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Where You Go for Software: Reach Your Peak with G2's Godard Abel

The episode discusses how buyer expectations for software have changed, the importance of educating the user, the capabilities of AI such as ChatGPT and AI Monty, balancing performance with kindness in a team, and many more.

AS: Welcome to the Experience-Focused Leaders! I am delighted to introduce you to one of my role models, Godard Abel. Godard is a co-founder and CEO of G2, which is revolutionizing the way buyers discover, learn about, and buy software. He's also a five times CEO with exits to companies like Salesforce and Oracle with a very strong and unique perspective on how to lead and build great enduring companies.

So just a fascinating conversation, and can't wait to get started. Goddard, tell us a little bit about your journey towards G2. Because our audience loves to create great buyer experiences. I think you started and had a vision for that back in 2012, I wanna say. So you were kind of on the cutting edge of that, and you've obviously had previous experiences in promoting and building software companies. So share with us that story.

GA: Thanks. It's great to be here with you, and it's also been fun to be part of your journey. I think we got to know each other maybe six or seven years ago. I remember when was just in its infancy, and obviously amazing to see you also growing and obviously most excited you now have 266 happy RELAYTO reviews on G2. And that's really why we built G2. You know, we want to make it easier for software buyers to discover innovative technologies, the ones that will really help their business forward. 

And I think in this age of software and AI, I think the success of any knowledge worker, and any business is so dependent on software. I think we all saw the pandemic only accelerated this, you know, but as knowledge workers, we're all in apps all day long. Like right now, you and I are in a Zoom, and probably during my day, I use like 20 different apps. And I think that's what we're all doing.

And so that was really the founding vision of G2 software in the world, and you really need a buffet if you will, but you need one you can trust, and I think what was missing, you know 

when we started at the beginning, we called it Yelp for business software. 

That whole idea that we take for granted as B2C consumers, you know, shopping on Amazon, we can quickly discover the products we love. Amazon recommends products. And we can always check out reviews, you know, from other customers’ users. And that was just missing in the software.

That traditional model of Gartner-Forrester analysts, while they're smart people, you know, like doing primary research, one person doing the research, publishing a book or a quadrant every two years, we just didn't think could keep up with the innovation. In my own experience as a software entrepreneur, I've been building software companies for 25 years, and I saw my customers struggle to discover apps in my first company.

I remember especially big machines, and we were building, you know, what you might call a niche CPQ, Configure Price Quote app for manufacturers. And it took us many years of struggle, you had to build it into a successful business. But eventually, we signed up companies like G-Energy or Rolls-Royce. They made truly big machines, big turbans. And I remember they would discover big machines, and they'd say, “Hey, I wish we'd found you two years ago.”

You know, we've been trying to build this software In-house. We didn't even know it existed. And so we just saw that software buyers couldn't find the apps that would best solve their business problems. And obviously, as software sellers and entrepreneurs, we were really frustrated and we didn't want to wait. It took us nine years to get a Gartner report, nine years of big machines. And I think 12 years to become a leader. And obviously, as an entrepreneur, do you want to wait 12 years to be validated, Alex?


AS: Well, it takes a while to build the software and so on, but the world has changed, right? We talked a little bit about it. Yeah, I will come back to that, but you know, 

we're moving to people wanting to really experience the software. 

See the value of the software here, live videos of customers talking about it, like, right in the process of discovering and defining their criteria. So can you tell us a little bit about the buyer expectations? How do you think they've changed even since you found it? You know, already on their original premise since you founded G2?

GA: I do think buyer expectations for software buyers have really changed, Alex, and they keep changing. I think that the original vision we had is gonna be more consumer-like, and I think what you're pointing out includes just signing up for free and trying products. 

And I think most of the innovators in the software industry over the last decade, that's how they go to market. One company that comes to mind, is HubSpot. I think over 50% of their customers are truly self-served. And I also think that the HubSpot model helped pioneer an inbound funnel. Like, “Hey, just educate your prospect for free. Don't put all your learning content behind paywalls.” Let the buyer buy the way we want to buy. And none of us, when we're buying stuff, we don't want to go through a paywall or go through like, “Hey, sign up and get barraged until we're ready.

So I think that the whole idea of “consumer first” is to give the buyer the experience they want, allow them to educate themselves. 

