Sales is great because it’s so black and white as to what is, and isn’t, working. To complement an inside sales teams’ efforts, there are a number of solid tools for web-based sales and marketing, like Salesforce.com and Pardot, but there’s an area that has been underserved: web-based tools to improve outbound call volume. Over the past two years several tools have emerged to help make sales reps more effective via higher call volume.
Here are three tools to help improve call volume of inside sales reps:
Of course, there’s more to sales than call volume, but activity is directly correlated with results.
What else? What are some other tools for improving call volume of inside sales teams?
After a product’s reached a modest level of traction, there’s an entrepreneurial tendency to start thinking of the next product to build — don’t do it. Too often I see startups with multiple products where the first one was a winner and the next two haven’t gone anywhere. Now, one web app segmented by functionality for different buyers is great and is not the same as separate code bases for truly independent applications.
Here are a few thought on multiple products within a startup:
- Startups are inherently resource strapped, such that spreading people thinner reduces the effort on everything
- Complexity grows exponentially as there’s more than expected overhead constantly figuring out how time will be allocated
- When talented people are transferred from the cash cow product to the new product, they get pulled back to the main product as soon as things aren’t going well or a serious challenge is encountered
- Sales and marketing systems, sites, etc become much more difficult to manage and execute well with multiple products
There are always exceptions to the rule, but entrepreneurs should avoid doing several independent products in a web startup.
What else? What are some thoughts on the challenges with having multiple products?
There are so many good web tools that it becomes hard to keep up with the latest and greatest. Recently, two entrepreneurs introduced me to several new tools as well as combining existing tools for greater productivity.
- ClearSlide – Upload your sales presentations and track interactions
- Schedule Once – Self-service scheduling software that integrates with Google Calendar (in an email or landing page combine both a ClearSlide presentation link and a ScheduleOnce link to sign up for a product demo — self-service is great service)
- PadiAct – Prompt site visitors to sign up for your newsletter or receive marketing collateral by email only after a certain level of engagement
- Perfect Audience – Advertise on Facebook only to people that have been to your site
- Hello Bar – A/B test call to actions across the top of your site
What else? What are some other web tools that you like but aren’t mainstream yet?
A couple days ago I came across a post on Hacker News linking to The Angel VC: A KPI Dashboard for Early-Stage Startups. In the article, the author lays out a number of metrics and shares a quality Early-Stage KPI Dashboard Google Spreadsheet with everything in it.
Visitors & Signups
- Signups beginning of the month
- New signups
- Total new signups
- Visitor-to-signup conversion rate
- Signups end of month
- Customers beginning of the month
- New customers
- Conversion rate
- Lost customers
- Churn rate
- Net new customers
- Customers end of month
Monthly Recurring Revenue
- MRR beginning of the month
- New MRR
- New MRR from new customers
- New MRR from account expansions
- Total new MRR
- Lost MRR
- MRR churn rate
- New new MRR
- MRR end of month
- Avg. revenue per customer
- Avg. revenue per new customer
Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC)
- Marketing spendings
- Marketing spendings per signup (blended)
- Marketing spendings per paid signup
- Sales spendings
- Sales spendings per new paying customer
- Total CAC (blended)
- Total CAC (paid signups)
- Time-to-recover CAC for paid signups (months)
- CLTV (e)
- CLTV/CAC (paid signups)
- Cash beginning of month
- Cash coming in
- Cash going out
- Net cash burn
- Cash end of month
- Runway at current burn (months)
This is a valuable list of solid KPIs and startups would do well to track them monthly. Download the spreadsheet and start tracking them today.
What else? What are some other SaaS KPIs that are great to track?
Several years ago I was at a Jim Ryerson salesOctane sales training session as part of an Entrepreneurs’ Organization workshop. After covering a good bit of material we were in a section of the program on sales questions and prospect conversations. There, I learned one of the best sales questions ever that still sticks with me today:
It’s so simple, right? Salespeople have two ears and one mouth for a reason — listening should be done twice as much as talking. When asking questions, it’s best to ask open-ended questions as opposed to yes/no questions. One of the simplest and best ways to get a prospect to continue talking is to say “how so?”
Tomorrow, when talking to a friend or family member, try using the “how so” question and see how well it works to get them to continue talking and sharing information with you.
What else? What are some of your favorite sales questions?
I enjoy reading S-1 IPO filings. They’re just about the nerdiest, and most honest, documents you’ll find that spill all the darkest secrets of a company (salaries, equity ownership positions, valuations at each financing round, etc). So, when I read that Marketo’s S-1 filing is finally public, I jumped right in. Marketo’s the arch-enemy of Pardot, so over the years we’d debate things like how many customers do they really have (vs claimed to have), how much were they valued at each time they raised money, etc. Well, now we know.
