Jeff Imm is a Co-Founder and Investor of Click360, a SaaS platform that calculates ROI using End-to-end using Multi-Touch Attribution models to split revenue from an opportunity based on all of its contributing activities. It then uses AI deep learning to automatically segment leads and customers that convert to revenue to target via your ad platforms to reduce ad spend to retarget. Jeff is a SaaS SMB & Enterprise Tech Solutions CXO with a portfolio of success stories under his belt.
How I Work, Episode 19 with Jeff Imm (Click360)
Jeff joins Josh Becerra in episode 19 of How I Work to talk about how finding a product core and sticking to it is his superpower for SaaS success – and fine-tuning the ICP, ideal customer profile, and utilizing that to perfect your product. Plus:
- Using Churn Rate to know if your business is on track
- Synchronizing departments to drive data holistically
- What a “data-driven organization” truly looks like
Learn more about Jeff Imm and Click360: https://click360.com/
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Transcription: How I Work, Episode 19 (Jeff Imm, Click360)
Josh: Hey everybody. This is Josh Becerra from Augurian. I’m here with Jeff Imm – co-founder and investor at Click360. Thanks for being here.
Jeff: Yeah, it’s awesome. Thanks for inviting me.
Josh: Yeah. So, what we normally do is just give you a chance to tell us a little bit of your story as a brief introduction. What amazes me about your career is you’ve been kind of CXO for a long time and a lot of different companies, and all SaaS companies. So that’s our audience here, SaaS marketers. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about that journey through SaaS? Go as far back as you want. But there’s been some, there’s been some cool companies in there.
Jeff: Yeah, there sure has. And it’s definitely been a journey. So the interesting part is seeing the evolution of the industry over 30 years. I started way back with one of the larger tech companies that had been acquired, which was Lawson and seeing how that evolved from running European operations for several years. And what lead and demand gen looked like in those early days, to now, you know, expanding into, some runs with a lot of great companies that have moved from on-prem systems to, you know, the SaaS world and trying to move and navigate into what is that experience from a technology standpoint and all along, seeing the evolution of marketing and sales teams going through that. So time management was another group that we focused on in a labor management space and moved from a disc by mail sort of marketing campaign to get people interested in that word of mouth.
Josh: That AOL model.
Jeff: Yes, that AOL model – the first days of websites and that part of it, of seeing that evolve to providing the first web based sort of experience that we built – Silverlight, I’m dating myself now. We’ve built our own framework to be able to do that.
Josh: That company got acquired.
Jeff: Yeah, that company got acquired and merged with another consolidate group out of Atlanta. Saw another opportunity where the technology changed with When I Work and became an early investor within When I work and we really built everything from the ground up – the sales operation, the marketing operation.
Josh: Remind me, were you COO?
Jeff: I was president COO when we started out with the operation, we raised three rounds, uh, 24 million in total,I exited after series B, as we looked at trying to get more to, um, EBITDA in focusing on growth and, that worked because Bain Capital came in and did the acquisition last fall, which was really exciting to see something like that happen.
Josh: Yeah, so When I Work to what was it, SharpSpring?
Jeff: Yeah, so with SharpSpring, SharpSpring was interesting. Also recently acquired, so Constant Contact came in and purchased them.
Josh: And what were you doing there?
Jeff: So CRO and COO, so both roles and really taking that from a standpoint that had some really good marketing data, but not sales execution. And so we really evolved it to really drive that part of it. And for me, it was a foray into, because we were starting what I’m doing now at that time. And actually, interestingly enough, in this story, Josh, you brought us together with the founders of the company at Click360, where I’m at now. I don’t know how many years ago that was.
Josh: Yes over breakfast, breakfast a long time ago. It’s amazing what networking will do.
Jeff: Exactly. Exactly. That was an interesting opportunity. And then went into the cannabis space, man. So I got recruited to move to Denver, from Florida and worked the last couple of years with an innovative founder moving the most money in cannabis, probably in the world, almost $3 billion.
Josh: And that was Wrk right? W-r-k
Jeff: Yeah. And so things started to take off with Click360. And so we decided with COVID and everything else, we wanted to move back to the tech scene in Minnesota and that’s where we’re at now.
Josh: Well, it’s great to have you back in Minnesota. So we’re excited. I know you’ve spent some time in Florida and Denver, and now you’re back here. Yeah, it’s a pretty amazing story. Always kind of at that CXO level, you’ve seen, you know, operations, sales, marketing product, finance, all of the things – and all in SaaS and all in really successful SaaS that have gone on to do big things; get acquired, all these things. So are there some learnings in there that you can share with the audience, just from that experience around challenges that you see that SaaS founders might need to overcome, or just any, any sort of connecting of the dots that came from that experience.
