Q&A about sales CRM software Pipedrive

Cloud, cloud, cloud. This is a word that is prevalent when describing modern services, and one that we hear all too often nowadays. The premise is simple: move stuff somewhere you cannot control and leave it to someone (or some company) to do the backend work for you. For CRM software this approach appears to be ideal, as both the developing companies and their clients seem to embrace it.

CRM software used to be associated with on-premise solutions, but this approach has failed to integrate well into the new computing landscape where mobile devices are used increasingly around the office and on the go. A mobile-friendly philosophy is key. I chatted with Pipedrive, a company that makes cloud-based CRM software, about how it leverages the cloud and what the benefits are for its 30,000 users.

BN: What can you tell us about Pipedrive?

P: Pipedrive is a simple-to-use but powerful app for managing sales and other important deals. We've been around for 3.5 years, have more than 30,000 paying users around the world including the likes of Mixergy, TechStars and Fortumo -- and Marshall Kirkpatrick tweets good things about us every now and then. We've graduated from AngelPad and raised $3.4M. Pipedrive is originally from Estonia but we're currently busy growing our Palo Alto office; between 2 offices we are at 27 staff and will hit 35 by the end of the year.

BN: What's the ethos behind it?

P: Our roots are in direct sales. As salespeople selling sales management programs we had created ourselves, we've had to understand and live the pain of our customers. There simply was no good solution for managing sales pipelines. After we had found out that our $50,000 investment into a customized big name CRM platform had been a waste of money, we decided to try to build a better tool. So in 2010 we teamed up with talented developers to create Pipedrive.

A lot of CRM focuses on "utility" over fixing actual problems. In real life, sales is about juggling balls while riding on a unicycle in the city, and thus focus is easy to lose. We believe that there is a place for software that helps you keep focus, and be the best version of you every day. Sales is an emotional career, and we want to help people control and understand what they're doing to help them not give up.

BN: Why go after small teams and not big ones?

P: Starting from small teams was a pragmatic decision -- at the very early stages we simply could not have provided the features and sales support that large companies require. And while most of our customers today are small and medium businesses, we have a growing number of customers with 100+ seats and there are several things on our company roadmap that will make Pipedrive an attractive proposition for large organizations in the future. Having said that, a salesperson and a small group of them will always be our main customer.

BN: Are features offered in packages or individually (and why)?

P: We've kept our offering simple -- all users get access to the same functionality. It's worth pointing out that out-of-the-box almost all advanced features are "under the hood", and companies with advanced sales setup and requirements can easily turn on the power-user features.

BN: Do clients get their own server or is the data stored on the same one for everyone?

P: Our infrastructure is such that we have our dedicated servers with a leading hosting provider, and data of each user is stored in a separate database. This combination gives us maximum speed and uptime while minimizing the risk for accidental data leaks.

BN: Can data be shared among clients?

P: It's easy to move data between different pipelines of the same customer and it's easy to exchange data with other applications via our API.

BN: On how many clients do you test the product?

P: We test each feature extensively internally and our tech setup allows turning the feature on to individual customers before rolling out a public release. The number of testers ranges from dozens to hundreds depending on the feature.

BN: Is the throughput scalable?

P: We recently completed migrating over to a new infrastructure setup on the one hand and rebuilding the product from ground up on the other. So while we’ve seen our share of growing pains we’re scalable enough to be able to grow fast.

BN: How often do you add new features?

P: Because we're web-based we've been able to add minor features and improvements almost every week. And each quarter we come up with something that makes the product better or more accessible, such as new mobile apps or reporting features. But we haven't made radical changes too often. In fact, the first major update to the product in our 3.5-year history is this week. We're introducing something called Timeline View which gives every salesperson the oversight and knowledge of a sales manager. To our knowledge we're the first sales software maker that has made this available in an easy way and needless to say I'm quite excited about the Timeline View.

BN: What can Pipedrive do, that competing products can't?

P: There are hundreds if not thousands of different kinds of sales software available, and each feature you can imagine is available in some shape or form. We have salesperson in mind when we design and build Pipedrive, and our main goal is not just to simplify the data entry, but help the salesperson be more focused on what needs to be done to close more sales. It shows in our product, and I think because of that salespeople fall in love with Pipedrive. So if you're a small business owner just getting started with sales management, Pipedrive helps you adopt effective processes in a really easy way. And if you’re a seasoned sales manager, you have access to the power-user approaches and workflows that make it easy to close more deals. I’m biased, of course.

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