#Gastbeitrag – 5 CRM-Fails, die du unbedingt vermeiden solltest


Systeme für das Customer-Relationship-Management (CRM) gibt es viele. Wer sich selbst in den CRM-Software-Dschungel stürzt, wird schnell auf zahlreiche Fragen treffen: Welches System passt zu uns? Wie gelingt eine Implementierung und wie kann ich Fehlern vorbeugen? Von welchen Features kann mein Unternehmen wirklich profitieren und welche sind überflüssig? Welche Investition lohnt sich wirklich?

In diesem Beitrag erfahrt ihr, welche typischen Fehler bei der Auswahl und Einführung von CRM-Systemen gemacht werden und wie ihr sie vermeidet. 

Fail Nr. 1: Das falsche CRM-System

Wofür brauche ich eigentlich ein CRM-System? Das ist die erste und wichtigste Frage, die du ehrlich beantworten musst. Denn häufig wird nach dem Prinzip, die meisten Funktionen für das wenigste Geld“ ausgesucht. Aber: Wer vor allem am Preis sparen möchte, wählt automatisch das falsche CRM-System. Das bedeutet natürlich nicht zwangsläufig, dass das teuerste System immer auch das Beste ist.

Entscheidend sind vielmehr die tatsächlichen Anforderungen des Unternehmens an das System. Diese müssen im Vorfeld klar definiert und unbedingt mit den Mitarbeitenden, die damit arbeiten sollen, abgestimmt werden. Wichtig ist dabei, dass die Customer Journey „end-to-end“, also vollumfänglich, abgebildet wird. Denn auch wenn sie sich ständig verändern wird, können viele wichtige Abläufe bereits im Vorfeld integriert werden. 

Das CRM-System hat einen großen Einfluss auf sämtliche Prozesse im Front- und Backend. Häufig wird dabei jedoch zu kurzfristig gedacht und mögliche zukünftige Anforderungen außer Acht gelassen. Daher sollte die Wahl mindestens auf Management-Ebene und mit Blick auf die Unternehmensstrategie getroffen werden. 

Fail Nr. 2: Beim Aufsetzen des CRM-Systems wird der User vergessen
Mit der Hilfe von CRM-Systemen sollen Unternehmen ihre Kund*innen noch besser betreuen können. Dabei wird aber häufig ausgerechnet der User des Tools nicht mit einbezogen. Denn: Sämtliche Prozesse und Strukturen im System werden rein auf den*die Kund*in fokussiert, nicht auf die Person, die täglich damit arbeiten soll. 

Was bei der Implementierung eines CRM-Systems also unbedingt beachtet werden muss, ist Folgendes: Welche Prozesse brauchen die Mitarbeitenden in dem System? Wie können Abläufe optimiert werden? Mit welchen Automatisierungen kann die Arbeit schneller erledigt werden und zusätzlich auch noch mehr Spaß machen? Und wie können diese unkompliziert implementiert werden? 

Fail Nr. 3: Keine systematische Datenpflege

Häufig werden Potenziale von CRM-Systemen verschenkt, weil es keinen Fokus und Regelwerke für das Hochhalten der Datenqualität gibt. Es mangelt an „Rules of Regulations“ und regelmäßigen Qualitätschecks. 

Insbesondere bei der Übergabe von Leads zwischen Abteilungen (bspw. vom Marketing zum Vertrieb) sollte klar festgelegt werden, welche Informationen bereitgestellt werden müssen. Das kann zum Beispiel folgendermaßen aussehen: „Ein Lead darf nur an das Sales-Team übergeben werden, wenn die Datenfelder X,Y und Z gepflegt sind.” Ist dies nicht der Fall, muss die vorgeschaltete Abteilung den Datensatz nachbessern.

Geschieht dies nicht, besteht die Gefahr von „schlechten Daten“. Aus ihnen lassen sich nur fehlerhafte Reports und Dashboards generieren, aus denen dann wiederum falsche Rückschlüsse gezogen werden.

Fail Nr. 4: Die Mitarbeitenden nutzen das CRM-System nicht

Woran erkennt man ein schlecht aufgesetztes System? Mitarbeitende nutzen das System nicht oder fangen an, sich Workarounds zu bauen. Eine Red Flag ist auch, wenn bestimmte Themen nicht im CRM abgebildet werden können.

Das ist aus zwei Gründen schlecht für das Unternehmen – und nebenbei auch für die Mitarbeitendenzufriedenheit. Einerseits beanspruchen Workarounds viele Ressourcen, weil durch das CRM-System keine Zeit gespart, sondern zusätzlich investiert wird. Andererseits wird die Weiterentwicklung des Systems behindert, indem Mitarbeitende ihre Zeit darin investieren, in ihrem eigenen System weiterzuarbeiten statt das Tool zu verbessern.

Fail Nr. 5: Keine Account-Management-Prozesse im CRM-System 

CRM-Systeme sollten niemals nur auf das Neukundengeschäft ausgelegt sein, sondern auch Account-Management-Prozesse beinhalten, da sich dort große Umsatzchancen verbergen. Schließlich kennen (ehemalige) Bestandskund*innen die Marke bereits und sind daher wesentlich einfacher in weiteres Business zu konvertieren als Neukund*innen. Fehlendes Account-Management kann also das Wachstum eines Unternehmens ausbremsen.

Account-Management-Prozesse unterstützen dabei, langfristige Beziehungen zu Bestandskund*innen auf- und auszubauen. Hierbei sollte unbedingt darauf geachtet werden, dass der Kontakt regelmäßig – beispielsweise über automatische Reminder durch das CRM-System – stattfindet und vor allem einen echten Mehrwert für die Kund*innen bietet, der über den reinen Dealflow oder Verkauf hinausgeht.

Über den Autor
Michael Jäger ist Gründer und Managing Director bei Cremanski & Company. Mit seiner Digital-Sales-Unternehmensberatung hilft er Kunden wie Gorillas, sennder, EIGENSONNE oder TIER, ihre Vertriebsprozesse optimal und nachhaltig zu digitalisieren. Immer mit dem Ziel: Start-ups, Scale-ups und KMUs zu strukturiertem und datengetriebenem Wachstum zu verhelfen.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#aktuell, #crm, #customer-relationship-management, #gastbeitrag

4 ways to leverage ROAS to triple lead generation

Businesses that don’t invest in their future may not have a future to look forward to.

Whether you’re investing in your human resources or in critical tech, some outlay in the short term is always needed for long-term success. That’s true when it comes to marketing as well — you can’t market your product or service without investing in advertising. But if that investment isn’t turning into leads and conversions, you’re in trouble.

A “good” ROAS score is different for each company and campaign. If your figure isn’t where you’d like it to be, you can leverage ROAS data to create targeted campaigns and personalized experiences.

It’s vital to identify and apply the most suitable metrics based on business goals, and there’s no one best practice or one-size-fits-all method.

