Lead generation in marketing is an act of generating interest of an individual or organization for your products and services. In order to make sales, it is must to establish interest in potential buyers. Lead generation is a strategy followed to develop more interest and make contacts which may lead to a sale or other favorable outcome. Hence, Lead generation can strongly strengthen your chance of success in marketplace.
The typical methods for generating leads are advertising, referrals from existing customers, marketing and sales leads. But we are living in a technology-driven world where everything comes in handy. The market opportunity for marketing technology is huge and is identified to be worth $20 billion worldwide. In an estimate, the opportunity in India alone is worth $200-$300 million. LeadSquared have taken this to another level to harness this market with its revenue acceleration software for your business.
LeadSquared builds easy-to-use yet powerful software that can help businesses in Lead capture automation, Lead Nurturing, Sales Acceleration, and Analytics. LeadSquared is the brain child of three:
Nilesh Patel (Chief Executive Officer)
Nilesh is born and brought up in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. He graduated from NSIT Delhi in 1999 with a degree in instrumentation and controls engineering. Nilesh started his career with IBM in Pune and left the company in Jan 2003 to start his first company Proteans in 2003 along with Prashant and Sudhakar. He is a father of 5-year-old girl and 2-year-old boy and lives in Bangalore with his family. He is the Chief Executive Officer and leads sales and marketing function.
Prashant Singh( Chief Customer Officer)
Prashant is from Lucknow, and graduated from IIT Delhi in 2000 with a degree in math and computer application. Prashant started his career with Telesoft in Bangalore, had a stint with i2 and Oracle before starting on his first venture Proteans in 2003 which was in the outsourced product engineering space and grew to 10 million dollars before it was acquired by Symphony Teleca. Father of two boys, he is an avid runner as well and regularly participates in the running events in and around Bangalore. He is Chief Customer Officer at LeadSquared and leads customer success, support, finance and administration function.
Sudhakar Gorti (Chief Product Officer)
Sudhakar’s family has roots in Andhra, but he spent most of his childhood in Bhopal and Bhilai, Madhya Pradesh. He graduated from IIT Kanpur in 1999 with a degree in electrical engineering. Sudhakar started his career with IBM in Pune, had a stint with Talisma and Oracle before starting his first company Proteans in 2003. He is father of two girls and lives in Bangalore with his family. He is the Chief Product Officer at LeadSquared and leads engineering and product roadmap and runs the HR function.
Before delving into developing LeadSquared, they spent 15 months working with dozens of B2C and B2B businesses to build their marketing and lead generation engines. They generated tens of thousands of leads for these clients running several hundred marketing campaigns through inbound and outbound channels.
“We found that businesses were using multiple tools to run their marketing, lead generation and sales operations and struggled to make all this work together using multiple tools,” says Nilesh. Therefore, with all the data across multiple tools, it was very hard and tedious to get meaningful and actionable insights. Addressing these challenges was where the inspiration for LeadSquared came in. They wanted to build easy-to-use yet powerful software that can help businesses:
- Automate their lead capture
- Nurture their leads seamlessly
- Accelerate their sales, and
- Give detailed analytics to constantly make improvements.
LeadSquared started in June, 2011 as a company that provided lead generation services, primarily to B2B businesses. Soon, they realized that to build a scalable business model, they needed to invest in building technology. Thus the idea for LeadSquared was conceived.
Starting June 2012, they were deep into developing the product for a year. By the end of it, they had successfully developed and tested LeadSquared, marketing automation and revenue acceleration software that increases the selling power of businesses. The company started to sell their product actively in 2013.
Initially, they planned on targeting B2B companies, like IT firms. “We got some success there, but we realized that many small IT firms do not spend a lot on marketing and lead generation. They are happy building business via referral, and repeat sales,” says Nilesh. So, the need was to look around, and they found opportunity in several Business to Consumer segments, like Education, Real Estate, BFSI, Travel and Hospitality, Health and Wellness etc.
