About Timo Rein

Co-Founder and CEO of Pipedrive

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.

Should you work harder or smarter in sales?

High sales performance requires a dynamic combination of hard and smart work… Duh. Everyone knows that. Most, however don’t know what that proportion between the two should be. Why do you perform the way you do? Could you improve? If yes, then how? These questions keep popping up whenever I hear this subject discussed. Luckily, I have an answer for this – I know whether you should be working harder, smarter, or both.

Where do you start

There are 4 sales pipeline levers that add up to achieving better sales results. The principles behind those levers are simple, and they lead to a conclusion that is relevant for all salespeople. The more deals you’re able to drive through your pipeline (#), the bigger they are ($), the better the percentage of them you are able to close (%), and the less time it takes to get a customer (T)… the bigger your revenue and your profit.

The “secret” to how you should work lies with four pipeline levers set on a hard vs smart work matrix below. These pipeline levers can all be located in different places on the matrix. Some require more hard work, while others more smart.

The question here is which area should you focus on the most – where do you start?

hard work smart work chart

Start from hard work, then benchmark

  • The easiest step to sales success is hard work. So if you’re new to sales, always start by working harder – experience is the only way to get smart in sales.
  • If you already have experience and smarts then you probably have a decent conversion rate. Now, you need to figure out whether you need to go for bigger deals, or get through your deals faster (losing fast is key). If you don’t know which of the two to go for, start by benchmarking against your industry, peers or goals. If in doubt about your conversion, benchmark that as well.

When you go through each of the levers, take a look at whether you’re positioned in a similar spot to your benchmark. Your comparison points should be your team members, your industry and your goals – get their statistics and compare those to yours.

I will now go through all the areas one by one, and jump straight into what’s relevant for you.

More deals = hard work

The first lever you can pull is how many deals you put into the pipeline. A real estate sales manager once asked me for advice on what to do with the weakest salesperson in his team. This was my advice – get him to work harder. The simple truth was that if he was currently adding 2 new deals to his property deals pipeline every day, and the team average was 3 then already after 22 days the salesman was going to have 22 fewer deals than average. All else equal, and you already know who’s going to have a bonus check that’s 50% larger than the weak salesman – all thanks to 1 more deal prospected every single day.

Fix Sales Pipeline

There is, of course a drop of smart work involved, especially when it comes to list-making and how to get creative in coming up with prospect ideas. We’ve covered a couple of ways in our blog, and so has the best-selling author Geoffrey James who’s drawn up a few techniques in his article for Inc. Magazine.

Now, the really hard part about increasing the number of new deals is not the increase itself – it’s keeping up the standard. Once you’ve made the jump, you need to persevere and keep to the new number, no matter what. There are no hacks or secret tricks here, since this one’s mostly all about putting in hard work.

Measure the size of your deals – getting bigger deals is hard work mentally

Imagine a scenario where you’re told to go and ask your employer for a salary that is 10 times bigger than currently. So if you’re making 60,000 a year, imagine you have to go and ask for a salary of 600,000 a year. It seems and sounds crazy, but that’s exactly the feeling you get when you’re told to sell twice or three times as much to a customer as you’re currently doing.

billboard sell

Going after bigger deals requires a shift in your mindset – reaching the understanding that achieving double or triple the sales is even possible is hard work. And it requires, as Hercule Poirot would put it, “exercising your grey cells”. Once you start believing that larger deals are reachable, you can start putting in the smart work – answering the how. Whether it’s upselling, cross-selling, approaching bigger clients or just asking for more money for your product – it only becomes achievable after the shift in your mindset/you’ve realized you can.

Improve the way in which you present the value of your solution, so that your prospects understand what they gain by buying from you. After that, you’ll be able to increase the size of your deals, and close bigger deals.

Neil Patel – the co-founder of Crazy Egg and KissMetrics (i.e. a man who knows a fair bit about closing big deals) wrote a guide containing 5 helpful tips focusing on how part of closing big deals, which is definitely worth a read.

Get your deals flowing faster – hard work with a touch of smart

Getting a deal through your sales pipeline quicker is quite a challenge. It’s even more complicated when you have a lot of deals in your pipeline and they are really big.

It would make a hell of a difference when you close $10,000 worth of deals in 20 days, rather than in 30 days. You’d be able to put through 50% more deals in the same time as the guy with a sales cycle of 30 days.