However, smart use of the return on advertising spend (ROAS) data can triple lead generation, as I discovered when I joined Brightpearl to restructure the marketing campaigns. Let’s take a look at some of the ways Brightpearl used ROAS to improve campaigns and increase lead generation. The key is to work out what represents a healthy ROAS for your business so that you can optimize accordingly.

Use the right return metric

It is paramount to choose the right return metric to calculate your ROAS. This will depend partly on your sales cycle.

Brightpearl has a lengthy sales cycle. On average it’s two to three months, and sometimes up to six months, meaning we don’t have tons of data on a monthly basis if we want to use new customer’s revenue data as the return metric. A company with a shorter sales cycle could use revenue, but that doesn’t help us to optimize our campaigns.

We chose to use the sales accepted opportunity (SAO) value instead. It usually takes us about a month to measure, so we can get more ROAS data at the same time. It’s the last sales stage before a win, and it’s more in line with our company goal (to grow our recurring annual revenue), but takes less time to gather the data.

By the SAO stage, we know which leads are good quality­ — they have the budget, are a good fit, and our software can meet their requirements. We can use them to measure our campaign performance.

When you choose a return metric, you need to make sure it matches your company goal without taking ages to get the data. It also has to be measurable at the campaign level, because the aim of using ROAS or other metrics is to optimize your campaigns.

Accept that less is more

I’ve noticed that many companies harbor a fear of missing out on opportunities, which leads them to advertise on all available channels instead of concentrating resources on the most profitable areas.

Prospects usually do their research on multiple channels, so you might try to cover all the possible touch points. In theory, this could generate more leads, but only if you had an unlimited marketing budget and human resources.

#advertising-tech, #column, #customer-relationship-management, #ec-column, #ec-how-to, #ec-marketing-tech, #lead-generation, #marketing, #roas, #sales, #search-engine-optimization, #social-media, #sql, #startups

EverAfter closes $13M to help companies ride off into the sunset with their customers

EverAfter secured $13 million in seed funding to continue developing its no-code customer-facing tool that streamlines onboarding and retention and enables business-to-business clients to embed personalized customer portals within any product.

The Tel Aviv-based company was founded in 2020 by Noa Danon and Tal Shemesh. CEO Danon, who comes from a project management background, said they saw a disconnect between the user and product experience.

The company’s name, EverAfter, comes from the concept that in SaaS companies, someone has to be in charge of the “EverAfter,” with customers, even as the relationship changes, Danon told TechCrunch.

Via its no-code platform, customer success teams are able to build a website in weeks using drop-and-drag widgets like training materials, timelines, task management and meeting summaries, and then configure what each user sees. Then there is a snippet of code that is embedded into the product.

EverAfter also integrates with existing customer relationship management, project management and service ticket tools, while also updating Salesforce and HubSpot directly through an interface.

“It’s like the customer owns a piece of real estate inside the product,” Danon said.

TLV Partners and Vertex Ventures co-led the round and were joined by angel investors Benny Shneider, Zohar Gilon and Amit Gilon.

Yanai Oron, general partner at Vertex Ventures, said he is seeing best-in-breed companies try to solve customer churn or improve the relationship process on their own and failing, which speaks to the complexity of the problem.

Startups in this space are coming online and raising money, but with EverAfter, they are differentiating themselves by not only putting a dashboard on their product, but launching with the capabilities to manage thousands of customers using the product, he added.

“I’ve been tracking the customer success space over the past few years, and it is a growing field with the least sophisticated tools,” Oron said. “During COVID, companies realized it was easier to retain customers rather than get new ones. We are all used to more self-service and wanting to get the answer ourselves, and customers are the same. Companies also started to be more at ease in letting customers develop things on their own and leave R&D departments to do other things.”

Clients include Taboola, AppsFlyer and Verbit, with Verbit reporting its company’s customer success managers save 10 hours a week managing ongoing customer communication by using EverAfter, Danon added. This comes as CallMiner reports that unplanned customer churn costs companies $35.3 billion in the U.S. alone.

EverAfter offers both customer success and partner management software and clients can choose a high-touch service or kits and templates for self-service.

The new funding will enable the company to focus on integration and expansion into additional use cases. Since being founded, EverAfter has grown to 20 employees and 30 customers. The founders also want to utilize the data they are collecting on what works and doesn’t work for each customer.

“There are so many interesting things that happen between companies and customers, from onboarding to business reviews, and we are going to expand on those,” Danon said. “We want to be the first thing companies put inside their product to figure out the relationship between customers and customer success teams and managers.”

 

#business-intelligence, #crm, #customer-experience, #customer-relationship-management, #customer-success, #developer, #enterprise, #everafter, #funding, #no-code, #noa-danon, #project-management, #recent-funding, #saas, #startups, #taboola, #tal-shemesh, #tc, #tlv-partners, #vertex-ventures, #yanai-oron

Affinity, a relationship intelligence company, raises $80M to help close deals

Relationships ultimately close deals, but long-term relationships come with a lot of baggage, i.e. email interactions, documents and meetings.

Affinity wants to take what Ray Zhou, co-founder and CEO, refers to as “data exhaust,” all of those daily interactions and communications, and apply machine learning analysis and provide insights on who in the organization has the best chance of getting that initial meeting and closing the deal.

Today, the company announced $80 million in Series C funding, led by Menlo Ventures, which was joined by Advance Venture Partners, Sprints Capital, Pear Ventures, Sway Ventures, MassMutual Ventures, Teamworthy and ECT Capital Partners’ Brian N. Sheth. The new funding gives the company $120 million in total funding since it was founded in 2014.

Affinity, based in San Francisco, is focused on industries like investment banking, private equity, venture capital, consulting and real estate, where Zhou told TechCrunch there aren’t customer relationship management systems or networking platforms that cater to the specific needs of the long-term relationship.

Stanford grads Zhou and co-founder Shubham Goel started the company after recognizing that while there was software for transactional relationships, there wasn’t a good option for the relationship journeys.

He cites data that show up to 90% of company profiles and contact information living in traditional CRM systems are incomplete or out of date. This comes as market researcher Gartner reported the global CRM software market grew 12.6% to $69 billion in 2020.

“It is almost bigger than sales,” Zhou said. “Our worldview is that relationships are the biggest industries in the world. Some would disagree, but relationships are an asset class, they are a currency that separates the winners from the losers.”

Instead, Affinity created “a new breed of CRM,”  Zhou said, that automates the inputting of that data constantly and adds information, like revenue, staff size and funding from proprietary data sources, to assign a score to a potential opportunity and increase the chances of closing a deal.

Affinity people profile. Image Credits: Affinity

He intends to use the new funding to expand sales, marketing and engineering to support new products and customers. The company has 125 employees currently; Zhou expects to be over 200 by next year.

