A couple weeks ago, Ryo wrote an article called “Startups Need Role Models Too” – here are the tools we used in this blog post to get some feedback from other startups on how to streamline our sales process to hit a goal of 20MM in annual run rate.
As Tint’s first hire, my main goal was to bring in 100k by the end of 2013. With the tools listed below, I was able to bring in $128,914 by NYE of 2013. Now that we are on pace to hitting 2MM by 2014, my next goal is to streamline our sales team to set our sales vision higher: How to hit 20MM. Now, I am firm believer of the saying “under commit, over deliver” but I also believe in setting high expectations that even if I’m shy of the goal, I’ll still be happy with the results.
For example in November, I committed 50k to Tim (our CEO) but with 37 web-to-lead inquiries given to me, I was able to get 36 leads to show up to an appointment, which helped me close 21 accounts in 30 days. I closed the month with $43,300 and was happy with results. My key performance metrics include a 97% show ratio and 58% closing ratio. This is an average key performance metric for Tim and I, and we are now strategically working to scale it. However before we do, I would like to share the 11 tools for our sales success and hopefully get some feedback to further improve our startup sales process.
Basic Marketing Tools for Lead Generation:
- Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+
- Context, Blogging & Content
- Email Newsletters & Promo Codes
- SEO & Blogs w/ Content Marketing
- Powered by Tint logo for free users
1) Olark is an effective way to talk to your customers for sales and support in real-time on your site.
If the web visitor doesn’t fill out a form, they usually send a quick question with Olark’s chat box. Because we focus so much on customer happiness, our web visitor will instantly get connected to our CEO, Tim Sae Koo. He will immediately answer sales questions or help with support inquiries. You’d be surprised at how many closed customers you can achieve by just answering a few questions when the lead/visitor is most interested with your product. If he isn’t around, the inquiry will go straight to email@example.com which our sales team can immediately answer. 9 times out of 10, Tim and I are able set appointments through Olark. If more than 12 hours pass and we still haven’t responded to an inquiry, then the lead loses interest. Time kills deals and Olark is a great solution to nurture your leads, in real time, and let them know that they are very important.
2) Hubspot is an inbound marketing software platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers.
When a visitor/lead visits www.tintup.com, we use Hubspot to create forms and CTAs that track, score and nurtures leads. Hubspot has tons of features that we weren’t able to use because we only signed up for a 30 day free trial. But for the most part, we used their a/b testing landing pages, CTA, and Signals. Signals is Hubspot’s real-time notifications that tell you when and how to follow up with your leads and customers. The 30 day trial did generate an additional $30k for Tint though! Although, the results are great, we are eager to learn more about other similar softwares like Pardot, Kissmetrics, and Marketo.
3) Mailchimp is an easy and effective way to send better email newsletters to your customers.
Since we never use our blog to advertise ourselves or announce new features (because we believe our readers want to learn more than hear our news), we use Mailchimp to send out our new feature releases, promotions, and our blog posts we write. It’s super easy to import your email lists, set up a template for your email campaign, and time your send outs by bulk or time zone. The email newsletters we send out is a great way to ensure that our customers know we are still working hard for them and communicating with them in mass what we’re up to. We will also segment lists by what plans our customers are so we can send out targeted promotions to them or get them back onto our site to see new developments we’ve released.
Sales Tools – Lead Opportunity Stages:
- Vetting & Qualifying
- Setting the Appointment
- Following Up or Closing Call
- Verbal Agreement
- Closed Won
- Closed Lost
- Do not call list
4) Rapportive is a Gmail plugin to vet who you’re communicating with and if they are a decision maker you need to close.
Ever wonder when a lead comes in if they are just a random person in a company doing research or an actual decision maker? Rapportive is your key to determining who you’re speaking with and the kind of actions you need to take. It’s all super easy to find out as well. After installation, all you need to do is hover over the email address that emailed you and the sidebar of your Gmail will show you the full name, location, title, and social networks from the person you’re speaking with. With that information, you can change your tone/urge to set up a demo to close a deal quicker.