The objection you often hear is that you shouldn’t rush clients, because you’ll seem aggressive. While I agree that you shouldn’t be aggressive, I do think you should be to-the-point and apply gentle and helpful pressure. It’s important to have the mindset that it’s OK to speed things up. People hate to be sold, but love to buy – Help them pleasantly understand whether they gain value from your solution or not.

Knowing the buying process of your customers will help apply the gentle pressure, as well as get you concrete answers quicker. You either need to keep the deals moving forward or declare them lost, otherwise the opportunity cost – the time you’re not focusing on deals you could actually win – can get very large.

Bullet Train Velocity

Checklist:

  • Have you discovered the prospect’s needs?
  • If yes, have you proposed a solution?
  • If yes, stop waiting and get a response (but be nice).

Higher conversion = smart work

Conversion is what exhibits how smart you do your sales work. This applies both to the overall close rate and stage-to-stage conversion rate.

Imagine a situation where you and Ted both close the same number of deals per month, say 6. Now if Ted’s close rate is 12% and and yours is 8%, it means that you have to approach 75 prospects instead of Ted’s 50. This means that you’re doing a lot more work than Ted – simple. To understand if you work hard or smart is to understand at which stage you lose your prospects.

working smarter.jpg

To do this, you need to measure your stage-to-stage conversions. Discovering the differences between you and Ted will uncover areas of improvement. A smart thing to take into account is that you will always lose some deals. In the case above of closing 8%, you anyways lose 92%. It’s better to make sure you lose them early.

So here are the two things you can do to improve your conversion:

  1. Measure your stage-to-stage conversions and compare with colleagues. Learn how those with better metrics achieve their results. In most cases, the successful salespeople lose early and fast – they don’t spend time generating proposals and holding negotiations with deals which eventually end up as “lost” or that have rather small value. Qualification is key.

  2. Read about the ways to convert better – sales literature is extensive and there’s always something good out there to be read.

Improving your conversions and making sure you lose unqualified deals at the right time (read: early on) will make you far more efficient than now, and save you a lot of energy.

Work hard, work smart, profit

Get your four levers in shape and you’ll see an increase in your revenue and profit. It’s as simple (or tough) as that. But the important thing is that it’s achievable for any salesperson willing to put in the work.

As always, leave the comments below or get in touch via twitter.

Image courtesy: Pipedrive and Flickr Creative Commons

Andy McLoughlin joins our board

As you may have noticed, we’re growing fast both in terms of number of customers and employees. This means we have to get better at everything all the time, and this includes setting the longer term course for our company and business.

Andy McLoughlin - Hy! Summit - March 20, 2014 - Image by Dan Taylor-2I am therefore extremely pleased that one of our earliest investors, Andy McLoughlin, has joined the board of Pipedrive, Inc. Andy is co-founder of Huddle, one of Europe’s most prominent and awarded SaaS startups with offices in London, San Francisco, New York and Washington DC. Andy is also a highly active angel investor, working with great SaaS companies like Pipedrive, Rolepoint, Apiary, Buffer, Intercom, Bugsnag, and Import.io, as well as exciting B2C startups like Postmates, Thread, Hullabalu and Secret Escapes. Andy lives in San Francisco, is an enthusiastic (rather than skillful) skier, and an avid consumer of fine food and adult beverages.

In his own words:

“I first met the Pipedrive founders in 2011 and was immediately impressed by their hustle, vision and early metrics. Having participated in their first two seed rounds, I’ve been lucky enough to stay close to the team and watch the company mature into the great business that it is today. Joining their board and being a part of their continuing journey is a huge honor and I’m excited for their next phase of growth.”

Andy has been very helpful to us as a seed investor, and I’m really excited to be working with him on this slightly more formalized level as well.

We owe you an apology

I wanted to take a moment to address the unfortunate downtime last Friday that impacted the majority of our Americas-based customers who couldn’t use our application in the middle of a workday.

First off, we’re very sorry for disrupting your workday. I want to assure you that we take this very seriously and find it absolutely unacceptable. As a team we feel bad for letting you down.

Secondly, we’ve learned some important lessons and have already made some changes to improve issue detection, technical processes and communication. While this doesn’t reduce the frustration you must have felt last Friday, we’ll be both quicker and more efficient in responding to any issues in the future.

What happened on Friday

For background: for some months now we’ve been working on significantly improving the infrastructure underlying our application. This project is ongoing and is meant to dramatically improve stability and performance of our app – along with giving us enough headroom to support our rapid growth.

