Episode 64 Oct 13, 2022

An Interview with Zilliant’s New CEO Pascal Yammine

Get to know recently-appointed Zilliant Chief Executive Officer Pascal Yammine, who marks 60 days leading the company with his first appearance on the podcast. The former senior vice president and general manager of Salesforce Revenue Cloud brings a customer-focused background and 20 years of enterprise software leadership to Zilliant.

In this episode, Pascal joins Chief Marketing Officer Lindsay Duran for a wide-ranging interview on what attracted him to Zilliant, what he’s learned in his first two months, his perspective on the pricing and revenue optimization and management market, and much more.

Pascal Yammine

Pascal Yammine

We're now at a point where companies have to be able to start to leverage data and intelligence in a much more day-to-day way. Maybe in the past they would do a data analysis and have smart people look at data every couple years and they would adjust. That isn't possible anymore. Now the frequency has to be much more often. And in order to do it more often, you have to have the tools and the people.
- Pascal Yammine, Zilliant

Episode Transcript

Pascal Yammine: This is what I would think of as real revenue operations, real revenue intelligence. And then to be able to take that information with Campaign Manager™and actually create a closed loop campaign where not only can we create those revenue growth opportunities, but actually publish those to the sales force and track their ability to complete the actions and the resulting revenue. Now, that blew my mind because if I was a CFO or a CRO or anybody responsible for growth, I couldn't imagine not having this tool in my tool belt. And I'm just more excited now than I ever was before without knowing that tool existed.

I just can't stop talking about it. It is by far the most surprising thing in my experience at Zilliant so far.

Lindsay Duran: Welcome to B2B Reimagined. My name is Lindsay Duran, and I'll be your host for this episode. I'm joined today by a very special guest, Pascal Yammine, who just recently joined Zilliant as our new CEO. Pascal, welcome to the podcast.

Pascal Yammine: Thank you, Lindsay. It's great to be here.

Lindsay Duran: Before we dive in, tell us something interesting about yourself that we can't learn from your biography or LinkedIn profile.

Pascal Yammine: Well, first of all, again, thanks for having me and I'm really excited to be on this podcast and more importantly, I'm excited to be part of Zilliant. I have just been so excited for Zilliant as a company for a long time now, and just to be part of it is even more exciting. I will give you something that is not on my LinkedIn.

Let me see what that might be. Well, first of all, I have a family of five, so I have three girls, three girls in two years, and that is the most important thing that I could probably share. But for a fun fact or less personal fact, about me, I did go to University of Illinois. That is on my LinkedIn, but what’s not on my LinkedIn is I am one of the many people who have the stories of being a flunky. So I flunked out of college because of many reasons.

Now, I subsequently did get my degree and then got a master's degree. But to hear the story for anybody who is listening as to what happened, how I flunked out, why I flunked out, how I got back in, that is a story that will only be told in person with coffee or drinks.

Lindsay Duran: Well, I will be sure to ask about that the next time I see you in person.

Pascal, I don't think I've heard that story myself, so I'm looking forward to diving in more on that. Maybe when we're not recording a podcast. Give us a little bit of background on your professional life. You joined us from Salesforce and you'd been there for quite a long time. Would love to hear more about that experience.

Pascal Yammine: Absolutely. I started off in the consulting business, so I went to University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, where I got my undergraduate was also where I flunked out of school. But I got back in, I got a master's degree as well, and after that I jumped into consulting. My first role at consulting was at Anderson Consulting back then, now Accenture.

My focus was on human performance, or as I would say is how people worked better together. Organizational design, organizational development. How do organizations, how can our organizations be more effective? And I always had a little bit of stint of technology that, “So how does technology impact an organization usually for the purposes of making them more efficient, more effective, et cetera?”

So I was in consulting, that's how I started. And I left consulting and took a couple roles where I was with startups. At one point I was a CIO of a small tele out of Florida, and again, back and forth into consulting in Slalom Consulting, for example, as well as my own consulting firms for some time.

Eventually, my first partner at Accenture, he was the very first partner I ever had, the first project. He was at Salesforce. This is 2000. He, over the course of a year, tried to recruit me and many of my clients as a consultant to companies like Motorola and Dell were clients of mine, were all looking at Salesforce at the time, and that was really how I got introduced to Salesforce and even more specifically SaaS in the truest sense.

