Hi. Hey Urska. How you doing today? Thanks so much for joining me on the SaaS breakthrough podcast.
Hi guys. Thank you for having me. I'm really excited to answer all your questions today.
Yeah, this is going to be a great episode. Lots to go through, lots to talk about here, kind of learn a little bit more about the company, but before we do that, why don't you give us a little bit of a background on Whisbi when it was founded, who the customers are and what you're doing uniquely in the marketplace?
Yeah, sure. So Whisbi was founded back in 2008, actually, but we became a pure SaaS company in 2016. So basically we're a SaaS company for about four years now. And it kind of evolved from a call center service provider because our founders had this amazing idea that you know, call center agents could have a more better customer experience providing to their customers when they speak to them over the phone. So this is kind of where Whisbi idea started, it was in a call center environment and our customers are still enterprise-sized companies, in either telecommunications or automotive industries. Although we have some clients as well in other industries like financial services, travel which was actually hit really bad by the Covid crisis. And also some main consumer electronics, but basically the companies that are our target are looking for innovative solutions to fuel their digital transformation efforts.
For example, in the US we recently started to work with AT&T, which is like the biggest type of communications company. And the project has evolved really quickly from a pilot. Now they're considering, you know, joining Whisbi for a longer period, and also a lot of other brands that AT&T owns wants to use our solution as well. We also work with Hyundai and Nissan in the US. In the UK, we have brands like Ford, 3 UK, three brands from the Volkswagen group. But like I mentioned before, we also work with, for example, Samsung, A1 and (inaudible) group in various markets globally. So this is kind of the overview of Whisbi and our customers, but then looking at our solution, like you mentioned, what is unique about Whisbi is the fact that we enable brands to connect with their online customers in real time.
So their sales experts that are based in any physical location, this could be a call center, store, dealership, showroom, even home-based agents are connected to our conversational sales platform, and they can use features like web-sharing to do like real time offer product configuration. They can use live video to do product demonstrations of let's say, phones, cars, they can use a file transfer feature, they can chat. So basically by using Whisby brands have seen an uplift in conversion rates, it has gone as high as 30%, depending on the industry. And these numbers are really, like you said, incredibly high. Because if we look at alternative channels that convert at much lower rates, like (inaudible) 2% phone 7 to 8%, chat maybe 4%, if you're lucky. But basically our tools replicated the in-store experience online. So obviously the conversion rates are more comparable if not even the same as in physical retail stores. So ultimately what our solution does is it helps brands increase digital sales.
That's amazing. And you know, you definitely have some competitors out there, but I think you guys are doing something very unique with how you're building in the multimedia and the customers you're going after. And I'll have some questions on that in just a second here, but when did you actually join the team?
So yeah, I joined the marketing team four years ago, nearly, it's going to be now.
Right when they transitioned to SaaS?
Yes, exactly. So I was in the last month of when we were still selling also services. But then yeah, we transitioned to full SaaS and I was actually the first hire on the marketing team.
Oh wow, congratulations. How big have you built it out the marketing team?
So our marketing team, we are three, which are full-time employees. So we have a marketing graphic designer. So she's in charge of all our visuals, brand, website and our marketing and sales manager who she was actually, we actually recently moved all our SDR team into the marketing team and we promoted our growth marketing manager into this role. So she also is managing the whole top of the funnel for Whisbi pipeline. So inbound and outbound. But apart from this, we also work with freelancers, for example, for content production. We have a freelance web developer, SEO agency. So we kind of find the resources or skills that we're lacking inside the team outside.
Yeah. That's really smart to do that when you have to kind of just fill in those different kinds of holes, you have in skillsets, but that's great that you have that team kind of built out. I want to quickly touch on the transition when you made into SaaS. You come on, did you guys already have product-market fit built out with these larger almost fortune 50 companies, very large enterprise companies, or when you transitioned to the SaaS model you had to find that ICP and that product-market fit all over again?
