Skaled Case Study

Speek Crushes Series A and Makes Profitable Exit After Building a Repeatable Sales Machine

Speek is a simple conference calling application that allows users to create a custom URL as the invitation to join a call, eliminating the need for dial-ins and pin numbers. Participants click on the link to join the call from their phone, web, or mobile browser. On the call, attendees can see who’s joined, who’s talking, share files, and more.

Founded in 2012, Speek had 16 employees when they first began working with Skaled in August 2013. When we met them, they were at a critical transition point that is all-too-often the death of a startup…

Successfully Transitioning from Free to Paid Users

Speek showed excellent initial traction in their early stage growth: as of August 2013 they had 20,000 happy users.

The problem was these users had filtered in via organic, word-of-mouth marketing and were enjoying a freemium business model. Now, with Speek’s newly-launched Premium service – and investor dollars hanging in the balance – they needed to somehow make the switch from free to paying users…fast.

Without a sales team in place, or the sales experience to fuel that type of major transition successfully, Speek was looking at a lot of unknowns. Some of the big questions they had were:

1. How do we move our free users to paying, premium users?

2. Should we focus on finding new, cold leads – and if so, how? Or should we focus on upselling existing customers?

In facing these challenges, Konrad Waliszewski, Speek’s VP of Business, saw the value of partnering with an outside team who could create a successful sales strategy to usher in the next phase of growth.

So instead of hiring two sales reps and throwing them to wolves to navigate a possibly disastrous cycle of trial and error, Konrad joined up with Skaled in favor of securing a replicable, revenue-growing sales strategy.

Repeatable Sales Process? Yes, Please

In the early growth phase, startups often acquire customers by relying on a mix of natural sales ability and intuition. While this works for getting off the ground, it doesn’t ensure a steady stream of revenue, and it certainly doesn’t impress investors.

As your company grows, you need a replicable sales process that incorporates scripts, email templates, cadence plans, and more. Not only does this give you a defined system that can grow with your company; it also empowers hired sales reps to hit the ground running, generating meetings and moving prospects through the pipeline in the first week they walk through your door.

With Speek, we found right away that chasing new markets was not nearly as effective as upselling existing customers. So using strategic testing and knowledge gained from 20+ combined years of sales experience, we crafted a replicable sales strategy focusing on this conversion.

Most important was a comprehensive cadence and messaging strategy, which became the key to Speek’s growth. Using this strategy, Speek was able to:

1. Identify quality power users
2. Convince them to test the upgraded services
3. Drive these users through the sales funnel with demonstrations and support

Repeatable Results with Huge Impact

With a tested and proven strategy in hand, Skaled helped Speek hire and train their first full-time sales rep, who by plugging into our scripted sales process saw immediate success.

Within 2 months, Speek went from generating 0 meetings per person per month to 20 meetings per person per month. This ultimately generated their first steady stream of revenue and instilled confidence in powerful investors —

In March of 2014, after three additional months of proving this model, Speek raised $5.1 Million in Series A funding, even securing investment from actor Edward Norton. In June 2015, Speek was acquired by Jive Communications.

Without proving they could generate sustainable growth and revenue, Speek’s journey to profitable exit could have looked very different – even with a fantastic product and a fantastic team. Moving from freemium to premium business model is no easy feat, and with Skaled’s strategic guidance, Speek was able to navigate that transition with huge success.

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Skaled Infographic + TechDay Newsletter

Skaled Infographic + TechDay Newsletter

Skaled Infographic + TechDay Newsletter

Case Study for Embrace Global

In the heart of Africa, a young mother fights desperately to save her baby’s life…

Because of your support, Embrace was there to help her

A mother’s love is a powerful force of nature.

It gives her the courage to fight for her baby’s survival, and it gives life to her child. But a mother’s love is not always enough…

The Embrace warmer supplements the loving touch of mothers in developing nations, where premature and underweight babies are more susceptible to death from hypothermia than any other condition. Without Embrace, the baby girl in this story would not be alive today, despite her Mother’s heroic efforts to keep both herself and her child alive.

Our Story Begins

On May 5, 2013, a 27-year-old African woman named Nantongo gave birth to a tiny baby girl on the floor of a grass-thatched hut. The premature baby weighed a mere 2.4 pounds – five pounds less than the average weight of a healthy newborn.

The premature birth resulted from a condition called “placental abruption,” in which the placenta separates too soon from uterus. When untreated, this condition often proves fatal for both the baby and mother, who often requires a blood transfusion and intensive care after birth.

The sad scene on the floor of Nantongo’s hut showed bleak circumstances. Tiny and weak, Nantongo’s little baby was unable to nurse or gain strength. Nantongo, who was developing a fever and losing too much blood, was also approaching dangerous territory.

