In this audio-only interview, Joe talks to Michal Vojta (https://www.linkedin.com/in/michalvojta/), co-founder of the startup SALESDOCK (http://salesdock.com/). They offer external business development for startups, who cannot afford their own employees for BDM.
“The biggest mistake of startups is the underinvestment in sales” Michael Vojta, salesdock.com Interview with Startuprad.io
“Another weakness is that startups don’t have a specific sales process” Michael Vojta, salesdock.com Interview with Startuprad.io
“startups are not kicking out sales opportunities that are not moving forward, they are not skeptical enough” Michael Vojta, salesdock.com Interview with Startuprad.io
Joe refers during the interview to the remote, but beautiful Pacific island of Vanuatu: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanuatu
You can learn more here: http://www.salesdock.cz/
00:05 Host: Welcome to startuprad.io, your podcast and YouTube blog covering the German startup scene with news, interviews and live events.
00:19 Joe: Hello and welcome everybody again. This is Joe from startuprad.io. I have here once again a guest here one of the non-German startups we are aiming to bring you more frequently. And today I have Michal as a guest. Hey, how are you doing?
00:34 Michal: Hi, very well. Thank you for having me.
00:36 Joe: You’re very welcome. You found us on the internet, great job by the way, and you reached out for an interview. And of course, we would do it because you’re the first startup we’re ever going to interview from Prague the beautiful city.
0050 Michal: Oh wow, great.
00:52 Joe: Yeah. It’s like a world premiere. Your Startup is called sales dock, right? Salesdock.cz. So, it’s pretty common URL for startups and Prague I assume?
01:10 Michal: Well, you mean the ending, the cz? Cz is a general domain for Czech Republic, but we’ve got com as well, so the listeners can go to salesdock.com that’s fine as well.
01:25 Joe: And can you tell our listeners because we get like more than two thirds of the traffic from outside the European Union including the U.S.A., Brazil, South Korea, Japan. Can you tell them a little bit about your country, just tiny a bit so people can locate it and know a little bit about it?
01:46 Michal: Oh wow. This is great because I’m a great patriot, I love my country. So, this is a good question for me. Well, Czech Republic is in the heart of Europe, as we like to say, very proudly. For someone who’s really outside of Europe, living outside of Europe, this is right next to Germany on the east border Germany.
02:10 Joe: If you have a map and the north is on top, it’s to the right.
02:14 Michal: And yeah. Czechs really love beer. Fun fact is that we have the highest consumption of beer per capita in the world. And we are like double the consumption than the second, which is I believe Germany now a days. And then it goes lower by just very few percentage points, but we are double of Germany. So, we really love beer. We are very proud of it as well. And maybe one more thing, you are more than welcome to come to Czech Republic to Prague, let me know, I’m always happy to show you around. The good thing about Czech Republic is that we never have been bombed out, fortunately. So, we still have all the heritage in Prague and in the other cities as well. So, it’s very nice and architecturally, throughout the Czech Republic. And also, fun wise, I mentioned the beer, but there is more culture stuff, for example, to do as well. I hope that’s enough as an invitation.
03:30 Joe: Yes, it is. I would just add one fact that I personally found very impressive because you’ve been one of the former Eastern Republics. Like a satellite state of the Soviet Union and actually what you’ve accomplished is a peaceful split between Czechoslovakia as it was known before right? Into Slovakia and the Czech Republic. So, it’s a very impressive thing to achieve this without any bloodshed.
04:00 Michal: Absolutely.
04:02 Joe: So, tell our listeners, now that we know a bit about your beautiful country, tell our listeners a little bit about you. You know I like to go a little bit along the way of your life following the tracks that led you to your current startup. Can you tell us a little bit about when you’ve been the first time an entrepreneur, or how you felt that it would be the right choice for you?
04:28 Michal: Yes, I don’t know the exact moment when it sort of fired up. Of course, I was thinking about entrepreneurship and building something of my own. Before as well, but this moment which is actually a startup weekend event in that Netherlands, which I attended. About four years ago I believe, three years ago I think, was the moment where I saw that yeah in just forty eight hours you can achieve a lot of forward movement in your idea. And you can really validate very fast and you do stuff in just such a short time. So that event which I joined, my studies in Netherlands was really the point where it took off I think.
