You can now upgrade to our new detail views and smart email Bcc

For a good part of the year we’ve been working to improve the way Pipedrive handles email. Many of you have used our Bcc drop-box to send emails to Pipedrive, but have been missing some critical features such as getting a clear overview of the incoming emails, the ability to automatically parse forwarded emails or discard logos in signatures. The overly complicated cryptic addresses to Bcc didn’t help either.

Today we went live with a couple of big improvements. You can now activate the new Deal, Person and Organization detail views as well as our new Smart email Bcc feature.

pipedrive-new-deal-details-3_1024

If you’re the type that likes to play around rather than read, go on and activate these features in Settings. For the rest, a quick overview follows.

Emails. Notes. Progress. See everything in one place

Once you’ve activated the new view, you’ll immediately see your deals and contacts in a new way. We’ve gotten rid of the tabs for different types or activities, so now you can see all notes, emails, call or meetings records and files in one timeline.

The new detail pages are quicker to load and they update in real time, without you having to refresh the page.

And when you get to using the new views you’ll probably enjoy the usability improvements we’ve made. Adding notes and files or scheduling new activities requires less clicks and things like moving a deal to another pipeline are now much simpler. The rule of thumb for changing anything in the new views: just click on the thing you want to change.

 Easier way to sync emails into Pipedrive with the smart email Bcc

The new and rebuilt smart email Bcc feature is simpler to use, more reliable and it gives you more control over how emails are linked to deals. Once you upgrade you’ll get a new simple yourcompany@pipedrivemail.com email address you can use to Bcc emails to customers. When there is only one open deal with the recipient, the email will be linked to that deal. When there are several open deals with that person, you can choose which deal the email will be linked to (more on that below).

In addition to Bcc’ing you can forward emails to that address. Similar logic of linking applies when there are open deals with the person whose email address is mentioned. If the person doesn’t yet exist in Pipedrive, a new contact will be created, and it’s really easy to add a new deal for them later.

It’s worth pointing out that each deal will also have deal-specific Bcc address will have the following syntax: companyname+dealXXX@pipedrivemail.com – where XXX is deal ID. This is useful when there are multiple deals open with most people you email to.

The default settings for the new smart email Bcc is “Private” ie. your team members will not be able to see emails you have sent to Pipedrive. And you can easily change that in settings. You can also turn off automatic mapping to deals there if you’d rather do that manually.

Find all emails you have copied to Pipedrive in Mailbox

Pipedrive Mailboxconnect with a deal iconThe second big change that meets the eye is the new Mailbox area. In here you’ll see all emails you have Bcc’d or forwarded into Pipedrive. You’ll instantly see which ones have been linked to deals already and which ones not. A small deal icon (bag with a dollar-sign on it. Should we have been more subtle?) will indicate that.

If an email has not been linked to a deal yet, it’s very easy to select a deal or create a new one.

So, this was more than 6 months of work in one short post. If you’d like to use the new email Bcc and detail views, activate them here. If you have any comments or questions, please add a comment below or, better still, contact our support.

How To Send Christmas Greetings To Your Customers, Using The Pipedrive-MailChimp Integration

It’s Christmas time. Christmas is about giving and it’s about wishing the people around us well, which is why you’ll want to send Christmas greetings to your current and prospective clients.

“Great”, you say, “but how can I send Christmas cards to my contacts stored in Pipedrive?”

We wanted to make the process super easy and straightforward, which is why we put together a little instructional video on how to send Christmas greetings using Pipedrive and MailChimp

The video will teach you how to set up the Pipedrive-MailChimp integration, and how you can send Christmas greetings with tailored messages to specific segments.

Check out the video here.

Happy Christmas!

How Increasing Sales Velocity Will Radically Improve Your Sales Results

There is one secret to sales improvement seasoned sales pros know and follow. Everyone with years of experience under their belts keep repeating this: you should increase the speed at which you work a deal. Push deals quicker through the sales pipeline. Drop the wrong prospects early. Get to NO faster. That’s the mantra.

