Growth Leap

The Power of AI in Sales: Cold Email Personalization at Scale with Frank Sondors, Salesforge’s CEO

January 17, 2024 Michel Gagnon Episode 27
Growth Leap
The Power of AI in Sales: Cold Email Personalization at Scale with Frank Sondors, Salesforge’s CEO
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Would you turn down a great Sales Executive job to start your own startup? That’s exactly what our guest did. 

We're launching our new podcast season with the driven and generous Frank Sondors, co-founder and CEO of Salesforge, an AI-powered app that enables salespeople send personalized cold emails at scale. 

Frank believes sales tech is in for a massive disruption, and he's keen on being in the driver's seat. 

We talk about his thought process, decision-making, and reasons behind transitioning from a sales expert to a tech entrepreneur. We delve into how he plans to disrupt the sales tech space with Salesforge.

He shares tons of tips including:

  • His multi-thread approach to winning new accounts
  • How he found early customers in a coffeeshop in Berlin 
  • Consumption-based pricing
  • And more

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[00:00:00] Frank: You're essentially trying to figure out your odds of success. So in the MarTech, there's a bunch of software that's being built, maybe not necessarily the best place to go into. In travel tech, the margins are relatively low, I would argue. and then sales tech, this is where I believe there's a humongous, potential for disruption, especially with large language models and the sophistication, levels that we are currently at. So I thought to myself, Salesforge, that's, the type of product I wanna build. 

[00:00:24] Intro

[00:00:24] Michel: Hi everyone and welcome to Growth Leap. I'm your host, Michel Gagnon. We talked to pretty awesome business builders who are designing disruptive and meaningful companies. 

[00:00:37]

[00:00:39] Michel: Hi everyone. Get ready for a lively chat with Frank Sondors, the co-founder and CEO of Salesforge. With over a decade and B2B sales and leading large teams. Frank is now shaking up email marketing by enabling personalized emails at scale. Frank has an inspiring journey having traveled the world . We'll talk about his journey from sales expert to tech entrepreneur, diving into the future of sales and the impact of technology and marketing. Frank's insights are a gold mine for anyone interested in the evolving world of sales and tech startups, so enjoy.

[00:01:12] ​

[00:01:12] Michel: Frank, welcome. Can you start by giving us a rundown of, who you are, your background, and what is Salesforge?

[00:01:24] The birth of Salesforge

[00:01:24] Frank: Yeah. like a good intro that you did. I've been in sales for over a decade. Started really my career at Google. and then after that I worked for a bunch of B2B SaaS companies in different spaces, but predominantly in the MarTech. whether that's selling data, doing machine learning, data visualization.

[00:01:43] Et cetera. And in my last, essentially, gig, I led a sales team of about 50. at which point I decided to, exit and start my own company. because I guess what, it's great to be selling a software for somebody else, but maybe at one point in your life you wanna be selling your own software.

[00:02:00] Where, because why not? you probably have accumulated a bunch of experience that kind of gives you a higher probability of succeeding as a startup. and then you essentially think to yourself, what is it that you're good at? and in, in my case, there's a couple, three spaces I'm really good at.

[00:02:14] essentially MarTech, sales tech and travel tech. And, you're essentially trying to figure out your odds of success. So in the MarTech, there's a bunch of software that's being built, maybe not necessarily the best place to go into in travel tech. The margins are relatively low, I would argue. and then sales tech.

[00:02:31] This is where I believe there's a humongous, potential for disruption, especially with large language models and the sophistication, levels that we are currently at. So I thought to myself, Salesforge, that's, the type of product I wanna build. And so what does it do?, at its current state, what it does, it, it solves two major problems for, large and small companies, even solopreneurs.

[00:02:52] so on one side that's, solving the email deliverability issues. maybe five years ago, a lot of companies could be sending kind of thousands and thousands of emails, but that's not more the case today. And a lot of emails essentially land the spam, is the bottom line. so you need to essentially have a sort of new state. We are software architecture, and the process essentially against that to ensure that your emails land in the primary inbox of your prospects. so that's one area that we specialize in. And the second area is essentially crafting unique emails to your prospects rather than sending a bunch of templates, that you prospects have a fatigue with.

[00:03:27] And ultimately all of them or many of them land in spam because, I, get a lot of these templates myself as a founder. one thing maybe to note for a lot of people out there who maybe haven't started yet, a company, but once you switch your title to a founder, you start getting a lot of emails and you'll see all those essentially templates, all those cold emails, a landing in your inbox, whether that's in spam or the primary inbox.

[00:03:50] And you'll look at that and you'll, be like, oh, this hasn't been really crafted for me. it smells like automation. And let me click on that beautiful spam button. that's quite normal these days. Essentially a lot of sales organizations are struggling. companies that have, legit software to sell service or product to sell, they're struggling to cut through the noise.

[00:04:11] and why email as a starting point for us as a software, even though we're gonna do a lot more things in the future, is because email is the most complex, channel to tackle, is still the most what's called cac, efficient channel, CAC efficient means from cost perspective. it's still the cheapest channel for you to acquire your users if you do things correctly, though, just to note on that front.

[00:04:33] And it applies to, and, it's a default channel. It applies to, whether you, a startup or whether, you are a large company, you're still gonna be using most likely emails to engage with your prospects in one way or in another.

[00:04:46] So that's why we started with email, but we are definitely more ambitious, by introducing other capabilities in the future. I. But yeah. in a nutshell, Salesforge enables you to craft unique emails in any language, whether that's English, German, et cetera, and send that to your prospects and essentially drastically increase your open rates and your reply rates improving by experience as well along the way, the seller kind of results. 

[00:05:07] How much personalization can Salesforge add to your email?

[00:05:07] Michel: Many companies offer something, a bit similar, but I, think their personalization. Is rather basic. They'll pick the name of the person, her role or company and plug that into a template. How far can Salesforge go with personalization? What can a user expect?

[00:05:25] Frank: Yeah, so the way that the whole space has evolved, just to give you some idea, back in the old days, everything used to exist in, spreadsheets. then Salesforce came in and then other sort of softwares came in to, to try and automate and, this is where you could plug in suddenly these dynamic variables, like the first name, the company name, et cetera.

[00:05:43] at the end of the day, you are still sending templates with some sort of dynamic, or rules based, what I would call customization. and the way that the space has evolved right now, we are at the stage where a content can be programmatically . computed essentially, in technical terms to every single individual by using some sort of logic.

[00:06:01] And in that case, the logic is rather straightforward, as in we look at what is it that you sell as a business. that's being inserted in the software. You have to outline your value prop, the pain that you solving, et cetera. And that's, what we use as an input data for every single, interaction.

[00:06:16] And then we look at what is it that we know about, the prospective buyer. And typically what the sales rep does in any company is they go on the LinkedIn profile of the person. Maybe they check out Twitter, maybe they go on the website, et cetera. But typically what they do is they access websites to try and do some research before they engage, if they're really crafting a great, email manually.

[00:06:36] so we just automate that process. What we do is we essentially fetch the information from these different data sources, and that this is what allows us to know a lot about, the prospective buyer. And doing that programmatically, at scale. so we essentially have these two data sets. We then, have, our, proprietary AI engine that sits essentially, on top of that.

[00:06:58] And then that does the computation. The other thing just to note on that, why this is important is not just from a perspective of, oh, let's personalize and let's just send great emails, but actually content, does matter as part of email deliverability overall. So when you're setting static templated content, including newsletters, that can harm your deliverability rates. So the way, the only way to combat is if you randomize essentially the content, or you make it unique somehow at scale. So randomization means there's some sort of rules-based logic, but, making it unique means you have to use large language models to make the content unique at scale to each in one of the recipients.

[00:07:33] So that's also becomes like super important and, and helps you deliver more emails in the primary inbox.

[00:07:39] How does the Salesforge onboarding look like?

[00:07:39] Michel: Yesterday night I was creating, custom GPTs and they're, once it's set up, it's, fantastic, but there is a significant amount of time. if you want to. Have something that's great, right? There's a significant amount of effort that you have put in to actually get the, the GPT that you're looking for.

[00:08:01] If I sign up for Salesforge, today, what does the onboarding look like and how much effort do you have to put into, hit the ground running?

[00:08:10] Frank: Great question. We're a bit of a sales led slash, PLG company, mix of both essentially. So product led and sales led. a mix of both. on a, sales led front, we do actually send a quite a lot of unique emails. and then customers come up to us, onboard to us and our kind of main channel is actually call, email, why user sign up?

[00:08:32] and when they onboard with us, what we typically wanna do, is we wanna force them to jump on the call. So there's a onboarding checklist essentially within the app, that tells you, please sign up for an onboarding call and please do these, various steps. Now, value realization comes

[00:08:47] Typically after three to four weeks. so meaning you're gonna get, start seeing your results in three to four weeks. And the reason why it takes that long is because cold email is not simple. altogether. if you want to just, send a few emails, you can send those few emails literally within 10 minutes.

[00:09:01] within the platform, there's even dummy data, et cetera, to experiment, et cetera. But, you can compute unique emails just, instantly within 10, 10 minutes. But if you wanna do things correctly, as in ensuring your deliverability is high for your domains that you're using right now, you need to go to what's called a warmup face, and that takes at least couple of weeks. So you need to prepare for any, campaigns that you wanna be launching. so I always say patience is virtue because if you rush anything these days, it comes to cold emails, it's typically not gonna see great results. so yeah.

[00:09:37] so one, one way to answer this question is, naturally there's a plenty of tips and stuff that we do with, within the app. a lot of that is powered actually by Intercom. So Intercom is really powerful and I highly recommend, startup founders to check out Intercom because Intercom gives, all startups, one year for free.

