing and it gets messy, but the first salespeople are in a way entrepreneurs on their own. They have a network, they always know a way in, they call their cousins, friends, or something, and they find a need to get an invitation to an event or something. So, they're very resourceful. (Sammy:That really sounds like an entrepreneur, you have to find for this position. Yes, definitely)

Marten: The first one. Yes. And I remember from my previous career, at RightScale, there were several countries where we hired somebody who was not from the country. So, in France, at the most sales, we had an English man to do the first sales. It works. This is weird. It's counter-intuitive, but somebody who has moved into your country is very committed. They're very, they don't assume anything. They know they are the underdog because they are not from the country. But also, customers look at them and say, okay, why is this person here? Like they get attracted by the courage and grit of that person. And of course, they always learn the local language. So, it's as easy to deal with them as others. But they have this, I know it. I've moved to another country. You start working much harder because you feel, that you have to show how good you are, but if you are in your own country, well, maybe you stop working earlier and its Feierabend, and then let's go out for a beer. But not if you are, if you're an immigrant, you will work harder. #00:12:52#

Sammy: Yes, absolutely. Get it. Because I mean, my mother is an immigrant. She came from North Africa, Tunisia, and your kind of, I mean, she has this fighting spirit and you have to have it because you have to fight for everything. You have to fight for your first workplace. First, learn the language. Then for the first workplace, then to keep the workplace and all this. #00:13:16#

Marten: Then you face a lot of resistance because people have all kinds of false beliefs and they could be racist at place. They could be all kinds of arrogance and protection. So, you have to be prepared for being treated worse than others. So, that's why you have to be tougher and work harder, but that actually makes you stronger. And in the end, you win because you learn that nothing comes for free. Everything has to be earned. You have to prove things, not once, but two times or three times before you really get it. People who've moved to another country, become wonderful people for that reason. Not all but many. #00:14:01#

Sammy: Yes, I agree. Absolutely. And that's already a really good tip for myself also, because we are looking at for example, entering the UK and the Nordics to test the market and as we are a small resourceful company, that is bootstrapped up to now. We don't have a lot of money to hire someone from the get-go. But our idea is to find an MBA student, for example who is studying in that country, who might be from another country. But who's willing to maybe join full-time after he's finished so we can test part-time. So, to say you have someone who's smart and then if it works, we can extend. Yes. #00:14:39#

Marten: I can give you an example. I take one. We are sales into Finland and Sweden, Norway, and Denmark is handled by a French guy who lives in London. And of course, what would a French person do in Finland selling? But they sort of love it. They love the fact that somebody from France takes interest in their matters. So, is actually doing well. And they like the fact that they get to show their culture and sort of interact with him. And I told him when he took the job, I said, Martin, this could be, you may be better than anybody else. Exactly. Because you are a little bit exotic, not much but enough to give that little extra. And he's very good and has learned how to understand Scandinavian communication styles, which of course is much different than French. #00:15:28#

Marten: But once you learn, once you learn this, then you can be so powerful and it has to do with it. I always go back to quoting the Danish author, Karen Blixen. She moved to Africa in the 19th century and got married and lived on a farm. And lived there. And she said that if you know, one culture, you know no culture. You have to see two different cultures to even understand your own. And once you see two or more cultures, then you can understand the culture, understand how people interact and what's important to them and why, what it means when certain groups of people behave in a certain way. There's also always a meaning behind it. And you, if you just live in your own country, you're like a fish in the water. You don't know that there's water around you because you'd never have experienced anything else. #00:16:29#

Sammy: Yes. I absolutely understand what you mean in a sense. I knew it a little bit because I grew up in two countries, so to say, but what really opened up my mind. I studied an MBA in Madrid and then like with 60, 70 other countries. Yes. I like it a lot. I also saw that you, at least you're connected on LinkedIn with Enrique Dans. He's a, he was one of the best professors I had and it was really good. Yes. #00:17:01#

