How CEOs are Reacting to the New Market Environment with BoostUp CEO Sharad Verma

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This is a podcast episode titled, How CEOs are Reacting to the New Market Environment with BoostUp CEO Sharad Verma. The summary for this episode is: <p>Turn on the news, read a financial advice column, or just click refresh on LinkedIn and you’ll be bombarded with stories of layoffs, venture capital investments drying up, and companies tightening their belts.</p><p><br></p><p>So what does it mean to be a hypergrowth company in the midst of a market shift like this? And how do CEOs think about important themes like efficiency and productivity during this time?</p><p><br></p><p>To figure that out, we spoke with Sharad Verma, the Co-Founder and CEO of Boostup, a revenue forecasting and intelligence platform.</p><p><br></p><p>In our conversation, Sharad and I talk about how a CEOs are reacting to this new market environment, what it means to be financially disciplined, and why he believes scarcity will drive resourcefulness during this time.</p><p><br></p><p>Like this episode?&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️&nbsp;review</a>&nbsp;and share the pod with your friends! You can connect with Sean on Twitter @Seany_Biz and @DriftPodcasts.</p>

Shaun Lee: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Operations, the show where we look under the hood of companies in hypergrowth. My name is Shaun Lee. I'm not sure anyone would ever mistake this podcast for a haven of economic expertise, but you don't need to be Adam Smith to recognize that the economic environment has shifted pretty dramatically in the past few weeks. Turn on the news, read the financial advice column, or just click refresh on LinkedIn and you'll be bombarded with stories of layoffs, venture capital investments drying up, and companies tightening their belts. It kind of feels like a big game of musical chairs, and the music is coming to a halt, and everyone is scrambling to find their sit. So what does it mean to be a hypergrowth company in the midst of a market shift like this? What types of conversations are happening in C- suites and board rooms across the country right now? And how does CEOs think about the important themes like efficiency and productivity during this time? To figure that out and to get a CEO's perspective on it all, I spoke with Sharad Verma. Sharad is the co- founder and CEO of BoostUp, a revenue forecasting and intelligence platform. BoostUp has raised over 50 million dollars since the company was founded in 2018, including a Series B of just shy of 30 million dollars earlier this year. In our conversation, Sharad and I talked about how CEOs are reacting to this new market environment, what it means to be financially disciplined, and how he believes that scarcity will drive resourcefulness during this time. To start, I asked Sharad to take me through his perspective, as a CEO, on the time we're in and what it means to have an efficient organization.

Sharad Verma: Let's actually start with the need to talk about sales efficiency, like what has changed in the last two months that every board and every CRO... literally, every company is now talking about efficiency in general and sales efficiency in particular. So the big thing is that, obviously, the markets have completely changed, right? The public markets have crashed, 70% to 80%. And as a result of late stage, private valuations have gone compressed. As a result, a lot of the companies that raised, outsized valuation rounds last year, are now overvalued. And what that means is now the companies have to grow into those valuations, right? So what they have to do is extend the runway and give themselves enough time to grow into those valuations, right? And in a capital- constrained environment, it's hard to go out and raise a new round every 12 months which had kind of become the culture and the expectation. And a lot of the company CEOs were essentially... You'll be buying from the future, you'll be borrowing from the future, or you were overleveraged in various parts of the company. You would be taking on used cases or investing in products ahead of investing in business fundamentals, right? So that game has changed. Now, it has shifted to, all right, you got to get to strong business fundamentals. You got to look deeply within in your business. You have to get very disciplined about all your sub- businesses. You have to look at all your departments and all your spend. And essentially, you have to create a path towards efficiency or profitability depending on the state of the company. There are a lot of metrics that are now certainly more important than before, but essentially, the job is of the CEO is to really architect that path and in doing so, lead with conviction. I think what is most important, and this is... is that all of the CEO... with changes from a master fundraiser to a master operator. So the CEOs, on one hand, they have to deal with boards, and the same investors and boards who are encouraging hypergrowth and overleveraged growth have completely flipped and are encouraging, in some cases, cuts, layoffs, deep cuts, and so forth. But this is not the time to panic and this is not the time to look at efficiency in isolation. This is really the time to use the forced function of market correction, to inspect your business deeply, and then identify what is the right path and maybe the path includes making certain spend cuts, or driving efficiency in certain areas, or maybe it does not, but it's not one size fit all. And there's a lot of inaudible out there and a lot of inaudible investors, are actually culpable for driving that and it has resulted in a interesting relationship between various CEOs and various corps, right? So I think the job of the leader is to really now have conviction more so than anything else. You got to lead with conviction. You have to believe in your plan. You have to create your plan A. You have to create your plan B. You have to create the path. So it's not just about making certain things efficient or just sales efficient. You've got to look at your business in totality. You have to understand how you're doing relative to market, what is your market position, what's your fund ability, what's your runway, architect that path and then sell that to the board, to the employees. Your job is to get everyone aligned on that and really lead, and I think that is a narrative that I think is missing in today's conversation. I think the focus is a lot on mathematical efficiency, which is important and we'll get into that. But it's also about how do you lead in these uncertain times because people's lives are at stake and so I think that's, at least, the way I think about it.