To date, the company’s platform has analyzed over 18 trillion emails and 213 million calendar events and currently drives over 500,000 new introductions and tracks 450,000 deals per month. It also has more than 1,700 customers in 70 countries, boasting a list that includes Bain Capital Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, SoftBank Group, Nike, Qualcomm and Twilio.

Tyler Sosin, partner at Menlo Ventures, said he met Zhou and Goel at a time when the firm was looking into CRM companies, but it wasn’t until years later that Affinity came up again when Menlo itself wanted to work with a more modern platform.

As a user of Affinity himself, Sosin said the platform gives him the data he cares about and “removes the manual drudgery of entry and friction in the process.” Affinity also built a product that was intuitive to navigate.

“We have always had an interest in getting CRMs to the next generation, and Affinity is defining itself in a new category of relationship intelligence and just crushing it in the private capital markets,” he said. “They are scaling at an impressive growth rate and solving a hard problem that we don’t see many other companies in the space doing.”

 

#advance-venture-partners, #affinity, #artificial-intelligence, #bain-capital-ventures, #brian-n-sheth, #crm, #customer-relationship-management, #enterprise, #funding, #investment-banking, #kleiner-perkins, #machine-learning, #massmutual-ventures, #menlo-ventures, #nike, #pear-ventures, #qualcomm, #ray-zhou, #real-estate, #recent-funding, #saas, #shubham-goel, #softbank-group, #sprints-capital, #startups, #tc, #twilio, #tyler-sosin, #venture-capital

Clay debuts a new tool to help people better manage their business and personal relationships

A new startup called Clay, backed by $8 million in seed funding, has built a system designed to help you be more thoughtful with the people in your life, which operates somewhat like a personal CRM. With Clay, you build a collection of the people you meet by connecting your email and calendar with social apps, including Twitter and LinkedIn. Clay then populates each person’s entry with all the relevant information you would need to recall for any future meeting — ranging from their work history to latest tweets to the details on how you met and when you last communicated, among other things.

You also can add notes of your own to each entry, click to activate reminders to follow up with certain people and organize entries into groups. The app supports a command bar, keyboard shortcuts and home screen widgets, as well.

The end result is something that’s not exactly an address book but also not necessarily as sales and pipeline-focused as a CRM system.

Clay’s founders instead refer to their app as a “home for your people,” as it’s attempting to carve out a new space in the market for a more personal system of tracking who you know and how.

Image Credits: Clay

The idea for the startup comes from entrepreneurs Matthew Achariam and Zachary Hamed, Clay’s co-founders and co-CEOs, who met back in their early days of working with startups. Prior to starting Clay, Achariam helped lead product at Y Combinator-backed analytics company, Custora, and Hamed led the product management team for Goldman Sachs’ web platform, Marquee.

“We think that people and relationships have played such an important role in our own career trajectories. And we wanted to dive into that,” Hamed explains, when speaking about what prompted their interest in building Clay.

To get started with Clay — which is available as a web, desktop and mobile app — you’ll first connect your accounts. At present, Clay supports Microsoft Outlook/Office 365, Google Calendar, Gmail/Google Mail and Twitter. You also can add other services via Zapier integrations. After setup, Clay will then automatically track your meetings and personal connections, and augment people’s entries with other details pulled from the web, like their background and work experience listed on LinkedIn and latest tweets.

People’s entries will also detail how you met the person — something people tend to forget over time. For example, they may be noted as a connection you made on LinkedIn, or someone you met in person or in an online meeting.

Through Clay’s desktop app, you also can optionally connect Clay with iMessage, which allows it to augment its people entries with phone numbers and details about when you last communicated. However, this feature should be met with some caution. While Clay doesn’t import the content of your messages, the company says, it has to work around the lack of an official API or SDK to perform this integration. That means the feature requires full disk access in order to function. That’s an elevated security permission some will not feel comfortable using.

Image Credits: Clay

The founders, however, say they’ve built Clay to respect people’s privacy and security. The company’s privacy policy is human-readable and each integration is explained in terms of what data is pulled, what’s not pulled and how the data is used. Currently, data is encrypted on Clay’s servers and in transit, but the goal — and part of what the funding round is going toward — is to make Clay work fully locally on users’ devices.

“We want it to work fully on your machine. We don’t want to be storing any data at all,” says Hamed. “To do that is a very technically complex task, so it was prohibitively out of reach for Matt and I as we were building Clay in the beginning. But now that we have resources, that is our eventual goal.”

Still, Clay may face a difficult time convincing users that it’s safe, due to how many times people have been burned in the past over “smart” address books that abused users’ private data. Only last year, a new startup in this space, Sunshine Contacts, was found to be distributing people’s home addresses, even though these people hadn’t signed up for the app. Many other prior efforts also failed because they overstepped user privacy concerns in order to generate revenue.

Achariam believes the problem with these earlier products was often the business model they adopted.

“That was one of the things we really were thinking about when we started going into the space — because we, ourselves, wanted something like this — and every product that we saw kind of rubbed us the wrong way or exploded because of those reasons,” notes Achariam, of the smart address market’s history. “A lot of these things started off with making the user the product. And then you weren’t paying for it. There was no sustainable business model and at some point, they had to balance those trade-offs,” he says.

Image Credits: Clay

Clay is doing things differently. It’s starting from day one with a pricing plan that will allow it to self-sustain. Right now, that’s a fairly steep $20 per month, but the goal is to bring that down over time and introduce a free plan. (It’s also offering cheaper access to certain groups, like students and nonprofits, if a request is emailed.)

During testing, Clay was adopted by a number of different types of users, including teachers who wanted to remember students and their parents; a congressional candidate who wanted to track their constituents; and a veterinarian who wanted to remember customers and their pets.

“We intentionally made it really cross-industry, cross-disciplinary. We didn’t think that this was a tech problem or investor problem. We went broader,” notes Hamed.

The startup has raised a total of $8 million in seed funding from 2019 through 2020. The funding was led by Forerunner Ventures, with participation from General Catalyst.

Angel investors include Shannon Brayton, former CMO at LinkedIn; Kevin Hartz, former CEO of Eventbrite; Kelvin Beachum, an NFL player, philanthropist and investor; Lindsay Kaplan, co-founder of Chief and former VP of Communications and Brand at Casper; Zoelle Egner, former marketing lead at Airtable; Adam Evans, former CTO of RelateIQ; Charlie Songhurst, former head of corporate strategy at Microsoft; Sam Lessin, former VP of product management at Facebook; Jonah Goodhart, former CEO of Moat and SVP at Oracle; Jeff Morris Jr., Chapter One Ventures and others.