These businesses generate leads from a variety of sources – online campaigns, inbound calls, website, chat, email, third-party sites like Justdial and more. In most cases they found that lead capture was broken and lead leakage was prevalent. Due to lack of lead capture automation the response time to leads was slow or none, resulting in lost opportunity. The problem gets multiplied for multi-location businesses. This is the market that LeadSquared is still going after; constantly bringing in features that makes the process more seamless for these businesses.
LeadSquared regularly competes with CRM providers like Zoho and Salesforce when the customer is looking for CRM solution. Their main competition is with Hubspot, Infusionsoft when the customers are looking for marketing automation.
“But we differentiate from other businesses operating in marketing automation domain by combining marketing automation with the most-used components of CRM,” says Nilesh. This approach obviates the need of a CRM for a vast majority of businesses, as both marketing and sales now have complete context to each lead within one common view. Some key differentiators of LeadSquared are:
- We are able to get zero lead leakage for our clients by automating lead capture from all their possible sources.
- Businesses don’t need to use three or four systems to run their marketing and sales operations. This offers massive value for money when compared to using multiple systems.
This had made it possible for LeadSquared to bring down the lead leakage dropping to a dramatic zero. Many businesses have improved their conversion rates, with most of them having improved their end sales. Asia-Pacific Institute of Management has reported an increase in their admissions by 25% ever since they started using LeadSquared. (More reviews and numbers here !)
The team size currently is 45. Besides Bangalore, where the company is based, it employs people in Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai. This journey so far has been incredible for LeadSquared. They have come right up from helping businesses generate leads, to actually plugging the loopholes in their marketing and sales processes. “Majority of our customers rely only on LeadSquared as their central marketing & sales system, and we feel great that we are actually able to solve their problems,” says Nilesh.
Sometimes, it is the journey that teaches you a lot about your final destination. Each journey is filled with ups and downs, and so is LeadSquared’s journey. First challenge they faced was to release the minimum viable product and take it to a captive list of customers. Second was to build marketing and sales processes that consistently get new trial users. Third was to convert the trial users to paid customers and finally driving customer retention. Across all the phases they had a consistent share of challenges in hiring talent.
But, they bravely accepted the challenges so that they can feel the exhilaration of victory. They adopted out of box initiatives to overcome the initial challenges:
- User experience and user interaction design is crucial for success of products. So they invested upfront in UI and UX to ensure LeadSquared is easier for users to adapt. Due to their experience working as service partners to number of B2B and B2C customers, they had a fair understanding of what minimum viable product needs to get in beta which gave them an edge over all.
- LeadSquared’s engineering teams practices agile software development that ensures faster product releases, and with each release LeadSquared gets better and delivers high quality customer experience.
- On marketing and sales front, they have invested in several key channels that include content marketing, webinars and blog to generate traffic and trial users. They also started to do telephone based lead generation as it helps them generate targeted leads from focused market segments. These investments ensured that their inside sales has enough trial users to convert them into customers.
- They invested in customer success talent, customer training and process automation to overcome the challenge of poor conversion from trial to customer and to ensure customer retention.
For LeadSquared, the most important learning moment was right in the beginning, when they realized that to be successful, businesses needed to plug their all possible lead leakage points. Businesses were losing an enormous amount of businesses because of this, without even realizing it.
The second exciting finding was when they realized that B2C market provided an incredible opportunity for marketing automation. B2C businesses generally have huge lead volume, and need continual interaction with their customers, before a sale happens, or even after the sale has happened. That was exactly in line with what they were trying to build.
LeadSquared is sparing no effort to achieve a status of continual growth into a product that further delights the user, by closing all the loose ends in lead capture automation. LeadSquared would also continue to invest in marketing and customer success to deliver high quality customer experience across the journey of the customer lifecycle.
Lately, the company has been looking for funding. They are also looking to raise growth capital to scale the business and capture fair share of the massive market opportunity!