Shaun Lee: In the midst of so much upheaval in the market and in tech companies specifically, Sharad is a breath of fresh air. He's calm, cogent, and thoughtful about how he will react and the impact his reaction will have on his team. To recap, Sharad's recommendation to CEOs is to be the architect of your plan, have conviction in your plan, and sell that plan to your board and your employees. I wanted to follow up on Sharad's comment about getting back to business fundamentals. In recent weeks, I've been thinking back to the last time the markets shifted dramatically, which was the beginning of the pandemic. I was curious how Sharad compared this shift to early 2020 and what business fundamentals now mean to him.

Sharad Verma: Just to touch a little bit about the COVID and the panic immediately after COVID, we had similar freezing effect like capital just froze, and spending actually also froze for about a quarter, and a lot of companies went and just did deep cuts, only to come out and then essentially have to... they have to go and rebuild those functions.

Shaun Lee: Yeah.

Sharad Verma: So it's really important to be thoughtful. Now, this time it's different. Inflation report just came out today. It's 8.4%, which means we will save more interest rates, hikes, and that every hundred basis points, you'll see 20%, 30% cut in valuations. So there will be more correction. I think there's prognosis about recession down the road. It may or may not happen. I'm certainly not a predictor, but you've got to be prepared for that. So now, when you think about how do you create sound business fundamentals, and where do you start, and what does that even mean, well, I think on the sales and marketing side, it is really about how efficient is sales and marketing, right? So what's your ratio of sales and marketing to new ARR, right? So for every dollar that you're generating, how much are you spending and if it's better than one, then you're good. If it's less than one, you got to think about your sales and marketing efficiency. It is also about your LTV to CAC, lifetime value to customer acquisition cost. Ultimately, that's important. If you've got a sticky customer base, that stays on with you five, seven years, then you can potentially overspend to acquire that customer. But generally, those ratios are... I think anything above seven is good. But obviously, these things depend on the stage of the company. Early stages, these metrics and these ratios are never that great. The third one is your CAC payback period, which is important, which is how long does it take, you, to recover the sales and marketing investment. So it's a ratio of your customer acquisition cost, your sales marketing customers, inaudible cost in previous period to the new ARR generator in the current period, right? And if it inaudible adjusted for gross margin. And if you do that, if it's under 12 months, it's obviously very good. If it's over 18 months, you got to start thinking about is it really efficient, and where can you cut, and how can you improve those numbers. But the most important metric, Shaun, that has actually emerged, which was actually in the shadows last several years, is Burn Multiple. And Burn Multiple manages or reflects and measures your overall company efficiency. And so not just sales and marketing, but overall company efficiency, and that is the ratio of your net new ARR to your total operating cash flow, which includes R& D, and G& A, and sales and marketing, and customer success, and the total operating cash burn. And the reason why that metric has become really important, at least for I would say early mid- stage companies who are still in the R& D phase, who are still building and refining the product, or for late- companies are looking to grow inorganically and acquire products, acquire companies, it's become really important that your R& D investment is also efficient, meaning you're not taking on use cases or investing in them too early, right? I think experimenting in new use cases, experimenting new products is obviously a judicious wise thing to do. If you don't do that, then at some point you'll be out of business, but... or investing in R& D, not fully understanding your ICP or not refining your ICP, all of that has a reflection on your R& D and G& A footprint. So this is a metric that looks at your overall Burn Multiple, like how much are you spending totally as a company relative to how much new ARR you're generating. And if you're doing more than three inaudible for every dollar you're making, you're spending$ 3, you're certainly in the red zone. If you're one or under, you're certainly doing very well. Somewhere around two is okay, 1. 5 to 2 is okay. And again, some of these ratios, they vary by stage, they vary by your category. And at the end of the day, the companies still have to grow, right? Growth is still very important, unless you're very late- stage private, or you're a inaudible, or you're a public company, in which case, it's really about free cash flow. I mean, that is interesting to me. Market has really gone down to fundamentals and the valuation of the company... I mean, the valuation of any asset is okay. Well, how much free cash flow is the whole asset that they generate in its lifetime and what is the discounted value of that? And so that's why free cash flow for companies that are not growing at a very hight rate is the metric, right? But for early- stage and mid- stage companies that are growing, Burn Multiple's an important inaudible.