A Desperate Move

The situation worsened over the course of the next day for both mother and baby, who had no access to modern medical care in their remote village.

But Nantongo displayed the ferocious determination of a mother lion defending her cub. Pushed by the force of a mother’s pure love, Nantongo, made a bold move. Taking her baby girl with her, Nantongo drove on a motorcycle for nearly two hours to the Mulago Hospital, where Embrace team members were stationed to help.

Reaching the hospital was the only chance Nantongo had to save her baby’s life – and possibly her own. But by getting on that motorcycle, Nantongo risked everything. The ride exposed Nantongo and her newborn child to high winds at cold temperatures, and by the time they reached the hospital the underweight baby’s body temperature had dropped dangerously low.

Last Chance for Survival

Upon reaching the hospital, Nantongo nearly collapsed off the motorcycle with exhaustion. Nurses rushed to the new mother’s aid and brought the baby inside, where Embrace medical workers quickly wrapped her in an Embrace warmer. Embrace restored the baby’s body temperature to a healthy range within ten minutes using only minimal electricity.

Warm and comfortable for the first time, Nantongo’s baby was able to feed, and over the next several days began gaining the weight she needed to survive.

Fact: Embrace Saves Lives

Nantongo displayed amazing fortitude in her journey to the hospital. She was also incredibly lucky that the Mulago hospital had Embrace warmers on hand. Without Embrace, there is a good chance even the hospital would not have been able to save the baby’s life. Here’s why:

  • In developing nations, hospitals are overcrowded, underfunded, and experience a high number of power outages
  • Modern neonatal incubators are both expensive and require constant electricity, making them an unrealistic option for third world hospitals
  • The Embrace warmer costs a fraction of a state-of-the-art incubator and only uses small, intermittent amounts of electricity

A Message from Nantongo

The Embrace warmer saved Nantongo’s baby’s life, and with your help it can do the same for millions of other babies in developing nations.

As Nantongo told us her story her eyes sparkled with gratitude, and she left us with a few words that reminded us why we go to work at Embrace each day:

“Thank you so much for the Embrace warmer. My child gained life again in Embrace.”

Blog Post for PersistIQ

4 Steps to Better Listening and More Sales

If you want to hit your sales quota, you have to know how to listen.

Jonathan Farrington, a globally-recognized business coach, mentor, and consultant says:

“The very best sales professionals devote a large portion of the sales interview to listening, because sincere listening demonstrates sincere interest. Ultimately, good listening is the shortest distance between you and more sales; better sales, faster sales.”

So how does one actually listen? It’s easier said than done, especially when you’re nervous.

That’s why we’ve come up with four easy and effective tips you can start implementing today…

1. Understand Your Product/Service

You’ve got to have your bases covered. There’s no way around it.

This doesn’t mean memorizing scripts or reciting what your company tells you about your product.

It means knowing your product or service inside and out, particularly in regards to what pain points it addresses and how it adds value.

Really get into the mindset of your customer. How would having this product make his or her life easier?

When you have that insight at the tip of your tongue, you can easily come up with relevant examples on the spot that are perfectly suited to your prospect’s individual situation.

That know-how, and the confidence it inspires, allows you to spend more time listening to your prospect and less time thinking about what you’re going to say. This empowers you to really connect with your prospect and, when you do speak, to address his or her specific needs. And that makes you a valuable partner – someone worthy of building a relationship with.

2. Be Humble

When you’re humble, you let the prospect guide you.

Humility allows you to skillfully respond to a prospect’s overt and subtle cues, because you stop trying to prove yourself and instead place your attention on the prospect.

That opens up the airwaves so you can actually hear the prospect’s needs and desires and respond accordingly.

As a result, you gain powerful insight into how to explain your product’s value in the language your prospect will most strongly relate to. And if they’re not a fit, your humility allows you to get the message, cut your losses, and move on early in the process, making you a more efficient and productive sales professional overall.

3. Relax

When you’re relaxed, you’re not worrying about what you’re going to say or how you’re going to say it. Read: you can actually put your attention into listening.

And if you’re sufficiently prepared and can genuinely get behind what you’re selling, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t relax.

So how do you do this when nerves are firing? A good place to start is by breathing.

Take a few moments to focus on breathing before a major call – it’s a simple trick that can work wonders for the relaxation factor. And if you still feel nervous once you’re on the call, just continue to take deep, regular breaths as the conversation allows. And remember the next very important tip…

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

As soon as we experience fear, our bodies react.

Our physiological response produces, among other things, increase in heart rate and blood pressure, tense muscles, and difficulty concentrating on small tasks. Yep. Difficulty concentrating on small tasks.