“Emerging from COVID, people are recognizing what had already become true. Relationships are increasingly digital, formed through online interaction and honed through messaging apps. So, how is it that we can be continuously connected, yet increasingly lonely at the same time?” stated Forerunner GP Brian O’Malley, about his firm’s investment. “The problem is that existing social products don’t serve you as the end user. You are just a pawn for some other customer, like a recruiter or some unknown advertiser. Clay is the first relationship software company built to understand all the signals that drive your connections, helping you form better ones with a broader set of people. Clay understands that your network is yours, so you should be empowered to own it,” he added.

Clay is currently opened to sign-ups through its website.

#apps, #computing, #crm, #customer-relationship-management, #desktop-app, #facebook, #forerunner-ventures, #funding, #general-catalyst, #google, #linkedin, #microsoft, #mobile, #networking, #privacy, #relationship-management, #relationships, #social-networking, #software, #startups, #web-app

3 issues to resolve before switching to a subscription business model

In my role at CloudBlue, Fortune 500 companies often approach me for help with solving technology challenges while shifting to a subscription business model, only to realize that they have not taken crucial organizational steps necessary to ensure a successful transition.

Subscriptions scale better, enhance customer experience and hold the promise of recurring and more predictable revenue streams — a pretty enticing prospect for any business. This business model is predominant in software as a service (SaaS), but it is hard to find an industry that doesn’t have a successful subscription story. A growing number of companies in sectors ranging from automotive, airlines, gaming and health to wellness, education, professional development and home maintenance have been introducing subscription services in recent years.

Legacy companies accustomed to pay-as-you-go models may assume shifting to a subscription model is just a sales issue. They are wrong.

However, businesses should be aware that the subscription model is much more than simply putting a monthly or annual price tag on their offering. Executives cannot just layer a subscription model on top of an existing business. They need to change the entire operation process, onboard all stakeholders, recalibrate their strategy and create a subscription culture.

While 70% of business leaders believe subscriptions will be key to their future, only 55% of companies believe they’re ready for the transition. Before talking technology, which is an enabler, companies should first address the following core issues to holistically plan and switch to a recurring revenue model.

Get internal stakeholders involved

Legacy companies accustomed to pay-as-you-go models may assume shifting to a subscription model is just a sales issue. They are wrong. Such a migration will affect nearly all departments across an organization, from product development and manufacturing to finance, sales, marketing and customer service. Leaders must therefore get all stakeholders motivated for the change and empower them to actively prepare for the transformation. The better you prepare, the smoother the transition.

But as we know, people naturally do not like change, even if it is for their own good. So it can be a formidable task to secure the cooperation of all internal stakeholders, which, depending on the size of your company, could number in the thousands.

#cloud, #cloud-services, #cloudblue, #column, #crm, #customer-experience, #customer-relationship-management, #ec-cloud-and-enterprise-infrastructure, #ec-column, #saas, #subscription-model, #subscription-services

The hamburger model is a winning go-to-market strategy

In the old software world — think Oracle and SAP — sales were the competitive advantage. Today, we live in a world of product-led growth, where engineers (and the software they have built) are the biggest differentiator. If your customers love what you’re building, you’re headed in the right direction. If they don’t, you’re not.

However, even the most successful product-led growth companies will reach a tipping point, because no matter how good their product is, they’ll need to figure out how to expand their customer base and grow from a startup into a $1 billion+ revenue enterprise.

The answer is the hamburger model. Why call it that? Because the best go-to-market (GTM) strategies for startups are like hamburgers:

  • The bottom bun: Bottom-up GTM.
  • The burger: Your product.
  • The top bun: Enterprise sales.

In the hamburger GTM model, your product is the meat. We’ll go through each layer before talking about some of the best ways to implement the model successfully at your company.

The hamburger model

The meat — product at the center: The hamburger model starts with a great product. As a founder, this means you don’t need to think about revenue on Day One. You do, however, need to obsess over your customers, what they want and how to build it. Nothing is more important.

The bottom bun — users not leads: In a top-down sales model, marketing creates leads that are then converted into sales by enterprise reps. In a bottom-up model, marketing creates users, not leads, and those users are never touched by sales. For companies that have been customer-obsessed from the very beginning because they built something people love, this bottom-up model can feel far more natural and fuel a successful business.

The top bun — building enterprise sales: Even the best bottom-up sales models aren’t enough on their own, and every company eventually needs top-down sales. It may sound counterintuitive, but even the companies most famous for their bottom-up approaches now have enterprise sales teams. That’s because there are certain types of customers — for example, healthcare, insurance and government — that require salespeople to engage with due to compliance and security reasons.

The Hamburger go-to-market strategy

The hamburger go-to-market strategy. Image Credits: Coatue

 

These are the basic elements of the hamburger GTM model: A killer product that sets you apart, a bottom-up sales strategy to convert users into paying customers, and a sales team to go after bigger customers that require more attention.

#column, #customer-relationship-management, #customer-success, #ec-column, #ec-how-to, #go-to-market, #marketing, #pricing, #sales, #startups, #tc

Kenya’s Ajua acquires WayaWaya to consolidate consumer experience play in African SMEs

Kenyan consumer experience platform for businesses in Africa, Ajua today announced that it has acquired WayaWaya, a Kenya-based AI and ML messaging and payments company.

WayaWaya’s customers and partners include the likes of I&M Bank, Interswitch and MTN. The company offers a range of services, from digital banking and payment services to financial services APIs and payment bots.

According to Ajua, the acquisition is primarily focused on WayaWaya’s payments bots system known as Janja. The platform, which has customers like Airtel, Ezee Money, Housing Finance Company of Kenya (HF Group), enables borderless banking and payments across apps and social media platforms. Teddy Ogallo, the entrepreneur who founded WayaWaya, joins Ajua as VP of Product APIs and Integrations.

Per Crunchbase, WayaWaya has just raised $75,000. Although the two companies did not disclose the financial details of the acquisition, Ajua is expected to have paid 10 times more than WayaWaya’s total raise.

Ajua, formerly mSurvey, was founded in 2012 by Kenfield Griffith. The company is solving a consumer data problem for African businesses to understand their business better and drive growth.

“There’s a lot of commerce happening on the continent and Ajua wants companies to move from transaction numbers to the customers behind such transaction,” Griffith told TechCrunch. “Imagine if we knew what drove consumer habits for businesses. I mean, that’s a huge exponential curve for African businesses.”

Teddy Ogallo (Founder, WayaWaya) & Kenfield Griffith (CEO, Ajua)

Teddy Ogallo (Founder, WayaWaya) & Kenfield Griffith (CEO, Ajua)

Nigeria’s SME market alone is valued at $220 billion annually. And while businesses, mostly big enterprises, can afford customer communication tools, a large segment of small businesses are being left out. Ajua’s play is to use data and analytics to connect companies with their customers in real time. “We’ve taken what makes enterprise customers successful, and we’re capturing it in a simple format so SMEs can have the same tools,” Griffith added

Since most consumer behavior for these SMEs happens offline, Ajua gives businesses unique USSD codes to receive payments, get feedback and offer discounts to their customers. It is one of the products Ajua has launched over the years for customer feedback at the point of service to businesses that cumulatively have over 45 million customers.