And eventually, after many times, John, my partner from Accenture who was out at Salesforce, he eventually convinced me to come and I joined Salesforce in 2013. I'm sorry, 2009 for 13 years I was there and most of my 13 years was in customer success. So I am, by the nature of my personality, a services person, I typically approach situations with how can I help?

How can I be of service? And that's just my background. That's just what's natural for me, and it works really well as a consultant. So for the first eight years at Salesforce, I played many roles across customer success. And I had the pleasure of working with a lot of amazing leaders and seeing Salesforce grow in a hyper-growth mode from 2,000 employees when I first started in 2009 to 80,000 people when I left just this past August of 2022.

Lindsay Duran: Well, that was quite the long tenure at at Salesforce Pascal, and it must have been a hard decision to leave and come join us at Zilliant. I know that you mentioned you've been following the company for quite some time. What attracted you to Zilliant and what's it been like getting to know the team and meeting our great customers?

Pascal Yammine: Yeah, that's great. Thanks. Well, I mentioned I was in customer success for most of my tenure at Salesforce. The last five years I was a general manager of what became Revenue Cloud, who started off as CPQ, a small, small business within Salesforce. And when I left, it became Revenue Cloud, which is on track to be the next billion-dollar cloud at Salesforce, which is a great kind of accomplishment and benchmark that any product area at Salesforce goes after.

And in my role in Revenue Cloud, customers were looking for opportunities to really transform their quote-to-cash, whether it be CPQ building or a combination across the entire spectrum. And I, I had the pleasure of working with hundreds of thousands of customers around the world, all of whom were going through and trying to fix these areas or make these, make this quote to cash transformation work for them.

And it was consistently, there are challenges. Every customer had challenges, and these are hard projects to do, so it's not surprising that there's challenges. One of the biggest challenges was getting the connectivity between their, the ERPs and their front office or the CRM. And a lot of times that tied to product and pricing.

And as a part of that, at Salesforce, we always pick really strategic partners to fill in those voids, fill in the areas where Salesforce could not necessarily get as deep as we needed to for our customers. And Zilliant was the number one partner that we went to when it came to pricing and price optimization.

And that was what first introduced me to Zilliant and the Zilliant team. And I met with the team for quite many times throughout the years. And when I started looking for my next stage in my career and the opportunity with Zilliant existed, I realized the amount of impact that we have at Zilliant in getting customers the tools they need to think of it as like the levers they need to dial up their revenue, to dial in their profitability, whatever it might be, whatever the situation is.

If they're in a situation like we're in, where we are heavy inflation nearing a recession, but they may need to really focus on profitability and we give them those tools to do that is a very empowering thing and that is something that Zilliant has today and most companies have been just striving, trying to figure out how to do.

And Salesforce, although we try to do a lot of that, we really couldn't give them the depth of those tools to drive growth and revenue with our products. Like we have to say like Sales IQ™ and Campaign Manager™ are amazingly impactful in giving the tools to our customers so they can make those decisions and actually have revenue impact, as well as the obvious that what Zilliant was based on from 20 years ago, which is pricing, the tools to really hone in on pricing, control pricing, and really make sure they have the tools they need to not only grow but grow profitably. It's a fantastic opportunity and I've already seen it in just two months, the impact that we've had on customers. So that was the possible impact. That's what drove me to Zilliant. And now you asked another part of the question, which is just like what I found when I got to Zilliant as part of that, and I think I've shared this story many times.

I think you may have heard it more than anybody else, and I'm sure that you're about to laugh at me right now. I knew without any doubt that Zilliant is a leader in pricing.

It's clear based on the analyst feedback, it's clear based on customers. It was clear based on me seeing the product, you know, up until leading to me joining Zilliant. What I had no idea about I, I had no idea, was how much more we can do at Zilliant now. That's a great thing. It's a great surprise. You know, you always join a new opportunity, whether it be a new company or a new role, and you always expect to have some surprises.

Typically, it's more like the skeletons in the closet that you didn't realize were going to be there and you're like, “Oh man, if I only knew that was there.” But in this case, it was a good surprise, in the power of what Sales IQ™ could do. Taking the intelligence and the engine that we've built for pricing and applying it towards revenue growth opportunities like a white space.

