Entrepreneur Interview - Matt Cameron Part 2 - Corporate Catapult & B2B Selling

By Gareth Rose on Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

matt-c-249x300This is the second part of the entrepreneur interview with Matt Cameron, an Australian (New Zealand) founder of the  startup Corporate Catapult. This interview is about: starting up Corporate Catapult and business to business selling for startups.

We discuss Corporate Catapult and how it was set up in the U.S., the challenges he’s faced starting up, how he’s focused on starting lean, had to refocus on a smaller core offering and now how he’s moving ahead with the business.

Prior to starting Corporate Catapult, Matt’s former role was as the Australian and New Zealand Sales Director at Salesforce.com which he got into early when it was just starting up in Australia - so Matt’s got detailed knowledge of B2B selling as a startup. We discuss how best to start selling as a new business starting out, recruiting and motivating sales staff, segmenting customer groups and much more.

The full interview (in audio) can be downloaded here: Entrepreneur Interview - Matt Cameron - Corporate Catapult

The full interview on video is here:


If you prefer text, here’s the Summary Notes:

Corporate Catapult:

The original idea was that Corporate Catapult would be a career acceleration tool for people working at large enterprise. We were going to create a platform for people to engage with that gave them practices needed to get ahead at a large company:

  1. How to get ready for the next promotion
  2. How to build relationships with influential people
  3. How to get a good performance review

We spent our first 9 months doing all the customer development stuff – the markups, the feedback, the iterations, and then released a thin and wide product with minimal functionality and then pushed that out to our alpha group. The results weren’t what they expected. What we learnt is that you need an interactive mockup of what you’re doing so people can click on it and jump from page to page. Where we are at now is that we have completed that and are now about to release a closed beta of what we are doing. Our focus is still on the same people and the two pieces of functionality that they love are related to influence mapping in their company (who is who) and formal authority and who is connected to them. We have also built some relationship development functionality that is about helping people touch base regularly in a meaningful way. It will be out by the end of this month to the closed beta group and we hope to have the data back by April to take back to the venture capitalists.

We need capital to accelerate our development towards scale.

If you can self-fund the seed stage to your business, you can retain much more of your equity and the risk is taken away from the VCs and first round of angels.

Marketing Strategy

We are basically going directly to individuals in large enterprise. The software itself inherently is viral. If I am trying to create an influence map of the company, it makes sense to pass it on to other workers and my peers so they can add their knowledge and all of us get a richer map of the company – it is a community-based thing.

Advice

Be very focused in what you release first and you do not need to release the full product because you’ll get data points as you go.


Selling Advice for Startups - In his previous role as the Australian and New Zealand Sales Director at Salesforce.com:

Use LinkedIn for all it is worth – there is no other similar resource.

Acquiring customers

I joined salesforce.com six years ago when it was a startup and we had no credibility and no brand. We had a self-sign up and self-activation system – we emailed customers straight away and researched them so we could create delighted customers that would reference us

We had a very low friction sign up process. We spent money on SEO and made sure we were discoverable – we made it easy for customers to try us with a thirty-day free trial sign up.

When they do commit to you, you need to have someone who is actually incentive for them to be successful.

It is helpful to teach people how to use your software in their business to make them successful – it is like sales training mixing with how it links in with their business.

Writing and sending a typical email

Today it is fairly easy to find someone’s email. The big challenge is to find out who is who in the company so you know who to email (LinkedIn is a great resource for this).

Research the industry, the company and the individual

A good email should include

  • An action headline
  • A subject line using someone’s name that knows you to add credibility

Recruiting and motivating Salespeople (for a startup)

There are three things salespeople need for success:

  • A great product people will want to buy
  • A distinct territory – there must be a reasonable patch and a salesperson needs to know the territory
  • Strong capabilities

When recruiting, I would look at your background from that perspective

Do not ever hire a person who has come from an established company who has been in that roll for five or six years – they have got corporate infrastructure around them that they are used to – the chaos of a startup will kill them.

Employ someone who has made a lot of money – if I ask what they’ve earned, I want to hear if they’ve earned a fortune because it shows me they are successful.

If you don’t know someone who doesn’t know the person, don’t hire them

Hire someone who has worked in a startup before and make sure the people are hungry – give them incentive to make money

Sales people are two types – mix the two

  1. Coin operated
  2. Flattery operated

Segmenting customer groups and focusing efforts

Do not worry too much about the territories you’re going to go after but think about the size of the companies

Do not go after a large companies across verticals early on – the larger the company, the more risk averse they are

  • Go small and wide and figure out what works
  • Do not burn your opportunities by going too large too early

Customer discovery process

  • In the early days you’re also going through market discovery and learning all the time so it is really important to have smart sales guys who can think back into the system.

CRM – how best to use it for a sales environment

CRM is a set of processes and a cultural thing and describes behaviors – a lot of CRMs automate things you are already doing wrong.

You should find out what the lead practices are in terms of lead generation, opportunity development through to closure

Learn from CRM – it allows you to be more efficient and effective.


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