Shopsys is a Czech software house located in Ostrava. It creates online stores for the biggest B2B & B2C sellers – those that are already in the eCommerce world or are about to enter it. At the time of starting the cooperation with Shopsys, two sales people and two sales support specialists were involved in acquiring customers. The company’s achievements are impressive – they’ve been operating on the market since 2003, employing 80 employees and have implemented 800 IT projects so far.
The main challenges that Shopsys faces on a daily basis when acquiring customers are… the competitors’ aggressive pricing offers. There will always be a company that offers a lower price. The matter is not made easier by the multitude of e-commerce platforms that offer their software in the SaaS model, usually competing on a global scale, not limited to a single region.
A company that decides to set up an online store (or replace the current store with a better one) is entering a world where a lot is said about headless eCommerce architecture and a Czech market where there are over 200 companies offering custom solutions and 80% of them have their own system.
Choosing an eCommerce platform is only part of the “how to set up an online store” project. In order for the implementation to translate into an increase in revenues and profits, it must be reconciled with the marketing of the e-store, choosing the appropriate 3rd party software (e.g. online payment system) and verifying to what extent the whole concept will meet the expectations of the end customer – since it is the end customer who finally hits “enter” when making a purchase.
Cooperation with Shopsys was based on 2 elements:
- analysis of the current state – checking what should be improved in the current sales department’s way of functioning,
- assistance in the onboarding of the current head of marketing, Matěj Kapošváry, into the role of the head of sales. Then we supported Matěj in solving the ongoing challenges.
Foundations of the constant sales elements
In order to see if the sales process is organized, you need to be able to analyze it on an ongoing basis in CRM. And during the buying process, most potential customers will evaluate the supplier through the prism of, among others: a sales conversation and a PDF presentation.
CRM – what you need to control in sales
1) reflect what is happening in sales,
2) make it possible to analyze what is happening in sales – to know which activities to stop, scale and which to improve.
The first step was to determine what metrics Shopsys should measure in their CRM, that is:
- number of leads,
- number of offers sent,
- number of contracts sent,
- number of acquired clients,
- quality of leads,
- conversion between stages,
- reasons for losing potential customers,
- the length of the sales cycle.
along with the possibility of comparing these metrics over time and broken down by sales specialists and lead sources.
It turned out that the CRM that Shopsys was using at the time didn’t allow these metrics to be measured, so it was necessary to change the tool and determine what should be in it. The next step was to establish the structure of CRM elements such as funnels, stages, custom fields and the reasons for losing prospects.
Presentation with information about the company
The PDF with the offer contained the right information, but… Shopsys’ strengths did not echo strongly enough. That’s why we recommended Shopsys to:
- support such phrases as “trust” with more precise information such as the number of customers or a testimonial in which the customer says why they don’t regret trusting Shopsys,
- supplement the PDF with information that will allow the customer to imagine in which situations using Shopsys’ offer will help them save time and when the daily tasks of the customer’s employees will run more efficiently.
Sales conversation – what to say, what to ask about?
If your clients are companies with an annual turnover of dozens millions of euros, you should expect that several people will be involved in the decision to choose an online store provider. Each of them will have their own fears, questions and risks that may materialize if the implementation fails. That’s why we advised Shopsys to devote more attention to researching the decision-making process during a business conversation.
Questions such as:
If you like our offer, who will you have to discuss it with to get the green light?
Who was involved in deciding on a previous IT implementation of a similar scale?
… help to assess in advance whether we have direct contact with key decision-makers during the interviews and what questions should we be prepared for.
During the sales conversation, Shopsys spoke very well about the benefits that the company can expect after implementing their online store. However, there was still space for:
- telling about the risks and problems that can be avoided thanks to Shopsys. A conversation from which a potential client will come out with knowledge about what they should avoid during IT implementations, is a conversation that the client will remember as “they opened my eyes”,
- support the declared benefits with examples of customers together with specific numbers reflecting increased revenues and / or reduced costs.
Customers vary, but some doubts stay the same
You have to be ready for objections when acquiring customers. Therefore, when we were talking to Shopsys about difficult situations that arise during conversations with customers, we recommended that:
- answering “the price seems high” starts with “why does the price seem high?”,
- when a traditional industry customer struggles to understand the benefits of a cloud-based solution, the cloud story starts with a simple example that the customer already knows. Netflix, Office 365, Google Docs – on these examples it is easier to explain what a cloud-based solution is,
- when there is a problem with knowing the client’s budget, try to find out at least an order of magnitude using the following technique:
Shopsys: Based on existing projects: the smallest project we implemented had a budget of PLN X. The largest PLN Y. Are your options between these limits?
Shopsys: Closer to which end?
