How to sell your product to enterprise customers with Michelle Bacharach
Hey everyone it's advocacy your host of product Hunt Radio. I'm joined by the founders investors and makers that are shaping the future of. Tuck IN THIS EPISODE. I speak to Michelle Becker. The CEO and founder of Fine Fine Line is a retail technology company that uses machine learning to scale the currently manual anti-drug process of product. Curation find mine boasts impressive clients like Adidas and Perry Ellis in this interview. We DIVE INTO THE CHALLENGING WORLD OF ENTERPRISE SALES. Many of you makers have two products. So I know you'RE GONNA learn a ton from Michelle. She shares insight into the early days of building fine line and the tactics that successfully helped her win over her very first business clients and close more. Enterprise deals enjoy building. Good products takes a long time. Everyone knows that a lot of time goes into trouble shooting your APPS pre and post deployment now with has been the world's first connected intelligence platform DEV teams. Qa and product teams can save countless hours with unified testing monitoring and analytics across applications devices and networks head. Spin accelerates time to market and optimizes the performance and functionality of your digital experiences enabled by Mobile Web. Iot and five G. technologies learn more at www dot head spin dot io Michelle. Thank you so much for being on the show. I've been really excited to interview and find out more about your product. Find Mine funnily enough. Your name came up when I sent a tweet asking what makers I should bring on the show so thanks to a diverse for bringing Michelle to product. Tent radio Since you have a very unique product I thought it might be fun for me to just start off by getting you to talk about sign mine and what you do shore. So we're enterprise software solution for consumer facing brands and retailers and our software is actually helping to scale out what those organizations are doing internally by hand so the content that they're creating manually to help guide shoppers with how to be successful with the products that they're buying is something that we are using She learning and Automation TO SCALE OUT. So as an example Our clients include fashion brands and retailers that sell clothing and you might be shopping on a website and see a shirt and it will show you the pants in the shoes in the bag in the jacket that. I'll go with that shirt to help you understand. How would I wear this Day What could I wear with if I wanted to take it to work where it's work and usually that's being programmed manually? By someone called merchandiser within the fashion organization. Marketers might send out email campaigns. You know we just had Chinese New Year might have been an email campaign like all. The different looks with read that you could wear for Chinese New Year Dinner. 'cause reds kind of lucky color during Chinese New Year but a marketer was usually having to create that campaign by hand so what our technology is doing is actually predicting what those people merchandisers marketers personal shopping teams would do if they were to create a complete outfit by hand a furniture that if there are home furnishings company. A makeup look or a beauty regimen Therapeutic Company. What would they create if they were to sit down and do it by hand to help guide him or so that you know how to be successful with this face cream or with this couch or whatever you're buying so essentially what we're doing is we're trying to close information gap between a customer? Who is not an expert right in everything that they could be buying and the brand who is an expert at what they're selling and we're doing that in a way that's actually scalable so that the customer gets better information. They spend more money. The brands happier. They make more revenue on. They also have a longer lifetime value from that customer and they save time because they don't have to have those merchandisers marketers manually curing this content all the time trying to guide their customer raise. This is incredible. I think what's so interesting about your product is it's one which has a touch of complexity to it just because you're working across all two different types of verticals but when you took that beat to explain it ensure examples. I realized Oh benefit from companies using your tools because it is difficult you know I think the last time I just tried to find new outfit for work or whatever and it's quite easy to immediately be overwhelmed by the options available and I guess as a consumer. I don't spend a ton of time thinking about what happens when I click on that blouse and suddenly I'm being suggested the best pair of trousers or shoes or boots or whatever to go with it so it's quite interesting to hear about that and I guess the reason I wanted to draw out was to ask you how you stumbled across this challenge that retailers faced was it being in the industry yourself or was it. You're as a consumer trying to create experience that you prefer that you did not see out there. It was the latter actually so as a consumer by all sorts of things all the time and I had all these frustrating experiences where I would buy the product that I knew I wanted or would have stripe strike of inspiration for something that I really wanted and I was like. Oh that's cool Then I'd buy it but then there was this whole like after-sale struggle that I I couldn't