[00:09:54] and then I think the next year is like 50% off. So it's relatively good deal in the early days, but actually it becomes super expensive in the latest stages. So that's also another 

[00:10:02] Michel: So you ha you have to scale. You have to scale fast.

[00:10:06] Frank: yes. You have to scale fast to be able to afford intercom. that's, that's very true. And in our case, because we have bootstrapped, at least for now, it, it, it is definitely a pickle to be thinking about platforms like Intercom.

[00:10:17] So Intercorp Power is a rather app onboarding. It has a, I highly recommend building out, let's say, the knowledge base, because people do check out the knowledge base.

[00:10:25] They don't wanna be necessarily speaking to support or speaking to, even a sales rep like me. They wanna be going to a knowledge base, checking out, various questions that they have, and then getting the answers instantly. The second part is because the software is rather unique versus, any competitors that we have in the market, this is why we want to have that, phone call with the user because, it's not that complicated, but still, there are some complexities, it's better just to have that initial conversation. So it still sucks a lot of time, of your day to be having these conversations, but it does, it'll have a positive impact on your retention. 

[00:11:02] Michel: and what do I have to do to get started? I need to connect your tool my inbox?

[00:11:08] Frank: Yes. So, only a couple things really. oh, sorry, maybe three in, total. So one thing is connect your mailbox or mailboxes. number two is upload, the list of leads. so typically we just need the first name, last name, email address, and the LinkedIn URL because we can also, access LinkedIn and essentially personalize emails against that.

[00:11:29] and then we, you also need to, describe your value prop essentially, so that takes also a bit of time. but altogether, if you know what you're doing, that's roughly about 10 minutes altogether. and then you can already start crafting your first initial emails, if you want to get started like immediately.

[00:11:45] And then the platform, what it does, it sends these unique emails out, and then when you receive, any replies from any of your prospects, across any of the mailbox really, it lands in the section what we call the prime box. And Prime Box is, like superhuman.

[00:12:00] So if somebody is familiar with superhuman, essentially it's a platform that, gives you that ultimate experience. so it's like the apple of Gmail essentially , it's super fast. it's designed to process a lot of replies, et cetera. So that's what we're building. But for sales, in particular, so that, capability exists within Salesforge is where it aggregates replies, it helps you to, tackle the replies faster.

[00:12:25] We're building also AI into that as well, too. . write up replies much faster than writing yourself, et cetera. So there's, gonna be a lot of, cool stuff in there, but it's all centered around the seller and helping them to do their job faster, and more and more efficient as well.

[00:12:41] Salesforge's target customers and Frank's beachhead strategy to go upmarket

[00:12:41] Michel: Is that a tool, that targeting specifically experienced salespersons, or if you are, let's say, solopreneur who's, starting a business and want to do some direct outreach, is that a tool that you know they can use as well?

[00:12:57] Frank: it's designed for both, so we're trying to dumb down the platform as much as we can. . so even though we're tackling a very complex problems, we're trying to make it like super simple that yeah, even a solopreneur could using it and on and off they go off to the races, right?

[00:13:15] all the way to complex teams. So we even have, companies with over 10,000 employees using the platform. So it is designed for different scales and, but we're currently focusing really on the smaller, players in the market. So solopreneurs, SMBs, and even, agencies as well that may be servicing multiple clients.

[00:13:36] and the reason for that is very simple because we only do email for now. and typically if you go, upmarket, you need to have multiple other sort of enterprise grade capabilities, multiple other features, and you just don't have that in the early days, right? So you need to have your, what's called the beachhead.

[00:13:53] so who are your first initial clients that you're looking to acquire wherever your initial traction come from. And that's like super important. to focus, really on one. So when you're building a platform, let's say, and we could have done, LinkedIn automation or we could have done the cold call.

[00:14:10] So you need to focus on the one channel that you want to do really, well, that nobody else will do better than you. And you wanted to be doing it at least 10 x better than your nearest competitor 

[00:14:22] if you can. Otherwise you'll have problems with competition. And so in our case, we decided email should be the first channel and then we'll tackle the other ones and do it like really well. Drill down on that and then work with, those people that just use email and wanna see really good results from, email, because a lot of people, say email is dead these days.

[00:14:42] It became a lot more difficult for different reasons. typically we, three main problems. areas why email became so so difficult. First of all, there's a lot more emails that are being sent, these days. Billions of emails per day. so volume has increased massively. The secondary kind of lens to that is, is that there's more, essentially companies that they're reaching out to the same prospects.

[00:15:06] So there's the same number of buyers, but there's more sellers out there. So hence buyers are receiving more emails on average. then the other, trend, which is massive is actually cybersecurity threats. So a lot of companies these days are being penetrated, via cold email. So cold emails are being sent to a bank, a company, and there's a bunch of stories out there.

[00:15:27] I recommend checking out on Google how banks have been penetrated by receiving a cold email then ransomware has downloaded, and then, millions have been sucked out from the banks. And then the other trend is naturally how do the major email service providers look at these trends?

[00:15:41] So let's say Gmail and Outlook. So they became more sophisticated, essentially. so when they see that there's more emails that affects their users, when there's more cybersecurity threats, what they start doing is they start filtering a lot more of these emails. And then some of the good emails also land in spam.

[00:15:57] and that's just normal. That's how Google operates. I used to work at Google myself. so nothing is, error proof essentially in life, even at Google. It's becoming really complex. And then the good players in the ecosystem, they actually wanna deliver the emails to the prospects because they have a legitimate product that they sell to their ideal customers, that, that may benefit from that.

[00:16:16] and so it used to be much easier to send these emails back in the day, but not, not anymore. And I always say if you are, if you do decide to start a startup. So you tackle a problem that's very complex, then build a software that solves that complex problem. And it's not just the problem doesn't have to be just complex, but the market has to be humongous.

[00:16:38] And because billions of organizations out there are sending emails these days, it's a huge opportunity to solve the deliverability piece, it's a huge opportunity to solve these billions of templates that are being sent, because majority of the emails that being sent in the world are templates. 98% of total emails that are being circulated out there are all templated.

[00:16:57] So the opportunity to even personalize an email, somehow dynamically a lot more is humongous. and hence, there's a lot more other startups in, our space that are entering and trying to solve the same, problem. But you should always ask yourself why you are the right person for this.

[00:17:14] and, why you will win instead of other a hundred potential founders in your space that are also entering because it is a hyper competitive environment. And our answer is, we've been in this space, for, so I've been in this space for over a decade. you know exactly the paint. you know exactly the customer because you are the customer

[00:17:33] So we're building it for ourselves. So we are, what we're doing is we're dogfooding, so we're using our own software to scale. We can see exactly the problems in the software. We're fixing the bugs immediately. and that's a beautiful thing. It also, helps us to reduce our cost base, right?

[00:17:49] Because if you're using your own software, you don't have to pay for another software. And these softwares are very expensive actually out there. so, you should always think about Founder/Market fit when you're starting a startup. And I can tell you it makes a huge difference because you can click with your prospect instantly.

[00:18:07] Frank's consumption-based pricing strategy

[00:18:07] Frank: Because I'm from this space, I'm speaking to other prospects that are also in sales. And you just click better. You build report faster than many other things. But that's not the only thing. Founder/Market fit is super important, but the last piece, or that maybe some people, are not necessarily in researching a lot into, but how are you gonna disrupt maybe on the unit economics front?

[00:18:29] for example, most of our competitors charge per mailbox or per seat. So typically the way that the model works is the more employees the company has, the more they will buy from that software. And we believe that's broken , the whole model around charging per seat, charging, for a pair of mailbox, et cetera. Typically that's anywhere between 50 euros to 150 euros. But, the ultimate model these days, so the model that will win all the markets, it's, a consumption-based pricing or value-based pricing has a few names, but ultimately charge for what is it that a user is actually using.

[00:19:05] and we believe that model will win, ultimately, versus anything else that's, on the market because, having, let's say more sales reps or more . bums on the seats does not mean your output increases. That's not how it works typically. And so there is, typically license, also under utilization.

[00:19:25] So let's say when employees go on holidays, et cetera, these licenses are not being used. so what is the better way to align cost to value that you're delivering? So let's say the value that we're delivering to our clients is pipeline. We believe that the more, good emails that our prospects will send, that the more pipeline they will see.

[00:19:45] So, hence let's charge for the consumption. So what is it they're actually consuming? Because the more they send emails essentially in our platform, our cost increases. So hence we're passing that cost in the form of credits to over to our users. And that's a far more superior model long term than deciding, okay, let me just charge for one user like 50 euros.

[00:20:06] just make it as simple. but guess what? You're also leaving money on the table because we have some clients that scale massively, through us. And if, I will be charging them just 50 euros for a seat, I'll be, yeah. Leaving money on the table. So consumption based pricing is the ultimate pricing. How do, like the big plays, like AWS or Amazon, how do they charge for the, chip pricing? It's cloud credits, right? So same with Google, it's also credit based.

[00:20:33] so yeah, I believe that the seat based pricing model is dead. And so a lot of our competitors have this pricing, which is fantastic for us. The serious and on very smart buyers will look at this and they're like, okay, I need to buy for my sales team of 10, 10 licenses and that's gonna cost me x versus this other pricing model where, it's consumption based.

[00:20:56] And typically in the early days, it's much, much cheaper. So hence your ability to acquire that user will be actually . far higher, than charging per seat. 

[00:21:06] And then customers are happy to pay more when they use the platform more, so that's totally fine. So they get that, versus a static model. Now, the downside with static models, sorry, or upside with, sort of static model like seed based pricing is, that companies can forecast better.

[00:21:22] So if they, let's say paying for 10 seats, then when you do forecasting, you know how much these 10 seats are. It'll cost you. And there's not, more than you, you typically pay. Whereas with consumption based pricing, you can't always forecast how much is it gonna you end up paying.

