Nate Gilmore knows others describe him as a startup and marketing guru, but he sees himself as a service driver with a focus on helping his team unlock what they need. It’s a management style that has served him well during almost four years as CMO of PandaDoc, and one that helped propel the document automation company to Unicorn status in 2021.
Always happy to tell the PandaDoc story, Gilmore joined ITWC CMO Fawn Annan in April 2022 for an installation of CMO Talks, a podcast series designed by ITWC to showcase strategies for gaining a competitive edge through the intersection of marketing and technology. In chatting with Annan, he shared an age-old story of how David – in this case PandaDoc – is taking on the tech Goliaths of SaaS dynamic documents to secure the lion’s share in the SMB space.
Gilmore agrees emphatically when Annan summarizes the moral of his story as knowing your own strengths. The market differentiator for PandaDoc, he says, is that they are about more than signatures. “At the core of everything we do is the document and on top of the document is a series of functionalities,” he explains.
Whether it’s a pricing catalogue, a signature block workflow, or templates for new users, documents are at the heart of what PandaDoc does. As one example, a sales team might look to PandaDoc’s catalog and pricing for high quality proposals. If there’s a need to sign and automate documents for things such as HR recruiting, Covid forms, NDAs, or real estate transactions, PandaDoc has a separate signature platform inside the document automation platform.
An Emphasis on Consumer Awareness
In response to a question from Annan about the most critical aspect to communicate about PandaDoc’s document solution, Gilmore points to consumer awareness, stressing the importance of helping customers understand that there’s more to a document than just a static upload and sign.
“PandaDoc has recreated documents for the Internet to allow for transparency between the document sender and the document signer so they can work on a document collaboratively,” he says. “For example, if I was going to send you a proposal to paint your house, I’d send it to you and then you would look at it and together we might discuss painting the garage at the same time. I could edit our agreement in real time with a new price for you to approve.”
In addition to enhanced collaboration between sender and signer, the PandaDoc platform also allows the sender to know whether the signer has logged in and where the signer paused when perusing the document. This provides the sender with valuable insights about the process.
The Domino Effect of a Stellar Customer Experience
On the subject of attracting business, Gilmore says that many customers come to them without ever talking to anyone at the company. ‘We have a lot of customers who come to us because they’ve signed a document sent by somebody else and they see it’s a good service,’ he says. “It absolutely starts and stops with the an amazing customer experience for both a signer and a sender.”
At present, PandaDoc has 700 employees, including about 50 people in marketing. Like any good David and Goliath story, the mission is to become the dominant brand and capture the market. “So our job is to help the business grow faster and connect with more and more customers globally,” says Gilmore.
The answer is unequivocal when Gilmore is asked what he would advise marketers entering or currently in a SaaS product lead environment. “Details matter, as does being able to understand the state of the funnel through all of your go-to-market efforts,” he says, “and never lose sight of where the growth is going to come from. Partner with great companies and pay attention to the metrics of the business.”
He is also quick to give credit where credit is due, and there are many more takeaways in this podcast, including the influential role of the founder in a founder-led company like PandaDoc. Company culture is vital, says Gilmore. “We have the go-to-market muscle of a scale-up, but the heart and passion of a startup.”
With 35,000 customers, it’s clearly a winning combination.