figure out how to be the most successful with that product and then I would have to sit in my closet or I would return it or sometimes I miss my return window but then like now ended up using it in donate it. I don't throw my stuff away. And but a lot of people do could end up in a landfill and that just bummed me out because I spent the money on at the time by it and if I wasn't able to kind of be successful in success depends on what product you're talking about right so of course. This shirt success means like wearing it outside and getting compliments on. Hopefully if it's a you know a couch it means like it's in my living room and I feel good about the way it looks. A couch is really hard to return. So if you buy a couch and you didn't really think through how was all going to work and it's like in your living room now and you like I could return this giant thing and spend a whole bunch of money doing it and time and effort or I could just learn to live with it find. Maybe you learn to live with it. But you don't love that couch and you don't love Clear apartment so you sort of have this negative feeling towards the brand that sold to you might feel like Oh like. I don't know if I'M GONNA buy anything from them anymore. So essentially I had that experience. My life is a consumer more often than I was comfortable with and I was like you know whoever selling me this couch knows how to it look good. Why didn't I get that information? And when I started looking into why wasn't getting this guidance from the brands and retailers telling me products all the time. That's when I realized there's this big bottle lack that all the people who work there one. Give me this information. They just have a bunch of stuff on their plate. And they don't have all the time in the world to create a complete furniture steph every single product in their store. Bright THAN DOC. Changes from time to time they get new products in the seasons. Change like there's so much variance in the world. They couldn't possibly keep up with it. It's not really their fault but it doesn't really solve the problem that I'm not going to feel great about this brand if I buy a couch and I don't love it or if I return something or if I just don't buy it in the first place because I'm like well normally now. When he got that much use out of it absolutely. I always love. When makers experiences are directly inform what they deal with On I just wonder what then were the challenges you faced as you started building. Let's say the earlier versions of Fine Mine and then started having carbon relations with these enterprise companies that now became your clients. What were some of the challenges of just trying to better understand the other side of the table? I think that once I figured out that the retailers and brands have this problem became a lot easier for. Initially we were trying to solve it directly for the consumer were like. Oh Yeah I guess I do have that problem. They were really really willing to do anything about it so like they. Weren't you know having them? Download an APP or take or sign up for new service or new subscription was hard because consumers are kind of like fickle changing. Their behavior is challenging. I think more the tricks is such an amazing company. They actually got a massive amount of customers at scale to change their behavior in by through the subscription service but that doesn't work for everyone in all the people who are sticks customers probably still shop at other places so the realization was really like you have to meet the consumer weather at let them shop in however they want shop you know whatever method or channel or whatever you sue and just meet them at that place with the guidance and help and when I figured that out that I started asking the retailers and brands hey like why can't I get this. You know guidance when I'm shopping online or when I'm in your store and I can't find a store associate wise in their way. I can like learn more information about these products and how to use them and everyone was sort of like. Yeah of course. We'd like to be able to do that more often. But you know reality is a factor. Here we don't have the time or the manpower to do that. And so they sort of confirmed that the problem was the bottleneck of of manual effort. And that's where artificial intelligence is very very valuable or automation and generals very very. When they're sort of like a bottleneck goes of human effort. And what's really interesting? Is that the thing that we do is scale out human effort. That's very creative. Barring point has to be a human human has to you know like set the vision for what this fashion brand stands for and how we would define style and what we wouldn't wouldn't do or what. The rules of the road are for this beauty regimen. That's GonNa make you up ten years younger to like put on a certain order. You can't combine these things during the day. You have to have one for doing one for night. So all of that stuff has to be sort of divined by the human but then you can apply those same like paradigm all the rest of the products and repeat it. A billion times in a way require human the human sets off the process but they don't have to repeat it a million times you can hand it off to a machine to repeat it. You Know The fiftieth through millions time and then the human can go back to doing their creative process and setting up the next thing for success. Yes that's incredible. I think