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The SalesCrunch Startup Story

I decided to take Fred Wilson’s lead on AVC today and write about how and why I started SalesCrunch.  Basically, I started SalesCrunch from a burning need.  During the four-and-a -half years prior to SalesCrunch, I had built the three sales teams at Trulia that now account for 200 of its 400 employees.  Hiring and ramping the first 10 salespeople was all about me getting in the trenches with them, meeting with customers, doing demos, creating collateral, preparing proposals, etc.  I nearly lived on a plane the first few years. When we hit 10 people it was clear that “strategy” couldn’t scale any further and I had to get off the road.

But if I couldn’t be on the front lines with the salespeople, seeing and hearing what customers were saying, how was I going to coach them?  More importantly, how could I take the hundreds of hours of training I put into each of those first 10 salespeople and transfer it quickly it across to the next 200 salespeople?   When I looked around at all the other fast growing and even large technology companies that were building large sales teams, it seemed no one had a solution. Everyone was simply hiring as many salespeople as they could and throwing them into the fire with maybe a week or two of training.  They expected most would fail and they would find two or three good salespeople for every five to ten they hired.  I thought that was nuts. First of all, its extremely costly.  It takes months for even the best salespeople to ramp up, so you don’t know if someone is going to work out until you have tens of thousands of dollars invested in them.  Worse, it’s completely demoralizing to the salespeople, including the head of sales who holds the key to the revolving door.

I thought about how to solve this problem every day for a few years when three trends came together that presented a solution to me:

  1. More and more sales were happening virtually. Between online meetings, presentations, demos, email, IM, LinkedIn and Facebook, larger and larger deals were getting done without ever meeting someone face to face.
  2. Salespeople had to login to an increasing number of tools to get their job done to keep up with #1.
  3. The dominant online meeting platforms created in the 90s were horribly broken and singularly focused.

Now, to understand how these three things came together for me to create SalesCrunch, you have to appreciate that Trulia is obsessed with using data to make smart, informed decisions.  For consumers, Trulia makes it extremely easy to understand massive amounts of housing data from home sales to local crime statistics, school information, average commute times and even how much your neighbor paid for their house so you can make a smart home buying decision.  Trulia visualizes all this data and more in a way that is simple and easy to understand, like these interactive maps.    Internally, we analyzed reams of data every day to run our business. If I could share the KPI (key performance indicator) spreadsheet we reviewed every morning,  you would fall over, overwhelmed by how much is measured.

So when I looked at the three trends above, I saw a huge opportunity to create a single, next-generation meeting platform that would fully integrate into tools people already use everyday like email, LinkedIn and Salesforce. By simplifying people’s lives, we could capture and measure every single interaction they have with or about customers, analyze what’s working, what’s not and constantly improve everything based on real-time data. We could also take what the top 20% of salespeople say and do with customers to create 80% of the revenue in most companies and instantly transfer those best practices to the rest of the sales team.  We could not only save companies money by reducing the churn of their salespeople, but also we could help them and their salespeople make a great deal more money by making what works for some repeatable and scalable by everyone. Most importantly, we could offer the 5 million people who try sales and fail every year a greater opportunity to succeed and become financially independent.  How’s that for impact? Now you know why I started SalesCrunch and how we are going to save the world, one meeting at a time.

25 more posts to go in my 30 posts in 30 days challenge.

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