The Twenty Minute VC with Branko Cerny, Founder & CEO @ Immediately

The Twenty Minute VC with Branko Cerny, Founder & CEO @ Immediately

Last week I sat down withBranko Cerny, the CEO atImmediately and one of the youngest founders in the enterprise space. Immediately is a mobile platform for modern sales professionals with the mission to elevate sales back to it’s core foundation, a relationship driven craft. Immediately has an all-star list of backers, including Laurel Touby,Naval Ravikant, Ryan Holmes, Jonathan Abrams, and Kate Shillo. The following are some of our favorite parts of the interview, but you can list to the full podcast by clicking here.

Cerny is often the youngest person in the room at enterprise events. He “tries to listen more than talk” and absorb the best practices in his industry. But he also views his age as one of his unfair advantages, since his pattern recognition is not informed by limiting ideas about how things in enterprise used to be. For Cerny, the user is the number one obsession. This is not the traditional view of enterprise SaaS, which is more focused on end goals rather than user experience. The end user for Immediately is the millennial salesperson, someone with whom Cerny is intimately familiar since he himself is a millennial.

On the user first approach of Immediately

I believe that’s increasingly the way things are going to be in the enterprise.Consumerization of the enterprise is a very real trend. The expectations of technology have changed a lot with millennials. We used to be excited to download ringtones and organize photos neatly into Facebook albums. Now we all have the same default ringtones and we post our photos on Snapchat where they disappear in like three seconds. We just want for technology to work and to get out of the way and we want for it to map onto our authentic, natural way of being. The same thing is being reflected in enterprise technology.

Our generation will not put up with enterprise software. The first thing they do when they open their eyes in the morning is check their Instagram, check their Tindr and hit the gym at Equinox. That’s the expectation they have for user experience and for a brand. And they’d rather find a workaround than use the antiquated technology their company uses for CRM. They feel alienated from brand marketing designed to speak to the C Suite decision-maker as opposed to them directly. The power of decision making now lies with the user because they choose what to adopt and whether or not to love a tool or brand.

On designing a mobile-first product

A key insight we had early on was that in order to be successful with salespeople we could not just build and sell a piece of software. What we’re bringing to market is a lifestyle. It’s an aspirational lifestyle that’s more in keeping with what motivates the millennial salesperson. There’s this old perception of the coin operated salesperson that’s just motivated by money. But that couldn’t be further from today’s reality. It’s actually a fun, dynamic, enriching lifestyle that is the draw for somebody to choose sales as their career. And with millennials, lifestyle comes first. What we hear over and over again was that people are drawn to building relationships with clients, having a dynamic day to day that’s not just sitting in front of a computer, having my job more seamlessly integrated into my lifestyle. And if we want to succeed at Immediately, we have to enable that lifestyle of closing deals from the baseball game and becoming friends with the customer once the deal is done. So we started out thinking about that and realized we had to build a mobile-first because we needed a product that is elegant and powerful but mainly that is built for a person to take wherever their lifestyle takes them.


On the importance of brand

It’s extremely important for us and it’s the great tragedy of enterprise software. Most enterprise companies are run by the traditional top-down, outbound sales model, meaning the only audience they care about are the very limited set of decision makers at the top of the chain of the company that sign up signing the contract. With CRM software adoption, it’s a decision that’s made from the top and everyone gets on-boarded and is essentially forced to use the tool without much say. In the old way, there’s no point in having a consumer brand because it’s not doing anything for you. You don’t give a shit whether your customer wants to use the product or not, as long as you get the contract signed. But that’s changing because of the increasing power of millennials. They will tell their boss they don’t want to use the product and they just won’t do it because it’s a hindrance to their sales process.

It’s becoming so important to build not just a product they can understand but a brand they can relate to. Going back to the empathy point and thinking about what the millennial does outside of work, the Tinder example and the Equinox example, those are brands that the millennial salesforce relates to.

If that’s what resonates in their personal life, then that’s the messaging we have to embrace because those are the same people. They do not change just because they put on a collared shirt and go into work.

On adopting a millennial focused approach to messaging

It has to do with empathy with who your audience is. The way we run things at Immediately, for instance, the number one priority is that if nothing else happens in your workday, you have to talk to at least one user or customer. Every single day. That creates a profound sense of connection and empathy with the end user. So whoever is writing the copy for the app store description or coming up with design for website or script for video, they are so in touch with the mind of our target audience and what their mind is like and what they are passionate about that they couldn’t even write something that is completely tone deaf, like most of the marketing in traditional enterprise is. So I think good market is all about empathy. Companies have to embody it and live it. You can hire a big brand firm and try to have them craft the brand for you, but it will come off as inauthentic if you’re not living it within the company.

