Tracking The Elusive SaaS Sales Funnel

This week The Founders talk efforts to better track Honeybadger's sales funnel, the satisfaction of a cleaned-up to-do list, and Starr reveals last episode's mystery vendor. They also debate whether to print, bind, and mail the future Honeybadger Intelligence Report or keep it digital.

Show notes:
Links:
Intro CRM
Ahoy
Andrew Kane

Full transcript:

Ben:
So I am feeling great this morning.

Starr:
Oh Good. Why are you feeling great?

Ben:
So over the past couple weeks, I've been working on cleaning up the low level noise, errors that are happening, that aren't really severe and that get corrected because of retries and things like that. So stuff, that's not broken, broken, it's just annoying. And so I just, yesterday I think, finished off the last of those things. So, we had a few big things over the past several months, we had the account billing migration. We've had the Elasticsearch migration. We've had the payload storage migration. And now as of yesterday, we have no lingering, low level errors happening. It's just clean. The logs are quiet, everything is happy.

Josh:
Nice.

Starr:
That's amazing. Good job.

Ben:
Thanks.

Starr:
Would you say it's like butter?

Josh:
Thought it was kind of quiet around here.

Ben:
It's like butter.

Starr:
It's like butter.

Ben:
Yeah, it feels really good.

Starr:
Oh, good.

Josh:
I got through my to-do list items that were kind of along those lines this week, actually. So that does feel good. I'm onto having time for real work again now until I come in on Monday and I have a bunch of busy work again.

Ben:
Yeah.

Starr:
Well yesterday was my birthday, so I took it off so I'm a slacker this week.

Josh:
Happy birthday.

Starr:
Thank you.

Ben:
Happy birthday.

Starr:
Thank you. It's very nice, just like, I didn't actually really do anything special. I just went about sort of a normal day, but without any rush. I was just like, I'm going to kind of take my time and take as long as I want in whatever I'm doing. And it was very nice. It was very nice just having that off. And I mean, I didn't actually work, but I did just kind of read and stuff, so..

Josh:
Cool.

Starr:
So I was great and I-

Josh:
Sounds like the perfect birthday, to be honest.

Starr:
I know it was pretty great. Yeah. My kid was very enthusiastic until... She was super enthusiastic all week. She made all these decorations and everything and all these tiny little birthday present crafts that were just adorable. And then when my birthday dinner actually rolled around, they went to the restaurant to pick up the food and everything and they came back and she didn't like any of the food that we got. And so she just threw just a shit fit. And it's just like, ah, I was trying to have my nice dinner and you really pumped this up for me. And now you're just you're just like some sort of caveman or something.

Josh:
She definitely did it intentionally.

Starr:
Yeah.

Josh:
This was her plan all along.

Starr:
Yeah. They build you up just to tear you down. That's children for you. But other than that, I got a lot of, I mean, a lot of progress on this interesting project that we're doing, where we're going to be using our sort of blog author set up to generate some reports, to make things easier for us sort of internally, right? Because it's kind of hard for Josh and everybody who's involved with the libraries, the client libraries to keep tabs on 500 different languages at once.

Starr:
It's just like keeping tabs on one programming language is kind of hard because everything changes every six weeks. And so, yeah. So we're going to try and get some authors to sort of go in, maybe start on a quarterly basis and come up with sort of reports about what's going on in a specific community. And yeah. And if it turns out-

Josh:
I'm so excited.

Starr:
Yeah, if it turns out they're useful, we'll probably start sharing them by our blog or email or something. Whatever allows us to extract the maximum value from you people.

Josh:
This came around or it came about, because I was like Starr, I'm tired of reading 15 newsletters every week. And I just want to read one thing, once a quarter or something like that and know what's going on. And so Starr like, I can do that and now we're going to have it. It's going to be awesome.