[00:21:38] Michel: I agree with you, but in, if you look at from a value creation or return on investment, especially for your specific product, ideally what you know, you would like to see as a, as an owner or as a leader is, I'm investing in that product with a relatively low, pricing point to get in, but ultimately I should be able to see a correlation between that usage and the, growth of my pipeline. So I think for you, specifically for you versus AWS, I mean, it's, easy to use a lot of resources on AWS if your tech team is not taking care of cleaning things up, right?

[00:22:14] So you can easily end up being a big user, but it's just because you didn't clean the house. Whereas I think for you, ideally you can, be able to show that correlation. 

[00:22:26] How to find new customers using Frank's simple cold email strategy

[00:22:26] Michel: I wanna tap into your sales experience, because you have a lot of it and, I was asking initially is that something that less experienced salespeople or, founders can use?, You've sent millions of emails yourself.

[00:22:41] You've built a, software to support sales team. Can you tell me what, what are the characteristics of a, good cold email strategy? What works, what doesn't work, or what will work in the future? 

[00:22:54] Frank: Yeah. good question. Typically if you're gonna ask this question to a hundred people, you're gonna get a hundred different responses, , so I'll give one, one of mine. 

[00:23:02] I'm always a big believer in to validate whether the prospect has a problem, right? So you reach out to a hundred prospects, you say, Hey, listen, do you have this problem?

[00:23:10] And you want me to just get an answer yes or no? that's as simple as that. yes. Some people will say, use framework X, user framework Y, but really dumb it down in your head, especially as a solo founder. If you're not into sales, you're, let's say you are, a developer, right? And a lot of developers actually do cold emailing.

[00:23:28] we have a lot of developers using the platform and they do sales, but they're not salesy. and I said, listen, just, when you reach out to the prospect, don't, say what you do. Just ask, Hey, do you have this problem? Essentially? If yes, is this, is this a priority for you to solve right now or not?

[00:23:45] so I'm dumbing it down, but essentially you'll craft an email around that. hey, I was wondering if you have this problem, something you're looking to solve in 2024. Is this a priority question mark? and keep it like super short, because, typically long ass emails, means it's automation.

[00:24:01] When people are like, Hey, this is what we do, this is what we can offer you. Nobody really cares what you do, what people care about. Can you solve my problems? And I'm happy to pay for them if you can. and this is a priority right now. So the biggest problem in outbound sales is the timing.

[00:24:14] So you need to reengage with the same prospect multiple times in the year. Typically, I say once a quarter. so you say, okay, do you have this pain, . yes and no. So a simple, simple way to kinda end the email. Is this a priority question mark That's my favorite soft call to action. soft call to action means, it's an open-ended centric question versus a hard CTA, which is like asking for time.

[00:24:36] Hey, would you have 15 minutes, next week, you have not validated that the person has a problem. Before you ask for time. Typically you don't just send one email, typically the most optimal. also from email durability standpoint, you just send three emails in total.

[00:24:52] So that means you're sending an initial email and you do a couple of follow-ups and you pace it out correctly. So let's say a follow up will be after sort of three days because a person needs to digest even your question, or maybe discuss with a colleague, is this even priority? And then come back after three days.

[00:25:06] So never send a follow up next day. And then the, last follow up will be typically after a week, because sometimes, people are on holidays, maybe this time of the year or they're super busy, but next week, they're happy to pick up the, this, problem statement. In total it's three emails, maximum because the likelihood of getting a reply after the third email is relatively low, and the probability of getting a spam report from your prospect is relatively high.

[00:25:31] So I would not send more than three emails. I would, use other channels because if you are using LinkedIn or you've decide to give them a phone call, it's much better because multi-touch, meaning multi-touch is essentially across multiple channels. So LinkedIn, Twitter, may be WhatsApp, whatever it's that you use, drives up the conversion rates significantly higher.

[00:25:49] How to give your prospects more reasons to reply to yo

[00:25:49] Frank: What do you do in the follow-ups? So don't say in the follow-ups. Hey, any thoughts on this? Or I'm just bumping my email. That's like very annoying. So if you decide if you wanna send an extra email to a prospect, just add more, reasons for them to reply back to you rather than be like an annoying wife, essentially nagging for a response.

[00:26:09] Michel: How would you add more reasons for them to reply?

[00:26:12] Frank: One way for be, for example, add some sort of case studies, a case study in the form of, Hey, we did something similar for one of your competitors, and somebody says, oh, we've done something for your competitors. Then people start thinking about this.

[00:26:25] Maybe we could also do something similar, because people, love to copy their competitors, right? So, you can drop, Hey, this is something that we did, for a competitor of yours, , would you want me to replicate a similar result to you as well? Another way would be like, Hey, would you like me to send you a video, how this could look, let's say on your website, or how this could, work or play out.

[00:26:44] And then you shoot a quick Loom video. and there's also alternatives in the market like Vard, et cetera, and send that video to them. But I would never send personalized videos to prospects cold. I would definitely ask them for permission if they would want me to send that video. And I will.

[00:26:59] Yeah, I'll spend like a minute or two. To craft that unique video for them. it shouldn't take too long. So you should get into the sort of a process of doing things. And then the, final email, so let's say the email number three. It could be like something simple. Sometimes you're barking up the wrong tree, meaning you're going after the wrong person in the company.

[00:27:16] And, you should just simply ask, Hey, this might not be relevant for you. is this relevant for somebody else? And guess what people don't do. They don't just forward sometimes emails to their colleagues because they don't give a damn what you know about some of their colleagues in the organization.

[00:27:29] But if you ask nicely, Hey, is this, is there somebody else that they should be speaking to? Then in a lot of cases they'll say, okay, sure, I'm CCing right now, my colleague, et cetera. another thing that you can do is because people don't like to speak to salespeople. As well. They don't wanna be speaking to salespeople, but they're still happy to kinda, qualify the opportunity for themselves.

[00:27:50] So what you can do in the final email, and that works fantastic for us. Hey, I, bet you don't have any time for this. would you like me to send you a video of a demo video essentially, instead? so this is like a static video and this is how you can, finish off the sequence and yeah, you don't, send more emails.

[00:28:07] Use Multi treading to win more enterprise accounts

[00:28:07] Frank: You either follow up with the same prospect after three months with another campaign with a different, copy, et cetera. or you do what's called multi treading. one of the sort of best ways to penetrate an account, so meaning, go after the company and close a deal with 'em, is to actually, reach out to multiple individuals in the company.

[00:28:25] Typically two to three individuals. In parallel, that's what we do as well. and what you can do is what's called sequentially. So you reach out to person one, has now responded. You reach out to person two, doesn't respond. Then you reach out to person three, and then you repeat that cycle.

[00:28:41] That's a super important in an enterprise selling, but you could do that, also, in the bigger markets with smaller players, but I would say always keep it as simple.

[00:28:51] How Frank transitioned from sales executives to startup founder

[00:28:51] Michel: I wanna switch gear a little bit because, and I think that's good segue because you've, you have that sales experience, but then, you, launched a tech startup. I'd like you to tell me a bit about that experience, how you've been through it, because I, come from the business development side myself, and I'm, you, I'm managing a, an ad tech company among other things.

[00:29:14] I've had to learn to develop a product strategy, prioritize features, also work with the engineering team. So tell me a bit about your experience and how the journey has been so far.

[00:29:27] Frank: Good question. , in my last job, I was, leading a sales team, quite a large one. So I had like over 20 SDRs, so with 10 account executives, mid management team And so I, brought a startup from Series C to series A stage. then I exited, And then, I thought to myself, actually, do I become again, another head of sales for another company?

[00:29:45] So that was option one. And option two was like, is there something else that you should, I should be doing with my life? I'm typically a person that likes to be uncomfortable. Let's go that way, . And that typically means you should start your own startup. And because I'm getting older for myself, maybe I should start my first startup as well. and, so at, that point, which was around sort of November, actually last year, I had literally two choices in my head whether I become a head of sales.

[00:30:11] And I literally had an offer to work for a fantastic company based in Estonia. to become their head of sales, and we're just about to actually sign a contract, et cetera. And then there was another opportunity to start my own startup and therefore myself, if I'm not gonna start my own startup right now, then I may never do it.

[00:30:28] maybe let's park that offer. there's always an opportunity to come back because, good people are always in the market. sorry. Good people always are in jobs. Essentially. I thought to myself, I'll always find a job. It doesn't matter. So let me, do this crazy thing called the startup.

[00:30:43] So I went to actually Berlin go to a pre-seed accelerator called Antler. Essentially it's an accelerator for startups. that just gets to get a, batch of people. Typically, it's 40 to 60 individuals, some tech for people, some commercial people, product managers, and essentially hungry, I call 'em actually startup wannabees. 

[00:31:01] We all wanted to start a startup. Not many did in the end, but, that's another story. But essentially, 

[00:31:07] How Frank validated his idea and got pre-orders before writing a single line of code

[00:31:07] Frank: I came with an idea with Salesforge already into it, and I just wanted to mold it essentially. and the first things you wanna validate, do people even need this product?

[00:31:15] so other problems are just in my head or also other people have them. So what you typically wanna do is you do wanna do a bunch of user interviews. Speak to those users. I was already kinda, messaging them on LinkedIn. I was cold emailing people, seeing great results, using a competitor.

[00:31:31] I got over like 45 interviews in total. So that's a lot of interviews actually, validation, exercise. and you wanna ask yourself, okay, is, the problem big enough? if we're gonna build this, you think people will buy this? Et cetera. And there's a bunch of, material on this, on, YC school. So if you go on YouTube, the, YCombinator school, just go through a bunch of those videos and they'll tell you how to do that properly. if you follow that by the book, you'll be golden. Now the best, is if you're gonna ask a person to pay for your product without having shipped a single line of code.