The company’s partners and clients also include Coca-Cola, FBNQuest, GoodLife Pharmacy, Java House, Safaricom, Standard Chartered and Total.

As an intelligent messaging bot, Janja is used by individuals and businesses across WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Telegram to automate customer support and make cross-border payments. So, Janja’s integration into Ajua’s product stack will close much of the acquirer’s customer experience loop by automating responses and giving customers what they want, when they want it.

This acquisition comes a month after Ajua announced that it partnered with telecom operator MTN Nigeria to launch a customer management product for Nigerian businesses. The product called MTN EnGauge carries the same features present in Ajua but, in this case, is tailored solely for businesses using the MTN network. The roll-out is expected to generate more data for Ajua’s thousands of users. It will also be upgraded to incorporate Janja and other services.

In hindsight, it appears Ajua could have created a product like Janja in-house due to its vast experience in the consumer experience space. However, the company chose an acquisition and Griffith gave two reasons why — building a similar product would have taken a long time and Ogallo seemed to know Janja’s business and operations so well, it just made sense to get him on board. 

“Teddy was going the same direction we’re going. We just thought to acquire WayaWaya instead and make a really good company out of both products attempting to solve the same problem. To me, it’s all about solving the problem together rather than going alone,” said the CEO. 

On why he accepted the acquisition, Ogallo, who now has a new role, noted that Ajua’s ability to scale customer service and experience and also help businesses was one reason and earned admiration from him. “Seeing how WayaWaya’s technology can complement Ajua’s innovative products and services, and help scale and monetize businesses, is an exciting opportunity for us, and we are happy that our teams will be collaborating to build something unique for the continent,” he added

This is a solid infrastructure play from Ajua coming from a founder who is a massive advocate of acquisition and consolidation. Griffith believes that the two are strategies for a speedier route to new markets and channels in Africa

I think there are lots of ways we can build the ecosystem. There are lots of young talent building stuff, and they don’t have access to capital to get to the next stage. The question is if they want to race to the finish line or take off time and get acquired. I think there’s a huge opportunity in Africa if you want to solve complex problems by acquisition.”

There has been an uptick in local acquisitions in Africa from startups within a single country and between two countries in the past three years. For the former, Nigerian recruitment platform Jobberman’s acquisition of NGCareers last year comes to mind. And there are pan-African instances like Lagos-based hub CcHub’s acquisition of iHub, its Nairobi counterpart; Ethiopian software provider Apposit sell-off to Nigerian fintech Paga; and Johannesburg-based fintech MFS Africa acquiring Uganda’s Beyonic.

The common theme among the acquisitions (and most African acquisitions) is their undisclosed sums. For Ajua, Griffith cited regulatory issues as one reason why the company is keeping the figure under wraps.

Since launching nine years ago, Ajua has raised a total of $3.5 million, according to Crunchbase. Given the nature of this acquisition and partnership with MTN, the company might set sights on another fundraise to scale aggressively into Nigeria (a market it entered in 2019) and other African countries.

#africa, #airtel, #artificial-intelligence, #cchub, #ceo, #customer-experience, #customer-relationship-management, #enterprise, #exit, #interswitch, #kenya, #lagos, #ma, #messenger, #nairobi, #nigeria, #tc, #uganda

For startups choosing a platform, a decision looms: Build or buy?

Everyone warns you not to build on top of someone else’s platform.

When I first started in VC more than 10 years ago, I was told never to invest in a company building on top of another company’s platform. Dependence on a platform makes you susceptible to failure and caps the return on your investment because you have no control over API access, pricing changes and end-customer data, among other legitimate concerns.

I am sure many of you recall Facebook shutting down its API access back in 2015, or the uproar Apple caused when it decided to change the commission it was charging app developers in 2020.

Put simply, founders can no longer avoid the decision around platform dependency.

Salesforce in many ways paved the way for large enterprise platform companies, being the first dedicated SaaS company to surpass $10 billion in annual revenue supported by its open application development marketplace. Salesforce’s success has given rise to dominant platforms in other verticals, and for founders starting companies, there is no avoiding that platform decision these days.

Some points to consider:

  • Over 4,000 fintech companies, including several unicorns, have built their platforms on top of Plaid.
  • Recruiters may complain about the cost, but 95% still utilize LinkedIn.
  • More than 20,000 companies trust Segment to be their system of record for customer data.
  • Shopify powers over 1 million businesses across the globe.
  • Epic has the medical records of nearly 50% of the U.S. population.

What does this mean for founders who decide to build on top of another platform?

Increase speed to market

PostScript, an SMS/MMS marketing platform for commerce brands, built its platform on Shopify, giving it immediate access to over 1 million brands and a direct customer acquisition funnel. That has allowed PostScript to capture 3,500 of its own customers and successfully close a $35 million Series B in March 2021.

Ability to focus on core functionality

Varo, one of the fastest-growing neobanks, started in 2015 with the principle that a bank could put customers’ interests first and be profitable. But in order to deliver on its mission, it needed to understand where its customers were spending their money. By partnering with Plaid, Varo enabled more than 176,000 of its users to connect their Varo account to outside apps and services, allowing Varo to focus on its core mission to provide more relevant financial products and services.

Gain credibility by association

#column, #customer-relationship-management, #developer, #ec-column, #ec-how-to, #platforms, #startups

How our SaaS startup improved net revenue retention by more than 30 points in two quarters

There’s certainly no shortage of SaaS performance metrics leaders focus on. While all SaaS companies do, and must, home in on acquisition metrics, there’s also massive revenue potential within your current customer base.

I think NRR (net revenue retention) is without question the most underrated metric out there. NRR is simply total revenue minus any revenue churn plus any revenue expansion from upgrades, cross-sells or upsells. The greater the NRR, the quicker companies can scale. Simply put: the power of compound math!

One of the biggest and most impactful changes we made was to move new business, retention and account management all under our chief revenue officer.

Over the course of two quarters, Terminus grew its NRR by more than 30 points, opening up incredible new levels of growth opportunities.

To boost our NRR for the better, I focused on three core pillars within our organization.

People

We took a holistic look at the organization and our org structure. One of the biggest and most impactful changes we made was to move new business, retention and account management all under our chief revenue officer. At the end of the day, it just makes a ton of sense to have acquisition and retention living under the same roof — why bother acquiring new customers if you can’t retain them?

We also rolled out a surround-sound team (around three or four people per customer) who onboard and help customers with their account from day one. In total, we have about a quarter of our company dedicated to this 24/7 support and hands-on guidance to ensure we’re enabling customers immediately.