Shaun Lee: I'm not a CEO, but I do not envy the position that you're in, right? I would have to imagine that that is a very tricky balance to strike right now between... maybe conservative's not the right word, but being conservative in terms of how you think about that Burn Multiple while also still positioning yourself as a growth company and in that path that you're dictating. And you were talking about architecting for your team, you're architecting for them the fact that you are still a growth company. How do you think about that balance because I would have to imagine that's a tricky needles and thread?

Sharad Verma: Yeah, that's an important question that CEOs, founders, leadership teams have to ask and answer.

Shaun Lee: Sure.

Sharad Verma: So in a very extreme case, you may have a business that is simply not sustainable, right? Your unit economics are simply not there. You just bought your way into it and you raised a lot of capital, which could have been the case. If you think about Uber and Lyft, and if Lyft were starting today, they would have problems raising a lot of cash. So I think negative unit economics businesses will borrow from the future with no path to sustainability. You have to question, " All right. Do you pivot?" Maybe you go to a different market or maybe you go into a different business and go to a different product, right? So that's one extreme where you really have to look at having some customers and having some traction, having some growth is no longer enough. Do you have a sustainable business is really the question. The second part is... All right. So now, let's say you do have a inaudible business that is sustainable, maybe it's over- leveraged. When the party was going, you have to dance because if you didn't, well, then you would not have been able to raise your next round or you would not have been able to raise your round to the inaudible that your future employees would have preferred, right? So founders and CEOs did have to played that dance. Now, the question is, well, where do you invest and where do you cut, right? So you have to get very focused. And I think where you need to start is the following: you can go from one to zero, right? You're over- leveraged, you've built a large team, you've got let's say multiple product lines, all right? You can go from that to zero. Maybe in certain cases, you do, right? You just cut a product line or two. You cut parts of the businesses or cut a region. So there's some areas which are clearly underperforming, you can do cold turkey. For the rest, you have to create continuity, right? And if you are very cold turkey, if you come under the pressure from the board and you're going just like massively lay off people without fully thinking through the implications, well, then you're going to have a lot of problems, right? You're going to have a morale problem. Your best people are going to leave. The market is going to catch wind that you are not really investing. Your customers will get fidgety. Prospects will ask you those questions. So you got to be very thoughtful about you create that transition, right? And in creating that transition is the whole magic, right? You have to take a look at... As I said, you can take a big, broad brush if they're clearly underperforming, but other areas that you have to then institute financial discipline, right? So the goal is you have to teach every member of the organization or at least every functional leader how to be a lightweight CFO, how to actually manage your own P& O, how to be your own mini- CEO or CFO in some sense, right? If you've got a GM of a product line or if you have product managers, they have to think about, well, what is the ROI of the product, what is the CAC of the product, what is the CAC payback of the product, what is the inaudible for the product, at what rate can we acquire the market, right? So you have to go department by department, marketing. Well, what is the efficiency of the dollar that we're investing in marketing? What are all the programs we're running? Really, what is the ROI of every program we're running? When you're in capital surplus environment, you do not have that discipline, right? A lot of the decisions are made in terms of gut and it's a good thing to do, and a lot of companies at your stage do it. So those kind of arguments, they dominate the meeting rooms or Zoom rooms in this case. And so a lot of suboptimal financial decisions or investment decisions are made. So you really have to go item by item, whether it's marketing, sales, customer success, spend, head count, and mostly also strategy. I think what is under indexed on is... Look, scarcity actually drives resourcefulness-

Shaun Lee: For sure.