[00:32:08] And that's what we did. So we managed to, get full paid pre-orders before shipping a single line of code to validate whether people would actually just pull out the credit card and pay for this. That's the best form of validation, because otherwise, if you're just gonna be, again, basing it on interviews or your gut feel, et cetera, and gonna spend all those months, maybe years building that product, and then you will not, get it to PMF.

[00:32:33] So PMF meaning product market fit, all that time was wasted, more or less. 

[00:32:37] Michel: How did you get to those pre-orders? Did you offer some of preferential discount to get in early?

[00:32:43] Frank: Correct. One thing I don't advise to do is to do any lifetime deals whatsoever. So we have zero lifetime customers, deals because that can ruin your business relatively quickly, but you can do a, really good deal for them. And we did a 10 year and a five year deal at rock bottom prices, like hundred euros or something for five years or 10 years. 

[00:33:01] So let's say when you do a user interview at the end of it, so you explain also what you're building, et cetera. And then you say, would you buy something like this? And then the person says, actually, yes, yeah, I would actually love to buy something like this. and it's only, it's only a hundred bucks, right? So a hundred bucks is is enough to validate. So it's not like 10 bucks, like I would like 10 bucks is not validation in my opinion. But if somebody is a stranger is willing to give you a hundred bucks for a product, that's validation to me.

[00:33:31] And do that a few times. Not too many, but just enough to say to yourself, people are willing to pull their credit card out and pay for this. Now, the weirdest thing that happened actually, in a coffee shop in Berlin, so I was speaking to another, Antler co-founder essentially about Salesforge and what we do, and there was a guy in the background that overheard my idea on what we're building and, he said, damn, this is so fucking awesome.

[00:33:55] So he came up to me, he said, man, what you're building is amazing. It was a total stranger in a coffee shop. and he said, how can I buy this? And, I gave him the, URL and he literally went in a coffee shop and, bought the, and paid for a pre-order. So that was the weirdest example. And I thought if a stranger in a coffee shop would buy a software, then I'm onto something.

[00:34:18] and the weirdest thing is that stranger, it was not even a salesperson. He was a CTO at a company. so even a non ICP, so non ICP, non ideal customer profile essentially pays for your product and is willing to, pay without having a single line of code written, then we're onto something. So that kind of gave you that conviction that we should just plow through, build an MVP, and then, the whole product.

[00:34:42] Where Frank found his co-founders

[00:34:42] Frank: around the co-founders, so this is typically the biggest problem that you have, as a solopreneur and I typically don't have advice to do the whole journey yourself. It's just very rare that you can succeed on your own. So just get somebody smart, as a counterpart. And it has to add incremental skillset to you.

[00:34:59] If you're in sales, guess what? You probably need a techie. If you are a tech guy, you need somebody that's commercial. So typically there's only two things that a startup has to do. Build stuff and sell stuff. You can sell stuff. Either you're really great at marketing or your sales, or you're both.

[00:35:15] Now my strongest arm is sales. My, my second strongest arm is marketing, but I won't call myself a marketing person, per se. then you need somebody on the tech front. Now, tech is relatively complex in itself. so you need the right tech guy for what you're building. And in my case, I was lucky.

[00:35:31] I had two of them. where do you find those people? One thing is you can again go through one of these pre-seed accelerators and you can meet the person, so you can meet your potential co-founder. And the second thing you can do, which has a pool of very smart people, is go on the Y Combinator matchmaking platform.

[00:35:46] And essentially you go on there, there's a bunch of, potential founders in Europe, US essentially all around the world. So they tell you what is it they're building, maybe they're building nothing, but they tell you what is, that they're up to, what they're, inclined to do, et cetera.

[00:35:59] And then, you can have up to 15 matches a week. So I've done like . 30 of those, et cetera. Trying to figure to myself, who is really the best team for the problem that we're looking to tackle now. I was just a piece of the puzzle and I thought to myself, because what I'm building is so gonna be so humongous, humongous, as in, if somebody knows how big Salesforce is, this gonna be as big as Salesforce, just in a slightly different category.

[00:36:22] I felt to myself. I need a lot of manpower on engineering and product front. And, then actually, funny enough, before I went to Antler, I met, a guy messaged me, with a template, through Y Combinator, name's Daniel and Daniel's, our current CTO, and said, Hey, I'm, looking for great people to start a company with.

[00:36:42] I had a chat with them prior to Antler. to figure out, whether they're the right team. but essentially Daniel came with David, and David is his, friend from the first grade. So they went to the, school for all the years, and they went to the same university in Denmark.

[00:36:57] They built a few great projects together, but they were always missing this commercial piece, to the, startup aspirations. So I thought to myself, okay, there's these two very smart dudes. One of them specializes in the backend. Second one specializes in the front end product and product design. And then there's me. And I thought, this is a fucking awesome combo for what we're building. 

[00:37:16] How Frank built his MVP without building anything

[00:37:16] Frank: So you got your team, you got your problem nailed down. You know what you're building. it's time to build an MVP, I guess a prototype, and instead of building this ourselves, we were somehow lucky, where we bumped in one of the Facebook groups, there's a bunch of Facebook groups, a lot of solopreneurs, founders of et cetera, where there was this one agency in Poland and said, Hey guys, we're looking for a startup who's looking to build an MVP.

[00:37:38] We're gonna build that for you. And all you have to do is, a case study, against that. And I thought to myself, that's excellent. If somebody's gonna build for us, while we can give them the inputs around or the scoping around how this has to be built. So it was a no brainer.

[00:37:51] So off we went, to start working with 'em. And, we shipped an MVP. It was fantastic. we showed it to a bunch of people, validated, the problems and what is that we're building, and, though in the end we decided to scrap it and start from scratch. So that's typically what can happen and you can either build on top of the MVP.

[00:38:11] or you decide, okay, we need actually a different code base, et cetera, and then we need to build from scratch. So we actually build from scratch, after shipping the MVP. 

[00:38:20] Getting ready for sales while building the MVP with a waitlist and pilots

[00:38:20] Frank: Now while you're building the product, you, it's not like you just sit around there and you're hoping for a lot of customers on day one. No. You, do what's called, a wait list as well, so we had over 300 people on the wait list. there was a lot of people on there, that gave us essentially a pool of potential clients to convert.

[00:38:38] And we did. that's one thing you do. You should have a wait list and then additionally, on top of the wait list, what you should do is you should secure what I would call pilots. So pilots essentially is you give your software for free to a bunch of clients once you ship your beta. and, to play around for a month or two to, see if there's enough value in the software to convert them.

[00:39:00] Now the learning from that, what I would say is never do free pilots , 

[00:39:04] out of the 10 pilots that we did, we only converted one and we realized that actually the major problem is, that, give a software for free. . and people don't stick to, let's say timelines.

[00:39:14] They they're not fully committed. And hence, there were a lot of issues with, the pilot. So we ended up only converting one in and we expected to convert about four or five. . but then after that we're off to the races using our own software, dog food and reaching out to people being in different Slack communities, WhatsApp groups, et cetera.

[00:39:30] And that helped us to sign, a lot of clients. And actually our first client post-launch came from a Slack community and that client was paying us 500 bucks, which is five x more than our highest plan, which is 96 bucks right now. Which, so you should be doing things that don't scale in the early days.

[00:39:53] that's exactly what we did. We went to communities, et cetera. But you should definitely fi after that. After you've gone through this phase, maybe four a month or two, you should figure out for yourself what's the one channel that will scale for you. And that could be SEO, that could be ads, that could be cold email, cold calling, et cetera.

[00:40:08] But in outbound, there's only two things that scale. That's either email or cold calling essentially. 

[00:40:13] Michel: I got one and a half questions left for you. The first one is what can we expect, from Salesforge in the coming months? Like what you have on your radar, on your pipeline, and also where can our audience find you, in case you don't, send them a, a cold email.

[00:40:32] Frank: That's true. We send a lot of, emails. typically you can find us on LinkedIn on our website salesforge.ai. 

[00:40:38] We're actually, going down maybe three main paths, so already next month actually, we're building our own private email infrastructure. So the idea is that the clients wouldn't necessarily need to get Gmail or Outlook as their mailboxes to run their, email infrastructure.

[00:40:52] And this is to help with email deliverability, front, because we think that Gmail and Outlook will be tightening their belts, further, terms of filtering, et cetera. another aspect is we're definitely looking to, unlock the other two channels like LinkedIn and give the ability to, dial prospects as well.

[00:41:07] And last, not but not least, we're big believers that the future will be, very different, in the world of sales. And that means actually we, we will be bringing into the platform autonomous. sales AI agents, into the play where organizations could be, could augment the existing sales teams with, autonomous AI agent capabilities, or even decide to fully replace, it's up to them.

[00:41:31] so we believe that some companies will be transforming themselves, gradually over time, where there will be less headcount and there'll be there there's already a lot of automation, but there'll be more automation that will be autonomous automation. there's a lot of problems that exist, sales teams, these days.

[00:41:48] And actually one of the ways to solve that is actually to, pass on some of the, repetitive tasks of the over to autonomous, essentially bots, to, execute. So we believe the future's bright. will be part of that future. And, and then typically the way we roll, just maybe final piece of advice, to everybody is we take requests from our users, from our paying customers, what they wanna see in the platform. And you can use a free platform called canny.io, C-A-N-N-Y.io. Install that, and ask your users what they wanna see and then people can vote for this stuff. So even though I mentioned some of the things that we wanna build, if a paying client will tell us we need to build something else, we're probably gotta be building that

[00:42:28] Michel: Thank you so much for your time and for your generosity in terms advice. I think you have a great, product. Seems like you have a solid team. let's stay in touch and wishing you all the best.

