If you’re new around here, now is as good a time as any to let you know that we embrace change. You might even say we enjoy it. We’re big into taking feedback and iterating in our attempt to create a better way for entrepreneurs to grow their companies. Lately, we’ve been busy on the next round of improvements to Intro CRM. Spoiler alert: It’s big.
If you follow Harris Kenny on Twitter (Intro CRM’s Founder & CEO), you may have a sense of what’s going on around here, but we want to spill all the beans and detail our next evolution in more than 280 characters.
Table of Contents
- Let’s talk about SaaS
- Why do you buy software?
- What if your sales software literally helped you sell?
- Being more than an Empty SaaS
- So what is the future of Intro CRM?
Let’s talk about SaaS
SaaS, Service as a Software, is a product category that is so well-intentioned and yet its potential is so under-realized. In his 2021 SaaS Market Predictions article, Tyler Tringas of Earnest Capital offers helpful historical context:
“In the first few waves of SaaS, the primary innovation was the SaaS aspect: cloud-based, remote friendly, payable via subscription, updates on demand. A lot of successful SaaS products out there are effectively just SaaSified version of prior software products that already existed and were sold in shrink-wrapped plastic. A ton of these products follow a pattern that I call “empty SaaS”: you sign up and are dumped into an empty page of rows, record, contacts, expenses, tasks, projects, etc and told to “fill it up with stuff.” The burden of creating value and doing the work is still pushed entirely onto the user.”Tyler Tringas (Earnest Capital)
Tyler’s right. Later in that blog post, he goes on to coin the term “Empty SaaS”—describing a product that’s empty when you first log in.
“I think this [model] is increasingly not good enough and the table stakes for new products will be raised to force products to create more value against the actual job the customer wants done. We’re seeing early versions of this already. Customers don’t want bookkeeping software, they want their books done, so we get Bench and Pilot. I think we’ll see this percolate throughout the SaaS markets created tons of opportunity for new entrants who do a better job of not being empty.”Tyler Tringas (Earnest Capital)
As Tyler says, people don’t want the software. They have jobs to be done. And when it comes to sales, we don’t think entrepreneurs want yet another CRM. How about instead, a tool that literally helps you sell?
Why do you buy software?
When you buy software, what are you buying it for? We want to give a shout-out to Justin Jackson (Co-Founder of Transistor), whose work has been hugely influential on our thinking in this area. Here’s how Justin Jackson explains Jobs to be Done:
“Jobs to be Done (JTBD) is a theory for understanding what motivates customers to buy your product. People want their lives to be better. They have a vision of where they want to go. But there are obstacles in their path. Customers hire products to help them move forward; to make progress towards their vision of a better life. You can think of it this way: users ‘hire’ software to help get their job done.”Justin Jackson (Transistor)
In our work with early stage entrepreneurs over the years, they’ll often say that they need a CRM. Or that they need to keep up with their CRM. But a CRM is just a means to an end. Maintaining a CRM for the sake of it adds zero value to any business.
In fact, I’ve seen—and been guilty myself—of a pattern where you spend a lot of time maintaining sales documents, processes, and tools—because it feels like you’re doing sales. It is related to sales, isn’t it? Maybe. But you’re not actually selling. You’re just checking tasks off a list, completing meta deliverables.
What matters is the relationships… And ultimately the deals that your CRM enables. The deals matter because cash flow is the lifeblood of every business. And unfortunately there is often so much upfront work required to unlock that value, it slows you down.
When you choose Intro CRM, you don’t really want another software subscription to keep your accountant busy. You want a simple tool that actively helps you take control of your sales. That helps you be more confident in your business’ future. With sales done for you.
So, let’s talk about a concierge…
If you’ve ever been to a fancy hotel or used a travel agent or a real estate agent, you’re well acquainted with the peace of mind and ease that comes with having something completed for you. It saves your time, accomplishes the same end goal, and it often happens better than you expected because the person handling things is an expert in that field.
What if your sales software literally helped you sell?
Suddenly, you need a proposal drafted? It’s done. It’s tailored to the client, and it gives specific details on the work you’re doing and the expectations around your time. It’s perfect. The best part? It was done for you.