Sharad Verma: ...and that concept is well known for let's say the lean startup movement in early stage, but that philosophy is true for any stage of the company, right? When you have scarcity is when you're actually forced to think, and you're forced to think what really matters, what is really material versus what's not.

Shaun Lee: If you listen closely, you can literally hear me furiously taking notes during my conversation with Sharad. According to him, we all have to learn to be our own mini- CEOs. He rallied off a bunch of important financial metrics, but I think Burn Multiple is the one most worth revisiting. In case you missed it, Burn Multiple reflects your overall company efficiency. To calculate it, you want to measure the ratio of your net new ARR to your total company cash burn. And while the benchmark you're targeting might vary based on your company's maturity, Sharad's broader point is about instituting the financial discipline to measure metrics like Burn Multiple regardless of your stage. He's not all doom and gloom though. Sharad smartly points out that scarcity drives resourcefulness. Backed into a corner, people are going to make sure that every dollar of spend, every marketing program is actually going to have an impact. To me, that same thinking can be extended to the people on our teams. The efficacy or the level of productivity of our team members is also going to be further scrutinized during times like this.

Sharad Verma: There's a saying that once you hit 500 people in your company, 89% of your problems are people problems, right? So people get in the way of people. Organization structures are built around large set of people. When you have larger set of people, you have to have process structure, pods, and so forth. And it's all worth it if the market demands it. And if you have a large market and you're a growth company, efficiency certainly slows down with more people, but your overall magnitude of success actually goes up. But make no mistake, when companies start, you hire missionaries, right? You hire content builders who will invest in the company. And then over time, you hire professionals and you hire mercenaries. And if you think about what is their purpose, their purpose and how they're measured in the market, they're measured by the size of the team that they actually built, size of the team that they actually manage. That is the single most common external metric that you can run on a person, on a leader, right? So what do these leaders do? They build the team. And then a lot of these bridgitals are created and those bridgitals can be great, like they're a great glue. They can pull these better parts of the organization together and elevate productivity, or they can slow things down, right? I believe that small groups of people who are unhindered by bureaucracy and a lot of glue rolls in organizational hierarchy, when they work latteraly, when individuals can go and communicate laterally across various groups versus having to go up and then down, those are the groups that are most efficient and so this scarcity can drive those decisions where you can break down some of the barriers, right? You can certainly let go of those political animals and really create a more cohesive culture.

Shaun Lee: Quick time out. Sharad used a term that I hadn't heard before: bridgital. So I looked it up. The term comes from a book called Bridgital Nation. Using the country of India as an example, the book challenges the idea that you can overcome capacity constraints simply by throwing more capacity of the problem. Instead, the book offers an alternative where technology serves as a bridge to best leverage human capital, hence the term" bridgital." In listening more and more to Sharad, I learned that now more than ever is not the time to be cutting back on the investments that will make your people most efficient, but rather doubling down on them instead. Things like sales enablement are critical investments right now to empower your high- performing team members. So if sales enablement is not the place to cut, I wanted to learn from Sharad what he thinks of as the ingredients that he looks at, as the CEO, to improve that Burn Multiple metric over time. Is it R& D? Is it marketing? Here's Sharad.