Some configuration elements (namely, switch ports) with our new infrastructure setup failed on Friday and a rare technical event (a spanning tree failure event) took down our network.

Our operations team was immediately aware as we monitor the performance of Pipedrive 24×7 through many automated tests and alarms. We urgently coordinated a response with our network hosting providers. While the effort was immediate parts of our application take time to recover from a complete shutdown so some customers faced unreliable functionality for up to two hours.

Steps taken to avoid such situations in the future

Together with our hosting providers we have taken extra precautions in migrating to our new infrastructure setup. In the last couple of days we’ve also discussed and agreed upon several new internal workflows that will help to identify and fix any issues faster.

As I mentioned, there already were quite a few things in our roadmap that will reduce our exposure to issues like this. For example, reducing the size of databases and using multiple hosting locations. We’ll continue executing along these plans.

I hope this explains the reasons behind the downtime on Friday. I hope it also sheds light on our commitment to avoid outages and keep improving the speed and reliability of our app. Last but not least, I hope you’ll accept our apologies.

I expect to be writing more upbeat blog posts in the future.

PS. If you have questions or if you’d like to know more about our infrastructure improvements please contact us via our support email.

Aug 20th degraded search functionality (FIXED)

UPDATE #2: As of 1:39 PM PDT (8:39 PM GMT) mailbox beta has completed syncing and mail should be back to real-time delivery again.

UPDATE: As of 1:12 PM PDT (8:12 PM GMT) the impacted shard’s elastic index has been successfully rebuilt and search should be functioning again. Search speed/performance may be slightly degraded for some users while our replicas are synced but will speed up throughout the day as these tasks are completed automatically. Mailbox beta users should begin seeing mail again though there may be a slight delay as a large batch of messages needs to be processed now.

As of 10:05 AM PDT (5:05 PM GMT) we are aware of degraded search functionality for some select customers. We are very sorry for the impact this may have on your use of Pipedrive today. This morning it appears one of our elasticsearch shards failed and the automatic recovery did not function properly. We are investigating why to mitigate this in the future and we have manually restarted the service – it is running again but rebuilding the index will take several hours today.

In the meantime users that were connected to this shard may continue to experience degraded search functionality. Closed beta testers in our Gmail Mailbox Beta are also affected as mail may be delayed today. We recommended defaulting back to your normal inbox for the remainder of the day if you are a beta tester of Pipedrive mailbox.

Fortunately, for those of you that need to make use of search today we do have a proposed workaround while the index is rebuilding. You can actually use Pipedrive Filters as a form of advanced search, and this is a best practice we often recommend for people trying to search deeper than the search bar allows them to normally.

To take advantage of this all you need to do is create a Filter that you can then edit later each time you want to search for something different. An example screenshot is provided below:

Using filters for advanced search

Using filters for advanced search

Below is our support center documentation on Filters as well, in case you wanted to brush up on the power of searching cross-item records easily.

http://support.pipedrive.com/customer/portal/articles/1076914

This blog post will be updated again later today when the index is successfully rebuilt and all functionality is restored.

 

3 pillars to becoming a sales superstar

A great deal of research has gone into what makes a good salesperson. A notable instance told by Brian Tracy in his Advanced Selling Strategies is the difference between the average salespeople and the rockstar sales guys in most large sales forces. How much do you think that the top 20% of salespeople were selling when compared to others? Twice as much? Five times? Ten?

The right answer is that they sold sixteen times more than the rest.

Were these people geniuses? Were they extremely charismatic? To tell you the truth then no they weren’t. If you just looked at them, you couldn’t tell the difference between them and the worst performers. Yet it turned out that these people had three things in common. They had all laid a strong foundation with the three pillars of sales success - clarity, will and ability.

So here are the questions that lay the bedrock of becoming a sales superstar.

3 Pillars of Sales Success_black

Have you set the right kind of goals?

You as a salesman can’t influence your results – I mean you can say you want 50 deals by the end of the month, but at the end of the day you don’t, strictly said, control the purchases your potential clients make.

What you can do is set yourself activity goals. This means setting yourself a number of approaches, calls and meetings you want to make every day or week. Knowing fully well that to a large extent sales is a numbers game, you can drive your productivity and not let your confidence drop – the more conversations you put into one end of the pipeline, the more closed deals will come out from the other. While the less successful may want good results as much as the more successful ones, the success will find the ones who are already out there putting in action.