it's also like a important reminder of the fact that as powerful as ai and machine learning is right now. It's not anywhere near the point where it could just immediately at instantaneously start replacing human roles right and so to your point you have to actually understand the human processes and an perhaps you know the nuances within that brand and then you can find a way to create that process for it. Is that right? That's right and I don't think that you would ever use machine learning necessarily to do the whole humans job. You still need them to set off or vision Because they're the ones who are defining what is the brand stand foreign. What is unique expertise? And I feel like it's GonNa be a long time before human consumers are willing to take that cue from an Ai. Engine you know. Thi- and this is what's cool. I don't think I'm going to trust them. I'm going to trust a fellow human so that were long way from in my opinion. Sometimes you might not know instagram quote influencers who are completely long not real humans. This kind of interesting like play with that idea but I do believe that. There's like a point to having the person involved at the beginning of the process but there is very little point to having a person like repeat the same thing a million times that the poor use of a human's time that's really where a has the power to be revolutionary in at least in the space that we're talking about. It's not taking anybody's job because the person to do the work and nobody's creating a million outfits by hand in these organizations it's just not feasible so they weren't doing in any way they were doing other stuff and so it's actually just completely accretive rather than displacing somebody function. Yes absolutely. Thanks so much for sharing that today show is supported by remote health from safety wing remote. How is the first global health insurance built specifically for remote teams and entrepreneurs attract talent from anywhere in the world under one simple plan at the same price? No matter where they live or work. Sign up your company in about ten minutes and easily at remote employees at anytime checkout safety wing Dot com forward slash remote hyphen. Help for more information protect your customers from fraud and identity theft with embiid. Id a front end talk insurance. You collect the right data during account opening for identity verification and every country. With truly you embed. Id All you have to do is copy and paste a snippet of code to verify the glow. Make sure you only let the good guys in while keeping the bad guys at bay but on boarding verified customers visit truly you dot com forward slash get embed. Id That's T. R. U. L. I. O. Dot Com forward slash get E. M. B. Id now what? I think is super unique about your business. Of course you're talking about automation. Leveraging Machine Learning. You're working with enterprise clients and although the retailers they still go across a few verticals whether it's street wear or sportswear Or even as you mentioned earlier homegoods and I just wanted to kind of zoom out a bit and get a bit of your strategic insight around prioritization and product development with your product because I know a lot of makers are community similar to you are serving B2B audience. And I just wondered if you had any insight on how you're able to prioritize what was on the fine mind product roadmap in light of the fact that you are dealing with clients. That aren't always in the same industry or don't always face the same challenges so it'd been building on a platform in building out solutions that will be valuable to all of them without narrowing yourself too much. Was there any like learnings that you got along the way or any advice you can share on that front. Yeah so. This is an area that I felt really comfortable in because my career had been as a product manager and doing that. Trade off than stakeholder alignment and trying to make sure everyone was happy but not building something so custom that it's unrecognizable or scalable. So from the very beginning I had my. I'll not making sure that that wasn't the case. In the everything was extensible enough. And so what we have now like. We had to add new features for our platform for new customers coming on. We had never seen before so one of our clients is Adidas and they have like sporting team apparel. So you never wear like a Lakers Jersey with warriors Pants it just doesn't make any sense. Reverse system didn't know that was like a thing to look at teen. It might pair those two things together and that's completely inappropriate so we had to add that but it wasn't like we were just adding only This is going to use it. Actually as a feature that makes total sense and is extensible to number of different use cases so bright might not be for another brand might not be The Lakers in the warriors. It might be like an influencer and like another influence our you know. You don't WanNa like Arianna Guerande collection mixing with Zendaya collection. You have separate so it became this kind of more extensible concept because we could think through. Okay here's how brandon would use it in BBC Brandy and there was enough like a. Lotta people could have a benefit from this that it's worth building into the core of our platform. None of of course like grown we have big clients and they spend a lot of money on our software and so the bigger accounts get to expect some level of customization but we build