Jeff: Yeah. I think some of it, when you look at where success happened and where failure didn’t, you know, when we didn’t drive to that part of it, I think the big challenges that you really look at is – how can you move quickly and still have the customer experience in the journey that whatever your product is to be able to drive to that vision and then hold your vision. You’re going to have a lot of people telling you, you can do a ton of different things, or you shouldn’t be doing the things that you are, you have to hold true to where you know that, that direction you take input, you take the feedback, but in the end you’re driving the direction.
You’re driving the overall and everyone else will have insights that you can glean from, but you have to drive the ball. And so in each one of the different roles, when you’re looking at it, the key, my discipline and where I think I’ve, you know, my super power. If you drive those things into that, is identifying where the big challenges are and don’t go well, that’s somebody else’s problem, go solve the problem, raise your hand up to go drive that part and good things will come out of that and then build that group up and let them take it and drive it, you know, solve the initial issues. Right? And I think that’s been the big thing. I’ve seen challenges where companies that don’t do that, they don’t necessarily grow to the level or their potential that they could, because either they’re caught up within the minutiae of the details or leaving some of the bigger issues that are stopping the flow, especially in tech and SaaS, the drive of leads and the drive of business, and then the referral of word of mouth that is a very non-scientific way in early stages.
Jeff: You’re driving towards the metrics, but you are reiterating and driving to change as fast as you can, and throwing the things that aren’t working out the door as fast as you can as well.
Josh: Right? One of the things that when we were kind of prepping for this, you talked about the product being a marketing machine. And that the two can’t be separate, like you can’t separate product from marketing. So I’d love you to elaborate a little bit more on that because I thought that was a really interesting concept.
Jeff: Yeah. And I think that’s one of the things, if you look at, When I Work and with Chad and, you know, the founders of the company did from day one and understanding marketing as their first love right – of that part of it. And I think you don’t see that very often. And that was what really attracted me to both of them. And the company was, I knew that the base domain of the problem, they were learning the base domain of the problem, they knew there was a problem, and wanted to solve it. But what they did was they made the platform a core part of what the marketing engine was.
For the first part, we didn’t have Marquetto and we didn’t have a marketing automation platform. It was the platform. It drove it from day one. And that enabled you to move so much more quickly than trying to use a lot of metrics that people were going, “well hey, you can’t build a sales team with less than 1K MRR and you know, or 1k ARR deal.” right. 1K ARR deal was what our average was, we were just getting to that point. And all of the statements that you had to have at least 5,000 ARR at the time was the methodology and we said, no, we’re going to build this and we built it with students right out of college, train them how to do it, and they were closing 50 deals a month.
Jeff: And it became a model that really worked and we could actually supercharge it right and be able to move it in that direction. So you’re taking those findings in driving the product allowed a lot of that to happen, but it also caused many challenges. Right? We reiterated the product every minute, every day, there was no release cycle.
Josh: So how did you, how did you know when you were getting to where – all right, this is feeling good. We’re getting a fit. Like you’re, if you’re iterating so quickly, wow do you know you’re on track versus off track?
Jeff: The churn rate is the key metric that we drove off of – what we looked at is, are we getting a product that people are continuing to utilize with the, with the ICP, the ideal customer profile.
When we’re looking at that, when you’re driving, you’re looking at how do we stay focused on that? And if people didn’t like it – we gave them their money back. If they were saying you didn’t move or iterate, why wouldn’t you do this, etc? We were like, Hey, this is what we’re focused on. If it’s not a good fit, keep the brand at the right level. Focus on that and go, no over promising. So a lot of what we did at the early stages were, “this is what the product does.” And they were like, wait a minute, you need to do automatic scheduling and we want to have this part of it. I told the reps, when we were on the phone, when you’re talking, you go, this is what our product core is. This is what we are going to be really awesome at, and you’re going to tell everyone of your customers, there are going to be about five things that you wish you had in the product that we will maybe never do. And they become non-significant issues over time.
I had lots of posts when social media was starting to just get its legs in that part of the sales team at When I Work, they told us not to buy the product. They literally told us exactly that.
Josh: Yes. Super transparent, high level clarity and credibility.
Jef: Yeah, and it drove and it drove the right level of customers that helped us fine tune the ICP and the talk track of the team so that they could feel confident. And I go, listen, they’re going to come back.