5) Boomerang is a Gmail plugin to manage your email responses and remind you when to answer.
When I open my gmail, I would typically have around 50 unread messages ranging from inquiries to leads belonging in all of the above ‘opportunity stages.’ My inbox can get overwhelming rather quickly and that is why I use multiple tools to nurture leads. It took awhile for me to get used to Boomerang because I’m such a Salesforce advocate but as soon as I applied the tool, I was able to cut down my workload by 2 ½ hours. At my last job, I was conditioned to log all my notes/emails to salesforce and create events, and tasks to remind me who to follow up and which leads need attention – these tedious steps would add 1-2 minutes/lead to my 60-100 lead/day routine.
With Boomerang, I can efficiently work all my stages. Whether it’s to set an appointment, to send a summary & proposal, to follow up with a lead, or to set an automatic reminder… it is easy to set up with only 2-3 clicks all within my Gmail. Imagine what you would have to do if 7 clients all asked to follow up with them after 1 week during different parts of the week…I now have a tool that I can set emails to remind me to answer back in 2 days, or 12pm on Thursday afternoon; no more guessing games and no more leads falling through the cracks.
6) Cirrus Insight helps you keep Salesforce in sync with Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Contacts.
When a lead completes a form on our website or emails us directly, we create an account on Cirrus Insight and convert the lead into an ‘opportunity.’ I use this add-on as much as I use Gmail. It made Salesforce easy to teach and keep up with. I no longer have to copy and paste everything into salesforce; I can simply ‘log a call’ through ‘activities’, set an appointment through ‘event’ and respond to emails using Salesforce templates through the ‘quick send and add’ plugin. I’ve watched Tim receive 50 emails (support & inquiry) and respond to all 50, log complete notes on sfdc and get tons of confirmed appointments before he goes to lunch at noon. The best part about this plugin is its ability to sync your google calendar and Salesforce calendar every 30 minutes.
7) Yesware is an email productivity service for salespeople.
If Boomerang and Cirrus insight had a child, it would be Yesware. I just installed Yesware this month and it has similar features like email management, and SFDC/Gmail synchronization. What I really like about Yesware is being able to send emails at later time. For instance Fridays are the worst follow up days because everyone is getting ready for the weekend. However, I also have a lot of time on Friday and so I’ll write my follow up emails and schedule them to be delivered on Monday at 8:30am, which will help me get seen first thing in the morning. Another feature I like about Yesware is there templates. Once my templates are setup, it takes 2 clicks to load them and send. With Cirrus Insight, I will need to click on the icon, then choose the template folder, then choose a template, then look for a contact, then look for an account and send. Yesware saves me another 2-3 minutes which I can substitute for my tea break :).
8) Salesforce is best known for it’s customer relationship management product.
Salesforce help me keep track of all my leads, where they are in the decision making process, and help me generate reports on performance metrics. Salesforce is important because it will streamline all the information gathered about an account and a lead from beginning to end. If a lead has support issues, or unpaid balances, your marketing, sales, operations and account management teams should be able to get the full story just by looking at the Salesforce notes. If an account manager has to ask for more details from your salesperson about a client, this means notes are incomplete. Incomplete notes will create inefficiencies, miscommunication, wasted time and ultimately, money lost.
Salesforce will also give management valuable insights to the type of employees in your company. It will help you find and gauge the A players from the B players. Most importantly if your data is clean, Salesforce will help you streamline, track retention rates, churns, lifetime value of a client and projections.
My Salesforce calendar is synchronized with Cirrus Insight, which is connected to my Google Calendar. I also have my Gcal set up with text notifications to give me real time reminders on appointments. Salesforce help me nurture my pipeline and it help me forecast my numbers. A lot of the tools I’m suggesting can actually be customized through Salesforce however I found that the more apps you need within salesforce, the more fees are added. Also, my eyes don’t get burnt out looking at the same page all day and I appreciate the emotive variety of each tool.
