SalesTechStar Interview with Rohit Shrivastava, Chief Product Officer at Clari

  • 6 February 2024
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Rohit Shrivastava, Chief Product Officer at Clari highlights more on Clari’s latest product enhancements and it’s all in one revtech capabilities:

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Welcome to this SalesTech Star chat Rohit. Tell us about your journey in the B2B tech market, what are you most looking forward to in your role at Clari?

I’m a product builder and scaler. I’ve always enjoyed solving complex problems through products with a customer-first, founders’ mindset. I’ve been able to do this throughout my career – multiple times at Cisco, at Amazon, and most recently at Anaplan, both in consumer as well as enterprise markets. I’m looking forward to furthering that journey here at Clari – during a time of such immense transformational opportunity for the company and its customers.

Another key aspect of my role that I’m particularly excited about is helping to continue building world-class product teams. I’m impressed by the culture we have here at Clari, which focuses first on the customer. The team has tremendous intimacy with customers and aims to truly understand customers’ needs first before then going and solving for those needs. I feel like that’s a great muscle the team has already built that we can extend even further.

When it comes to building product roadmaps in B2B tech, what are the fundamentals you’ve been following over the years?

My guiding north star for all product roadmaps: It all starts with the customer. It’s what I call the customer-first mindset. Staying grounded in the customer-first mindset enables teams to stay focused on the bigger-picture problem they’re trying to solve. Fundamentally, when building any product roadmap, you need to be thinking about what the customers’ outcomes are. That’s not only about what the business outcome is, but also what the customer experience is like along the way.

The second key principle for building a roadmap is to invent, simplify, and prioritize for business impact. The idea here is to think big, but segment those big ideas into smaller chunks based on prioritization and data-driven thinking. Do this through building several horizon roadmaps from six months, to 12 months and beyond, and then deliver on those roadmaps in a structured fashion. Then, build business cases and generate data around customers both in terms of the kind of business you can generate and the kind of impact you can have on improving a customer’s business. Those data points along with a phased roadmap will help prioritize business impact.

My third key principle centers on prioritizing “platform thinking”. Think about building a platform and platform capabilities that solve multiple common customer problems. Clari’s platform, for example, is built to address all revenue use cases for the enterprise. Build a platform for flexibility, reuse, and scale.

We’d love to hear about some of the upcoming plans for Clari’s product: what can users expect in the near future?

Clari’s plans center on continuing to deliver ways for customers to have insights into all revenue workflows at every level – from the sales rep on up to the head of RevOps, the CRO, or the CEO – and the ability to quickly take action at every key revenue moment – what we call revenue cadence. With Clari’s recent acquisition of Groove, we now offer a complete revenue platform that brings together all internal and external revenue workflows, including sales engagement, conversation intelligence, deal management, revenue forecasting, mutual action plans, and data capture and ingestion. As a result, companies gain unprecedented visibility, predictability, and control across the end-to-end revenue process.

Now that we have the full revenue platform, we’ll focus on continuing to innovate on top of it, which reflects the single platform preference of customers today, and the current market trend of consolidation to simplify and accelerate. Customers want one platform that can solve multiple use cases, so that will be the theme guiding our future plans, along with a focus on ensuring we’re meeting our customers’ needs on performance, scale, and flexibility, and delivering more engaging and intuitive experiences for all users.

Read More: SalesTechStar Interview with Curtis Brinkerhoff, Chief Revenue Officer at Impartner

Can you comment on the impact of AI across the salestech arena and how product chiefs need to factor new advances in AI into their roadmaps?

In the salestech, or revtech space as we call it, three types of AI can provide tremendous value: Predictive AI, Natural Language Processing (NLP),  and Generative AI.

Predictive AI is extremely important for getting to revenue insights and predicting outcomes faster. It entails generating insight out of a large swath of data that no individual – such as a sales rep, account manager, or a RevOps leader – would be able to sift through on their own. You see the impact of AI in our revenue forecasting capabilities, as an example, to help organizations confidently answer the question: ‘Will we meet, beat, or miss on revenue this quarter?’

NLP is the foundation of conversation intelligence (CI) and is used to analyze conversations (e.g. “What was discussed?”). This has been the foundation of every conversation intelligence piece of technology.

Generative AI mainly aims to generate or summarize content. Our sellers, for example, are dealing with lots of different customer emails and conversations. Generative AI tools like Clari Copilot can glean insights from all the meetings that are happening between sellers and customers and then arm sellers with the right battlecards, in the moment, so they can quickly progress that dialogue with the customer into action.

When it comes to factoring AI into product roadmaps, it’s incredibly important to master all three, as it’s no longer sufficient to have just one in a salestech, or revtech, stack. Combining both generative AI and predictive insights with workflows to drive automation, and surfacing those insights in the right revenue moment, is critically important to maximizing the full potential of AI. That’s when the technology can actually help sales reps, managers, and leaders make the right business decision.

Five best practices you feel every product officer lead needs to pursue on a day to day basis to stay atop of the game?

At the end of the day, as a chief product officer, you want to be grounded with your customers. So, understanding your customers and their needs comes first.

Second, you need to consider your go-to market stakeholders, working very closely with both your customer success and support organizations, as well as your go-to market field organization (your sellers), so that you have the full ‘voice of the customer’ view. I think having that at your fingertips every day is very important for a chief product officer.

A next best practice is following the “invent, simplify, and prioritize for business impact” principle I mentioned previously. Essentially, think big and broad, but then map that out into executable chunks across a multi-year roadmap. Ensure you’re translating customer needs into a compelling vision, and then an executable strategy.

A fourth key best practice centers on serving as the “engineering execution” bridge between strategy and execution to develop the product, and to also include go-to-market field execution to help create the right sales motion and enable sellers with the right differentiating product information.

Finally, a fifth best practice is to break things down and delegate appropriately, empowering the team to go act with autonomy and with the right data so that they can make good decisions and take timely action. Do this with a balance between gut and data and help them make those decisions, but also feel comfortable diving in when needed. In other words, it’s about providing the team with the autonomy to execute, but with the ability to dive deeper and help the team when needed, giving them the right coaching and guidance.

Before we wrap up, can you comment on the biggest product team flaws you’ve seen over the years and what takeaways peers can learn from them?

  1. One thing that I’ve seen over the years is misalignment in terms of customer strategy, customer expectation, and execution. And a lot of that comes when there’s not a customer-first mindset. When you’re too focused on what the product can do, it becomes about creating a problem to solve versus being grounded in what customers truly need.
  2. I’ve seen teams focused on the ‘customer-first’ approach, but ignore the dynamics of changing business priorities and markets. The reality is, the market is always changing and the priorities will always change. Be agile and pivot as needed.
  3. Another area where I see teams stumble is on analysis paralysis – struggling to make decisions and move forward key priorities because they’re constantly analyzing and debating on what is higher or lower priority. I’m an advocate of 80-20% thinking. Most of the time, having 80% of the information is good enough for you to go drive a great strategy or a roadmap. There are very few one-way doors when it comes to enterprise product building and you can always course correct over time as you learn more.
  4. Lastly, product teams stumble when they don’t think end-to-end, and focus solely on building the product. They lose sight of the fact that the product doesn’t sell itself and it needs to be enabled appropriately through the go-to-market organization. They also need to think about how customers are using the product, in order to drive engagement and adoption. Working with customer success and using that adoption data to then refine the product roadmap is critical.

 


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