Marten: I met him once and I wrote some text for them once a blog post about leadership or something. #00:17:07#

Sammy: Yes. He's one of the reasons why I'm an entrepreneur. Oh yes, because he bought entrepreneurs in the class and they talked about their experience and this was the most valuable class of all. You learn all this basic stuff, you learn in an MBA, but the best is talking to someone like you. And seeing that the way it's not like: boom, you're a billionaire, but it's like this. And almost sometimes you don't make it, but some of you make it anyways and then you succeed and yes, that's normal so I, that was a really good lesson alone. #00:17:39#

Marten: Yes. We always say that it takes many years to build an overnight success. #00:17:44#

Sammy: Absolutely true. So, but to come back to the questions that we had, the first question so the next one is, what should everyone stop doing in B2B sales and or marketing in your opinion? #00:18:03#

Marten: Yes, well, I was thinking about it and I wasn't sure I have an answer, but that, okay. I have an answer. So, I wrote down, stop focusing on deal size, just close deals and make customers happy. The rest will take care of itself. And of course, somebody in the company has to think about deal size and how to price and all of that. But often you have a sales team that thinks: Oh, to reach the goal, we have to increase the price. And it is sort of a false way of doing it because you're not solving your real problem, which is the ability to attract customers and sell them and make them happy. So, although deal size can be very good for your economy of the business. The practice of attracting customers, closing deals with them and making them successful with your product. That's what drives the business. And then you will be able to increase deal size at some point. So, I don't focus much on deal size. I focused on making sure that the value prop works in reality so that you can just sell a lot of deals. And if people say, but Martin, if we sell it at this low price, we can never increase price. Then I say, it's not true. You can always increase price. And if you can't increase price of your product, you develop a separate product that you sell as an add-on and you have enough R&D power to do that. And sometimes also your existing customers are so few that even if they never start paying the new price, if the new ones do so, that's also good. Your current installed base for a start-up is always much smaller than your future installed base. So, that's a principle I follow. But of course, I'm happy when we close big deals. And when somebody closes a giant deal, like we did at HackerOne the other day, we were all jumping up and down and clapping our hands and loving it. So, yes, we do love it, but we don't let the deal size be the driving things. #00:19:56#

Sammy: How do you communicate this success within your company? Because it's a big company. Now you have 1800 or more employees, at least on LinkedIn I saw it. #00:20:06#

Marten: Well, you can't trust LinkedIn because there are a lot of hackers who say they work for HackerOne. So, we have 300 people but we are still, still pretty sizable. We do a lot of our communication through Slack. So, we have Slack channels. We have one called HackerOne wins, and we have a high five channel where we give high fives to each other. We thank each other. And we have weekly company meetings where we thank each other. So, we do a lot of like, there we are very Californian. All the time we have to celebrate victory, thank somebody, give kudos, give high fives. It's not like the very sort of humble, subdued way of Germany and Scandinavia where we say, you should never praise yourself. You should never praise anybody else. Don't praise somebody. They may get arrogant. That's of course completely wrong. But we grew up being taught by our parents and grandparents that it's not proper to celebrate victories too much. That it's not proper, but in tech business, it is proper. And you need to do that all the time. Celebrate. (Sammy: I Think in any business, this is good) I think so. Yes, but I'm specifically talking start-up, but you're right. And we shouldn't, I also think that if we celebrate a lot, then the stigma goes away and it isn't, it doesn't make anybody arrogant because we know, like we do these high fives on the high five channels. There were probably 50 people every day who get, so you are happy when you get it, but you also know that you're not unique and special. It's just the way of reminding of how, how fortunate we actually are. To be in a tech company, to be in a start-up, to live in a country with a stable democracy and a stable economy. Those are luxuries that most people on this planet do not have. #00:22:03#

Sammy: Yes, absolutely great. Gratefulness is a good way to live your life. Each morning, thinking or evening, at least once a day, thinking about all the good things that you have. #00:22:13#

