Come far innamorare i vostri clienti di voi

7 semplici segreti per un prodotto migliore e vendite più facili

Esattamente una settimana fa sono intervenuto a HowToWeb 2019 a Bucarest, in Romania. La decima edizione di una conferenza fondamentale nella regione CEE.

Sono stato onorato di far parte di un gruppo di relatori di così alto profilo, tra cui leader di pensiero come Sean Ellis (growth hacking), April Dunford (posizionamento), Bob Moesta (Lavori da fare) e Michael Perry (imprenditorialità).

The theme of the conference is “Better Products, Faster Growth” and that’s what I was asked to talk about as well.

As the local tech ecosystem is gearing up, there’s still a gap between ambitions and execution, especially when it comes to building products that people want and then managing to sell them.

That’s why I shared 7 principles that make a big difference when starting off a product business, in the hope to bring some inspiration to the founders or aspiring founders in the room.

Coincidentally – or not – many of my fellow speakers touched on these same topics during their talks. I’ve linked to those talks wherever I can, so you can go into that too if you like.

Tutto pronto? Il microfono e il clicker funzionano?

3 – 2 – 1. Here we go 😁

Come fare in modo che i vostri clienti si innamorino di voi

Hello everyone! I’m Jeroen of Salesflare. My goal with this talk today is to help you develop a product and a sales process your customers can fall in love with.

I’ll be sharing some simple but fundamental secrets on how to do that. I hope that’s what you came to this talk for. If it is, sit tight!

About me: like I said, I’m Jeroen, co-founder of Salesflare, which is a CRM software company.

Tra gli oltre 600 concorrenti, Salesflare si distingue per un prodotto CRM facile da usare e automatizzato che le PMI tendono ad amare.

Il mio background personale è in un'agenzia di marketing e nello sviluppo di software, proprio come la maggior parte di voi, suppongo.

And I come to you and HowToWeb from the country of beer, chocolate and waffles, called Belgium. I’m also a US citizen by birth, as I was born in a little town in upstate New York.

Quindi, se confrontate Salesflare come azienda con i nostri principali concorrenti, probabilmente sarete colpiti dal fatto che siamo centinaia o migliaia di volte più piccoli di loro in termini di organico.

Tuttavia, serviamo migliaia di clienti con un prodotto analogo e riceviamo molto più amore dai nostri clienti rispetto ai nostri concorrenti, come dimostra il nostro punteggio su G2 qui a destra.

Questo intervento vuole aiutarvi a capire come potete ricreare lo stesso effetto. E come potete creare un prodotto migliore e avere vendite più facili come piccola azienda emergente.

In Salesflare abbiamo costruito una macchina per la creazione di valore per i clienti, che si concentra sulla creazione di valore per i clienti.

Ciò significa che facciamo due cose: 1. parliamo con i clienti e 2. costruiamo per loro un prodotto e dei contenuti di valore che li aiutino a fare meglio ciò che fanno.

E facciamo tutto questo a un ritmo molto veloce e costante.

Per vincere come piccola azienda, dopotutto, la comprensione del cliente, la velocità e la coerenza sono fondamentali.

It’s your weapons against the giants in your space. It’s your well aimed slingshots that can defeat them.

Come si possono ottenere queste tre cose? Lasciate che vi spieghi come lo facciamo noi.

And I’m not going to tell you our way is the only way and you need to copy it literally, but at least I hope I can inspire you with our approach.

So let’s start with the very simple but fundamental basics, with rule nr 1 …

… which is to “find a fundamental problem you’re passionate about”.

Ora, il problema su cui noi di Salesflare ci concentriamo è quello dei dati CRM scadenti; e aiutiamo le aziende a deliziare i loro clienti attraverso dati migliori.

The initial solution we came up with and that we offer is automated collection of data from emails, calendar, phone, … but that’s not really where we stop. We are thinking about integrating new communication channels, we are thinking about adding new ways of combining data, about adding new types of sales intelligence, and even maybe about completely different things that solve the same issue or reinforce our solution.

It is after all really dangerous if you’re just building a feature, like -say- software that automatically imports email signatures and adds them to your contact database.

Questo tipo di funzione può diventare obsoleta molto facilmente, se ad esempio Google, Microsoft o Apple decidono di aggiungerla alle loro soluzioni di posta elettronica. In tal caso, sareste quasi morti.

Al contrario, mentre le soluzioni e le funzionalità vengono facilmente copiate e sostituite, i problemi rimangono e costituiscono una base molto più solida per la vostra attività.

This is something that my fellow speaker Michael Perry from Shopify will discuss in his talk later on about his 13 year journey in startups, as one of the mistakes he’s made along the way. (Check it out in the Facebook Live video here at the -0:45 mark; this talk made me quite emotional and the message Michael’s bringing is a very important one, so don’t miss out.)

Now, after you’ve found some fundamental problem, you should verify that it’s a problem that a group of people face, that you can actually identify with.