It's amazing, and it just blew my mind to see it really happen in real life with customer data and just being able to say, “Wow, we actually can do that in a real way.” This is what I would think of as real revenue operations, real revenue intelligence. And then to be able to take that information with Campaign Manager™ and actually create a closed loop campaign.

Not only can we create those revenue growth opportunities, but actually publish those to the sales force and to the salespeople and track their ability to complete the actions and the resulting revenue. That blew my mind because if I was a CFO or a CRO or anybody responsible for growth, I couldn't imagine not having this tool in my tool belt, and it just blew my mind because not only is that fantastic, but also with the pricing, you have the two tools that really help you as a leader of a company, not only your growth but also your profitability and do it at the same time. And I'm just more excited now than I ever was before without knowing that tool existed. I just can't stop talking about it. And as Lindsay, more than anybody else, it is by far the most, most surprising thing in my experience at Zilliant so far, in a positive way.

Lindsay Duran: I mean the, the stories from our customers about the actual measurable revenue impact that they see as a function of using those tools are really tremendous. So I think, yeah, I think about some of the actions I take as our CMO to get our sales people to act on specific initiatives that we have. And for the longest time, our method was to send down the spreadsheet or send out a Salesforce report and hope that the sales team looked at it.

And in many instances they did, but I had no way to track that to see if they actually took the action that we wanted them to. So we actually started using our Campaign Manager™ solution in house to help guide the sales people and track specific initiatives, that we were asking them to go follow up on. So it really is so, so valuable.

Pascal Yammine: I will just say one more thing, Lindsay, which is, these are tools and the tools are amazing and I'm just, I'm blown away by the quality of the products that were built at Zilliant. But I think in addition to that, it's the people and I just say like, the tools are great and I've seen kind of talked to customers who have clearly articulated the value they got from the tools, but I think more than anything else, it's the people at Zilliant and the customer success team and the solutions team.

One of the things that just stood out right away was customer success. Oftentimes in the conversations I had refer to them as part of their own team. And it's being able to use the tools and take the data and help be prescriptive with customers and to say, “Here's what we're seeing. Here's what we can recommend.”

And seeing the customers treat the Zilliant team as if they're part of their team, that has been just outstanding. And I, I don't think any tool in the world has a bigger impact than the people behind the tool that's using it. And the success team at Zilliant and the services team at Zilliant have just done a tremendous job to bring to our customers and make it real for them.

Lindsay Duran: That's such a great point. I think the customer success program that we've really invested in and built here at Zilliant is so critical to helping companies drive that success. And I think so often that the term customer success gets overused and looks more like a glorified customer support program, but it really is differentiated at Zilliant and adds a tremendous amount of value because we do become that extended part of the team.

I think that's a great point. Pascal, what B2B pricing opportunities are you most excited about? What's exciting for you about the space as it relates specifically to pricing and what B2B companies are going through today?

Pascal Yammine: I mean, it's a really fascinating time because there's so many things happening at the same time.

There's supply chain issues, obviously as a result of many things, including the wars. There's obviously just economic issues, inflation, and there's recession, and so there's a lot of factors at once. And I think most companies that have a hard time dealing with one thing at a time, let alone three or four or five, and who knows what's next in terms of what's coming next in terms of events.

But it is a fascinating time and we can see the significant differences between companies who are prepared for that, companies who are not prepared for that, and the impact that lack of preparedness or the preparedness has by those companies. To me, I think it's more than just saying B2B pricing. I, I think it's, we're now at a point where companies have the ability to, and more importantly, have to be able to start to leverage data and intelligence in a much more day to day way.

Maybe in the past they would do it a data analysis and they would have smart people look at data. Then they would do that every couple years and they would adjust. That isn't possible anymore. Now the frequency has to be much more common, much more often. And in order to do it more often, you have to have the tools and the people that do that.

And if you can, you have the ability to adapt, whether that be maintaining your margins and dealing with adjustments and costs because your materials that you have to depend on to build your products obviously change, and we're seeing companies who are having such a hard time maintaining their price lists and updating them, and therefore they start to hit negative margins because they can't pass on the cost increases, the inflation increases to their customers.

Whereas we have other customers who are just going crazy because they are able to pass on the cost and their revenues are going through the roof. But so we're seeing those, the shift in the need to be able to be more proactive and less reactive, and to do it on a more common, more frequent basis.