Marten: Yes. Gratefulness and curiosity. That's about all, you need a little bit of compassion, but you are happy if you're grateful, you have compassion already. #00:22:24#

Sammy: Great. I want to come back to your answer because one thing I, or two things I've heard out of it, one thing is that you don't care that much about deal size. So, if I were to translate it you came about building the go-to-market machine. So, it's more important that you're, for example, I think of businesses as a system with people, but the system has to be trained the right way, and you only can train if you have this in this case. Yes. So, if you only focus on the big shot and this takes too long your system doesn't learn and then you probably won't get better fast enough. #00:23:01#

Marten: Exactly. And you may learn the wrong things. Like you may have a whale, a very big customer who has different requirements than the smaller ones. And so specifically in the tech business, that's another thing our parents and grandparents taught us incorrectly. They always said, son or daughter, it is quality, not quantity that matters, but in the digital world, quantity produces quality, quantity results in quality. So, some things you just have to do so many times or have so many of, that in the aggregate, you create a qualitative experience. So, it's counter-intuitive, but there, you actually just sometimes have to bring in as many customers as you can. And the result will be higher quality than if you pick just a few. #00:23:54#

Sammy: Yes. I'm absolutely with you, like translating it to two hours. Like we are a really small company, but we are fast learners. Why? Because each one of us in our core team has calls with potential customers each week. And we talk about these calls each week, once a week for one hour and we improve or DEC and how we approach potential questions. And now it's like, everybody can close. We have 22, 23, eight-year old's who can close this with partners of companies who are over 50 of size of the companies and even up the contract. I don't even do anything anymore. So, even in this small environment where we are, I can absolutely agree with what you're saying. If you put them out there, if you're out there, you learn so fast. The first two, three calls are really bad. Then you get a little bit better and better. And at some point, it's like, you can do it when you wake up in the middle of the night, someone says you have a call and boom, you just nail it. #00:24:54#

Marten: Exactly and so important to start with a bad experience. There's nothing that develops your ambition as much as having a really bad experience with a customer, because you're so ashamed that the shame will drive you to perfection. Like having a, like we say, a chip on your shoulder and imposter syndrome, all of that, those are good because you're always thinking, okay, I'm not good enough. I need to improve. And then at some point you are so good that you can close deals all the time. #00:25:21#

Sammy: Oh. And a side note. I don't know what your take on this one is. But what I noticed is that our ladies in our team are really good in sales because they don't have this chip at all. They're more like, how can I help? So, having this attitude of what does my potential customer need, how can I find it out? And they do it in a way that it's not pushy at all. #00:25:43#

Marten: Yes. Sometimes when I sell and when I instruct people to sell, I tell them and I do it with myself. I say to myself, I'm actually a representative of the customer. I belong to the customer. And my job is to extract the right product from the start-up, for the customer. That's my job. Then, as a result, I take some money in return, but my job is to be the representative of the customer and do what's best for them find the best product, the best service, make sure the best service is given. And when you think of that way, you actually start delivering value because you are thinking, Oh, I must, I'm working with the customer. I must make the customer successful. And then it's another thing that you can take a lot of money out of their pocket because that's your job. But your mindset is about serving the customer, not serving the one who's actually paying your salary. #00:26:41#

Sammy: Absolutely. And I mean, I'm taking a lot of money out of the pocket. It's giving us more value than it costs. So, in the end, it's really something where you help people, and of course you need money for producing the value that you create for them. But before I started being more in the sales area, you have the notion of this shady sales person. So, someone who wants to talk to you, talk you into this, and you told me even like, for example, you don't need this car, but it's really shiny and you need it now, you know? But in the end, what you say is a great attitude. And this opens the door to other kinds of sales people who are more compassionate and who don't push you, but who will go the route that you said asking the right questions and then find out what you need. And then if you can help, you help, if you took care of it, now maybe you have a feature that you have to build so that you can help someone in the future. How do you get this? Because now you're a bigger company when you're really small. So, for example, I'm still selling and I know what people need, and we know what to build, but once you are a little bit more removed from the field, how do you get feedback directly from your potential customers? So that, you know, you have the points at the market and you know, what you have to build or what you have to develop. #00:28:02#

