Of all of the career experiences that Robert Goldenberg has acquired on his way to the CFO office, you would think that his stint with a bankrupt landscaping company would not be apt to make his list of all-time opportunity door-openers.
Still, when we asked Goldenberg to look back to share the experiences that first propelled him into the C-suite, the landscaping business was what came to his mind.
To wit: It was back in 2015, when software developer 6sense was interviewing to hire its first full-time CFO, that Goldenberg—a career investment banker—nabbed an interview spot with the firm’s part-time finance leader.Read More
“He told me that my investment banking background was great, but that 6sense needed someone who could start at Ground Zero and had more tactical accounting experience,” recalls Goldenberg, who assured the executive that he completely understood—before suggesting that they dedicate the interview’s remaining time to accounting questions.
“He grilled me for 20 minutes and then said, ‘You’re great!—I’m going schedule your next six interviews,’” continues Goldenberg, who was soon hired after having made the rounds with five senior executives and one board member.
When it came to accounting practices, the part-time finance leader no doubt had anticipated that the seasoned banker sitting across the table may have had a blind spot—an addressable affliction, but certainly one that can frequently lengthen the path to the CFO office.
“In this instance, it was an objective fact that I was better than the average investment banker when it came to accounting,” explains Goldenberg, who credits one banking deal more than any other with sharpening his accounting knowledge—which brings us back to the bankrupt landscaping company that he had been tasked with selling whose books had been susceptible to recurring chaos.
“In my experience, very small landscaping companies in bankruptcy are not known to have solid internal accounting functions,” observes Goldenberg, who adds that for a span of 3 months he had made the company’s dated accounting systems the center of his world. In fact, Goldenberg himself would make journal entries and seek solutions to reconcile old accounts.
Consequently, his deep dive into the company’s books provided him with a base of accounting knowledge that he has continued to retain and build on to this day.
“When you get exposure to something and it’s critical that you learn it with some measure of competency,” Goldenberg reports, “I find that the resulting learning compounds over time—even when it’s not related to your day-to-day job.” –Jack Sweeney
“The job of a CFO is not to always say ‘”no” but instead to figure out when and how to say ‘yes’—and to be able to say ‘yes’ with confidence, you need to have a detailed understanding of the operations, pain points, and opportunities across the org.” –Robert Goldenberg, CFO, 6sense
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CFOTL: Tell us about 6sense … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Goldenberg: From a financial perspective, 6sense is a growth equity–backed enterprise software company with a recurring revenue business model. This one sentence encompasses everything that I knew about 6sense before I joined it. I could understand the recurring revenue business model, I knew what enterprise software was, and I could comprehend that it was a venture-backed enterprise software company.
About 2 years before I joined—or 31 employees earlier, depending on how you want to measure it—6sense was founded to solve what I still think is the most important question for business-to-business, or B2B, sales and marketing teams—and really any business that sells to any other business—which is, Who should be your next sales target?Read More
This seems like a very simple question, but, for example, if you think about a company that sells, say, construction equipment to other companies, there are a lot of companies out there that might be looking for a vendor to sell a crane to them. However, guess what? They’re not looking every day for a crane to buy. And not every company that maybe looks like it could buy a crane wants to buy a crane—maybe it’s looking to rent one instead. What we do at our core—regardless of industry—is to help our customers to find their next buyer.
This was the initial challenge that we solved, and our products have expanded dramatically since then. Everything that we’ve done has been aligned around the idea of finding the right company to sell to—finding the right company at the right time—and then helping the seller to take all of the best next steps to actually initiate a sales conversation, move it along, and then close the deal.
What does this mean, tactically? We will tell our customers whom to contact and how to reach them. We’ll even tell them what to say. If the contact method happens to be an email, we’ll even write it for them. This is part of the generative AI that’s become a craze recently. We’ve been selling a generative AI product for over a year and a half now, so generative AI is not actually new—it’s just new in terms of how the world views it. But the power is there now, not just to provide insight into who’s going to buy but also to aid in the execution of the sale.
6sense | www.6sense.com | San Francisco, CA