There are three lessons to learn about sales velocity.

  1. How does deal velocity affect your sales?
  2. How to increase deal velocity?
  3. When to declare a deal lost?

The outcome of these lessons will teach you an important principle that has received very little attention in sales literature – without any other changes to your habits, increasing your sales velocity is the one thing that will radically improve your sales results.

That’s to say that sales velocity is something you should really learn about.

How does deal velocity affect sales?

Back in 1999 when I was selling books door-to-door, I experienced the difference that high sales velocity makes when compared to working a deal for a long time trying to to make sure it gets closed. When I arrived to training, I was given a rough guideline of spending a maximum of 20 minutes with each prospect. When you first start out, you don’t really know whether that’s a lot, very little or just right. But when you’re in the middle of a sales conversation with your prospect showing signs of interest and all but reaching for his/her wallet, you’re inclined to continue with your efforts, because it seems you’re so near to closing. Chances are, however, that after a while, you’re not any nearer to closing than you were at the 20 minute mark.

It happened to me more times than I care to admit – I did everything I could to sell the books to my prospects and I kept the “best” conversations going far beyond the 20 minutes, reaching 40 minutes at times. At the end of every single conversation lasting more than 20-25 minutes, I was told something like “Thank you, it’s been lovely chatting with you. Gotta go now, I have to pick up my kids.”

go for now in sales

Pardon? Are you telling me that I just spent 45 minutes so you could tell me “good luck”? I was furious. But I wasn’t angry at my prospects – I was incredibly mad at myself. How could I be so stupid and spend over twice as much time as I should have? I could already be speaking to the third prospect in line, yet I haven’t even made it to the second.

What I learned over that summer was that in that business you should either close the deal within those 20 minutes (during your normal sales cycle) or walk away. If your prospect is interested, you’ll get to close the deal within the time frame. If not, you’ll still have time to speak to someone else who might be interested.

In general, by decreasing the time spent per deal, you’re able to put more deals through your sales pipeline over the same amount of time. If you keep your conversion rate the same, your paycheck will see a significant increase.

Craig Rosenberg, a consultant who blogs on sales and marketing at funnelholic backs up the speed factor in his guest article at Heinz Marketing. He tells that “time is your enemy”, and that of all the people, it’s your prospect who expects you to move fast the most. Perhaps the wittiest angle on rejection is given by Andrea Waltz, who has said that ‘“No” is what ultimately gets you to your destination of YES’ –  so don’t be afraid of going for “No”.

How to increase deal velocity?

There are two parts to increasing your deal velocity – the speed at which a deal goes through your pipeline. These are:

  1. Learning the buying process of your prospect companies
  2. Removing the common tendency “to think about it”

It’s difficult to speed up a process if you don’t even know its current pace. The best way of finding out the buying process of your prospect company is simple – you ask about it. At each stage of the cycle, you should ask your prospect what’s required for moving forward with the deal.

Bullet-Train-Velocity

Reducing the tendency to think about it is really a lesson on how to reduce decision time. Pushiness is a feared trait by many salespeople. However, applying gentle pressure is something that speeds up the process, and often leads to an immediate response. When you’re on the receiving end of the line of “Let me think about it”, simply respond with something like,
- “Great, what would you like to think about? Maybe I can give you some additional information to help with the process.”, or
- “Great! I want to make sure you can take the next step. What do you want to give some thought to specifically? I want to know whether it’s best to stand by, or if there’s something I can help you with in the process.”
There are many good tips on conversational techniques, helping you stop the waiting game. One good technique on sales tie-downs is described by Harvey Mackay in his article “2 Little Words to Close More Sales”, which is well worth a read. Of course, none of the techniques work without the proper intention, and tone – all that take practice.

