#105 - What it takes to accelerate sales in today’s B2B market

An interview with James Isilay, CEO of Cognism

Product InnovationThis podcast interview focuses on the big idea behind Cognism, a sales acceleration platform, and the lessons tech-entrepreneur James Isilay learned on his journey of delivering remarkable impact with his business.

James Isilay is the co-founder and CEO of Cognism, one of the fastest-growing SaaS companies in the UK. Last year, Cognism grew from $2.5M to $7M in ARR and was voted by LinkedIn as one of the UK’s Top 25 Startups. He’s an inspirational and enterprising businessman, who approaches work with unrivalled technical and organisational skills, perseverance, precision and total dedication.

Before founding Cognism, James was employed as an Algorithmic Trader at Axpo Group and as a Quantitative/Technical Analyst at EGL Trading. James has a Masters in Engineering in Information Systems Engineering from Imperial College London.

He is an expert in lead generation, sales management and alpha discovery using algorithmic technologies, natural language processing and machine learning.

What triggered me to invite James to my podcast is their story to accelerate sales by enriching prospect data with critical event data. We explore what’s broken in B2B sales and the new ways to solve the problem. We explore the lessons learned by James starting and scaling his tech-start-up, and what decisions helped him to realize the impact they’re creating today.

Here are some of his quotes:

The biggest thing that causes failure in a lot of companies is just poor sales process and bad sales process.

Sales is actually your first problem as a CEO that you need to address and get right.

And then, when you got that right, then you’ve got time to get your other bits right. But if you get sales wrong, you don’t really have much of a chance.

People waste a lot of people time pulling leads off LinkedIn, putting them through several tools to build a data set that then is not very highly responsive to outreach. So you waste, you burn time across the whole process.

Whereas, if you can just get that list built correctly and efficiently and then engage that list in an effective sales cadence and get a high response, then you’re saving time across every aspect and you’re getting a better outcome on the actual new business that you’re generating. That’s pretty much the majority of the battle.

During this interview, you will learn three things:

  1. Why it’s important to not only solve a highly valuable problem, but also pay attention to how urgent/critical this is to your ideal customer.
  2. Why, the moment you have success, you need to continuously keep thinking about how you upgrade ‘the system’ – nothing is static
  3. How to go about collecting feedback – and why it’s key to get that from real customers, those who are completely neutral and honest to tell you what works…and what sucks.


Subscribe to the Daily SaaS Reflection

Get my free, 1 min daily reflection on shaping a B2B SaaS business no one can ignore. Subscribe here.

Yes, it’s actually daily. And yes, people actually stay subscribed.

(Just see what peer B2B SaaS CEOs say)

My promise: It’s short. To the point. Inspiring. And valuable.


Listen to my other podcasts on your preferred platform

About the author

Sales Pitch

Ton Dobbe is a former B2B software product marketer who's on a mission to save mission-driven SaaS CEOs from the stress of 'not enough' traction. He's the author of The Remarkable Effect, the host of the Tech-Entrepreneur on a Mission podcast, and writes a daily newsletter on the secrets to mastering predictable traction.