Building a modern sales machine - Interview with Leadfeeder CSO Jaakko Paalanen

I had the privilege of interviewing Jaakko Paalanen, who is the Chief Sales Officer at Leadfeeder. Leadfeeder is a very interesting fast growing B2B software company. Jaakko had some really good views on modern sales and marketing that we were able to capture in our interview. I believe that many of the methods that Leadfeeder is using to grow are best practices of modern sales and marketing, that many companies could benefit from. These best practices can be applied in many other industries, not just technology/software.

Here are some good bits and pieces from our discussion.  


What are important trends you see in sales and marketing? 

Social selling because I think the personal approach in sales will grow in importance. With GDPR, cold emailing and cold calling is becoming harder and harder. Sales and marketing will become increasingly aligned and automation will increase. Artificial intelligence is also pretty exciting, because sales, marketing and AI will be working together in the future to make things more automated. 

What should humans do and what should be automated?
I think the funnel should be automated all the way until someone wants to try your product, if set-up correctly. At the point of trying the product you need to close the deal. Depending on your price point, closing will always be left for manual sales on some level. Ofcourse you can bring lower priced services via automation. In more complex decisions, you want to a personal touch and someone to talk to from the company you are buying from. I think there's so much we can already do more intelligently using data-driven sales which brings multiple possibilities for today's B2B sales process.

What about F2F vs. virtual meetings? 
I think in the future F2F meetings and virtual meetings will be the same. F2F is losing its value as technology develops. Within 3-5 years VR meetings will be mainstream. "For larger deals the F2F will remain longer but with possibilities that AR/VR world brings I can easily see a fully remote meetings even when the biggest decisions need to be made in future's enterprise sales.

What is the relationship between sales and marketing at Leadfeeder?
Marketing actually aligns together with what we call the "sales machine".  In our line of business, if marketing doesn’t work then sales does not work either. They are fully dependent of each other and we have very transparent funnel vision with sales, marketing & customer success so that everybody can understand different relations of each aspect.

How have you built your customer journey at Leadfeeder?
First we drive traffic to our website from different sources such as social media, Google organic search, paid search, PR and newsletters. Then we convert these visitors into trial users and this is where the signup process happens. We have a 14-day free trial for companies to fully try out our product. During that period we market the full premium features so that users fully understand our capabilities. We use intelligence during the on-boarding phase so we can tell exactly which trial users need how much hand holding or if we leave them for automation.

During the trial we encourage users to share information about us in social media and in return they get an extended trial or a cash-back. This has been a good way to get people to spread the word about us already in the trial period. Technically it’s just a unique link, that someone new needs to sign up through to get the trial extension or cashbacks.
At the end of the trial we let the users know what they are losing out on, if they do not move over to a premium and only keep using the free version. 

How have you organized marketing, sales and service at Leadfeeder?
We have a customer success and product lead, then me from the sales side and our marketing lead and we have a monthly funnel conversion meeting. We’ve mapped the whole process from marketing all the way to customer success. 

How important is onboarding?

“Onboarding is everything” 

We use intercom to orchestrate and automate the whole onboarding process.  We can welcome the user early on and teach them how to use our tool with automated messages. Based on what they are doing with our product, we can trigger different types of messages. For example if we see that a customer is not using some type of feature that they could be benefiting from, we send them an automated reminder that tells them about how the features could be helping them.  When they actually go ahead and try it out, we send them a Congratulations message to let them know they did a good job. 

Here were just a few tidbits from our interview. More to come in the book. 

Thank you Jaakko for the interview and for your insight!