Category Creation & What Sets You Apart From Competitors with Veronika Riederle

sales hacker podcast 187 - veronica riederle

In this episode of the Sales Hacker Podcast, we have Veronika Riederle, Co-Founder & CEO at Demodesk, a customer meeting platform company she launched in 2018 that’s bringing in seven figures with a global hybrid remote team. Join us for a stunning conversation about why now is the perfect time to found a company and create a new category.

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If you missed episode #186, check it out here: Return to Work: Offering the Maximum Flexible Options, with Gianna Scorsone

What You’ll Learn

  • What’s surprising about starting a company today
  • The virtual meeting space has barely begun to evolve
  • Articulating your product in a way that creates a category
  • How to differentiate in a crowded environment

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Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. About Veronika Riederle & Demodesk [2:20]
  2. What’s surprising about founding a company today [8:25]
  3. Why we should disrupt human communication [13:08]
  4. Differentiating your company in a competitive environment [15:30]
  5. Making gender in leadership a less controversial topic [22:45]
  6. Paying it forward [24:50]
  7. Sam’s Corner [27:30]

About Veronika Riederle & Demodesk [2:20]

Sam Jacobs: Hey, everybody. It’s Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the Sales Hacker podcast. Today on the show we’ve got Veronika Riederle, the CEO and co-founder of Demodesk. It’s a sales meeting platform company that’s custom-built and dedicated for the salesperson. Started a couple of years ago and was built from the ground up, now they’re over a million in ARR, over 50 people all over the world.

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Veronika Riederle is the co-founder and CEO of Demodesk, the number one sales meeting platform. Before founding Demodesk in 2018, Veronika was a manager at Bain and Company, consulted Fortune 500 companies on their sales and investment strategies, and managed multiple international teams. Veronika, welcome to the show.

The first thing we like to do is start with your baseball card, an opportunity to learn more about your company, Demodesk.

Veronika Riederle: We coach sellers in real-time. We are a meeting platform that integrates life coaching. We automate non-selling tasks like scheduling, preparation, documentation, and follow-up. We analyze insights at scale.

You know the perfect way to sell. You know what to say to the customer, you know which content to share, you know how to answer certain questions. Now write that into your playbook, and then when your team is in the meeting they automatically have your playbook loaded into the meeting screen just visible to them without the customer seeing it. They have the perfect playbook that guides them through the meeting that they can use to make sure they use the time properly. You can search for certain keywords.

Sam Jacobs: How did this idea come to fruition? What were the steps you took in order to found Demodesk? Was that an easier startup environment or a difficult one from your perspective?

Veronika Riederle: I’ve always been someone who likes to build things. I wanted to build a company and be an entrepreneur. I thought it was a good idea to gain some knowledge and some skills by joining Bain. I started building things on the side, like a nutrition app, construction software, a video platform for mothers.

When I met Alex, he told me about his idea of virtual screen sharing and how inefficient and outdated today’s software was. He developed a virtual screen-sharing software that lets the presenter use a cloud-based screen rather than forcing the presenter to record a local desktop screen. I was hooked by the idea of using that virtual display for optimizing customer conversation. That’s when we started building Demodesk.

What’s surprising about founding a company today [8:25]

Veronika Riederle: Before I started the company, I spoke to founders, how their journey was, how it was for them. They told me that it’s like a never-ending roller coaster ride.

Especially as a founder, when you have overcome one challenge, then you immediately tackle the next one. It’s normal that there are always challenges that need to be solved. That was definitely one of the hardest things for me to understand in the beginning, and now I’m able to cope with it better. That’s something that’s very unique to being a founder.

Sam Jacobs: How have you built out your sales and marketing organization?

Veronika Riederle: Initially we sold to our network. We sold to founders in our ecosystem and in NYC. We built a sales team. We have one SDR AE team that focuses on Germany, Austria, Switzerland. One that focuses on the U.K., and one that focuses on the U.S.

We target fast-growing companies that have raised more than $5 million. They’re the most interesting ones because they’re forced to make sales productive as fast as possible, and control yet accelerate their growth. That’s our sweet spot.

