When a company is in its early stage, the founders often wear the sales rep hat, in addition to product manager, marketing lead and more. But sales is often the most daunting to tackle since the company’s revenue and success relies on being able to close deals. Michael Africk, co-founder and CEO of Inmoji, knows this situation well. We recently caught up with Michael to hear his experiences growing his sales funnel by connecting with people in his network and building strong customer relationships by being transparent with campaign data and performance. Here, Michael shares his perspective:
Q: Can you give an overview of Inmoji and its growth since you founded it in 2014?
A: Inmoji creates emoji-focused marketing campaigns that connect brands and advertisers with consumers on mobile through proprietary, clickable and interactive branded Inmoji. Clicking on an emoji could show you any number of highly engaging experiences like video, streaming audio, games, deals and more.
My co-founder Perry and I started Inmoji in 2014, and we had no customers and no employees. In the last three years, we’ve added 12 team members, partnered with a plethora of brands, and raised more than $9 million, making us the most funded and largest player in the industry. Also, this year, we launched a self-service platform, allowing anyone to access our network of hundreds of millions of users. By communicating with users through our platform, brands are finding Inmojis are not seen as ads and therefore are a more effective way to market your brand.
We’re now running campaigns with huge companies, which include and have included Starbucks, Disney, Walmart, Interscope, Red Bull and Universal to name a few. We’re seeing engagement rates of 100% — everyone who gets an Inmoji clicks it — and we’re signing distribution deals that will extend our reach over the billion user mark by the end of the year.
Q: How does your company approach sales?
A: Both Perry and I have extensive experience in the marketing and advertising space, but also an incredible network of brands in the entertainment and commerce space. That means that we’re able to directly talk to them about the innate value of a one-of-a-kind advertisement that users are comfortable with and happy to see.
Q: How does Inmoji use data to drive customer loyalty and success?
A: We’re transparent with our analytics to all of our partners, to the point that we’re working on technologies to change the entire advertising industry’s approach to telling their clients how their campaigns are performing. We avoid numbers that don’t tell an actual story. Instead we talk about impressions, clicks, sends, engaged clicks™ and engagement rates. That’s raw, actionable data that builds a trusting relationship with the customer.
That’s why clients come back to work with us. The advertising and marketing industry has plenty of snake oil, and we want to be the antithesis of that. We build trusting relationships, we become trusted advisors, we let them know what’s working and what isn’t working. We want their dollars to work for them.
Q: How do you measure sales success?
A: We measure success by more than just revenue. It is about how deeply we can engage our partners and how strongly we develop the relationship. It is not just about signing on a brand partner, it is about building a relationship that lasts and creating the repeat customer.
Q: What’s one sales-focused tip would you give an entrepreneur that you wish you knew three years ago?
A: Culture is king. You can want to hang out with someone, you can think they’re the best person ever, hell you can think they’re the smartest and best person you’ve ever hired…but if they’re not culturally aligned, they’re not going to fit. You always want to hire talented, aggressive sales people that love your product, but you need to build a sales culture that wins as a team. You want people who put others first, are selfless and care for the company’s mission.
Also published on Medium.