Or, what about this: You think you’re leaving money on the table. Your pipeline is moving, but there are many people stuck in one phase or the next. You need someone to go through and clean it up. You need to know what’s possible and what’s plausible to move forward with your follow-ups. Congrats, with a quick request, it’s done.
Maybe, you want to start thinking about outbound sales, but you don’t want to throw money at the wall to see what sticks. You want to make sure you’re talking to the exact right people so you’ll see results. With one request, we’re building your lead list. The time you would have spent doing market research, looking for contact info, or scraping websites? That time is back on your calendar to work in your business, on your business, or whatever you feel like doing.
Okay, we hear you. You are a business Übermensch.
You like writing proposals, never leave money on the table, and wouldn’t possibly need to make outbound sales because your inbound sales and marketing funnel is so strong.
So, what good is this to you?
Well, if you’ve ever gotten on a call knowing nothing about the person you’re talking to, with one request, you can have a brief drawn up with everything you need to know about the person you’re going to meet. Now that’s a game-changer. No more 30 minutes of small talk; it’s time to get to the real conversations before your 4th coffee date or Zoom meeting.
We have more ideas, too. Think handling NDAs, filing approved vendor list paperwork, reviewing incoming e-commerce orders. The things that take up time in your day.
Now that you’ve joined us in the dream world, let’s flashback to reality and see what creating this future means for us here at Intro CRM.
Being more than an Empty SaaS
In Tyler’s post, he suggests a few ways you can move past Empty SaaS and into something more practical for your customers. We’ll list Tyler’s ideas below:
- Add a “done for you” service layer on top of your core software.
- Curate an expert network who can use the software for your customers.
- Build in one-click quick-start templates based on key customer goals.
- Build bots, scrapers, and simple machine learning to automatically “fill up” your customers’ data.
Here at Intro CRM, we’re starting with the “done for you” method. Pilots are underway with paying customers and the results have been… Really good. More on that below. In the future, we anticipate quick-start templates and automation will play an assistive role. If not customer-facing, at least building our own internal infrastructure to help you grow faster.
As Tyler described above, an analogous approach is what Bench is doing for bookkeeping. Yes, they make accounting software—like Quickbooks does. But they also employ CPAs, bookkeepers, accountants, etc., on-staff to do your accounting.
While Intro CRM can’t guarantee your sales, we are building out the sales support infrastructure to actually help you do your sales and run your business.
So what is the future of Intro CRM?
Well, that’s a good question, if we’re honest, we’re not quite sure where we’ll be… Even 6 months from now. For now, we are doing everything we can to help our paying customers grow their businesses. Honing repeatable processes and building that into our software.
Recently, Harris expanded the team to bring on new people to help run the initial pilots, and we’re happy to report that work is going well! The contractors are doing incredible work creating value for our customers—literally from day one. Harris is extending the team’s hours as new clients have signed on, and we’re building out the processes and infrastructure to manage the work effectively. In time, more and more capabilities will be built into Intro CRM to support these services.
These are still “the early days.” We’re currently piloting this model with a handful of customers to ensure that we’re delivering a quality product that’s getting the job done.
The early reception to this new offering has honestly been overwhelming. We’ve had a challenging time keeping up with everything since we started talking about it. Apologies for the delayed responses to emails and messages, less time for family, etc. While it’s not entirely true at the moment, our imperative is that this be a calm and sustainable company.
We’re excited about what this could mean for our clients. And based on the response, it seems like they’re excited too.
We know this significantly increases the scope of what we’re trying to build here—a simple CRM. But, at the same time, it feels like we’re closer than ever to actually solving the problem of helping entrepreneurs take control of their sales and grow their businesses.
This is only possible because of hundreds of conversations we’ve had dating back to last June, and really over the last 10+ years working with business owners. That said, we have a lot of work to do.
P.S. This update first went out to our newsletter subscribers. If you want to follow along, feel free to sign up for updates once a month…ish. We missed February because, well, of everything you just read in this blog post.
P.P.S. If you’re as excited about this as we are, we are joining the MicroConf Remote community in their virtual meetup this month. Or simply visit our MicroConf page to learn more.