How we generate sales
Sales come from both new customers and upsale to existing ones
Focusing on the customer’s needs is a core operating principle at Purepoint. In sales, this is referred to as a customer-centric approach. Our goal is to deliver software that provides exceptional value to our customer. We felt that a traditional sales model would be inappropriate. You will not find anybody at Purepoint tasked with cold calling, nor will you find anyone aggressively pushing to close a sale.
We focus on developing genuine relationships. By nature, we’re genuinely fascinated by software and business. It’s easy for us to engage with prospective customers about challenges they are facing. This enables us to understand their pain points and where software-driven solutions might add genuine value.
Once we start working with a customer, we maintain that relationship. We focus on being a trusted source of authority when it comes to technology and automation through software. Naturally, this helps us to unearth further potential to collaborate with our customers. It also helps us to establish domain expertise, which results in further inbound leads.
This problem-solving approach means that we receive a lot of referrals from existing customers.
The sales pipeline
Our sales pipeline is very traditional and consists of the following stages:
The sales pipeline - 1. Opportunity
An opportunity is a qualified lead. Once we have gathered the following information, we can make an informed decision about whether this is actually a suitable opportunity or not. We look to ascertain:
- Goal - What is the customer trying to achieve? Do we understand their business?
- Pains - What are the main pain points for the customer? What will the business impact be if those paint points are unresolved?
- Timescale - When is a solution required by?
- Decision Makers - Who is ultimately responsible for deciding which solution to go with?
- Budget - Are we aligned on pricing expectations? Is budget set aside for this project?
- Competitors - Who else are they simultaneously talking with?
- Relationship - When choosing a provider, which qualities rank highest for them?
- Weighting of decision - By what criteria will prospective suppliers be assessed? How are specific criterion weighted?
If we then decide that an opportunity for Purepoint exists, we will devote time and resources towards understanding the problems in greater depth.
The sales pipeline - 2. Proposal
A proposal serves many purposes. First, it helps the prospective customer to understand whether or not we have fully understood their requirements. Second, it formalises our intention to be considered for the project. Third, it helps the customer understand the Purepoint approach. We introduce the concepts of Agile methodlogy and actively discourage large, waterfall style specifications. Simple, iterative solutions win the day. We collaborate with key stakeholders at this stage to ensure our proposal accurately addresses the challenges they are experiencing.
The sales pipeline - 3. Refinement
Once a prospective customer reviews our proposal, it often inspires questions and further discussion. The customer may realise that they need to gather more information, or that they’ve missed something entirely.
We will refine a proposal when new information is shared with us. We work together with the customer to help them answer some of their questions.
Sometimes, prospective customers require assistance establishing their final requirements. We might sign a pre-agreement which allows us to provide consulting services to the customer. We will then work meticulously to answer unknowns and gather key requirements.
The sales pipeline - 4. Negotiation
During negotiation, price becomes more of a consideration for the customer. We negotiate based upon 3 co-dependent factors; time, cost, and deliverables.
- When timelines are tight, we encourage stripping back deliverables.
- When deliverables increase, so too will cost and timeline.
- When costs need to be reduced, we encourage stripping back deliverables rather than increasing timeline.
Once a verbal agreement has been reached, we will produce a Statement of Work for the customer. This will be sent over along with our Terms of Business.
The sales pipeline - 5. Closed
Once we receive a signed contract, the project is considered won. Mini fist pumps all round.
Naturally, some opportunities escape us and end up in ‘closed lost’. We track the reason why we lost the opportunity. This is very useful information and it serves as a constant feedback loop on our approach.
Sometimes we have ideas about ways in which we could help our customers. The idea might be raw, conceptual, and in need of refinement. We then speak with our customers to better understand whether or not an opportunity for our idea exists.
If the customer is receptive to our idea, this flows into our sales pipeline.
Marketing is not a department
Purepoint does not have a traditional marketing department either. Instead, marketing concepts and ideas are generated fluidly by different members of the Purepoint team. Above all, we believe in the long-term effects of the present-day intangibles; delivering free value upfront to potential customers.
What does this mean? This means that Purepoint are active in the open source community, it means we release best practices, books, white papers, guides, and other information that a traditional company would charge thousands of pounds for in consultation fees.
We are not in the business of producing advertising campaigns or tweeting 4 times per day. We are in the business of tackling complex software problems and delivering value to our customers.
If we keep doing that, our reputation and customer base will continue to grow organically.
Pricing full projects
Estimating a project, service or feature correctly is essential. We assemble teams for projects and present pricing in relation to that team’s rate to the customer. This model allows us to have clear insight into day-to-day costs and therefore, total costs.
As a project progresses, team composition is likely to adapt depending upon the project stage. Naturally, customers want certainty around how much they are spending over the lifetime of a project. This highlights the importance of being as accurate as possible with our estimation of the timeline and the required team composition at a given point.
A delicate balancing act must occur when estimating timelines and costs, be it on a feature level or a project level. For some projects, it can take considerable time to assemble that information. Sometimes, the contract is not yet a certainty but it is within our interests to invest time into providing this information so we can move forwards.
We look to gather enough information so that on any estimate we can be 80% confident that our margin of error is no greater than 10%.
The law of diminishing returns dictates our reasoning here. Achieving anything higher than 80% certainty requires a disproportionately large amount of time.
No en-mass RFPs
We sometimes receive unsolicited en-mass requests for proposals (RFPs) and in most circumstances, we decline these.
It is our experience that these kind of project requests come with a monumental checklist of requirements that reads like the organisation has compiled every feature of their closest 5 competitors.
Although that may be a little ‘tongue in cheek’, it is often close to the truth.
We think this stems from a fundamental under estimation of how difficult it can be to get software right and that software can be cheap if you ‘shop around’ with a scatter gun approach. As with almost everything in life you get what you pay for, and genuinely great solutions come from finding the right partner and working through the problem with them.
All companies buying software should look to gain advice and recommendations from a variety of sources, but the reason we do not engage in these large-scale pitches is largely economic.
We try to keep Purepoint as streamlined and high performance as possible. As a result, we are not geared up as a company to create flashy pitches. We have no traditional marketing department and we do not believe in adding one. That cost to us would ultimately translate into higher end costs for our customers, moving our focus from engineering and a less efficient company.