Okay, this is probably going to be one of my shortest posts ever as it’s 10:48PM and I just got back from Coloft after watching amazing presentations from groups taking part in LA Startup Weekend! Of course this will make for a very exciting Startup Monday coming-up in less than 12 hours! Now only the topic of this post – Salesforce.com.
I had the chance to network with the owner of a very successful online directory to discuss some of the things he has done to become successful with his directory. He not only shared his advice but also took the time to look at the directory I’m running on Kayaking.org as well as one of the new directories we’re launching in a few weeks (still not ready to announce yet!).
Right now I have salespeople contacting all the businesses we add to the directory to tell them about the directory, ask them if they want to be included, and then help them get signed-up. Of course part of this process is also learning about their business and hopefully upgrading them to a premium or featured listing. My sales team has done an awesome job so far and added over 1,000 businesses to Kayaking.org and we now have a ton of contacts however no data on what they talked to the contacts about.
The directory-pro I spoke with told me that one of the keys to running a successful directory is having a good system for cataloging every single call, email, etc. that you have with all of the companies you talk to and add to your directory. He told me that he actually had conversations going back ten years with companies in his directory. This means if he loses a salesperson, he doesn’t lose all the knowledge and data from previous calls. It also means that he can have data beyond the directory itself which is also valuable.
So I’ve taken the plunge and signed-up for Salesforce.com and it’s already making my life easier and giving us tons of great data. Rather than dealing with strings of emails and folders with company names on it, we now have a centralized resource. It’s also much easier for me to see exactly who my salespeople are working with, what deals they’re closing, and what deals they are trying to close. There’s a lot more that you can do with Salesforce.com and I’m still just scratching the surface. However using it to manage and track the companies in your directories, conversations you’ve had with them, and who might upgrade next is extremely valuable.
Okay, time for a glass of wine and some Star Trek Voyager – hope you all had a great weekend. Stay-tuned tomorrow for an extra-special Startup Monday covering Los Angeles Startup Weekend!