In this episode, our guest is Carolina Samsing Pedrals, CEO (and former CRO) of Nubox, a provider of a cloud-based accounting and payroll platform for small businesses in Latin America.
Michael Pollack [00:00:10] Hey everyone, and welcome to Selling in the Cloud, a podcast about the business of cloud sales and marketing, brought to you by Intricately, the authoritative source of digital product, adoption, usage, and spend data for sales and marketing teams. I'm Michael Pollack and I'm here with Sarah E. Brown – and we are your co-hosts.
Sarah E. Brown [00:00:39] Michael, it's great to be here with you on the show today.
Michael Pollack [00:00:42] Sarah, I'm stoked to be here with you.
Sarah E. Brown [00:00:43] In this episode, we're speaking with Carolina Samsing Pedrals, the CEO of Nubox. Should we dive in?
Michael Pollack [00:00:49] Absolutely. Carolina, welcome to the show.
Carolina Samsing Pedrals [00:00:51] Thank you for having me.
Sarah E. Brown [00:00:52] Can you give us a brief introduction and share who you are and a background for how you got to be where you are today at Nubox. And maybe for those who are unfamiliar with Nubox, what you're working on in the space.
Carolina Samsing Pedrals [00:01:03] Sure. So, hi, everyone. My name is Carolina. I'm the CEO of Nubox. Previously, I was the Chief Revenue Officer at Nubox, too. And before Nubox, actually worked as the Marketing Director of Latin America for HubSpot, where I led the penetration of HubSpot and email marketing in LATAM. So it's all very exciting. And for those of you who probably are not familiar with what Nubox is – so Nubox is a financial management software for SMBs where small, medium businesses can manage their billing and collections, their payroll, their accounting on one place, one hundred percent online and in the cloud. And our goal is, at the end, to make life easier for entrepreneurs. Small businesses start their businesses because they have a great product or services, not necessarily because they are experts in managing a business or doing all the financial management. And this where Nubox comes to help to give these SMB owners visibility to the health of their businesses so they can make decisions better, save time, and at the end, avoid mistakes.
Michael Pollack [00:02:01] Just a question there for our audience – when you talk about Nubox and kind of where you are, if you look at kind of the evolution on the point of sale side for consumers, right. The rise of companies like Square, we as consumers benefit from that because it makes it easier to use a credit card at a farmer's market or an antique table or something like that. For Nubox, is it then the really focused on the other side of the business, right, for that business itself to be able to manage things as easily as they can take consumer payments. Is that really the focus?
Carolina Samsing Pedrals [00:02:31] Exactly. So we're like in the backend of all small and medium businesses, like how they need to manage everything at the backend easily. Hopefully everything online, which is really important today now that everybody's also working remotely. So I imagine pretty much how SMBs pay their payroll, right. So they now they need to do it all online and remotely or how they can build their cash flow. So now they can do it all online also and simply and have a forecast of where the money is and where the money is going and have reports of their sales and what they've bought in the last day or week. So everything that actually give them visibility to their day to day operations is all in Nubox.
Sarah E. Brown [00:03:11] Talk about the transition from being the Chief Revenue Officer to CEO. What have you brought along with that mindset from being a CRO in the Chief Executive Officer seat?
Carolina Samsing Pedrals [00:03:21] So as the Chief Revenue Officer, I was in charge of the go-to-market strategy, all the revenue strategy, building new channels, growing the business and figuring out what's our ideal customer persona. So I bring all that knowledge, right, of growth. But quite honestly, I've always in my entire career, I've always been really interested in culture and building teams and people. And I think that's kind of what led me to where I am now as a CEO. I always say we're a product company, but companies are actually built of people, not of products. So really investing in our people and our team is what I'm focused on now, and have this, you know, a very exciting culture also in challenging times, right. We haven't seen each other in, like, I don't know, eighteen months, but we've all been working remotely online. So that's what I'm really focused on now, just building, not culture, investing in our people, also worrying on their mental health, right. While also growing the business, which is kind of like my sweet spot. So what I'm really focusing now is the culture on our people and our team.
