Product Love Podcast: Brianne Kimmel, Advisor and Angel Investor

Published May 1, 2019

This week on Product Love, I talked to Brianne Kimmel, an angel investor and advisor at Voyage.

Brianne spent some time in Sydney where she taught at General Assembly. Naturally, she got involved in the startup scene, which inspired her to create a curriculum around go-to-market strategy and early user acquisition. Eventually, these experiences reeled her in the direction of advising.

After refining her go-to-market strategy skills at Zendesk, she’s returned to her post as an investor and advisor.

Currently, Brianne looks for companies that already have some traction. She’s a post-product-market-fit investor and selects companies with product-led founders. Typically, those founders need more help with go-to-market plans, pricing, packaging, and early customer introduction, all of which are her areas of expertise.

Hiring Sales People

Most startups begin with technical or product-minded founders, which raises an important question: When do you start hiring actual salespeople? As these companies reach their next growth phase, product-minded people need to hire non-technical individuals and teach them the product. This includes salespeople. 

These days, there’s a whole group of companies that hire product-minded sales representatives. Brianne describes their process as more consultative — they understand the product and can speak like product managers. They listen and understand the prospects’ pain points. Then, they figure out how their product can solve these problems. 

Ultimately, customers are looking for these consultative experiences. They want someone who can empower them to be better at their jobs.

In other words, these product-minded sales leaders are driving growth.

Account Optimization Calls

Once you really understand how your customers use your product, it’s time to determine when and where a human touch makes sense. Brianne believes that most organizations already understand marketing automation, building out life cycles, and nurturing. However, they’re missing that deep understanding of the features customers are actually using.

If customers come in through a self-serve funnel, they’re likely using only one or two features. In fact, most customers might not use the full suite of features. However, when it comes to broadening their abilities, a consultative conversation might do the trick.

When Brianne was at Zendesk, they did a lot of account optimization calls where they checked in on self-service customers to learn which features they utilized. For example, they asked what they accomplished with this product. Where are they getting stuck? What are their goals?

This opens a conversation about customers’ KPIs. Now, your team can start discussing additional features or new ways for the customer to use the product.

In this episode, Brianne talks about product-led companies and personalization. Listen below to hear more, and remember to subscribe. Lucky us — she’ll also be at the ProductCraft conference on May 9th.