In a way, there’s also a third part to increasing sales velocity – knowing when to walk away. This is a unique discussion in sales, as the different ways in which you can mark a deal lost are rarely discussed. Declaring a deal lost early will let you move onto the next prospect as quickly as possible. Had I known about the two ways of marking a deal lost at the beginning of my sales career, I would have been able to sell far more books, or other products and services than I ever did.

When to declare a deal lost?

The two ways of declaring a deal lost are straightforward:

  1. You’ve presented an offer to your prospect, but they tell you they’re not interested – you ask for the reasons, and realize they either don’t need or want your solution. You mark a deal lost, because your prospect tells you that this deal is over.

  1. You decide that you’re not going to deal with this company at the moment, because you understand that selling a solution your prospect is currently unfeasible. Even if they indicate that they might be interested in coming back to the deal sometime in the future, you shouldn’t keep the deal in your pipeline, as the deal’s currently dead. You mark a deal lost, because you tell that the deal is over.

The distinction of a deal and a company is something that many salespeople seem to confuse when they about the sales pipeline. You can always come back to a company and initiate a new deal – walking away from a current deal will not take away that opportunity in the future.

Marketing agencies, especially young ones, are often faced with a similar set of problems regarding sales velocity. On the one hand, they need to sell their services by pitching, and until they’re told they’ve lost the pitch or that their services are not needed, a deal is seemingly alive and well. On the other hand, however, when agencies go pitching to a company in June and they’re told to come back in January when budgets are being put together, then the timeline becomes too long to be part of a normal sales cycle. It’s not a natural deal lifetime and the deal itself should be discarded. This doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t go back in January – quite the contrary actually, they should get back to this slightly before that time. But they should consider it as a completely new deal and opportunity.

Pro Tip: create an opportunity backlog pipeline, in which you hold all of the good ideas you have with certain contacts, but can’t realize at present for one reason or another. By doing this, you’ll have, firstly, a healthy sales pipeline, and secondly, a decent backlog of ideas to fall back on, when you’re suddenly in a position of requiring new leads.

dashboard odometer pipedrive

Step on the gas

There are hundreds of different sales tips you could follow. But if there’s one thing that will make a significant difference to your sales results and commission, regardless of the industry served or geographical location, it’s figuring out how to increase your sales pipeline velocity.

Happy closing.

5 Best Twitter Sales Tips From November

To get the week off to a good start, we have some good advice from Butch Bellah:

The most actionable sales tip this week:

Didn’t get a reply at your first go? It pays to follow-up with your emails, according to Yesware


Know the value of NO: 

To finish off the week on a productive high, The Friday Opportunity is echoed by Paul Castain:

Share your own favorites below in the comments section. 

We’re Hiring: iOS Developer

job_opening

You have always dreamed about starting your own company. You envisioned how customer needs will be your top priority and how you will enjoy working with smart and hard working colleagues. You saw headlines about your company success in popular magazines and web sites. You hardly managed to keep pace with the growth of your company. Pipedrive is willing to give you a chance to try all of that with out a risk of going broke.

We’re a startup building the fastest, easiest and most useful deal and sales management software ever. Pipedrive has grown over a 100% with the last year, gotten over 3 million in funding and received rave reviews from the likes of TechCrunch and Wall Street Journal. We’ve got 40 smiling faces to greet you if you’re the one we’re looking for and that number is growing fast. We are looking for:

iOS Developer

We’re looking for experienced iOS Developers. This is a perfect position for someone who knows how to work fast and smart. You know where the rabbit holes are and you’re good about avoiding them early on. You know which details make all the difference, and which ones don’t make any difference. You know the difference between spending time wisely and wasting time.

Why is iOS important at Pipedrive?

Not only is mobile quickly becoming the preferred means to communicate and compute, but also our users become more mobile and Pipedrive is on the mission to make sales management on the go as easy as behind the desk. Because of the unique form-factor of mobile, we put a particular emphasis on the user-experience design. We look for no less than 5 star ratings from our customers.

