VIDEO: Enabling Sales To Be Your Secret Weapon – Stan Massueras (Intercom)

What’s the #1 thing most SaaS businesses are neglecting today? Stan Massueras, Director EMEA Sales at Intercom, says it’s “having a clear sales strategy from day one”. 90% of startups fail in the first 3 years because of it. In this presentation Stan talks about #Automation, Sales Strategy and having a very clear focus on monetization.

In this video you will learn:

  • The number #1 reason why Startups Fail: (The best product does not always win)
  • Why Your product won’t sell on it’s own
  • Why Slack is the best example in the SaaS industry of a company who focused on monetization
  • Why a kick ass sales team will grow your revenue
  • Why Revenue is the one thing that “truly matters” – it’s going to be the oxygen that will keep your company alive
  • Why your Sales team, and your sales strategy, should be your key differentiator
  • How sales automation can improve productivity and solve a tonne of problems
  • Why in Cold Emailing your goal “Is not to get a reply.” Your first “Goal is to increase “the heart rate of your prospect.”
  • And how Intercom used free software, and a very simple video camera to increase their customer engagement rates by 53% – across every single channel, from email to in app messages

Stan says “you need to be smart, you need to automate all the repetitive tasks in order to make sure that your sales team will focus on things that only a human can do” and you need to focus on speed. It’s a great keynote – packed with case studies, and some very good sales tips – take a look below.


* This keynote was presented at SaaStock18 in Dublin. If you would like to join us in Dublin this year for SaaStock19. Grab an early bird ticket at the best possible price to see over a hundred other fabulous speakers.

About Stan Massueras

Stan Massueras is Director, EMEA Sales at Intercom ( 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 as their EMEA Sales Leader in Dublin

Start of Transcript

– Hi, guys, good afternoon. So, today I would like to start this presentation with quite a dramatic number if I can manage to get my slide to work, cool. So, let’s start with this number. So, we all know that most startups, 50% of the startups will never ever raise their first round. And, in fact, we all know that 90% of the startups will die within their first three years.

Why Startups Fail: The best product does not always win

There are multiple factors why a startup won’t make it after three years. Don’t have the right co founder, you don’t have the right investor, you launch your product too early, you launch your product too late. But, there is one mistake that keeps happening to a lot of startups, especially in the SaaS industry. And, this mistake would be avoided very simply. Most startups today, especially in the SaaS industry, think that purely creating the best product is the answer to you beating all your competitors to market. And, I know this problem quite well.

Early Career: Sales at Facebook, Twitter, Xerox & Hewlett Packard

I started my career in 2004. I was working for companies like Xerox or Hewlett Packard. I was running sales team for Facebook and Twitter, but in 2014 I created my company with two friends of mine. We were a small team on five people, a company called Pulp. 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 road map, talking about design trends with our developers and so on instead of simply focusing on what our key differentiator with all our competitors in order to beat them. And, when investors or even my wife or my friends were asking me, “How are you going to beat all your competitors to market?” My answers were always the same. I was always saying, “Well, for the next screen tool we are using “all these cool new features. “We’ve got a ton of advantages in terms “of the functionalities available on the work product, “compared to our competitors.” And, I was also saying, “Well, you know, we’re so unique. “We’re such a special product. “People will be running to use our product “because it’s such a magical experience.”

Your product won’t sell on it’s own

But, the fact is, you know, this doesn’t happen. Your product won’t sell on its own, especially after you reach a specific level. And, if you think about the greatest SaaS businesses, this is something that they started to focus on very early, when they were still focusing on the inception of their product. Think about Salesforce, Dropbox, and Slack.


Slack, for me, is best example in the SaaS industry of company who focused on monetization when they were still on Beta. They only had 1000 Beta testers, and they were still focusing on pushing the number from freemium to paying customers. And these watch, you know, how then to completely crush HipChat in only a few months. And, were the first SaaS company in history to went from zero to 100 million of ARR in 24 months. – a dark little secret of entrepreneurship

So, I don’t know if you guys know a website called is a marketplace where, if you are, notice a startup. And, if you fail after a few months, you can sell your company for a couple of thousand, a couple of hundred euros even sometimes. This is a little bit a dark little secret of entrepreneurship. When some of my friends tell me, “Yeah, we exited. “We had a successful exit.” Always saying, “Yeah, “you probably sold your company on”

Seeing trends in SaaS businesses

But, if you look at the past 24 months. So, is very interesting because you see trends around specific businesses who are gonna fail. Two years ago, it was all about mobile apps. Everybody was creating the apps, and all of them, 99% of them were actually being sold on for hundreds of dollars, thousands of dollars. Recently, it was more like cryptocurrency companies. But, the sad thing is that now this, you know, trend is evolving into also SaaS product.

