Building markets and increasing sales is the ambition of thousands of companies around the UK and Europe but it is not an easy road to navigate. As technology plays an ever-increasing role in this world, so businesses need to have expert support to keep ahead of the game. That is where Upsales can come in. It is a technology-driven organisation which aims to lead the field in this area and its founder and CEO Daniel Wikberg, pictured above, says: “We build the technology to help organisations accomplish three things: find new leads, win more deals and grow existing accounts. We give businesses the tools to build a revenue engine within 60 seconds and that drives everything we do.”
Daniel explains the thinking behind the business. “Very few companies take the time to sit down and do the research and actually build a target list of companies which have the highest potential of buying and then direct everything, including marketing, at that list of companies. That is what we help businesses to do. It makes life a lot easier to have that very short deliberate focus. In a lot of organisations, you have this huge potential in increasing revenue from existing customers and in most companies, it’s left totally untapped. It’s how we work with data that sets us apart from our competitors. With most other options out there, you need to be very tech savvy to get the full value of the product you are buying. Our focus is to help any business regardless of their experience with software.
“We help customers by digging into their own data which they usually have in their invoicing or accounting software and we enrich that with third-party data from various data bases to give the customer a very clear view of which prospects they should pursue, which are the companies in the pipeline from a data point of view that have a higher potential of buying from us and it’s the same with existing accounts. It’s easy to get started with Upsales. It takes minutes and you don’t need to have any experience. With our competitors, it takes weeks or months and a lot of investment in consulting. If you are a 50-person company with rapid growth, you don’t have time to spend figuring out how to use the new piece of software you have just bought.
“We have developed a sales and marketing tool that reps and managers use to do pretty much everything with regards to the selling process. We provide them with tools to make sure that the sales team is spending the right time with the right customers, or potential customers and we also help sales managers to get the bird’s eye view of what’s going on in the pipeline and what to expect in terms of the sales forecast.”
Daniel has been involved with the company from the start, setting it up in Stockholm in 2003. “We never raised any external capital. We have always run the business in a bootstrapped way with 100 per cent organic growth,” he says. “Right now, we are at about 13 million Euros in revenue and growing at about 30 per cent a year. We currently employ around 70 and have a very ambitious growth plan so the aim is to continue growing at a rapid pace. The two markets we were focusing on are Scandinavia and the UK. Our expansion into the UK is an exciting part of the business. We are planning to hire more people, invest more in the product and continue to grow. With the runway for growth we have, we could build a 20 times bigger company than we are at the moment. “
Webinars are central to the work done at Upsales. As Daniel explains: “We invest a lot of time and money into our webinars. We have them every month. We have around 1,000 people attending every time so it’s an effective way of making sure everyone in the sales team has customers to contact. And it’s a nice way to get in touch with new potential customers as well as establishing us as a thought leader.”
Daniel has clear views on why the data approach trumps any other. He says: “One common mistake I see is that too many sales managers have a gut feeling approach when it comes to looking at what is in the pipeline. I’m a big fan of an expert called Stephan Schiffman. His book Getting to Closed talks about a very practical way of removing the gut feeling when looking at the pipeline. Very few companies have clear goals and clear standards when it comes to what they want to achieve each week, how many customers they want to meet on weekly basis and so on. A lot of sales managers – and sometimes CEOs – are afraid of falling into the micro-management trap and so find themselves with a laissez-faire management style which doesn’t really work if you are driving a sales team.”
Daniel highlights the story of one company they worked with. “In this particular company, 90 per cent of their revenue and appointments came from cold calling and they wanted to do something about this,” he says. “We worked with them to set up marketing automation processes and then campaigns and, a year later, 70 per cent of their revenue came from inbound leads and now they are a much bigger company. It’s a good example of going from an old school approach to building a much more scalable business. “
When he looks back on the history of his company, Daniel is delighted by what he sees. “I founded the company 20 years ago and what I like about it most is the culture we have built – a high performing team of high performing individuals,” he enthuses. “We are an organisation with very driven people and that’s the reason we have twice the average revenue per employee compared to our peers. Being involved with such a dynamic and exciting operation is what gets me out of bed in the morning and into the office.”