This post is the first in a series about our Startup Sales Stack. We will cover our ideas, tools, processes, progress, and results.
Hope you enjoy!
Let’s Start With Some Context
As part of YC Startup School we are constantly minded that we should be talking to users. Last week, we opened the platform to self registration, because why put an artificial gate in front of the next big thing? From here on out, we need to be talking to, qualifying, and selling to more leads. The hard part is getting the initial funnels going.
Our goal in this series is to get a Startup Sales Stack in place.
The last week was spent researching that problem and come up with a starting plan. This week will be focussed on creating an initial lead list and email campaign. Our vision is to turn 1 Billion people into developers. Our aim is to be the Bloomberg Terminal for software development.
The Startup Sales Stack
The Startup Sales Stack is our set of tools that we use to drive a high-touch sales process.
Website Analytics using Google Analytics (GA), Google Tag Manager (GTM), HubSpot, and Segment.
Sales CRM using HubSpot, and maybe one more for unqualified leads.
Lead DB for curating contact lists. This is what we are currently researching.
Outbound Email using Sendgrid for mailing lists. HubSpot and the lead services also has some capabilities here that we are using for lead and sales campaigns.
Our budget is $1000 per month for our stack.
What We Have In Place
We’ll start with what we have in place already:
- Google Analytics and Tag manager on our sites
- HubSpot setup and integrated with GSuite and GA / GTM
This enables us to see who visits our sites, opens our emails, tracks our interactions, and coalesces that information into our lead and sales funnels. We can see the entire activity history for our leads and adjust accordingly.
An interesting part of this series and setup is finding out if we can see what the sales people on the other side are doing. Did they read this post? Are they leveraging my out pour of buyer mentality? I’ll let you know in the later posts.
The High-level Plan
The first step is deciding on the initial target market and personas. We’ve narrowed down to two of these.
Enterprise contracts will be our bread and butter. This requires a much more mature product, and probably a whole one at that. Our aim early on is to get paid pilots or letters of intent for them. Our primary outreach will be from warm introductions through our professional network. This group requires a new proof-of-concept for our lift & Shift technology that brings your systems into the Hofstadter world.
Early stage, funded startups will be our primary initial outreach. Early stage because they have fewer resources, need to ship quick, are more willing to work with other startups, and there is a natural founder connection that can be leveraged. Funded because we cannot work for free for terribly much longer.
We are more focussed on the second option. Our plan to take on this market is:
- Generate contact lists from a lead database.
- Send these contexts into an email campaign.
- Get on the phone to understand their problems.
- Qualify and see if there is a mutual fit.
- Create plans and quotes with startup pricing.
Lead Generation Database Considerations
When evaluating potential services, we are considering the following points:
Data - quality, access, and features. This is a big differentiator. How often is the data updated or cleaned? What details are available for contacts and companies?
Price - there are many models and pricing options. They can get expensive pretty quickly and factors into our CAC.
Integrations - We like automation and have selected some tools already. This is a need to have as there are several that integrate with our existing tools. If you don’t have this, you aren’t getting considered.
Usability - Filtering, searching, and collecting contacts will be important.
Other - Some of the services have unique offerings
Fortunately, most of the services we are considering have a free trial for us to take it for a spin.
Lead DBs we are considering
The following is the short list we created after evaluating the websites. We have initial sales calls and demos setup with each. (This is the fun part because we get to see the sales process from the buyer’s side :)
Apollo - We already talked to this company. The salesman on the phone was quite good, maybe a little prescriptive in delivering his recommendations, but they were very helpful and he offered to review our draft email campaigns. The nugget he gave us was the idea to have a 2-stage pipeline, where we have our outreach pipeline in Apollo and graduate qualified leads to HubSpot. This may become one of the “Other” differentiating comparison points.
UpLead This company was one of the first we found. Their data and features were aligned with our initial thoughts as to what we needed, however they might lack the extra CRM like functionality we like from Apollo. They have some big name clients that lend some credibility, though this is less important to our considerations.
Leadbook This company has a different pricing model that is a little more confusing. Their platform has more of the features like Apollo and they have a number of extra services of interest too. They too have some big name clients, but not as many as UpLead.
Taskdrive This company is not a DB, rather more of an outsourced services for contact research, list creation, and Sales Development Reps (SDRs). We look forward to speaking with them and their competitors.
We will let you know how they all shake down, in a later part of this series, when we evaluate them based on the criteria above.
Companies we are not considering (for sure!)
Leadiro This company has confusing pricing. Not sure what the definition for “Initial Base Data” for companies means for our ability to search and collect contacts. Do we need to know what companies I want first?
Wishpond They have no HubSpot or other integrations that align, which is surprising considering the other integrations available.
Esalesdata There’s too much going on, not focussed enough for our interests. Plague of the unfocussed startup, but maybe more appropriate for a mature company trying to fulfill the many needs of a client.
Cloudlead We were going to reach out because they are another startup. But the contact form required too much info for my tastes. They also look like struggling startup in crowded market with no real differentiator for being behind compared to their competitors.
Yesdata is a STRONG NO because it looks unprofessional, their SSL is broken, and I question the quality based on these.
Some others of interest.
DiscoverOrg is the best-in-class for lead databases. Their data is updated weekly and automatically synced to your CRM. The search is Google amazing. Definitely worth the very high price tag in the future.
LeadsDatabase We aren’t interested in this, but thought others might be. Their uniqueness is data that is much more focussed by geography or vertical. They charge a one-time fee for the data, but we question the quality.
We’ll build this up over the series.
Thanks for reading!
We hope you found some value in this post and will in the series.