Example: Project Nation & Trello

I love this example of a company called Project Nation that was sold a few months ago on for a very, you know, ridiculous price. Project Nation was task management software with a lot of cool features where you could chat with your teammate. There was modules, there was also an invoicing module, where you could send, you know, your invoice to your customers, and so on.

The sad thing, that Project Nation was sold for only $4 thousand. Probably months and months or even years of development. Also, this was sold one year after launching, only for this ridiculous price, which is really, you know, a sad thing to see. It’s heartbreaking.

But, if you think about all their software as a task management solution, was also acquired for a much bigger price. Think about Trello. If you look at the two products, they are quite similar. One of them was sold for $4 thousand, while Trello was acquired by Atlassian for $425 million. And, the only reason is because when Project Nation was building a ton of new features that nobody was using, Trello was focusing on acquiring hundred thousands of paying customers. And, at the end of the day, this is the only thing that truly matters because your revenue is going to be the oxygen that will keep your company alive.

Mistakes as a failed entrepreneur

If I look at some of the mistakes that I made also as being a failed entrepreneur, is that I was spending most of my time, all of my energy, and also all of our funding on product development instead of focusing on user acquisition. And, if I think about what was my strategy, my strategy was to have product superiority as a way of, sort of, saying to our investors and also to all my startup friends just watching this, the small, tiny advantage, thinking that having this cool two way Slack integration would be the reason why people would be running to our website in order to start using our product.

Your Sales team is your key differentiator

But, one thing that I wish I had known at the time, that, if you really want to differentiate yourself from your competitors, you need to start thinking not only about having a great marketing, but having a kick ass sales team.
And today, this is what makes the difference between the likes of Slack and ones that will end up on

Sales at Intercom

So, it’s been almost two years that I run sales for the European region at Intercom, and for those who know me, know that I’m quite a paranoid person because one thing that, you know, keeps me awake at night is that every time I go to Capterra or G2Crowd, I will go to Live Chat category, which is our, you know, product category. I will check our rating, but something that will make me super paranoid. That I will see that this number, day after day, is still growing. Right now, you know, Intercom, we’re facing 186 companies. Companies that want to do what Slack did to HipChat, and they want to do the same for us.

Great Product = Product + Marketing + Sales

And so, I know that, you know, even if it breaks my heart and, you know. But, we’re a commodity, you know. We’re not that special, you know. And, saying it’s your company, you know. Nobody’s such a special thing, you know. We’re all a commodity, and if we really want to remain relevant in this industry, not only we need to have a great product because now building a SaaS product is. And, if you look at in terms of, you know, design and UI and new works, most of SaaS, you know, today, are developed with a nice UI and nice works.

A Clear Sales Strategy from Day one

Almost everybody has a blog or podcast. So, you need also, you know, to start thinking about differently. But, one part that most SaaS businesses are neglecting today is, you know, having a clear sales strategy from day one. You know, that focus on monetization. And, show not only to your agents, but not only to investors, but to the entire planet that, you know, you are a trustworthy company, and they need to bet on your company as, you know, they will be investing for your software.

5 x things to remain relevant

So, in terms of the the five simple things that I always tell myself in order to remain relevant that, not only, you know, we need to have a software that solves a real problem to our audience, but also it has to be simple to implement. We need to have branding that convey, you know, creativity, and credibility, and we need to be trustworthy.

Building a faster and smarter SaaS Sales team

But simply, the responsibility of my team is to have a sales team that is faster and smarter than our competitor, and the reason why, you know, being faster than your competitor is important is because most of your competitors and probably you guys also in the audience, using this current sales workflow, when someone will go on your website, then they will have to fill in a form all the way down to have the first interaction with your HDR or your BDR. This is a slide from our friends at Aircall, and based on the analysis, the thing that, between when someone engages with you on your website, and by the time you set up a first call, it usually takes seven to nine days.

