Enabling sales to be your secret weapon
EMEA Sales Director, Intercom
About the speaker
Stan started his sales career in 2003 in B2B companies such as Hewlett-Packard before joining disrupters such as Facebook and Twitter in 2008 as one of their first European Sales Leaders. Since, Stan built multiple sales teams from the ground up. He launched his own company (Pulp) in 2014 and joined Intercom 18 months ago as their EMEA Sales Leader in Dublin.
Conference: SaaStock 2018
Stan Massueras presentation on sales strategy unveil the mistakes committed repeatedly by startups in their sales process. We believe this article will reveal many surprising lessons about successful sales strategy. The experiences that broke the pattern of what we’re used to hearing and continuing to do in sales, in his own words.
Starting this article with a dramatic number. We all know 50% of the startup will never ever raised a first round. And in fact, 90% of a start-up will die within the first three years. There may be multiple factors say you don't have the right co-founder, you don't have the right investor, a product launched too early or too late. But there is one mistake that keeps happening to a lot in the service industry at this mistake could be avoided very simply.
In 2014, I created my company, we still a friend of mine. We're a small team of five people the company called pop even if I was a sales and marketing guy. I became obsessed with the quality of our product, and I was spending all my time focusing on our roadmap talking about design trends with our developers and so on instead of merely focusing on what our key differentiator.
When investors or even my wife or my friends were asking me how are you going to beat all your competitors? I was always saying well in the next sprint, we're releasing all these cool new features.
But the reality is the product will not sell on its own after a point it requires a sales push.
Freemium to paying customers
While we still focus on the inception of the product, some greatest size business in the industry like Salesforce and Dropbox and Slack start to concentrate on sales even at the beta stage. Slack is the best example in the service industry, the company focuses on motivation when they were still on beta. They focus on pushing the numbers from freemium to paying customer. Slack is the first company in SaaS history to go from zero to $100M in 24 months.
The best example quoted is the company called project Nation, which was sold at a ridiculous prize. It is a management software with a lot of cool features like a chat with the teammate, calendaring module, also with the invoicing module where you could send, you know, your invoice to your customers and so on with such things that project nation was sold for only $4,000. This was all one year after launching which is really a sad thing to see but if you think about other software as a task management solution was also acquired for a much bigger prize. Trello, if you look at the two products are quite a similar one of them sold for $4,000 was Trello was acquired by Atlassian for $425 M and the only reason is because when Project Nation was building a ton of new feature which nobody was using and Trello invested time in converting the freemium users to pay users.
- Focus on customer acquisition as earlier on beta stage rather than wasting time, money and energy on product development.
- Focus and motivate the freemium user into paying customers.
- Your revenue is going to be the oxygen that will keep your company life
- If you really want to differentiate yourself from your competitors, you need to start thinking not only about having great marketing but having a kick-ass sales team
Your software is the commodity
In the SaaS industry, competition is more because we are a community. If you really want to remain relevant in the industry, you not only need a good product but good marketing and kick-ass sales team. Almost everybody has a blog or a podcast. So you also need to start thinking differently. The one part that most startup businesses are neglecting today is having a clear sales strategy from day one in order to focus on monetization and show not only to your audience or investor, but with the entire planet that you are a trustworthy company as I need to bet for your company, who would be investing for your software.
Five simple steps to remain relevant in the Industry
- Build software that solves the problem
- It should be simple to implement
- Need branding that conveys trust and credibility
- Need to be creative and personalized in sales
- Have a system that is faster and smarter than your competitor
Why do you need to focus on speed?
It is important to focus on speed as most of your competitors use the same sales workflow when someone would go on your website, then they will have to fill in a form all the way down to have the first interaction with the Sales rep or you BDR. This is a slide from our friends at the are Co Land Based on the analyzes the things that between when someone engages with you on your website, and by the time you set up the first call, it usually takes seven to nine days.
The above sales process takes a longer time to set up the first call. So, Stan and the team completely killed that process about two years ago to focus on something called "Real-Time sales."
Real-Time Sales - The Intercom Sales Weapon
Our first response time is going to be two minutes, and the reason why you want to go faster is that if we are the first ones to engage with the company, very likely the chance of winning the deal. About six months ago, we created a new sales motion, the goal is to mix speed and personalization at scale. So the way we do it will be combining automation with personalization.