Yeah. We kind of, we're kind of, well, the thing is that nobody in these traditional industries like telecommunications, automotive, like there isn't a person in a C level position who are decision makers that are gonna make a huge bet on a software that nobody knows. Cause has been never used before. So it's always a big risk and these kind of companies are usually followers. They're not the risk, like risk-taking kind of companies. So a way to get them to use our solution was to also provide services. So we were saying, listen, we're going to manage everything. We're going to get you agents. We're going to manage the agents. We're going to involve the trainings. You know, the only thing you need to do is look at your ROI from this channel. So this was kind of why we were selling services at the beginning, because there was no product-market fit.
I would say at the beginning, even when we transitioned fully to SaaS, it took quite some time to find the product-market fit mainly because our product was so head of time, in my opinion, that many brands did not really see the value if I can say that, in it. And they were very often treating it more as a nice to have tool, and focusing too much on our video capabilities. Like we heard things like, Oh, that is like, it's just a video tool. You know, it was just to like do real time video online, but it's much more than that, you know, it's like a sales generation machine. So yeah, it took it took quite some time, but like now when this all COVIT crisis happened really everything changed for Whisbi. Like suddenly we were, you know, the hot stuff on the market. Everybody wanted in on it because our platform enabled business continuity for our clients during this pandemic and actually saved jobs and businesses.
I don't know if you maybe read about like SKODA UK, which is part of Volkswagen group in the UK, they were able to migrate their showroom agents to work-from-home environment in a matter of hours, you know. And they were able to continue serving online customers, but from their homes. And actually during the, this lockdown in Europe, our clients migrated over 200 agents to our work-from-home environment because the stores and call centers were forced to shut down, you know, and brands were like, what do we do? Like we cannot just stop everything. So brands that were already our clients, we could just easily do this migration and their agents were able to continue working from home, but brands that did not have this solution implemented we're in a big, big hurry to get onboard with us. So yeah, I think brands in traditional industries like automotive and telco, especially are starting to realize that they really need to adapt their tools and their customer experience to customer demands nowadays. So you mentioned before ideal customer profile, it has definitely also evolved as we found our product-market fit as well, because more and more brands are now hiring customer experience officer, chief innovation officer, you know, there are new positions focused on digital transformation and innovation, and it's definitely helping us.
I think to your points. As you said earlier as you guys were kind of ahead of the curve, it's interesting, a lot of times when you hear these stories of these great products being built, the vision behind it, how it all works. And sometimes it takes like a, you know, a major economic change or marketplace shift that really opens people's eyes. So to your point, you know, most of your current customer base just didn't have the pain point they have now, but all of a sudden the value transformation is so big and it's so obvious. And I think, you know, knowing who your target customer is, is going to really build into all of these different strategies that you're doing. So, you know, you're definitely now attracting the right customer base because of the changes in the world, the pandemic people working from home, all of these major changes, but how are you now getting in front of these people? How are you, what's your strategy to effectively, you know, get your message out to these different channels to get in front of these different ICP customers. Obviously there could be some word-of-mouth in there based on the times, but you probably used the past few years to prepare for this exact moment.
Yeah, it definitely works a lot also, like you said, the recommendations, word-of-mouth also, there aren't more than three big telcos in a market and our solution is sold by market. So you can have, let's say HYUNDAI Germany, HYUNDAI UK. So they're like different markets, different decision makers. So we're looking at growing those accounts. So our approach is based on account-based marketing. So we try to get into existing accounts, but expanding the market share if that makes sense. And a lot of times also because these big companies are like a handful of them. People move between brands quite often and they are like, okay, I've used Whisbi before at, AT & T and now I'm at Verizon, you know, I think we should use this as well. So a lot of times it happens that we get a reference. A lot of times, for example, if we work with Toyota but let's say Toyota USA wants to get onboard. They would like to speak with somebody from another Toyota market who is already using our tool. So they always do this kind of reference check.
Do you guys do any type of unique incentive for those referrals or for referees to get them excited and promote you a little bit more with word-of-mouth?
Yeah, sometimes we do we offer, I don't know, maybe something for free, or extension of contract and so on. We always try to kind of encourage them yes to support us and then we return the favor in other ways.
Yeah, definitely. It's almost like you have a free, almost like a sales team, right. It's like built in with your customer base when they love the product, they have a little bit of incentive, they're moving around like you said. You mentioned ABM strategies and I would love to go into this. You guys are doing such a high-level enterprise market. What have you guys had to do to really make this work and get that alignment between sales and marketing for this process to work so well?