Measuring first response time in Saas Sales

And, forcing that call with my team, one thing that, you know, we measure precisely on a daily basis is first response time. And, our goal is, you know, if you’re an enterprise company checking out our product, our first response time is gonna be two minutes. And, the reason why we want to go fast is because we know that if we are the first one to engage with the company, we increasing very likely the chance of winning that deal.

Real Time Sales – mixing speed and personalization at scale

So, we kind of completely killed that process about two years ago to focus on something that we call internally Real Time Sales. So, about six months ago, we created this new sales motion which will be routing all the leads that will be coming for more transactional deals. Early stage startups or when the buyer is a technical co founder because we know that this person will have the capabilities and the understanding on implementing our JavaScript on their website. And so, the goal of this team is to mix speed and personalization at scale.

How to use automation and personalisation to the extreme in SaaS Sales

So, the way we do it is that we’ll be mixing automation with personalisation to the extreme, and I’m going to show a few examples. So first, on the personalization side, we’re not reinventing the wheel. So, we’re trying to mirror the great experience that you might be having when you go to an Apple store or to a Gap store or to a Disney store where, if you go to an Apple store today, you will always have someone greeting you at the door with a nice smile and we say, “Hey, welcome to Apple store.” If you need assistance, you will always find someone available to tell you, “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 have more technical questions, “you can sit at the genius bar. “Someone will show you how to use Adobe Photoshop “on MacBook Air, and so on.” And, we simply try to bring all this experience, and bring it back to the online world when someone tries to sign up with us.

Sales Automation: Improving productivity

And, on top of that, we mix automation, and we try to blend the two of them. So, every single dot on this map is a cluster of conversation. So, every single month, we’ve got thousands and thousands of conversations with prospect and existing customers. And, as you can see, the blue, the yellow, and the purple circle are clusters of repetitive questions. And, they’re always the same, you know. What’s your pricing, can I book a demo, how do you compare versus, you know, competitor A and competitor B? And, the way we solve that is that we use, in that case, here is some video with a message from Kate, one of my account executives. And, she will start the conversation with you, and she will guide you about what the use case that you’re searching. Is it marketing, it it pre sales, is it customer support? She will start to capture your main address, and then she will right you to the right agent. So, do you want to book a demo with her? She’s available in 15 minutes. Or, do you want to enroll to webinars that she’ll be running tomorrow at four p.m.? But, you’re in control, and at the same time, you know, we’re giving you access to all of the information up front, at the right time, and in the right context. This is solving a ton of problems for us, and we’re proving massively our productivity simply by using this type of automation on specific landing pages on our website.

Then also, still in the real time sales, you know, process, when someone signs up, automatically they will be receiving this type of communication. Here is an email from one of my account executives, Megan. She’s sending an email to Spendesk, and as you can see, not only, you know, the body of the email, the text is quite personalized, but we’re including a personal gif where here we’re going to show to Spendesk how Intercom is going to look on their website as soon as they implement our JavaScript. So already, you know, show them to get them excited about how, you know, they will be able to leverage our solution in order to improve the way they capture it.

And again, it’s simple hard, but highly powerful. Now, we tell you this prospect started the signup. Here, within our product, Megan will continue the conversation. She will tell us the prospect. Thank you for signing up, here’s a guide where you can find all the information that you need in order to find all the information that will be useful for you to see value from Intercom, and you can also start to chat with her if you have any questions. But again, everything’s automated in the back end, so there’s no real human interaction in order to trigger that message.

Now, after starting a free trial, now this prospect becomes a paying customer. And again, similar to when you buy a product at Apple, you get always someone telling you a frank and friendly thank you, we do the same. Megan will trigger this personalized video where she will thank you, and she will tell you, “Thank you for your trust, “thank you for becoming a customer of Intercom, “and again, if you have any questions, “I’ll be your point of contact.” Again, we’re showing to our prospect, you know, who’s going to be in charge of their account, and we’ve got this human to human connection. Even if this video is a generic one, this video has been used multiple times, you know, by Megan. She’ll be refreshing it to make sure that the engagement rate is always improving, but it’s not the video that she’ll be creating for every single customer.