Michael Pollack [00:04:23] I love that mindset. And for our audience, right, we have lots of sales and marketing leaders who are listening. And I think the comment about culture is a good one. If you look at the data from increasingly US-based workers, but workers around the world is the move to remote gives employees enormous flexibility around where they choose to spend their time and with whom virtually they spend that way. And so I think that message is resonant right now and highly critical. I guess I'd ask you a little bit about coming from the background of the marketing and the sales side of things. As you step into the CEO position, do you find that obviously you have enormous experience on the revenue side? Are there parts of the business that you find more surprising or more challenging or even for your own customers who deal with this, where a lot of times small business owners have to play a CEO and they may really know the one part of their business well, I'm curious how you characterize that, how you think about that, any experiences that you share you think is relevant for our audience.
Carolina Samsing Pedrals [00:05:22] So it's funny because Simon Sinek actually sells is really well where, you know, all the C-Level can have the definition of what they do on their, you know, role? Like you're a Chief Revenue Officer. You're a Chief Financial Officer, Chief Executive Officer. What does that really mean? So you don't have the definition on your role, so you pretty much do everything and nothing at the same time. So I really resonate with the SMB owners because we're also a relatively medium, small/medium company. We're only 180 workers. So we're also growing like really fast or growing at 40 percent year over year. So we're growing. We have 180 people. So I do relate to our customers, actually, we're very similar. So one thing that I try to keep in mind is that startups die of overeating, not of starvation. So you really need to focus on where you need to go and try to do that really well when you try to do too many things at the same time, which is what happens really often when you're even in marketing, right? Like marketing, I feel like marketing people actually really resonate with me. When I tell you everybody has a saying in marketing, everybody will have an opinion on what color and what button and what CTA you should put. So keeping your focus and having actually written quarterly and, you know, like every week, goals like that really helps me and being really vocal about those. So actually people also keep you accountable for it – for me has been really helpful, especially now as CEO I wrote down my three goals for this semester. And I'm like really pushing through with them and being very vocal with the organization. So I think that really helps keeping focus and keeping everybody aligned where that focus needs to go.
Michael Pollack [00:06:56] Keeping the main thing, the main thing, huh.
Carolina Samsing Pedrals [00:06:59] Yeah, exactly.
Sarah E. Brown [00:06:59] I'm wondering how you identify when companies are ready to become Nubox customers. Is there anything in the data that you look for? How do you approach that?
Carolina Samsing Pedrals [00:07:09] Yeah, that's a good question. So we're in the SMB space, but I feel like when you say that there's a very broad definition of what a small and medium business is. So usually when companies get a little bit more complex in their operations and that's usually number of employees. So when they grow more than 20, 30 and also related to how much they're selling, those two are very good indicators. And they're ready probably to manage all their business in the cloud and online. And they need to manage either multiple offices or multiple stores or multiple employees around the country. So those things that make your operations and your backend a little bit more complex is when you probably want to start using a software that can integrate everything in one place, that can give you visibility to what you're doing, that can save you time. That can also help you navigate the government's regulations, which that's one of the biggest pains of SMBs today, just understanding what they actually need to do to pay taxes or to keep compliance. So that's kind of where a software like Nubox comes really handy for some business. That's actually how we target our companies, is once they're bigger than 20 employees and growing fast.
Michael Pollack [00:08:22] Just to follow up on that question, when you think about marketing and sales, alignment, right. And a business like Nubox where the total addressable market is enormous, right, it's every business that's conducting business. I'm imagining you're focusing maybe on the SMB side, but I would think your marketing org has an interesting challenge because they want to talk to all businesses, but the sales team is selling to a certain subset of that. So how do you think about this marketing sales alignment challenge? And as somebody who's been a marketing leader, a revenue leader, how do you tackle that? And then now is a senior executive who now has to deal with these teams individually – how do you approach that?
