When it comes to succeeding in a crowded marketplace, it takes a special kind of entrepreneur to stand out. Lars Helgeson, founder and CEO of Green Rope is one such entrepreneur. In this episode of The Dirt, Jim Barnett interviews Lars to discuss his unique go-to-market strategy and how he rose to the top of the CRM industry.
Lars was born and raised in Southern California and went to college in upstate New York. After a few years in the Air Force, he decided to start his own business. He and his business partner eventually parted ways, and Lars has since grown the business organically over the last 23 years without taking any venture funding or private equity.
When Lars first started his business, the CRM industry was not as crowded as it is today. But as time went on, the space became more competitive, and Lars had to find ways to stand out. He developed the concept of complete CRM, which focused on looking at the entire relationship between a lead or a client and a business.
Lars had to come up with a strategy to compete in the crowded market space. He decided to focus on providing the most value for his customers and created a model to private label or white label his technology. This allowed partners to use the technology, label it as their own, and use it to make recurring revenue. By doing this, partners were able to build a strong bond between them and their customers, as everyone uses a CRM every day.
GreenRope offers CRM and marketing automation software to small and medium businesses (SMBs). In the past, the company had a business model that required a large upfront cost. This deterred many SMBs from signing up. To make the platform more accessible, Lars developed a new model that charges only $600 a month and allows customers to private label up to 50 accounts. This evolution was driven by listening to customer feedback.
Lars and his team use a formal process to listen to customer feedback. They send out surveys, have an open channel for ideas, and use their own ticketing system to score feature requests. They also host webinars and a monthly Q&A for their larger customers and reseller clients.
In addition to formal feedback gathering, Lars also emphasizes the importance of informal customer feedback. He encourages his team to bounce ideas off trusted employees and clients. This helps him get honest feedback and adjust the message or user experience.
When it comes to innovation, Lars believes there should be a balance between customer-driven features and ideas from his own team. He also believes that Steve Jobs was successful because he had the financial backing to take something revolutionary to market.
Finally, Lars emphasizes the importance of customer service. He has invested heavily in customer service, implementation, and training. This helps customers feel like they can figure out the software on their own and that GreenRope is on their side.
Lars emphasizes the importance of having an open line of communication with customers and making sure they can access it easily. He suggests having a live chat, phone number, ticketing system, and email available so customers can reach out to you quickly and easily. Additionally, make sure your customer service team is well-trained and knowledgeable about your product and can provide helpful resources for customers.
Automation is key to scaling your business efficiently. Lars suggests using a CRM system that has all the features you need built in, such as a survey tool, project management tool, learning management system, wiki for knowledge management, and landing page builder. This will help you connect all the strands of your business and access data quickly and easily. Additionally, automating customer service and marketing will help you minimize the need for expensive human resources.
Lars also talks about the importance of aligning marketing and sales teams. He suggests breaking down the “wall of blame” between the two teams and creating a team-based approach. This will help create more efficiency and leverage software and technology to do more with less. Additionally, having a good CRM system in place will help you track leads from marketing qualified to sales qualified and set up automations to help them through the process.
Aligning sales and marketing can bring many benefits to businesses, from improved efficiency and effectiveness to increased customer satisfaction. By aligning the two departments, businesses can ensure that leads are passed from one to the other in an efficient manner, and that each team has a full understanding of the customer journey. This helps to ensure that leads are qualified properly, and that customers are being sold the products and services they need.
Aligning sales and marketing also helps to create a sense of team work. By understanding the roles of each department and how they can work together, sales and marketing teams can collaborate to create a better customer experience. This can be particularly beneficial for businesses that have a large customer base, as it can help to ensure that customers are receiving the best possible service.
Aligning sales and marketing can seem like a daunting task, but it is possible with the right steps. The first step is to understand each team's role and how they can work together. Each team should have a clear understanding of the customer journey and the gates that need to be passed in order for a lead to be qualified. This will help to ensure that leads are passed from one team to the other in an efficient manner.
The next step is to create a system that allows for the free flow of information between the two departments. This can be done through the use of a CRM platform, which can help to track leads and ensure that each team is aware of the progress of each lead.
Finally, it is important to create a culture of collaboration and team work. This can be done by encouraging each team to work together and share ideas. By creating an environment where each team is valued and respected, businesses can ensure that sales and marketing are working together to create the best possible customer experience.