Engagement, Adoption and driving Customer Retention

But, the impact is quite phenomenal. I will show you some of the stats. Customer John is not finished, so we believe that closing the deal is not the end of the experience that we want to deliver to our customer. And, you should always be thinking, how can you really start to improve the retention of you customers. Here, for example, this is Camilla. So, a few weeks after one of our customers was activated, she will look at, okay, so this customer is using our product called messages, but they are not using this killer feature, which is video auto message. And, she’s going to send this message saying, “Hey, you know, let me tell you “how successful customers will use Intercom, “using this specific product, see value.” And, she’s going to show them how to do it in the video, but also she’s going to show them how it’s going to look on their website. And again, super powerful thing, in order to drive adoption of different products from all different features of your product.

Outbound Automation

So now, I’d like, kind of, you to pay attention, especially if your business relies purely on outbound. The way we think about outbound and how we can bring, again, this personalization with automation and try to blend the two at scale. This is the way we kind of think about it. So, first of all, mistakes that we try to avoid is that we’re not going after the customers that we want, but we go after the prospects who are a good fit for us. So easy, when you work in sales, to be distracted and to go after the big white whale, a large logo, sexy logo, you want to close Apple and Samsung and Google. But, the thing is that, you know, these types of deals will take months and months and months to close, and we’re still making this kind of mistake, but we’re trying to do our best to not be distracted by this type of, you know, super humongous deal. And so, before we go after this type of, you know, prospect, we want to make sure that, you know, we are capturing all of the low hanging fruit.

Customer Segmentation: Tip use Alexa

And, the way we do it is that every single month, we do this exercise, which is, you know, called customer segmentation. Where, I will look at, you know, show me all my most loyal customers. The ones who had the highest growth for the past six months, and what do they all have in common? And, as you will see, you know, here I just included a couple, but we’ll go really deep in terms of understanding who they really are and why, you know, are they using us. But, things that, you know, are super relevant to us is, you know, what’s their Alexa score. For example, the Alexa score is how someone will rank on search. This is, you know, for us, it’s quite an important information because we know that if someone is ranked really well in search, it means two things, you know. Organically, the company is successful, or two is they’re spending a lot on marketing, so our products will be great at complementing their marketing report.

Targetting prospects

Also, every single month we’ll be looking at what’s our sweet spot in terms of level of funding. What’s the vertical? Are they B to B, B to C? What’s their number of employees? You know, what’s their tech stock? Also, we know that, at the moment, to give you an example, if one of our prospects is using Marketo for nurturing, Clearbit data enrichment, and HubSpot for CRM, this is a perfect spot for us. So, what we do is that we simply identify using the same type of companies, using Clearbit or. And, we’ll go after them, but in a surgical way. So, we don’t blast thousands and thousands of emails. We go, you know. We’ll hand pick 15 to 20 companies per week, and we’re gonna go deep with them.

Cold emailing: Increasing the heart rate of your sales prospect

And, the way we do it that, you know, I love this quote from Richard Harris, who is a trainer that we hired a few times at Intercom. But, he’s saying that, you know, before you start thinking about cold calling or cold emailing a prospect, the first goal of your interaction “Is not to get a reply.” Your first “Goal is to increase “the heart rate of your prospect.” And, I think it’s really capturing the essence of what we’re trying to achieve.

I’m just going to show you one tactic. We’re slightly out of time, but here’s an outbounding email, and outreach that we sent to some of our prospects. Here, it’s Will, one of our sales managers. He’s going after one prospect, but as you can see, the text is highly personalized and so on. So, you’re gonna say, “Yeah, so what? “You know, we all do it.” What he’s including is a personal gif. Simply him, you know, waving with a strong call to action. When you click on the gif, we’ll bring you back within Intercom, and Will is going to continue the conversation with you. And again, he’s going to show you how your landing page is going to look like with our products embedded on it with your name having a conversation in our messenger. And also, the scenario of the conversation in the messenger will be highly relevant to your business. So, if you are a travel company, if you’re an eCommerce, if you are a SaaS company, we’re gonna have scenarios that will match on either and purely to show you the value before you start implementing our product. With a call to action, and then when you click on that button, we’ll bring you back to the sign of flow. So again, super powerful, and everything’s automated in the back end.