Ben:
So in a recent episode, when we talked about the vendor that you're not going to name on air Starr-

Starr:
I'll say it. It's okay. It's love sack. I was just feeling weird about it at that time. It's a terrible name. I realized later though, that it's based on love seats. Its like love seat bean bag type thing. At first, I thought it was a pun on love shack, which seemed like a really weird way to, I mean, I guess who am I to talk like my product's in Honeybadger, but yeah.

Josh:
True.

Starr:
I'm sorry. What were you going to say, Ben?

Ben:
So I brought that up to say that we had asked, in our podcast episode where we discussed that, we had asked people to respond to us on Twitter if they had any recommendations. And we actually got a recommendation, which was great. And the person who responded, suggested that perhaps we could engage people via Twitter, more from our podcasts. And so with this report thing that you're talking that made me think, hey, if someone out there would be interested in receiving a report, like we just described, you should let us know on Twitter.

Starr:
Oh yeah. That's a good idea.

Ben:
And-

Josh:
Honeybadger intelligence report?

Ben:
Exactly. Exactly.

Starr:
I'm abbreviating it HBI. Your HBI briefing. That sounds very official. Doesn't it?

Ben:
It does. Yeah. Expect that to come out on the first Thursday of the quarter right after the payroll report or something.

Starr:
Exactly. People are going to just be like, let me just tell you, the markets are going to move when that thing drops.

Josh:
I think that there are people out there that could get benefit from this sort of thing. It's not maybe not everyone, but anyone who has to keep up with multiple, like different tech language communities as a part of their job, which is like me, I maintain all of our integrations and stuff across the entire internet. And so... Or the entire industry. And so there's a lot of news and releases and what are the trends that people are talking about on Twitter? If I tried to stay on top of all that 24/7 I'd just never leave my desk.

Starr:
Yeah. It's so much work. I honestly, I'm kind of in the same boat, even though I don't work on the client libraries. I consider myself a developer. That's not really most of my job lately, but yeah. I'm a Ruby developer and I would like to keep up with the Ruby community and everything. And, but like when you're doing a job that isn't quite... Just day in, day out Ruby development, it's kind of hard to do that, right? So I would love to have like a thing to come to me every few months. Just like I just need to spend 30 minutes reading this once a quarter and I will have a good handle on things. So if I go to a conference, I just don't sound stupid. When people come up and talk to me.

Josh:
Yeah. You'll be in the know. Starr, can we send this out? Like snail mail to people do you think? Like an old school newsletter?

Starr:
An old school newsletter.

Josh:
Like before the internet. People, anyone who had an opinion... We could even have like a section where we like prognosticate and you tell what the future trends are going to be.

Starr:
There you go.

Josh:
Do you ever see those newsletters where those guys would have like their stock tips or the economic trends that they foresee.

Starr:
And here's the thing with that though. We can't just print it out. We've got to type it on a typewriter and photocopy it.

Josh:
Photocopy it. Okay.

Ben:
And you have to put it in one of those clear covers that have the plastic binder thing going down the side. Like you did in school when you turn in your reports.

Josh:
Yeah. Ben has a photocopier right behind him in his office right now. Just saying.

Starr:
There you go.

Josh:
And it's a industrial one.

Starr:
Oh, this is just taking me back to my 90s roots.

Ben:
Speaking of 90s roots. So I saw a random tweet this morning. That was from, I guess, defense attorney. She said that her client was just released from prison after 30 years of being incarcerated. And as this individual was getting back to life, everyone kept saying, oh, well you can get that form at our website or we'll send you an email with that information whatever. And this person was like, what are they even talking about? 30 years, imagine 1991.

Josh:
No access?

Ben:
Yeah. Going away and coming back in 2021 and all that's changed. Can you imagine? That wow. That just made me think for a while. It's like, we've done a lot of stuff in the past 30 years.

Josh:
A lot of stuff.

Ben:
Yeah. It's crazy.

Josh:
I mean, I'm only 36, so that's like my entire life.

Ben:
Yeah. Guess that's a bit of a downer. Sorry. I just thought it was wild.