I think even Gartner says, “80 to 90% of the buying decision is now made online, or they'll even reach out to you.” And so I think as a seller, it's up to us to provide that great buying experience and educate the buyer gradually with great content that's free to consume. Then allow them to sign up for a trial, raise their hand and talk to your salesperson when they're ready.

I just think that's what the modern buyer expects. Even more in recent disruptors like Snowflake, I think you can also, as an engineer, just sign up for free and start playing with their data lakes or data clouds. And if you love the tooling, eventually you bring it to the CEO, and you say, “Hey, let's sign up enterprise-wide”, but that's not how you start. That bottoms-up consumer-like motion.

And I do think that's only accelerated over the last 10 years. 

I do think AI is only getting accelerated more because of what ChatGPT has shown right now, we can really easily educate ourselves on any topic, and the internet already made that possible with search, but search is still a bit clunky.

You have to know what you're searching for, browse through 20 websites, and the beauty of ChatGPT bar, they sort of synthesize everything for us. We just asked a question we want to learn. And it synthesizes all the information available in the world for us.

I do think the same thing we're aiming to do with our AI Monty, synthesize all the information on software, including all the millions of reviews. The challenge once you have millions of views and we go over 2000 categories, no human wants to process all that.

AS: Exactly.


Whereas AI, these GPT engines, they're really perfect at digesting tons of information and then just pulling out the data, the reviews, the insights we want, based on our questions. So I think it's pretty revolutionary for all online apps and information sources, including G2.

AS: And so the other dimension that has come up in the society, but obviously in the software world, is it's being over-marketed. It's sort of like, “Here's our PowerPoint and how great we are, sign up to this report, give us your first name, last name, mother's middle name, and we'll send you an ebook with some stuff”, right?

The work world is shifting towards reading real user reviews, really understanding the taxonomy of features and how it compares to other vendors. That's one of the reasons why one of RELAYTO’s first investments was actually in G2 because we really believed that our users will want to hear from other real users.

And so we wanted to give them the real evidence, not “hear from us, how great we are”. We wanted that real voice of the customer to come out. How are you seeing that change in the industry, especially with the broad level of trust in society and the industry declining, quite frankly? What's the place for AI in this, and what's the place for a structured platform, the traditional kind of G2 architecture that you provide? 

GA: Yeah. And I think, Alex, that's a good point that most buyers don't trust sales and marketing messages. 

We do a G2 buyers survey every year. And typically, let's say only 20-30% of buyers really trust marketing content. 

And frankly, as an industry, we've been guilty maybe of getting too good marketing and selling.

I remember when I entered the software industry, like 25 years ago, one of the original CRM pioneers was the hottest company in the world. And back then, enterprise software is more like you would just build beautiful PowerPoint, like logically, “Hey, here's this incredible sequel CRM platform. It solves everything for you.” And intellectually, it was kind of perfect, but you know, you sell PowerPoint, sell vision and then maybe two or three years later deliver the software.

I think a lot of enterprise buyers got scarred by that. Even Salesforce, when they started, always had a free trial. And that's part of how they disrupted Siebel, at the beginning, it was just easier. But obviously, back then, you had to sell stuff on the premises. People were just selling Vision and PowerPoint and then taking years to deliver it. And obviously, software buyers got scarred.

So I think now, 20 years later, the expectation is totally different. Frankly, the same thing is happening in hiring. You would just ask a candidate for their three official references, right? And now we all go to LinkedIn. Before you hire anyone else, I'm sure you also do your blind referencing, you see, “Hey, who do we know in common who we work with?” And you ask them, “Hey, what do you really think about this person?” 

With G2, for example, you could filter reviews on first-degree LinkedIn connections, and you see, “Hey, who do I know?” As an entrepreneur, you're probably gonna trust your peer entrepreneurs the most. If they're like, “Hey, this app works great for me”, you'll trust that a lot more than a vendor pitch.

I think G2 and LinkedIn together can kind of put that on steroids where you can also blind reference the software. Before you buy it, say, “Hey, how does this really work, do they deliver on their marketing claims?” I think this social world just enabled that.

I think all the emerging leaders we see now on G2, at the end of the day, all have really good customers. And I really don't think you could build a company the way Siebel did 25 years ago. With just beautiful marketing claims and PowerPoint, your product has to deliver from day one. 


