Shawn Finder is the General Manager of Sales at Autoklose in Canada. Ollie Whitfield is in charge of product, marketing, and partnerships for Autoklose in the UK. Autoklose is a VanillaSoft brand.
Shawn began his career as a semi-professional tennis player. Then, in 2014, he started a data business called Exchange Leads, and in 2017, he parlayed that business into Autoklose and used the database built by him in 2014. Then, about seven months ago, Autoklose was acquired by VanillaSoft.
Shawn grew Autoklose from zero to seven figures in about 18 months. Since the VanillaSoft acquisition, Shawn has been managing the sales team at Autoklose as the product line of VanillaSoft.
Ollie got involved with marketing immediately after finishing school. He continued with marketing for the next 8 years until he moved over into the world of SAAS. Now he is with VanillaSoft and Autoklose, where they do product marketing, partnerships, webinars, and podcasts. Ollie’s job involves a lot of thinking, figuring things out, and trying new things.
Shawn scaled from 0 to 7 figures in 18 months by:
- Keeping things bootstrapped and very lean.
- Hiring the best people.
- Building a team culture.
You cannot scale on your own. You need to make sure that you invest in the right people, and continue to grow those people, to become successful.
The first person Shawn hired was the VP of Sales. He ran the sales team and did demos. It was tough to decide whether his first hire should be a salesperson or a CSM.
Shawn recommends that your first hire should be a mixture of a salesperson and someone who knows how to do customer success. That person needs to ensure that your first clients are not just using your product but using it correctly.
What Shawn did early on to drive demos and drive customer interest:
- Six months before they had a product ready, Shawn was already building an email list.
- He had a landing page ready, talking about what he was building.
- Shawn kept on building through communities, networks, and Facebook groups, where he continuously spoke about what he was building.
- He often made 30-second videos to show everyone how things were developing and what they looked like.
The result was that on the day they launched, they had well over 500 pre-booked demos.
Shawn’s goal was to make people feel like they were investing in his product rather than buying a solution.
Shawn has never used paid ads. He built his email list organically through webinars and talks, and he created a book with 27 top influencers in sales. He also built relationships with all the influencers, and they promoted his book and shared his posts. He also became known through word-of-mouth and using LinkedIn.
Creating a podcast has worked exceptionally well for Ollie in the SAAS and B2B space. As a result, he has learned:
- To use an Excel spreadsheet to track the guests.
- To run the podcast as lean as possible, and use free software whenever possible.
- To use the podcast to educate the audience with different markets, companies, and business models.
- How to do his business better and how to grow his brand.
The podcast has helped Shawn and Ollie reposition their brand. Before launching, they did a 2-3-minute explanation of what people could expect, who they would be interviewing, and why people should care. They also made sure that the podcast would be discoverable on platforms like Apple and Spotify and highlighted the headlines that would follow. They started with five podcasts in the first week and then dropped to two shows per week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Now, they do an email blast once a week, where they pick the most relevant podcast for their audience, cut a short clip, and post it on their social media platforms with their company brand profiles behind it. Ollie usually expects a hit mark of around 50% when he sends all the information to the podcast guests, and they share it with their audience.
The top 5 things that Shawn and Ollie would do to grow their revenue and scale fast with limited resources and a high-ticket solution in the range of $40,000 plus:
- Find out what works, and then double down on that. (It could be content writing, a LinkedIn or Facebook strategy, or even cold emails.)
- Build lean. (In other words, wear many hats.)
- Be productive.
- Build your brand as early as possible- either personal, company, or both. (That does not include SEO.)
- Learn everything possible from outreach using LinkedIn, email, phone, or whichever channel you think will work best. Become proficient first, and then become an expert as soon as you possibly can.
When lean, Ollie executes on both inbound and outbound by having good calendar discipline.
Shawn would recommend hiring a content writer. Content, like blogs and e-books, and SEO were helpful for his company to get more organic long-term traffic.
Links and resources:
Shawn Finder on LinkedIn
Email Shawn – email@example.com
Ollie Whitfield on LinkedIn