Conga CEO Goggin outlines strategy for reshaping company

Conga has made a series of major strategic initiatives since their merger with Apptus, with the idea of making the two companies work better together, improving the culture and increasing customer revenue opportunities.

Noel Goggin, Conga’s CEO

It has been an eventful last few years for Conga. The company has reshaped both their Go-to-Market strategy and their strategic focus to give better alignment and greater customer support, and the initial results have been good.

Noel Goggin was appointed Conga’s CEO in September 2020, and his appointment was a direct followup to the earlier acquisition of Apptus by Thoma Bravo in 2018.

“Apttus had bought in Frank Holland, a leader from Microsoft Dynamics, as their CEO,” Goggin said. “Then Covid happened and they merged with Conga. The two were quite different companies, however. Conga was more commercial, while Apptus was more enterprise. Essentially, Conga was a cleaner version of Apptus. Thoma Bravo wanted a more senior person who had gone through integrations to run them.”

Goggin was brough in to perform a straightforward task — bring the two companies together and make them work, through more effective leveraging of the assets and the customers.

“We launched Revenue LifeCycle Management [RLM] in 2022, and we defined it as a new category, around a lifecyle,” Goggin said. “It covered all elements to sell,contract, deliver and renew revenues, from big ERP companies to the CRM world. There was a real need to translate customer activity into revenue, and the roots of RLM are quote to cash. We have taken the basic bone structure of that, although it will obviously continue to evolve. What has been good for us is that Salesforce has repositioned their Revenue Cloud on RLM.”

Goggin said that a new logical sequence was established when he joined the company.

“We established our talent, getting people aligned and rolling in the same direction,” he stated. “That was the first step. Then we had work to do with our customers to establish  change and overcome a lack of clarity. The third step was understanding what customers were using us for today. That helped us understand how to bring two sets of products together to have compelling portfolio. Grant [Peterson, Chief Product Officer], and I sketched this out and resketched it.”

The idea was to prepare the industry for the future.

“The industry needs optionality,” Goggin indicated. “We had gone to work in a hybrid world and we now give optionality in a space that’s very relevant. Revenue needs to have more prominence in the discussion. Salesforce’s 360 degree review of the customer is not adequate on its own, and the CFO will play a more prominent in this as the forecaster of revenue.”

Reshaping of culture is also a key part of this, which is why Culture Leader is part of Goggin’s title.

“Back in the 1990s, I read a lot and was a big fan of Built to Last by Jim Collins,” he said. “I used it as a model for my first startup, which was not successful. Then I learned about teaming, and that saved my next company. Without it, we would have been done. I learned that the tone has to be set from the top down, and that become the model for the  Conga Way. When we evaluate, we look at how you do your job, and of equal importance, how well you align with the Conga Way. That involves embracing commitment to customer success, achieving together, with a focus on teamwork where humility is critical, and where we are very big on servant leadership. We also assess how you champion the customer, and we tie compensation to customer success which we measure by NPS.”

Goggin noted that this was his third Connect, and that during this process from the first to the third, they have been transformed.

“We had a very ambitious goal last year, and a lot of people thought that we couldn’t do it,” he said. “Now that we have done it, I’m incredibly proud. 80% of the sessions at the conference this year were led by customers, and that is a testament to where we are at.”

Goggin stressed that last year they made a commitment to put their customers on the path to their platform, and that as a result, 83% of customers use the platform today.

The core to enabling RLM is the Conga platform, an open platform that is agnostic,” he said. “We went API first, and also added Web UIs to build more ecosystems into third parties to create faster and get into production quicker.  We have delivered on all platform commitments, including full functional parity of all the products on the platform. We are also  cloud agnostic, and we are now running on Azure as well as AWS. Finally, we drink our own champagne, and we now run our entire business on Conga. A lot of people doubted that we could pull this off.”

Goggin also emphasized that the broad strategic objectives will continue.

“Over the last two years, we have focused on unlocking a revenue advantage to allow our customer to grow, protect and expand their sales motion,” he said. “We remain committed to customer success, both in terms of better quality and customer service. We are also focused on innovating on our solutions and on providing a company that customers can work with.”