Mark Fidelman 00:17
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the digital brand builder podcast. Joining me today is rune court out. And he is with a company called sales flair. In fact, he’s the CEO of sales flair. And today we’re gonna talk about a very interesting subject. I haven’t heard this before, but it really intrigued me. So I wanted you to hear about it. And that is how to grow a business by constantly launching. So this perpetual launching, so I don’t know how to introduce you any more than you already. I already have your own. Can you kind of tell us a little bit about yourself in 100 words or less.
Jeroen Corthout 00:57
And so I’m co founder and CEO of sales flair. My background is in sales and marketing mostly but I’m an engineer by education. Actually a biomedical engineer, I worked for a while in a pharma company and then help pharma companies with organizing their marketing sales and CRM. Then went back into software, which is more my thing. And helping actually agencies and software companies mostly that’s why mostly I want the software to be more successful nowadays with your sales.
Mark Fidelman 01:38
Wonderful and then how did you start sales flair? How did you start it?
Jeroen Corthout 01:43
We started sales in 2014. I personally had worked with Salesforce for a long while. When I was in, in in in a marketing consultancy, we had Salesforce internally and I really tried to use it as a practical sales tool, but I never understood that I really tried hard because it was my first CRM. And I had the idea that the way serums were sold, they were going to help me to organize my sales. But it never really did. I kept organizing myself and other systems and then just logging some stuff into into the CRM when I never I, I really needed to. And then fast forward four years then to 2014. When we were working on a business intelligence software company, we had a ton of leads. And we tried to organize ourselves. Well, we found that no CRM that we tried, really helped us. And plus, when when we then started using Google Sheets, which was stupid as well, but we found that we spent a whole lot of time duplicating data from somewhere else, basically. Which we weren’t very good at, we were in disciplined enough to keep filling out the sheet, which then got us into all kinds of issues because the data was not up to date. And we would contact people at the wrong times, and all those kind of things about stuff we already said. I mean, if you don’t have the right data, you you immediately start doing stupid things with your customers. So we thought, like, what if we make a system that pulls that data that we’re duplicating actually together for you as a salesperson, and helps you to sell better. So instead of making a system where you need to input a whole lot of data for your management and get not much back, we built the system that offers you data helps you to curate it and then helps you to stay on top of your leads as well, with with automated suggestions and all that so that you Can never drop leads anymore without having to spend a whole lot of time on on data input.
Mark Fidelman 04:08
Wonderful. So who’s like your main competitor that?
Jeroen Corthout 04:12
Uh, it depends how you look at things. A lot of people will compare us with Salesforce. That’s what I found when doing quite some interviews, you know, a lot of people know the pain of Salesforce, and then start looking for an alternative. If people then compare it with other systems, it’s most often nowadays with one HubSpot, because they have a free CRM. And a lot of people don’t really know what they’re looking for. So they just go CRM. First thing they find is HubSpot. They have an enormous amount of money to to throw at the at the traffic problem, let’s say. And then secondly, it’s a lot of pipe drive as well. Pipe drive is like us a real practical system. For you to follow up your leads is easy to use as well. It’s easy to set up as well, where we make a difference there is in the easy to keep it up to date as well. Because pipedrive is a manual system and in our system, it’s, it’s really automated from the ground up.
Mark Fidelman 05:20
Okay, so let’s talk about how to grow a business by constantly launching Why don’t you tell us what that means, first of all,
Jeroen Corthout 05:31
so across the lifetime of sales flair, we have got sales rare to many different sort of versions and states and along the way, we’ve taken every opportunity we could to actually relaunch sales for and that means relaunching as a sort of new product but it also means launching it into an New and bigger channel. So the first large sales service probably in somewhere 2015, we first launched our first product, which was not getting a whole lot of attention because it it was just what they what they call a minimum viable product but not a minimum lovable product. We get it in the press a few times throughout the summer of 2015, where we announced that there was something new on the market. That’s goods compete with Salesforce for instance. That’s that’s the company that people mostly want want you to compete with Microsoft Dynamics. We then spend a whole lot of time reading Selling sales flair one on one to people. And it’s towards the end of 2016 that we launched sales flair online. In the center, I mean, application was always online, but you couldn’t sign up fully self guide it’s through through the websites, you always went through me. And I would guide you through the whole process so that I was sure that you understood everything were properly set up and all those kind of things. We weren’t really ready to let things go yet. And it was also a good strategy for us to keep improving the problem because we always saw what was going wrong. But then that online launch, that’s something we did. While we went to TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, we took that as an opportunity to do a bit of a launch event there and from their own we have been lost Launching, I think, the month of March after that. So the year after on product hands, which is the the main product community in the world, I’d say a better place nowadays to launch then in Ben TechCrunch goes on TechCrunch you will only get when you get massive amount of funding. And then about three, four months later, we launched on appsumo. appsumo is the biggest. I don’t know how to call it like Groupon for software. Which then brought us to a whole other level. So imagine in terms of scale. When we launched online, we probably had 2030 people trying us out when we launched them Product turns, we had more like three hundreds trying us out. And then when we launched on appsumo, we added about 6000 people in a matter of three weeks on the software. So always building up this, this, this the scale of the launches, at that point that was really launching our CRM. And then from there, we’ve also started repeating that process a bit. We do monthly product launches. But sometimes there’s also a bigger one, which we then take more time to launch. For instance, the last one we did in April, I believe this year, we launched our latest evil workflows feature quite big to get attention for that work.