Sharad Verma: When it comes to R&D and overall, I think you really have to start... and even inaudible marketing, you really have to start with the ICP and you have to narrow your ICP down, right? So you might have an ICP that you have a very easy time selling to and your sales could be very efficient. But if it's not, if it's taxing on your services, on your customer success and the R&D, you've got to fine tune your ICP, right? So you got to be efficient through and through, not just in sales and marketing. That is how you change your Burn Multiple. But once you narrowed that, my view is that you really have to start with marketing. You really have to start with marketing. You have to understand, well, what is the rate of which you're generating your new pipeline, what is the quality of that pipeline, how are you progressing that pipeline, because it is very costly to not have an efficient marketing engine. Whether it's inaudible marketing to PDRs or it's inbound marketing, either way, you have to look deeply within your marketing spend and often, you have to think about all the challenges that you are investing in and what are the patterns, what is the 80- 20, because there's always an 80- 20; what are the channels that are overperforming other channels. So really, you got to concentrate your spend and double down on what's working. And really, you got to make your marketing efficient, right? That's one place. The second place is on the sales side. You likely have a team of overperformers, and perhaps they're fully tenured and they're hitting the numbers, and you've got some who are middle of the road, and then there are some who are new who are ramping. And so what you do is, number one, you got to take care of your best inaudible morale, equity refreshers. You got to do what you got to do to really take care of your top performers. As you start to go towards the middle performers, you need to have some conversations on... Okay, well... And again, even there, I think the... We talk a lot about coaching and enablement, right? It really becomes real now, which is you start time bounding coachability. You start time bounding the time to inaudible. So in other words, you go have conversations around, " All right, okay. Well, here are the gaps. Here's the performance. Here are the gaps. Here's the root cause analyses of those gaps. Maybe you are weak on the process. Maybe you're weak on messaging," right? You identify your weaknesses. We create a custom plan. But now, it's a very closed- loop feedback system which means if you don't respond and if you are not directionally showing progress, week or week one to a month, well, then it's not worth investing in that individual going forward, right? So I think that's how you deal with middle performers. And then the same principle for new reps which is the window to show adequacy, and performance, and packed performance is now shorter and it's tighter. In other words, gone are the days when you have a six- month ramp time, black box, you do what you do, and after six months, you look at how much deals you've closed and... right, so that's gone, right? There is going to be more scrutiny, but the right way to architect that scrutiny is... I mean, at least the way I look at this for new reps who are ramping or new reps, is really phase one is work ethic, right? Are you showing the right work ethic? Are you doing the right things? Are you showing up? Are you building trust? Are you doing what you're saying? Are you saying what you're doing? Are you listening to the calls? Are you going through enablement exercises? Whatever your enablement plan is, are you showing a good work ethic, right? So that, in the sort of inaudible phase, it starts with work ethic. Then it goes to, all right, adaptation, right? So every new sales rep came from certain background and those backgrounds could be very different from your company. And their orientation and their process awareness would be very different, so then the phase of adaptation begins. They have to adapt to your process, your bind cycle inaudible key to understand your buyers. Third phase is coachability which is either they naturally adapt or they are coachable, right? So this is the phase where the reps are starting to get feedback and either they're coachable or they're not, right? It becomes very evident within a few weeks. And finally, you've got a few inaudible and then the question is where are you resourceful, like did you do everything you could... even though you're not fully enabled, but did you do everything you could? Were you internally resourceful, right? Did you show up? Did you show the salesmanship to get a few deals done? That's sort of your zero to one phase, right? Then when you go from zero to one to few, well, now the question is can you show repeatability inaudible? Can you show consistency, right? Can you manage a large portfolio of deals, right? Not just few deals that you go inaudible but have you understood our process and our bind journey so well that you are repeatable across a large portfolio of deals, right? And finally, once you're in the land of many and you're tenured, well, then the question is, well, have you peaked or are you still learning, right? All right. Are you still capable of being humble, and look at your losses and really learn from them? And have you gone from being just an individual contributor to a team collaborator because at this point, you should be training? You should not be alone both anymore, right? You should be going-

Shaun Lee: Yeah, you've graduated to teaching.

Sharad Verma: Yeah, you have to graduate to teaching. And finally, are you still engaged with the company or are you bored? Are you engaged or disengaged? Is it time for you to move on? So anyway, those are three phases. That's the way I would inaudible zero to one, one to few, few to many.

Shaun Lee: I think Sharad has offered a really helpful framework here for the development or ramp of any new sales rep in your organization. If you're laser- focused on rep productivity, this is the progression you're going to want to see. He starts with work ethic, looks for adaption, coachability, wants to know if you're resourceful, can you perform and then is your performance repeatable, and ultimately, do you stay engaged with the company. That, to me, is a pretty complete scorecard for the skills and the traits that you want to see out of a rep. But we know we need more than just traits. We need metrics to guide us as well. In a very early episode of this show, Brett Queener, a former exec at Salesforce, told me a story about a Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff, had an oversimplified way of determining if rep productivity was at the right level. If it was, great. You got to keep hiring. If it wasn't, you had to stop and figure out what was wrong. That was episode three by the way. I asked Sharad what metrics he uses today in this environment to make that same call.