The following experience is relevant to us

  • Experience shipping one or more iOS apps, ideally currently available on Apple App Store
  • Personal projects that show an aptitude for engineering and product sense
  • Ability to work in areas outside of their usual comfort zone and get things done quickly
  • Experience with server side development, but also ability to argue MVVM vs. MVC
  • Experience in working with multiple developers on the same codebase, branching both for code changes and releases, writing tests first and integrating continuously.
  • Experience in working with remote data sources and REST APIs, understanding networking limitations
  • Understanding that organizing proper relationships between components are equally important to managing relationships between humans
  • Ability to troubleshoot, optimize and tune for performance, some of our users have lots of data
  • Understanding importance of responsive UI, unfortunately patience is not the most common trait of our customers

What we have to offer

  • Competitive base pay
  • No corporate BS
  • One of the coolest offices in Estonia
  • A chance to be a part of the next success story out of Estonia

If this is something for you, please get in touch via jobs-admin@pipedrive.com. Send your resume (in English) or link to your LinkedIn profile and please add a few lines on why we should pay extra attention to your application.

We’re Hiring: Mobile Engineering Team Lead

job_opening_2

You have always dreamed about starting your own company. You envisioned how customer needs will be your top priority and how you will enjoy working with smart and hard working colleagues. You saw headlines about your company success in popular magazines and web sites. You hardly managed to keep pace with the growth of your company. Pipedrive is willing to give you a chance to try all of that with out a risk of going broke.

We’re a startup building the fastest, easiest and most useful deal and sales management software ever. Pipedrive has grown over a 100% with the last year, gotten over 3 million in funding and received rave reviews from the likes of TechCrunch and Wall Street Journal. We’ve got 40 smiling faces to greet you if you’re the one we’re looking for and that number is growing fast. We are looking for:

Mobile Engineering Team Lead

We’re looking for the engineering team leader in mobile space. You will lead a group of talented engineers in their quest to create best sales management experience on mobile devices.

Why mobile is important at Pipedrive?

Not only is mobile quickly becoming the preferred means to communicate and compute, but also our users become more mobile and Pipedrive is on the mission to make sales management on the go as easy as behind the desk. Because of the unique form-factor of mobile, we put a particular emphasis on the user-experience design. We look for no less than 5 star ratings from our customers.

Your Responsibilities

  • Own the vision and execution of the engineering team based on PM input and business goals.
  • Manage the people in the team, their careers, making people productive and happy and resolving the problems that do not allow them to succeed.
  • Work closely with PMs translating the requirements, schedules and timelines to overall general deliverables.
  • Contribute to the product roadmap with engineering requirements that are required to build high scale and availability products.
  • Describe the user value coming from engineering requirements to very fine detail and help the PMs to prioritize and understand the scope of these.
  • Make decisions on the quality/time/functionality triangle and being responsible for identifying the alternatives and their cost to the PM org.
  • Take part in technical decisions and make sure that they fall into the best practices and guidelines for the company.

The following experience is important to us

  • 4+ years of relevant work experience, including hands-on technical management and leadership role.
  • Good understanding the product development lifecycle, requirements and how to translate these into sizable engineering deliverables.
  • Good knowledge about different development methodologies as well as proficiency in one of the mobile platforms development, either iOS or Android.
  • Good understanding on testing, continuous integration and the tools and methods that are used to build reliable software
  • Ability to recruit and manage technical teams, including performance management

What we have to offer

  • Competitive compensation package.
  • Cozy working environment.
  • Talented and fun international team.
  • Possibilities to shape Pipedrive as a product and a company.

If this is something for you, please get in touch via jobs-admin@pipedrive.com. Send your resume (in English) or link to your LinkedIn profile and please add a few lines on why we should pay extra attention to your application.

The Friday Opportunity: Big Data Shows The Weekday With The Biggest Sales Potential

As once a sales pro and sales coach, I know what a difference having good data can have on sales results. Whenever I looked at things like the amount of deals added, or the number of sales activities completed, there was almost always something that jumped out as an area of improvement. For example that “Fred should make more calls”.

