What All VC Operating Teams Can Learn From the Scale Venture Partners’ GTM Event

In Revenue Capital

Craig Rosenberg and Scale Venture Partners’ operating team recently held their annual go-to-market (GTM) event and one thing was clear: they’re doing it right. This invite-only event hit all the right notes and kept me thinking for days afterward.

What was so different about it? They provided a masterclass in showing what it takes to succeed as an operating center within a capital firm. To that end, here’s what they did exceptionally well along with how VC operating teams should be looking at all of our motions.

1. Scale Venture Partners brought in people with real stories to tell. 
At this event, Chris Degnan gave one of the most insightful talks I’ve ever heard at an event. If you don’t recognize his name, he was the founding seller at Snowflake – before they had revenue, a website or even really a product. Now their CRO, he walked us through how he found the companies he wanted to talk to and how he set up those meetings. He covered how he liaised with the product team and ultimately how they built the niche for that business on the back of those real world customer insights.

That was such a real, tangible topic and meant so much more to everyone listening than if someone had gotten up there and shared their latest framework or B2B study. After Chris’ talk, any young company in the room could immediately have a game plan for what they should do the next day to make progress.

This is the first thing that successful founders and other VCs are doing. Rather than hiring a team of BDRs, giving them lists to call and working a playbook that everyone thinks is so effective (and isn’t), they’re using relationships to get in the door somewhere. From there, they’re doing a lot of listening, uncovering pains others aren’t solving for and then designing both product and messaging around the ways to solve for it.

2. They curated who was in the room. 
Let’s face it, this event was both highly effective and highly unique because they were selective about who was in the room. They’re plugged into A-level individuals and they invited them, their peers, and their portfolio companies to join them. Instead of sending the details out en masse to some spam list and welcoming everyone and their cousin into the room they made the gate high, and with that, they ensured that everyone the audience was highly relevant.

The ultimate effect is that they generated deal flow for themselves while ensuring everyone who attended got real value from the time spent. If they had invited anyone and everyone, they wouldn’t have been able to speak to the audience’s specific pain points and needs. You have to close the doors and have that gate in order to develop a relationship cohort that can truly be an ecosystem, feeding and benefitting one another. It seems like often times these events are so worried they won’t have the numbers to tout that it was a successful gathering – but I’d rather see six people in the room, all getting enormous value than a 250 person turn out to flaunt numbers.

Disclaimer: this event was 2.5x larger than last year’s – so if you do things right, the numbers will come.

3. They used real data, instead of just talking about it. 
Something else that Scale is doing is using the actual data of its portfolio companies to start benchmarking, then separating them into cohorts and quartiles. Then, based on who they are, what they do, and how they should be performing, they can use that real world insight to see how their GTM strategies should be performing. They can pinpoint where they might be out of bounds in terms of best practices, then deduce the most likely reason for that along with a strategy to fix it.

This starts with getting the right people in the room, but it goes a lot deeper with getting actual data. There are costs to trying to develop integrations and connections into each one of your portfolios and a system of record, pulling that data out and storing it. Paying for that tends to be a big barrier, but these guys are making an investment into being truly data driven.

After all, the only way to be prescriptive and effective in that motion is to really understand where the problems lie without that filter of a CRO or a revenue leader putting a costume on it.

Insisting on making that investment and seeing it through has to be a thread that’s woven throughout the organization.

Final Thoughts

My only reason for writing this is because I honestly feel this approach is so critical. Scale funds organizations at later stages than we do so it does me no good to kiss their a**. Possibly the most important takeaways of all were this: For VC operating teams to be successful, we have to focus on relationships, collaborate, be intentional about who we bring into the room, and actually use data – not just talk about it.