#056: Jeroen Corthout – Automate What Makes You a Robot to Optimise The Humanity of Sales

October 24, 2020
Scale Your Sales Podcast Jeroen Corthout

My next guest is Jeroen Corthout co-founder and CEO of Salesflare an intelligent CRM built for SMBs selling to b2b most popular with agencies and fast-growing startup companies it’s a CRM that fills itself which is excellent. It’s a top-rated on platforms like g2 because it’s easy to use with its automation features. 

Jeroen talks about how they have adapted working and serving customers in the global pandemic. For Salesflare, it’s mostly an internal thing and for our customers very much an external thing. We’ve always done remote selling, since like when we were a year into Salesflare. I think because our customers come from all over the world they’re not just in Belgium where we are, but they’re mainly in the US, in the UK, that’s our second market all over Europe, Australia. We covered a whole globe. For us, it was mostly not being together with the team that made a big difference. We had to work a lot on streamlining our internal communication. Before more heavily relying on being in the same room, that’s always something we found important. We believe that if we were close to each other, that would make us communicate better, and it’s when we moved to the remote setting that we understood that it wasn’t so. We started organizing ourselves more for actually having the communication flow properly through the organization. We made changes to how we do meetings how we take notes in meetings, how we spread the conclusions of meetings. What kind of meetings we do, with how many people, all these kind of things. For our customers, the difference is mostly a lot of them were still doing meetings with people like actual live meetings which is a bit hard to imagine, after being almost six months in this pandemic, at least in the western world. Jeroen goes on to talk bout what he thinks is essential in the pandemic world.

Jeroen told me more about the unique features of Salesflare. 

When you look at it purely in terms of features, you might not immediately see it, but you need to look at the thing as a whole because the software is built in such a way that it sits on top of the existing data you already have. For a salesperson or somebody who’s making sales, most CRMs require a whole lot of manual data input. They are dependent successfully filling out the CRM correctly like you’re this sort of perfect data input robot. Then the system will work for you because all the information is there you can find it and use it to follow up with your customers. The reality is that nobody is that disciplined. It’s mostly a matter of discipline and obviously, time and energy investment and CRMs almost always fail. It might not be in the exact beginning, but it might be that in the beginning, you are very enthusiastic against keeping track of everything perfectly. Then your sales start rolling in, and you begin feeling successful, and then you’re like I don’t really need to fill this in and then so things start going wrong and the system crashes. That’s what we felt six years ago when we were following up leads for a software company of ours and when we started thinking like this is stupid and nobody ever thought of fixing the software? So, we build software that sits on top of the data that you already have. Data like your emails, their email signatures, whom you’re emailing, with whom you’re meeting, within your calendar, in your phone, stuff in social media, company databases, email tracking, web tracking and it pulls that all together. So that if you say I want to sell to that company that sells phones. It says, oh I see you know this person and this person there do you want to add them? You say yes. I say we know that you exchanged these emails, had these meetings and these phone calls on your phone. We found that phone number in the email signature, and we added that for you with the LinkedIn profile. We actively help people to follow up based on that data, so there’s an automation layer that looks at when was the last contact with that company? When did you say you wanted to follow up? Customers in a particular stage so that you never forget to follow up. You also never forget to respond to emails and all that software helps with that. 

As we know, CRM systems are not always good at integrating all of the information, and we all know salespeople are not as good at updating it so if it overcomes that these problems then that’s excellent. I asked Jeroen, what are the features that they are looking to develop? 

We started very much with the data input automation because we thought that’s where the main issue is like if people don’t fill that out, then the whole system falls apart. Now we’re building sort of automation on top of that, making sure that you can use all the data that is available. For instance, last year we built this advanced filtering thing with which you can go through your data with all the attributes you have across don’t only filter accounts by stuff on accounts but also by the fields on opportunities. Now we are building on top of that, the last big thing we released a few months ago, is workflows. You can use these filters to say, okay, if this and this and this is true then this person needs to get that email and then if they respond, it stop emailing them if they don’t answer it sends another email and then maybe another one and then or if they click that’s all things you can define. You can set up the sort of automated flow of emails, for instance, when somebody signs up for your software or if somebody signs up for your list or when a customer reaches a particular stage or what we use it a lot for outreach purposes. For instance, reaching out to potential partners in a personalized way because it sends from your inbox and it ultimately looks like an email you would have sent yourself. We are expanding more and more in that direction. 

Jeroen offers practical strategies to enable buyers to buy that built builds long-term, trusted relationships. Try to get as close to your customers as you can many companies nowadays try to do the exact opposite. They try to build many barriers between them and the customer. which is unnecessary; I assure you that if you do the opposite and try to stay as close as possible, it won’t be that overwhelming. Customers nowadays want a lot of independence, but they still appreciate when you build a close relationship. Do things like helping them in a personal way, interviewing them on how and why they are using your product or service, how you can improve these things, follow up with them consistently, which is something you can automate. You could say I want to reach out every three months to my existing customers and you set up something that does that can be automated but then of course if they respond you pick up the phone yourself, you don’t let a robot talk to them. Which is probably my second point, try to automate things in your sales process that doesn’t need you as a human being. Try to automate things a way that you’re spending a lot of time on, but that doesn’t feel like you’re adding a super amount of value. If you automate them away, that doesn’t make you less human if that makes sense. So easy wins, for instance, starting to use uh like uh calendar scheduling links, nobody likes to email back and forth anymore like ten times to book a meeting. Automate quick follow-up emails that you’re sending make templates for this kind of things. There’s a whole lot of things where you’re spending time now where the computer can better take over. Automating your data with a CRM automating follow-up reminders, but always try to do it in such a way that it doesn’t automate you away from the prospect will feel like this doesn’t make sense or is disrespectful. Try to choose these things where it makes you more human instead of less human. 

Jeroen says, the most significant opportunity is probably in the middle of the pipeline. People like to focus either on creating new leads and or closing deals. He advises keeping a balance on the whole process from a lead that we’re not closing them yet. There’s this whole follow-up process in between so work very much on that as many companies lose a lot of potential there. It’s just in setting up a system that works for you so if you have to strip everything out as you said and then look like okay so this is our customer their preferred buying process works like this they would like to do this then talk about us with this and do that and then get there.

Map and see what the steps are, see where all your prospects are in that process and then start trying to make that as frictionless as possible. Building reminders for yourself to make sure that nobody gets get stuck in that process. It is essential to make sure that every step that you’ve lined up in the process is super clear in terms of the next step. So within a sales pipeline is always very important to take people at each stage to the next step. If the next step is not 100% clear to you as a salesperson, then it is hard to get a customer to move to the next step. Jeroen says, a lot of value nowadays is lost in the sales pipeline. 

When asked, who is your hero or shero? Jeroen says, a bit cliche but um Jeroen is an engineer by background who likes technology and like entrepreneurship, so Elon Musk. He does all these not only like technology and entrepreneurship, but he works on these things that matter, which he believes at least in his worldview. “I guess it’s pretty close to what is needed like how can we move this world forward and I admire that.” 



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