Process

#column, #customer-experience, #customer-relationship-management, #customer-success, #ec-column, #ec-enterprise-applications, #ec-how-to, #marketing, #saas, #startups

Proptech startup Knock secures $20M to grow SaaS platform for property managers

In recent years, the U.S. has seen more renters than at any point since at least 1965, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau housing data. 

Competition for renters is fierce and property managers are turning to technology to get a leg up.

To meet that demand, Seattle-based Knock – one startup that has developed tools to give property management companies a competitive edge – has raised $20 million in a growth funding round led by Fifth Wall Ventures.

Existing backers Madrona Venture Group, Lead Edge Capital, Second Avenue Partners and Seven Peaks Ventures also participated in the financing, which brings the company’s total capital raised to $47 million.

Demetri Themelis and Tom Petry co-founded Knock in 2014 after renting “in super competitive markets” such as New York City, San Francisco and Seattle. 

“After meeting with property management companies, it was eye-opening to learn about the total gap across their tech stacks,” Themelis recalled.

Knock’s goal is to provide CRM tools to modernize front office operations for these companies so they can do things like offer virtual tours and communicate with renters via text, email or social media from “a single conversation screen.” For renters, it offers an easier way to communicate and engage with landlords. 

“Apartment buildings, like almost every customer-driven business, compete with each other by attracting, converting and retaining customers,” Themelis said. “For property management companies, these customers are renters.”

The startup — which operates as a SaaS business — has seen an uptick in growth, quadrupling its revenue over the past two years. Its software is used by hundreds of the largest property management companies across the United States and Canada and has more than 1.5 million apartment units using the platform. Starwood Capital Group, ZRS, FPI and Cushman & Wakefield (formerly Pinnacle) are among its users.

As Petry explains it, Knock serves as the sales inbox (chat, SMS, phone, email), sales calendar and CRM systems, all in one. 

“We also automate certain sales tasks like outreach and appointment scheduling, while also surfacing which sales opportunities need the most attention at any given time, for both new leases as well as renewals,” he said.

Image Credit: Knock

The company, Themelis said, was well-prepared for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our software supports property management companies, which operate high-density apartment buildings that people live and work in,” he told TechCrunch. “You can’t just ‘shut them down,’ which has made multifamily resilient and even grow in comparison to retail and industrial real estate.”

For example, when lockdowns went into effect, in-person property tours declined by an estimated 80% in a matter of weeks.

Knock did things like help property managers transition to a centralized and remote leasing model so remote agents could work across a large portfolio of properties rather than in a single on-site leasing office, noted Petry.

It also helped them adopt self-guided, virtual and live video-based leasing tools, so prospective renters could tour properties in person on their own or virtually.

“This transformation and modernization became a huge tailwind for our business in 2020,” Petry said. “Not only did we have a record year in terms of new customers, revenue growth and revenue retention, but our customers outperformed market averages for occupancy and rent growth as well.”

Looking ahead, the company says it will be using its new capital to (naturally!) hire across product, engineering, sales, marketing, customer success, finance and human resources divisions. It expects to grow headcount by 40% to 50% before year-end. It also plans to expand its product portfolio to include AI communications, fraud prevention, applicant screening and leasing, and intelligent forecasting. 

Fifth Wall partner Vik Chawla, who is joining Knock’s board of directors, pointed out that the macroeconomic environment is driving institutional capital into multifamily real estate at an accelerated pace. This makes Knock’s offering even more timely in its importance, in the firm’s view.

The startup, he believes, outshines its competitors in terms of quality of product, technical prowess and functionality.

“The Knock team has accomplished so much in just a short period of time by attracting very high quality product design and engineering talent to ameliorate a nuanced pain point in the tenant acquisition process,” Chawla told TechCrunch.

In terms of fitting with its investment thesis, Chawla said companies like Knock can both benefit from Fifth Wall’s global corporate strategic partners “and simultaneously serve as a key offering which we can share with real estate industry leaders in different countries as a potential solution for their local markets.”

#crm, #cushman-wakefield, #customer-relationship-management, #fifth-wall-ventures, #funding, #knock, #lead-edge-capital, #madrona-venture-group, #pew-research-center, #property-management, #proptech, #real-estate, #recent-funding, #saas, #seattle, #second-avenue-partners, #sms, #startups, #tc

Should your SaaS startup embrace a bottom-up GTM strategy?

Many of today’s most successful software companies, from Atlassian and Datadog to Zoom, subscribe to the bottom-up SaaS go-to-market model. In this model, the user purchases software directly from a website, without ever speaking to a sales person. The product essentially sells itself.

The bottom-up model has a few key benefits: Companies spend dramatically less on sales than their peers, allowing them to invest more in product; they can sustain hypergrowth for longer because they are not as reliant on raw sales headcount to win business; and they tend to be more profitable in the long run, leading to premium valuations.

For all these reasons, more and more SaaS startups are choosing to adopt the bottom-up go-to-market model. But for every Atlassian or Zoom, there are many more companies that fail — often because they don’t understand the hidden challenges and costs that come with the bottom-up model.

Before proceeding further, it’s important to note that bottom-up is not the right starting strategy for every company. A few quick ways to see if bottom-up is the right place to start for you:

  1. Product: People can easily try your product.
  2. Decision-maker: Your decision-maker is a line-level employee (not C-Suite).
  3. Users: Teams and individuals can get value from your product (doesn’t have to be full enterprise roll-out).
  4. Data: The data involved isn’t something that compliance would need to review.

For companies that meet these criteria, there are three important questions that you must be able to answer:

  1. Who needs to work together to make a bottom-up SaaS model work?
  2. What is the value you deliver to your customer and how do you determine pricing that matches that value?
  3. When do you hire a sales team? (Spoiler alert — it’s sooner than you think!)

In this piece, we will tackle each of those questions in turn and share some of the best answers we’ve seen from companies that are making it work.

Who needs to work together to make a bottom-up SaaS model work?

Unlike most traditional companies who rely on a head of sales to keep tabs on customers and how much each one is paying, most successful bottom-up companies rely on a combination of product, sales, customer support, marketing and community teams to manage revenue.

#coatue, #column, #customer-relationship-management, #customer-success, #entrepreneurship, #growth-marketing, #marketing, #saas, #sales, #startups, #tc

Freshworks (re-)launches its CRM service

Freshworks, the customer and employee engagement company that offers a range of products, from call center and customer support software to HR tools and marketing automation services, today announced the launch of its newest product: Freshworks CRM. The new service, which the company built on top of its new Freshworks Neo platform, is meant to give sales and marketing teams all of the tools they need to get a better view of their customers — with a bit of machine learning thrown in for better predictions.

Freshworks CRM is essentially a rebrand of the company’s Freshsales service, combined with the company’s capabilities of its Freshmarketer marketing automation tool.

“Freshworks CRM unites Freshsales and Freshmarketer capabilities into one solution, which leverages an embedded customer data platform for an unprecedented and 360-degree view of the customer throughout their entire journey,” a company spokesperson told me.