On companies he thinks are getting their messaging right

There are the Slacks of the world, the famous ‘we don’t sell saddles here.’ They’re selling a better style of living through your work. There are companies like Greenhouse that come to mind in the HR space.

Transcribed and slightly abridged by Charles LaCalle at Dreamit in partnership with Harry Stebbings at The 20 Minute VC.

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    “We don’t have a choice on whether we do social or mobile. The choice is how well we do it.” -Erik Qualman

    Because buyers are numb to spammy emails and cold-call campaigns, sales folks need to step up their game and engage prospects on more channels if they want to rise above the noise. But we all know, the glitz and glam of re-tweets, follows and favorites are all useless if we don’t turn them into money. In this post, I’d like to share tips I’ve learned from experts in the social selling space that measure the return on social engagements.

    Tip #1: Track all social activities on a CRM platform to measure social ROI

    If risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing, HireVue’s Social Selling Director, Gabe Villamizar, recommends due diligence in measuring social output in Salesforce CRM. In addition to tracking calls and emails, the modern sales rep should also track LinkedIn and Twitter actions.

    To include social tracking in your workflow, ask your salesforce admin to add social activities. If you are a Salesforce admin and want to add tracking, simply complete the following for a basic setup:

    Login to Salesforce → Top right-hand corner, click Setup —› Left tab, click Customize —› Below you this tab, click Activities → Below activities, click Task Fields → On the right, under ‘Task Standard Fields’ click on Type

    From here add “Social Selling” and include the types of activities you want to track similar to the image below:


    Tip #2 : To increase social ROI, cross out the boring

    The next tip is a little more risque yet it makes so much sense- it’s from Jack Kosakowsky who believes that as social sellers, we must “quit boring everyone on social media.”  

    Try 3 different styles of follow-ups.  

    1. A meet-n-greet hello + value add + CTA.
    2. A silly toned value-add backed by research on your prospect’s Twitter context + CTA
    3. Surface the objection, overcome with one sentence + CTA

    Here’s my strategy in action. Before showing the whole Twitter world, I thought I’d test it out for you guys over email. This is a prospect that had gone dark- he hadn’t responded to the last seven follow-up attempts.

    The result is an in-person meeting and the possibility of adding the rest of his team.

    As an actionable item, use Twitter to overcome objections. Test ridiculously fun content and always tag at least 2 prospects. Log the activity on Salesforce under your new ‘log a call’ activity type. Now answer these 5 questions in your notes:

    1. What is the response ratio of your tweets?
    2. Did you get favorited, retweeted or did your prospect respond?
    3. Did you move the needle by updating the opportunity stage status from demo completed, to negotiation, to verbal agreement, to closed won?
    4. Are you struggling to re-engage your prospect?
    5. Have you tried other channels like LinkedIn?

     #3: Incorporate Social channels in your storytelling and track in CRM

    The beauty of social selling is that reps are now able to use the right side of their brain to provide value. We are free to use other channels like Linkedin or Twitter. The more  social activities are tracked in Salesforce, the more insight we will have about our critical path to acquiring a new client.  


    As soon as you get an appointment with a potential buyer, immediately connect on LinkedIn.  Use this channel to understand the hierarchy and the political landscape of the company you’re selling into. If your emails do not get a response, nudge in a different channel by showing and educating without telling. You can do this by illustrating a powerful value proposition with the combination of an image with startling numbers.

    As  In this example, it took 10 days of active selling to acquire a client. Specific activities included 3 30-minute conversations, 20 email exchanges (approx. 120 minutes) and 3 social activities (5 minutes) to return $5,000. That is time very well spent!


    Re-imagine your own sales process from a buyer’s point of view! It is not enough to deliver the value of products. With all the noise, we must learn to be diligent in tracking our activities, learn to be un-boring and most of all, learn to be socially resourceful.

    With both our ears plugged into social channels, our job is to listen for triggers that allow us to re-engage buyers in the most intelligent way. But, what about you? Do you have tips for managing your sales pipeline that measure social ROI? I’d love to learn more about how you incorporate social selling in your strategy!

    Comments are welcome below.

    Mobile Sales Enablement: 3 Reasons Why You Need to Do It Now


    1. Products get commoditized, relationships don’t

    Here’s a familiar story: a small SaaS startup - we’ll call it Startup X - spends years building a cutting-edge product and finding a product-market fit. Eventually, they achieve market penetration and the organization scales. As a byproduct of that growth, in-house innovation slows - the team focuses on customer retention and margin optimization instead of new features. Faster than you can say “barriers to entry,” small competitors emerge and reverse-engineer Startup X’s product, slap a better UI on it, and cut the price in half. Quickly, their previously cutting-edge product becomes commoditized and Startup X must face an existential problem: their customers churn out for the shinier, cheaper version of their offering.

