Doug Winter, co-founder and CEO, Seismic

Season 2, Episode 38,  Jun 27, 2022, 07:44 AM

We chat with Seismic’s CEO Doug Winter about the sales enablement business, the importance of building company culture, staying nimble and Southern California beaches.

Our guest in this 26th interview episode with a unicorn start-up leader, is Seismic CEO and co-founder Doug Winter.

Seismic is the global leader in enablement, helping organizations engage customers, enable teams, and ignite revenue growth. The Seismic Enablement Cloud™️ is a unified enablement platform that equips customer-facing teams with the right skills, content, tools, and insights to grow and win. Founded in 2010, Seismic has since raised $440 million and now has a valuation of $3 billion. The company is headquartered in San Diego with offices across North America, Europe, and Australia.

Back in 2010, Doug got together with four other entrepreneurs to work from “basements, breweries and beaches”, leading to the eventual launch of Seismic in San Diego. Looking back, he says he is simply most proud of the ability that Seismic harnesses in providing growth opportunities to their customers.  It has been especially rewarding watching a lot of the people who had faith in his early vision join this journey, progressing their careers moving up into more and more senior roles and growing along with the company. That part, according to Doug, is the most satisfying . 

In this Without Borders episode, the Seismic CEO explains how they are helping “marketing both support sales better and give them visibility into what’s actually happening in those sales, so they can improve and get stronger”. Fast-moving industries that have many products and complex sales cycles is where Seismic does best, according to Doug. Currently, their biggest customers are tech giants Microsoft, Google and IBM. 

Doug also explains how the unicorn title was a big honour and a milestone for him and his company. He says it was very exciting to get there, but “you still have to keep moving forward and setting that next target and going after that next target is really what matters.” For Doug, the fun part is figuring out  the next mountain you are going to have to climb and setting those targets. In terms of future growth and investment, the Seismic CEO explains that right now there is a lot of capital available, but investors are sitting on it as they wait for the markets to stabilise and understand if valuations are reasonable or not. At Seismic, they are aware of this situation, and they continue to make growth-oriented investments as well as product-led investments, but at the same time they “try to keep a cushion” so that they can stay far away from the rocks.

In terms of raising awareness and differentiating themselves on the market, Doug admits that “being publicly showy and high profile” has never been his personality, and the company has reflected that over the years. Fortunately, he says he has great people on the team, and on the day of our interview he was proudly sporting the new logo and colours of their fresh rebranded image. 

When asked about the culture in his organisation, Doug Winter tells us that initially, it was easy for them to develop a good culture that fed on itself as people like each other and like working there, and genuinely enjoy what they are doing. But recently, the leader of his People team notified him that more than half of the people at Seismic joined after March 2020, which means most of them never met anyone physically, and it’s easier to drift apart when working remotely. Seismic also acquired a company called Lessonly, and this emphasised the need to unify the work culture. Consequently, they recently went through an exercise of developing and formalising it, through the process of documenting their culture. Doug explains that as a team they came up with  a goal that “brings the company together around things [they] all believe in, and [they] all believe are important”.

The interview, as usual, was co-hosted with Russell Goldsmith of the csuite podcast.

We have distilled the most valuable, actionable insights from our first 15 interviews with leaders of unicorn companies and bottled them in our book ‘Growing without borders: The unicorn CEO guide to communication and culture’. You can download it here.