AS: Well, it's funny, and obviously, Salesforce has sold steel bricks to them.

So we were very fortunate to have them as one of our co-cornerstone customers, and they know how to adapt. But what we've noticed is even though we were lucky to have this great enterprise client, we wanted to say, “Well, let's go back and make sure individual users are gonna be successful”, right?

Our mission is to democratize great content creation and great consumption experience as a result. 

So if we couldn't really accomplish that, all we had to do was just do a sell, do a ton of onboarding and heavy lifting around a few enterprise customers. The adoption was, “Those customers would be limited.”

So one of the things that I'm really excited about is I'm seeing a pattern that for a real successful enterprise, wide adoption in some of these large organizations, they need to understand what a real user experience is not. As what’s deep inside the product that typically comes out from some of those reviews as well.

Are you seeing more and more interest from enterprises in evaluating G2 over time, or has it always been already interest from enterprise vendors and enterprise buyers?

GA: I think that's what enterprises have also realized. Like, “Hey, it's actually better to start bottoms up.” And actually, one interesting stat is we've seen even 98% of enterprise buyers start with Google when they're looking for software.

And I'm not sure I have any great secrets on SEO, but since I said, 98% of even enterprise software buyers are not stored on Google. And that was always our premise. And because the reality is also with the traditional Gartner model, only like five people have to log in… It's the CEO and the CEO office. But like the main enterprise, I have 100,000 employees, and most of them don't have that login anyway.

Maybe 10 years ago, it seemed obvious to us that, especially the younger generation, let's say of employees inside the company. Like if I do anything, I'm gonna start on Google. That's what I do as a consumer. Why wouldn't I do that when I'm at work? And so I think that's definitely become true.

But SEO is a tough game because, as you know, Google also keeps changing the algorithm. But Google does say that long term, the best content will win because Google does measure, obviously, what percent of people actually click through and engage with the content they surface through.

But it's been years of effort. We did see in our initial categories that the first category we built was actually CRM because my first two companies were both adjacent to CRM. So it's a world we knew well, and that's what we used to test like, “Will reviews work in an enterprise, will buyers engage with this kind of content? And ultimately, can we monetize it?”

But in CRM, what we saw once we got to hundreds of critical mass reviews of the leading products like Salesforce and Microsoft as well. We naturally started to move up on Google because a lot of buyers found that content valuable and so good.

And obviously, I was having fresh content, and we're always working to capture new reviews. 

So having fresh, relevant content that the search or the buyer engages with that's key. 

Obviously, there’s also a lot of technical SEO, and so we have right now our content SEO leader Ross Briggs. He's a real expert, so we're doing fresh new content relevant to the searcher to the buyer as well as constant technical SEO optimization.

Probably, anyone that's invested in SEO, you have to keep that drumbeat going for years because it's not in a lot of people, it's not the kind of thing that's gonna work in a week or in a month. And I think the way around that is SEM, which can be great for startups when you're testing.

But the problem with SEM, it's super expensive, right? Because all your competitors can outbid you, and really all the money ends up with Google. It's like the economic theory. 

AS: If you're really cheap, then you end up trying to use Facebook or whatever you use, right? 

GA: But at the end of the day, there's a reason that Meta and Google are the world's most valuable companies. Because, ultimately, it's an auction model. So all the economic rents get captured by Google and Facebook when you're doing SEM. It's a great way to start, it's probably one of the best hacks as a startup to get those initial buyers to be users, but you have to pay a lot for it. And eventually, it doesn't scale well.

And that's why on G2, we do know SEM, but we do only organic because we think long term it's more sustainable. It takes many years, and now we are a top 1000 website. That's why I think for SEO content, you just have to keep pounding on media, right? It's a multiyear compounding strategy. And now we have a really strong domain rank.

And so, frankly, now it's a lot easier. Because we can put out almost any content, and it ranks pretty quickly. Whereas day one, I think it took us like probably a year to start ranking on the key CRM terms. And obviously, that's also the other lesson. Probably at the beginning, you have to start really narrow, really focused on a couple of topics.

I think that's not just true on Google, right? But just in the world, because there are millions of startups on G2, there are over 100,000 SaaS apps. So how do you stand out in the world? 

And on Google, you got to really be a narrow expert on one thing, right? And then evangelize about that, write a blog about that, create media about that, and then you start to rank on that narrow thing. That’s a narrow-focus topic. Over time, you can grow from there, and you got to keep going for years.