Marten: It is very hard because you have to actively seek out the information. And I tried to listen internally, very attentively, like when the sales people report to why they won or why they lost. I read the report, I look at it and say, Oh, what was going on there? Why did they do this? And then I have enough customers, I talk to then I can just ask them. And as a CEO, you have freedoms that others don't have. Like when I speak to a customer, I can just say: Did you feel that we were too expensive? And they will give you the honest answer. They won't mess around with the CEO. If you're a sales rep and say: Is this too expensive? Everybody will say, yes, it's too expensive because they are negotiating, but they know they're not negotiating with me so I can ask anything. I can say, do you think our product is excellent, Martin, your product is amazing. You should, you charge too little for it. Okay. Thank you. But because there's sort of a trust relationship, and sometimes those customers, we don't charge a lot from, we just continue to sell at the higher price to others. So, therefore our CEO, I can get the information, but they have to be very active. I have to seek it out every day. And sometimes I realize my data is outdated. I talked to our sales rep and say, yes, this is very important. And then said, well, actually, Martin, it was important six months ago, but it's not anymore. And I have to adjust. #00:29:30#

Sammy: Yes, that is super valuable. So, no matter the size of your company, it's still good to have your pulls at the market and talk to customers. #00:29:37#

Marten: Yes. I would look at, for instance, Okta, the cybersecurity company. Okta, they went public maybe a year ago. They had, what is it was Okta or it was CrowdStrike. One of the two, I forget which one also cybersecurity company. They in public, when they went public, they said on the day of the going public estate in the next a hundred days, the CEO will visit 100 customers. And it was such an impressive thing to say and do. Like you think he would have been so busy with having gone public and organizing things. So, no, I will meet with a hundred customers in a hundred days to stay in touch with customers. And then when everybody knows about it, even those customers, he didn't visit are of course happy because they know that the CEO is customer-focused. So, you can do things like this to strengthen your presence in the market. (Sammy: Thanks a lot hands-on tips. That's really helpful) Yes. Well, we, the whole idea here is that you will, your company will now do much better. And everybody was listening to the podcast. That is what I wanted to return. I'm very happy to share my thoughts. And if they make sense, I want to see people grow their businesses and become millionaires and billionaires and whatever they are hoping to be. #00:30:58#

Sammy: I mean, you already provided a lot of value. I can tell you from my side, I already learned a lot. So, I'm pretty sure a lot of people out there if they actively listen, they can take a lot out of it. #00:31:11#

Marten: There's so much wisdom on the internet today that many, like many people do MBAs and an MBA can be useful, but the technical information is available for free in all the podcasts or the blog texts that are out there. Like so many really smart people, like people much smarter than I are sharing freely. And if you would just read and follow everything they ever said, you would know more than you can learn at any university. There is no way people don't know this, that when people say, Oh, why don't I know everything? Why am I not so good? And I'm trying to tell her, everything is freely available on the internet. You don't have to pay anything. You just have to Google and be smart and find it. But that's it. And you can learn from all the mistakes already that have been made by others. #00:32:06#

Sammy: That's why I love podcasts. And that's why I found out about you. I listened to the SaaStr podcast, so thanks a lot. But it was really insightful what you basically said, and that was the reason by basically a little post about it on LinkedIn and you interacted with it, and that's how it came to you being here. But I absolutely agree. For example, I'm not a Sage or I was not a sales expert. I get better at this. And we basically help other companies sell more, so I have to be good at it because we have other companies do it, but how did I get better? I listened to a lot of podcasts of safety, but basically of SaaStr of people who lead organizations per se. So, marketing is a part of it, of course, and you get really good at it at some point you just have to listen and the good thing is you can try it out and you see if it works for you. #00:33:03#

