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Camilla Ley Valentin, CCO and Co-Founder, Queue-it

Presentation at SlideShare: Global marketing-driven growth – why we dropped all canvas sales

April 23, 2015

I am with Queue It. We provide a software as a service, which is an online Queue system. The point of queuing online is to make sure that website’s don’t fail during massive end-user transaction peaks. Our customers are a wide variety of transactional websites throughout the world. I’ll get to that in a little bit.
What I thought I would share with you today is some of our learnings on how to approach sales. That’s the topic that I’ve decided to read into today.

Some of you that are based in Denmark and do taxes in Denmark are maybe familiar with our platform from Skat, the Danish Tax Authorities. They are one of our customers. They were one of our very first customers. They were quite brave in putting our startup product in front of the entire population of the country. This is an example of our use case for our system. It’s applied when the tax authorities release all the tax results for citizens in Denmark. People are quite keen to see how much money they own the tax authorities. They all rush to the site and wait for hours typically.

What’s interesting about our customers is that they are in a lot of different countries throughout the world, on all continents. They are in a few different industries. Our three main industries are online retailer; so web shops. Sub segment of that would be ticketing specifically. They have a lot of peak situations, because they tend to attract crowd during releases of popular concerts or sporting events. We also have various industries within the government sector. That could be anything from the tax example to an education or university signups or course registration; to more curious things such as hunters registering their annual game online. There’s a lot of use cases that we didn’t even have the imagination to plan for when we invented the product. This is good for us, because it validates our market.
Also, these companies are of varying different sizes. We sell to Enterprise customers as well. Examples would be large telephone companies. It could be Toys ‘R Us. It could also be some very small companies also. A lot of those are within typically the ticketing industry. They don’t necessarily pay us a lot of money. Some of them don’t even pay us anything, but that’s part of our strategy that I am going to share with you today.

A very brief snapshot of where Queue-it is today. The company has been operating for almost five years now. We are getting close to a billion end users globally—not customers. A lot of people see us, which is really cool. We have customers throughout the world on all continents, except the Arctic. We get our revenue mainly from export, which was also one of our initial goals; thinking this is a global company, before day one of operation.
Our second largest market is the US, which is something we just passed that benchmark which we are quite happy about. We still operate everything from our Denmark headquarters. We are quite keen on continuing this, but we will see where that goes.
I wanted to talk about our International Golden Market model. What we have thought about from the very early days of building this platform is to have a built-in marketing engine, being the Queue page. When our customers have a queue and people who end in the queue, they’ll see a Queue-it branded page. This is exposed to millions of people throughout the world. We generate leads from this to customers. Because most of the people that check their tax resources; the amount of people that buy tickets for music festivals or Champions League finals, they are going to be decision makers or influencers that are relevant for us to approach. They see our branding and they see it in connection with a reference customer case. Because they thought they were going to visit a retail site, but they ended up in the queue. They see the connection there quite easily.

One of the things that we really work on a continuous basis is to refine this journey from being in a queue that you didn’t even realize you were going to be in, to becoming a paying customer. That is primarily done with online marketing efforts, but also in combination with something as trivial as trade-shows. We travel around the world to trade-shows that our customers attend. It can be a tradeshow specific to ticketing technology, or it could be to online retail or government conferences. We find that this is a good supplement to our online presence.
Like I mentioned before, a lot of our ticketing customers don’t pay us a lot of money. So why do we keep selling ticketing. That’s because they are a really good bridge into new markets for us. For example, little over a year ago we had no customers in South America at all. Now they are our third-biggest market as a combination of the main countries there. Things can happen really fast. How did we get started on that?
We got a free trial request on our website out of the blue from a music festival in Chile. We had some discussions with them. It was quite difficult, because none of us know Spanish. That was a barrier, but we managed to get by, and we secured the customer. They didn’t pay very much money, but they had tens of thousands of people from all over South America, because this music festival was very interesting to a lot of locals there. It went well. The tickets were sold out.

Couple of weeks later we get a request from a company, which happens to be the largest retailer in all of South America, because they had seen the Queue at the ticketing sale, at that point in time. Three weeks later, they were also our paying/subscribing customer, paying a lot of money in revenue to us. Sometimes it’s worth it to take on the little guy, if you have this built in marketing engine, where your product gets in front of a lot of end users amongst which there will be potential customers.
Good experience is extremely important in this context, because the product is the main marketing engine in itself. So it needs to work perfectly, which of course is a utopia in IT, which we strive for in anyway. We also strive to give our existing customers excellent experience on anything from support through the sales process, to helping them making a cool queue page layout, if they need assistance on that. We have a lot of different initiatives that we do.

One thing that we’ve had very poor experience within our case is canvas sales; calling people up out of the blue, telling them, “I noticed your website was crashing or failing last week. We thought you might need a queue system”. That’s the worst opening you can make, because it’s building criticism of the current setup of the IT manager of that company. Even if I am not calling the IT manager, I can be sure that whoever I am calling is an e-commerce director or whomever, is going to go straight down to the IT department and ask whether their system is working or not.
We moved completely away from attacking the professional pride of these people. We have changed the way we phrase everything around the product. Now it’s an overload management tool, rather than a crash prevention engine. It’s a huge difference mentally for the buyers. We have completely dropped calling people out of the blue. We get a lot of leads from end-users. The sales is much better if we are discovered as a tool by either the decision maker or even influencers.
The influencers can have various roles within the organization. It could be anything from the CTO to a developer or an operations manager that have huge influence on the decision. Another thing that we put more and more effort on is to try to cater to that group of people. To do that, the marketing needs the help of our developers, because they are in that mindset. They are heavily involved in all of our social media activity.
In the beginning they were alarmed by the request, because they thought, ‘I don’t have any friends, I don’t have any followers, I don’t want to have friends, and I don’t want to have followers’. Then we started talking to them about what do they like to look at. We started by doing blog post, which is a little less exposing of people who are maybe not comfortable with a video to start with, but it’s very important. It’s going really well.

They have been talking about anything about what it’s like to work at a startup to war stories from the launch of the new version of the platform, to very specific technical things. They are doing a lot more speaking engagements and things like this.
It’s a balance, because it goes out of the coding for the product, but it’s also something that a lot of them enjoy doing. And they come up with more and more things. And I also observe quietly that they start sharing stuff that aren’t necessarily pushed by the marketing department to their connections on various networks. It needs to be something that comes out of passion and not out of duty.
That’s the next journey that we are on now; to try to get even more of that going for us. Because we can just see that discovering Queue-it as a tool is the way forward and refining this journey is very efficient for us.

Last point is to at all times, in the journey of your company—to try to think of it as a global company and not worry too much about where people are based. Think of it as a global company and express that in all your communication. That’s why we don’t have our street address on our website. That’s because we don’t want to necessarily flag that we are based in [Inaudible 00:13:58] if we are dealing with a US based government customer. That’s not necessarily a huge selling point. We don’t lie about it, but you don’t have to push it before they even call you.
On our website we have a number of phone numbers that people can contact us at. They rarely call them, but they are there to signal that we are a global company. The way that people contact us are typically about filling in some form on the website, asking a free trial, or pricing request or white paper downloads. Or they send us an email. They rarely call these numbers, but they are there. And it’s an important signal to send.
Our shared ambition from Day one has been to become the leading global platform for online queue execution. And that’s something which is always in the back of our minds.