9) Join.me, GoToMeeting or Skype – VOIP Conference Calls & Screen-sharing
Once I set an appointment, my go to screen sharing app is Join.me because it is easy to send and pretty to look at. My prospect doesn’t need to download a file like Skype or GoToMeeting, which is time consuming. They only need to take 3 steps:
Some client’s prefer GoToMeeting or Skype. I don’t like GoToMeeting because it feels archaic, it’s interface is bulky and sending an invite takes too much time. I don’t like Skype because I have to send an invite or wait for an invite to get connected which is inefficient. While Skype can’t do conference calls for free and half my calls are conference calls. Both these tools require an installation and a signup.
10) Stripe is a company that provides a way for individuals and businesses to accept payments over the Internet.
Once a demo is complete, we expect to close the business within 1-14 days. I can use Stripe to create promo codes and track real time revenue. Not to mention managing (full or partial) refunds, recurring subscriptions, and custom payments. Tint also uses Stripe for self-service signups located on our pricing page: www.tintup.com/pricing. The Plus and Pro signups go through our stripe account. Our self serve page generates about more than half of our revenue every month.
11) Zapier enables you to automate tasks between other online services (services like Salesforce, Basecamp, Gmail, Mailchimp, Olark, Hubspot and Stripe).
I use this tool to synchronize Stripe with Salesforce so our self serve clients are also in our Salesforce database to keep track of all our customers. Zapier has hundreds of other recipes you can create that will make your life easier and save you time from connecting apps together (like send all Gmail emails into Evernote automatically). We always strive for clean data because they tell the best stories. We would love some suggestions or successful tools to help us consolidate and maintain clean data.
Account Management Tools & Circling back to Lead Generation:
- Orientation Call
- Happy Client Program
- Tint Support & Best Practices
- Save Calls, Credit, Collection & Invoicing
- Case Studies, Upsells
- Working with brand advocates
12) Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, Trello tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process.
Trello is our drawing board, our to-do list; the board that keeps us accountable and innovative. Everyday we talk about urgent challenges, tasks we completed, and what we are working on. We are constantly looking for ways to improve, to strengthen our culture and our product. Trello helps us stay true to one of our core philosophy, “Transparency is key.” We are able to see what project each person is in charge of and what they have accomplished. We are able to work together closely and give feedback to improve on our methods, which I find incredibly valuable for a startup company. This is where you can put sales goals on individual cards so your team knows what you are aiming for and can give you feedback on your steps. You can read more here on how we organize our Trello.
13) Intercom is your best friend for account management and talking with customers.
Tint uses intercom for “Churn, Retention and Re-Engaging Customers.” One of our current challenges is to increase our monthly recurring revenue. And to reduce our churn, we want to make sure we talk with our customers so they know we’re here to help and are up to date with new features, blog posts, etc. Intercom makes this SUPER easy by allowing us to communicate with our customers when they are in the Tint app. This is smart because this is when they are focused on our app and willing to chat with us. We are still learning to use Intercom effectively to create strong relationships with visitors and customers alike through automated messaging to scale our touchpoint communications.
We still consider ourselves underdogs in our industry, but I strongly believe that our success is because we have flipped the sales funnel. Ben Chestnut talks about this idea on his blog entitled, “Why I hate funnels.” When I first joined Tint I believed in being scrappy with outbound calls, outbound emails, and disruptive advertising. Today, I believe that our customers are our biggest fans and that encouraging a strong relationship and genuinely caring for them will be our most important lead generation tool. They say that if you take care of your customers, the sales will take care of itself… and we’ve seen it first hand by focusing on great sales tools, optimizing for scalability, and seeing our leads numbers and revenue increase as a result. The tools I’ve listed above help us treat our customers with undivided attention and we will continue to give excellent service to reach that $20MM goal!
Traditional Sales Funnel.
Traditional Sales Funnel Flipped.
If I missed any effective tools you use or if you have some suggestions to improve our sales/account management process please, please let us know in the comments below!
Director of Sales