    So long as the natural revolutions of the market remain a commercial reality, companies need a good reason for their customers to remain faithful over time. For the reasons described above, competing on product is tough - few manage to turn a large company operating at scale back into a nimble, innovative software shop. Still, some companies do a lot better in these situations than others. The reason? Customer Loyalty.

    Trust and loyalty set top sales performers apart from their peers

    Why will I stick with a product when I’m being offered a cheaper, shinier alternative? Certainty that I can trust my current provider - knowing that they will answer my email at 9pm if I need to add 20 seats overnight, and work with me on things like solution configuration and payment terms. That’s why HBR found that meaningful time spent with customers sets top sales performers apart from their peers . A strong customer relationship is born during the sales process between the purchaser and the seller. That means that the sales rep needs to be wildly (and intelligently) responsive. That means not just responding to emails at 9pm, but sending tailored, thoughtful, and contextually-appropriate follow-ups.

    2. The 9-5 is dead

    Another good reason to ensure that sellers can always move a deal conversation along, no matter the place or time of day? More deals, faster. The 9-5 workday is certifiably dead, and deal opportunities now emerge 24/7. The demise of the traditional workday has transformed the sales industry. Whatever you’re selling, your schedule revolves around your that of your buyers’. 10 years ago, that meant you both worked a 9 to 5. Now, your clients check their email on the train home, stay past six at the office, and bring a work iPad to the kid’s soccer game on Saturday. Even in B2B sales, that means clients are starting to look more like consumers than businesses – impatient, with high expectations for responsiveness and limited tolerance for anything but a completely intuitive, on-demand purchasing process. Call it the consumerization of the enterprise or aB2B customer who expects to be engaged as a person, not as a corporate purse holder.

    The bottom line is that your success rides on your ability to meaningfully connect with your customers, anytime, anywhere. And mobile helps with that - according to research recent research from App Data, a mobile sales solution increased companies’ win rates by 26%.

    3. The competition hasn’t realized yet

    At first blush, you’d expect that sales leaders would be rushing to set their teams up on mobile sales tools. For now, the opposite is true.  According to Adobe, 89% of sales leaders believe their company is on the right track with its sales enablement strategy, less than 30 percent of them are implementing solutions that allow teams to adapt to an increasingly mobile environment.

    (image credit Adobe)

    While some teams will continue on a desktop-first path for the foreseeable future, forward-thinking sales leaders know that a truly mobile salesforce - one that can move deals anywhere, anytime - is a critical competitive advantage in the current sales enablement landscape. We believe in that future at Immediately, and are working hard every day to make tools that empower salespeople to focus on the moments that matter anytime, anywhere. Check it out.

    Luxury Hotel Managers, Spies and the Best Salespeople All Have This in Common


    It’s simple enough: they deeply understand people and what makes them tick.

    As both seasoned and brand new sellers can attest, the more information you can capture ahead of time on your prospect, the tighter your sales process. While technology continues to enhance our ability to efficiently collect this information, discovery alone is just data mining. What will ultimately make you more effective - and successful - is your ability capture the data, analyze the data, and (most importantly) infer actionable insights.

    Capture Data

    No matter your team’s prospecting requirements, tools like Rapportive andImmediately make it easy for you to collect and quickly reference data on your targets. Hopefully this goes without saying, but you ought to know a prospect’s social data, news, competitive landscape, and 10K better than s/he does before you pick up the phone.

    Analyze Data

    All of your analysis should intend to help you understand the question: what matters to your prospect? Today, this is largely a manual collection of disparate data: we use social media inputs, company reporting, news aggregation, and private services to understand our prospects: what they care about, their decision framework, their biggest influences (and influencers), etc.

    Over the next few years, I expect to see more products emerge that will help analyze this data and type people without a lot of manual work or a natural intuition. Crystal, for example, already shows you how to communicate with prospects in a way that’s tailored to their personalities and motivations.

    Infer Actionable Insights

    As a seller, the best (and most commercially important) thing you can do with any amount of prospect data is leverage it to modify what, how, and when you communicate to your prospective buyers.

    At its most basic, this looks like personalizing outreach based on personal interests (e.g., “saw you love the Golden State Warriors - me too!”). At a more sophisticated level, personalization means creating messages that resonate with your buyers’ preferences in style (e.g., short and punchy, lengthy with context, etc.), content (e.g., vision focus, culture focus, cost cutting focus, revenue focus, etc.), and frequency (e.g., once a month, twice a week, etc.).

    The bottom line? The coupling of technology and smart processes enables you to better understand your prospects - you can use that knowledge in constructive or invasive ways. Use it to be helpful.