Sure, you’ll reach the optimum at one point. What’s important though is the journey there – you will learn a great deal about hard and smart work whilst striving towards that optimum. Once you reach that, you’ll start learning about the balance between hard and smart work. The difference between average and rockstar salespeople is, however, that the best put in the hours to learn what smart work is and the average don’t. So keep on pushing until you hit your optimum and be clear about your goals to achieve that first pillar of sales success.

When we first started building Pipedrive, we realized that knowing the amount of “No’s” you need to get before you reach a “Yes” can give you a psychological edge – suddenly you’re no longer fazed by rejection. So we went on a small detour and created the NO Calculator.

Have you got a good “why”?

What drives you as a salesman? For many it’s the paycheck they receive at the end of the month. For some it’s somewhat deeper, like providing for their loved ones. I’ve found that finding a deep-rooted answer for the ‘why’ helps you keep on going. But then there’s courage that in the sales context means the desire of putting yourself out there – the willingness to fail over and over again in order to succeed. You’re always going to get declining answers, but the trait that all good salesman share is the courage to make that fearful step again, again and again, knowing full well that there are going to be plenty of “no’s” on their way to a “yes”. Reason and courage in a unison form the second pillar of sales success - will.

Have you mastered the basics?

There’s no shortcut to sales success. The best salespeople simply have their basics honed to perfection – they know which leads to qualify, they have a response to nearly every client reaction and they know every closing tactic in the book. This is something every salesman can achieve – it’s just a matter of putting the time in to learn and practice. Discipline, the second facet to ability, essentially means organizing your work. By setting time aside for prospecting every day, by making sure you follow up the right leads at the right time, that’s how you never miss an opportunity again. The best salespeople know when to follow up on their leads and move them along their sales pipeline. So there you go – skill and discipline – that’s ability, the third and final pillar to sales success.

Can you change your ways?

One of the three will not be enough. You might have great skills and clear goals, but if you lack drive, you won’t make it. You might have great aspirations and a bucketful of will, but if you don’t persevere and have a routine, you’re not going to cut it.’

The same goes for the status quo. Whatever brought you success today, you’re going to need to adjust tomorrow to adapt to the changed surroundings. Sales, like everything else, is multidimensional and you have to deal with every single facet.

Now go close.

Empty your pipeline regularly to keep deals flowing

Pipeline pig brushAlthough emptying your sales pipeline sounds counter-intuitive, it’s necessary for most of us. When I say empty your pipeline, what I’m really talking about is being choosey about who you keep in and when it’s time to clean house a little.

Bigger isn’t always better

There’s such a thing as too big.  When it comes to your sales pipeline, you must be careful about not letting it get overstuffed with prospects.

Think of it this way. If your goal is to have 20 deals in your pipeline at any given time, and it turns out you’ve got 50, this seems like a good thing, doesn’t it? After all, with so many deals in the various stages of your pipeline, you’re ahead of the game.

The reality is that this may not always be the case. Too many deals spread your available resources too thin. When you’re over productive in this way, you tend not to pay the proper amount of attention to all the deals in the pipeline and some can grow cold and stale.

We know, it happened to us

In my pre-Pipedrive days we once hired a salesman who had really distinguished himself before signing on with us. Strangely, it didn’t take very long before we realized he was having some challenges. In one month, he began with 10 really great leads but by the end of the month, most of them hadn’t moved on along the pipeline.

It took us a while before we both had come to the conclusion that the good old “we’re still thinking about it and we should have a definite decision in a couple of weeks” canned response wasn’t good enough. For one, we had heard it too many times.

When our new star changed his close tactics and asked all prospects if they were ready to place an order that month, we found out that only 1 was actually going to make a purchase. It was clear that while the volume of conversations he was putting into the pipeline was reasonable, the velocity of those deals was abysmal. His pipeline which had seemed healthy had actually been “clogged”.

He quickly learned his lesson and became one of the best closers on the sales team.

How to tell when to flush the pipeline

There are some indicators that a prospect who’s currently in your pipeline is not worth immediate and continuous attention. Here are three examples, but you’ll probably be able to come up with a few more on your own:

  • Ask yourself - would a customer laugh at the idea of being in your pipeline? If they don’t take you seriously, don’t take them seriously.
  • Ask your prospects if it’s possible if they will actually make a decision this month. If the answer is no, it’s time to move on.
  • When someone says that they would like your product or service, but not this month / quarter / year, it may not seem like a lost cause, but it is. You must consider them for flushing because there’s nothing you can do to close them within the constraints of your sales cycle, or even the near future.

