Pipedrive: Proper identification of potential customers is crucial for businesses
Tomáš Řehoř, who runs the Czech branch of Pipedrive, one of the most successful Estonian startups, told us not only about his work, but also about the importance of the international environment in companies and corporate culture.
Tomáš Řehoř, who runs the Czech branch of Pipedrive, one of the most successful Estonian startups, told us not only about his work, but also about the importance of the international environment in companies and corporate culture, for which Pipedrive has won many awards. You will also learn what to focus on when building a startup if it really is to succeed.
What is your position, what are your tasks?
This is an easy question, but it has a more complex answer. My position is officially called Engineering Manager and Site Lead. This means that besides leading the development team and managing the delivery of new products, new projects, I am developing a Czech branch here in Prague.
Photo: Patricia Belickova
Previously, you worked in Košík.cz. Why did you leave? How did you get to work in Pipedrive?
I left Košík mainly because there was a decision at the beginning of the year that the company will migrate to SAP. Although I disagreed with the decision at first, I wanted to try it out, sink into the SAP world. But after a few months, I found out that it wasn’t for me at all, that it wasn’t about development at all, but that it was more about some project management that is not my strength. Furthermore, I don’t enjoy it. So, I decided to leave. It was the first time in my life that I left without having found anything else, so I clicked on LinkedIn and told the world I was looking for something new. That’s where my ex-Skype colleague noticed and said – that’s great, I’m just thinking about opening a branch in Prague, don’t you want to be our first employee? That’s how it actually started.
What does Pipedrive do?
Pipedrive develops software for companies that sell their services and have a comprehensive sales cycle. This is a more noble description of what we do. Basically, they are companies that sell expensive things. And it takes them a long time, as it is the case with expensive things, to sell it. Until they find one customer and sell something to him, these are many steps that a business must take. And Pipedrive is a tool that helps them take the right steps at the right moment and set them to be as successful as possible and to sell as much as possible. Moreover, to have a satisfied customer and for the whole sales process to run smoothly.
Photo: Patricia Belickova
And how does it work in practice? What specific steps does Pipedrive offer its customers?
In practice, this looks relatively simply. Each sales process begins with identifying a potential customer. Either the customer finds a business himself, via Google, via online marketing, or I contact him based on some information. In any case, he or she is a potential customer. I’ll call him or her, make an appointment with him or her, and find out what he or she needs. At the first meeting, I find out what he or she needs as a customer and what we as a business can offer. And most of the time, based on the first meeting, we will agree on the next steps. And the next steps are, for example, that we send him or her an offer or prepare a demo. It always depends on someone, and if the business’s sales people don’t keep track of the next scheduled steps somewhere centrally, they often forget the next steps… He or she simply ends the call with one customer, and if he or she doesn’t record all the information and jumps to talk to another customer, at the end of the day he or she completely forgets what happened at 9:00 in the morning.
Therefore, it is important to have a tool where they can record it all. If they record it right, the next day they come to work, they open Pipedrive in the morning and it will tell them that they should take the following steps today, and if they do, they used their time today the best they could.
When we talk to customers, that’s what they like most that it actually thinks for them. That they wake up in the morning and don’t have to beat their brains out, what they have to do today, but they open Pipedrive and it’ll tell them.
In Prague, your team is dedicated to one part of the entire Pipedrive. Can you tell us what part it is and what it all entails?
Here in Prague we are dealing with a part that is called prospecting and it is a relatively large area. This is part of the business process at the very beginning when it is necessary to identify potential customers. It’s basically something that Pipedrive has never done before, so we started. Last fall, we asked ourselves what was the first thing we wanted to do, what stung our customers the most? Based on a quick survey, we found that perhaps the most pressing problem is that when customers find our customers through online marketing and they come to their site, how to capture their attention in the most effective way. So, we decided to make them a chatbot, which they can put on their site – it can always answer their customers some questions, or the chatbot doesn’t respond, but rather asks customers questions to find out what they need. It will get contact details from those who qualify, and they can make an appointment with a salesman. Those who do not qualify will be sent to an information page or something similar and the program does not deal with them anymore. And this simple functionality helps our customers save time. We have customers who told us that 75% of the incoming leads are unqualified, that is, the company has nothing to offer them and they found them incorrectly. And we are able to save these 75% of time thanks to the chatbot we call LeadBooster. So far, we have a great feedback. Actually, now, a few weeks ago, we launched a public Beta, so all Pipedrive customers can use it, and the feedback is really amazing. We are all surprised. Being a relatively simple tool, the way our customers react to it, is absolutely perfect.
