Brian goes CRM shopping

3 min read

After spending 12 years at my previous company in multiple sales and sales leadership roles, I decided it was time for a change when Tim approached me about being the first full time sales person at his new database company. Who’s Tim? The CEO, apparently, who I remember from a different life of Kokanee drinking and snowboarding. While I was definitely nervous about leaving the steady mothership of corporate America, I was really excited at the prospect of entering the startup world and the challenges it would bring. And I like Tim.

I thought I was going in with open eyes and prepared for what lay ahead, but there are only so many blogs and internet articles you can read on what to expect before they all start to blend together. Most of them are giving the same advice just in different formats and are not that insightful. Be prepared for everything, you’ll be doing more than you ever have, you’ll wear many hats. So great, I’m all set. I read the internet and the internet doesn't lie.

I was lied to by the internet.

shocked

As a sales professional, I am used to knowing certain things like my target audience, cost structure, competitors’ cost structure, why us, why them, sales activity metrics, etc. Some of these were known, but Dolt is one of the first new takes on SQL databases in 25 years so there is a lot of unknown and a lack of competitors for what we do.

Luckily at a startup, I get to figure out a lot of that stuff as I go to market and pitch people. So my job is to try, fail, report, tweak, fail, report, tweak and get a win and then fail some more. Lucky right? I'd be lying if I said I didn't love it.

But how do I measure what I’m doing and build a repeatable process to help grow the company? The good news is my new leader had the answer. Spreadsheets! Sick, right? What sales professional doesn't like updating Excel or Google Sheets to track activity and plan follow ups. We had a motto at my old company, “If it's not in Salesforce, it didn't happen.” Original, I know, but my VP meant it. That motto was very much ingrained in our culture and now me. So my first selling job at Dolt was to convince my CEO that I needed a CRM. Did I mention that Tim hates tools?

Luckily, Tim was reasonable when I told him there were free options. Lolz. So I set out to find my first CRM with some basic criteria:

  • Free or cheap ;)
  • Simple - I work with brilliant engineers but asking them to help manage the CRM was not on the table...someone remind me to add CRM admin to my Linkedin skills
  • GSuite plug-in for email tracking
  • Pipeline and tasks tracking

Step one, back to my trusty friend, the internet, to do research and figure out what's what. I knew Salesforce from my old job, but Salesforce is expensive AF and complicated. So I narrowed down my list to a few vendors that met the above criteria. After that, it was demo time! Holy crap, it is apparently hard to set up CRM demos. Like why? Don't people want to sell these? Watch our videos, try our free version, here’s our endorsements, etc. Here I am, the buyer for once, and I found it really interesting seeing this side of the sales process. I wanted to be sold to and it wasn't happening that well.

I will save you the gory details of what was a good pitch and what was... umm...let's say lackluster. I ended up signing up for a few free trials to really get the lay of the land. In the end, I chose HubSpot because it's super easy to use, they offer some basic company data enrichment, the Gmail plug-in was seamless, and I didn’t feel like I would be spending a lot of time managing the CRM. I can add new contacts and companies very quickly. The email template features are a snap to use as well. So I am not spending very much time on data entry or rewriting emails. This allows me to focus on reaching to companies where we think Dolt makes sense. Also, the salesperson was really good about helping me get started and pointing out useful resources and tips. All of that is allowing me to focus on my actual responsibilities of helping grow DoltHub. So far we are seeing a lot of adoption for companies that are using machine learning in the medical research world and NLP chat bots. Now, I have to get back to my actual job of making DoltHub like Dippin’ Dots, the ice cream...err... I mean database of the future.

dots

So, we're officially using Hubspot to track our sales activity. Dolt is now offering enterprise support contracts for business. If you want to use Dolt at your business, book a demo or come say hi on Discord. You'll get a record in Hubspot, I promise.

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