This is a short write up from the talk, Stan Massueras, EMEA Sales Director at Intercom gave at SaaStock18. 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 then, 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.

Businesses need to find the right balance between smart automation and personalization, in order to cut through the noise and accelerate their growth. Because numbers of companies who make it, are not favourable at all:

90% of startups fail within three years
50% never raise the first round of funding

These are hard statistics to read. They cause a panic. You think, in order not to become one of these statistics, you need to focus on your product. You need to offer the best product on the market.

But really what you should be thinking about is: How are you going to beat your competitors to market?

It won’t be a certain feature or functionality. The truth is that your product probably won’t sell itself.

In this day and age, your sales team is your key differentiator.

Stan introduced the crowd to a dark secret of the world of entrepreneurship: It’s a marketplace for online businesses, where broke companies go to make one last profit. They sell themselves for a couple thousand, or even just a couple hundred, euro.

He outlined the trends in tech companies appearing on
2 years ago: Mobile apps
Recently: Cryptocurency
Now and upcoming: SaaS products. Oh no!

Keep your company off by focusing more on customer acquisition, not product development. Your revenue will keep the product alive, not its functionalities.

SaaS is neglecting sales strategy

Pretty often, Stan goes onto G2Crowd and checks his company’s vertical: Live Chat. Every time he sees the number of Live Chat product offerings growing he gets paranoid.

What he realizes, and what you should, too, is that your software is just a commodity. Commodities are, by nature, replaceable! Your product is not that special.

Many SaaS companies double-down on their marketing efforts to make their product or brand seem more special. Everyone has a blog or a podcast. There’s a lot of marketing noise.

And since everyone is either focusing on product development or marketing, they are neglecting sales. SaaS startups don’t have a clear sales strategy from day one.

Key elements of any sales strategy:

  • Your product solves a problem
  • Your product is simple to implement
  • Your branding that conveys credibility and trust
  • Your sales team that is faster and more creative than competitors
About being fast

Stan said at Intercom, they used to measure first response time. It was two minutes. “If we’re the first ones to engage, we’re likely to win the deal,” he said.

But six months ago, they implemented “Real Time Sales” – an Intercom tool for sales speed and personalization at scale.

With Real Time Sales, they’re trying to mirror the customer experience of the Apple store. You’re greeted at door, asked for assistance, directed towards an expert to chat with, thanked for your purchase. After the interaction, you receive best-in-class follow-up customer support. Intercom aims to recreate that experience.

Inbound sales

Intercom has automated greetings specialized on various landing pages. Visitors can book demos or webinars in real time.

They send personalized videos for a demo, or for thanking a signup. These videos feature real employees. There’s a sense of human-to-human connection, even if no real-time human effort is employed at your company.

Even after the sale, Intercom focuses on engagement. They send a video message (about 45 seconds long), showing how a specific product could impact their website, what it would look like. This has been really powerful to drive adoption of different features.

What about outbound??

There’s an important difference between the customers you want and the prospects who are a good fit. Focus on the latter! Capture the low-hanging fruit first, then move on to more ambitious targets.

Iterate your sales strategy based on customer data

Every month, Stan and his team look at customer segmentation to see the most loyal users and who have the highest growth in the last six months. In other words, they identify who sees the most value with Intercom. And then they ask, “What do they have in common?”

Stan segments their customers by:

  • Alexa score
  • Level of funding
  • Vertical
  • B2B/B2C
  • Number of employees
  • Tech-stack
Do video on the cheap

Even though Intercom is huge and has plenty of cash, they build their video content in scrappy ways. So can you. In fact, the more homemade and authentic it looks, the better engagement you’ll get.

They use a Logitech camera, and their own laptop. They also use the following online tools:

  • Quicktime free
  • Wistia free
  • Vidyard free
  • Livestorm
  • iMovie Free
  • Giphy Free
Results from personalized video in the sales process:
  • 52% increase of communication engagement on every channel, email or in-app messages.
  • 31% Reduced time to close! Massive productivity increase for the rest of the team.
  • Spendesk reduced sales cycle by 24% in 3 months.
  • Aircall: personalized video in email outreach improved response rate by 58%.
Final words from Stan
  • Let automation manage your repetitive sales tasks.
  • Be creative, go deeper with personalization
  • Focus on speed. The best product does not always win.

You can watch Stan’s entire presentation as well as 40 hours of actionable and tactical content we recorded at SaaStock18 by getting our On Demand pack.