The software development market is massive. Software development services are currently offered by 20,000+ companies from Russia, India, and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). What’s surprising is that only a few of these companies have the ability to not just develop their product, but also sell it to the intended audiences.
This is what makes Andersen, the qualitative software development company, stand out from other companies. Equipped with a team of 800 engineers, Andersen has been growing and developing since 2007, while offering superior customer services and B2B communication.
The sales executives of Andersen specialize in different industries, languages, and face-to-face meetings, which enables them to promptly respond to their buyers and create a flexible customer journey for each prospect. From our point of view, this is incredible because building a productive sales teams takes months and maintaining its performance takes 100% of your focus, effort, and dedication.
Since there is no definite formula for building team processes, we decided to seek the wisdom of Mihail Krikalo (M.K), the Director of Marketing at Andersen, to ask him how the company managed to build and manage such a powerful sales team.
Tell us a bit about yourself, your company, and the services you provide.
We entered the market in 2007. At first, we worked only across CIS, but in 2012 we focused our efforts on potential buyers in Europe.
The services we offer can be divided into two categories:
1) Custom software development. The customer gives us a task and we make a solution for it.
2) Outsource development. Our outsource teams either join the client’s team or the customer’s project management to solve a round of tasks related to software development/modification/optimization. For example, if a CRM project is handled by a team of five and the project grows, it takes too much time to find, hire and train additional experts — especially when you only need them for one project. Not to mention insurance and other expenses. Employing outsources experts is the best way out of this situation.
They come in, do their work, and go.
We mostly target 50+ companies. We focus on our marketing efforts mostly on CEOs, CTOs, the Heads of Information Technology or Development departments. We also look for any titles responsible for the technical outfitting of the company. Why them exactly? These titles are the ones that can fully estimate the benefits of our services, how they would affect their workflow, relieve the workload, and fit the budget.
What are your key responsibilities? Are they sales-directed or are they more about lead generation?
I’m in charge of lead generation and the general marketing direction. I develop strategies for boosting brand awareness. These tasks make up 50% of my responsibilities. The other 50% are lead generation and lead generation strategies.
How many leads does your outbound lead generation bring compared to other channels? Do you use any other channels in general?
We use traditional channels for outbound lead generation — social media, email outreach, and online advertising. Each channel brings us around 33% of our leads. 95% of our outbound marketing campaigns are supported by Google, so we also invest in SEO for increasing our online visibility.
How do you find people with the necessary experience and language skills to make sales happen?
Our main entry criteria are having experience with sales (it doesn’t have to be Information Technology sales) and knowing the language our prospects use. After we gather enough experts, we train them for about three years. As a result, lots of people go in, but only a few stay till the end.
If we put it in numbers, out of seven trainees, two stays. Before that, we test and interview at least 30 candidates. This model ensures we get the most productive and most hard-working results-oriented experts. Whenever a team member leaves, it’s a loss. It’s never easy to let someone go after we’ve put so much time and effort into them. We invest a lot in every employee.
As for task management and task organization, it’s the easiest part. Each sales team member has their own set of KPIs for every quarter. If they manage to score every KPI by the end of the quarter, they’re good. Every sales executive can do everything they need to complete their tasks, even asking for whatever resources the company can provide. In fact, all our team members have individual KPIs and build their work and make decisions in a way that helps reach those KPIs. This system is very easy to track and it also encourages self-management and flexibility.
Is it hard to set KPIs for the Marketing Department?
It is. Figuring out the best way to plan KPIs for marketers was a pain, so we decided to tie everything to a single figure: the total company growth rate within a given period. Everything done by our marketers should affect that rate. Our growth plan is tightly connected to our Marketing Department KPIs.
What kind of resources is available to your sales teams?
All lead generation requests from our sales and research teams usually go to our Marketing Department, while all budgeting questions are directed to our Heads of the Sales Department. So, if a sales executive needs more researchers for a project, they go to the Marketing Department. If it’s financial assistance, they turn to their Heads of Department for help.
How do your sales teams work?
We don’t train sales agents. We train self-managed professionals capable of outlining a customer’s journey and leading their prospects through that journey.
Our sales executives lead their prospects from the first email. They have full autonomy in this process. If they need to fly over to the prospect’s country to a F2F meeting, they do it. They can do even more than that. For example, if they know they their client will be celebrating their birthday and think a small present would be appropriate, they’re encouraged to act on that decision.
Our Heads of Departments and other senior executives have their KPIs, too, and they work with the clients as well. For example, our CTO attends every F2F meeting with our high-value customers.
Your tips for the companies who want to organize their sales?
1) Take good care of your online presence. Get an account on every platform that is relevant to your industry. And I mean every platform.
2) If you’re performing with a small team, don’t hesitate to offer your services on Upwork until your workforce expands to at least 15 members. Upwork is a platform that is not dominated by large competitors, so you won’t have to fight for every customer. You will be able to grow and develop in peace, accumulating enough resources to go big.
3) I’ve often seen this scenario repeat itself with many businesses, so I simply must mention it. It’s not uncommon for a company to choose a direction (AdWords ads, for example) and invest $200 to “try things out”. They get no results. Then they ditch the idea, deeming it “ineffective”.
My advice would be to hire an expert in the particular area you want to explore for your business. Let them take a look at your market and your company. See what they have to say. Then act.
Did you find that interview interesting? Feel free to share your thoughts and interview suggestions with us — our inbox is waiting for your emails and comments.