Jungle recently invited members of our founder community to meet Elias Torres, co-founder of Drift. Chris Reisig, Jungle’s US-based Operating Partner, & Alice Besomi, Principal at Jungle, chatted to Elias about his remarkable journey at Drift. A journey that has seen the company’s customer base transform & the average sales price triple in the past 6 months.
About 5 or 6 years ago Elias & his co-founder David Cancel saw the ‘Contact Us’ button on every website as a huge missed opportunity. It was not only the single entry point to the business from perhaps your most important corporate real estate — your website — but it was also clumsy & awkward. It failed to meet buyers where they are & meant the business risked missing out to rivals who were able to respond quicker. They saw that by automating the conversation using AI they could change the game for businesses looking to capture customer interest.
Drift is now a star of the US tech scene & specializes in helping businesses increase their revenue, shorten their sales cycles & strengthen their brand.
But to get to this point, Drift has had to adapt & pivot. It has not been an easy journey. Elias, a passionate & dedicated founder, was refreshingly open with the mistakes made along the way & the learnings he has gathered as the business sought to accelerate into their next stage of growth.
For early-stage businesses, timing is everything. If your product is perfectly aligned with the fastest moving megatrends, then organic growth is a realistic goal. In Drift’s case, these trends were Messaging & Video. But being in tune with rapidly evolving behaviours is not enough. To drive product-led growth you need to…
When you have a great start to your business & revenue starts accelerating it is tough to think about narrowing your target market. You & the rest of your leadership team need to step back & ask yourself the key question…Can you really maintain your current inbound sales motion for the next 10–20 years?
What is the simplest way to determine how you are performing? Evaluate your Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) vs your Retention rates.
This level of scrutiny is even more important when your inbounds are largely SMBs. In the SMB world there are only two ways to survive. You either have zero cost of acquisition meaning no marketing dollars need to be spent to build your base, or you have a magic net retention cohort, meaning that every new customer you attract naturally automatically up the value ladder by 2–10x of their original acquisition price. If one of these motions is not in place then most likely you will not be able to grow your company to a >$100m revenue.
Drift encountered exactly this problem. They were building a large base of low-value customers but in the end Elias knew they could not survive with simply an SMB flywheel driving growth. He had to totally reimagine his ideal customer, target price, and acquisition process. To break through the ceiling every young business faces he had to change up his strategy.
Elias overhauled the entire organization & geared up to adopt an Enterprise Sales model. This involved fundamentally revisiting the company’s value proposition & investing heavily in areas like sales & marketing. For a technologist this role as transformer didn’t come naturally for Elias but his advice was clear…
The shift to an Enterprise Sales model is a profound one. Everyone in the organisation, & every new iteration of the product, has to be focused on building a lasting relationship with the customer. The point of conversion becomes the first stage in the journey not the last.
This is now about ‘Sell & Nurture’ not ‘Sell & Forget’.
A change of this nature demands that everyone is on board. The sell — up & down — is critical to get right.
The move to an enterprise sales motion naturally reduces the rate of change & it clearly pained a guy like Elias to slow down. But he knows that taking your foot off the pedal comes naturally to no one at Drift. The teams are still engineers at heart & naturally restless innovators. They love the product & are eager to see where they can take it. Consequently, Elias is having to invest considerable time & effort in communicating to teams across the organisation that working with these big companies can be hugely exciting — even if the cycle is slower. The scale of their investment makes them great partners & their clear-sighted understanding of what they need can give the product team at Drift invaluable inspiration & direction.
Listening to Elias was an inspiration. His insight into the challenges he faced, & indeed the mistakes he made, along the way was invaluable to the Jungle community. He demonstrated to all our founders that they would eventually have to make the bold moves but that they themselves, whatever their background, could play a key role in driving the transformation.
Watch the full video here