GTM 24: The Power of Pivoting and Verticalization

GTM 24: The Power of Pivoting and Verticalization

Pivoting and verticalization has the potential to be a game-changer for many companies. A case in point is the story of Seismic.

On the podcast today is Ed Calnan, the founder and former CRO of Seismic, a company he led through the pandemic. In this episode, you will learn how Ed, as the company’s first BDR, grew the company to 1,500 people, 2,000 customers, and $300 million in ARR through successful pivoting and verticalization to financial services.

What you will learn:

  1. The power of pivoting and verticalization and how to do it successfully
  2. The value of vacation, rest, and relaxation
  3. The importance of analyzing and sharing team successes


(3:00) Ed’s reflection on founding Seismic and taking a long break after 11 years

(9:30) The value of sales enablement

(13:00) How to pivot and verticalize successfully: Case study of Seismic

(32:20) The benefits of being a specialist and an expert

(35:50) Why you need to analyze and share team successes

(48:42) Discussion on consistent communication, being open and authentic

(49:42) Strategies for growing a company and harnessing customer stories

(52:20) A strategy founders and revenue leaders should implement to move the needle

(55:30) One common misbelief held by revenue leaders 

(57:03) The challenges of being a revenue leader: How to identify and address core issues


“If you do something you love, it doesn’t feel like work during the day.”

“It’s hard to do that as an entrepreneur, to recognize that you do need a break, and that you’re not as completely committed as you need to be to run a high-growth company.”

“The power of verticalization is really amazing because if you sell to a financial firm in the morning and an insurance company in the afternoon and a tech company tomorrow, you don’t live and breathe the value prop, especially in a specialized industry like that.”

“I’ve been a part of companies over my career where everyone’s like, we’re gonna verticalize and everybody goes to verticalize. It takes effort and money and time to specialize. The first quarter you miss, everybody says, ‘Clearly the vertical thing’s not working. Let’s go back to being generalists.’ I feel like it’s more of a knee-jerk reaction versus a long term play.”

“When you’re verticalized, you can focus on one buyer persona, one type of customer and, you can drill it into the team’s heads with training and repetition and cycles, and it’s easier to grasp.”

“If you’re a specialist and an expert, you’re going to win more than you lose.”

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Before helping found GTMfund, Scott spent 4 years at Outreach as Director of Strategic Engagement. He was in charge of aligning key relationships with VCs, BoDs, ecosystem partners and community members to drive revenue and strategic initiatives across Outreach. Scott initially ran revenue/partnerships for Sales Hacker (which was acquired by Outreach in 2018). Prior to Sales Hacker, he led and built outbound Business Development teams at Payfirma and MediaValet. Scott also advises for a number of high growth start-ups and is the host/author of The GTM Podcast and The GTM Newsletter. At GTMfund, Scott leads all fundraising efforts and runs the media arm of the firm. He’s also responsible for assessing investments, team management, LP/community relationships and GTM support for founders.

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