Carolina Samsing Pedrals [00:09:01] So one of the things that I always say I used to give a lot of speaks about actually marketing and sales alignment, and I would always start my speeches asking, OK, raise your hands if you're from sales, raise your hands if you're from marketing. And then I would always say, like, OK, can we please agree that you guys are like a divorced couple, that you kind of need to get along but not really get along. But everybody would laugh and some uncomfortable laughs here and there, but it's kind of true. So sales and marketing usually have a lot of you know – marketing thinks sales doesn't really work their leads, and sales thinks that marketing only does fluffy and nice things. So that happens. But when it comes to growing your business, the only way to actually grow is that those teams are really, really aligned and working on the same goals. So for that, we use data for everything. So back to your question, Michael. The first thing you need to do is actually align on who's your buyer persona. So who is actually your real customer that you're going through? Because, yes, we target SMBs, but not all SMBs, right. We need bigger than 20 employees. We're usually more focused on the services side. So once we agree with data, not with what you think is your buyer persona, but what data tells you is your right, because a lot of companies, I ask how they build the right persona, and they're like well, you know, we sat together, the marketing team, the sales team, maybe the customer team, maybe the product team – and then we kind of define who we want as a customer. OK... that's not the way to do it. You really need to build your data in and actually see who your real customer is, who is using your product. What are they using in the product? How did they get to you... so that's how you define your buyer persona, right, when you actually talk to real customers. Then once you agree with that, then everything else falls into place. And also with data, you can build your SLA, which is your service level agreement, which is pretty much what numbers both teams need to hit, right. To define what a marketing qualified lead is from the marketing side, and then how many of those you need every month or every quarter and then the sales team to actually say, OK, how am I going to work these leads? Am I going to take 30 minutes or one hour, or a day to contact them? How many of them can each sales executive work? And that needs to be written down, and by written down. I'm saying really written down like you see there in Google shared document; if it's an internal wiki – somewhere where there's no argument after this, like, oh, why did you tell me I needed one hundred MQLs, but I thought it was going to be 50. No, I needed to revisit that every week or every month, depending on your sales cycle. So sales and marketing teams out there, I would say build your buyer persona together based on that data, and then build your SLA and revisit it every week or every month to keep that alignment going.
Michael Pollack [00:11:47] When you talk about alignment and there's a theme I hear from you just around documentation and again, alignment driven by documentation, we try to do very similar things where we use a number of tools internally. We use Notion and Google Docs and all these things to keep track and produce lots of documentation around quarterly goals and semiannual goals and annual goals and performance. Do you find, as an executive or as a leader now, it's hard to keep track of all that? Does it create a hard part to now stay on top of? I find that when we create a lot of this documentation, it's great and you have to stay on it. But the hard part is owning it, updating and creates almost a burden of sorts. I guess I'm curious, how do you approach that? How do you deal with that?
Carolina Samsing Pedrals [00:12:28] It's true. It's a good point. Actually, this year as an organization, we adopted OKRs as a framework, so objectives and key results. So that's been really useful because the good thing about OKRs is, it's a framework. I mean, you can use whatever you want. But what I like about OKRs is that it's very simple and it's just brief, simple, transparent, and everybody can see it. And then we use an internal wiki where we have everything in one place and all the data points can come together through the input of how we're doing with that. And the key to your point of like if it's either too many documents or now at the end, the key is that there's transparency for everybody, that everybody has the same source of truth, which sounds nice, but it's not always what happens, especially as you grow. Right. But you have one single source of truth for all the data that everybody has access to that. And by everybody, I mean everybody – like being really transparent to how your company is doing, how your sales are doing, how your churns are doing, how you're growing. So everybody should have access to that. If you actually want people in your company to make good decisions, you need to give them access to the data for them to make those good decisions. So we try to keep everything in one place where everybody can have access to that, being very transparent to that. And then we do all hands meeting every month. We do quarterly meetings where we see how our OKRs are doing and that cascades down to the organization. So especially now that we're all remote, that has been critical to actually over-communicate how we're doing and where things are. Because you realize that became a little bit more challenging once everybody went remote from one to the other.
Carolina Samsing Pedrals [00:14:01] You mentioned earlier the sales comment that sometimes marketing can be too fluffy. And I'm curious, do you have any advice for increasing the ROI of your marketing program?