Marten: Yes. And you have to try it after. Of course, you have to internalize it, then make it active because there's, it's possible to just listen to listen and listen, and never get better. But really if you have this burning desire, it's sort of back to this, then that's it, the perseverance, the sisu, the Finnish word of just not giving up, just keep keeping going until it succeeds. #00:33:24#

Sammy: They're one of, take a little side road. And I want to ask you on, because my feeling is, if you have, it's like a sports team somehow a company, you have a common culture, let us there to build. And then you have to find the right players. And in my experience, for example people who are really ambitious when they're young, it can be any kind of ambition. They can be great in chess or some kinds of sports or whatever. You know, someone who has shown this tenacity. They seem to be the people that are inherently like this. But what do you look for when you genuinely hire people like in the sort of mindset not to sort of what they have to know to be able to start? #00:34:13#

Marten: Well, The first thing I look at is actually integrity. Like, are they intellectually honest? Can they see themselves as what they are as with the weaknesses and strengths? Are they honest and truthful? Like those things matter to me more than anything else, but the next step after that is then, are they in charge of their lives? Like, do they believe in free will? And if you believe in free will you have to be driving, pushing, trying, learning, experimenting, delivering results, taking responsibility, everything opens up when you say I have free will I have the agency in me? I mean, I own myself. I'm in charge of myself and I can with my decisions and acts, I can create positive outcomes. If they have that mechanism strongly, then it's amazing. But many people are lazy about it. They say, yes, I believe in free will. But. And then they don't act on it. And I think if you agree on that, you have free will then go and use it, like play. Like you have to play the ball. Somebody is passing you the ball; you have to play the ball. And I look at that, whether they have it, whether they take the opportunity, like in a job interview, will they take control over the job interview? That's to me very good when they start saying, okay, let me ask you some questions. But if I do this, is that what you want? What do you want to see after one year? What if I did this? Is that useful? Like you see how they're already thinking of how to do the job and they're not sitting there saying, yes, I am. I am a very good thing. And I have a master's degree in that then I like most people, when they look for a job or just talking about themselves. (Sammy: And what is my bonus?) Yes. And I can reveal the secret. We're not interested in you when we recruit people, we're interested in whether you can do the job. We are not really interested in you. Sure. We have to study you to know whether you can do the job, but when you are a hiring manager, you look for able people who can deliver results. So, I look at that and then I also spent time understanding what kind of personality is, because I believe that building a team, like you said, it's just like a sports team. You need different players; you need, defense, offense. You need the strong ones, the fast ones, the smart ones. You need those who communicate, those who are nice to each other, those who are in a lone wall of a sin, go out and do the sort of solitary thing somewhere. You need different, many different types of personalities. So, I tried to blend them so that they are not all just copies of the same, the same role or the same personality. #00:37:12#

Sammy: I absolutely agree with this one in a sense that we worked with personality types when we have our customers. So, we analyze the personality based on the LinkedIn profile. I can tell you what your personality likely is. We think at least that you are a vet type of person, like someone who gathers information quickly and then directly takes a decision and you don't need to basically so the other side would be a non-number driven person. So, someone who's more like the emotional kind, you need more references. You don't care about numbers that much. And did we hit that one correctly? You're more the driven numbers person who can take action pretty quickly, or I am more on the-." #00:37:53#