It’s fight or flight, and when you’re in that state, your body doesn’t want to have a calm and educational conversation on the phone. It’s not what nature intended.

Your brain synapses will be firing and your focus will be on self-preservation instead of where it should be: the prospect. And good listening definitely goes out the window.

But never fear (pun intended), we’ve got a tip. And it’s one you’ll hear from all the most successful salespeople.

Until you’ve achieved grand master status in the art of selling and can go forth with 120% confidence every time, a first step toward conquering fear is being OK with the fact that, sometimes, you might fail.

Sounds harsh, I know. But think about. Really. What’s the worst that will happen if you don’t win over a prospect? Will someone end up dead? Will you commit a sin so horrible it will be written in the sands of time – forever?

If you answered yes to either of those questions, I would seriously recommend looking for new employment.

So lighten up and work on shaking off that fear. The more you can be okay with any possible outcome, the more confident and stress-free you can walk into a conversation.

When you do that, fear-response is down, mental channels are clear, and you’re automatically a hundred steps closer to great listening.

Then you can have a great conversation.

Brochure Copy for Napa Valley Extra Virgin

What makes an olive oil extra virgin?

Why is extra virgin so healthy?

What should we look for when purchasing extra virgin oil?

These are questions we hear again and again from our customers, so out of compassion for olive-oil-loving foodies everywhere, we’re documenting these golden answers in writing.

What makes an olive oil “extra virgin”?

According to the California Olive Oil Council (COOC), an olive oil must possess three key attributes in order to qualify as extra virgin:

1. The oil is mechanically extracted without the use of chemicals or excessive heat.
2. It must contain less than .5% free oleic acid.
3. It has positive taste characteristics and no taste defects.

What does this mean? We’re getting there…

Low heat is the best heat

In the U.S., olives are always heated during the pressing process.

Yes, that’s right – always heated.

The type of “cold pressing” that doesn’t use any heat at all is an uber-traditiona, labor-intensive process that’s only used now by a handful of small villages in Greece and Italy. It’s completely different from modern production methods.

These days, “cold pressing” implies that the olives are monitored so as not to heat above 77°F. This helps preserve the molecular structure of the oil in its purest form, which maximizes flavor and health benefits.

It follows suit that when it comes to cooking, low heat is the best heat.

It’s really ideal to use your olive oil for finishing and drizzling, but the occasional light sautéing is fine.

Oleic what? – Why olive oil is so healthy

Oleic acid is an Omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acid that contains high levels of anti-oxidants. In other words, it’s a good fat.

Oleic acid actually helps to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol (HDL). It does this by softening artery membranes, which in turn prevents build up of bad cholesterol and allows for increased absorption of beneficial fatty acids.

Olive oil consists primarily of oleic acid, which makes it one of the healthiest sources of fat in the human diet. (Whoo hoo!)

But not all kinds of oleic acid are something to smile about. (Wah-wah…)

The level of free oleic acid signifies molecules of oleic acid that have broken off from their molecular chains. In olive oil, free oleic acid levels rise when the olives are roughly handled or spend too much time off the tree before pressing.

A low free acid content means longer shelf life, higher smoke point, and all around happy olive oil.

“Is it supposed to be spicy?” – What to look for in an extra virgin olive oil

Tasting fresh olive oil is really a unique culinary experience. (Even somewhat mind-blowing if you’re a first-timer.)

Fresh oil has three positive taste characteristics: fruitiness, bitterness, and pungency.

Fruitiness comes in the form of many flavors – grassy, buttery, nutty, green apple, kiwi, and banana to name a few. (The nuances vary according to the types of olives used, ripeness at the time of pressing, and terroir.)

Bitterness is pretty self-explanatory, and pungency is the peppery finish that you feel in the back of your throat. Pungency often times comes as a surprising after-kick, and yes, it can actually make you cough.

Both bitterness and pungency denote high levels of polyphenols, which are packed with antioxidants.

This means a strong, spicy oil is a healthy oil.

Perhaps that’s why the Italians say, “A three cough oil is the best oil!”

What’s time got to do with it?

After about one to two years, olive oil loses the powerful flavors that make it such a culinary delight.

Grocery store oil, even top-tier organic oil, is generally way past this time frame and is technically rancid. You won’t get sick from eating it, but it no longer contains the wonderful taste, light consistency, and health benefits of fresh oil.

The varied spice and flavors of high quality olive oil add brilliant finish to simple dishes and accommodate a wide range of discerning palates.

And across the nearly infinite varieties of oil, one thing remains certain: there’s nothing like fresh, pure olive oil…especially when it’s from California!