Converting Free Trial Users to Paid Users in SaaS Business with Tim Geisenheimer of Correlated

In this interview, the CEO of Correlated Tim Geisenheimer explains to the UpTech Report how his company is helping to simplify the sales process for SaaS businesses. It’s all about managing relationships.

Correlated helps maintain data and records on all of your various customer accounts, alerting you to the immediate action steps you need to take to turn free trials into paid subscribers.

When you have hundreds or thousands of people in the system, it can be quite challenging to remember exactly what part of the sales process each of them is currently occupying.

However, Correlated allows you to reach out to the proper accounts at the right time with a targeted message based on a multitude of different factors. It’s similar to a CRM like Salesforce or HubSpot, but with much more product usage data involved.

Tim is the CEO and Co-Founder of Correlated. Prior to Correlated, he held leadership roles at enterprise software companies including Facet, Timescale and TapCommerce (acquired by Twitter).

Correlated’s Product Led Revenue platform uses insights from the people using your product to alert your sales team and trigger next best actions, helping you exceed your expansion quota every quarter.

DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!

Tim Geisenheimer 0:00
You know, we think sales can be done more effectively if you’re talking to somebody when they’re ready to talk to the salesperson. And rather than wasting a ton of time and effort, both on the salesperson side sending cold emails that you know, maybe someone doesn’t want to get, and then on the potential buyer side receiving messages that you’re not ready to receive.

Alexander Ferguson 0:23
Welcome to UpTech Report. This is our applied tech series UpTech Report is sponsored by TeraLeap. Learn how to leverage the power of video at Today, I’m excited to be joined by my guest, Tim Geisenheimer, who’s based in Brooklyn, New York. He’s the CEO and co founder at correlated. Welcome, Tim, good to have you on. Hey, I see you. Now correlated is a product lead revenue platform. So your your focus on helping SAS companies that are product lead product focused in their in their growth? How are we understanding? Let’s just start with what’s the problem that you see that that SaaS companies are having in this space?

Tim Geisenheimer 1:00
That’s a good question. Appreciate you having me on. So you know, essentially, what we’re seeing is that there’s this huge shift in how SAAS companies sort of monetize and release to distribute their products. And so the big shift is away from kind of a traditional enterprise software approach of having someone sign up on the website for a webinar or a demo, and then waiting to talk to a salesperson to even get hopefully a look at the product and what it looks like over a webinar or in person as it used to be. Today, what’s happening is that many companies are releasing their software as a self service version. So you can just sign up on the website, immediately get into that piece of software, decide as an individual if it’s providing value to you, and then eventually decide if it’s useful to you as a team or in your company. And so this sort of approach to distribution. And actually monetization has sort of led to a number of sort of opportunities and massive growth for a lot of public software companies and private software companies. But it’s also led to problems for the go to market teams that are at those companies. And so the biggest problems are, who should we be talking to have all these free users that are using our product to actually have a sales conversation with? Is there anyone here that we should be talking to? How many of these are worth spending time on? So that’s one and then the next is of all the existing customers that are using our product? Which ones are ready to spend more with us? They’re probably some subset that are going to expand their revenue with us. We know that some will do that. But which ones you know are going to be the ones that expand? And then which one should sales spend time on focused on from extension?

Alexander Ferguson 2:46
So you’ve identified the growth in product lead focus. But what you’re trying to do is is realize it’s not just product by itself. There’s can be a sales components, it’s almost like a product lead sales enabled, and it’s just finding who of our free users do we need to talk to your background? Let’s we’ll come back again to your solution how you guys are doing it. I’m curious again, this this trajectory, how you got to this point, your background is salesperson, right? Like you were in a lot of different companies, even Twitter, right? Mobile sales that right back in 2014. So take me back of like, Have you just are you just a salesperson? Is that that your core?

Tim Geisenheimer 3:23
Yeah, I’ve spent my great question. I’ve spent my whole career doing sales in various different forms. And, you know, started very beginning of my career as an individual, sort of inside salesperson kind of doing cold calling and trying to, you know, drum up business for advertising sales.

Alexander Ferguson 3:41
Actually, it was at CBS interactive. Yeah, yeah.

