Thibaut is a Partner in the Growth Acceleration team at Atomico. He works with our portfolio to build effective Go-to-Market strategies and Sales functions.
I grew Snowflake in EMEA from zero to +$100M ARR, becoming the fastest growing IT software company in the region
After a 20 year career in Sales and IT, I joined Snowflake in 2017 to start their EMEA business. I wanted to build something from zero, evolving the culture and the team. In just over four years we had 800+ customers, 180 partners, teams in 14 different countries, and multi-million annual contracts.
It was a huge journey. We built our reputation on a unique product, plus strong and consistent execution at all levels of the business.
From day one, hire great people and trust them.
When you make a first hire it’s essential to trust them, respect them and lead by example. In Sales I look for experience, intelligence, character and drive, and for things to be simple when we interact. You need coachable people who care about the success of the whole team, not just individual wins.
But none of this matters if your team doesn’t understand the tech they’re selling. The first hires need to be quick learners. They need to champion the organisation and its customers, embody the firm’s values, and qualify sales leads at pace. Early customers will need to be risk takers, but that risk is made much easier by a strong relationship. Customers have to trust in the integrity of the team and their ability to deliver on their promises.
Success means winning hearts and minds first.
At the beginning everybody is in the same boat for awareness. At Snowflake, there was no partner ecosystem and I started from scratch. A lot of this meant finding ideas, attending technology partner events and presenting about our product and vision. Passion, conviction and focusing on what the customer needs, not what you think you have to offer, is crucial. We are sometimes too proud of our products, and want to show potential customers all about them. I learned it’s important to focus on the customer, their pain, and how we can really solve it.
Growth is about building a ‘focus mindset’.
Once you make your first hires, onboard your first customers and partners, it’s time to expand and deliver to a larger scale. This is the time to have proper business planning with analysis of the total addressable market, core use cases, and the stories you can tell. At Snowflake, we focused on repeatable use cases, before expanding to other verticals and ideas. Pipeline generation execution and fast customer acquisition are essential.
To scale, it’s important to think like a leader.
To be a market leader, Sales has to align with all functions of the business and work towards a common goal. Being a silo is less and less effective as you grow. Becoming the de facto market leader means accelerating all territory planning and account planning processes, and setting metrics to follow your progress and gaps.
Not all people excel at all levels. There’s power in understanding that this can apply to your team, but also to you. Know your strengths and be honest with your skills as well as your limits. You can reach a point where the business needs somebody else with new experience, and that’s ok.
Always be respectful of the builders and risk takers that make your company and growth possible.
Outside Atomico, you’ll find me on the ski slope.
I made the decision to join Snowflake while skiing between Christmas and New Year. Choosing to jump into a role at Snowflake on a ski lift, felt like a good sign!