Client: In the middle.
Matěj Kapošváry takes over sales management in Shopsys
Matěj became the head of sales. In the spring of 2020. The most interesting spring of this millennium. Especially for the eCommerce industry.
What’s the main task of the head of sales?
Looking for bottlenecks in the sales funnel and finding ways to remove them – this is what we tried to sensitize Matěj to when we talked about what he should expect in his role.
We also pointed out to him that while his job is to worry about (and check) things, he should avoid micromanaging. Therefore, in his work it will be important in what context he will check CRM, listen to sales talks of his salespeople or disseminate the best ways of dealing with difficult objections. The leitmotif is not to exercise control, but look for ways to increase revenues.
There’s always a lead, that wants to talk about “a price that seems to high”
When Shopsys talks to potential customers, these conversations do not happen in a vacuum. The Shopsys’ offer competes with offers from other companies, which usually offer a lower price. Not only are the companies different, but so are the technologies available. Over 200 agencies offering tailor made solutions – the customer has a lot to choose from. Therefore, during regular meetings with Matěj, we discussed the current challenges that arose during the ongoing negotiations.
When a potential client pointed out the “high price”, we recommended Matěj to encourage the client to:
- take into account costs other than the price – to estimate the cost of a given offer in a longer period than “from the first line of code to implementation”,
- do a risk valuation.
The price in the offer is not the same as the total costs associated with the use of the online store. A company dealing with the creation of online stores on a daily basis is able to guess with a high degree of probability what may result from the differences in price and offer. However, it is the customer who chooses the offer, so the customer must be able to compare offers using the right criteria.
That’s why we’ve encouraged Matěj to make certain elements of Shopsys’ offer (sales conversation, questions asked, presentations, materials sent out to the client) stand out:
- will the customer be able to expect contact within an hour when creating an online store,
- what exactly will be done to minimize the number of bugs in the software,
- what percentage of the time in the last 5 years has the software been working properly? (and was this percentage at least 99.99%?),
- what happens when the owner of an online store decides that the lines of code are to be looked after by someone other than their creators?
- will the Product Owner be able to focus 100% on the client’s project or will he have to divide his attention between several clients?
- what happens when the client, after implementation, decides that it is necessary to adapt or optimize the online store to his needs? Will it require a simple change or implementation of an extensive module, only some lines of which are related to the expected change?
- the supplier’s experience with the implementation of stores that must function among such constant eCommerce elements as e.g. ERP, PIM, online store marketing, online payment systems, etc.
Showing the differences is one thing, showing the impact on the customer’s target revenue is another.
You can “price” differences using the cost of no change technique:
Shopsys: How many orders per hour were placed in your online store during the previous Black Friday?
Client: 1,600 orders
Shopsys: What is the average order value?
Client: PLN 700
Shopsys: I understand, so an hourly failure of an online store during Black Friday means revenues lower by PLN 1,120,000? (PLN 700 x 1600 orders)
This example is obviously very simplistic, but our recommendation boiled down to this: help your prospect assess the risk of implementing a “cheaper” offering that may make it difficult to increase revenue.
How to sort out what we already know to pick the arguments important for the client?
The methods we proposed are the workshops: Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Canvas.
During the Business Model Canvas, we jointly organized the knowledge about the Shopsys’ resources and relations with their customers.
We started Value Proposition Canvas by writing down the problems, daily tasks and expected benefits of the company that uses the online store. Then we were looking for how Shopsys can meet customer expectations.
- elements of the software development process,
- company resources (in the form of team size and practical knowledge possessed by people),
- successes achieved with previous clients,
- features of the technology Shopsys works with…
… you need to emphasize in order to tell the client what is important to them. The Value Proposition Canvas methodology (first “customer profile”, then “value map”) helps to focus on making the arguments meet the customer’s problems, not the other way around.
Then, from a list of arguments, Matěj chose those that most or no competitors could benefit from.
Sales isn’t everything
What I like the most about our cooperation is that we talk about other business problems as much as we do about sales – so on a daily basis our cooperation is not so much sales consulting, but business consulting.
Matěj’s words when asked what he liked most about our cooperation.
Among the threads that appeared during the cooperation (in addition to sales and support in negotiations with potential clients) were, among others:
- foreign expansion,
- generating leads,
- using successes with clients in acquiring new ones,
- organizing events,
- migrating clients from services to licenses,
- looking for ways to attract developers,
- analyzing how to communicate important personnel changes within the company.
- during the cooperation, Shopsys’ revenues increased by 64%,
- arguments that help explain how the Shopsys’ offer differs from the competition arose,
- there are client’s benefits clearly visible in the presentation about the company,
- sales activities are reflected in CRM, which allows you to measure their effects.