Tim Geisenheimer 3:45
And it was actually a company called CNET networks, which was a public company at the time that that CBS ended up acquiring, you know, while I was there, so it really kind of learned the art and craft of sales while I was there, and then made a sort of transition into startups. And still it was in the sort of ad technology space, and ended up joining Twitter through an acquisition. So I was on the founding team and ran a sales team at a company called Tap commerce that was acquired by Twitter and ended up running sort of a large sales team within Twitter. And so this was still in sort of more of the advertising and marketing technology space. But after I left there, I ended up joining this company called timescale. And that was actually where I saw this problem that I just described, you know, in big detail. And it was basically timescale as this open source database product, and then a cloud service that they that they offer, and the open source product is free. So they had 1000s of users coming in. It’s kind of my job to say, hey, which of these users were worth talking to, and where should we be spending our time and so that’s we’re already

Alexander Ferguson 4:55
facing that challenge. Like, hmm, who do I talk to and you realize that was an issue You now, there’s a few other things that has happened in between that and, and correlated, but I also noticed you had another company that you found it in a new new CO. This is your first venture to try to start what was new code out?

Tim Geisenheimer 5:15
Yeah. So, you know, I think I’ve been fascinated by sort of enabling sales teams and, and salespeople, you know, for my, you know, a lot of my career I’ve been, as a practitioner running sales teams, or even images or contributor trying to put the best tools at my disposal to, you know, be successful individually or as a team. And so always very curious about, you know, how to make sales team selling b2b products, you know, as as successful as I can be. And so when I left Twitter, I actually founded a company to do transcription of meetings and calls over over web conferencing. And, you know, it was 2016 when I did that, so it was pretty good timing, but I ended up not pursuing it as much as I probably should have. Because you might have heard of some companies like gong or chorus who started around the same time and were quite successful. So kind of had the same idea. How can we get, you know, information out of these meetings that salespeople have all the time? Is there a way to do that? And so I was kind of noodling on that idea before I ended up not pursuing it.

Alexander Ferguson 6:21
Gotcha. So fast forward, again. You’re part of a venture fund that sounds like and then CEO for facet, this is 2019. correlated got started in 2020. Right last year. Recording Today is October 1 2021. But a year ago, your your two co founders, so the three of you, is that correct? Yeah. That’s right. So you, John, and Diana, how did you guys meet? Did you just like one day, we’re already friends, you’re like, let’s solve this problem.

Tim Geisenheimer 6:52
Yeah. So Diana, and I worked together at timescale. So we’d actually kind of seen this problem. While we were there. She was the first product manager at time scale, and I was running the sales and partnership side. And so when we faced the problem, a timescale and I’ll go into the solution, like you said in a minute, but we had kind of built an in house version of what we’re now doing a correlated at timescale. So like a little, it was very manual, it was not productized. But we kind of worked together and collaborated to try and solve this problem. While we were there, and then John, and I actually overlapped at Twitter. So we got to know each other many years back. And then we were together at this other startup facet. And then, you know, talk to Diana, kind of the three of us were meeting up and decided that was such a great opportunity. We had joined forces and go

Alexander Ferguson 7:40
after. So you raise a nice round right? And to get get started last year. I guess the first of all, I was building it, developing it, what was that the process? Pretty straightforward?

Tim Geisenheimer 7:55
Well, I mean, I think my approach and now, you know, as you’ve seen, kind of been a part of or done, you know, a number of different technology startups. And so I think the approach that, you know, I typically like to take is before committing a line of code, try and really have a good understanding of the problem. And so we did have that from time scale. But we also talked to around 200 Different people in sales teams at b2b Software companies to really have a better understanding of what were the problems they were facing? How are they addressing those problems today? What were some of the tools or processes that they had in place to solve the problem, and then as we got sort of better feel, for sort of where the opportunity existed to build based on those conversations, that’s when we started to really put pen to paper as it were, on the product and, and start to build in earnest over the course of this last year.

Alexander Ferguson 8:51
Alright, so let’s, let’s come to the product itself. You see the challenge, there’s lots of free leads, how are you then solving this challenge of knowing who is the right person?

Tim Geisenheimer 9:04
So basically, our you know, feeling and talking to those hundreds of sales teams and, and our own intuition and kind of experienced the problem ourselves has led us to, sort of the best way to do this is to understand a few different things first, sort of the more traditional aspects of sort of sales qualification, does this company, you know, are they in a fortune 500? Are they in, you know, your ICP or ideal customer profiles? So do they have kind of attributes that, that lead to them being kind of good for you and your business so that that’s going to be more things that you might have in a traditional CRM like Salesforce or HubSpot, things like total employees, the industry, they’re in the you know, the, the region they’re in, so those types of characteristics. And then where we come in is we also bring an additional you have in your CRM, product usage data, so we connect to our customers systems where they’re collecting that data. We’re able to combine sort of that information around their customers that might be in their CRM with how those customers are using their products. And so that combined set of information we call signals, which we can then allow sales teams to take action off of when customers perform certain key behaviors in their product. And they also are, you know, in their ideal customer profile, that’s when we say, Hey, this is someone worth talking to. And here’s, here’s why.