During COVID, people were forced to sell remotely. They were forced to accept video calls, video conferencing, remote selling as the standard. Everyone learned that it’s not always necessary to see the customer in person.

It’s an amazing time for founders if they have good ideas and if they’re willing to build software that augments human skills, and automates repetitive work.

There’s a strong startup ecosystem emerging. When we started the company, going to NYC and being part of the network on the west coast was extremely important. But now, it’s normal to build a company wherever you are.

Why we should disrupt human communication [13:08]

Veronika Riederle: I like to use the example of the self-driving car. If you look at cars today, they almost have the possibility to drive a car without human interaction. In real-time, all the data around the car is being analyzed and processed in a way so that the car can drive on its own. But if you compare it with a conversation or compare it with a video call, in a more narrow sense, there’s no technology being used at all.

Over Zoom or Google Meet there’s this technical interface. But it doesn’t help you be better at the conversation. It doesn’t provide you with guidance during the call. It doesn’t provide you with insights. It doesn’t provide you with data.

There’s a tremendous potential to analyze data in real-time, similar to how you do it for self-driving cars. Process the data and use it in order to help anyone have an amazing customer conversation by giving you everything that you need.

Differentiating your company in a competitive environment [15:30]

Veronika Riederle: We don’t have much direct competition. We’re basically a Zoom or Google Meet, specifically built for sales. We have a unique advantage because we have this virtual screen change technology. We provide a different level of guidance and data analytics.

We’re tackling a problem that’s been around for a long time, and we first need to explain what Demodesk is about. That’s something we need to make sure that our market understands. We have a very strong team in place that’s able to sell the product properly.

We don’t want to build another Highspot or Seismic. We want to integrate with these platforms. We want to put it into the meeting at the right point in time and provide it to the seller. That’s what our focus is.

Making gender in leadership a less controversial topic [22:45]

Veronika Riederle: I’m often confronted with my gender and I think it shouldn’t matter. I don’t want to be recognized for anything because I have a certain gender. I want my company to be recognized because the product is great and because it helps customers achieve better results.

We need to actively foster women in leadership. There definitely needs to be more. The only way is taking action, creating role models, and doing things rather than speaking about them.

People think about things that could hold them back rather than just doing it. I’d love to see more women actually doing it.

Paying it forward [24:50]

Sam Jacobs: Who are people you think we should know about that have influenced you? What ideas and human beings do you think are important and influential?

Veronika Riederle: An investor, the founder of Pipedrive, his name is Martin Hank. He has supported us since the early days. His insights are tremendously helpful.

Another would be Neil Reiland, the CEO of Pecan. He’s incredible at coaching and guiding us. Tara Brian helped me a lot. They’re just a few people who helped us along the way.

I would encourage everyone who is building a company or wants to be better at their job, reach out to people they admire and ask them whether they want to be a mentor or a cultural advisor.

Sam’s Corner [27:30]

Sam Jacobs: Great conversation with Veronika Riederle. She’s bouncing back and forth between the Bay area and Munich. It’s an inspiring story. It’s hard to start a company, to be a sales leader. Frankly, it’s hard being a human being in this crazy world that we’re in. But starting a company has its own special set of challenges.

She’s been working on this for four years. Now, they’re over a million in ARR, they’re over 50 employees, and they’re doing something that sounds really interesting.

We’re in the early days of the virtual meeting space, in the same way we’re in the early days of autonomous driving. In the future, you could imagine virtual reality, augmented reality, and how these worlds and platforms combine to create a new kind of experience.

We talked about the difficulty of creating a category when people don’t know what you do or don’t understand. When I heard of Demodesk, I thought they competed with Reprise. But that’s not what they do. It’s a sales meeting platform. Is it a sales engagement thing, a sales enablement thing? It’s none of those things. It’s Zoom dedicated to salespeople.

People’s reaction to a brand is often instinctual. You have to make it instinctual to understand what you do and what you are. That is the cost and the challenge of building a brand.

If you want to reach me, you can email me sam@joinpavilion.com, or go to LinkedIn.com/samfjacobs.

Thank you so much for listening and I’ll talk to you next time.

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