Yeah, well like I said, account-based marketing it's all about working together as a team like sales and marketing. It's one team. We have a SVP of sales and marketing. So we all report to the same person and we really, it's like so important to build the right content I would say number one. For like sales- enablement for your sales team. So basically marketing is more of a support role for our account executives who are out there on the field daily. We get like a lot of feedback from them. What kind of content is needed? What kind of stuff our prospects asking for? So we got a lot of ideas from the sales meeting. But for example, we are essentially one team like I said, and one team does not make the sense, doesn't make sense without the other, especially when it comes to enterprise sales.
Our sales cycles are very long between six to nine months. We have, in this sales process, we have to deal around seven to nine stakeholders on average per account. So considering this, you know, marketing has a big role to play. Not just in generating new pipeline and targeting accounts, but also influencing existing opportunities, creating content for different stakeholders at each of the stages in the sales process and actually helping the sales team move opportunities down the funnel. I would, I would like describe our relationship with sales as very collaborative and complimentary. We've been working hard on sales and marketing alignment ever since I basically started. And I can probably say that we have come a long way from, from the beginning. And it helped a lot to have both teams data on the same platform. We use Salesforce and Pardot for marketing automation, which allows us to easily share knowledge, contacts, leads information across the two teams.
We can also build joint workflows where a lead would have a sales touch and then a marketing touch. And everything is like super automated. That's very important. And all information is always within Salesforce. Like everybody can check at any moment what's happening with a prospect or an account. And lastly, I would like to say that we have made a bold move when it comes to structuring our sales and marketing team just a couple of months ago, like I mentioned, because we only target enterprises in specific verticals. The only way we can acquire big accounts is with account-based marketing approach, which means we need a very tight alignment between sales and marketing. And we have decided to move our SDR team into the marketing. So now they report to our sales and marketing manager and the whole top of the funnel activities are centralized in the marketing team.
This helps a lot with the sales and marketing alignment and gives us in marketing the authority, but also responsibility for ensuring all inbound leads are being followed up on. We have access to direct feedback on leads generated, on sales conversations. We know how to improve campaigns based on this feedback from prospects. Account executives don't have to kind of waste time with managing SDRs. They just need to attend arranged meetings and focus on closing. And also we have made some changes in like streamlining our Salesforce process and providing the whole company with more transparency and enabling more accurate reporting on return-on-investment for marketing.
Yeah, I think that was such a smart move, kind of transitioning together. You know, if you talk about alignment, it's about communication, right? Being able to get that quick feedback loop from, you know, different sales team members directly to marketing and then marketing really being in charge of the whole overall pipeline. And I think you mentioned before that was like a growth marketer in charge of that full demand gen pipeline. Just from a tactical level, maybe give me an example of an ABM strategy. Just trying to wrap my mind around, like, what would be something that you, that you're reaching out to, in someone in one of these very large enterprise companies, is this mostly an outbound direct-mail campaign? Is it email, are you doing advertising? Like how is this campaign structured?
Okay. So like, like I said, we have in our Salesforce a list of targeted accounts, so we know exactly which accounts in which markets we want to get in front of. And we are running in parallel, outbound and inbound activities on the same account. So you know, SDR would have a cadence with a certain account for, I dunno, two weeks and they have to contact decision makers and try to book meetings. And at the same time, we are targeting those companies combined with job titles that we are looking for on LinkedIn. Linkedin is our number one platform for lead-generation. It's just amazing because it allows for so much like customization when it comes to your targeting. You know, exactly, who is your which department, which job title, which company geography. I mean, it's like cherry picking the leads actually.
And it's working really well for us. Like people are astonished when I tell them that my cost-per-lead is 40 euros. For a CMO of Verizon you know, like it's, it's, it's true. Everybody knows that I love LinkedIn and I love working with them. But obviously it's not the only channel. We also work with AdWords, Agile for retargeting. We invest in SEO. And now regarding testing, I would like to test Google ads retargeting in the coming months because it's something that we haven't done yet. And I think it might yield some results. So we're targeting those either web visitors or visitors from our campaigns that have not converted yet. So if they search for a specific search term related to Whisbi, they would see our ad, which I think it's a bit more economic, if I can say that. Especially because we know exactly, you know, who we want to target and sometimes Google ads, just paid search in general is too broad. And actually anybody can see your ad. So you're kind of wasting money on clicks that are not your target market.