Alexander Ferguson 10:25
It’s if you look at either one of those sets, your CRM or your product usage by themselves, it may not help you, I guess, because like CRM, you have, you could be have a very big list of all these for users that fit your ideal profile. On the product side, you could have lots of signals of people using the product, but what you’ve done is mix the two. So you know, the people who met who fit your profile and are taking action and

Tim Geisenheimer 10:50
give you exactly right. I mean, you could have some, you know, a couple people at Tesla, you know, in your product, and oh, Tesla big company, they might be a great fit for us. But if they’re not engaged in a way that indicates they’re ready to talk to sales, if they’re not sort of getting to value or performing certain other actions in the product, then they might not even be ready to have a sales conversation. And then Alternatively, you could have people who might be really engaged, but they might be more of like the, you know, take zoom, we’re on Zoom, for example, that could be my mom who’s on Zoom, she uses a lot to stay in touch with her friends, you know, that might not be the right person to have a sales conversation with if you’re a salesperson at zoom, even if they’re really engaged with the product. So you kind of need those two things put together,

Alexander Ferguson 11:30
that product usage, insights, is that is there like a standard out there that you’re able to just pull that data out? How are you making that work?

Tim Geisenheimer 11:40
Yeah, so a couple different ways. I mean, there are certain companies that have you know, existed for a while that help SAS companies collect that data, and then send it in different places. So one example will be would be a product called segment segment, which was recently acquired by Twilio. Basically, they offer a product where you can start tracking data in your product usage data in your product, and then send that out to hundreds of different tools that that segments connected to. And so we are one of those those tools that segments connected to, and so many of our customers use that.

Alexander Ferguson 12:13
So it would kind of require them to already have that set up and have that data coming through. Same with the CRM, I imagine you probably already integrate with all the major CRMs that one?

Tim Geisenheimer 12:21
That’s right, yeah, so So we ask that our customers have some level of tracking and sort of product usage data metrics already in place, whether it’s through segment, there are a few other tools that, that we support, and we’re adding support for more, you know, everyday as well. But, you know, we assume and to make, you know, our product most successful, we assume that you have some little tracking already in place.

Alexander Ferguson 12:45
You eat your own dog food, or yours. Yeah,

Tim Geisenheimer 12:50
that’s part of the fun part, you know, we, we do eat our own dog food. And I would say, you know, part of where, you know, it’s really awesome to see the value in our product is, you know, being able to kind of see how people are using it, and then to reach out to them at the right time. And, and when it makes sense. And so that’s part of our, you know, our mission and values as a company as a product, like, you know, we think sales can be done more effectively if you’re talking to somebody when they’re ready to talk to the salesperson. And rather than wasting a ton of time and effort, both on the salesperson side sending cold emails that you know, maybe someone doesn’t want to get, and then on the potential buyer side receiving messages that you’re not ready to receive, we’re trying to make sure people are sending the right messages that their salespeople and that buyers are receiving the right messages when they’re ready to buy. So we’re definitely dogfooding and trying to, to do our best to make sure we’re doing that.

Alexander Ferguson 13:43
At the when you when you think of the sales folks that you’ve trained, you’ve been and could be using this tool. I’m just curious, though, from your your own history, any any tips or tactics that have worked? Well, like you’re doing that initial outreach, right, you get the right signals? Let’s just talk tactics for a second, what’s a good way to to make that sale happen?

Tim Geisenheimer 14:08
Well, I think the, you know, before even you get in touch with somebody, the best way to do it in my mind is to personalize the message and, and try to, you know, explain why you’re reaching out and why whatever you’re reaching out about is solving a problem that they have. And so, you know, that that entails a little bit of upfront research on the part of the salesperson to say, you know, to to know, is this person I’m reaching out to, you know, do they have the problem that I can solve through my solution. And, you know, have I done the like necessary homework to make sure I’m reaching out to the right person that has that problem with a message that is likely to resonate with them. And if you’ve done kind of that legwork on the sales side, then you have a much better chance of getting someone to talk to you and then ultimately having the process be successful because You have like, sort of qualified that person and, you know, done done some of the important work to, to know that they’re kind of ready to be in market for your solution. So I think that type of preparation is what I’ve tried to train, you know, any, any sales people that work for me to do. And that I think is maybe the most important thing to be in successful in sales,