Starr:
Yeah. It's like the guy who woke up from the coma and he... I guess he went into a coma like right before coronavirus started and he woke up, he was just like-

Josh:
The entire world has changed.

Starr:
Yeah. But you know what, on a little bit of better news, I actually went and for my birthday treat, I went and drove to a coffee stand, which is something we have in Seattle, in the Pacific Northwest, which most places don't have, which are these little tiny shacks that you can just drive up to them and they give you coffee. And it's great. And I haven't done anything like that because of pandemic and it's... I just have been very tightly staying home. But I figured for my birthday, it's fine.

Starr:
So I just went through this little... This coffee shack and it was just like this little shining moment of almost normalcy. And I was just like, okay, I finally am feeling like this might come to an end one day and I can drive home. I can take my little coffee out of my cup holder in my car. I can walk back to my front door. I'm just not... I won't be like just in the house all day. Like I'll get to-

Josh:
It's definitely happening.

Starr:
Yeah.

Josh:
Yes. It's going.

Ben:
I have to ask though. These coffee stands that you mentioned, did you go to a chain coffee stand or was an independent coffee stand?

Starr:
It was in independent. I don't even know if they have chain coffees stands. They do?

Ben:
Yeah. Mercurys Coffee is a chain of them.

Starr:
The only ones I know are they're always very weird idiosyncratic thing. Some of them have ladies in bikinis who make your coffee. That's gross. I'm not going to go to those. Yeah. It's just a normal little... It's sort of yellow. It's got a picture of a rooster on it and it's by the freeway entrance.

Josh:
Nice.

Ben:
Yeah, just around the corner from my office, they just recently built one of those. And it's Mercurys, which is why that's top of mind for me, because I pass by it. But they just built it as in they started that after the pandemic and I was like, wow, that's pretty optimistic. You're going to build one of these places when they're just no new cars coming through, but-

Josh:
Really? Are there no cars? Around here, they're pretty popular still. The drive-thru has been one of the things that people still do a lot. So I think if anything they've become more popular just because you can't get coffee any other way.

Ben:
Yeah. I guess so.

Starr:
So do you mind if I ask? You were talking to a sales consultant person and so what's going on with that? I'm just curious.

Ben:
So that's going to be starting next week actually.

Starr:
Oh, that's awesome. So this is a guy who has... What's the name of his company?

Ben:
I can't remember.

Starr:
Oh my gosh. Okay.

Ben:
I'll have to link it in the show notes.

Starr:
Yeah. We'll link it to the show notes. Yeah. And his thing is he helps sort of software companies create sales systems and processes and everything. Kind of like what we needed. So we're all just like, yes. Go for it please.

Ben:
Exactly. Yeah. So he's really into sales. That's his background. And he's had a lot of experience in that realm and he's now started a productized service. So it's like, it's kind of like hybrid SaaS and professional services model where there is software involved. He has built some CRM software and also has a staff of people who help you use the software basically, and help you through the process of doing salesy stuff. So yeah, I'm pretty excited about that. Especially considering that just yesterday, I had a really bad experience with an outbound sales team from some company that we will not link in the show notes, but they email me like four times over the past three weeks. And of course all unsolicited. And I just ignore these things.

Ben:
Yeah. I just ignore these things. I just delete them. It's no big deal, but it became a big deal yesterday when we got a phone call to our main number and I typically-

Starr:
Oh, no, they didn't.

Ben:
Yes they did.

Starr:
They didn't call the 800 number, did they?

Ben:
They called the 800 number.

Starr:
We had to pay to get that call.

Ben:
I don't know what they were thinking, calling a number that's posted on our website, but they did. And they're all like, hey, this is what we do. And you should call us back and we'll talk to you. And the service that they sell is outbound sales.

Josh:
This is what we do. We hound you incessantly until you curse.

Ben:
So I just... as soon as I heard that message, I called them and I'm like, get me off your list. Do not call me, do not email me. And I don't know what they were thinking. Apparently they don't know how to market to developers because you don't spam email and call a developer and expect to have a good response and then-

Josh:
Well, they are trying to think.