Yeah. Even display ads. I think with Google retargeting is just such a powerful campaign cause it's just like free branding.
It's really good.
So you mentioned also you have some inbound traffic coming in. You know, one of the conversations we have a lot on this podcast is around like websites and how we're utilizing websites for lead gen, lead capture, qualifying leads through our website. You know, I know you guys have been looking at transforming your own website, you know, what was, what was the goals that you're going through when you're implementing this stuff? And how are you looking at that, through this lens of inbound traffic in this ABM kind of idea?
Yeah. So this new website project was a very lengthy process. We have done a lot of trial and error and we finally, you know, chose the right platform. I mean, we tried like different platforms, but at the end we went back to Wordpress because I think it was just the easiest one to manage for a marketer who is not a coder, and doesn't know how to code stuff. So we used WordPress and we hired an external developer that works really closely with our designer. And basically the goal for the new web was to update our branding, design, and most importantly content to make sure that it's aligned with the latest sales page and the new product releases. It was quite out of date. And yeah, I think it was like really important step that we did.
We also connected our SDRs team to our Whisbi platform. So basically now our own conversational solution that we are recommending to our clients, we're also using it on our website to capture our web leads. So it was like kind of a project that involved different departments internally, like marketing, sales, operations, product. And basically as (inaudible) how we work, but if you like click on the button,our floating button to speak with our agents, you have like a first conversational flow which will ask you some questions so that you would move down through the decision tree. Of course we wrote the copy for this. For every site, we have a different flow, we have a different message based on the content of that page. And also assuming the buyer journey, because maybe somebody in, on your pricing page is a bit more further down the funnel than somebody just looking at your homepage.
That's fantastic. They're huge deal sizes.
Exactly. Our deal sizes on average are 5,000 MRR, more or less, and it's a 12 month contract or 24 depends. So it's like really, really good ROI for this channel, as you can imagine. And also the sales cycle is so much shorter I think. Average sale cycle is like seven months, six, seven months for Whisbi. It can be also up to 12 months or more in some cases, depending on the complexity and number of decision makers. But for this channel in the last three months, the sales cycle was under one month.
What was the secret to getting that real time demo going? Like, you just have to have enough (inaudible), ready to go with enough time and they can jump on, obviously you're using your tool to do that. But do you think that also kind of helped the process because someone's coming in, they're ready to talk to someone right now?
Yeah, I think so. And also it didn't take too much time because the way Whisbi works is you have a Google Chrome extension that you download and that enables you to log in into the Whisbi platform. And then you always, you're always logged in. So, you know, as SDRs are drafting emails, sending emails, sending LinkedIn messages, calling. So they're always on their laptop and they're always online on this Whisbi widget, let's say, and every time they have a call coming in, they just pick it up. If they don't have time, somebody else in the team is going to pick it up. So there's always somebody that has some time to kind of attend those leads in real time. And if the customer doesn't have time, they can also schedule a call or book a call or another time. So we call them back and so on. So it's worked really well. And at the beginning, of course there was some resistance from the SDRs like, Oh, another task that I have to do, but once they saw how easy it is to sell to those leads, they're just like begging for more.
Right. The commission. So nice then. That's awesome. I know you guys also have webinars for transiting your team to work from anywhere environment, which is really spot on right now with like the economic and environmental changes with everything. Doing it as an unmanned event, we've heard a lot of people transitioning to this right now for really getting in front of their their customers with a nice sales pitch. How have webinars kind of played into this whole new website revamp or your ABM strategy?
Yeah, so we, we do some webinars. They're quite sporadically. It's not something that is a big focus for us right now, mainly because it's, we are focusing on other stuff right now, but it's also a bit time consuming and it takes a lot of resources, but during this COVID lockdown, we have produced more, I think, around four or five in the space of two months. And we saw that people were more willing to attend them. And it was a popular way of consuming content, I think, because everybody was stuck at home. So we usually try to use existing content when we are preparing for webinars. So it's kind of recycling something that you already wrote, like an ebook or a guide. And you turn that into a couple of slides. You add a success story and use that in a new context to add value to your attendees. Basically.