Sharad Verma: You're hiring has to become a lot more data driven and disciplined, right? You can't just do a spreadsheet time analysis and inaudible capacity. Actually, those days are gone. You won't get those headcounts approved inaudible and if you do, you're going to have problems anyway. So I think discipline and being data driven is very important. The metrics, that at least the way we look at it, is pipe coverage, right? So what is the pipe coverage per rep? You got to look at every rep. What is the pipe coverage for every rep? Both early- stage pipe and late- stage pipe, and the inaudible coverage we look for is for X coverage on the early stage and two X coverage on the late stage. So pipe coverage is really important. And you do have a lot of good pipe. Well, you will hit your numbers assuming that your enablement and your sales process is down. So pipeline really is the key. You don't need a very large army of sales reps if you've got a good pipeline, right? So really, the idea is to focus on the pipeline, ensure that every rep you have on staff has very good coverage. And then the second thing is participation, which is, are 70% of your reps hitting 70% quota, or whatever that number is, 80% of the reps hitting 80% quota. But what you do, you do not... What you don't want is a very barbel- like distribution where very, very few reps are hitting their quota, but then the question becomes... you go to the CEO, if 8 out of 10 reps are doing 30%, 50% of the quota, well, why aren't we doing anything to enable them first before adding on more headcount, right? So the inaudible leverage investment doesn't work anymore. So you have to invest in enablement of that. So quota participation becomes really important and your ideal rep profile becomes really important, because again back when the markets were crazy, you hired who you could hire. It was a candidates market, right? So on one hand, you had the pressure to grow and show quota capacity to your existing and new board. On the other hand, it was candidates market. So you kept a few steps. You probably didn't define your ideal rep profile very well and you ended up with some fact. So now, you have to look at those 8 out of 10 reps who are under- quota and see if it merits replacing them or merits enabling them. So I think the idea is to be very, very data driven. And then, finally, if you're fortunate enough, once you have great pipeline coverage, then the next level of efficiency is obviously your sales cycle and win rate, which is on a core rep basis, what is the average contract value, what is your sales cycle, what is your win rate, and more importantly, is that improving over time or declining over time, because again I think you can do a lot. I mean, these are all the leverage, right? You could add headcount, or you could improve win rate, or you can shorten your sales cycle and accelerate revenue. So these are all the leverage that you have. So it's not just always about headcount optimization, but it's really investment in tools enablement, and leadership, and coaching to actually improve win rate and shorten your sales cycle, to get hard contract values, and you'll still get... because revenue is revenue, plan is plan. The goal is to get to the revenue.

Shaun Lee: Before we go, at the end of each of show, we're going to ask each guest the same lightning round of questions. Ready? Here we go. Best book you've read in the last six months?

Sharad Verma: I recently read All In... no. Amp It Up by Frank Slootman. I love that book. I really love that book.

Shaun Lee: It's on my list. I haven't started it yet.

Sharad Verma: I can say a little bit about Frank Slootman and that book. It really shows how you can change the game with just energy, and intensity, and focus, right? That's what Frank Slootman is. He goes into meetings. He reviews plans and he says, " There's only one thing you can do, not three. There's only one thing you could do, what would you do," right? That's one. And second is just energy. I think when people have energy, great things can be done, right; energy, intensity, asking hard questions, hiring drivers versus passenger. So loved that book. Learned a lot from Frank.

Shaun Lee: All right. I'll have to check that one out. All right. Normally, I ask next your favorite part about working in ops. So I'll ask you what your favorite part about working with opses.

Sharad Verma: Well, I think what would a revenue organization be without ops, right? If you think about the role of ops is scaling, right? You count scale, a large group of sales team without an ops function that is codifying behavior, codifying culture, codifying systems, codifying data, codifying process, yeah. I mean inaudible-

Shaun Lee: Bringing endorsement, I love it.

Sharad Verma: My personal view is that there will continue to be industries where enterprise selling is key, and you need CROs who truly understand enterprise selling, and a small percentage of your sellers will make the number, and that type of leadership is very right- brained, very qualitative. But for vast majority, you're going to approach a very... not mathematical, but operationally rigorous way. And I think revenue operation is not only strategic. At some point, revenue operations is going to be the CRO.

Shaun Lee: Well thought. Flip side, least favorite part about working with ops?

Sharad Verma: Well, ops is not an easy function to sell to or work with. They're constantly in the world of change. Change is the only constant; new CRO, new product line, new forecasting process, new CRM. So they live in a world of change. But we have a lot of empathy for the world of inaudible ops. It makes our life harder, but our goal is to... I mean, they're our customers. So we take it in our stride and we try to bake those uncertainties, and changes, and volatility into our process communication and product, so we can take the market, right?