Starr:
So I've got to say, we're just like, okay, we're going to get a sales consultant and do this stuff. And then we're just like, we hate sales people.

Josh:
Yeah, exactly.

Starr:
They are like what's going to break there. Yeah.

Ben:
Next week when we the record episode, I'll be like so calling people is awesome. Yeah. We're going to figure that out. I don't know how that's going to work out, how that's going to play out yet, but I'm hoping that our new consultant slash productized service person, is going to have the ability to help us thread that needle so that we can actually do some outreach without annoying them.

Josh:
He didn't seem the type of person that would annoy me like that in his video that I watched, for what it's worth,

Ben:
Yeah. He mentioned that. So he sent us a proposal with that nice little PDF, three to four pager thing talking about what he was going to do, but also sent a Loom video with the proposal and it kind of walked through it. And I was like, yeah, extra credit. Above and beyond.

Starr:
I like that.

Josh:
As a demonstration, an active demonstration of your sales techniques, I feel like that almost that already alleviates that concern for me a little bit. I mean, if he did that for our customers and in terms of this is what you get from Honeybadger, and by the way, I recorded this custom walkthrough for you of like how everything works, personalized. I mean, that kind of thing actually sells me versus like 15 phone calls and text messages.

Ben:
Totally.

Starr:
Yeah. I agree. It was a very nice cozy feeling that you don't get from all of these sales emails.

Josh:
The video was also not too long either. That was the second impressive part that he recorded a video and then it was brief, concise and had basically the information that I was looking for.

Ben:
Yeah. It's like, he knows what he's doing.

Josh:
Yeah. We'll see about that.

Starr:
Yeah. Just hoping.

Ben:
And in similar news, I've been playing around with various metrics, gathering tools this past week or two to try and get a real good handle on what our rates are. Our conversion rates, from visitor to trial and from trial to paid. And it's been somewhat challenging because we have users and we have accounts and the billing stuff is associate with account and not a user. And a lot of these analytics tools are like, got to user. It's all user based. And it's like, well, we have to do this transition period where a user creates an account and that's where the payment thing happens, right?

Ben:
And of course, we also have the challenge of developers are our customers and they turn off all the, Mix Panel and all the other tracking stuff. And so we were doing something in house. We're using Ahoy, which is some Ruby code built by Andrew Kane. And that person is just a machine. Tell you what, go browse through the repositories and GitHub for him. It's amazing. Anyway Ahoy is great. It puts a couple of tables in your database and you track all these events like page views and whatever custom events you want from the backend, all in these tables. And so you can just query them like normal like a regular database table. And just this morning I was putting together some stats. And so now we have new percentages on our internal admin dashboard.

Josh:
Oh, is it up it's up?

Ben:
It's up. It may be slightly inaccurate. There were some problems, I think. I noticed right before we started recording. But yes, we actually have some big fat numbers with percent signs behind them. It's pretty cool.

Starr:
Oh, Cool. Yeah.

Josh:
Awesome. I've been wanting to set up Ahoy for a long time on our app, so I'm excited that we finally have it and-

Ben:
Yeah. Why did we wait so long.

Josh:
I don't know.

Starr:
That's kind of, one of the sort of curses of Honeybadger has always been we can get information on trial to paid conversion and stuff, because all that stuff it's in our own database. But like the tracking conversions from like a visitor to signing up is just... Has always eluded us. And maybe there's a way to do it that we just don't know. But I don't know if it's just because developers block ads or what, but based on all the tracking software, you would think that nobody ever looked at our website before signing up, which probably isn't the case. But yeah.

Ben:
Well, one of the things was self-inflicted wounds because we refused to send events to Google analytics. And so-

Starr:
I mean, we tried though for a while.

Ben:
Yeah, we did. Oh yeah, always felt kind of icky about it and so we never really nailed it.

