As part of building my tool for remote teams I’m exploring ways to market it. I want to try a bunch of ideas in small scale and see how they perform, so that I can calculate how it could work once I scale it up.
One of my first attempts has been with outbound marketing. This basically means I’m reaching out to people that I think Teametry can help and try to convince them to become my customer. I picked this approach first because it’d allow me to communicate directly with potential customers and learn from their objections and problems.
Outbound marketing could of course also be less of a hard sell. For some companies the time from first contact to a sale might be many months and during which the prospect is slowly guided towards becoming a customer. But since I’m still also looking to validate the whole idea, to see if anyone were actually prepared to pay for my product, I incorporated that element in my outbound marketing.
To start I identified three groups of people that I wanted to talk to: those I already knew (acquaintances), their recommendations in turn (referrals) and people I had no relation to (unknowns). Comparing the results for these different sources could be interesting.
In order to be able to reproduce my outreach later I also needed a process for guiding my potential customers through their decision to come onboard with me. This is called a sales funnel, for how it’s often visualized; a pipe with a wide, conical mouth where all leads enter and a narrow stem for the fewer resulting customers.
My funnel would consist of four stages: Discovery -> Qualification -> Prospecting -> Trial.
Discovery is where I come up with a name of a business or person that might be interested in Teametry.
Qualification is where I try to make sure the company has a team (or else my product doesn’t make sense for them), looks to be able to afford my prices, have a way to contact someone in charge (you’d be surprised how hard this can be), etc.
Prospecting is where I actually contact the potential customer to present Teametry and see if they are suffering from problems that I can help them solve.
Trial is where they try the product and we keep in contact for feedback, education and adjustments to the product.
This then ends up in either a “yes, we’ll buy” or “no, not interested”. Of course the potential customer can also exit the funnel before that at either of the above steps and this is very useful to track, as it can reveal good insights to your weaknesses.
To know how well something works you of course have to measure it and this requires a unit of measurement. For me that’s time; something I either need to spend myself or buy from someone else.
So I measured how long it took for me to go through all different stages in the funnel and I segmented that by group.
For acquaintances I spent little time on discovery and qualification but some more on prospecting and trial. With 23 minutes on average and a total conversion of 25%, it takes me 92 minutes to yield one customer out of my acquaintances.
Referrals took even less discovery and qualification time, as they were really pre-qualified already. On the flip side I had to spend more time on prospecting and trial and the former converted a lot less. With 41 minutes on average and a total conversion of 29%, it takes me 141 minutes to yield one customer out of my referrals.
The unknowns were easier than I thought to discover but qualification was a lot harder (having LinkedIn Premium would have helped). Prospecting was just silly but I learned the art of following up like a crazy person. Once in trial though it wasn’t much of a difference to the other groups. With 29 minutes on average and a total conversion of 6%, it takes me 483 minutes (!) to yield one customer out of my unknowns.
Why is the average for unknowns lower than for referrals? Because most unknowns exited the funnel at prospecting when they never even reply, while referrals at least took some time to have a meaningful conversation with me.
It’s clear that acquaintances is, hands down, the best source of customers. Sadly though there’s a natural limit to how many there are but for me they make the staple of my alpha testers, helping me shape my product to solve real life problems.
Referrals is a very interesting source because it can be automated a lot more, while keeping the benefit of them being pre-qualified. Even if I don’t keep doing outbound marketing I would still like to explore referrals more.
Finally, unknowns is a source that will probably never be worth it for me to pursue. I’m aware that I can probably make it more efficient and maybe hire a better salesman than myself but still, I just don’t see it being viable for Teametry.
All in all this outbound marketing experiment was a very instructive and I’ve learned a lot from trying to convince people to try Teametry and hearing about their specific problems with remote work. Outbound marketing isn’t a viable approach for me in the long run but starting out you sometimes have to do things that don’t scale.
At least now I have some numbers to compare to when I try my next marketing experiment. Measure, compare, improve — rinse and repeat!