And that's probably true with entrepreneurship as well. I think now you have a lot of momentum, there's a lot of success. But all my companies, the first couple of years, are always like, “Oh man, what have I gotten into?” until you get that flywheel that compound.

AS: Well, so I think let's come back to compounding in a second. But I want to double-click on what you're bringing up. So you got Google, and that engine is working. But I think to me what you're doing is you're creating an AI with more resources with interactive demos, which we're excited to participate in. You're creating a destination, right?

And so once you do land there from Google, or you bookmark G2, because if you're like in B2B marketing, you're always looking for new tools, you probably will go search and evaluate something. And we love, by the way, the G2 buyers because they are educated, right? Just kind of a compliment to be there like that.

We are a small team. We don't necessarily have as much investment in kind of pounding the pavement with outbound, you know, spam sequences or whatever you wanna call it. And what we love is the G2 users, they're educated, they know what they want.

They probably already look for a sophisticated list of features. And so you're creating an environment for those folks to spend more time to educate. What have you discovered about what really keeps people more engaged and helps them move across the bio journey once they land on to G2? 


I do think the buyer, at the beginning, want to be educated on alternatives, and we talked about this earlier, right? They're skeptical of marketing claims because most of us in tech have gotten really good at marketing, but the buyer doesn't believe it, right? So they want that authentic peer voice. 

From a tech vendor, they want cool, beautiful marketing, but then they also want more. From your example, I just googled content experience platform, right? G2 happens to be the number one result, not just as I mentioned by a lot of work, but then they can compare to the alternatives. 

Well, first they can read, you have hundreds of reviews, they can see the pros, the cons and we also always say negative reviews are actually really helpful for a lot of entrepreneurs. 

The reality is there's a lot of B2C search. It also says 

the perfect conversion is more like 4.44 because if you're 5.0, no one believes it, right? 

We know this as consumers, even if your product is perfect, you always have a customer having a bad day or maybe somebody signed up that wasn't your ideal customer profile. 

AS: I think our ears perk up when we see, you know, “Hey, I got stuck or this was too complicated”, and I think we learned from that. As a vendor, you really can't believe your own story that much. You need to drill in and understand what the customer's context is and where they're struggling. So, I think that's another service that you don't really like as a vendor, we don't control who submits the reviews, obviously. So it's sort of a powerful mechanism. It's another part of the equation that probably doesn't get discussed as much. 


Another thing I've learned over the years as an entrepreneur, I feel sad when one of the customers is angry with me, but I've also learned over the years that means they still care. 

Obviously, I love the most happy, and joyful customer, but then my second choice would be angry and my third choice would be those that don't care. For example, if a customer is angry,  it means, if you listen, respond, and make your product better, they can at least give a one star review. 

There are some reviews that show that the customer is just having a bad day, especially if it's constructive feedback. This leaves room for an open and authentic dialogue. The other interesting stat is that negative reviews get read 2 to 3 times more. I think it has more to do with psychology; buying is just generally fun for us, humans. 

It's all about that authentic buyer experience,  I think that's what we all have to remember as entrepreneurs. As sellers, you have to think about how you like to buy stuff and consume products, then serve your customers that way. 

AS: I know you're a practitioner and champion of conscious leadership. It takes somebody like you to build a business like G2 which talks about being real, right? And I think we aspire to do that. I don't know if we always succeed, but we like when we look at written materials, we don't want it to be marketing speech. We want it to have personality, we want to have some sort of humanity. But also I think the way you're running your business empowers your team. And I've had great interactions with your colleagues. They're just good people. So what's the magic there? What were some of the recipes and how you building a culture at G2 that's enabling this authentic customer experiences for your product and beyond? 

GA: Thank you for sharing that, Alex. I'm glad our team is being authentic with you and, likewise, I think you're an authentic customer because there are ways G2 can get better and you always share that with us. We aim to take it to heart and get better. It is really one of our peak values. You can see the G2’s backdrop behind me is a peak. You know, it's both aspirational that, I as an entrepreneur, I want G2 to be the biggest best company I've ever built. I wanted to be that trusted place where ideally all billion knowledge workers no longer go to Google and everything, they come to 

We're still a long way from being at the top of that peak, but I think it's both like an aspiration and it's also anemona for our G2 values

and our G2 values are performance, entrepreneurship, authenticity and kindness. 