Alexander Ferguson 15:20
when folks are looking at your type of technology is like, what’s, what are they using prior to you anything? Like, what’s the alternative? Before they would explode? That’s

Tim Geisenheimer 15:30
a great question. I mean, what we typically see is, like, the exact same situation that I, you know, we saw a timescale, which is, you know, some manual spreadsheets and, you know, work to pull different data sources together. And, you know, quite cumbersome and, and a lot of work. And so oftentimes, if it’s happening at all, it’s happening on a regular cadence, you know, every, you know, a couple of weeks or months, something like that a salesperson will get, you know, a CSV or Excel file, handle them saying, Hey, here’s some, like great accounts, to go after and find them. Maybe it’s stale. And, and so, you know, there are definitely some companies that have, you know, a bit more level of maturity than that a bit more sophistication than that. But by and large, it’s some mix of different in house or manual processes that exist today that we’re going against, and then you know, that that makes it very compelling when we talk to people who have this problem, because they’re trying to solve it in somewhat of a, you know, a sort of manual and painful way, and we come in and are kind of saving the day a bit with our solution.

Alexander Ferguson 16:40
What are you excited about coming up, like, on your roadmap, what you guys are building and developing?

Tim Geisenheimer 16:46
Yeah, I mean, I think I think we have an opportunity to be, you know, a really important piece of the sort of software stack for, for sales teams at these modern software companies. And, you know, I think even, you know, if you look at things like Salesforce or, or HubSpot, or other tools that are kind of ingrained into modern sales teams, you know, they’re, you know, fundamentally not solving this problem. And I think we have a chance to kind of be this system that really, you know, sales teams use every day to get a ton of value and drive their business forward. And so, you’ve already seen that with many of our customers today that the value is quite, quite clear. It’s which is exciting. And so, you know, I

think looking ahead over the next few years, you know, we have a chance to really make make a dent make an impact.

Alexander Ferguson 17:34
I make a prediction for me that looking at sales, technology, sales automation, what do you what do you see coming up five years from now? Any fandangled, cool new tech that we can can foresee happening? Well, I’d like

Tim Geisenheimer 17:49
to think we would be, you know, in the vanguard of that, but yeah, I mean, I think the direction things are going and we’re at least we’d like to lead it is, you know, imagine you’re a salesperson, and you can have an extremely easy way to understand who exactly you should talk to your wake up in the morning, which 10 or 20, you know, messages should I send or the types of action should I take, that are most likely to lead to, you know, converting, you know, deals that that matter, that are kind of in my sort of sphere of influence, or pipeline, or whatever it might be? And what is the exact message I should use, who’s the exact person I should talk to, and, you know, what is the format that I should use to reach out to them, I think if you, you know, can wake up as a salesperson have beyond with that, in three to five years, your life is going to be tremendously simpler, and you’re going to be able to scale your own efforts, you know, to a much greater degree. So that’s, that’s what I think would be possible in a few years.

Alexander Ferguson 18:53
Now, you’re just about a little over a year into this. And it may be too soon to answer this question, but I’ll ask it anyways. Like, what do you know, now that you wish you knew a year ago that you could go back and tell yourself, was there any, like, major Aha, or learning so far?

Tim Geisenheimer 19:11
Yeah, I mean, you know, I think when we started out, we thought that maybe our solution, you know, would be a better fit for different teams than than purely sales. So there’s also the customer success function. We thought maybe customer success would be, you know, the type of team that would really benefit from our product. And so, you know, we spent a decent amount of time investigating that, you know, that team and that kind of buyer and what what problems they had and, and ultimately realized that that sales was really the best fit for, for what we’re doing. So, if you would, if I was able to go back in time and say, Hey, that was maybe a little bit of a waste of effort. You know, fast forward a bit to sales than I might have. Might have enjoyed that. That.

Alexander Ferguson 19:55
That’s the challenge, I imagine, as a leader is like, how do you do this? side where to put your energy? Where to test properly? I mean,

Tim Geisenheimer 20:05
yeah, well, I listen, I think that’s, that’s a core part of startups and technology startups in particular, is you might have a set of hypotheses, a set of assumptions that, that you think may make sense, but then you have to test those by talking to people and saying, Hey, will you buy this solution? Will you, you know, is this actually solving a problem for you, and if so, how, and that’s, you know, that’s a continuous process that never ends, we, you know, obviously still do that today. So, I think that’s, that’s a big part of, of doing a startup.