Nel nostro caso, i nostri utenti sono per lo più agenzie (prima lavoravo in un'agenzia di marketing) e d'altra parte aziende di software (ovviamente, al momento dirigo un'azienda di software).

Anche se si tratta di uno spazio affollato, conosciamo molto bene il funzionamento delle agenzie e delle aziende di software, conosciamo i loro problemi e conosciamo anche molti di loro. Il che tende ad aiutarci enormemente.

Sometimes people tell me that we should focus on another, much easier market. And often it comes up that there’s huge potential in the market for, for instance, a better CRM for real estate. This would indeed be way easier, as the real estate market is rather underdeveloped in terms of software solutions, and especially in terms of CRMs.

The thing however is: I wouldn’t be hanging out with you here and I wouldn’t be having conversations that genuinely interest me. Instead, I would be hanging out at a real estate conference and I would be eating my heart out.

Real estate people are not really “my people”. I don’t enjoy talking about selling real estate that much. And how badly actually would our company do if I didn’t enjoy talking to our customers.

Hypothetically, it could also be that you’ve seen a once in a lifetime opportunity in building an online platform for second hand car sales.

Maybe you’d think: “I’m building it for people like you and me, I will like this”; but in the end, you will be a used car salesman, meeting and competing with other used car salesmen, and you might start feeling miserable after a little while if this doesn’t fit you.

In realtà, se si segue questa linea di pensiero e questa regola, la situazione ideale è quella di creare prima un pubblico che abbia una mentalità affine e che si fidi di voi, e viceversa. Solo allora scoprirete i loro problemi e solo allora creerete una soluzione.

Now, we don’t all have that luxury, but if you can at least create something for people you like and understand, it will move you a big step forward yet again.

If you’ve seen April Dunford’s talk this morning, you also understand that selecting your audience will define your positioning and product to a large extent, so don’t mess it up. (Vedete il suo discorso nel video Facebook Live qui al punto -6:26:00. Potrebbe fare la differenza tra il successo e il fallimento della vostra azienda.)

Third, it’s very important as a small company to play out your advantage as a small company. And not to start acting like a big company.

Will the CEOs of our competitors get on onboarding calls with their customers, connect with them on LinkedIn or Facebook, help them to solve their issues personally, … ? I think, with the exception of some key customers, no, they definitely won’t.

We have thousands of customers using our software and as we work very closely with them, I still know personally who many of them are, what they care about, how they think, …

All in all, I think being in touch with customers takes about 10-20% of my time, but it’s my best spent time. And it’s worth it. It gives me energy, it helps us to understand our customers, to build stronger relationships, … It’s really the best spent time of all.

Still, I see many companies trying to act like a big company, because they believe it’s the only way to get credibility and to be trusted; I tell you: there’s a much better way to gain their trust and it’s investing in a strong relationship; this will pay off big time.

Back to the G2 chart I showed earlier, you can see there that “ease of doing business with” Salesflare is our highest score by far. That’s not a coincidence. It’s a direct result of our focus on close relationships with our customers.

The fourth important rule is not to skip any steps along the way. You’ll often be tempted to do it, but just don’t.

Considerando che molte persone apprezzano il nostro approccio al marketing in Salesflare, mi viene spesso chiesto dai fondatori di startup in fase iniziale come dovrebbero fare il loro marketing.

And when they do and we meet up, I’ll first start with listening to what they sell, to whom they sell it, and then I will ask: “So how many people have you sold this to already?”

Almost invariably, the answer will be between 0 and 5 people, which means they haven’t even figured out a way to get repeated sales – so why on earth would they even care to start marketing?

E questo è solo un sintomo di un problema più ampio, perché le piccole aziende in generale vogliono diventare grandi troppo in fretta e saltano tappe fondamentali su tutti i fronti.

When my co-founder and I started Salesflare, the first thing we did is reading the book “Getting Real” by 37signals (which I can very much recommend – and it’s free) and we rigorously applied the principles from that book; we first made a presentation, and we made a mockup, and we started doing lots of interviews to understand what people needed and why they’d see us fail at building Salesflare.

Ever since then, everything we have done at Salesflare we have first tried manually and at its most basic level, and then we have repeated this until we nailed it, and only then we’ve scaled it.

As an example, for 1 to 2 years I’ve personally gone on Skype calls with screen sharing to onboard customers on our software, connect their emails, do their imports, see what they didn’t understand or lacked. And I could experience everything firsthand. It gave me very direct pain.

If, instead, we would have made a fully self-service onboarding from the start, I’m certain we would have missed so many learnings and we would have spent so much more time perfecting Salesflare, if by then we wouldn’t have run out of money already.

Of course, we have made many mistakes too, like hiring people before we nailed the job ourselves, which made iterating to find the right solution ten times slower. That’s why I recommend to you: do the job first yourself, and only then get someone else to do it better than you. But figure out the basic strategy before you hire that person, otherwise you might easily get stuck in the very same place.

Actually, a great example of the “nail it before you scale it” way of thinking is how the guys at Sympl, the company with whom we share an office, built out their full recruitment solution first using 1. Zapier, 2. a simple database solution and 3. Slack.