There’s no agreement about the best day to sell or prospect. In an article for Forbes, the sales writer Christine Crandell argues that Wednesday is the best day for prospecting while noting that customers don’t convert well on Mondays or Fridays. Jake Atwood from BuzzBuilder lead generation software has found that the best day for prospecting is Tuesday in their Slideshare. Finally, the sales company Vendere Partners’ statistics say that the best time to call is either on Wednesdays on Thursdays.

Now, having co-founded a sales management app, we wanted to see what the sales data suggests for everyone around the world. We anonymized and aggregated all the metadata that’s generated, when people mark sales activities completed and deals won or lost. And here’s what the computer says: don’t take the foot off the gas on Fridays.

And here’s why: Wednesday is the day of results. That’s when salespeople complete the biggest number of calls, emails and meetings (let’s call them activities). But actually the day with highest conversion in most countries is Friday, while it’s also the day when salespeople have the biggest drop in their level of activities. So when you find yourself or someone in your team thinking “Days just before or after the weekend are not good for selling, I’d better get myself a latte before making calls”, you’ll know it’s a mistake you shouldn’t make as it may cost you dearly in sales and commissions.

infographic best weekday to sell - the friday opportunity

Not all countries follow the same model, but almost everyone can improve

While the “Most activities on Wednesdays and best conversion on Fridays” rule stands overall globally, there are exceptions. Monday, which has the reputation for being a “bad” day for closing is the best converting day in some countries, such as Spain, Mexico and Netherlands.

Only 3 countries – Spain, France, Australia – had the day with most activities completed coinciding with the best converting day.

Our conclusion? If salespeople want to be smart, they should work hard on Fridays, but if they want to beat the market, they’re going to have to work hard every day. So as the gym-saying goes – never skip a day.

Happy closing!

Americans Aren’t The World’s Best Closers And What This Means For You

With customers in more than 150 countries, you really start wondering:

  “How different is sales work around the world?”

With some data and time on our hands, we started looking into it and went on a quest to find the best sales nation in the world.

What we discovered was that we can’t trust stereotypes. For example, Americans simply aren’t the world’s best closers. But that’s not the whole story – we realized that some numbers in isolation can be misleading.

We pulled anonymized meta-data generated by Pipedrive users all across the world about # of deals that were added and closed; # of activities that were initiated and marked complete, and so on – and put it in a really large database. We sliced up the data by country and removed all outliers. What we got was a clean view about the differences in conversion, length of the sales cycle, and levels of activity around the world.

Now come and see how people sell all around the world.

 

The world’s best closers are South Africans (but it’s not the whole story)

Conversion rate is one of the best indicators of sales skills. And if you only look at conversion rates, a clear winner emerges – South Africa. Runners up include Brazil, Chile, Denmark and Sweden – a surprising combo of fast growing emerging economies and the conservative Nordics.

Sales Conversion in different countries

Worst closers, based on conversion rate? Sales people in Switzerland, Poland, Canada, Russia and… the United States. That’s right, Americans who invented selling as we know it are at the bottom of the conversion list.

Could it be possible? The numbers don’t lie, but we realized that the conversion numbers don’t tell the whole story. To understand what was going on we decided to look whether similar trends would emerge under other metrics as well.

 

Brazilians get to “YES” quickest

Time is money, which is why we included the average time of closing as one of the proxies for identifying the best sales nation.

Sales Velocity in different countries

Brazilians get to hear “yes” quickest – i.e. they take the least time to close a deal. Runner up positions are taken up by South-Africa and Chile, who were in top 3 positions also in the conversion table. It’s mostly the developing world who follow the top 3, including Mexico, Russia, Colombia and India.

On the other end of the spectrum – countries that are slowest to close – we find mostly European countries with Australia and Canada thrown in the mix. And the Dutch – the great traders throughout history – are the slowest of the slow.