Shaun Lee: Yeah, yeah.

Sharad Verma: Those are two ops. Those problems are actually in some sense, while short- term painful, are long- term opportunity.

Shaun Lee: And for you, you have such a unique perspective like getting to know that persona and cracking what makes that change palatable or what is the catalyst for that change. That's your whole job, right? That's a problem that boost up sales. So I think that's super interesting. All right. Someone who impacted you getting to the job you have today?

Sharad Verma: Well, I think I don't have one single person, but I feel like my entire life, in some sense, has been in preparation to be the leader of a company which can revolutionize the market, the data, and user experience, and humanized insights. I feel like I've had a very checkered experience. I worked in B2C companies up until eight years ago. My foray into sales was eight years ago and this is my second company in SAS. I had very little parental schooling when I was growing up. I was the youngest of the four and my parents left me to my own devices. I have acquired these experiences. I've been very unstructured in my life. I have meandered my way, and I feel like all those experiences have actually made me who I am and they have actually inaudible helped me to find a lot of my faculties. And so what I love about my job is it allows me to express myself fully, because I'm good at many, many things. I'm not great at one thing, but I'm good at many things, and it allowed me to express my faculty and build something that is meaningful. So lots of people have come. And by the way, there's positive side and then there's people who have flat out said that, " You're not going to make it," and they didn't believe me, and-

Shaun Lee: inaudible carry that with you, too.

Sharad Verma: And so I have a chip on my shoulder and tactically, I want to prove them wrong. But largely, you have an impact in the world. But I'm human and there's a little part of you that inaudible at you, which is, you know what, those individuals inaudible and stays with you, and that's a little bit of driving force.

Shaun Lee: I love that. A little bit of both there. All right. Last one for you. One piece of advice for people who want to have your job someday?

Sharad Verma: Yeah. Self- confidence. The inaudible is CEOs are not born out of rooms. Great founders also not born out of rooms. You can learn this, but you only learn this when you have self- confidence. You have to believe in your innate capabilities and that allows you to learn, and that allows you to be bored, and that allows you to command the room, and that allows you go and ask for help, that allows you to go hustle, right? And look, you can build confidence over time, too, but if you constantly question yourself, and you're not sure, and you haven't wore down your insecurities, then you just dream about it, but you will never be in the arena. You've got to step into the arena, and you have to be comfortable with failure, and treat failure as a step in the way and learn. And another fundamental ingredient is that you have to have unshakable belief in who you are. Regardless of school you went to, and what background you have, and what you did, and who said what, you have to have unshakable belief in yourself and then you can do great things.

Shaun Lee: Here's thanks to Sharad for joining us on this week's episode of Operations. If you liked what you heard, make sure you are subscribed to our show. A new episode comes out every other Friday. Also, don't forget to go back and listen to episode three that I mentioned with Brett Queener from Salesforce. It's one of the best ones we've ever done. Also, if you learned something from Sharad or any of our episodes, leave us a review. Reviews help other folks to find our show. Leave us a review on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcast. Six- star reviews only. All right. That's going to do it for me. Thanks so much for listening. We'll see you next time.


Turn on the news, read a financial advice column, or just click refresh on LinkedIn and you’ll be bombarded with stories of layoffs, venture capital investments drying up, and companies tightening their belts.

So what does it mean to be a hypergrowth company in the midst of a market shift like this? And how do CEOs think about important themes like efficiency and productivity during this time?

To figure that out, we spoke with Sharad Verma, the Co-Founder and CEO of BoostUp, a revenue forecasting and intelligence platform.

In our conversation, Sharad and I talk about how CEOs are reacting to this new market environment, what it means to be financially disciplined, and why he believes scarcity will drive resourcefulness during this time.

Key Points:

  • (1:48) Sharad’s perspective on what it means to have an efficient organization in an unstable economic market
  • (6:54) What “getting back to business fundamentals” means to Sharad
  • (12:52) How Sharad balances being both conservative in the burn multiple and positioning BoostUp as a growth company
  • (18:46) Scarcity drives resourcefulness 
  • (21:59) The ingredients you need to improve your burn multiple metric over time
  • (29:11) The metrics Sharad uses to measure rep productivity
  • (32:45) Operations lighting round

Listen to the Operations episode all about metrics and segmentation with former Salesforce EVP Brett Queener

Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review