They didn’t start coding at all. Instead, they first made sure they knew exactly what they wanted to code, and they saved months -if not years- doing so.

If you haven’t seen yesterday’s talk by fellow speaker Paolo Ertreo from Dropbox, check it out online. It’s full of great insights in how to do iteration right, and it’s applicable to both your product and your sales. (Check out his talk in the Facebook Live video here at the -0:36:30 mark. You’ll always remember the pebbles and boulders analogy.)

Fifth, once you’ve nailed some of the tasks, start automating them.

When I’m saying “nail it before you scale it”, that obviously doesn’t mean you should keep yourself busy with groundwork for the rest of time.

Again, if you’re in a software company or you’re in an agency, you have two jobs: 1 is talking to customers and 2 is building valuable stuff for them. Everything else is secondary and should be as automated as possible, as soon as you have nailed it.

Salesflare itself, the product, was created to scratch an automation itch we had ourselves, which was having to document our every interaction with customers, plus their details. This is of course essential to be able to talk to customers, but it’s not the talking to customers itself. It only has a supporting role, it’s robotic work, and we believed it should be automated. In fact, we’ve already proven that computers do a much better job at this than we do.

Next to using Salesflare, and at Salesflare, we have tens of other software products running for us that automate the little things in our workflow and we all connect them together with Zapier, so it kinda all runs like a clockwork and we don’t need to spend our time moving data from here to there. It just runs by itself for us.

È importante notare che una parte importante dell'automazione del lavoro consiste spesso nel creare prima un processo semplice per organizzarlo meglio. In questo modo si evitano molte comunicazioni inutili se ci si accorda su come lavorare insieme, e spesso si può automatizzare più facilmente in seguito.

Se fate qualcosa per la decima o la ventesima volta e sapete come funziona meglio, iniziate a documentarlo e poi automatizzatelo o delegatelo.

So imagine again being 6 people and competing with companies that are hundreds to thousands of times bigger… and you want to do better. In this case, you need to be very focused at doing the exact right things better.

Today, and thanks to the internet and everyone contributing to it, it’s easier than ever before for small companies to build your software and reach your audience, without needing to take care of all the secondary things.

I loghi di alcuni framework JavaScript.

Even if you obsess about UX like we do, you don’t need to build your own UI components. You can just use a framework.

Even if your main premise is to pull data from everywhere, you don’t need to build your own connectors; at least certainly not at first.

Ad esempio, abbiamo iniziato con una piattaforma esterna per la sincronizzazione delle e-mail, che abbiamo sostituito solo due anni dopo con una nostra integrazione, poiché abbiamo capito che aveva senso spostare questa tecnologia nel nostro nucleo.

This makes that our CRM now has the fastest, most stable and most powerful email integration around with Google Workspace and Office 365, which is now a competitive advantage vs the rest. So it was an important thing to do, but it wasn’t important to do this from the very beginning.

Per tutte le cose che non fanno parte dei vostri valori fondamentali, cercate modi creativi per costruire più velocemente ciò di cui avete bisogno. E ci sono molti, molti modi per farlo.

Infine, ma non meno importante, prendetevi il tempo necessario per migliorare.

For those who haven’t read Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, coincidentally their 7th habit is the same as the 7th habit of highly effective small companies: never be too busy sawing, to stop and sharpen the saw.

Your main goal should remain to beat the status quo and to become a better company than yesterday. Even if it’s just with 1% increments every day, it will all add up in the end.

What we have done for five years straight now is sit together with the whole team every two weeks for two or three hours and discuss what’s going well and especially what’s not going well.

Scriviamo tutto questo su una lavagna e riserviamo uno spazio sufficiente alle soluzioni per i punti negativi e agli insegnamenti per i punti positivi. Poi lavoriamo sulle soluzioni e sfruttiamo gli insegnamenti.

Incoraggiamo ognuno di noi a identificare i problemi, non a ignorarli, in modo da uscire dal nostro status quo o dalla nostra zona di comfort e risolverli.

Lo stesso vale per il modo in cui lavoriamo con i clienti. Li incoraggiamo attivamente a darci un feedback e li ricompensiamo con messaggi personali quando poi agiamo in base ai loro commenti.

It’s only because we care deeply about becoming better, that we can actually outperform our competitors and get these amazing customer review scores I showed you at the beginning.

And that’s it. Those are our 7 simple secrets. I hope you’ll be able to take at least one of them home and use it to improve your business.

Ora andate a far innamorare i vostri clienti di voi!

Grazie! E che il chiarore sia con voi!

P.S. Questa presentazione è stata realizzata utilizzando la versione beta privata di Pitch. Da qui gli adesivi di Otto The Dog. Potete anche godervi la presentazione su questo link pubblico.

“Salesflare is smart and turns CRM from something “I have to do” into a tool that helps me focus on why I started my business.”

Michael Clingan, Gruppo Claymore


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Jeroen Corthout