Mark Fidelman 09:57
So this constant launching versus Like one launch and over what what advantages do you see there?
Jeroen Corthout 10:07
First of all, you can you can aim at different audiences, you can launch in different places with a slightly different focus. And secondly, you can keep building so, you can launch your first version you can launch a big new feature slash product you built into your product, you can do that another time and each time you get attention for that specific thing which, which increases the amount of interest in your product, which might hit a slightly different audience or keeps you Top of Mind with your target audience. Because if you just launch once, and then stop people, that there’s a sort of hype for a moment, which then starts starts dying down after a while, and people don’t consider you as new and fresh and stuff anymore. They start looking at other stuff.
Mark Fidelman 11:26
Okay, and how do you know what, when to launch new things? And, and when I mean is it meant monthly, weekly? You know, how do you determine all these consecutive launches that you’re doing? How do you space them out?
Jeroen Corthout 11:41
Yeah. So so if you’re, if you’re thinking about the product updates, we try to do them monthly. Sometimes we have bigger features that make that that pushes us a bit. But we tried to get new stuff out every month. In terms of functionality. This is Always, I mean, allowance on our own channels are. It’s it’s an email that goes out goes on all the social medias and all those kind of things. And that’s something we do on a regular basis. We also launched content twice a week, if you want to call that a launch as well, but then the real bigger launches, that’s really based on our own feeling that we’re launching something new, something that will appeal to the audience in a different way, sort of than our original product. Then we decide to do bigger launches to drive more attention with that. Okay.
Mark Fidelman 12:48
And then when you’re preparing for the launch, do you have a methodology for you know, you start with this, then you go to this, then you go to that to have kind of a methodology. How do you how Do you launch big or small within your organization?
Jeroen Corthout 13:07
Um, it’s for us it starts mainly in almost all of these cases with booking with customer ones. We keep very close track of all the things that people are asking for. So we know exactly what’s what’s most popular with them and why we start sort of making a brief for that. We don’t do the the press release thing that they do at Amazon, if you’re familiar with that, where they every new thing that they want to introduce it needs to written in a press release format, but it’s it’s it’s somehow like that you could say, then from there, our first step is mainly development. So in that case, we start scoping out It needs to do, how it needs to look like and then how it’s going to be implemented. And then when it starts reaching the goal life dates, software wise. We take back what we scoped out initially in terms of this is what for this is why they wanted all these kind of things and turn that into a narrative. So for instance, if you if you go look at our product updates, you’ll see that it’s always written from standpoint like, three ambitious issue, then you’ll be happy to know that we have the solution for it now. And, yeah, it’s always super important to know who you’re talking to what your exact issue is and how you’re solving that. So you can exactly bring that story when you’re doing the lounge. Then depending on where it goes, I mean where it goes, live. We have a different way of preparing for these things. Because we’ve done these things multiple times, if you are interested in one of those, I can always go into detail. Yeah,
Mark Fidelman 15:14
I mean, I think, you know, people are just trying to learn how to do things better, right? That’s why new ideas and then how to implement it so that they can be successful. Like you were successful. So yeah, if you could dive in that would be wonderful.
Jeroen Corthout 15:27
Yeah, let me let me maybe take productions as an example. So the important thing on productions is one. That’s the audience that you are building what you’re building for overlaps with that of product and, and product and there’s a community for new products. So you can imagine it’s a lot of people who are either building their own startup or in the sense of a text up or working on an agency, or just generally early adopters. If your product or what you’re building is good for that, then this might be a good place, then to get attention. You need to have that audience in mind and start building a narrative for them. Understanding how your, the thing you’re launching is different from other things they’ve seen before because that’s very important. And how are you gonna make that clear? Then go through the process of posting on products hands, hunting, as we call it. If you create an account and then get a bit of credibility with it, then I think you can quite easily get boasting rights nowadays. And then you can go through the process yourself of seeing all the materials you need. This is a thumbnail a bunch of graphics, a name a slogan in. And when you launch, most people also both an intro comments. So you basically start taking what you’ve defined as the story, how things are different and who it’s for and all that and start translating it into these materials, because these are the materials you specifically need for product. And then when you’ve nailed all that, the main job you have is getting on the front page. Which done on that? Yeah, that does not happen organically. People might have the dream that they just post something on product and then it will hit first place but that’s not how it works. You need to give it a push at least at first So make sure you have an audience of active Product Hunt users that is ready to promote you and your launch. And then have a way to, to ask them to push you to the top. And when when when you get that happening, then well, you will get visibility, you will get more outputs and all that what we did in our last launch with email workflows, is also incentivizing some users or early users of the functionality to make videos about how they use it, and then post that also in the comments so that people could get a much better feeling of of the how to use it and what it’s for and all those kind of things in a much more community driven sort of way, even if it was, it was slightly pushed, let’s say, we asked them, it gives a very good community feeling around it.