The promise here is that this improved CRM solution is able to provide teams with a more complete view of their (potential) customers thanks to the unified view — and aggregated data — that the company’s Neo platform provides.

The company argues that the majority of CRM users quickly become disillusioned with their CRM service of choice — and the reason for that is because the data is poor. That’s where Freshworks thinks it can make a difference.

Freshworks CRM delivers upon the original promise of CRM: a single solution that combines AI-driven data, insights and intelligence and puts the customer front and center of business goals,” said Prakash Ramamurthy, the company’s chief product officer. “We built Freshworks CRM to harness the power of data and create immediate value, challenging legacy CRM solutions that have failed sales teams with clunky interfaces and incomplete data.”

The idea here is to provide teams with all of their marketing and sales data in a single dashboard and provide AI-assisted insights to them to help drive their decision making, which in turn should lead to a better customer experience — and more sales. The service offers predictive lead scoring and qualification, based on a host of signals users can customize to their needs, as well as Slack and Teams integrations, built-in telephony with call recording to reach out to prospects and more. A lot of these features were already available in Freshsales, too.

“The challenge for online education is the ‘completion rate’. To increase this, we need to understand the ‘Why’ aspect for a student to attend a course and design ‘What’ & ‘How’ to meet the personalized needs of our students so they can achieve their individual goals,” said Mamnoon Hadi Khan, the chief analytics officer at Shaw Academy. “With Freshworks CRM, Shaw Academy can track the entire student customer journey to better engage with them through our dedicated Student Success Managers and leverage AI to personalize their learning experience — meeting their objectives.”

Pricing for Freshworks CRM starts at $29 per user/month and goes up to $125 per user/month for the full enterprise plan with more advanced features.

#artificial-intelligence, #business, #cloud-applications, #cloud-computing, #crm, #customer-relationship-management, #enterprise, #erp-software, #freshworks, #insideview, #machine-learning, #marketing, #marketing-automation, #online-education, #web-applications

Extra Crunch Partner Perk: Get 6 months free of Zendesk Support and Sales CRM

We’re excited to announce an update to the Extra Crunch Partner Perk from Zendesk. Starting today, annual and two-year Extra Crunch members that are new to Zendesk, and meet their startup qualifications, can now receive six months of free access to Zendesk’s Sales CRM, in addition to Zendesk Support Suite, Zendesk Explore and Zendesk Sunshine.

Here is an overview of the program.

Zendesk is a service-first CRM company with support, sales and customer engagement products designed to improve customer relationships. This offer is only available for startups that are new to Zendesk, have fewer than 100 employees and are funded but have not raised beyond a Series B.

The Zendesk Partner Perk from Extra Crunch is inclusive of subscription fees, free for six months, after which you will be responsible for payment. Any downgrades to your Zendesk subscription will result in the forfeiture of the promotion, so please check with Zendesk first regarding any changes (startups@zendesk.com). Some add-ons such as Zendesk Talk and Zendesk Sell minutes are not included. Complete details of what’s included can be found here.

#business, #crm, #customer-relationship-management, #enterprise, #extra-crunch, #industries, #marketing, #zendesk

Drive predictable B2B revenue growth with insights from big data and CDPs

As the world reopens and revenue teams are unleashed to meet growth targets, many B2B sellers and marketers are wondering how they can best prioritize prospect accounts. Everyone ultimately wants to achieve predictable revenue growth, but in uncertain times — and with shrinking budgets — it can feel like a pipe dream.

Slimmer budgets likely mean you’ll need more accurate targeting and higher win rates. The good news is your revenue team is likely already gathering tons of prospect data to help you improve account targeting, so it’s time to put that data to work with artificial intelligence. Using big data and four essential AI-based models, you can understand what your prospects want and successfully predict revenue opportunities.

Big data and CDPs are first steps to capturing account insights

Capturing and processing big data is essential in order to know everything about prospects and best position your solution. Accurately targeting your campaigns and buyer journeys necessitates more data than ever before.

Marketers today rely on customer data platforms (CDPs) to handle this slew of information from disparate sources. CDPs let us mash together and clean up data to get a single source of normalized data. We can then use AI to extract meaningful insights and trends to drive revenue planning.

That single source of truth also lets marketers dive into the ocean of accounts and segment them by similar attributes. You can break them down into industry, location, buying stage, intent, engagement — any combination of factors. When it’s time to introduce prospects to your cadence, you’ll have segment-specific insights to guide your campaigns.

AI realizes data-based insights

You might find that your data ocean is much deeper than you expected. While transforming all that data into a single source to drive actionable insights, you’ll also need the right resources and solutions to convert raw data into highly targeted prospect outreach.

This is where AI shines. AI and machine learning enable revenue teams to analyze data for historical and behavioral patterns, pluck out the most relevant intent data, and predict what will move prospects through the buyer journey.

#artificial-intelligence, #big-data, #column, #customer-data-platform, #customer-relationship-management, #ecommerce, #finance, #machine-learning, #marketing, #online-advertising, #product-marketing, #targeted-advertising, #tc

Gong raises another $200M on $2.2B valuation

For the third time since last February, Gong has raised a significant sum. In February, the company scored $40 million. In December, it grabbed another $65 million, and today it was $200 million on a $2.2 billion valuation. That’s a total of $305 million in less than 18 months.

Coatue led today’s cash infusion with help from new investors Index Ventures, Salesforce Ventures and Thrive Capital, and existing investors Battery Ventures, NextWorld Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital and Wing Venture Capital. It has now raised a total of $334 million, according to the company.

What is attracting this kind of investor attention? When we spoke to Gong about its Series B round, it had 300 customers. Today it has around 1300, representing substantial growth in that time period. The company reports revenue has grown 2.5x this year alone.

Gong CEO Amit Bendov says his company is trying to create a category they have dubbed “revenue intelligence.” As he explains it, today sales data is stored in a CRM database consisting of descriptions of customer interactions as described by the salesperson or CSR. Gong is trying to transform that process by capturing both sides of the interaction, then using artificial intelligence, it transcribes and analyzes those interactions.

Bendov says that the pandemic and economic malaise has created a situation where there is a lot of liquidity in the market and investors have been looking for companies like his to invest some of it.

“There’s a lot of liquidity in the market. There are very few investment opportunities. I think the Investment community was waiting a little bit to see how the market shakes out […] and they are betting on companies that could benefit long term from the new normal, and I think we’re one of them,” Bendov told TechCrunch.

He says that he wasn’t looking for money, and in fact still is operating off the Series B investment, but when firms come knocking with checkbooks open and favorable terms, he wasn’t about to turn them down. “There are CEOs schools [of thought that] tell you to raise money when you can, not when you need to. It’s not very diluted at this kind of valuation and it was a very easy process. […] The whole deal closed in 14 days from term sheet to money in the bank,” he said.

