Josh Melick, co-founder and CEO of Broadly, has small business in his DNA, with parents who were small business owners and a resume filled with stops at leading SMB-focused companies.
After stints at Ingenio, YP and DemandForce, Josh and fellow engineer Assaf Arkin founded Broadly in 2013 with the mission of helping small-businesses generate more customer reviews, a key currently in driving small business success or failure.
Broadly’s mission is defined beyond just generating reviews. Broadly’s focus is on helping small businesses adapt to newer/better communications tools so that they can have better conversations with customers and communicate through the medium customers’ prefer. In other words, don’t insist on a phone call when consumer’s would rather get a text.
Josh was recently featured on an episode of the Tech Adoption Index’s Above the Cloud podcast series, which is focused on interviewing entrepreneurs in the small business software world and find out what they see as the key driver’s of success in the SMB market.
One of those keys for Josh was Broadly’s decision to go direct for most of its sales, even relying on cold calling for much of what they do. Acquiring customers in the SMB market is fraught with peril. Using resellers can be more cost effective but it also hands your fate over to others who may or may not be committed to your product. Going direct gives the business more control, but if the sales process isn’t exquisitely fine tuned, cost of sales will blow a giant hole in the bottom line.
“It’s the hardest decision for a start-up to make. Many choose not to do it because it is so hard. I went direct because I want to hear directly from my customers,” Josh said. “I didn’t want the message to get garbled or lost. I wanted to feel their pain.”
Josh talked at some length about Broadly’s sales process and its efforts to continually shorten the sales cycle.
“We are students of the demo,” Josh said. “We believe in the art of the demo. For inside sales to work in this market, you need a sales cycle that is short. You have to go from start to finish in 15 to 30 minutes.”
The interview also delved into other big topics, including Josh’s deliberately provocative claim that the “phone call is dead” and his contrarian view that the full stack, while a fine objective, is much more difficult to pull off than many would lead us to believe.
Regarding the supposed death of the phone call, Josh’s point is that the phone call is rapidly losing ground to other channels as consumer’s preferred way to communicate, particularly among younger consumers.
“Consumers no longer prefer a phone call as the initial point of conversation,” Josh said.
Josh has a few issues with the full stack. One is that new best in breed point solutions will always come along to challenge the full stack by doing a single function better. Also, selling the full stack runs the risk of bogging down the sales process, something Broadly has worked hard to fine tune, as noted above.
You can listen to the full podcast featuring Josh here:
Here is a short vide clip from our interview where Josh talks about how important it is to keep the sales cycle short when selling software to small businesses.
Below is an outtake from the podcast, where Josh talks about how managing people is both the most challenging and the most important component of running a successful start up.