"At Finch, we view demos that showcase our APIs as an extension of our core product suite. It’s that important. Coast allows us to reliably demonstrate our APIs to customers in the best light possible day after day. Coast is critical infrastructure in our presales motion."
- Jeremy Zhang, CEO, Co-Founder at Finch
With the bright lights on, there’s zero room for glitches or hitches; demos need to deliver without doubt.
VP of Revenue Erik Demaree and Founding Solutions Engineer Tyler Nix relay the Finch team’s top priority for demos: reliability.
A world-class product deserves a world-class first impression for prospects on sales calls—no localhost errors, expired API keys, redirect issues, or downtime can be tolerated. Once integrated, the product's power and value is clear, but Finch needed a way to communicate that to prospects, without integration time and without fail.
Before Coast, Solutions Engineers would go through an endless pre-demo checklist ahead of customer demos. A combination of Postman, whiteboarding, documentation, Finch Connect and dashboards in a sea of moving pieces that all needed to work together flawlessly to ensure a successful demo. This was not only inefficient, but it was also unreliable and unscalable.
The Finch team came to Coast determined to operate differently: a zero-failure, personalized way to communicate its embedded product offering.
Finch struggles early in the sales cycle with how to effectively present a complete API platform to customers.
Retrieving, cleaning, and maintaining employment data is a daunting task.
It’s disparate across multiple sources, frequently restricted, and cumbersome to process at scale. Finch simplifies this complexity with a unified API that retrieves and standardizes data from multiple sources across HR, payroll, and benefits into a single entry point for ease of customer use.
In February 2023, Finch raised a $40M Series B co-led by General Catalyst and Menlo Ventures. At the time, the team reported that revenue had grown 12x in less than a year. Figuring out how to effectively showcase this robust infrastructure to prospective Finch customers became a crucial part to closing new business.
"We were originally struggling with the translation between our product and being able to have a productive conversation with both technical and business stakeholders in the room. The technical attendees might grasp the product, but then we struggled with the business stakeholders. There were a few upmarket customers where this was a serious problem," Demaree said.
It's the age-old API sales problem: how do you demo something that requires an integration…before it's even integrated?
"I think every API product experiences this same problem - you can either demo a dashboard or a front-end UI. There's no real way to actually demo the API product because inevitably you're going to be connecting into whatever application that your customer is selling. We began to demo Finch Connect, and while this resonated with prospects, there was still a gap to fully understanding the value of our product. We didn't have anything visually to show a customer the data retrieval process after connecting."
During live customer calls, the team shuffled between multiple applications and tools in the attempt to expose various pieces of the platform for different audiences.
"Finch Connect is the tip of the iceberg. It's what is above the water. It’s visible, but is only a microscopic portion of the Finch integration. The rest of the iceberg—the larger mass, the actual integration—is below the water that the customer doesn't see. It was extremely difficult to show this critical part of the platform," Nix said.
To combat this, Nix and the solutions engineers would screenshare Postman to make a few API requests for the technical audience, and then switch over to a whiteboard to talk through how the data would funnel into the customer’s application, all while juggling a voice-over for anything unable to be visually demoed (data mapping, order of webhooks received, etc).
With so many different applications used in customer sessions, reliability was a real risk. To make matters worse, the possible permutations created by the Finch API began to grow: 401K, retirement, insurance, financial planning/analysis, and a myriad of other use cases are all supported by the Finch platform. New verticals often demanded a different use case that could look completely unique for each customer.
"We did occasionally attempt to build ad hoc demo environments with a dummy product, but it just took forever and we couldn’t actually show what was happening behind the scenes," said Demaree.
Soon after, Finch found its answer.
Finch partners with Coast to completely revamp how it showcases its powerful API product to the market.
As Finch began its search for a solution, there were several non-negotiables.
As Demaree put it, "we were searching for an efficient way to highlight our product value in a repeatable way. We also needed more customization and something that vastly improved the time required to create a demo."
The team was adamant about finding a solution that could effectively address both technical and business stakeholder requirements in a single demo. Those delicate first customer touchpoints are so instrumental to the potential success and speed of a new customer, underscoring the need for a dynamic solution.
Above all else, the team wanted certainty and peace of mind. Customer demos can be high-stakes, stressful, time consuming, and frustrating when things don’t go just right. In order to resolve this uncertainty, Finch needed a platform that would work as expected 110% percent of the time.
Finch found these (and more) with Coast.
"In less than 30 seconds, I can go to Coast, create a demo, and have something to show the customer…all completely personalized and customized. I can always fall back on it. The reassurance that I can build a complete demo in 30 seconds or less is so helpful from a mentality standpoint. I just don’t have to think about demos at all anymore."
Finch creates a Coast demo for 100% of first customer conversations and experiences rapid improvement in customer engagement, platform understanding, and forward movement in the sales cycle.
Before Coast, customers weren’t able to truly experience the full Finch platform. Arguably the most important pieces of the Finch platform were unintentionally hidden from customers.
"Customers now understand the product better," Nix commented. "Unlike before, when we had to jump back and forth between Postman and other applications, Coast now allows our customers to easily digest the platform details in bits and in a more organized sequence. There's now a story to the platform."
No more context switching, 30 minute pre-demo checklist, and whiteboard needed. "Coast allows us to visualize our complete API platform, end-to-end. It shows both technical and non-technical aspects, so I don't have to flip around in screens and manage multiple applications. It’s all combined in a single experience," Demaree said.
Prior to the Coast partnership, messaging externally with Finch customers was often disconnected. Now, Coast enables the team to anchor messaging and content in a uniform, standardized manner. As a result, regardless of the employee tenure, team, working style, or platform use case, Finch customers always receive consistent and reliable API platform overviews.
"Coast has streamlined the way that we show the platform. Where previously we could have two different SEs talking about the product in completely different ways, Coast has refined the way that we speak about Finch to our customers," Nix explained.
As it rapidly scales, Finch has also brought new Solutions Engineers to the team and uses Coast to help ramp employees to have customer facing interactions faster than ever before.
"Coast allows new SEs to start taking customer calls earlier. We would have definitely spent more time training these new employees without Coast.", says Nix.
With Coast, Finch demos are now an invaluable tool to capture excitement, create urgency, and develop intrigue, reliably moving customers to that next sales stage.
"Coast gives us that ability to not just generate customer engagement, but also move customers to the next sales stages more effectively and quicker than ever before," Demaree shared.
Nix commented tongue-in-cheek about how Coast has also made his team seem mysteriously heroic within the organization. "We might get an internal request from a stakeholder saying, ‘Hey I know it’s last minute, but I have a customer demo in a few minutes. Do you think you can create one of those cool API demos of the platform?'"
In the background, Nix highlighted, "it takes less than 30 seconds to create a demo. Then you just look like a rock star because you made this completely custom and personalized demo… and right on time for the customer call."
The team’s unwavering trust in Coast’s reliability is evidenced by the mere amount of demos created for customers.
"We make Coast demos for 100% of calls. We will always have a Coast demo ready and it is always pulled up in a browser tab ready to go. Always," Nix proudly remarked.
"Coast hasn't failed us once during a demo. You just can't have a demo fail. Coast's 100% uptime with us has been huge."