So once a month is no longer considered often, right? It used to be two or three times a year is a lot for changing prices and changing models. Now it's much more frequent in some cases, even daily, which is why things like the Real-Time Pricing Engine™ that we have at Zilliant is really important, where you have the ability to use our pricing engine in real time so no matter what channel you're in, if you're an eCommerce site or you have a CPQ, You can constantly call the Zilliant Real-Time Pricing Engine™ and get the current price in real time and not have to worry about being late or leveraging an old price. There's a lot of opportunities there, and B2B pricing is at the forefront of a lot of these areas, and what's really exciting to me is actually taking the pricing science and the opportunities that we've been talking about.

Oftentimes we've committed more to industries like manufacturers, industrial services, large high tech equipment manufacturers, for example, but now actually seeing how we can apply that in other businesses like software. I talked to a large enterprise software company recently who has never really thought about profitability in SaaS model.

Profitability is never really the first thing they think about. That's changing now significantly because a lot more costs are coming into the ability to create the software as well as to deliver the software. For example, the need for a local first class data center in different geographies is increasing.

The cost is to provide it. So an industry like software, for example, who have never really thought about B2B pricing in the same way as, for example, a manufacturer. They're starting to think about it. And again, I think Zilliant is so well poised to be there as a strategic partner to all those companies, including the software companies and including even the consumer packaged goods where they have the B2B2C in industries.

We're there to help. Strategically we're there to, with the technology and the platform, really excited about our opportunity to have the impact that we want to have with our customer.

Lindsay Duran: You mentioned the economy and the inflation environment that we've all been operating in, and certainly that's created quite a lot of challenges for companies, especially ones that may be using more manual pricing processes.

We potentially are entering into a recessionary environment. Here in the coming months and as the pace of inflation slows, I think a lot of companies are going to expect that the prices are going to drop a bit or maybe the pace of price changes that they're getting from their suppliers are, are going to slow a bit.

And so I think companies have been hesitant in the past to make big investments in technology when we're approaching a recession, what would you say to companies that are more on that line of thinking, that are concerned about making the investment to using a pricing or revenue operations and intelligence software?

Pascal Yammine: It's a really a good topic and a tough topic. I understand the conflict, right, which is basically the economy. Now we really want to invest money and time on our new platform and new capability, maybe the time where really a big focus on profitability is in play. Here's the way I would think about it.

Number one, I completely understand the concern. I think it's really important and many times a lot of customers will ask us the same question and we'll kind of go through the ROI with them. Because I think that is a really important exercise to do a couple things. Number one is, there's never really a great time, like you just gotta do it, because all the problems that we have, the inflation, the recession, those aren't going to go away really quickly.

So get it in sooner than later so that you can start adapting fast. That's number one. Number two, as a company but even before my time, Lindsey, I think you were one of the brain childs behind our Quick Starts. When we have been launching these Quick Starts for a reason. We have launched a couple Quick Starts and we have a few more.

The idea is that how can we get something simple in place for you in maybe as little as three to four weeks? How can we get you the tools you need to manage your country list and your global country list in a way that you can start to actually control your pricing in a way that you can't do today?

What we're trying to do at Zilliant is create smaller, easier, think of it as a quicker time to value. Efforts where you can leverage the amazing tools that we have, like Price Manager™ and you can quickly deploy Price Manager™ so that you can manage your country list again in as little as three to four weeks.

Those are examples. There's a lot. There's a few other Quick Starts that we have we came out with one last week for revenue operations, revenue intelligence. There's a handful of Quick Starts that we have planned, but that's the idea is that how can we help a company who is in the exact same predicament that you mentioned?

And give them an opportunity to get in, leverage a value, maybe not do everything at once, but one small problem statement and do it in a matter of three to four or five weeks at a relatively low cost of entry to make sure that you have the tools in place and obviously as you use them and you start to get the controls, if you can expand it from there as needed.

Lindsay Duran: I think that's great, and thanks for talking about the Quick Starts. We're obviously very excited about those. For more information you can check out our website. Pascal, what is your vision for what's to come? What are you most looking forward to for Zilliant and for our customers?

Pascal Yammine: I was talking to a CFO once and he was into racing and car racing.

I'm not into car racing personally. For me, a car just gets me point A to B, but as I talked to him, he, he described like as a CFO how he would love to think of his world. Then he described it as a car, but he has gauges in his front of him. He's looking at the gauges. He knows how fast he's going.