    The Classy Way To Move Your Pipeline Forward

    How many times have we sent (hopefully not many) or received (probably too many) thoughtless and painfully generic follow-up notes in a sales process? As a seller,  you have to balance maintaining high pipeline velocity with building the kinds of meaningful relationships that get deals done (even more important in SaaS models). Your challenge: how do you keep deals moving forward efficiently and effectively?

    Get to know your prospects quickly (build that muscle):

    Truly seek to understand your customer and leverage the tactics that intelligence agents and ambassadors have used for years. The best sales people I know would make great FBI profilers - they understand their prospects at a motivational level and know what matters most to them. Focus on that skill such that when you send emails or make calls, you get to the heart of what the recipients actually want and need -  be it related to your product or not. There are tools and technology that can help with this as well - leverage them. A book I highly recommend around this topic: Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

    Send great and relevant content but also make the ask:

    After you’re satisfied that you understand your customers, the next step is to keep them warm with high value content that is helpful to them and their business. What will make them succeed personally and professionally? In understanding them and sending relevant content - you can quickly establish yourself as their trusted advisor. That being said, don’t lose sight of the ask -  your pipeline must move forward. Make sure you are cognizant about timing (knowing when the deal can close) and make the meeting ask to get on the books and push the deal forward.

    After the close:

    While this post is about moving the pipeline forward - make sure you stay in touch after the close. In this era of transparency and tremendous access to information and people (see Google, LinkedIn and Social Media in general) - the purely transactional sale is dying. On one end of the spectrum is the “sell and bounce”. On the other, the classy way is to stay in touch (connect on social media), and look for simple and easy ways to continue to be helpful over time.

    In summary - deeply and truly understand your customer and their motivations first, then provide value but make the ask, and finally stay in touch - referrals and other opportunities come to those who have a long term perspective.

    Death of a Salesman


    The SDR role will soon become irrelevant, and that’s a good thing - especially for SDRs.

    Sales Development Representative, or SDR for short, has become the newstandard entry level role in sales. These days, 40% of technology companies have an SDR team in place. According to Stephen Meyer at Forbes: “Sales development addresses the most important question for sales organizations today – How do I get the right people in front of my “closers” at the lowest possible cost?”

    And yet, I believe the days of the SDR are counted. I also believe that is a good thing, as there are much better ways salespeople could be spending their time. Here’s why.

    In most organizations, the SDR is responsible for 4 critical tasks: (1) lead sourcing; (2) lead qualification; (3) lead engagement and (4) meeting setting.Impossible to sugarcoat, it’s a necessary evil: setting up a more senior salesperson for an effective conversation.

    Now, this is not a good use of a passionate salesperson’s time. I may be voicing an unpopular opinion here, but hear me out. The most valuable - and highest paid - salespeople are relationship-makers. They bring pre-existing customer relationships of trust, and nurture those to drive and grow continued business - making the customer successful in the process. Building authentic relationships which result in mutually-beneficial transactions is the consummate craft of the sales professional. Running mass email campaigns and scrubbing databases is not; nor does it provide experience that directly leads to getting better at the craft of sales.


    The good news is that the SDR function will be all but obsolete within a couple of years. What will drive that transformation? Technology, most of which already exists. As an example, below is our sales development tech stack. No mental gymnastics required to imagine a future lead flow that is largely automated, and asks for input/permission only where the value of a human touch outweighs the predictability and scalability of a technology-driven process. And to put my money where my mouth is: we don’t have, and don’t plan to have any SDRs at Immediately.

      1. Lead Sourcing: automated account tracking and low-touch research and prospecting that integrates seamlessly with Salesforce via Datanyze.
      2. Lead Qualification:  Marketing-qualified leads become sales-qualified leads when they interact with our highly instrumented content marketing campaign run on HubSpot.
      3. Lead Engagement: The leads who express implicit interest in our product are then engaged via a smart automated drip campaign throughPersistIQ.
      4. Meeting Setting: Once an eterprise prospect expresses interest in a demo or a trial, our AI scheduling assistant from Clara Labs takes care of setting the appointment for an account executive.

    So does this mean that SDRs will be out of a job in a couple of years? I don’t think so. I believe it means we will see just as many sales roles - most of them will just be focused on the stuff that really matters. The SDRs of today will start to look a lot more like AEs. The entry level sales position will be an apprentice of relationship-building. Everyone on a sales team - irrespective of seniority - will spend meaningful time with customer. On the business side, that means stronger customer exchanges, and more deals and renewals. On the human side, it means a happier, more fulfilled sales team.

    At Immediately, we’re building software for the modern salesperson, for the relationship-maker. Ready for the future? So are we.