Marten:  Well, I am actually a slow decision maker. I am very quick in my actions, but if I have to make an important decision, I'm often slower than other CEOs. So, it's not my full strength. I know I admire the CEOs who can arrive at the decision faster than I can. But yes, but I, then when I do consume a lot of information. I read, I look at numbers, I may do scenarios. So, I do a lot of that. So, and but then I'm not fully numbers driven. Like I let the numbers serve me, but I'm not trying to just please the numbers. I try to think deeper, beyond the numbers, like what is the true meaning of this? And maybe what looks expensive is actually not expensive or what looks like small will be large. Like sometimes the world is not what it looks like. You often have to say: No. Okay. This is what it looks like, but the reality is the opposite. And you have to learn to see when the reality is the opposite to what everybody's saying, like everybody might say, Oh, this company is so wonderful. They're so wonderful. And I always think because I'm a little bit of a contrarian. I think: Is that true or is it like mass psychosis and they're all hypnotized to think so and actually in reality, it's the opposite? And often it is. And as an entrepreneur, you have to have the courage to choose your own path. And the path may be different from everybody else. Everybody's saying that start-ups need to be in Munich or Berlin, and then you have to say: No, I will do my start-up in Hamburg. And people say you're stupid, but for some, it is the exactly right place. And you must have the courage to follow your own instincts and logic when you win, because you have more information about your case than anybody else, nobody else can know for you. #00:39:52#

Sammy: Yes, I agree. So, to finish this personality type discussion, I think at least we were in the right direction of you wanting to have enough data to digest and then take some time to basically make a decision. So, you may be more blue type a in the sense, in this model, but that doesn't matter. But what I wanted to say is that my CTO is, for example, not a numbers person, he's super structured. But his dominant type is basically a people's person. And then he takes a lot of time to also digest information. And then he's a slow thinking. Because so to say there's a book I forgot-, (Marten: Thinking slow thinking fast Exactly. One of the best books in the last 10 years. It's amazing. And it is so deeply written, you have to read it slowly. You can't read it quickly because every sentence is full of wisdom. And you can't, if you miss one word you're lost, like I have to be very focused on it. When you read it's an intense reading experience, but it was so good. I loved it.)  I have it on my shelf and I still have to read it too-.") Marten: It was hard. It is really, it's not like something you read when you're tired, you don't read it for amusement. You have to be very alert when you read it, because there are so many deep thoughts in it. But I loved the book. #00:41:19#

Sammy: So, my CTO read it, and he said: Sammy, you're the fast thinker and I'm the slow thinker. And sometimes we clash because of this, but I think the mixture is good. And that's what coming back to what you said originally, I liked that idea of people having different personalities, because then they automatically wear different heads. And when you are able to communicate with each other, you usually find better solutions or even tackle better problems. So, to say. #00:41:47#

Marten: I have learned in many cases where I'm a slow decision maker and they say, Marten, what's the decision. And if I say: I don't know, what do you think? They actually have the answer for me. And they had it all along. They just respected my authority so much that they turned to me to get the decision, but actually they had it. So, I've learned over the years to delegate more because those who work for me, may be faster decision-makers than I am, and they have a more acute understanding of the situation. So, then I realized, okay, well, I have to, not all I have to do, but one thing I have to do is delegate it to them and ask them to make the decision. And sometimes it's wrong. Sometimes it's not fully coherent, but we make more decisions and things move fast compared to if I would do my deep thinking about every question, which I tend to do, I really want to go deep. And I say, let's not make the decision until we've considered all scenarios. That's a pretty stupid thing to do, but I am a little bit like that. #00:42:47#

Sammy: Well, that's good. I mean, you just have to have the other part too. Otherwise, you are overthinking everything in your company. You never take any decision fast enough. Yes. And I recently saw a really powerful slide from someone who invested into Twitter - a company. And they showed the growth graph of the revenue of Twitter. It was 2010, between 2010, 2011. So, the growth paths were like this and suddenly it took off. And the only difference there was the number of tests they conducted per week. So, when they were growing slowly, they did half a test a week. So, it took them a long time to test different things. And once they aligned all the team, because testing is not about product or marketing, it's bringing all those people together and they sped it up by a factor of 20, so 10 tests a week then - boom. It hit off. So, that's basically also a little bit more into try and fix out, but not costly twice. But just trying things out, as you said, goes, put someone into a country, let them try it out. Let's see what happens. Don't fast enough. And then if you have the right people and the right product, it will hit off sooner or later. #00:44:01#