I think we've also learned that we have over 600 employees. At the beginning, it's just you and a couple of co-founders or a small team. It's really easy to all live the same values and be very customer focused. And then once you get to hundreds of people, you don't know them anymore. 

Being very clear about your values and communicating them in a simple way, I think we found that to be very helpful.

I do an onboarding session with all our new hires at G2 where we talk about the peak values and why they're so important. Why we want to be authentic, why we want to be kind. We do aim to role model that because

I do think ultimately we can make the world of software more authentic, more kind, by having everyone very focused on customer voice, authentically listening to their customers. 

Because ultimately, I think it will make all our products better, make our industry better and deliver that P. It does start with P,  it starts with performance because, at the end of the day, we want to help, to build a winning company. We wanna help our software buyers win in their life. We want them to peak performance based on having the best apps. And obviously, we want the best entrepreneurs like yourself, right? To also have G2 fuel their peak performance. 

And so I think it's all ideally a very virtuous cycle. I think what I have learned now 20+ years as an entrepreneur, you do have to keep preaching, teaching your team and ideally leading by example to live those values. And I do think it gets harder and harder the bigger you get, how do you get your team to understand and live your values every day.

AS: Back to your values, actually, and connecting them to the broader theme of the company. So, performance, right? It's the first one. And people's struggle was combining performance and kindness, right? I think it's a mix. And that sometimes you need to adjust, “Ok, my performance expectations for this team, given their level of experience, is gonna be slightly different than somebody who is just at the beginning of their journey.” And they're just getting their new entrant into the company out of college. Tell us a little bit about what did you figure out from that balance, combining a Super Bowl-winning team with a team that takes care of the folks that are on the team?

GA: And I think sometimes a sports team can be a good analogy for that. I think also people talk about if a company can be a family and, in some ways, not really, right?

AS: I think that the family wins Super Bowl, right?


Well, the number one objective with the family is not to win the Super Bowl, it's to support each other through life, no matter what, right through ups and downs. I'm lucky I have a great wife and three great kids. So their performance is not first. I think it's all about loving kindness and supporting each other no matter what. And in business, it’s more like a sports team. 

If you talk to any Super Bowl-winning team, or like Manchester City just won a Champions League, or right now, a Tour de France… You know Jumbo—Visma, right? I think for that tour, they do feel like a family, and they're incredibly kind and supportive of each other. But they do have to perform, right? And frankly, next season, obviously, Jonas will be on the team again. He's probably gonna win Tour de France. 

So the top performers stay, and the reality is the people that don't meet the performance standard of the team or the company eventually are moved out, and that can feel harsh and unkind. But I do think it's fine, especially if during a season, you're coaching them, you're making clear what the performance expectation is, and you're helping them get there. Because I do think that's very kind. And hard feedback at the moment can feel hard and unkind. But ultimately, I do think it's right because you're helping somebody raise their game professionally, especially if you give them authentic feedback. Like, “Hey, on the next sales call, here's what you can do better,” or “Hey, the next time you're shipping code, make sure you test it more thoroughly because I introduced a bug.” Right at the moment, it may feel like we want to protect our ego. So it feels hurtful. But I think the great thing with great coaches, great mentors, great board members, sometimes they say stuff, Alex, like maybe in a moment it feels a bit painful, but then you reflect the next day, the next month, or the next year and you're like, “Wow, that was actually really helpful because it helped me raise my game and perform better.” And so I do think ultimately, while they may seem like dualities, long term, you can actually end up in the same place.

AS: I love the season analogy. I never heard that before. And it really makes sense, right? Because you're making a commitment, you're giving people a chance to be on the team, find the fit where they can contribute to the team. 

Some players stay for multiple seasons, and sometimes the company changes. The game changes, the priorities change. And even if people are amazing in one game, the second, another type of game requires different capabilities. And so you maybe have multiple games going on inside the same company. You start dislocating people. 

That's a really great metaphor. You said that you've learned a lot from your mentors and folks like myself that heard you speak before at an event. We look up to your experience — five companies and so many exits. 

What would be your word of wisdom to a leader that's in an innovation-driven business where the pace of innovation is rapid? What have you learned, how you've changed your behaviors or any particular type of advice that influenced you the most?