Mark Fidelman 19:09
Okay. And what? How did you get your community to push it? What were you doing?
Jeroen Corthout 19:18
So first of all, we have a list. You
Mark Fidelman 19:23
get out actually, how’d you get the community first? And then how did you get them to push?
Jeroen Corthout 19:30
Getting the community is a is a hard work in the beginning. And it comes from all kinds of directions. It’s getting users on your software, it’s getting people to read your blog, it’s getting active in, in groups and all that to get people to know you. It’s building a network. That’s, that’s, yeah. A lot of work. It’s really building that audience. As soon as you have that audience things Become a bit easier. If you don’t have it at first, you can, of course, fall back on your friends, family, colleagues, ex colleagues and all those kind of things. To to at least get get a bit of a push there. As soon as you have an audience, then it’s a matter of activating them. For us, for instance, we we asked our users who is interested in helping us when we do launches, we have a list of those people and we can always email them whenever we need help. We also have a list of all the people who ever helped us with launches, apart from nets, like our own network and all these other things so separate from our customers. And we can also go through through that list to ask people to to help us out and share and all that Okay,
Mark Fidelman 21:01
so it did. I won’t drill down on this because a lot of people don’t realize how difficult is this but to get back community, did you have any kind of offer to get them to sign up for something? How did you build it?
Jeroen Corthout 21:16
No, not really. I think a lot of our early community building was around being active in on Quora, in Facebook groups. A lot of it was from Facebook groups, where we found like minded people and started sharing things that were valuable to them things we were doing and that we found they could be interested in. That helped us a lot in terms of networking and getting the name out there and all those kind of things.
Mark Fidelman 21:51
And then what I mean when you launched, how many people did you have in the community to help push on product On
Jeroen Corthout 22:05
The first time I think we had a few hundreds
Mark Fidelman 22:09
and that was enough to get you on the first page.
Jeroen Corthout 22:12
That is enough to get you on the first page. Yeah, I, we ended the day with 700 upvotes I think which back then was a more normal number nowadays it’s a bit quieter unless you do a lot of a lot of push to get on the front page. He only needs I think, the beginning 30 to 50 or something to get in the top five. You need to hit say 100 in the first few hours.
Mark Fidelman 22:47
Okay, so it’s also a timing thing. It’s getting everyone to do it at once.
Jeroen Corthout 22:52
Um, yes and no. I think that the algorithm counts. upvotes per hour. So yes, in the beginning, you need to get quite a mouthful to get up there so that other people can see you that you don’t know. So they can upvote you. But you don’t have to do that. When the product and they, so to speak starts exactly, because if you do it a bit later on, you have a tendency of growing higher with less upvotes, which I think is because they they count up votes per hour. Yeah. So if you start a bit later, with more, less upvotes and less hours, you know what I mean?
Mark Fidelman 23:44
Yeah, I know what you mean. Okay. Anything else that made you successful in product on that you do want to bring up
Jeroen Corthout 23:53
if I could give one tip. I would say that you make sure that people who come from Product turns are also welcomed on your site in the right way. So mostly you will link people to the front page, or at least the page that is about the thing you’re going to be launching. But what you can do is use something like hello bar or intro bar or something like that. To welcome the product enters on the page, share a special promo with them, which you can already share on your product on page and intro comments. But it’s it’s very good that you also shared when they land on the page, and that way, give them an extra incentive to actually try out what you’ve been what you’ve been launching.
Mark Fidelman 24:44
All right, well, we’re gonna wrap things up here. If anyone has any questions for him, or for me, just give me a shout on Twitter at Mark Fidelman Where can They find you.
Jeroen Corthout 25:02
You can also find me on Twitter if you like, the ads and then my name is Yuri Cortez. Or you can find me on LinkedIn. If you connect with me on LinkedIn, please include a message. So I know where to come from otherwise, it’s just another random person who sends me a LinkedIn request.
Mark Fidelman 25:22
Okay, excellent. So and also, you have a free trial that you would like to offer people anyone interested in his CRM system, his company’s CRM system, just go to HTTPS, colon slash slash sales flare calm, and you can register for a free trial. Girona was pleasure to have you any parting words?
Um, no, it’s really great to be on the show. All right.
Mark Fidelman 25:53
Likewise, good to have you and good luck with everything. Thank you.