Photo: Patricia Belickova
How did you create your team in Prague? Did you have enough experts from the Czech Republic, or did you hire mostly foreigners from abroad?
At the moment, there are 18 members of the team, of which there are two foreigners who do not speak Czech and one Slovak and one Russian who speaks Czech. So more or less we have Czechs, although I am trying to build an international team here, because I think it works better. And Pipedrive is a global company, our main language is English. I want the office to speak English in order to create a pleasant environment for everyone. I have spoken to many foreigners, and almost everyone complains that when they work in a Czech company, they are outcasts, because their co-workers talk in Czech and they talk in English only when talking about work. As soon as a private topic is dealt with, everyone is talking in Czech and they have no chance to get involved. So, I set myself a goal of looking for foreigners to create an international environment and to talk in English. When we have some big discussions at a larger table and someone starts to speak Czech there, I try to switch it to English so that foreigners feel good.
Nowadays, corporate culture is often mentioned. For this Pipedrive has won many awards, such as SalesTech Award 2017, Dream Employer 2018 in Estonia or Best Employer in the Private Sector in Estonia in 2016. What do you care about when building the corporate culture?
For me, the most important thing is the personal responsibility of everyone. Freedom and responsibility – these are two connected vessels. In my opinion, people are most motivated when they feel that their work makes sense and that they can fully immerse in it. Essentially, the idea is directed to a self-driven team – to set up processes and environments so that every person knows what to do at every moment, what is his or her bigger, higher goal, and adapts his or her daily decisions to that goal. An employee should not be dependent on a manager who must tell him or her every day what to do. Everybody knows what our common goal is.
Pipedrive is one of the top fastest growing companies in Europe. What do you think is the foundation of a successful startup?
I think that the very first criterion is probably solving some real problem. The company has to solve the problem of its customers so that the customers need to use the product. Today, many startups are technical companies that develop a software, a few hardware companies. It always has to solve a problem so that it is natural for people and at the same time so that they feel good about it – if they already pay the money for the product or service, they should be able to clearly justify it at any time – yes, I pay for it and it brings me this. That is, in my opinion, the first important step.
And the second step is that the business must make sense financially. So that the company could grow. That is, the business model must make sense in the long run. These are the fundamental aspects of the business as a whole.
Third, for technology startups, it is important to technically withstand its own growth and to scale its platform at the right time. I’ve been to several companies that started out as startups but missed the right moment… and suddenly found out that adding more developers didn’t accelerate their development. Instead, it was necessary to make a radical cut and change the architecture of the whole solution. Pipedrive got into this phase about 3 years ago, fortunately caught up with the development in time, and today we have a modern and scalable architecture, built on micro services. Previously, I had worked for a long time in Skype and for example, the sharp change in architecture came too late there, mobile platforms got a head start and Skype was replaced by more modern competition. By postponing fundamental decisions, it may happen that a large and growing company gets to its knees.
What do you think is important for a good communication with clients?
For me, professionalism, which is connected with consistency, is very important. For example, when I meet someone for the first time and he or she says that he or she sends me some documents and that person sends me what he or she promised on the same day, it is a guarantee for me that the person can be trusted, that he or she keeps the given word. This is one of the fundamental things of a good communication for me. Another thing, and I think it’s not just about sales, is not to think up, not to exaggerate things, and when I use some data, I should use it properly.
Where do you work as a team?
We are sitting in one office, in HubHub coworking center in Prague.
What is the biggest benefit for you from working from HubHub?
Probably the flexibility of growth. I started here alone last year and today there are 18 team members and all the while we did not have to solve problems with offices.
What do you think is the biggest myth about working in coworking centers?
Maybe one myth I hear is that coworking is an “open space”, that there is a lot of noise and that you cannot concentrate there and get no work done. I would refute that. Most of the coworking centers I have noticed, including HubHub, have some community zones where the noise is concentrated, but besides these, it’s a quiet environment where you can concentrate. It even bothered me for some time because I worked “remotely”, most of my colleagues were scattered around the world, I needed to make phone calls for 5-6 hours a day, and I couldn’t sit at my coworking desk because I had to be quiet for the sake of the rest. So, this is a myth that I would refute.
Which place in HubHub do you like the most?
Kitchens. All of them. ☺
Thank you for the interview!
The article was created in cooperation with Daily Upgrade.