How a Startup that Sells to Salespeople Gets Their Customers

Danny Schreiber
Danny Schreiber / Published November 21, 2013

“Startups love to optimize their UI/UX but not their sales funnel.” That’s the start of one of Elastic CEO Steli Efti’s “7 Deadly Sales Sins Committed By Startups”.

The sin: “No Process in Place.”

Efti, who runs a company that offers a on-demand sales team, wrote that most startups don’t put a sales funnel in place they’re later able to optimize. “Startups today have access to a vast amount of data but often fail to track some basic metrics for their sales funnel," he wrote.

At Glider, a startup that builds a tool to help companies close the "last mile" of a sales funnel, improving their process is a major focus.

Why? Because they’re selling to salespeople, potential customers that give sales pitches, not listen to them.

"We Have to Act Really Fast"

For (our customer) to take time to consider a startup and to consider our product, we have to act really fast and we have to be right,” said Michael Brondello, Glider’s one full-time salesperson. “When we strike, there’s no room for error.”

To cut down on error, the startup cut out a step. A step that slowed down the process to follow up with their MQLs (marketing qualified leads), the names of potential customers they gathered from offering free sales-oriented ebooks or white papers.

That step involved two pieces of software, multiple team members and half-dozen pieces of data.

Here was their process before they cut out the step:

  1. Using HubSpot, Glider embeds a form on their ebook marketing page

  2. Glider gathers the name and contact information, including company size and job title, of the visitor who would like to download the free literature.

  3. Glider’s marketing team finds incoming leads in HubSpot, schedules a meeting with the company's sales team and passes off the data

  4. The sales team follows up with each lead

Can you guess what step was cut out? It was step 3.

Once the leads came into HubSpot, we would then have to do this manual transition that would take long enough that it was painful,” Michael said. “It would require a meeting between our marketing people and our sales people and we would have to make sure that all the information matched up and that we were really transitioning people through the funnel.”

Making it Immediate

Identifying the pain point—the weekly meeting to manually share leads—Michael went searching for a way to remove it from there process.

“We started thinking, ‘there must be a better way to do this,’ and started looking for tools that could help,” Michael said. “That’s where Zapier came in and it really changed everything.”

At Glider, they use RelateIQ, a next-generation relationship management tool, to track interactions with potential clients. Michael lives in the app; it’s his homebase.

Using Zapier, an app automation platform, they found a way to circumvent the meeting and the manual handoff of data by connecting the tools on either end of it—HubSpot and RelateIQ.

“Now we have this set up that as soon as a lead fills out a form on HubSpot, and we actually get some kind of information on a lead, that is immediately pulled right into our CRM,” Michael said. “It doesn’t have to go through all these filtering processes and these step-by-steps. It’s immediate and it’s the full information. Everything that the marketing team knows the sales team knows, and I even get to curate that.”

Curating Leads on the Fly

Ending an examination of Glider’s sales process at this point would leave out one major addition to their process—an addition that brought even more precision to their sales funnel.

On top of connecting their marketing tool with their sales CRM, they now automatically make note of how the leads came in so they know how the potential customer interacted with their site.

Glider Demo Marketing

“When someone is requesting a demo, they go into a demo workflow on HubSpot and from their they get Zapped into a demo list on RelateIQ,” Michael explained.

“All I have to do is open up RelateIQ and I have a whole list of the people that requested a demo in the last day, the people that were merely requesting content or the people that were trying to sign up for a trial," he said. "It’s all curated and all of that curation is done through HubSpot and all the information then is pulled over to RelateIQ.”

Michael recalled his reaction after a successful marketing campaign netted over 100 qualified leads. “It was a surprise opening up RelateIQ and having 100 new contacts all there, perfectly filled out and ready to go,” he said. “I was like, ‘Oh sh–t, I’ve got a lot of calls ahead of me.”

Speed Up Your Sales Process

If you’re working with these same type of tools—an inbound marketing system or even basic form software to collect leads and a CRM—you too can streamline your team's hand off of qualified leads. Here’s how:

1. Set up a form with fields to identify a lead

For Glider, they always ask the visitor for their job title and size of their company. Glider is selling to salespeople at small- and medium-sized businesses. Whatever you’re looking for in a potential customer, make sure you address it in your form.

Glider form

2. Configure your CRM to label leads

Whatever your CRM—RelateIQ, Highrise,, Base, Capsule or another one—you’ll want to make sure that whatever information you’re asking for will have a landing spot in your system. It’s also a good idea to make a label or category for these new leads that will be automatically entered.

Here’s a section of what Glider’s RelateIQ dashboard looks like:

Glider Leads

3. Connect your marketing tool with your CRM

Now it's time to connect these two apps. To do so, open up your Zapier dashboard and create a Zap with HubSpot as the trigger (the left side of the equation) and RelateIQ as the action (the right side). If you’re not yet using Zapier or unfamiliar with how it works, think of it as point-and-click tool to integrate two web services. No coding is required, only a few steps to get to automation.

Here’s the Zap used by Glider:

Remember, if you’re following Glider’s method of multiple entry points for leads, such as an ebook, white paper or the almighty trial request, you’ll need to set up a Zap for each form. Glider has three different forms fed into RelateIQ.

Glider Zaps

4. Act on your qualified leads

Cancel the meeting with your marketing team or whomever you received leads from before and keep an eye on your CRM. Phone numbers and emails of potential customers are on their way, without any hand off from a teammate.

Stay in Flight

Glider doesn’t end the process there, they continue to use HubSpot to send email campaigns to identified leads and even potential customers that give them a soft “no.” They add those names back into HubSpot to continue the sales pitch.

And of course, they use Glider, too.

“Glider comes into the sales process when people are ready to look at the terms, when you have an agreement on hand and now you actually want to move forward and you actually want to do that delicate dance of ‘How can we show them what we want to see?’” Michael said.

“And that transition of going from an opportunity into something that you’re actually going to close, that area right there, that last 10 percent of the sales model—that’s where we come in.”

It’s no doubt that along with the evolution of their sales process even further, their own product will evolve, too. How have you changed your process to improve sales? Please share in the comments below!

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