How to keep your pipeline squeaky clean

Exactly how you flush them is up to you, but here are a few suggestions to help you formulate a definite plan.

  1. Go through all of the contacts in your sales pipeline once per week, or every two weeks. If you find a prospect that’s been sitting in the pipe and clogging it up for longer than your typical sales cycle, and doesn’t show any sign of moving to the next stage any time soon, flush them.
  2. Don’t get rid of them entirely. Put these flushed prospects into a future pipeline or a future callback list. If you’re using sales management software such as Pipedrive, schedule a follow up call or email.
  3. Stay focused on deals that have a strong chance of closing during your established sales cycle.
  4. If you’re a Pipedrive customer, start using our deal rotting feature.

Flushing prospects out of your sales pipeline will feel a bit strange. It’s hard to put aside a potential customer, even a lukewarm one. But the whole thrust of this course is to keep your focus on the strong candidates and to keep them moving along the stages of your pipeline. Proper focus, good work habits and continuous effort create a steady flow of revenue through your pipeline.

PS. If you liked this post, check out Sales Pipeline Academy. We’ve distilled our sales management experience into 11 actionable emails over 25 days. It’s not bedtime reading, and there is some homework involved, but the feedback has been great, so do check it out.

Illustration courtesy: patent for Method of making a pipeline pig brush and brush assembly.

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Pipedrive is ready

NB! This was posted on April 1st.

I have a rather important announcement to make. This morning we released a relatively small feature that many customers had been vocally requesting (now when your rep marks a deal as “lost” a 250 word essay to explain their failure is mandatory). After the release we started planning the next development cycle and realised this had been not only the last outstanding feature request, but also the last item on our roadmap. Furthermore, our developers had managed to fix all outstanding bugs last week.

After some hours of heated discussion our product team declared Pipedrive to be fully complete. There is nothing we can add or improve. We’ve built the world’s first piece of software that doesn’t require, or even doesn’t accommodate, further enhancements.

To be honest, the decision to declare the product ready wasn’t quite unanimous. Our product lead suggested two more improvements to our mobile apps, but these could not be taken seriously, coming from someone who also wished his iPhone 5S had a bigger screen, an NFC chip and a replaceable battery.

The news has been warmly welcomed by our customers. In the words of Nikhil Shah, co-founder of music platform Mixcloud“As a company with a strong product led culture, we’re constantly iterating and improving our platform, and it seems like there’s always a million things to do! This is why I’m astounded with Pipedrive’s recent efforts. They’ve somehow managed to get to product completion, and we’re very happy users. It’s great to know that we are working with a final product and have no surprises to expect.”

completepipedrive-3

Operating the world’s first fully complete software product is not all good news. We’ve had to make the tough decision to let go all staff apart from a part-time accountant. I myself have just accepted a managerial role at Salesforce and others don’t seem to have too difficult of a time finding new jobs either. This is the true benefit of having a great team.

Over the years we’ve raised more than 3.5 million dollars and we’ve decided to pay out the unused funds as dividends to company co-founders. In the words of Jason M. Lemkin, one of our investors: “We always knew there was something special about Pipedrive, apart from the funny accents of founders. More people in the VC world should embrace the view that finalizing a product is a much better exit strategy than an IPO. For one thing, there’s a lot less paperwork.”

When we pre-announced the news to our investors a couple of reasonable questions came up, which we’re re-publishing here with their permission.

Q: Can you really be confident that there is nothing the team can do to improve Pipedrive?

Me: Just look at it.

Q: Have you considered that customer preferences and available technologies change and the product may need improvements in the future?

Me: It is likely that 3-5 years down the line a small sub-set of customers would like a new feature for our Products module. Several of our developers have expressed interest in adding that on their spare time.

Guess that’s it. This is the last post on this blog. None of us expected to reach product completion in less than 4 years, but we all feel very privileged for having been part of this journey. Thank you for your support, and enjoy using the world’s first complete software product!

We’re switching to simple seat-based pricing from the new year

Pipedrive has been of a rare breed of sales software companies with plan-based pricing. While this has worked ok, many customers felt they were paying for seats they didn’t need and others worried about the significant increase in price if the maximum number of people within their plan was reached.

We’re thus switching to seat-based pricing from January 1st 2014 – a straightforward $9 (or €7) per seat per month. This price level reflects our belief that sales software should be affordable for all organizations.