GA: I do always study aspirational entrepreneurs. I think one that's influenced me, and I would view as a mentor, be Marc Benioff, a co-founder and CEO of Salesforce. Obviously, what I really admire about him is he's taken a company from 0-20 some years ago to now truly being the global market leader and CRM. Having tens of thousands of employees still look like a very positive culture still innovating. 

My second company, SteelBrick, was acquired by Salesforce. And while I didn't report directly to Marc, I was on his extended leadership team but just also inside the company. I really tried to absorb how he has an impact at the next level. And part of what I admire about him is he's not just building Salesforce, he's also very philanthropic. He helps the UCSF children's hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland. He also owns and now runs Time Magazine, and he's involved in the oceans, and he probably has about 100 initiatives. 

It's truly mind-boggling that he's always aiming to have a very positive impact on the world. And he also has that metaphor that business can really be the best platform for creating positive change in the world. I think he's always been kind of a next-level inspiration to me. 

I think for us as entrepreneurs, finding people like that, that inspire us to exhibit values at the next level, is always helpful to get us to drive for our own next peak.

AS: I think one of the things that I love about Marc, and I also didn't have deep interactions, but when I was at Stanford, I was actually interning at Salesforce as it went public. And it was an amazing experience that really shaped my thought process. I saw the number of products launched when the company was still in the pretty early days. 

And one of the things that I find really interesting is that while Mark has maintained this core about being customer-centric, the customer company keeps writing new trends as they emerge in a brilliant way, right? When it was social, it was social. 

And while building out, Salesforce is one of the core platforms in the systems of record and sometimes a system of engagement for everything you want to know about customers. So what do you think about that in the startup environment where maybe you're a little bit less resource able? I would challenge one of your statements with what the historical legacy has been like. You need to be really niche-focused, and you just focus on one startup, and that's been the case for a long time. 

Then it feels like the world is changing a little bit where especially in this economic environment, people are consolidating some of their solutions, right? And the end users don't wanna use 15 tools, if they can use one tool that manages to do certain three or four jobs for them, it makes their life easier. And that's a bit of an approach that we've taken, how can you build something that's horizontal but then highly niche and specialized for specific applications? 

So how do you reconcile that right, as Marc has probably jumped from one step to another really well? But building out something that's more horizontal, that gives you the capacity to do that, also seems to be a valuable addition to how you build software companies of the future. You probably see the trends around this in G2. Folks click up, and a lot of other no-code platforms appear across multiple categories with the same core architecture and the same core UX for consumers. 

GA: There are so many apps. So I guess my theory on it is at the beginning, you're not going to be the platform. I think even when you started, I don't know if you were already marketing the content or positioning the whole platform. I remember when I first met you, it was like, “Hey, generate that magical PowerPoint deck for consulting firms.” But it was more like one job. 

I think maybe if you're a proven entrepreneur, you could do that, right? But I think at the beginning, my theory is still you're better off, “Hey, I do this one job better, and frankly, I integrate to your platform.” 

I think they started with like, “Hey, I'm just better at helping you capture your sales conversations.” And obviously, now they're aiming to be really like a sales revenue intelligence platform. That can help you forecast and really reimagine, adding much more intelligence across your revenue in your sales process. 

I think they started with one killer use case, which was to record that sales call transcript. And then they've added many more. I still think unless you have a ton of capital, that's still the way to start, but then have some platform vision in mind even going back to Marc Benioff, I think at the beginning, he just did, you know, at the time it was called Sales Force Automation. 

That's why I called the company Salesforce. And I heard the story that even he told Gartner for quite a few years, like, “No, I'm not doing CRM.” But I think in the back of his head, he had a much bigger vision. I probably knew what it was gonna be like in 20 years. So I think it's that balance as an entrepreneur, right? Like getting enough momentum and getting known for doing one job uniquely well in the world. And then you earned the right to expand your platform vision. In my experience, entrepreneurs start trying to do too much at once, and I always have to narrow it down for a few years until I can start to expand again.

AS: You're at this expansion stage, right? You have an amazing business. What's the next chapter for G2? We started talking about AI, and how you're bringing that information in a way that's much more consumable to your buyer audience. How do you think about your own journey in the future of buying experiences?