Using Video in Sales

So, you’re probably thinking, “Yeah, Stan, you know, “we’re a small team, we don’t have a large marketing team “building a ton of video content for us.” It’s the same for us. It’s our responsibility to build this video content, and we do it in a very scrappy way. In fact, you know, we use an $80 Logitech camera that we bought on Amazon. We use our own laptop. We do it in a meeting room. As you can see, the lighting is not great. But, the more homemade, and authentic to look like, the higher your placement rate will be. So, the more polished your video will be, this will decrease the actual click rate or the actual engagement rate.

So, this is also one trick that we discovered after experimenting a lot. And, in terms of the tools that we used to create all this video content, again, we do it on a budget and very scrappy way. So, for anything that, you know, we need to shorten the video, we need to edit it a bit, we’ll use, you know, QuickTime, we’ll use iMovie on our laptop. We’re using a lot of gifs, probably you noticed. We use GIPHY Capture, again, another, you know, free product, to send demos, video, prerecorded video demos for our prospect. We’ll be using Wistia or Vidyard, two free products again. What I love with these two products is that you can track how many times you video has been streamed, and also if it has gone viral within the company of your prospect. Again, this really helps us to detect what’s the intent of using Intercom.

Mixing Video with Automation for SaaS Sales

And finally, Livestorm, which is a great SaaS product for if you want to webinars at scale. Company based in Paris, I highly recommend them. So, what has benefit of mixing videos with automation? That, first of all, us, as human beings, 65% of us are visual learners, and also, with the way our brain processes visual content, it’s 60 thousand times easier for us to absorb information if it’s done in a visual and graphic way versus doing it in plain text. But, the thing is that, you know, we’re also a business, and we need to generate, all right. We’re not doing it because it’s nice and it’s funny. We do it because there is a significant business impact.

Increased Engagement of 52% across all channels of communiciation

First of all, since experimenting with video and automation, we increased by 52% of our engagement rate on every single type of communication, from email or in app messages. So, you can think also for the realtime sales team.

Our Time to Close Reduced by 31%

What we noticed, as well, is that we reduced by 31% of our time to close, which is huge for us, you know. In terms of AR, you probably know the work around trend. This has massive productivity increase for us, and that’s why we’re going to continue to double down on this.

It’s not only working for us. So, I’ve been quite vocal about, you know, you guys, you know, starting to think about realtime sales, but this movement is also starting to pick up steam from the likes of Spendesk, for example, think they’re a company based in Paris. Here is a message form Nicolas Marchais, the head of sales. So, “With Real Time Sales,” they reduced by 24% the length of their sales cycle in less than three months.

Again, you know, super impactful for them. Or, the guys at Aircall, also a great company. By using personalized video in their email outreach, they also improved by 58% the response rate. Again, you know, great testimonials that blending the two will be super powerful for your business. Also, as you can see, you know, Spendesk is growing like crazy. Aircall also just raises another massive round. So, I think, guys, you know, if you start thinking about how you need to present your company to the world, you need to be smart, you need to automate all the repetitive tasks in order to make sure that your sales team will focus on things that only a human can do. And, it’s 2018. Just blasting thousands of emails saying, “Hey, I’m also at SaaS talk. “Do you have 15 minutes for a coffee?” It’s not good enough, you know. Everybody’s doing it. You need to cut through the noise, and personalization is going to be key for that.

Focus on Speed

You need to focus on speed. There is this study from the Harvard Business Review that says that 60% of the deal will be won by the vendors that respond the fastest to a prospect. It doesn’t mean that you’re the best product. And so, that’s why, you know, please keep that, you know, in mind, that being obsessed with your product is not going to be the reason why you’re going to win and beat all your competitors.

So, thank you very much. If you want to stay in touch, you can stop at the Intercom booth just over there, or please, you know, send me an email. My name is Stan Massueras, or you can also ping me twitter. Thank you very much, and thanks, Alex, and the SaaStock team.


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