So far, all of our preconceived ideas about who’s great and who’s not seem to be wrong.

 

Salespeople in Spain have the magic touch

Finally, some sales managers argue that the best indicator of sales skills is efficiency. The more time you spend with one prospect, the less you have for others. So we looked at the average number of activities (calls, emails, meetings, etc.) per each won deal.

Number of sales activities per sale

A salesperson in Spain needs 3.8 activities per closing – whether they be calls, meetings or emails, with salespeople in Denmark, Netherlands, Estonia, Sweden and South Africa not too far away. On the other end of the scale, we found that a Russian salesman needs 6.11 activities per every closed deal, with Great Britain, Germany, Colombia and United States also all in need of relatively many touches to get to a YES.

Again, we find the hardcore salespeople of Great Britain and the US at the very end of the scale with little context to explain it. However, it’s possible that there is more competition for attention in developed nations so those sales cycles are expected to be more protracted; buyers have more options and have more sales teams competing for their attention.

 

What does all of this mean?

What we found was that… any sales success indicator in isolation is probably misleading.

It would be a mistake to declare South Africans, Brazilians or Spaniards the best at sales and call it a day. As you probably saw, interesting correlations emerged in the different rankings. Countries that were among the best in one dimension tended to fare well across other dimensions as well.

The countries that were quickest also converted highest (with the exception of Russia).

Overall we found a correlation:

Countries with high conversion rates close deals faster.

Low conversion tends to correlate with lots of activities per deal, and vice versa. Combining three variables, it becomes clear that countries with the highest conversion rates also enjoy the fastest sales cycles and fewest activities needed to complete each deal.

Sales Conversion vs Speed

Is this a signal of cultural differences, or is the mix of businesses using Pipedrive just very different from country to country (expensive vs. cheap items, enterprise vs B2C sales, and so on)?

Truth be told, it’s probably a bit of both. The correlations are not so clear that you could explain them simply with big differences in the business mix.

 

The big reveal – how tough is the life of salespeople around the world?

Salespeople in South Africa, Brazil and Chile seem to have it easiest – well.. at least for Pipedrive users there. USA, Canada, and to an extent the UK, Australia and France, have the toughest conditions – slow, low conversion, and lots of activities per deal.

How tough sales work is around the world

 

What this means – generally, for you, and for your team

And this reveals us what we’ve been looking for the entire postthere is no best sales nation. And there’s two sides to this.

The first is to do with the cultural and historical background and differences that have created this situation.

The second is perhaps more important. Admittedly for many of you this will be repeating the ABC, but for others it is something that will make a big-big difference in their day-to-day sales work.

  • For the 10% (and growing) of salespeople who sell globally – be aware of the sales culture of the country you’re selling to. When you’re selling to the people in US, it’s likely that you’re going to get more NOs and you’re going to have to do a lot of sales activities for the deals you are able to close than in some other countries. If you are one of the people who can adjust really well to different circumstances, try changing your rhythm a bit, and maybe you’ll be more successful.

  • Don’t judge your own work, nor the work of other salespeople by looking solely at the conversion rate. It differs, surprise-surprise, from industry to industry and from product line to product line. Though it’s general advice and been repeated over and over again, it keeps on staying relevant – look at sales with a more holistic view and you’ll have better chances to improve.

 

Three tips on how this can benefit you:

1. Try improving your conversion rate as much as you can. Usually, it starts from improving a critical stage-to-stage conversion a little. If you hit the ceiling, look elsewhere to other metrics.

2. Measure the length of your sales cycle. Compare it with others, compare it with the data presented here about your region. Try shortening this cycle, chat with people in your business who close faster. Find out how long they take to move from one step familiar to you to another. If there are people around you who are more successful and have longer cycles, study their work habits, slow down a bit, and see how this works for you.