GA: AI is not hype like crypto two years ago. It can be said that it was maybe over-hyped. AI could be transformational for G2 and can be formulated as our own industry. In 1994-1995, Netscape commercialized the first graphical web browser and unleashed the power of the internet. It does feel like this could be that big of a moment where we can reimagine all G2 buying experiences. An information site like G2 is a search-based taxonomy, but you have to know what category you're looking for. Most people don't know that. They're like, “I'm trying to improve my sales pitches, trying to make my sales reps more consultative, or trying to make them trusted advisors.” They're not looking for a content experience platform. They're just trying to make their business better. 

I think AI like ChatGPT has shown that, for almost any knowledge, we just want a better conversational intelligent interface, and that is the best way to communicate with each other. At the time of computers, we had to do things like rigid search, workflow forms, required fields, then take them into the workload; very rigid taxonomy and that too in a structured approach which was tough. 

I think AI has the potential to get the structured data one needs to drive the business or tap into that structured data that can make you better at your job. And that's the reason why I think that it's really going to be revolutionary.

The other thing we've realized with G2 is in terms of the business. The question is how do we monetize G2, and the answer would be primarily via market/software sellers. But we've also realized there are so many G2 data insights. Now that we have a G2 data solution, we're serving over 50 of the world's leading investors. We're also serving the leading consulting firms. We realized that, since we have all this data on software, we can also give consultants and investors an AI interface to help them understand what's happening in the industry and make the best investment decisions. 

So, we're really excited to bring that to vendors with G2 market intelligence. I think that's an exciting new way to serve the industry and also make money. We are really excited to bring all of these to life over the next few years with data and AI.

AS: So basically, leveraging your unique proprietary database that you've developed to come up with new use cases. I would go back to the B2B marketer, which is your current customer. What's your awareness outside of investing in G2? 

Apart from these, what other kinds of things would you advise them to think about in adapting to the emerging world? Also, their challenges in getting the word out to customers, the level of trust in the industry that we over-marketed. And some things that we have oversold or maybe overbound to some degree as in the past. However, people are building this rigidity towards pseudo-automated, personalized sequences. What's your take? What should be the top three things that you would advise them to think about?

GA: How do you want to buy from your own company and take all the friction out of it? And I think, there's the obvious friction like no one likes gates, no one likes paywalls, right? And no one wants to be barraged with marketing or sales until they're ready. 

So I do think it's enabling the buyer to have a delightful shopping experience. Let them learn as they want to learn. I feel the good beauty of digital is you can monitor their activity with their permission, right? But you score them, see how they're heating up, and then reach out at just the right time with the right message, and then it becomes a delightful buying experience. 

I think it's all about how do you shape the delightful buying experience. I think our job as marketers is just to make it easy and delightful to shop, buy and then try. I think about everything else. Yeah, I think it's fading. And I think some people probably like growth, and to me, it doesn't mean you have to go all the way to people just buying. Because a lot of enterprise solutions eventually still gonna want to talk to you. 

That's very valid. They want consulting, they want advice because they have other platforms. They need to understand how to integrate, right? So there's still value in human advice, and not all products will just be bought online. The further along you can get them trying it, assisting them and then letting them easily raise their hand when they're ready or, seeing just scoring them digitally and reaching out when they're ready and then making it delightful. Because if you do it at the right time, people will be saying, “Wow, and thank you! How did you know I just wanted to call you, and you just called me? Thank you.”

AS: Great. So that's a great summary for this conversation. We as marketers, entrepreneurs, and product people, need to wear the shoes of the buyer, create delightful buyer experiences. I think if I would go back to that theme, I would say that you're creating a culture for the right team members. It creates a delightful co-creation experience as part of the team. I couldn't thank you enough for sharing some of this wisdom with me, with our customers, our audience. And thank you for building so many great companies. I’m now excited to use G2. 

So just thank you for innovating in our industry, taking your lessons, and building a platform that helps all technology entrepreneurs to bring their products to market in a way that delights the customers.

GA: Thank you, Alex, and great to be on with you. Fun to be supporting your journey and keeping those amazing reviews coming.

AS: Thank you. We'll add a few negative ones in there just to make sure it's real.

GA: But I love your customer. You have a bad day, and then just respond authentically and keep helping them 

AS: Be authentic, be real, be like Goddard Abel. That's my recommendation for the day. Thank you again, Goddard! Thank you for listening in!


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