[00:42:39] Frank: thank you.

[00:42:40] Michel: Thanks again for listening, I hope you enjoyed the show. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast. And as usual you can find the show notes at stunandawecom. 

 POD-027 Frank Sondors - Salesforge

[00:00:00] Frank: You're essentially trying to figure out your odds of success. So in the MarTech, there's a bunch of software that's being built, maybe not necessarily the best place to go into. In travel tech, the margins are relatively low, I would argue. and then sales tech, this is where I believe there's a humongous, potential for disruption, especially with large language models and the sophistication, levels that we are currently at. So I thought to myself, Salesforge, that's, the type of product I wanna build. 

[00:00:24] Intro

[00:00:24] Michel: Hi everyone and welcome to Growth Leap. I'm your host, Michel Gagnon. We talked to pretty awesome business builders who are designing disruptive and meaningful companies. 

[00:00:37]

[00:00:39] Michel: Hi everyone. Get ready for a lively chat with Frank Sondors, the co-founder and CEO of Salesforge. With over a decade and B2B sales and leading large teams. Frank is now shaking up email marketing by enabling personalized emails at scale. Frank has an inspiring journey having traveled the world . We'll talk about his journey from sales expert to tech entrepreneur, diving into the future of sales and the impact of technology and marketing. Frank's insights are a gold mine for anyone interested in the evolving world of sales and tech startups, so enjoy.

[00:01:12] ​

[00:01:12] Michel: Frank, welcome. Can you start by giving us a rundown of, who you are, your background, and what is Salesforge?

[00:01:24] The birth of Salesforge

[00:01:24] Frank: Yeah. like a good intro that you did. I've been in sales for over a decade. Started really my career at Google. and then after that I worked for a bunch of B2B SaaS companies in different spaces, but predominantly in the MarTech. whether that's selling data, doing machine learning, data visualization.

[00:01:43] Et cetera. And in my last, essentially, gig, I led a sales team of about 50. at which point I decided to, exit and start my own company. because I guess what, it's great to be selling a software for somebody else, but maybe at one point in your life you wanna be selling your own software.

[00:02:00] Where, because why not? you probably have accumulated a bunch of experience that kind of gives you a higher probability of succeeding as a startup. and then you essentially think to yourself, what is it that you're good at? and in, in my case, there's a couple, three spaces I'm really good at.

[00:02:14] essentially MarTech, sales tech and travel tech. And, you're essentially trying to figure out your odds of success. So in the MarTech, there's a bunch of software that's being built, maybe not necessarily the best place to go into in travel tech. The margins are relatively low, I would argue. and then sales tech.

[00:02:31] This is where I believe there's a humongous, potential for disruption, especially with large language models and the sophistication, levels that we are currently at. So I thought to myself, Salesforge, that's, the type of product I wanna build. And so what does it do?, at its current state, what it does, it, it solves two major problems for, large and small companies, even solopreneurs.

[00:02:52] so on one side that's, solving the email deliverability issues. maybe five years ago, a lot of companies could be sending kind of thousands and thousands of emails, but that's not more the case today. And a lot of emails essentially land the spam, is the bottom line. so you need to essentially have a sort of new state. We are software architecture, and the process essentially against that to ensure that your emails land in the primary inbox of your prospects. so that's one area that we specialize in. And the second area is essentially crafting unique emails to your prospects rather than sending a bunch of templates, that you prospects have a fatigue with.

[00:03:27] And ultimately all of them or many of them land in spam because, I, get a lot of these templates myself as a founder. one thing maybe to note for a lot of people out there who maybe haven't started yet, a company, but once you switch your title to a founder, you start getting a lot of emails and you'll see all those essentially templates, all those cold emails, a landing in your inbox, whether that's in spam or the primary inbox.

[00:03:50] And you'll look at that and you'll, be like, oh, this hasn't been really crafted for me. it smells like automation. And let me click on that beautiful spam button. that's quite normal these days. Essentially a lot of sales organizations are struggling. companies that have, legit software to sell service or product to sell, they're struggling to cut through the noise.

[00:04:11] and why email as a starting point for us as a software, even though we're gonna do a lot more things in the future, is because email is the most complex, channel to tackle, is still the most what's called cac, efficient channel, CAC efficient means from cost perspective. it's still the cheapest channel for you to acquire your users if you do things correctly, though, just to note on that front.

[00:04:33] And it applies to, and, it's a default channel. It applies to, whether you, a startup or whether, you are a large company, you're still gonna be using most likely emails to engage with your prospects in one way or in another.

[00:04:46] So that's why we started with email, but we are definitely more ambitious, by introducing other capabilities in the future. I. But yeah. in a nutshell, Salesforge enables you to craft unique emails in any language, whether that's English, German, et cetera, and send that to your prospects and essentially drastically increase your open rates and your reply rates improving by experience as well along the way, the seller kind of results. 

[00:05:07] How much personalization can Salesforge add to your email?

[00:05:07] Michel: Many companies offer something, a bit similar, but I, think their personalization. Is rather basic. They'll pick the name of the person, her role or company and plug that into a template. How far can Salesforge go with personalization? What can a user expect?

[00:05:25] Frank: Yeah, so the way that the whole space has evolved, just to give you some idea, back in the old days, everything used to exist in, spreadsheets. then Salesforce came in and then other sort of softwares came in to, to try and automate and, this is where you could plug in suddenly these dynamic variables, like the first name, the company name, et cetera.

[00:05:43] at the end of the day, you are still sending templates with some sort of dynamic, or rules based, what I would call customization. and the way that the space has evolved right now, we are at the stage where a content can be programmatically . computed essentially, in technical terms to every single individual by using some sort of logic.

[00:06:01] And in that case, the logic is rather straightforward, as in we look at what is it that you sell as a business. that's being inserted in the software. You have to outline your value prop, the pain that you solving, et cetera. And that's, what we use as an input data for every single, interaction.

[00:06:16] And then we look at what is it that we know about, the prospective buyer. And typically what the sales rep does in any company is they go on the LinkedIn profile of the person. Maybe they check out Twitter, maybe they go on the website, et cetera. But typically what they do is they access websites to try and do some research before they engage, if they're really crafting a great, email manually.

[00:06:36] so we just automate that process. What we do is we essentially fetch the information from these different data sources, and that this is what allows us to know a lot about, the prospective buyer. And doing that programmatically, at scale. so we essentially have these two data sets. We then, have, our, proprietary AI engine that sits essentially, on top of that.

[00:06:58] And then that does the computation. The other thing just to note on that, why this is important is not just from a perspective of, oh, let's personalize and let's just send great emails, but actually content, does matter as part of email deliverability overall. So when you're setting static templated content, including newsletters, that can harm your deliverability rates. So the way, the only way to combat is if you randomize essentially the content, or you make it unique somehow at scale. So randomization means there's some sort of rules-based logic, but, making it unique means you have to use large language models to make the content unique at scale to each in one of the recipients.

[00:07:33] So that's also becomes like super important and, and helps you deliver more emails in the primary inbox.

[00:07:39] How does the Salesforge onboarding look like?

[00:07:39] Michel: Yesterday night I was creating, custom GPTs and they're, once it's set up, it's, fantastic, but there is a significant amount of time. if you want to. Have something that's great, right? There's a significant amount of effort that you have put in to actually get the, the GPT that you're looking for.

[00:08:01] If I sign up for Salesforge, today, what does the onboarding look like and how much effort do you have to put into, hit the ground running?

[00:08:10] Frank: Great question. We're a bit of a sales led slash, PLG company, mix of both essentially. So product led and sales led. a mix of both. on a, sales led front, we do actually send a quite a lot of unique emails. and then customers come up to us, onboard to us and our kind of main channel is actually call, email, why user sign up?

[00:08:32] and when they onboard with us, what we typically wanna do, is we wanna force them to jump on the call. So there's a onboarding checklist essentially within the app, that tells you, please sign up for an onboarding call and please do these, various steps. Now, value realization comes

[00:08:47] Typically after three to four weeks. so meaning you're gonna get, start seeing your results in three to four weeks. And the reason why it takes that long is because cold email is not simple. altogether. if you want to just, send a few emails, you can send those few emails literally within 10 minutes.

[00:09:01] within the platform, there's even dummy data, et cetera, to experiment, et cetera. But, you can compute unique emails just, instantly within 10, 10 minutes. But if you wanna do things correctly, as in ensuring your deliverability is high for your domains that you're using right now, you need to go to what's called a warmup face, and that takes at least couple of weeks. So you need to prepare for any, campaigns that you wanna be launching. so I always say patience is virtue because if you rush anything these days, it comes to cold emails, it's typically not gonna see great results. so yeah.

[00:09:37] so one, one way to answer this question is, naturally there's a plenty of tips and stuff that we do with, within the app. a lot of that is powered actually by Intercom. So Intercom is really powerful and I highly recommend, startup founders to check out Intercom because Intercom gives, all startups, one year for free.

[00:09:54] and then I think the next year is like 50% off. So it's relatively good deal in the early days, but actually it becomes super expensive in the latest stages. So that's also another 

[00:10:02] Michel: So you ha you have to scale. You have to scale fast.

[00:10:06] Frank: yes. You have to scale fast to be able to afford intercom. that's, that's very true. And in our case, because we have bootstrapped, at least for now, it, it, it is definitely a pickle to be thinking about platforms like Intercom.

[00:10:17] So Intercorp Power is a rather app onboarding. It has a, I highly recommend building out, let's say, the knowledge base, because people do check out the knowledge base.

[00:10:25] They don't wanna be necessarily speaking to support or speaking to, even a sales rep like me. They wanna be going to a knowledge base, checking out, various questions that they have, and then getting the answers instantly. The second part is because the software is rather unique versus, any competitors that we have in the market, this is why we want to have that, phone call with the user because, it's not that complicated, but still, there are some complexities, it's better just to have that initial conversation. So it still sucks a lot of time, of your day to be having these conversations, but it does, it'll have a positive impact on your retention. 

