Hello to Canada’s SaaS Community,
Enterprises spend millions on suppliers every year but rarely have the data to track the impact on a per-supplier level. That’s what Stephany Lapierre hopes to solve with her platform TealBook. After raising $50 million in growth funding, Stephany shared more about how she builds relationships with enterprise decision makers.
- Getting in front of enterprise decision makers requires relevant demand gen programs, content marketing, and in-person panel talks/events.
- Building trust means showing value as quickly as possible, even if that means a narrow scope to start.
- Enterprise customers have a lot of complexity. Showing you understand their deeper needs will help you make a lasting connection.
Co-Founder/Producer, SAAS NORTH Conference Editor, SAAS NORTH NOW
For years, Stephany Lapierre tried to get CEOs to care about strategic procurement. She knew the value of analytics but realized that companies were operating backwards—spending a lot of money on analytics software without sourcing high-quality data first. So she built TealBook, a platform that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to fill in supplier data, and raised $50 million in late 2021 to continue building the company.
Speaking with SAAS NORTH, Stephany explained more about three different ways she built relationships with enterprise decision makers.
The power of procurement and the need for better data
Stephany started her career as a self-professed “ski bum” working at a ski resort in Whistler, BC. A native Québécoise, skiing out west is where she learned to speak English.
The ski resort is also where Stephany first noticed how important a good supply chain is. While working with suppliers for the resort she noticed how using the right suppliers gave you a competitive advantage. But she couldn’t find any work on innovation in the supply chain space, so she eventually started a consultancy called MatchBook to help companies realize these benefits.
Multiple years into the business, she uncovered the real problem: companies were spending a lot of money on analytics software for procurement, particularly around invoicing and financial management. However, the underlying data was low quality because companies often expected suppliers to input their own data, which very few did. She saw an opportunity to build a software platform that collected data using AI and ML, which eventually became TealBook.
Even as the product evolved, though, she faced another problem—CEOs didn’t care about strategic procurement and saw it as a cost center. It wasn’t until CEOs of large companies realized that they couldn’t answer the most basic questions that leaders realized the value of Stephany’s data-first, analytics-next approach to procurement. For example, the CEO of NASDAQ, a TealBook customer, once noted his procurement team couldn’t tell him how much the company spent with JP Morgan, the company’s biggest partner. This also all rapidly changed with the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“What we’ve seen with COVID-19 is that the supply chain is really important to business continuity, for sustainability, for just growth,” said Stephany. “The second use case came with Black Lives Matter, because a lot of companies start making bigger commitments to spending with small, diverse businesses, and it’s already regulated in some industries in the US.”
“But collecting and accessing quality data on small businesses is very manual and challenging,” Stephany continued. “Existing manual processes take weeks of effort and still result in under-reporting spend because those suppliers simply don’t have the bandwidth and resources to update endless portals.”
Creating energy for enterprise sales
Good tailwinds aside, Stephany had to build a scalable enterprise sales motion. She couldn’t count on social pressure or external factors forever.
Stephany built the motion with three core factors. The first is thought leadership content, which for her meant giving keynote addresses, joining panels, being on webinars, and publishing articles in order to get in front of enterprise audiences. She also worked to have TealBook considered by major rankings, eventually landing on AT Kearney’s respected “future of procurement” report.
“Thought leadership positioned us as understanding the problem at a deeper level,” said Stephany.
Second is the company’s sales motions, which focused on selling into procurement. Stephany said this originally started with a lot of education because procurement departments are often behind other functions in terms of technology adoption. Now the motion is focused on identifying the biggest pain point where TealBook can show value quickly. A common use case, for example, is identifying diverse suppliers. Stephany said in this instance, many companies are underreporting diversity in their supply chain because many suppliers don’t update their information—a solution like TealBook can collect a lot of this information automatically, helping companies with their own ESG reporting.
The third focus is the product feature set, which Stephany said is focused on increasing flexibility and speed for customers. In short, if the platform can pull in more data at a faster pace, then even more use cases become opportunities to show quick value to customers.
“If we can demonstrate something very quick that delivers value to a functional team like supplier diversity data that’s more accurate and automated, that’s your permission to expand the partnership and journey — fast tangible results create energy,” said Stephany.
Building a more responsible world
There are significant financial reasons for caring about procurement: enterprises might have thousands of suppliers and spend millions per year, so even small improvements are highly valuable. But Stephany also sees it as critical for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) improvements, which she feels is the future of business.
When someone has deeper analytics into their supply chain they can make choices like supporting local, supporting diverse business ownership, and making conscious choices to do business with companies whose healthy environmental practices will roll up into their own ESG promises. It’s also a change that customers are demanding. Stephany was even able to share an example from her own home: she noticed her daughter threw out makeup because she learned the company tests on animals and she didn’t want to support that company anymore.
“If you could tap into your supplier base, where you spend millions and millions of dollars, you could drive savings, you could drive innovation, you could drive your ESG target, and you could mitigate risk,” said Stephany. “… When you’re solving something like we’re solving, the impact is huge.”