He knows his RPMs, he knows his fuel levels, and he can quickly make adjustments to how he's driving to deal with the situation he has in front of him, right? He knows he can slow down if he needs to slow down, he can push the gas if he needs to push the gas, he can change gears if he needs to change gears.

To me, that's the metaphor that I think of, and I think the idea is Zilliant can become that for our CFOs, we can give the tools to our companies, our customers, that allow them to quickly, easily adjust to the circumstances they're in, the environments they're in, and make sure they can make in real time decisions to adjust and continue to make progress.

And that's, to me, what I think we can do. We can have that opportunity to do that in a very strategic area. Well, everybody in the market is fighting for the look of the car, the exterior of the car. “I wanted to be the prettiest car, I want the coolest doors that open.” Those are great things to have, but to me, I want to be the instrument that the driver has to run their business.

Right? And that's what I think we have in front of us at Zilliant. That's what we've done amazing so far in our customers. And that's what the tools I see in front of us can do to companies across every industry that I've talked to.

Lindsay Duran: I think that's a great analogy for where we fit with a lot of the commercial execution tools that companies often go to.

You've had an opportunity to meet with several of our customers over the past, I guess, two months now since you've joined us. What are some of your biggest takeaways from those conversations?

Pascal Yammine: Yeah, I mean, I love speaking to customers. Again, my background is services. Most of my time at Salesforce was in customer success, and that is my comfort place.

That's where I feel comfortable. I feel comfortable in front of customers talking to customers. Not all conversations are fun, but that's what I like to do, and I just really enjoy the conversations I've had with customers. I've had some where I've had as a large group, but some small one-on-one conversations consistently across every conversation.

Number one. They view us as a partner. And coming from Salesforce, a software company, it was always, that was always a nirvana. How do we become looked at as a partner, not a vendor? That was always the challenge. That was always the task at hand. As a customer success executive at Salesforce, how do you become the partner, not a vendor? And every single one of our customers were clear to me that they thought our team was partners to them, and they felt that partnership both ways. Number two is the people. Every software company, no matter how good it is, you're always going to have challenges, deployment challenges, complications.

What's been clear to me is our team across every function, the marketing, the sales organization, the customer success solutions, the product and the engineering team have had zero hesitation. They will swarm a problem, get in front of it, and work with the customer and solve the problem, and they will continue to have, our goal is to have less problems than anybody.

But to say that we'll never have a problem is really naive. So we're always going to have problems. We're always going to try to fix those problems. Ideally, we fix them before even the customer knows them. But the most important thing is a culture that Zilliant has is a culture focused on the customer. And that is a lot of clear, a big priority that the customers have shared and have all shared consistently in, in a very positive way.

And I think that's the second one that I would just say, and I'll leave it at that, Lindsay.

Lindsay Duran: Pascal, before we close, any parting thoughts you'd like to share with our listeners?

Pascal Yammine: Well, first of all, again, everybody who is listening in: thank you. If you're a part of the Zilliant team, thank you for being part of the team.

If you're a customer, thank you for trusting us with your business and us with your data. We really appreciate that and for all the partners out there. Thank you. We need to continue to develop our partner ecosystem. It's a big priority for us and for me, those who know me. I want to talk to more people.

I want feedback. Share your feedback. Give us the ideas that you think about. What can we do differently? What can we do better? We are here to grow. With our customers, our success is tied to their success in such a direct way. It's just, it's amazing to see that we've had the great success with our customers, but I want whoever listens to know that I'm committed to Zilliant.

I'm committed to our stakeholders, internal and external. Most importantly, committed to making sure that every single one of our customers gets more than they have ever expected out of the Zilliant partnership. And thank you again for the opportunity.

Lindsay Duran: Thanks, Pascal. Thanks so much for joining us. I hope that we can get you to come back on the podcast for a future episode.

And thanks to all of you for tuning in. If you're enjoying the podcast, please take a moment to rate and review it. We'd also love to connect with you in person at one of our many upcoming events. Please visit the link to our events page in the show notes for more information and ways to connect.

We hope you'll join us for the next episode of B2B Reimagined. Have a great day.

Are you ready to learn how Zilliant can help you overcome your inflation challenges?

Reach out to us today to learn how we can help!