Meet Dominique Levin, CEO of Winning by Design. She assesses, designs, and implements growth strategies at SaaS and other high-velocity B2B companies with a particular focus on demand generation, sales development, account-based prospecting, and growth of existing customers.
Winning By Design is trusted by over one hundred fifty organizations, including Adobe, AdRoll, CultureAmp (Australia), FreshDesk (India), Bynder (Netherlands), and more.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Dominique Levin: As the CEO of Winning by Design, I am passionate about helping our clients drive impact through accelerating and optimizing their revenue. We teach our clients how to apply scientific frameworks to their business with easy-to-implement blueprints that deliver results in sales, marketing, and customer success. And most importantly, I lead the vision and mission for our company: to help B2B businesses drive recurring revenue.
Winning by Design was founded on a gap in the industry – a lack of training, consulting, and processes that create repeatable success in marketing, sales, and customer success for recurring revenue businesses. That’s why we are cultivating a new category, creating something unique, something that has never been done before – developing the science of revenue.
With a diverse background, I cut my teeth in the business world as a Chief Marketing Officer at AgilOne and Totango, was previously the CEO at LogLogic, and was a venture capitalist. I launched new businesses for large multinational companies including Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (Voice over IP service, public cloud services) and Philips Consumer Electronics (PDA for teenagers).
I am the author of Predictive Marketing and The SaaS Sales Method for Customer Success and Account Managers and am a co-author of Sales as a Science. For fun, I participated in the first-ever European Ice-Hockey Championships for women and set up a cooperative for local farmers in Cusco, Peru.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Dominique Levin: Keep your crew engaged: people are everything; many hands make light work.
Be honest and transparent: don’t sugar coat anything; if your team knows what’s going on, they can help you solve problems, even difficult ones.
Over communicate: focus on your middle management; the team leaders (we call them community guides) and frontline managers have the biggest impact when it comes to translating your strategy into practice. They are the people your crew meets with every day and they will take their cues from their direct team lead, not from you.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Dominique Levin: Go back to basics. Make sure you do the math and that your business model is sustainable. But what does sustainable growth mean? It means you should grow revenue, but not at all costs. How do you measure growth? Focus on foundational KPIs such as what is the productivity per rep.
Focus on the compound impact of little things done right. Did you know that you could double your revenue without adding a single salesperson or a single lead, just by making marginal improvements of 10% in seven places across your customer journey? For instance, if you improve the close rate from 20% to 22%, and reduce discounting from 15% to 13.5%, accelerate your onboarding process by a few weeks, etc. you will make a big impact with a lot of little changes.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Dominique Levin: We have always been a remote business and we believe that our customers benefit from a mix of remote and in person meetings and from a mix of synchronous and asynchronous communications.
Post-pandemic we are now facing a potential recession. During the pandemic there was a lot of stimulus money and funds made large investments in private companies. But now in many ways, companies now have to ensure that they can achieve sustainable growth. Ensure your unit economics make sense: per employee and per customer. Make incremental improvements every single month and quarter.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Dominique Levin: Some of our crew used work as a coping mechanism for what happened around us. Some people frankly worked too much and because they were at home, we didn’t pick up signals of burn out.
So when you are a fully remote company and one that believes in a flat organization structure without ‘bosses’, then you need other mechanisms for people to check in on each other and take care of each other. We have since installed ‘community guides’ who fulfill that role. I like the ‘community’ metaphor for a company. We are accountable to each other and support each other. We are part of something bigger than ourselves.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Dominique Levin: We have written research papers about the fundamental benefits of remote and asynchronous touch points in your customer journey. Incorporating these touch points gives your client a better experience and makes your sales process a lot more efficient.
I often joke that during the pandemic a lot of things happened that should have happened long ago. In my household, we finally got through a long list of overdue home projects and maintenance. The same for businesses.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Dominique Levin: As a CEO it’s my job to make sure that all the dots are connected and that our people have what they need to succeed. That means I am talking to people all day long, either 1:1 or in small groups, whether on the phone or on Zoom. In the olden days, that would be called ‘management by walking around’. These days you could say that is ‘management by Zooming around’. Or I speak to customers.
At the end of the day, I reserve two hours for deep thinking time, for which I prefer pen and paper, or I’ll go on a long walk with my dog to clear my mind and get new perspectives on problems I am looking to solve for the business.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Dominique Levin: We use stories about our customers and we use stories about things that various crew members have done. Rule number one of storytelling is that you or your company are NEVER the hero of the story. It’s about a customer or employee having a problem and being proactive about solving that problem. They are the heroes.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Dominique Levin: Our clients have to adjust to a world where they have to achieve growth without adding to marketing budgets, sales, or customer success people. In effect, it means that they need to:
- Have their existing people produce more revenue per person
- Get more existing leads into the pipeline
- Turn more existing pipeline leads into revenue by increasing close rates and deal size
- Expand their business with existing customers
We practice what we preach and have recently implemented small teams, which we call PODs, for our commercial organization. It’s fun to realize we are now at the same scaleup phase as many of our customers, and we need to heed our own advice as we transition from startup to scaleup.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Dominique Levin: We are always interested to learn what other research is being done into the fundamentals of recurring revenue and the science behind marketing, sales, and customer success.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Dominique Levin: Ask your crew. We did a survey about employee engagement and frankly were shocked with the results. Interestingly, the things our people complained about might be different than in other companies.
We have a different culture, where we work with each other, not for each other, so many people don’t have a direct boss. Also, you can work as little or as much as you want – deciding each quarter if you want to work full-time, part-time, or perhaps more than full-time.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Dominique Levin: Mind reading would be great. Not everybody dares to speak up, especially to the CEO so if I knew what people were truly thinking and feeling, I could be more proactive about serving them. I am a big believer in servant leadership.
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Dominique Levin: Success is not all about money. I believe, for example, that the success of a country is not measured just by its Gross Domestic Product. Instead, the United Nations happiness index is a much better metric for success. It doesn’t just look at money, but at health, mental wellbeing, environmental impact, and more.
So for our business, of course we want to achieve business impact, measured in how much impact (emotional and rational) we have on our clients and on our employees. But we also care about social impact: can we make our industry more accessible for diverse candidates, can we reinvent work and allow people to live full lives at and beyond work.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Dominique Levin for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Dominique Levin or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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