that into our contracts right certain sat amount of hours from developed development hours or professional services to do things that are really custom or one offs for them. But we're covering our bases because were limiting that number based on like the size of the contract and then they're getting like their top priorities met but they don't get anything in everything that they could come up with derail us from our core mission and they don't want that either because they derailed from our core mission the value of what we're doing is not as good Whereas if we can focus on the core of what we're doing can move forward like actual will value proposition that we dry for them which is making more money. They ended up better off in the long run. Even if they didn't get this bell or whistle that is super accustomed to them. So it's a good way to split the difference amazing. I feel like you've framed that really well as well because it's not really a concession. If the client is still ultimately growing their bottom line or solving the problem that they came to you for so like as you said all the bells and whistles even necessary and I think that's definitely one of the challenges that makers have to face when they start engaging in partnership discussions with enterprise sales cycle is so long. You know six months. You're still building a product alongside. You really want to close the deal. You have a long term relationship with these companies. I wanted to just get some insight. I know you're very much product focused but being founder being the CEO. Of course you're GONNA do a ton of that business development stuff to is there any advice you can give makers out there listening who are also building a solution for enterprise about how to not get discouraged when trying to close their first big deals on the one hand? I feel like I don't have great advice on this because I think we got really lucky. We closed amazing. Clients like incredibly quickly allows considered but actually the way we got. There was kind of a crawl. Walk Run so right. I think you have to constantly keep moving so you should be maybe pitching the big guns one you really want to sell to eventually and it depends on your business. Like we're focused. Purely on the enterprise were not you know smaller brands or retailers and that was like a strategic choice. So That's you yeah pitch for you know the city banks and the home depots and the you know alliens like the big companies that you really WanNa go for 'cause maybe there's one that takes chance on you. A lot of them are becoming much more innovative and startup focused. And if nothing else you're GONNA learn a lot. That's your customer development learn what features are important. Your alarm with the pushback is GonNa get closer to that. Product Market Fit. But you're probably not going to close any of them until you have a couple of things under your belt and right roller way further downstream. Find someone where it's much lower risk than these giant corporations and have a proof of concept or have a case study in the worker. What you'd like us. That case study to go sell the next slightly bigger more prestigious more complicated enterprise on your software and then use that to sell the next in the next new daisy chain them together and eventually you get. Citibank to come to the table. Because you have enough proof points that you can justify it because there's just a whole bunch of headaches involved in selling enterprise gift to do a procurement in legal very stringent security reviews like it might not be worth it because you don't have things in place and you're GonNa have to pay a whole bunch of money for a pen test and potentially stopped you compliance and stuff like that and like if you sold to A small organization just to get the case studies in staff Even if it's less revenue revenue than you're not going to encounter all of those hurdles and you'RE GONNA. He'd studied that helps you sell the bigger brand on your ability to serve them. So just keep moving forward. I would say you have two parallel path. It and don't get discouraged. Just custody bank is buying what you're selling yet. That's such great advice. I love that you know that phrase used like pursuing an unparalleled going together at the same time pushing for those big huge multinational company deals but then also aiming for clients who as you said have fewer boxes to tick internally in order for them to start working with a new company Seeing the other side of the table what. The different hurdles are that they have to causes always really helpful thing to remember. So it's like not always discouraging. It's more a fact that these are as he said like regulatory or legal requirements that they have to fulfil in the frustration of those that they take time but at the same time. Maybe just doesn't make sense reused maker to work with them if you have like a bigger time constraint or whatever I also thought it might be helpful to just get you to talk a bit about the website so you know I spent some time on fine dot com website and I have to say like there is an incredible amount of information on their incredible amount of case studies. I just feel like all the information. All the use cases I could possibly think of as a potential client are all carefully illustrated for me. This must've been really mindful decision on your part having heard in conversations and having been in conversations with potential