Alexander Ferguson 20:37
It’s, it’s that knowledge only through through the working of it does doesn’t happen for you as a as a as a leader. Now as your second company that you’ve you’ve run, but as a sales leader, any books that you’ve read, or audio books that you listen to, that you you get great insight, one recommend, um,

Tim Geisenheimer 20:57
you know, a couple that I have read in the last couple years, I think, are pretty great. And they get mentioned a lot. So you’re not so unique. But Shoe Dog, the story of Nike was really good. And then I recently read who is Michael Ovitz about the history of Michael Ovitz who was the he founded the talent agency in Hollywood, and that was executive at Disney for many years. So really interesting story, sort of the two leaders that were, you know, at the top of their game in different different industries than tech. But but but very, you know, obviously very influential business people,

Alexander Ferguson 21:38
as a as leaders, like you’re always learning always getting, and we have a lot of business leaders that listen to this voice, like to be able to get these different perspectives. I’m curious, is there any constructive criticisms that you’ve received? Recently, that that you heard like, and you’re working on? Because we’re always improving? We’re always working on? I’m just curious, if any, any come to mind that you’re like, oh, yeah, that’s, that’s something I need to be working on.

Tim Geisenheimer 22:03
I think one of the biggest challenges of running a growing company is figuring out, you know, what processes need to be changed and fixed and like how to effectively manage and run your company and your team? And, you know, I think that, you know, feedback that I’ve received is that, you know, oftentimes it can be hard to figure out, you know, whether or not people are doing a good job based on, you know, me telling them so, you know, I think being a little bit more upfront on, you know, providing actionable feedback to my team, and whether or not the processes that we have in place are successful or not, you know, is something that I took, I take the art, and so, yeah, I think it’s, it’s a constant challenge, and making sure you’re communicating, especially in this remote, you know, world that we’re now working in, can be very challenging. So that’s, that’s sort of what I would say,

Alexander Ferguson 23:01
like communicating, yeah, effectively across everything. But definitely like success are they meant meeting your metrics, so that you follow the processes, previous ventures, where they remote as well are, we are used to working in a all together, because you’re always based in New York. So imagine, we were just always in an office together.

Tim Geisenheimer 23:17
So this is the first company that I’ve done that’s been remote. You know, it’s definitely a learning opportunity. For me, we do have a good number of team members here in New York, and we do have an office. So we have people that come in a few times a week, but there’s not a requirement to be in the office to work here. Even if you’re in New York, you don’t have to, you know that there’s not like a hard requirement to come in. And, you know, we may sort of experiment more with hybrid over the course of the next couple years, you’re at 18 months, whatever it might be. But for the most part, we’ve had a lot of success, being remote and building teams remotely,

Alexander Ferguson 23:57
not just fun question any personal or work apps, and solutions that you like, and you’re like, simple ones, you know, not really big ones, just simple ones that you can think of that have helped you?

Tim Geisenheimer 24:10
Well, in keeping with the sales team, I find myself sending a ton of messages to people, whether it’s in a sales context, or recruiting context, or, you know, whatever the case may be. And so because I’m sending the same message somewhat frequently, instead of having to type it out, there’s actually this extension this Chrome extension called Text Blaze. Text plays funny name, but But great product. And what it allows you to do is do a backslash, and then a little like one word or letters, and then it will fill in the text that relate to that. And so you can just automate, you know, the messages you want to send, whether it’s on your phone or email or wherever you are. You can just fill in, you know, the fully templatized email or message you want to send. So pretty useful. I use it a lot every day.

Alexander Ferguson 25:02
I love that. And especially when you can just do it in new ad or what app or or website? Yeah,

Tim Geisenheimer 25:06
it’s, it’s on Chrome. So whatever is in your browser, you can do it, it

Alexander Ferguson 25:12
will help to check that out. Well, this has been fabulous. And to be able to hear the problem that you’ve seen already years ago, and now set out to solve the journey that you guys are on and the future that you’re painting. For those that want to learn more, I know you have a lot of different SAAS leaders, you can go to That’s and be able to, of course, it’s a product lead. So you can get in there, start clicking buttons. And if you click too many buttons will probably call you. I guess they

Tim Geisenheimer 25:42
probably call you no matter what, just to make sure you’re being successful. But yeah, this come on in and you know, you can get started.

Alexander Ferguson 25:49
Awesome. Thanks so much, Tim. I appreciate having you on.

Tim Geisenheimer 25:52
All right, thanks. Appreciate it.

Alexander Ferguson 25:54
We’ll see you all in the next episode of UpTech Report. Have you seen a company using AI machine learning or other technology to transform the way we live, work and do business? Go to UpTech and let us know


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