3. Calculate your number of activities per an average deal that you win. Compare it with the best producers in your company. Are they doing more things with prospects? Are they doing less? Again, try adjusting your work flow, and monitor the results.

PS! The meta-data on the tens of thousands users researched is only representative of the population who are Pipedrive users – people and businesses that love using modern and well-designed web tools (as opposed to old-school companies that love having their software downloaded, and have lots and lots of different menu options and data entry opportunities and bad interface – but it might apply to them as well, who knows).

Nevertheless, it’s probably a useful point of reference anyway – we don’t know anyone else having done research like this.

Hiring Update: We’ve Got A Spare Seat for a Marketing Analyst

Marketing Analytics GraphsWe at Pipedrive make sales software that ambitious teams in more than 100 countries love to use. Every day hundreds (and soon thousands) of new people start using our software. We know how they have discovered us, what they want to accomplish and how they engage with the product, but we want to tie the different pieces together better. Which is why we’re looking for a kick-ass Marketing Analyst to join our team in Tallinn, Estonia.

Here’s the to-do list:

  • Manage processes and tools that provide insights into user engagement as well as behaviour(s) that drive business results.
  • Manage tracking for acquisition channels and programs to make sure we can measure the impact of each ad, button, link and piece of content.
  • Do one-off analyses, queries and deep dives that help make business decisions and drive marketing campaigns.
  • Support the team with product and web tracking setup and making sense of the results.
  • Help to set up regular reporting and KPI dashboards.

Experience and skills we’re looking for:

  • Excellent analytical skills and passion for data-driven decision making.
  • Proficiency with SQL, Excel and basic statistical tools.
  • Strong knowledge of Google Analytics and/or its alternatives.
  • Experience cleaning and manipulating large datasets.
  • Strong verbal presentation and written communication skills.
  • SaaS and B2B startup experience is a plus, as is using SaaS analytics tools.
  • Good at building constructive relationships with colleagues and being a mensch overall.
  • High tolerance of the word why?

What we have to offer:

  • Competitive base pay + stock options package.
  • No corporate BS.
  • Loads of room for career development as you grow with the company.

If this is something for you, please get in touch via jobs-admin@pipedrive.com. Send your resume (in English) or link to your LinkedIn profile and please add a few lines on why we should pay extra attention to your application.

How a CRM Helps a News Organization Manage Their Entire Workflow

Richland Source Online News headerChances are that we love sales more than 99% of people. That probably explains why we’re building a sales management software. However, our love for sales has brought us some great stories about novel ways the sales software is being used. One day we received an email saying how Pipedrive helped everyone in their company follow the same process, and always be up-to-date with & on top of everything that goes on in the organization.

And that’s how we discovered Richland Source – an online news organization based in Ohio. Their own comment on how they work is this: “Almost everything we write is local and thus sourced, written, edited, and published organically — no AP wire stuff here.” We found out they manage everything from sales to ad-production to invoicing from Pipedrive.

Having used Pipedrive for all these different reasons, they got inspired and decided to create an editorial pipeline, and start managing story production through the pipeline as well. Through some simple adaptations, Pipedrive has now become the common language for workflow management in the entire organization, giving the editors and reporters the much needed visibility into what’s happening, where people are stuck, and how to prioritize stories. We spoke to the publisher at Richland Source - Jay Allred - to find out the details.

What problem were you intending to solve when you first started using Pipedrive?

Initially, we were looking for a simple sales CRM that we could use to track the progress of our sales team. We wanted something cloud-based and affordable, because we were built using only cloud-based software apps and since we’re a startup; cost is always a consideration. Pipedrive fit our requirements perfectly and we started using it in sales.

The more we used it in sales, we realized that the deal was not really finished until the client’s advertising was running on Richland Source and the invoice was sent. So we added two stages, “Production” and “Invoicing” to our sales pipeline. That wrapped our graphics, production, and accounting folks into the workflow and gave end-to-end accountability. Everyone was on the same team and we were able to become increasingly paperless as a somewhat unintended consequence.