05:28 Joe: And then he came back. And what did you actually do then? How did you come to your idea sales dock?
05:35 Michal: Right. Well, maybe I should go a little bit backwards, because even before our studies. And I say ours, because I founded sales dock with Jakub, a friend of mine and sort of a partner in crime. We are co-founders of sales dock, and that’s because, well we both were sales guys in corporations. I was working in 3M Corporation. I believe everyone knows post it, which is a product of 3M. But I was working in an absolutely different department with a product which is data centered, and Jakub was working in another sphere, in healthcare severe, also as a sales guy. And we also studied at the University of Economics in Prague together. And we didn’t like the master which we followed after our studies. And we decided that we still want another level of education and that we wanted to study abroad. So, that’s why we went to Netherlands to study our Master of Science in innovation strategy, which is kind of the second sort of building block of what later happened to be sales dock. Because, first we had the economics which kind of gave us the vision. And then, we had the experience in sales, which we gave us the know-how. And then we were studying innovation which gave us the space where we want to be, startups technology software.
07:27 Joe: You also want to mention the university you studied in Netherlands.
07:30 Michal: University of Groningen. And I’m laughing because they’re very tight on how it’s pronounced and it’s pretty hard to pronounce it in Dutch. But anyway, it was a very great experience there, and it gave us, as I said, the space about startups and technologies. And then, the last piece of a puzzle was our job, which we found in Netherlands. We worked again as business sales guys for a local start up. And yeah then we saw that yes, we have some experience in sales, quite a lot. And that startups really do you have a big problem with sales. Even this bigger startup which we work for, it was sixty people, there were several million viewers and they still did have problems with sales. So, we saw it as an opportunity, and when we moved back to Prague we decided to set up sales dock, which is kind of a startup for startups. Where we are helping with sales to technological B2B software startups.
08:58 Joe: When you say you support startups with sales, I would be interested in a few things. First, what is the most common mistakes you’re seeing startups doing when they actually want to sell something? Are they just running into everybody, I want to sell, I want to sell my product it’s awesome, without targeting right? Or are they not actively selling at all? And secondly, what do you believe are the most essential skills you would need for sales? For example, an entrepreneur listening and thinking of hiring someone for sales, what should they be looking for?
09:49 Michal: Well, these are very big topics for me, so I will just try to dive in.
09:54 Joe: We don’t do small stuff here.
09:57 Michal: I will try to dive into the first one and that is the mistakes of startups. Several comes to mind, but I’m going to try to focus on two. The first one is that startups usually, and that is very interesting to me because I do love sales, we do love sales. Startups usually don’t love sales. Startups usually like their technology. They like building the product, polishing it, maybe even showing it to someone, and maybe marketing it, create a very nice content about it and share it and be proud of it. And they usually kind of forget about sales. I know that they don’t forget it. They know that it has to be done but they don’t really love it. And that’s connected with the mistake and that is that they systematically under invest in sales. They usually invest heavily into the product, which is of course, at the beginning it’s right. They usually invest in marketing, so they try to set up some sort of marketing. But they do not invest in sales. Very often we see that they want to hire a sales person, but the best way would be that they just pay the sales person by success fee. Which really doesn’t make sense, especially when we’re talking about the space of startups which we focus on. And that is the B2B software service product, where the sales process takes from three to twelve months. Though the startups are a little bit naive in this sense that they can really hire people who start for ten months and then maybe they get some bonus as a reward. So again, the mistake I think is systematic underinvestment into sales, which really doesn’t make sense. Because right after investment usually, the investors really look into ok, how are we going to scale? And sales are what has to be there to scale especially in this area of B2B as a startup. So, this would be the first mistake. And the second one I would mention, is that startups really do not have a specific sales process and they don’t have it right. And what this leads to is they have quite a lot of deals in the pipeline, which kind of makes them, I don’t want to say sleep, but it makes them overly optimistic about how they are doing. And the startups are simply looking at how many deals are there. They’re not skeptical enough to kick away those deals which are not moving. Because they are nice. It hurts to delete an opportunity from the C.R.M. because this company might have a very nice logo, which we might use for a reference. They might have really a big budget, so that’s going to be a juicy opportunity. But they are not moving, the deal is not moving. So, they are really not skeptical enough and they don’t have the right process to really close the deals. We have seen many, like dozens of startups which do have deals in pipeline, but they’re not closing fast enough. So, the mistake here is not having very specific sales process in place. And the mindset of either the founders or the sales people for closing.