[00:11:02] Michel: and what do I have to do to get started? I need to connect your tool my inbox?

[00:11:08] Frank: Yes. So, only a couple things really. oh, sorry, maybe three in, total. So one thing is connect your mailbox or mailboxes. number two is upload, the list of leads. so typically we just need the first name, last name, email address, and the LinkedIn URL because we can also, access LinkedIn and essentially personalize emails against that.

[00:11:29] and then we, you also need to, describe your value prop essentially, so that takes also a bit of time. but altogether, if you know what you're doing, that's roughly about 10 minutes altogether. and then you can already start crafting your first initial emails, if you want to get started like immediately.

[00:11:45] And then the platform, what it does, it sends these unique emails out, and then when you receive, any replies from any of your prospects, across any of the mailbox really, it lands in the section what we call the prime box. And Prime Box is, like superhuman.

[00:12:00] So if somebody is familiar with superhuman, essentially it's a platform that, gives you that ultimate experience. so it's like the apple of Gmail essentially , it's super fast. it's designed to process a lot of replies, et cetera. So that's what we're building. But for sales, in particular, so that, capability exists within Salesforge is where it aggregates replies, it helps you to, tackle the replies faster.

[00:12:25] We're building also AI into that as well, too. . write up replies much faster than writing yourself, et cetera. So there's, gonna be a lot of, cool stuff in there, but it's all centered around the seller and helping them to do their job faster, and more and more efficient as well.

[00:12:41] Salesforge's target customers and Frank's beachhead strategy to go upmarket

[00:12:41] Michel: Is that a tool, that targeting specifically experienced salespersons, or if you are, let's say, solopreneur who's, starting a business and want to do some direct outreach, is that a tool that you know they can use as well?

[00:12:57] Frank: it's designed for both, so we're trying to dumb down the platform as much as we can. . so even though we're tackling a very complex problems, we're trying to make it like super simple that yeah, even a solopreneur could using it and on and off they go off to the races, right?

[00:13:15] all the way to complex teams. So we even have, companies with over 10,000 employees using the platform. So it is designed for different scales and, but we're currently focusing really on the smaller, players in the market. So solopreneurs, SMBs, and even, agencies as well that may be servicing multiple clients.

[00:13:36] and the reason for that is very simple because we only do email for now. and typically if you go, upmarket, you need to have multiple other sort of enterprise grade capabilities, multiple other features, and you just don't have that in the early days, right? So you need to have your, what's called the beachhead.

[00:13:53] so who are your first initial clients that you're looking to acquire wherever your initial traction come from. And that's like super important. to focus, really on one. So when you're building a platform, let's say, and we could have done, LinkedIn automation or we could have done the cold call.

[00:14:10] So you need to focus on the one channel that you want to do really, well, that nobody else will do better than you. And you wanted to be doing it at least 10 x better than your nearest competitor 

[00:14:22] if you can. Otherwise you'll have problems with competition. And so in our case, we decided email should be the first channel and then we'll tackle the other ones and do it like really well. Drill down on that and then work with, those people that just use email and wanna see really good results from, email, because a lot of people, say email is dead these days.

[00:14:42] It became a lot more difficult for different reasons. typically we, three main problems. areas why email became so so difficult. First of all, there's a lot more emails that are being sent, these days. Billions of emails per day. so volume has increased massively. The secondary kind of lens to that is, is that there's more, essentially companies that they're reaching out to the same prospects.

[00:15:06] So there's the same number of buyers, but there's more sellers out there. So hence buyers are receiving more emails on average. then the other, trend, which is massive is actually cybersecurity threats. So a lot of companies these days are being penetrated, via cold email. So cold emails are being sent to a bank, a company, and there's a bunch of stories out there.

[00:15:27] I recommend checking out on Google how banks have been penetrated by receiving a cold email then ransomware has downloaded, and then, millions have been sucked out from the banks. And then the other trend is naturally how do the major email service providers look at these trends?

[00:15:41] So let's say Gmail and Outlook. So they became more sophisticated, essentially. so when they see that there's more emails that affects their users, when there's more cybersecurity threats, what they start doing is they start filtering a lot more of these emails. And then some of the good emails also land in spam.

[00:15:57] and that's just normal. That's how Google operates. I used to work at Google myself. so nothing is, error proof essentially in life, even at Google. It's becoming really complex. And then the good players in the ecosystem, they actually wanna deliver the emails to the prospects because they have a legitimate product that they sell to their ideal customers, that, that may benefit from that.

[00:16:16] and so it used to be much easier to send these emails back in the day, but not, not anymore. And I always say if you are, if you do decide to start a startup. So you tackle a problem that's very complex, then build a software that solves that complex problem. And it's not just the problem doesn't have to be just complex, but the market has to be humongous.

[00:16:38] And because billions of organizations out there are sending emails these days, it's a huge opportunity to solve the deliverability piece, it's a huge opportunity to solve these billions of templates that are being sent, because majority of the emails that being sent in the world are templates. 98% of total emails that are being circulated out there are all templated.

[00:16:57] So the opportunity to even personalize an email, somehow dynamically a lot more is humongous. and hence, there's a lot more other startups in, our space that are entering and trying to solve the same, problem. But you should always ask yourself why you are the right person for this.

[00:17:14] and, why you will win instead of other a hundred potential founders in your space that are also entering because it is a hyper competitive environment. And our answer is, we've been in this space, for, so I've been in this space for over a decade. you know exactly the paint. you know exactly the customer because you are the customer

[00:17:33] So we're building it for ourselves. So we are, what we're doing is we're dogfooding, so we're using our own software to scale. We can see exactly the problems in the software. We're fixing the bugs immediately. and that's a beautiful thing. It also, helps us to reduce our cost base, right?

[00:17:49] Because if you're using your own software, you don't have to pay for another software. And these softwares are very expensive actually out there. so, you should always think about Founder/Market fit when you're starting a startup. And I can tell you it makes a huge difference because you can click with your prospect instantly.

[00:18:07] Frank's consumption-based pricing strategy

[00:18:07] Frank: Because I'm from this space, I'm speaking to other prospects that are also in sales. And you just click better. You build report faster than many other things. But that's not the only thing. Founder/Market fit is super important, but the last piece, or that maybe some people, are not necessarily in researching a lot into, but how are you gonna disrupt maybe on the unit economics front?

[00:18:29] for example, most of our competitors charge per mailbox or per seat. So typically the way that the model works is the more employees the company has, the more they will buy from that software. And we believe that's broken , the whole model around charging per seat, charging, for a pair of mailbox, et cetera. Typically that's anywhere between 50 euros to 150 euros. But, the ultimate model these days, so the model that will win all the markets, it's, a consumption-based pricing or value-based pricing has a few names, but ultimately charge for what is it that a user is actually using.

[00:19:05] and we believe that model will win, ultimately, versus anything else that's, on the market because, having, let's say more sales reps or more . bums on the seats does not mean your output increases. That's not how it works typically. And so there is, typically license, also under utilization.

[00:19:25] So let's say when employees go on holidays, et cetera, these licenses are not being used. so what is the better way to align cost to value that you're delivering? So let's say the value that we're delivering to our clients is pipeline. We believe that the more, good emails that our prospects will send, that the more pipeline they will see.

[00:19:45] So, hence let's charge for the consumption. So what is it they're actually consuming? Because the more they send emails essentially in our platform, our cost increases. So hence we're passing that cost in the form of credits to over to our users. And that's a far more superior model long term than deciding, okay, let me just charge for one user like 50 euros.

[00:20:06] just make it as simple. but guess what? You're also leaving money on the table because we have some clients that scale massively, through us. And if, I will be charging them just 50 euros for a seat, I'll be, yeah. Leaving money on the table. So consumption based pricing is the ultimate pricing. How do, like the big plays, like AWS or Amazon, how do they charge for the, chip pricing? It's cloud credits, right? So same with Google, it's also credit based.

[00:20:33] so yeah, I believe that the seat based pricing model is dead. And so a lot of our competitors have this pricing, which is fantastic for us. The serious and on very smart buyers will look at this and they're like, okay, I need to buy for my sales team of 10, 10 licenses and that's gonna cost me x versus this other pricing model where, it's consumption based.

[00:20:56] And typically in the early days, it's much, much cheaper. So hence your ability to acquire that user will be actually . far higher, than charging per seat. 

[00:21:06] And then customers are happy to pay more when they use the platform more, so that's totally fine. So they get that, versus a static model. Now, the downside with static models, sorry, or upside with, sort of static model like seed based pricing is, that companies can forecast better.

[00:21:22] So if they, let's say paying for 10 seats, then when you do forecasting, you know how much these 10 seats are. It'll cost you. And there's not, more than you, you typically pay. Whereas with consumption based pricing, you can't always forecast how much is it gonna you end up paying.

[00:21:38] Michel: I agree with you, but in, if you look at from a value creation or return on investment, especially for your specific product, ideally what you know, you would like to see as a, as an owner or as a leader is, I'm investing in that product with a relatively low, pricing point to get in, but ultimately I should be able to see a correlation between that usage and the, growth of my pipeline. So I think for you, specifically for you versus AWS, I mean, it's, easy to use a lot of resources on AWS if your tech team is not taking care of cleaning things up, right?

[00:22:14] So you can easily end up being a big user, but it's just because you didn't clean the house. Whereas I think for you, ideally you can, be able to show that correlation. 

[00:22:26] How to find new customers using Frank's simple cold email strategy

[00:22:26] Michel: I wanna tap into your sales experience, because you have a lot of it and, I was asking initially is that something that less experienced salespeople or, founders can use?, You've sent millions of emails yourself.