Starr:
Yeah. I mean, not recently, but when I set it up a long time ago, we tried and it's just, it was still-

Josh:
I think we did. Yeah. I remember we had Shane Rice configure the whole thing for us at one point. Like with all those events-

Starr:
Yeah. That was the second attempt.

Josh:
All the collection points. Yeah. And I mean and he did a good job. That guy knows Google Analytics, but I don't know. It seems like a tricky problem for a lot of SaaS companies too. Just getting that specific part the of the funnel. Visit to sign up. It's probably easier for info product type sales, because people are coming for a specific... It's like a specific conversion, like sales thing, but we've always had the problem of, if we're doing content marketing, like they're there for the content, not for a SaaS and they might come back at some point and because they were exposed to us through the content marketing, but how do you tie that event? It's just there's a bunch of interim steps that complicate things.

Ben:
Yeah. Speaking of that, I actually cheated a bit when I was putting the stats together because we have so much traffic to the blog that it kind of drowns out traffic of people who are actually intentionally coming to check out the product. So great job Starr. And so I thought, well, let me just ignore the blog traffic. So the query queries that I was working on, if I ignore views to blog pages and just track views to our main sales pages, then the, our conversion ratio is much better. So I decided to go with that approach. It's kind of funny how you can put your thumb on the scale on different places and make things look the way you want them to look.

Josh:
Exactly how you want them to.

Starr:
Yeah. I'm hoping that sort of a sales process might actually shed some light into that dark corner. Because if for example, we got people to sign up for, I don't know, say a intelligence report and give some information on that and we contacted them, we would be able to have stats about our ratios and everything from that, because there would be a physical person involved. It wouldn't just be trying to put a cookie on somebody's computer.

Josh:
Put a cookie on their desk and they're much more likely to buy Honeybadger.

Starr:
Oh, there you go. That's a good thing.

Ben:
Why did you put a honey badger on their desk and not so much?

Josh:
No.

Ben:
I have had my kids suggest that we do that.

Josh:
Send a honey badger?

Ben:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Josh:
Or a cookie? Because I mean, we've also talked about sending food. People do like food.

Ben:
Do you remember, this must have been six years ago or so, remember the time we actually did do cookies? For a conference?

Josh:
Yeah. That's right.

Starr:
Yeah. I remember that.

Ben:
Yeah. I think we actually borrowed that idea from Office Space. If I remember correctly. Because Suzie was really into doing the cookie thing. Well, that's when cookies were hot too. It's like the cupcake fad. Before the cupcake fad, there was a cookie fad.

Starr:
The great cupcake glut of 2011. Children were drowning in buttercream.

Ben:
Those were the good days. So yeah. It'll be interesting to see if we can make this tracking happen. And then my goal is to, once we have some good numbers actually find ways to make those numbers go up, right? But if you can't measure it, you can't improve it. And so hopefully the measuring is going to be in place now. So I'm pretty excited about that.

Josh:
Yeah. It'll be nice to have that if it works to have it on the dashboard. Yes. We've always been... We've been able to go like Starr, you've done deep dives into the numbers and stuff and that's been awesome, but like you have to go and do that whenever we want it and if we had a way to just track that stuff, it would be useful. It seems.

Starr:
Yeah. Definitely. One thing to keep in mind also is, it might be useful to have a view that filters out some of the less, less converting sources of traffic like we've got certain geographic regions that just have way lower conversion rates than anywhere else and account for a lot of signups though. So it might be useful to have a view that kind of filters those out so you can get a more, I don't know, level, a less chaotic view of the stats.

Ben:
Yeah, totally. Yeah. I was thinking about that. I haven't done that yet. So I def want to do this, but I was thinking about that based on your analysis, you did. I am however, already excluding all the Horoku signups since they are, their customers are so much different than our on-site customers. And I'm also excluding the GitHub student pack people.

Starr:
Oh that's good.

Ben:
Because they come through, they get the free year. They don't convert anywhere near as well as, people who are actually like doing this for a job kind of thing. So yeah. That makes the numbers much more realistic, I think. To ignore those two sets of customers.

