As a startup founder, you know–inside and out–exactly why your product matters.
You’ve personally felt your clients’ pain points.
You understand how the space must be disrupted to ease those pains.
And you know that what you’ve built will provide the solution.
The problem is, no one else does.
Because your customers aren’t able to envision a solution themselves, they won’t understand that you have one until you show it to them. And that means every interaction they have with you needs to be better than the tedious, pain-riddled processes they endure day-to-day. Each exchange needs to be convenient. Problem-solving. Day-making.
Unfortunately, creating these exceptional experiences as a brand-new business (with a budget two sizes too small) is no easy task. But in the end, cutting corners to save a precious buck–scheduling by email, sales tracking in spreadsheets–positions your offering as no more useful or revolutionary than the current pain-riddled status quo.
The truth is, if you want to really disrupt the space, you need disruptive tools to make it happen.
Here’s how experimenting with new tools and platforms transforms both your and your prospects’ experience–bringing you more success, more quickly.
1. Disruptive tools position you as a thought leader
Like the first guy dancing at a music festival, leaders are the ones brave enough to push boundaries. The methods you use to conduct business speak volumes about what it’s like to work with you; they tell clients whether you’re a leader in innovation, or whether you’re just another average option.
Natalie Canfield, Project Travel’s Director of Customer Development, spends her days talking to directors and deans of study abroad offices at colleges–workplaces not typically known for their cutting-edge technology. Project Travel’s software, Via, is a game-changer for these professionals; the platform completely manages students’ interest in, application for and progress toward studying abroad (a process that’s currently very manual and often disorganized).
However, to show potential clients how lifesaving Via would be, Natalie first has to coax them outside the norm of holding every conversation by email.
“The goal of our software is to enhance the human conversation that’s happening now,” she said. “Someone in an advisory role needs to be doing more of the advising they’re passionate about, and less paperwork or email follow-up.
“But to prove that a new solution was even possible, I needed a tool that was parallel with what our software does. That’s what I appreciate so much about Calendly.”
By using Calendly to schedule conversations and product demos with university professionals, Natalie enables prospects to take their first step outside the box of handling their workflows manually.
“Technology in higher education is so often behind the times, people don’t realize it’s possible to make scheduling simple,” she said. “By using Calendly, I don’t have to send three follow-up emails to someone to get a call scheduled. And once they understand how easy that is, they’re more open to learning about how they can eliminate the email game, which is a big part of what Via does for advisors.”
By sparking conversations with prospects in an innovative way, Natalie kindles higher ed professionals’ interest in how else their current systems could be improved.
2. They keep you nimble – which helps your grow
Before using Calendly, Natalie faced the same problem her clients did: valuable conversation time lost to menial tasks. The more time she spent in email conversations with higher ed professionals, the less time she spent in real conversation with them–meaning fewer study abroad advisors using Via, more students getting lost in the shuffle of applications and travel documents, and more pain points left untreated.
Conversely, by empowering prospects to schedule calls on their own time, she became able to share Via with more people, more quickly.
“There’s a barrier removed between the study abroad director and us,” she said. “Calendly allows people to take the next step on their own, without waiting for my approval.
“This frees me up to have more of those conversations, which means Via has a chance to be used in even more schools. And that gives advisors more information and control, and students more opportunities to travel.”
3. They create space to work on your business, not in it
The major hitch in using conventional tools? They trap you in the cycle of low-value, reactive work, robbing you of the ability to focus on high-level, proactive work–the kind that widens your reach and expands your user base.
“We used to set all our meetings up by email,” Natalie said, “meaning weeks could go by before a call got scheduled. When I’d send my schedule to 50 different people, I’d then have to repeat myself over and over, telling each person when I was and wasn’t free, updating them when my free times changed…the time suck was huge, and made it so difficult to get real work done.”
Automating scheduling gave Natalie room to look forward, rather than constantly checking the details of her calendar. She could breathe easier knowing Calendly would update her schedule in real time, deliver all relevant info to her prospects automatically and send her reminders before each meeting.
“Now that I don’t spend my day scheduling,” she said, “I can create content that generates more awareness about us and help new users get set up with the software, which then helps them do more of what they want to be doing. I’m spending time building the business, rather than just taking care of admin work.”
By using disruptive tools to manage her daily tasks, Natalie positions Via as an innovative new solution and empowers prospects to schedule at their own convenience. This, in turn, frees her from the endless administrative to-dos, empowering her to focus on high-level strategy and development.
What stages of your workflow could be automated for faster business growth?
What are you doing now to prove you are the solution to your prospects’ problems?
Tweet at us with your answers. I’m excited to hear your input.