Bendov said that taking the money was “pretty much a no-brainer.” In fact, he says that the money gives them the freedom to operate and further legitimacy in the marketplace. “It gives us the ability to buy companies, make strategic investment, accelerate plans, and it also, especially since we cater to large enterprise customers, it gives them confidence that this company is here to stay…,” he said.

With around 350 employees today, it hopes to add 100 people by the end of the year. Bendov says diversity and inclusion is a “massive priority” for the company. Among the steps they’ve taken recently is opening a recruiting hub in Atlanta to bring more diverse candidates into the company, working with a company called FlockJay to train and hire underrepresented groups in customer success roles, and in Israel where the company’s R&D center is located, helping members of the Arab community with computer science backgrounds to learn interview skills. Some of those folks will end up working for Gong, and some at other places.

While the company has grown remarkably quickly and has shown great promise, Bendov is not thinking ahead to an IPO just yet. He says he wants to grow the company to at least a couple of hundred million dollars in sales and that’s two-three years away at this point. He certainly has plenty of cash to operate until then.

#artificial-intelligence, #cloud, #coatue, #customer-relationship-management, #enterprise, #funding, #gong, #recent-funding, #revenue-intelligence, #startups, #tc

The essential revenue software stack

From working with our 90+ portfolio companies and their customers, as well as from frequent conversations with enterprise leaders, we have observed a set of software services emerge and evolve to become best practice for revenue teams. This set of services — call it the “revenue stack” — is used by sales, marketing and growth teams to identify and manage their prospects and revenue.

The evolution of this revenue stack started long before anyone had ever heard the word coronavirus, but now the stakes are even higher as the pandemic has accelerated this evolution into a race. Revenue teams across the country have been forced to change their tactics and tools in the blink of an eye in order to adapt to this new normal — one in which they needed to learn how to sell in not only an all-digital world but also an all-remote one where teams are dispersed more than ever before. The modern “remote-virtual-digital”-enabled revenue team has a new urgency for modern technology that equips them to be just as — and perhaps even more — productive than their pre-coronavirus baseline. We have seen a core combination of solutions emerge as best-in-class to help these virtual teams be most successful. Winners are being made by the directors of revenue operations, VPs of revenue operations, and chief revenue officers (CROs) who are fast adopters of what we like to call the essential revenue software stack.

In this stack, we see four necessary core capabilities, all critically interconnected. The four core capabilities are:

  1. Revenue enablement.
  2. Sales engagement.
  3. Conversational intelligence.
  4. Revenue operations.

These capabilities run on top of three foundational technologies that most growth-oriented companies already use — agreement management, CRM and communications. We will dive into these core capabilities, the emerging leaders in each and provide general guidance on how to get started.

Revenue enablement

#artificial-intelligence, #column, #communication-tools, #contract-management, #crm, #customer-experience, #customer-relationship-management, #customer-success, #entrepreneurship, #extra-crunch, #finance, #growth-and-monetization, #highspot, #machine-learning, #madrona-venture-group, #marketing, #sales, #startups, #tc

A COVID-19 resilience test for B2B companies

COVID-19 has transformed the global business landscape.

So much so that in a matter of weeks after the onset of the pandemic in the United States, Congress provided more than $1.1 trillion in fiscal stimulus directly to businesses and distressed industries — four times more than was distributed during the 2008-09 financial crisis.

It came as no surprise when, at the start of COVID-19, venture capital investors largely went pencils-down for several weeks and shifted their focus to their existing portfolio companies. Extending company runways, preparing for longer funding cycles and managing operations in a novel business environment became the crux of company resilience. Now, moving into May, we can see this shift reflected in both the decline in number of early-stage companies funded and total capital invested.

As investors begin acclimating to this new normal, they have begun wading into new opportunities in time-proven, healthy industries and new emerging industries that are positioned to succeed during the pandemic. While we are seeing lower valuations, we believe certain B2B technology companies may be uniquely poised to thrive, and are pursuing investment opportunities in this space with a renewed focus.

Image Credits: Crunchbase Data via Tableau Public

*Excluding Biotech & Pharmaceuticals (Source: Crunchbase Data via Tableau Public)

Prior to COVID-19, early-stage B2B investors wanted to see strong growth and healthy unit economics; 3X year-over-year sales growth or 10% monthly growth was the gold standard. An LTV-to-CAC ratio over 3X signified a healthy payback cycle. There was less focus on capital efficiency; for every $1 million invested, investors were happy with $500,000 in generated revenues. Get to these numbers and your next funding round was guaranteed — but no longer.

During COVID, and likely beyond, company expectations and goalposts have been adjusted; 2X year-over-year growth may be the new 3X. While growth and unit economics are important, there are now new health indicators that will determine if a B2B company will thrive in a post-COVID world. With that in mind, we have put together a COVID reslience test that startups can use as a north star to grow their business in this new world.

This COVID-19 test is meant to be a gated checklist that will indicate where efforts should be focused, whether it be sales, product or finance. Before we leave you to your own devices, we wanted to walk through a couple of these new post-COVID questions that you should try to answer (and why they are relevant).

#analyst, #b2b, #cloudera, #collaboration-tools, #column, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #customer-relationship-management, #extra-crunch, #funding, #market-analysis, #marketing, #plug-and-play, #recent-funding, #startups, #twilio, #venture-capital

The best investment every digital brand can make during the COVID-19 pandemic

Intuitively, stores that sell online should be making a killing during the COVID-19 pandemic. After all, everyone is stuck at home — and understandably more willing to shop online instead of at a traditional retailer to avoid putting themselves and others at medical risk. But the truth is, most smaller online stores have seen better days.

The primary challenge is that smaller shops often don’t have the logistics networks that companies like Amazon do. Consequently, they’re seeing substantially delayed delivery timelines, especially if they ship internationally. Customers obviously aren’t thrilled about that reality. And in many cases, they’re requesting refunds at a staggering rate.

I saw this play out firsthand in April. At that point, my stores were down 20% or in some cases even 30% in revenue. Needless to say, my team was freaking out. But there’s one thing we did that helped us increase our revenue over 200% since the pandemic, decrease refund requests and even strengthen our existing customer relationships.

We implemented a 24-hour live chat in all of our stores. Here’s why it worked for us and why every digital brand should be doing it too.

Avoid the common ‘unreachability’ frustration

When I started my first online store in 2006, challenges that bogged my team down often meant that my team’s first priority became resolving those challenges so that we could serve our customers faster. But admittedly, when these challenges came up, it became more difficult to balance communicating with our customers and resolving the issues that prevented us from fulfilling their orders quickly.

#column, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #customer-relationship-management, #customer-support, #ecommerce, #extra-crunch, #growth-and-monetization, #growth-marketing, #marketing, #marketing-strategy, #online-shopping, #online-stores, #retail, #startups, #verified-experts