The options around assembling tooling to make a sales funnel operate efficiently are numerous and daunting. We’e talked about this quite a bit in the past between this blog and the Mattermark Daily. We thought it’d be great to chat with some founders of companies building sales tools to see how they not only use their own products, but how they use other products and processes as well.
We recently caught up with Diego Ventura, CEO and founder of noHold, to get his take on how their sales approach is unique.
Can you start by explaining noHold and how you came up with the idea?
noHold has created an AI platform that companies like Cisco, Dell, McAfee, etc. use to engage their customers to provide pre/post-Sales support. The end user application is a Virtual Assistant that can understand customers’ queries automatically without human intervention. Gartner named us Cool Vendor twice, this year for AI Platforms and Conversational Interfaces. I started the company in 2000 with an investment of $15M. Before noHold I was running another company that closed a very successfully deal with a large Consumer Electronics manufacturer. The OEM deal was great, but we were responsible for first level support and it was at that point that we decided we needed to automate the process. We thought AI would be the answer, but back then not many commercial options were available, so we built one.
How does your company approach sales? How is it different than other companies?
We currently use a direct sales approach, but the board has decided recently to augment it with channels. This means that it is going to be even more important for product information, processes, procedures and pricing to be well documented and easily accessible to our own sales people and our partners’. To this end we are using our own platform that helps Sales Managers create Virtual Assistants out of existing documents they may already use to train their team. The Virtual Assistant can be available to the team while they are interacting with customers right where they are, maybe in a Salesforce.com session, on a mobile via voice, etc. Best of all we can check the metrics provided by the platform to figure out what’s most important to our and our partners’ sales people.
Let’s dive a little deeper into how your sales team operates. How often are decisions and activities driven by data insights?
Prior to an engagement we like to learn as much as possible about the company and the people we are going to connect with. We use multiple resources for this that range from LinkedIn to market specific research depending on vertical. Our approach to each sales call is very investigative. First, we try to gain trust from a prospect and then learn what’s important to them. We position ourselves as experts in the space and share the best practices we have learned by working with F500 companies for the past 15+ years.
What tools does your team use to gather information and make sure you’re spending time on the right prospects?
Multiple tools, but primarily analysts’ reports from Gartner and Forrester. We also developed a methodology that very quickly allows us to determine the level of interest in our solution within the first call. I think that good intelligence to start with and a quick way to determine interest are a powerful combination in helping us save time.
What does success look like for your sales team?
Aside from the standard Key Performance Indicators (KPI), we measure customer satisfaction in relation to the ROI we have been able to generate for them. We are a SaaS platform, so customer retention is as important as customer acquisition since our revenue is recurrent. Success is not just hitting the KPI, though. To me, success is when a customer stops by the office for no particular reason, just to spend a bit of time with us and have a coffee. That kind of customer loyalty has no price.
What advice would you offer other sales teams that have a product as niche as yours?
It is very important to understand and be aware of the person you are talking to. Everybody is important, but for different reasons. The key is to find the right prospect and understand what is important to them.