My 5 Favorite Gmail Plugins and Tricks for Growth Hacks.

‘Agility’ is one word that is core to the idea of Growth Hacking. While classic Marketers rely on long term data and user behavior for decisions, Growth Hackers often work with smaller sample size and act in ‘real time’ to convert visitors to customers.

In my experience, email is one of the most powerful tools for converting visitors to customers. For example we improve conversions for an edutech startup by almost 100{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c} within weeks, through an email campaign.

However, for email ninjas- life is inboxed. They live, eat, breathe emails. I use Plugins, Tools and simple tricks to help me manage my inbox. Here’s 5 favorite Gmail Plugins and tricks for Growth Hacking.

Gmail Tabs and Inbox Zero:
The New tabs help to focus on what matters and reduces my inbox size by ~30{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c} -50{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c} . I let Google’s technology take care of the spams, social updates and promotions and focus on emails that really matter.

GMail- Tabs

Further, I Live by Inbox Zero, which means I either Delete, Delegate, Respond, Defer or Act on the emails in my Inbox. Thanks! Merlin Mann.

Google Alerts and Labels
I use a combination of Google Alerts and email filtering + labels extensively. Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on one’s interest. If you are following 50-100 keywords on Google be sure Alerts will swamp your inbox. I have configures email filtering rules and labels to keep the clutter off my inbox.

Rappotive
Rappotive shows you everything about your contacts right inside your inbox- what people look like, where they’re based, and what they do. It also helps grow one’s network on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook without leaving the inbox. Rappotive is more like a mini CRM married to LinkedIn.

Rappotive

Yesware
If you rely on emails for growth you want to know who opens your email and clicks on your link and Yesware does exactly that. It also let’s users track prospects and has some ready to use email templates.

Yesware

Boomerang Calendar
Boomerang Calendar helps schedule meetings from within the emails. It highlights the date and time in email ( both absolute and relative i.e 5PM 10/18 or 5PM Tomorrow) to make scheduling meetings a breeze.

Go on Startup Ninjas install your arsenals and win the Growth Hacking war.

Qualifying Sales Leads for Technology Startups

If you are in the B2B Sales function of technology startup your role is one of the most critical for   startup’s survival. You are supposed  to pump in revenue in challenging situation to keep the startup going.

Typical startup challenges include::

– The product is in beta or slightly beyond beta, however, nowhere as evolved as competitor’s product your startup wants to dislodge.

– Your target customers have been doing business a certain way and are not willing to change.

Product-Market fit seems like a myth- you experiment based on assumptions and experience.

Given these challenges and the lack of resources it is critical to qualify leads early to maximize results. If you qualify leads early you know where to focus your energies and who to avoid.

What can a startup sales guy do to maximize results? How does the process of qualification work? The remaining of this post is about qualifying prospects early in the sales cycle.. perhaps in the first meeting.

‘Qualifying Leads’ is a misnomer, for the foot soldier is should actually be called “Rejecting Distractions’. Here are 3 questions you should try to get answers for in your first meeting with a prospect to minimize distractions:

1. Is the person you speaking with a user of your product, the decision maker, the influencer or a pain in the neck?

If the person is potential user of your product try to set up a demo as the next follow up item. If the person is the decision maker talk about the current solution they are using, the budget , how your solution could help them save over the next few years.  Talk about how you plan to disrupt the market, about your cool technology to the influencers.

‘Pain in the neck’ people are the ones that don’t believe in change, they would want to keep doing things the way it is being done. For example, if your startup solves the problem of an enterprise by moving certain function to cloud, these people would believe that Internet is doomed or evil. The best you could do is avoid direct pitching to the naysayers. Pitch to the influencers and decision makers instead.

2. Does the organization have the budget?

Your solution may be great, however, if the organization does not have budget this year there’s no point wasting time. Add such organizations to the ‘monthly newsletter mailing list’ to keep in touch and DO NOT waste your time trying to pitch.

The decision makers are the best people to discuss budgets. Users and influencers are either over-optimistic or over-pessimistic about the budget and purchase mandate.

3. Will they buy or are they looking for free products?

Customers try to bully startups into Win-Lose deals. Customer wins and the startup loses. They can do this because they know startups are eager to get their first few customers and they are correct to that extent. Startups need to work with early adopters to build their product, test the product market fit, develop channel and distribution. However, as a startup you need to ensure you are getting into deals where you will make money.

As the person front ending sales you need to make sure that the customer pay.  You can reasonably guess if the customer is looking for free lunch from the questions they have about the product features.

Customers that do  not intend to pay will quiz you about the features your product has or does not have. Do you have this feature? When do you think you can add that feature?  We definitely need those feature to consider your product etc..

Customers that are willing to try and pay for your product will ask for benefits. Will this feature help me reduce my effort by 30%? Will this feature help my team collaborate better? and so forth.

You should spend you time, energy and resources on customers that quiz you about the benefits and not customers that have a laundry list of features.

To sum it up, try to reduce distractions early in the sales cycle and focus energies on evangelists and early adopters.


Happy Selling!

Sales Roles for B2B Startups

Traction is the single most important metric for a startup to scale and grow. Large organizations have a formal structure for creating and growing sales pipeline. Startups, on the other hand, are short on resources to invest in Sales Teams and that compounds the problem of Traction for startups.

A typical startup is a team of 2-4 with each co-founder wearing multiple hats. More often than not, the CEO will also be the Head of Business Development and Sales. This often creates Sales Myopia as the founders end up focusing only on short-term tactics and miss the long-term goals.

Most Startups fail to acknowledge that CEO, Head of Business Development and Head of Sales are three different roles in the sales function. To build a robust sales pipeline these roles need to be addressed in parallel.

The roles of CEO, Head of Business Development and Head of Sales are overlapping and one may end up stepping on other’s toe. One easy way to decide ‘who does what’ is by the time impact of these roles on the sales pipeline.

Sales Roles for B2B Startups

CEO should typically be doing things that add to the sales pipeline in 12-18 months. Making connections that may turn into a lead, establishing thought leadership by presenting papers, networking for the long term etc.

Head of Business Development should be looking 6-12 months down the line. viz. converting the network into leads, participating in trade shows, creating collaterals for new products etc.

Head of Sales should be responsible for all activities that impact sales pipeline in the next 6 months. Setting up Demos, Tracking leads, Negotiations etc.

This is the ideal scenario, practically, 1 person wears these 3 hats in a startup, In that case the Founder CEO should split their time in the 3 roles – a split like 15:25:60 between CEO, Head of Business Development and Head of Sales usually works fine.