First, on the personalization side, we are not reinventing the wheel. So we are trying to mirror the great experience that you might be having when you go to an Apple store to a Gap store, where you'll always have someone greeting you at the door with a smile and say,
"Hey! Welcome to our store, yeah, if you need to buy a new pair of headphones, you know, this is where you'll be able to find it. If you need if you have a more technical question, you can see that the Genius Bar someone will show you how to use Adobe Photoshop on MacBook Air ".
So we merely try to bring all this experience and bring it back to the online work when someone decided to sign up with us, and on top of that we mix automation, and we try to blend the two of them.
Every single dot on this map is a cluster of conversation. So every single month, we've got thousands and thousands of communication with the prospect and existing customer and as you can see the blue the yellow and the purple circle across have a same repetitive question say, "what's your pricing? Can I book a demo?"
Welcome Website visitors
Here's the way how our account executive, Kate will start the conversation with you in the Chatbox and guide you and also capture your email address and write to the right audience. If you want to book a demo, all set for you in 15 minutes. This approach keeps you in control and gives you access to information upfront at the right time and in the proper context. This proved to solve a ton of problem for us at Intercom, and we are improving massively on productivity by just using this type of automation on specific landing pages.
Now, let's say this prospect started to sign up here within our product again, we'll continue the conversation. "Thank you for signing up." Here's the guide where you can find all the information you need and would be useful for you to see the value from Intercom. We'll start to chat with her "if you have any question," but again, everything is automated in the back end so that we know it's no real human interaction to trigger that message.
After signing free trial now this prospect becomes a paying customer. Again, similar to when you buy a product in the Apple store where someone is telling you friendly, "thank you." We will do the same, begin with the trigger; this personalized video where Megan will thank you and she will tell you why to thank you for your trust. "Thank you" for becoming a customer of the Intercom. And again, if you have any question, I'll be your point of contact again. We're showing to our customer who's going to be in charge of that account, and we've got this "human to human connection."
The customer journey is not yet finished. At Intercom, we believe that closing the deal is not something the end of the experience that we want to deliver to our customer and you should always be thinking of how you can really improve the retention of your customer here. For example, this is Camilla, interacting with a customer a few weeks after activation. She will look at how the customer is adopting the product. If he is not using some feature which can be of value, then she's going to send this message saying "hey, let me tell you how successful customer, we use intercom using this specific product C value" and show them how to do it in the video. Also, she's going to show them how it's going to look like on their website and again try to "drive adoption of different product" from all different features of your product.
What about Outbound?
If your business relies purely on outbound then the way, we think about bringing this personalization with automation and try to blend the two at scale. Firstly, try to avoid that.
"We're not going after the customers that we want, but we work out the prospect who is a good fit for us."
Before we go after this type of prospect, make sure that we're capturing all the low-hanging fruit and the way we do it.
Every single month we do this exercise called "customer segmentation" where I will look at all my most loyal customer the ones we had the highest growth in the past six months and what do they all have in common, and we go really deep in terms of understanding who they really are and why are they using Intercom? Then we'll surgically go after them. So, we don't blast thousand and thousand of them instead we'll handpick 15 to 20per week and go deep with them.
Benefits of video content
The benefits of mixing videos with automation are, as human beings, 65% of us are visual learners. Also, our brain processes visual content 60 times easier to absorb information. If it's done visually and graphically versus doing it in plain text, with our experiments, we see an increase by 52% of our engagement rate on every single type of communication from email or in up messages and 31% of our time is reduced in closing the deals. This trend helped in massive productivity for us, and so we continue to double down on this. It not only worked for us, but this movement is starting to steam up.
"Your goal of first interaction is not to get a reply. You need to increase the heart rate of prospect"- Richard Harris.
"With real-time sales, the length of the sales cycle is reduced by 24% in only 3 months"- Nicholas Marchais, head of sales at Spendesk.
"Personalised video outreach improved by 58%"- Anthony Tobelaim, Head of partnerships at Aircall.
So, let us manage the repetitive task with automation. As said early You need to be smart. You need to automate all the repetitive tasks to make sure your sales team will focus on things that only humans can do. Implement real-time sales strategy with your sales team.