Sammy: So, let me phrase the question of what should everyone start doing in B2B sales or marketing? #00:45:37#

Marten: Well, one of the things I wrote is, we have done at HackerOne and at previous companies we used a service like force management. That’s an American company called, forcemanagement.com. And there are other companies who do that service, but they come in and work through your value proposition and your messaging and your sales strategy. And for so many entrepreneurs, even I originally you think, Oh, I know how to sell. Nobody else can define the value the way I can, but they are so structured. They are so clear on the process steps that when you allow them to come in and run the project, your sales organization will become much more powerful because suddenly you have everybody talking the same language, knowing when to say, what to say to what customers, how to find out what the customer's looking for, how to present cases without sounding arrogant or without like all these things get much better when you have this value framework and you agree in the company, what the main value is like, what are the two or three or four reasons that anybody would buy it from you? And typically, entrepreneurs say, I know exactly what it is, but they have many answers. And here what you do is you narrow it down to the most important ones. And then you start focusing on them in marketing, in product development. Then you build strong stories around each value. So, I really recommend it to companies who are in a sales expansion phase to, when you're really small, you probably can't afford it. Then it's sort of too, too much work, but at some point, you do it and you spend weeks working with them on figuring it out. But then afterwards you have such a structure for your selling and go to market that I would really, really recommend that to anybody. (Sammy: So, you definitely saw the impact from this work after you finished?) Yes. And the sales reps are more content because they feel they are equipped to win. Like they don't, they feel like they have been given a tool that they really can use. And it allows people to share best practices because we have very clearly defined values and how we win. What's our right to win? What arguments do we have against each competitor? And how do we do this? And, and like, and then we even use it strategically. We say, let's go to product development and ask for improvement here, because we are not strong enough or we can achieve a new level of strength. So, I really recommend it to you. #00:48:19#

Sammy: Could you get me in touch with someone from this company? Because if they are so good at this, I would love to talk to them. Maybe they're a good guest for this podcast. #00:48:25#

Marten: Oh, that's a good point. I think you could just reach out to them. It is force management.com. (Sammy: Anyone particular, or is it, does it doesn't matter?) I wasn't, we, our head of sales was coordinating it. So, I wasn't practically doing it. There are many people and they are all good. I would, I think they're based headquartered in Boston. But they have good resources on their website. You can read about their method and how they do it. And it's very impressive. But first, like when you are this rebellious start-up entrepreneur, like, no, I don't need it. I know everything well you're don’t and these people have done it for so long. They can absolutely help you sell, sell faster, better, bigger, so awesome. Recommended. (Sammy: They did a lot of things. Good when you recommend them) Yes, exactly. Cool. Awesome. Thank you so much. Wonderful. Good luck with your business. Thanks to all the audience. I hope everybody will build amazing start-up businesses in Germany, in Europe, anywhere in the world, like the world needs. #00:44:14#

Sammy: One last if you could ask our listeners to one thing that you need or might need from them now it's time. #00:49:26#

Marten: I always hope that people will talk about HackerOne and ethical hackers and realize that the only way to make our digital society safe and secure is to ask for help from ethical hackers and changing your mindset to think that hackers are people that do good is what I would like everybody to do. There are always criminals, but we call them criminals. Hacker is a positive word. They solve problems. They can help you. And it's the actually the only way to make this world, the digital world trustworthy and safe, the only ones who really get it are the ethical hackers. So, if people can do that, share that word, argue, debate it, contradict it, whatever. I want the debate going. That would, I would be very thankful for that.  (Sammy: Awesome. Thank you so much, Martin. Thank you so much. Bye ) Thanks, bye.