Carolina Samsing Pedrals [00:14:11] Yeah. So first, measure everything. So marketing people, yes, they are creative and it's great to have a creative mindset, to solve problems, to build stories. But we need to measure everything. And like marketing people need to be very analytical. So in order to have an impact and growth at the end, you need to measure and sometimes marketing people – and don't get me wrong, I came from marketing, I came from marketing – and then I went revenue. So marketing people, sometimes they they have a hard time understanding this. But the way to measure the marketing productivity is through dollars that are sold. That's how you measure marketing. So, yes, you can have great visits in your website, great followers on your social media. All of that's great to build your awareness, but you really, really measure your marketing. But how many customers are you bringing in and how many dollars are you selling every month? So if you can actually drive that bottom line and measure that impact, that's how you need to measure that and iterate on that every month. And to improve your costs, maybe your cost of acquisition. I would also recommend marketing teams to invest early in marketing and a robust just content strategy. Our role as marketers is to help buyers make better decisions and walk them through their buyer's journey and not interrupt them with our ads. So we were able to do that and build that trust, your cost will go down because you will have more inbound leads and more organic followers. So that's also advice that I always try to give to companies that are starting to I always say, if you're already writing your first line of code, you should be writing your first line of content.
Michael Pollack [00:15:50] I'd argue, if anything, the content should come before the code, right. That in reality, you know, you should really understand the challenge your customers have and be an expert on that. And I think it's interesting. I'm here in San Francisco and you meet a lot of founders who are really strong technical people, but may not be as equally understanding of the problem they're trying to solve. Give me the solution first and problem second. And I think the point you make there is a really good one that marketing oftentimes needs to be the expert in the customer's problem, right. They have to understand the customer journey really well so that they can create content that's additive were helpful or accelerating to that journey rather than disruptive or disruptive to that. So I think there's a fair point there. Maybe switching gears a little bit, I'd love to ask you for potentially prospects that are listening. Are there things you wish they knew about Nubox that you'd want to use this opportunity to share with them?
Carolina Samsing Pedrals [00:16:47] Sure. So a lot of our customers, they come from either managing their businesses through an Excel or a Word document, or even on paper. You'd be impressed. So sometimes just taking everything online into the cloud and into software, it might be a little scary, like will it take me too much to learn a new software? So the first thing I would say is it's very easy to use and it's built with the SMBs in mind. You know, we're an SMB ourselves, too. So it's from an SMB to an SMB. So I would say that – it's just it will save you so much time that you can use either to invest that time back in your company or even go see your family. So I would say that is like our mission is to make their life simpler and easier and have everything in one place. So I would incentivize them to take that step and just to, you know, pull their entire organization online. And I will just make their lives much easier.
Sarah E. Brown [00:17:44] For people who are listening, who'd like to learn more about you and your work. Where should we direct them to?
Carolina Samsing Pedrals [00:17:48] I think today it's... I always say that we're in a world where, remember, we're in a time when we would talk about we're in the information era. I think that we're more like in a convenience area. That's where we try to say before we would have like multiple places where we look for information. Now everything's aggregated in fewer places. So I would say just my LinkedIn is the easiest way where I post everything in one, because I write in multiple blogs, I give multiple speeches. But at the end I try to aggregate everything in my LinkedIn and actually I'm pretty good at responding, too. So if anybody wants to chat, just send me a message and I'll probably respond.
Carolina Samsing Pedrals [00:18:23] Excellent. Well, thank you so much for joining us. It's a pleasure having you with us on the show.
Michael Pollack [00:18:27] This was awesome. Thank you.
Carolina Samsing Pedrals [00:18:28] Thank you, Michael. Thank you, Sarah. Thank you for having me.
Sarah E. Brown [00:18:31] Well, that's it for us. This episode may be over, but we can continue the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #SellingInTheCloud. On Twitter. I'm @SEBMarketing.
Michael Pollack [00:18:39] And I'm @MRPollack.
Sarah E. Brown [00:18:41] Thank you to everyone for joining us for this episode of Selling in the Cloud, brought to you by Intricately, the authoritative source of digital product adoption, usage, and spend data for cloud sales and marketing teams. If you like the show, head on over to iTunes, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and please give us a review. We appreciate it. Until next time.