That experience opened our eyes to Pipedrive’s ability to be a workflow management tool. Our editorial team was struggling to manage dozens of story leads and their individual deadlines, so we pitched Pipedrive to them and they agreed to try it. Major improvement. Within a day or two we had set up a separate pipeline and started some beta users and in-house training sessions. Suddenly, everyone had visibility into where a story was and how fast it was moving through the process.

Now, every member of our organization – no matter what their role – is a user of Pipedrive and has ownership of a part of the customer service, sales, or editorial process.

What kind of a solution were you using prior to that?

In both cases (sales and editorial) it was a mish-mash of Google Docs, spreadsheets, and calendaring apps.

How did you come to the decision to start using Pipedrive and what changes have you seen after starting using Pipedrive?

Like I mentioned above, we wanted a high level of visibility across the organization, an intuitive and simple user experience, easy administration and management, and something that was cloud-native. With those requirements, the decision was easy.

Some of the changes are pretty predictable. Workflow is clearer, managers can see where their employees are and help them stay on track, “silos” of information quickly blew up as we transitioned the sales / story data to Pipedrive, and so on.

What’s more interesting are the unintended consequences.

  • We now have the shared contact database we always wanted. For example, when sales updates contact information for an electoral candidate, our reporters immediately have access to that updated contact info too.

  • Integration with Google Apps has put relevant documents at the fingertips of everyone in the org. Customer calls and wants to check on the status of a job in production, but the salesperson is out? No worries. Production checks the scanned insertion order attached to the deal, reports back to client, notes the activity in PD, and tasks the sales person with a follow up call. All within one application with no back and forth email needed.Magical, we say!

  • Having “non-sales” teams like editorial, accounting, and production as part of the Pipeline keeps the customer experience at the forefront. It’s not about just sales now, it is about the whole enchilada of customer experience.

Could you tell us a little bit more about your use of Pipedrive?

We are first and foremost an organization that tells the stories of our community. Time and speed are often very important, but so are generating story ideas and juggling longer-term projects with short-term news stories. The “Unassigned Lead” stage is where any employee can drop a story idea. We use it to essentially crowdsource leads. Our editors monitor this stage and then assign the lead to a reporter by changing ownership of the deal and moving it forward in the pipeline.

Richland Source Online Media Pipeline View

Richland Source Pipeline View

We have turned on deal rotting for this stage to make sure that editors are alerted when a lead has begun to get old.

After a story has been published, the last stage, “Promote (Reporter)” comes into play. We ask our reporters to reach out to their contact and other interested parties when a story that concerns them publishes. This is a critical customer service stage for editorial, as it helps them build credibility and reinforces our culture of follow-up and customer service. Pipedrive gives us the visibility and accountability to manage this process.

We are looking at using the the timeline feature to help keep reporters on track for deadlines in a very visual, intuitive way by using the “expected close date” or a custom field to hold the deadline.

Do you have any cool sales tips or tricks you’d like to share?

We’re hardly gurus here, but the trick for us has been to keep the customer’s experience with us at the forefront. Everybody gets it – sales is about buying and selling. Where sales gets icky is when salespeople use that fact as an excuse to get smarmy and manipulative. If you put the treatment of any client you are working with – prospect, active, or past – out front you automatically zap the urge to get smarmy, because classy and respectful can’t coexist with smarmy and manipulative

What’s the future for online news and Richland Source?

The disruption in the newspaper business has made us part of a much larger examination of how the news on individual communities gets reported. Google, Yahoo, and ESPN have the global stuff covered, but who reports on city council and the high school football teams? Community newspapers used to fill that role, but are increasingly being challenged by online-only variants like us that are lighter, quicker, and often willing to be more actively engaged in their community. We’re also working on a native app with our friends at Inmobly that will feature their video-caching technology, which we expect to roll out in Q1 2015.

Image courtesy: Richland Source