14:06 Joe: And how do you set up such a sales process.
14:11 Michal: Well, it’s not so hard actually. Of course, the levels of sales process which can be made, there are several of those. You can get the level where you really for each stage of the sales process, you do have very specific questions and landmarks and responsibilities of people and requirements from the customer requirements from to intern or team, etc. But for startups at least to start and to have the sales process, it’s quite simple. We are talking here about Stage-Gate model which was wired by the search community to create the infrastructure of sales. Which obviously, has stages and gates. I believe I sound very smart here. Anyway, how to build it? The first thing is that you really should look into how was your last deal going? What activities had to happen on the side of the customer and on the side of you? And the basic idea is that you will get conditions which do have sort of a checklist of what has to happen before you move your deal to the next stage. So, imagine that you have a first stage which is called opportunity. And you have a checklist of what has to happen. So, there can be information about budget, information decision makers, so, the names of the decision makers, information about the use case, which is a connection of a need and your solution, information about timing, so the timeline, information about buying process. And this would be really, let’s say to make it simple, these five checkpoints which when you do not have the information in C.R.M., you’re not allowed to move the deal forward. Because the whole idea behind sales process is that it is not measured by the activities which you do, but about the facts and the things which really happen in order to move the deal forward. So, for example, one stage of the sales process could take you five meetings and ten calls, or it can be done in one email. All of these conditions. And the result is really the same, but you do not look at how much work you did. So, those five meetings and ten calls was just one e-mail, but you look into where it really moved. And this is the basic principle which will help the startups and anyone who does sales for the company to be more realistic about how much worth is really the pipeline of the projects.
17:20 Joe: So, it always comes down to tracking, right? As well as you do all to measures for your advertisement.
17:28 Michal: Oh absolutely, absolutely. Of course, there is this old sales saying which says what’s not in the C.R.M. doesn’t exist, so yes absolutely. C.R.M. is the base where really all information has to be. It really is the engine of the whole company basically for the sales, because there’s more people involved in the sales process for example, consultants or resource guys or other decision makers like co-founders check into the final offer etc. So, absolutely, it’s all about having all the information at one place which is to C.R.M. And in the C.R.M. there is sales process embedded, and it’s used on an everyday basis.
18:15 Joe: I see. And what do you actually do? Where do you come in guys?
18:21 Michal: So, our main space, well actually now it’s sort of two, two places where we can help. But our main business is at the point where the startup needs to accelerate the sales. So, at the point where the startup has customers, for example usually at the home market, their own country, and they need to scale to other countries. And they need to do it quickly and with a good quality, with a good know how. So, that is where we are helping, because we have sales dock. So, sales hop let’s say here in Prague and we do sort of kind of weird outsourcing model where we really build a team here for a startup. And the team is acting for the customers as if they were really in-house sales people for that particular startup. And we really do the sales, so we really sell. We’re not just a hiring agency or we’re not a distributer we really sell, but in close cooperation with the startup. So, we’re kind of a remote sales team or more countries for that startup. And why I said that it’s weird or that it’s different, that is because the aim is to first grow the team and the project when the sales is coming in, because we’re usually starting at two or three people. And then the money which is made is invested back to the project. And then in the future if this works very well the startup has an option to buy in the team or the team leader or the main person who is behind the success of the project with all the sales know how. So, it’s sort of a sales outsourcing but also with a form for very experienced salespeople. So, this is the main product we have, the service. But during the time which we are on the market we have come across many, I really can say dozens of startups which were let’s say simply young, like too young for our service. Because they didn’t have enough capital and then they didn’t find the right way yet. And by right way, what I mean is the target customer, the right segment, they didn’t sell it to too many customers, but they also want to get the know-how of sales. So, we have created another service, a product. And that is our sales look academy which obviously is about sales, and this is what we offer to these less developed startups. And it works in a way that you really come here to Prague and you do get one month of, there’re different versions, but two weeks to one month of sales trainings, sales workshops, including basically everything things. The everyday tasks like emailing, calling, meetings, but also to building the infrastructure of your sales. So, really how to build scalable sales process and measurable sales process outside of C.R.M., how to build a sales plan, all these things. So, it’s sort of a sales boot camp. And then in the next month, and this is happening really here in sales dock in Prague. So, now we can refer to the invitation I gave at the beginning of our interview, that you can enjoy Prague and also really get great know-how here with us. And then in the second month you go back to your home country to your home office and we still are coaching you with wire online calls, we’re coaching you into letter. You are really using the know-how which you get here. So, this is very special about it. We don’t just give a training and you go home, and you just have one or two thoughts which you might implement but the rest stays here, or you don’t use it. We really make sure that you are using the know-how which we gave you. So yeah, these are the two main areas and ways how we help.