Got it. Yeah. That makes sense. Just another piece of that pipeline there, getting that message in front of them. And when you're looking at the website, like a revamp of this website, like, are there major KPIs that you're looking at or is it just, you know, general ones? How many, you know, MQLs do we have, how many SQLs do we have, how fast do we close? How many did we close?
Actually we were looking at also other metrics that are not so popular with CEOs, but for me, they are an indicator of if a website has a nice user experience or not, if customers are finding the right information or not. So we look at obviously average time spent on site, what is the abandonment rate, engagement rate and stuff like that. And also number of visitors, like how are we doing, which are the top pages that are performing. So yeah, that's basically what we're looking at apart from lead generator.
Question on the engagement time, on page, stuff like that. Like those are always metrics that I've looked at, but you know, I'm often unsure of like what things or experiments I need to play with to improve those numbers. Oftentimes you're just looking at like how engaging was this content. When you're looking at those metrics, what takeaways are you trying to get to improve that website or that page?
So if you look at average time spent on site, it depending, it depends which page it is, right. If it's like a blog post or something that has a lot of content, you would hope that they would spend at least one minute or two minutes there. So they would read something. If it's like under a minute, it's probably very bad because they just kind of go through the next page and the next page. We also use Hotjar to see, you know, the depth of scrolling and so on, so we can make improvements on the copy and see if maybe we change sections to something else. Maybe the scrolling depth increases. And it's more interesting for the web visitors so they continue browsing.
That makes sense.
But also number of sessions, like if they just check one page and then they leave, or two pages and they leave, maybe, you know, you try to putt better links to the next page they should visit, kind of guide them better.
Yeah. That makes sense. So maybe better like real thinking about the copy and like the, I guess, page call to action and then better more focused links to the next page. Kind of guiding them through the process as you want. Got it. That makes sense. And looking back over the past four years, man, that's been quite the journey I'm sure going from, you know, service to SaaS. What were some of the hard lessons that you know, of things that didn't work out, maybe opportunities and some lessons learned along the way?
Yeah. It makes sense for your customer type and customer size. What was, what was the failed aspect of it? Were people not signing up for the free trial? Were they not converting from the free trial?
Not subscribing at all.
Oh, wow. So just maybe they just felt that it wasn't going to be enough of a product option if they just got a free trial or they didn't have enough time to set up in the business.
Got it. So that definitely helped you guys then re-imagine like how you can make things easier and simpler for your ICP like with the
Actually with this experiment we got an idea. Okay, not free trial, but we can, you know, get clients on board through our normal sales process. Maybe do a POC or even if it's just a three-month contract to start it out to kind of help our operations team, we still use the automated process that we created for this campaign, but for them. So basically we're saving on resources and time internally.
That's awesome. So still the same goal was there, just kind of learned, okay, we can't do it in this way, but you know, still improve and kind of learn a lot from it. So that's awesome. And then looking forward in 2020 here, obviously it's a, you know, the COVID pandemic is still ongoing. It's a crazy time, lots of stuff happening in the world. You know, you're definitely in a good opportunity. You have a lot of tailwind right now with, you know industries shifting and changing, anything else that you're excited for kind of looking forward from an opportunity standpoint for the rest of 2020?
Yeah, I think this like unfortunate COVID situation really helped accelerate digital transformation. It was already on the way, you know, we already saw some traction on the market, but it just kind of exploded. And I think that just like the, for example, if you remember airline industry, you know, has done this shift, like over the last 10 years, most of us, we do the whole job of the airline agents. You know, we buy the tickets online, we check in ourselves, we even print the label at the, at the airport. We put the label on the suitcase and we put it on the, on the track. So it goes to our plane, you know, so they're kind of trying to have as little people as possible doing the jobs that people can do themselves. So I think now these traditional industries like telco and automotive they're, they're aren't there yet just now, for example, if you look at telecommunications in the US only about 8% of buyers actually buy stuff unassistedly. So Whisbi is kind of there to guide this kind of buyers to complete purchases alone online. This is driving down customer acquisition cost from brand perspective, but also provides a better customer experience from customer perspective. So kind of, I think this shift is going to happen more and more now in the future, for sure.