And what happened was the next thing, you know, they went and tried something else for 30 days and it didn’t work. And they came back and said, you were right and the next thing you did they made their own proof statement. Especially when you have a challenge or you’re selling, you know, our average MRR for a month and month to month contracts was like $40. Month to month and high volume, we got to the point where high volume was going to be it. And now they’ve got over 120,000 customers on the platform and that’s the volume we get to, to have momentum and it took four years, five years to get to that stage, but it was a philosophy that everybody drove towards and can, can really work around.
Josh: Right. Well, I really do like the idea of understanding what’s working, what’s not working and having this clarity of focus where, this is what we do. And we do it really, really well. And we aren’t going to change what we do because we just took in a series A or B, and that big investor wants us to move in this other direction. I do think those two things being super clear and transparent about what it is you do, and then sticking to what you do can really lead to success.
Jeff: And it works along the way. We became very opportunistic on enterprise deals. We were selling very small mom and pop restaurants and hospitality customers, but we also sold customers that were using enterprise class systems that couldn’t get them trained, couldn’t get them implemented. Turnover, killed the operational usefulness of the product. And we walked in and said, listen, you have high turnover. You have these challenges to do it. If we can solve this part of the problem.
One of the biggest medical companies that’s still on the platform today, always wanted to have centralized configuration of their 400 sites. Those were all challenges that they worked around to solve the problem. And so I think you’re finding those innovators that want to solve that, you’re finding the right customers, that you can drive to a future state of the product, but they’re going to help you partner to get to that point versus forcing you down a path.
I did that once in the career, we did that at Time Management. We sold Wendy’s International, which was a great partner of ours. But it changed the dynamic of, we want it to be more like When I Work with the platform and we went a whole different direction because of that it does things to businesses that is oftentimes unintentional.
The lens changed very much for me as we were driving, you can see that pretty clearly when it’s starting to happen. You may want to prevent that, so that you can stay on your vision of what you want for the platform. That’s really tough for founders, right? Because that’s a lot of opportunity, a lot of cash in the bank, a lot of momentum that could go down a direction, shiny object, shiny object can take you down the wrong path.
Josh: Yeah, that’s great. So I do think that like, in order to be able to follow through and make those types of decisions. You have to really be reliant on data, you were saying – we would pay attention to see what our churn rate is, you have to be really in touch with your data. I know that, you know, click 360 is all about data and analytics. I know you’re a big data guy, so can you, just, you know, I hear the word, like, Hey, we’re a data-driven organization that gets thrown around all the time. Right. So what does that mean for you? What does data-driven really mean for a business?
Jeff: I think that when you’re looking at the total life cycle and the journey of a customer coming through beginning to end and in what, looking at your ICP and your target customer, when you take data into realms, and you can walk into any department and go tell me what your five KPIs are that you’re driving the business with. And they don’t have a paper, they don’t have it in front of them, and they’re not looking up anything, – they tell you right what it is. And I can go into any department in a company that’s really doing that, that’s saying I walk into customer success. And this, this is how we’re, we’re focusing on this. And more importantly, how it ties back to the other parts of the organization that they’re really doing now. Okay ours is a different way of objective and key results or there’s ways to get there. But the problem that ends up most of the time when you see that implemented is that they don’t drive back to the fundamental part of the business and say, this is how I work it. So when you’re looking at each one of the components, they have to work in harmony is a, is, is a word that you’re trying to get to, that they’re synchronized is probably a more appropriate insight. And what I found the biggest challenge we had, even when we’re at, When I Work, when we’re looking at the tools that we had in driving, and we’re using segment, and a lot of the tools that are out there now that have been acquired.
But segment only gives you part of the picture. It didn’t take any consideration into what the sales team was doing at all. So, marketing was going, “Hey, this is what it looks like from a segment standpoint.” The sales team would go, “this person’s not ready to buy. They have no intent to purchase. They’re just out shopping or they just want a free trial and their boss told them to take a look at it,” and you know, all of these things that came up and I think that’s the spirit of what truly moving to data is, is that what is the data influence that we have all the way through the cycle?
So you guys at Augurian are really focused on the same thing of how do I drive and help people with their marketing functions and getting to that? I think the holistic approach of looking to driving data is that each one of the departments can say each of the areas, every phone call that I make, every trade show that I go to or attend, every marketing campaign, every social media component, every time that a customer gives a good reference to come back in that influence that happens in the overall sales cycle and driving to a conversion is what is missing in the picture today.