[00:22:41] You've built a, software to support sales team. Can you tell me what, what are the characteristics of a, good cold email strategy? What works, what doesn't work, or what will work in the future? 

[00:22:54] Frank: Yeah. good question. Typically if you're gonna ask this question to a hundred people, you're gonna get a hundred different responses, , so I'll give one, one of mine. 

[00:23:02] I'm always a big believer in to validate whether the prospect has a problem, right? So you reach out to a hundred prospects, you say, Hey, listen, do you have this problem?

[00:23:10] And you want me to just get an answer yes or no? that's as simple as that. yes. Some people will say, use framework X, user framework Y, but really dumb it down in your head, especially as a solo founder. If you're not into sales, you're, let's say you are, a developer, right? And a lot of developers actually do cold emailing.

[00:23:28] we have a lot of developers using the platform and they do sales, but they're not salesy. and I said, listen, just, when you reach out to the prospect, don't, say what you do. Just ask, Hey, do you have this problem? Essentially? If yes, is this, is this a priority for you to solve right now or not?

[00:23:45] so I'm dumbing it down, but essentially you'll craft an email around that. hey, I was wondering if you have this problem, something you're looking to solve in 2024. Is this a priority question mark? and keep it like super short, because, typically long ass emails, means it's automation.

[00:24:01] When people are like, Hey, this is what we do, this is what we can offer you. Nobody really cares what you do, what people care about. Can you solve my problems? And I'm happy to pay for them if you can. and this is a priority right now. So the biggest problem in outbound sales is the timing.

[00:24:14] So you need to reengage with the same prospect multiple times in the year. Typically, I say once a quarter. so you say, okay, do you have this pain, . yes and no. So a simple, simple way to kinda end the email. Is this a priority question mark That's my favorite soft call to action. soft call to action means, it's an open-ended centric question versus a hard CTA, which is like asking for time.

[00:24:36] Hey, would you have 15 minutes, next week, you have not validated that the person has a problem. Before you ask for time. Typically you don't just send one email, typically the most optimal. also from email durability standpoint, you just send three emails in total.

[00:24:52] So that means you're sending an initial email and you do a couple of follow-ups and you pace it out correctly. So let's say a follow up will be after sort of three days because a person needs to digest even your question, or maybe discuss with a colleague, is this even priority? And then come back after three days.

[00:25:06] So never send a follow up next day. And then the, last follow up will be typically after a week, because sometimes, people are on holidays, maybe this time of the year or they're super busy, but next week, they're happy to pick up the, this, problem statement. In total it's three emails, maximum because the likelihood of getting a reply after the third email is relatively low, and the probability of getting a spam report from your prospect is relatively high.

[00:25:31] So I would not send more than three emails. I would, use other channels because if you are using LinkedIn or you've decide to give them a phone call, it's much better because multi-touch, meaning multi-touch is essentially across multiple channels. So LinkedIn, Twitter, may be WhatsApp, whatever it's that you use, drives up the conversion rates significantly higher.

[00:25:49] How to give your prospects more reasons to reply to yo

[00:25:49] Frank: What do you do in the follow-ups? So don't say in the follow-ups. Hey, any thoughts on this? Or I'm just bumping my email. That's like very annoying. So if you decide if you wanna send an extra email to a prospect, just add more, reasons for them to reply back to you rather than be like an annoying wife, essentially nagging for a response.

[00:26:09] Michel: How would you add more reasons for them to reply?

[00:26:12] Frank: One way for be, for example, add some sort of case studies, a case study in the form of, Hey, we did something similar for one of your competitors, and somebody says, oh, we've done something for your competitors. Then people start thinking about this.

[00:26:25] Maybe we could also do something similar, because people, love to copy their competitors, right? So, you can drop, Hey, this is something that we did, for a competitor of yours, , would you want me to replicate a similar result to you as well? Another way would be like, Hey, would you like me to send you a video, how this could look, let's say on your website, or how this could, work or play out.

[00:26:44] And then you shoot a quick Loom video. and there's also alternatives in the market like Vard, et cetera, and send that video to them. But I would never send personalized videos to prospects cold. I would definitely ask them for permission if they would want me to send that video. And I will.

[00:26:59] Yeah, I'll spend like a minute or two. To craft that unique video for them. it shouldn't take too long. So you should get into the sort of a process of doing things. And then the, final email, so let's say the email number three. It could be like something simple. Sometimes you're barking up the wrong tree, meaning you're going after the wrong person in the company.

[00:27:16] And, you should just simply ask, Hey, this might not be relevant for you. is this relevant for somebody else? And guess what people don't do. They don't just forward sometimes emails to their colleagues because they don't give a damn what you know about some of their colleagues in the organization.

[00:27:29] But if you ask nicely, Hey, is this, is there somebody else that they should be speaking to? Then in a lot of cases they'll say, okay, sure, I'm CCing right now, my colleague, et cetera. another thing that you can do is because people don't like to speak to salespeople. As well. They don't wanna be speaking to salespeople, but they're still happy to kinda, qualify the opportunity for themselves.

[00:27:50] So what you can do in the final email, and that works fantastic for us. Hey, I, bet you don't have any time for this. would you like me to send you a video of a demo video essentially, instead? so this is like a static video and this is how you can, finish off the sequence and yeah, you don't, send more emails.

[00:28:07] Use Multi treading to win more enterprise accounts

[00:28:07] Frank: You either follow up with the same prospect after three months with another campaign with a different, copy, et cetera. or you do what's called multi treading. one of the sort of best ways to penetrate an account, so meaning, go after the company and close a deal with 'em, is to actually, reach out to multiple individuals in the company.

[00:28:25] Typically two to three individuals. In parallel, that's what we do as well. and what you can do is what's called sequentially. So you reach out to person one, has now responded. You reach out to person two, doesn't respond. Then you reach out to person three, and then you repeat that cycle.

[00:28:41] That's a super important in an enterprise selling, but you could do that, also, in the bigger markets with smaller players, but I would say always keep it as simple.

[00:28:51] How Frank transitioned from sales executives to startup founder

[00:28:51] Michel: I wanna switch gear a little bit because, and I think that's good segue because you've, you have that sales experience, but then, you, launched a tech startup. I'd like you to tell me a bit about that experience, how you've been through it, because I, come from the business development side myself, and I'm, you, I'm managing a, an ad tech company among other things.

[00:29:14] I've had to learn to develop a product strategy, prioritize features, also work with the engineering team. So tell me a bit about your experience and how the journey has been so far.

[00:29:27] Frank: Good question. , in my last job, I was, leading a sales team, quite a large one. So I had like over 20 SDRs, so with 10 account executives, mid management team And so I, brought a startup from Series C to series A stage. then I exited, And then, I thought to myself, actually, do I become again, another head of sales for another company?

[00:29:45] So that was option one. And option two was like, is there something else that you should, I should be doing with my life? I'm typically a person that likes to be uncomfortable. Let's go that way, . And that typically means you should start your own startup. And because I'm getting older for myself, maybe I should start my first startup as well. and, so at, that point, which was around sort of November, actually last year, I had literally two choices in my head whether I become a head of sales.

[00:30:11] And I literally had an offer to work for a fantastic company based in Estonia. to become their head of sales, and we're just about to actually sign a contract, et cetera. And then there was another opportunity to start my own startup and therefore myself, if I'm not gonna start my own startup right now, then I may never do it.

[00:30:28] maybe let's park that offer. there's always an opportunity to come back because, good people are always in the market. sorry. Good people always are in jobs. Essentially. I thought to myself, I'll always find a job. It doesn't matter. So let me, do this crazy thing called the startup.

[00:30:43] So I went to actually Berlin go to a pre-seed accelerator called Antler. Essentially it's an accelerator for startups. that just gets to get a, batch of people. Typically, it's 40 to 60 individuals, some tech for people, some commercial people, product managers, and essentially hungry, I call 'em actually startup wannabees. 

[00:31:01] We all wanted to start a startup. Not many did in the end, but, that's another story. But essentially, 

[00:31:07] How Frank validated his idea and got pre-orders before writing a single line of code

[00:31:07] Frank: I came with an idea with Salesforge already into it, and I just wanted to mold it essentially. and the first things you wanna validate, do people even need this product?

[00:31:15] so other problems are just in my head or also other people have them. So what you typically wanna do is you do wanna do a bunch of user interviews. Speak to those users. I was already kinda, messaging them on LinkedIn. I was cold emailing people, seeing great results, using a competitor.

[00:31:31] I got over like 45 interviews in total. So that's a lot of interviews actually, validation, exercise. and you wanna ask yourself, okay, is, the problem big enough? if we're gonna build this, you think people will buy this? Et cetera. And there's a bunch of, material on this, on, YC school. So if you go on YouTube, the, YCombinator school, just go through a bunch of those videos and they'll tell you how to do that properly. if you follow that by the book, you'll be golden. Now the best, is if you're gonna ask a person to pay for your product without having shipped a single line of code.

[00:32:08] And that's what we did. So we managed to, get full paid pre-orders before shipping a single line of code to validate whether people would actually just pull out the credit card and pay for this. That's the best form of validation, because otherwise, if you're just gonna be, again, basing it on interviews or your gut feel, et cetera, and gonna spend all those months, maybe years building that product, and then you will not, get it to PMF.

[00:32:33] So PMF meaning product market fit, all that time was wasted, more or less. 

[00:32:37] Michel: How did you get to those pre-orders? Did you offer some of preferential discount to get in early?

[00:32:43] Frank: Correct. One thing I don't advise to do is to do any lifetime deals whatsoever. So we have zero lifetime customers, deals because that can ruin your business relatively quickly, but you can do a, really good deal for them. And we did a 10 year and a five year deal at rock bottom prices, like hundred euros or something for five years or 10 years. 