partners. Yeah we just redid it. Actually recently and before it was not very clear We have the blessing curse of being a new a technology in a new category. That people are just waking up to so it's really exciting because more really defined it dominated. It's not super competitive and commoditised so we have a really strong opportunity to be the leader in fact we are the leader. We've received multiple awards from like well respected companies organizations for what we do and are starting to realize oh shoot like my expertise brand is a really unique competitive advantage. I need to make sure I scare out but at the same time. People don't necessarily always know they have a problem or the severity of the problem that they have or how to tackle it. And our technology is an engine that can d- bottleneck content creation process to guide the customer in any channel. So there's kind of like endless used cases so you get a little bit of analysis paralysis from the customer. Sometimes where they're like okay. I believe there's a problem that's half the battle. I believe it's a bigger problem for me to like. Do something about it. I believe fine lines the way to go about it but I don't even know how to start using you guys right. Be Very prescriptive in. Help them see okay. If this is your number one place that content is bottle? Necking you or that. Your customer is not understanding how to use your products in. It could be hurting you. Let's start here and let's do like this one small use case and prove it out or we might be talking to a CMO. Who's like yeah? Our brand has great. You know authority and expertise but it all falls apart in like all these channels and it needs to be consistent. We want the whole package solve across all these cases. We kind of have to like lead people to water a little bit and show that not. Only here's the problem. This is an existential threat to your business than we go from being like a nice to have. I don't even know what this is too. Oh my God this is the number one thing I need to do this year but how I do it I need some help with and we have to put one foot in front of the other. Four them it's honestly it's so funny because like our whole our whole mission in life is to help the buyer You know the consumer usually understand how to be successful at the product that they're buying and that's exactly the thing we have to do. More selling to an enterprise. There are her they have less information about how to be successful with are fine mind technology than we do and we have to close that gap for them. It's like so full circle. It's just ironic. It's very Meta amazing. But Yeah I would definitely encourage makers out there especially ones who like you are innovating in a new frontier. The problem rather like the existential threat. If that is the problem is necessarily a common narrative that already exists in that space. I would definitely encourage folks to just check out fine. Mine Dot Com. Because I think you've done a really great job of illustrating the problem from two different angles than than sort of explaining how your solution can fit in to all of them so yeah. It's really really good now. I don't have a ton of time so I just wanted to get you before you jump off to share some of your favorite products being product. We always ask for recommendations. Maybe it's the tools that your team rely on. Maybe it's something fun that never leaves your handbag or your obsessive at home but yeah. This is your time for personal recommendations autumn while I'm pregnant. I'm due on Sunday ahead along. I think we're products right. Now are like baby things that I think are genius so amazing one APP is called baby lists like a universal baby registry and I have a bunch of reviews and guides and things like that another thing I think is awesome and I haven't used it yet because we haven't had our baby but is the called the hatch grow. It's a changing table like we put it on top of any kind of Dresser countertop. And it's a little like peanut shape thing that you put the baby into change the baby but it's also scale so you can How much your baby's growing and you don't have to like have another device in your house or something like that. I'm all about things that can be used for multiple purposes -partment so those are some of my favorite thing so far. That's so exciting. Yeah I feel like well. I'm godmother so I have totally gotten involved with buying baby products and there's so much stuff out there like when we were kids. I was just like Oh my gosh look at this night light. Look at this cool thing. Look this league drum set. There's a ton of cool could products out there. Thanks so much for sharing your favorite recommendations for those who are listening and maybe WanNa find out more about fine mine more about you. Where should they go find? Mine Dot Com. That's our website and finally then probably most active on social media in pretty abysmal tweeting but You can follow fine. Us on twitter. It's a bit more active than I am. And thanks for having me. Thanks so much for being on product on radio show everyone thank you so much for tuning into product. Hunt Radio. I've got a favor to ask you. Will you take a minute to review us on ITUNES APPLE PODCAST or wherever? You're listening to US right. Now thank you thanks for tuning. We'll be back next week. But in the meantime shared the podcast. Your friends on twitter and tag. I guess you'd like to hear an episode. See you soon.