Starr:
Oh yeah, totally. And yeah, I'm curious to see how this sales consulting thing works. Like yeah. You should let us know how it goes. Because I mean, all this is sort of tied into marketing and the stuff we're doing at our monthly marketing meetings and everything. So it'll be good to work as a team on that.

Ben:
Yeah.

Josh:
Yeah. Can't wait to see that hockey stick chart from the sales effort.

Ben:
Totally.

Starr:
H E double hockey sticks?

Josh:
It's going to look like a Bitcoin market chart.

Ben:
We are going to work out what my compensation schedule is, right? What's my quota? Going to be driving that Lambo pretty soon. All those sales commissions.

Josh:
You're the only one in the company with the Lambo. It'll be worth it.

Starr:
Well, it seems like we are reaching a natural plateau. So should we call it? Let's call it. All right, well-

Josh:
Wait, the company's plateaued?

Ben:
No man, to the moon. Diamond hands.

Josh:
Joking.

Starr:
Oh, not you too Ben. I went on my morning walk and I saw that somebody had written in... A truck went by me on the road and somebody written on the dust on the background. They're like GME to the moon and then like pictures of diamonds. And it's awesome. It's like, oh my God, this is too wild.

Josh:
Wait, what was the car this was on?

Starr:
It was just like a delivery truck or something.

Josh:
Nice.

Starr:
Somebody had written... had like walked by it or something. I don't think the truck's owner meant to do it. Because that's just, I don't know.

Josh:
Because if you're going to write that on your car, it better be a Lambo.

Starr:
Yeah. And it better not be written by somebody's finger in the dust on your car.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
Yeah. Everything's just dust in the wind, I guess that's the message of that. All right. So you've been listening to FounderQuest. Please go review us on Apple podcasts or whatever. We're looking for authors. If you want to go to our blog, look at the write for us page. I'm going to be looking for people to help with these intelligence reports. So if you're interested in, I don't know, like doing deep dives into the current news of a specific programming language or platform, definitely get in touch. You can just go to that same write for us page. And I don't know, is there any final thoughts, any wisdom?

Ben:
So they got to tweet at us @founderquest.

Starr:
Oh yeah. FounderQuest. Tweet at us.

Josh:
Tell us your wisdom.

Starr:
Yes. That's a great way to engage.

Ben:
Tell us where you got coffee this morning.

Starr:
You can choose-

Josh:
I mean, we don't have any wisdom. That's obviously why we have a podcast.

Starr:
I just think all of our listeners should join the conversation. Engage the way you want to.

Josh:
We should do a call in show.

Ben:
On air?

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
Yeah. Tweet at us if you'd be interested in having a live call-in show with FounderQuest.

Starr:
This is just getting super retro. We got a call-in show. We're going to have like a typewritten newsletter that goes out.

Josh:
I really kind of want to start a snail mail newsletter now. All the people with Twitter newsletters, none of them are doing actual newsletters. And I feel like you definitely get people putting in the info for that.

Starr:
You're right. Honestly-

Josh:
I like I really kind of want to do it.

Starr:
Yeah. Now that you say that, it kind of was like a joke, but now that I'm thinking about it-

Josh:
That would be amazing.

Starr:
If I could just get like two physical pages about what's going on in a programming community or whatever that I'm interested in, like that-

Josh:
Put it on my coffee table.

Starr:
I can just look at it. I don't have to remember to pull it up.

Josh:
You can throw it in the trash. After you're done with it Starr.

Starr:
You can just recycling Josh. We live in the Pacific Northwest. You don't want them coming for you.

Ben:
Love it.

Josh:
Oh no. This is like retro, remember? We don't recycle.

Starr:
Oh, I got it. Okay.

Ben:
We just throw out the car window as we driving down the road.

Starr:
All right. Well, this has been FounderQuest. We love the environment. We love our mother earth and we love most of all, you our listeners. Okay. Bye.



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