There are good economical benefits for all parties involved. For one thing, it’s simpler – you’ll only pay for what you use and you’ll have more flexibility adding or removing people to your account without worrying about the cost. And from our point of view, this helps us monetize our customer base in a more fair way and reflect this in our investments into our product as well as support functions.

Please note that if you’re happy with the number of people available with your current plan, and don’t plan to add or remove people any time soon, you don’t need to switch to seat-based pricing. Your Pipedrive account will continue to work without interruption and your monthly charge will remain the same.

If you currently have a free trial account with us, and you like the plan-based pricing better, we advise to enter your payment details before Dec 31st 2013. And if you have any comments or questions, please get in touch.

Become a better closer with our new shiny Timeline View

timeline-view

We believe that the biggest benefit of Pipedrive is that it helps you focus. We hope you’ll agree it gives you an overview of ongoing deals and helps to pick the ones that need your attention today. And today we’re introducing another useful dimension to keep you focused – time period.

In sales, it’s bloody difficult to look ahead all the time

There’s a challenge in sales that almost everyone has faced to a larger or smaller extent. We spend most of the time trying to close deals that seem most likely to close. We’re handling calls, meetings, objections and the outrageous things competitors promise. And so we sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture: who should I be talking to hit my monthly quota, and what can wait until later. The result can be painful: missed goals for yourself or the team, and smaller pay checks.

Another issue that many sales people face is clinging on to the Really Big Deals at the expense of business-as-usual. Sure, closing a big one would make a big impact on the bottom line of the company and your bonus, but often the attention the big deals receive is at the expense of smaller, but much more probable deals. Only a few things are (professionally speaking) worse than realizing your Big Deal is lost or postponed to the next quarter, and that none of the smaller deals is ready to close either.

Thirdly, there’s the fact that sales people are “reset” at the end of each month (or quarter) – closed deals contribute to your salary, and the new month promises a $0 paycheck. Back when I was active in sales, this zero always affected my emotional state, turning me into a very different sales person at the beginning of each month. Not looking ahead can cripple your emotional state at the beginning of each month or quarter.

All in all, there are two important dates for every salesman. One is today – to do list, emails that come, calls you make and receive. And the other is the last day the month or quarter. (Same is true in life in a way). Being focused on today’s activities or the big picture only is a good start, this is more than most people can be bothered. But you really want to keep an eye on both because this is how you can achieve exceptionally good results. And now you can do this with Pipedrive.

The timeline view is like a crystal ball that lets you look into the future (and see what action to take)

Timeline view arranges all open deals by expected close date. It shows the sales you’ve already made this month, and all the open sales which you may be able to close this month. This sales forecasting gives you a very good idea of the likely sales result at the end of the month or quarter. If you’re not happy with the results so far, find a suitable open deal you can close next, or work on adding more open deals to your pipeline and enjoy a stronger next period.

The effect of using timeline view makes every salesperson a bit more like a sales manager. If you use both our pipeline view and the new timeline view, you can anticipate and answer almost any question a manager would have, and more importantly, you’d have the data to back your answers.

Managers can use timeline view as their main view in case they want to spare themselves from digging in too deep into individual or combined pipelines. Timeline view is perfect for leading regular meetings with the team and discussing when certain deals will close, what needs to be done to close them, or to close them faster, and identifying forecasts that are too optimistic.

This means you’ll always have a great idea what the sales results will be. This also means you can correct course before it’s too late. All in all, it helps to make sure your commission is what you’re planning it to be.

See Timeline View in action:

When to use Pipeline view and when to use Timeline view

The Pipeline View most of you know well is great for tracking daily activities and more “tactical” planning. The new Timeline View is great looking ahead a couple of times a week to cover your “strategic” planning. Then again, it’s built in a way that if you like one more than the other, you can have either as your main working view.

In Pipeline View, a drag and drop of a deal helps you advance it to the next stage of your pipeline, in Timeline View a drag and drop moves the close date of a deal to next month or quarter.

What do I need to do to use the Timeline View?

* Start using the “expected close” date field

* Customize. Each business is different. It may be that you can invoice your customers only after you’ve delivered or implemented your service or product. In other words, you may want to see your won deals arranged by ‘delivery’ or ‘implementation’ date. Feel free, Pipedrive enables you to change the date field the deals are arranged by.

In addition, some of you like to track your results and operate in quarters, and some in months – you can choose your preference. Similarly, it’s a matter of taste to place either won or open deals on top.​