22:58 Joe: And we will surely put the main way of contacting you guys there so people can reach you. Just a few more questions on where do you usually sell? So, does it mean startups in the US that are listening right now can use your service to sell their product, their service in the European Union or could they actually hire you to do something? I don’t know they want to sell on the Pacific Island of Vanuatu and you only target this little island, could they also do that?
23: 20 Michal: Well, for the American startups, the first option you mentioned makes more sense and we are able to do that. They don’t have to go to Europe and really set up the offices which is very expensive. They can just sort of validate the different markets here because we don’t have one huge market, we have many small ones here in Europe and each of them is very specific. So, that’s what we can do. I wouldn’t say maybe European Union but Europe in general. And the second option, no we can’t do that. We are limited by the time zone, although I’m not sure where the place you mentioned is exactly at this point. The markets are European markets and let’s say Middle East, but we really focus on Europe.
24:36 Joe: Then I would just have one more question. If you could describe yourself either as a movie, as a book, or a combination of all of that. What would it be and why?
24:53 Michal: Wow. Very beautiful question. But I really do have to think about this for a second. Yeah, this hotel elevator music in the meantime. Well, I did think of two books, one of them is ‘The 4-Hour Body’ from Tim Ferriss. And this describes me because this book is about always finding the ways with as least as possible investment of energy into something, gives you as much as possible result. So, when you invest twenty percent, you get eighty percent of the results, sort of the pirate kind of thinking. This is really something I always strive to find, so if it is swimming where just one move with your shoulders gives you thirty to forty percent more performance, or if it is sales where just the right structure of your meeting can fasten your sales process by few months. This is what I always try to find which really gives me a lot of energy and makes me happy when I find these kinds of approaches towards moving forward. And the second book would be ‘The Adventures of Big Less’. Not many people know these, but these were the books which I was reading when I was very young, and they are about adventures of a plane pilot in the Second World War and then in the other wars as well. Where he is always again like trying to find the way and it always kind of brings him toward something new. Some new adventure we choose not connected necessary with what he was there for in the first place. And this is what I’m sort of doing in my short career I was doing as well. That I’m connecting fields like economics innovation, startup sales in a way that it really makes sense but always sort of drifts me from it and gets me back towards it again. I hope this makes sense. Anyway, this is what I thought of when you asked me.
27:42 Joe: That sounds pretty interesting. Nonetheless it was very great having you here. Looking forward to hearing more from you and we’ll put in the URL wherever you’re listening to this, where you’re seeing this. Below there is a URL where you can reach Michal at sales dock. If you’re not seeing this check www.startuprad.io and you can find all the details how to reach out to him here.
28:11 Michal: Absolute, maybe for me I would just add that it’s always good to reach me on Linked In. So, again if you need just an advice or you want to discuss some sales topic or you want to connect because of some business opportunity and I’m always happy to chat on Linked In.
28:29 Joe: Thank you very much
28:31 Michal: Thank you very much for having me.
28:33 Joe: My pleasure.
28:35 Host: That’s all folks. Find more news, streams, events and interviews at www.startuprad.io. Remember sharing is caring.