[00:33:01] So let's say when you do a user interview at the end of it, so you explain also what you're building, et cetera. And then you say, would you buy something like this? And then the person says, actually, yes, yeah, I would actually love to buy something like this. and it's only, it's only a hundred bucks, right? So a hundred bucks is is enough to validate. So it's not like 10 bucks, like I would like 10 bucks is not validation in my opinion. But if somebody is a stranger is willing to give you a hundred bucks for a product, that's validation to me.

[00:33:31] And do that a few times. Not too many, but just enough to say to yourself, people are willing to pull their credit card out and pay for this. Now, the weirdest thing that happened actually, in a coffee shop in Berlin, so I was speaking to another, Antler co-founder essentially about Salesforge and what we do, and there was a guy in the background that overheard my idea on what we're building and, he said, damn, this is so fucking awesome.

[00:33:55] So he came up to me, he said, man, what you're building is amazing. It was a total stranger in a coffee shop. and he said, how can I buy this? And, I gave him the, URL and he literally went in a coffee shop and, bought the, and paid for a pre-order. So that was the weirdest example. And I thought if a stranger in a coffee shop would buy a software, then I'm onto something.

[00:34:18] and the weirdest thing is that stranger, it was not even a salesperson. He was a CTO at a company. so even a non ICP, so non ICP, non ideal customer profile essentially pays for your product and is willing to, pay without having a single line of code written, then we're onto something. So that kind of gave you that conviction that we should just plow through, build an MVP, and then, the whole product.

[00:34:42] Where Frank found his co-founders

[00:34:42] Frank: around the co-founders, so this is typically the biggest problem that you have, as a solopreneur and I typically don't have advice to do the whole journey yourself. It's just very rare that you can succeed on your own. So just get somebody smart, as a counterpart. And it has to add incremental skillset to you.

[00:34:59] If you're in sales, guess what? You probably need a techie. If you are a tech guy, you need somebody that's commercial. So typically there's only two things that a startup has to do. Build stuff and sell stuff. You can sell stuff. Either you're really great at marketing or your sales, or you're both.

[00:35:15] Now my strongest arm is sales. My, my second strongest arm is marketing, but I won't call myself a marketing person, per se. then you need somebody on the tech front. Now, tech is relatively complex in itself. so you need the right tech guy for what you're building. And in my case, I was lucky.

[00:35:31] I had two of them. where do you find those people? One thing is you can again go through one of these pre-seed accelerators and you can meet the person, so you can meet your potential co-founder. And the second thing you can do, which has a pool of very smart people, is go on the Y Combinator matchmaking platform.

[00:35:46] And essentially you go on there, there's a bunch of, potential founders in Europe, US essentially all around the world. So they tell you what is it they're building, maybe they're building nothing, but they tell you what is, that they're up to, what they're, inclined to do, et cetera.

[00:35:59] And then, you can have up to 15 matches a week. So I've done like . 30 of those, et cetera. Trying to figure to myself, who is really the best team for the problem that we're looking to tackle now. I was just a piece of the puzzle and I thought to myself, because what I'm building is so gonna be so humongous, humongous, as in, if somebody knows how big Salesforce is, this gonna be as big as Salesforce, just in a slightly different category.

[00:36:22] I felt to myself. I need a lot of manpower on engineering and product front. And, then actually, funny enough, before I went to Antler, I met, a guy messaged me, with a template, through Y Combinator, name's Daniel and Daniel's, our current CTO, and said, Hey, I'm, looking for great people to start a company with.

[00:36:42] I had a chat with them prior to Antler. to figure out, whether they're the right team. but essentially Daniel came with David, and David is his, friend from the first grade. So they went to the, school for all the years, and they went to the same university in Denmark.

[00:36:57] They built a few great projects together, but they were always missing this commercial piece, to the, startup aspirations. So I thought to myself, okay, there's these two very smart dudes. One of them specializes in the backend. Second one specializes in the front end product and product design. And then there's me. And I thought, this is a fucking awesome combo for what we're building. 

[00:37:16] How Frank built his MVP without building anything

[00:37:16] Frank: So you got your team, you got your problem nailed down. You know what you're building. it's time to build an MVP, I guess a prototype, and instead of building this ourselves, we were somehow lucky, where we bumped in one of the Facebook groups, there's a bunch of Facebook groups, a lot of solopreneurs, founders of et cetera, where there was this one agency in Poland and said, Hey guys, we're looking for a startup who's looking to build an MVP.

[00:37:38] We're gonna build that for you. And all you have to do is, a case study, against that. And I thought to myself, that's excellent. If somebody's gonna build for us, while we can give them the inputs around or the scoping around how this has to be built. So it was a no brainer.

[00:37:51] So off we went, to start working with 'em. And, we shipped an MVP. It was fantastic. we showed it to a bunch of people, validated, the problems and what is that we're building, and, though in the end we decided to scrap it and start from scratch. So that's typically what can happen and you can either build on top of the MVP.

[00:38:11] or you decide, okay, we need actually a different code base, et cetera, and then we need to build from scratch. So we actually build from scratch, after shipping the MVP. 

[00:38:20] Getting ready for sales while building the MVP with a waitlist and pilots

[00:38:20] Frank: Now while you're building the product, you, it's not like you just sit around there and you're hoping for a lot of customers on day one. No. You, do what's called, a wait list as well, so we had over 300 people on the wait list. there was a lot of people on there, that gave us essentially a pool of potential clients to convert.

[00:38:38] And we did. that's one thing you do. You should have a wait list and then additionally, on top of the wait list, what you should do is you should secure what I would call pilots. So pilots essentially is you give your software for free to a bunch of clients once you ship your beta. and, to play around for a month or two to, see if there's enough value in the software to convert them.

[00:39:00] Now the learning from that, what I would say is never do free pilots , 

[00:39:04] out of the 10 pilots that we did, we only converted one and we realized that actually the major problem is, that, give a software for free. . and people don't stick to, let's say timelines.

[00:39:14] They they're not fully committed. And hence, there were a lot of issues with, the pilot. So we ended up only converting one in and we expected to convert about four or five. . but then after that we're off to the races using our own software, dog food and reaching out to people being in different Slack communities, WhatsApp groups, et cetera.

[00:39:30] And that helped us to sign, a lot of clients. And actually our first client post-launch came from a Slack community and that client was paying us 500 bucks, which is five x more than our highest plan, which is 96 bucks right now. Which, so you should be doing things that don't scale in the early days.

[00:39:53] that's exactly what we did. We went to communities, et cetera. But you should definitely fi after that. After you've gone through this phase, maybe four a month or two, you should figure out for yourself what's the one channel that will scale for you. And that could be SEO, that could be ads, that could be cold email, cold calling, et cetera.

[00:40:08] But in outbound, there's only two things that scale. That's either email or cold calling essentially. 

[00:40:13] Michel: I got one and a half questions left for you. The first one is what can we expect, from Salesforge in the coming months? Like what you have on your radar, on your pipeline, and also where can our audience find you, in case you don't, send them a, a cold email.

[00:40:32] Frank: That's true. We send a lot of, emails. typically you can find us on LinkedIn on our website salesforge.ai. 

[00:40:38] We're actually, going down maybe three main paths, so already next month actually, we're building our own private email infrastructure. So the idea is that the clients wouldn't necessarily need to get Gmail or Outlook as their mailboxes to run their, email infrastructure.

[00:40:52] And this is to help with email deliverability, front, because we think that Gmail and Outlook will be tightening their belts, further, terms of filtering, et cetera. another aspect is we're definitely looking to, unlock the other two channels like LinkedIn and give the ability to, dial prospects as well.

[00:41:07] And last, not but not least, we're big believers that the future will be, very different, in the world of sales. And that means actually we, we will be bringing into the platform autonomous. sales AI agents, into the play where organizations could be, could augment the existing sales teams with, autonomous AI agent capabilities, or even decide to fully replace, it's up to them.

[00:41:31] so we believe that some companies will be transforming themselves, gradually over time, where there will be less headcount and there'll be there there's already a lot of automation, but there'll be more automation that will be autonomous automation. there's a lot of problems that exist, sales teams, these days.

[00:41:48] And actually one of the ways to solve that is actually to, pass on some of the, repetitive tasks of the over to autonomous, essentially bots, to, execute. So we believe the future's bright. will be part of that future. And, and then typically the way we roll, just maybe final piece of advice, to everybody is we take requests from our users, from our paying customers, what they wanna see in the platform. And you can use a free platform called canny.io, C-A-N-N-Y.io. Install that, and ask your users what they wanna see and then people can vote for this stuff. So even though I mentioned some of the things that we wanna build, if a paying client will tell us we need to build something else, we're probably gotta be building that

[00:42:28] Michel: Thank you so much for your time and for your generosity in terms advice. I think you have a great, product. Seems like you have a solid team. let's stay in touch and wishing you all the best.

[00:42:39] Frank: thank you.

[00:42:40] Michel: Thanks again for listening, I hope you enjoyed the show. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast. And as usual you can find the show notes at stunandawecom. 

The birth of Salesforge
How much personalization can Salesforge add to your email?
How does the Salesforge onboarding look like?
Salesforge's target customers and Frank's beachhead strategy to go upmarket
Frank's consumption-based pricing strategy
How to find new customers using Frank's simple cold email strategy
How to give your prospects more reasons to reply to you
Use Multi treading to win more enterprise accounts
How Frank transitioned from sales executives to startup founder
How Frank validated his idea and got pre-orders before writing a single line of code
Where Frank found his co-founders
How Frank built his MVP without building anything
Getting ready for sales while building the MVP with a waitlist and pilots