Something new for sales teams
Since we started Ricochet in 2018, we wanted to make life easier for small businesses. We had an idea, something new — so we researched it, prototyped it, tested and built it.
In the past 18 months, we’ve launched two products, worked with dozens of paying customers, spoke to hundreds of SMEs. We’ve always tried to be honest to ourselves, to our customers, and to you, by pulling apart our failures in public so others can learn from them.
And throughout it all, we’ve discovered how downright dirty, siloed and completely broken the world of business data really is. There’s a reason lead generation is still an expensive and often manual process. There’s a reason online directories are often full of inaccurate information, why people still buy lists of decade-old emails online, and why LinkedIn should be better than the teeth-gnashing continuum of frustration it so often is.
There’s a reason that sales development and growing your business is still really hard.
We’re still learning how scattered fragments of business data and company information can be pieced together, still figuring out how deep learning and user behaviour can create commercial opportunities, and how to build tools to help sales teams improve their productivity.
We are changing direction, however. Before the pandemic struck, Ricochet was a pre-product/market fit startup. That means we didn’t yet know if our product was good enough to consistently satisfy a large enough number of customers.
We didn’t feel this was an issue, because through the act of trying to sell what we’d built, we planned to quickly learn what was working, what wasn’t and change our product and approach accordingly.
We launched our updated version of Ricochet on Wednesday 11th March — the day before the Prime Minister’s first televised briefing on the pandemic.
In the two weeks that followed, we watched our target market of B2B SMEs freeze budgets, then cut existing spend, then struggle with employees having to work from home, then furlough their staff and make redundancies, before taking on the responsiblity of home-schooling.
Like plenty of startups, we figured we had an angle — we could be a solution to sales teams missing out on generating leads from conferences, events and expos. Everyone had similar ideas, and everyone made a lot of noise at a time the market wasn’t receptive or prioritising unnecessary spend.
Our experience of previous product launches told us to expect perhaps 20 or 30 sales in our first month. After four weeks, we had none.
At the same time, we’d realised our product wasn’t quite hitting the mark. We were satisfying only specific use cases for a small number of our paying customers, and without intervention then we’d struggle to grow our customer base, or retain those we already had.
Peers and advisors suggested we furlough our team so we’d weather the storm, conserve our cash and re-emerge when the market recovered — but nobody could say when that might be.
More significantly, being a pre product/market fit startup meant we weren’t just pushing against a closed door; we had no idea if we’re pushing against the right door. It might have been a different situation if we’d seen some consistency of growth in existing sales that suddenly flatlined — because in that scenario, we’d have confidence there’d be a market to return to.
There was another option, the option you always have as startup founders— you work the problem. Instead of waiting for the market to recover, we’d figure out what we could do for the market in the meantime.
And that’s where we are right now. It took us nine days in April to brainstorm and discuss ideas, research the market, design, prototype and test a new product with nearly 70 people in commercial roles. The feedback was *chef’s kiss*. So we didn’t hesitate.
We’re Ricochet, and we’re building a new free tool for sales teams everywhere — to help you research leads and customers faster and easier than anything else out there. And it’ll be ready for you to try later this month.
We’re opening early access in the second half of June — if you and your colleagues work in a commercial team, we’d love you to be the first to try it.
Sign up for early access today — and we’ll be with you with something new, very soon.