Here are some notes from the Market S-1 IPO filing:
- Over 2,000 customers (pg. 1)
- In 2011, one client paid over $324k that year – (pg. 1)
- Revenues (pg. 1):
2010 – $14mm
2011 – $32.4mm
2012 – $58.4mm
- Losses (pg. 1):
2010 – $11.8mm
2011 – $22.6mm
2012 – $34.4mm
- Key benefits (pg. 3):
- Drives faster revenue growth
- Enables organizations to better build and retain long-term customer relationships
- Streamlines the marketer’s world
- Increases efficiency and speed of marketing execution
- Provides deep analytical insight
- Accumulated deficit of $82.2mm (pg. 10)
- 79% of customers integrate with Salesforce.com (pg. 11)
- 12.8% of revenue comes from outside the U.S. (pg. 17)
- They define the SMB market as companies under 1,500 employees, with 80% of their customers in the SMB market (pg. 48)
- Raised $107.1mm in financings (pg. 49)
- Crowd Factory acquisition was for $13mm (pg. 72)
- Five employees sold $2.5mm of their equity to a preferred shareholder in March 2012 (pg. 72)
- Employees (pg. 96):
Research and development: 84
Sales and marketing: 124
Operations, customer support, and professional services: 98
General and administrative: 30
- Equity ownership (pg. 128):
Venture capitalists: 85.5%
Other co-founders: Not listed
Overall, the Marketo S-1 IPO filing is as expected and follows the Silicon Valley SaaS playbook: find a market with huge growth opportunities, burn a ton of cash to be a market leader, go public, and likely get rolled up by one of the behemoths technology companies.
The marketing automation market is enormous and Marketo is in a great position to capitalize on it.
What else? What are some other thoughts on the Marketo S-1 IPO filing?
Continuing with yesterday’s post, Will the Next Major CRM Provider Please Stand Up, there are a number of trends on the horizon that will have a major impact on CRM. CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, is such a large market that a number of trends, like social media, have already started changing the product landscape. I’d like to talk about three specific trends.
Here are three trends in CRM that are on the horizon and will have a serious impact:
- Decline in Sales People — just like travel agents, as markets mature and web technologies get better, more and more products and services will be bought in a self-service manner online, reducing the number of sales people (sales people will never go away but technology is going to replace a number of them)
- Industry Specific CRMs — one size doesn’t fit all and as more people are exposed to modern, web-based CRMs, the opportunity also grows for a more specialized system that takes into account nuances relevant to that vertical and market (generic systems are already customized to be industry specific, but they aren’t as elegant as a custom built system that achieves a critical mass of customers)
- Ease of Integrating Cloud Apps — AppExchange, and the number of third-party apps that integrate into Salesforce.com, is often cited as one of the main reasons Salesforce.com is such a dominant force in the industry, only now there are a number of robust third-party APIs and cloud middleware applications that make it easier than ever to integrate apps, slowly removing one of the biggest barriers to adoption
CRM serves as the core of many B2B businesses. Over the next 3 – 5 years, we’re going to see many changes and industry trends play out in the market.
What else? What are some other trends on the horizon that will affect the CRM market?
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has been around for decades. Over the past 10 years, Salesforce.com has risen to prominence as both the largest Software as a Service (SaaS) company in the world and the largest CRM company in the world. Salesforce.com has an incredibly powerful product that is now geared towards the enterprise and over time has moved away from the small and even low mid market segments. Also, at a price point of $65 – $125/user/month (retail), the pricing is more inline with what larger organizations can afford to spend. The product is the most robust and most well integrated with other applications.
Market wise, there exists an opportunity for a lighter weight, more end-user friendly CRM that’s in the $5 – $15/user/month for the small to mid-sized business segment of the market. It doesn’t need to be as comprehensive as Salesforce.com, but it does need to be fairly customizable, and just as important, integrate with a large number of third-party apps (one of the most challenging things). SugarCRM, NetSuite, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM have strong products, but all target the enterprise with products that are north of $30/user/month.
Here are some of the current contenders in the SMB market:
So, the SMB market is clearly healthy with a number of competitors, but talking to other entrepreneurs, no system dominates. I believe over the next 2-3 years another CRM player will emerge as the leading SMB provider, and it’s only a matter of time before the winner becomes apparent.
What else? Do you use any of these products and who do you think will be the next major CRM player?
Last week I ran an experiment where I published seven blog posts that had seven ideas each on a specific topic. The goal of the exercise was to see if that style of post, with a specific number of items, was more successful in terms of visitors and retweets.
Here are the seven posts:
Now, I don’t know how the above content compares to the standard content, but the stats are dramatically different: the 7 ideas for X blog posts received an average of 25% more visitors and 3x the number of retweets. People like numerated lists and it drives more traffic.
What else? What are your thoughts on using lists as a theme for content marketing?
I love sales, I really do. Unfortunately, it took me many years to fully appreciate it. You see, I’m a product guy — I love the nuts and bolts of the application. Naturally, I thought that if I helped build a great product the world would beat a path to our door. It didn’t happen. What did happen is that after struggling for 3+ years, I realized I needed to become a sales person myself and learn how to build a customer acquisition machine.
After managing sales people for almost 10 years now, and helping build a sales team from scratch to 28 people, I’ve found seven simple sales metrics to track:
- Calls logged — Some sales people love picking up the phone and dialing. Most don’t. Calls logged is the simplest of metrics that reflects activity.
- Conversations logged — What good is making calls if no one answers the phone? Conversations are more important than calls logged and are a combination of effort and skill.
- Demos scheduled — With a conversation underway, the goal is to get a web demo on the calendar, build rapport, and more fully understand their problems before proposing a solution.
- Demos completed — Not everyone shows up to scheduled demos. It’s just as important to track demos completed as it is demos scheduled.
- Proposals sent — Once the budget, authority, need, and timeline (BANT) has been established, it’s time to send a proposal. Without BANT, more nurturing is needed.
- Deals lost — No one wins them all. Tracking lost deals, and reasons why the deal was lost, is critical, and sales people rarely do it.
- Deals won — Victory favors those who are prepared. Nothing is more satisfying to a sales person than a new customer win.
Sales people hate tracking their activity in a CRM. What gets measured gets done and sales is no different — zealously track sales metrics and hold the team accountable.
What else? What are some other sales metrics to track?