That was a really good analogy thinking about how the airlines are doing that. That's exactly what's happening, right? Like a lot more opportunity for consumers to have just a better experience overall by simplifying these things. And so much of it was like we had to break industries out of the comfort zones that they had for so long.
Especially automotive. I mean, I know like this research is like 90% of car buyers, they already decided on the car model just by doing online research. So if you're not there online, you know, to really convince that they should buy your car, you're already losing out. And then the most painful thing in the car buying process for them is visiting dealerships. Why? Because they don't want to be sold to, they want to speak to an advisor who can actually tell them, like, what are the benefits? How does this work? How does this look? What are my options? Like, have you ever tried putting together a car configurator, configuring your own car? I mean, I have no idea which motor to choose, which tires to put on. Like, you need the knowledge, you know, somebody to kind of guide you through this.
But that deal person at the dealership. Cause that is a bad experience.
That makes so much sense. That's, that's really exciting. And I'm excited to see what, you know the unfortunate side of COVID is I get such a terrible pandemics, but I think the only like silver lining is that, you know, we will get some real radical change in technology and a big step forward towards remote working and more work life balance and things like this better customer experiences, leveraging better technology by just radically shifting how businesses have to adapt. And that's the only good thing that will come from it. That's exciting. You guys are in a really good position and it's going to be great to see how, you know, wrap up 2020 and go into 2021.
Yeah, we're really excited.
You should be, you're in a great place, great place. But with that, and with time, I want to jump into our lightning round questions. Just five quick questions that you can answer with the first and best thought that comes to mind, you're ready to get started?
Okay, let's do this. What advice would you give for early-stage SaaS companies starting marketing today?
Invest in content. For me, that's like the only marketing is content marketing if you ask me. And also very important to hire a good designer, don't be scared to invest in brand because I know brands are, or companies are usually kind of reluctant to do any kind of branding because we're a small company, blah, blah, blah. It's hard to measure ROI, but I think it's a really, really good move.
And by content, do you necessarily mean blog or writtencontent or do you just mean figuring out the best medium to get your message across?
Yeah. So you need to know where your target audience is at. So this could be video content on YouTube. It could be eBooks or blog posts. It could be podcasts, webinars. It really depends, but just produce content like education is number one I think.
Absolutely. I love that answer and I totally agree. It's been a big win for us as well. What skill do you think is vital for marketing teams to improve and build on today?
I think copywriting is so powerful. Like if you can write a good copy, if you can tell a good story, you win always. And I think that's sometimes like you see like a really good product, but then they don't really know how to sell it well. And I think that's very important for marketing
Best educational resource you'd recommend for learning about marketing, growth or copywriting perhaps?
Nothing comes to mind, but I've always learned from like people in the industry through networking. Like I have a big network in London, in Barcelona. I'm always talking with other CMOs, marketing directors in SaaS companies. What are they up to? What is the latest, what kind of tests you're running, you know, kind of what you're doing with this podcast as well. So I read a lot of resources available online and kind of self-educated myself on many tools and (inaudible) things and just by trying myself. But I have to say, I learned a lot from Dave Gerhardt, the CMO of Drift. I subscribe to his podcast and I think he had like a learning center back at Drift. So he has real cool tips and I would recommend everybody to follow him.
Yeah. I think he's over at Privy now. What about a favorite tool? You can't live without?
Slack. Especially now when we're like actually during COVID, Whisbi became a remote company. So yeah. Communication is very important.
That's the key part of an online business? Absolutely. What about a brand business or a team that you admire today?
Team is like a sports team or
No, I mean that team, as in a company, it could be a sports team. It could be anyone that you admire from a marketing perspective, but you know, to be honest with you, Drift is the number one company that is said in that question. A great company. But I want to say thank you so much for jumping on. It was fantastic to learn from you. You were, you know, very helpful and clear on everything. So I just appreciate your time. Thanks for sharing with all of us. And I think we're all excited to see what happens with Whisbi as you continue to kind of evolutionize the market, top of the market.
Yeah. Thank you. Thank you very much, David, again for having me and I hope that somebody is going to find this content useful.
Absolutely. They definitely will. I did. And thank you again and we'll talk to you soon.
Thank you. Bye.