Why I left Concur to lead go-to-market strategy at Brex
7 min read
7 min read
Why I left Concur to lead go-to-market at Brex
Over the past 12 months, Brex has gone through an incredible go-to-market transformation. Brex has quickly moved from exclusively providing startups with corporate cards, a short sales motion that typically takes a few days, to now also selling large, complex software deals to enterprises like DoorDash and Coinbase that have thousands of employees around the globe.
Successfully executing on this kind of change doesn’t just happen. It’s a complex transformation that takes deliberate and thoughtful planning across the entire organization.
As I celebrate my 1 year anniversary at Brex, I wanted to reflect on this transformation, look back on how we made it happen, and consider what comes next. What a year it’s been!
I spent 16 years at Concur, most recently as Chief Revenue Officer, before joining Brex as their CRO last year. Concur has been around since the early 90s and is the 800 lb Gorilla of expense management. They’re the market leader with over 60% market share and have been for a long time.
So, why did I leave Concur? Because I wanted to work for the winner of tomorrow, rather than the winner of yesterday. I did not want to fall behind. Customers’ needs have evolved, and technology has progressed such that embedding payments in software is the way of the future. Companies are also increasingly becoming global and distributed in nature. I wanted to work for someone who could capitalize on these trends.
“So, why did I leave Concur? Because I wanted to work for the winner of tomorrow, rather than the winner of yesterday.”
From the outside, it was obvious that Brex is uniquely positioned to win. They had demonstrated their ability to innovate when they launched the first corporate card for startups in 2018. Combining that card with expense management software is exactly what customers were looking for. So when Brex co-founders Henrique and Pedro told me about Brex Empower, the spend management platform they were building, I was blown away. Here was a quality product with just so much potential.
Joining Brex didn’t feel like a big bet. It felt like a done deal. During my time at Concur, I had learned to sell software to enterprises. In fact, my team used to crush sales goals while selling a product neither they nor their customers were inspired by. I was excited about the idea of what a GTM team could accomplish if they sold a product they and their customers actually loved.
Transforming our GTM organization
When Brex started selling Empower in Q2 ‘22, our go-to-market team was not geared to software selling or selling to enterprises. Less than a year later, we are selling software contracts in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and already crossed $100MM in ARR for Empower. In fact, many of my old Concur customers (DoorDash, TaskUs, Sigue, many others) have already moved over to Brex.
How? Well, it helps that customers love the solution:
“We switched from Concur to Brex because of Brex’s tech-forward approach to managing spend. We were blown away by Brex’s ability to manage and track compliance in real-time, and automate employee expense reports and our month-end processes all in one system.”
— Alex Moiseev, Financial Controller, Psycho Bunny
But we’ve also gotten four key things right. We:
1. Fundamentally rebuilt the sales motion
Before Empower, Brex had a simple sales motion: we sold credit cards to startups. It was a product everyone knew how to use, and the motion, from initial contact to first swipe, could be as short as a few days. We have spent an immense amount of time building an enterprise software sales organization with defined sales territories, a sales process across pre-sales and implementation, and a system that is scalable. We specifically focused on:
- Pre-sales motion: The sales process doesn’t start with the sale. Before the sale we work with the customer to identify their specific pain points and goals. At Brex, we have defined sales territories to always ensure who from GTM is going to be the point person at which time. We have then trained all of our reps to be experts at Brex’s offerings. By the time we start negotiating the actual contract with the customer, we have already spent a lot of time highlighting Brex’s differentiating features and capabilities.
- Implementation process: Brex offers a platform solution. When we onboard a large enterprise with thousands of employees, we need to ensure that each and every employee gets as much as possible out of Brex. This is where Implementation comes in.This team sets customers up for success from the get-go. We have built detailed implementation guides & how-to’s for customers and hold regular office hours / webinars on Empower 101. We have even made it easy for customers to schedule 1:1 implementation or support meetings right from their Brex dashboard.
- Contracting capabilities: This might seem obvious to some, but building out the muscle to contract with customers in an efficient way that works for both parties is complicated and takes time. While there is an aspect of rinse-wash-repeat to this, every customer has slightly different needs - as such we have built out our billing capabilities (including multicurrency) and added packaging and pricing experts to our team.
- Product expansion: We have significantly increased our investments in ongoing customer success post deal signing. This has resulted in many of our largest customers having joined us on a multi-product journey. A customer might join Brex for a specific product or feature, but often realizes the power of our entire platform of expense management, travel, business accounts and bill pay workflows from a single account.
2. Redefined the sales cycle
Enterprise sales is complicated and takes time. Sales cycles are measured in months, not days. To succeed, you need a scalable GTM engine that builds on itself. We built a flywheel that drives awareness upfront and educates the customer on why they should choose a solution and then delivers tangible impact so they never want to leave. See the graph below. Customer retention and growth are two of the main metrics we measure our success by.
3. Established tight collaboration with our engineering, product, and design team
Brex is releasing new Empower capabilities and products at a high velocity. This year alone, we have expanded our global capabilities, launched our travel solution, and announced an AI partnership with OpenAI. It needs to be easy for GTM to stay up to date. That’s why we’ve gone above and beyond in building a strong relationship between our GTM and our product engineering and design teams. Earlier this year, we launched our internal Monthly Product Release, a comprehensive overview of all features and products we launch in a given month. This ensures that our GTM team always has clear documentation and continuous live training on new releases and features, and gives our product teams a direct line to customer feedback and requests. I discuss this in more detail here.
4. Prioritized operational excellence
Transformation of any kind, large or small, takes an enormous amount of discipline. To quickly scale our enterprise sales motion, we needed to nail all the operational details. This has meant continuously instituting more rigor in our methodology across sellers, perfecting coverage models, driving structured deal reviews, and improving sales manager capabilities. Functional excellence is non-negotiable. It allows us to close larger and larger deals without lengthening our sales cycles, a key metric of our efficiency as an organization. It’s also something that is harder to institute when you get bigger but should be a focus from day one.
It’s all about the people
To execute on the above, you need an A+ team. Luckily for me, we already had that. When I joined Brex, I was blown away by the amount of talent across the organization. People are hungry and ready to win every day. It’s a sales leader’s dream.
We are also more efficient than any other organization I have ever seen. Brex’s remote-first approach, which my colleague Michael Tannenbaum wrote about here, allows us to generate new work faster and connect with customers in a more efficient way. This is crucial for the GTM org, where every minute is precious.
To close out, I am so excited about what Brex will accomplish over the next years and decades. For me it’s never been easier to show up for work everyday. We are building an enduring company and we are still in the very early innings of our journey. Onwards!