When you work in a product-driven company, you need a solid tech culture across the whole organization. It is especially valuable to build a strong Sales teams. Algolia is a prime example of a winning-product-driven company with tech as a core value.
First, it all starts with recruitment. The 160 Algolia employees have a technical background, no matter their field of expertise. The onboarding starts with a product review to give everyone a deep understanding of what the company builds and how it brings value to clients. Everyone is expected to know how to pitch the product.
Another in-house specialty lies in the fact that the Sales team works with dedicated engineers. We interviewed Gaëtan Gachet, VP Sales, and Baptiste Coquelle, Software Developer, to learn more about this unique approach works.
From the left to the right: Baptiste Coquelle (Software Engineer) & Gaëtan Gachet (VP Sales)
HELPING YOU SELL YOUR PRODUCT
Countless products are created every day. But only a small fraction manages to solve real client issues. Then it has been increasingly difficult for Sales teams to catch clients’ attention. As Gaetan told us : “To stand from the crowd, you are now expected to bring direct value earlier in the sales process”.
In such a context, building internal tools has become a critical strategy. During its batch at Y Combinator, the Algolia team created a tool called Grader in less than 24 hours. Its purpose was to evaluate websites according to the quality of their search experience. A couple of days only after the launch of its tool, Algolia received calls from elite companies such as Zappos, asking for an audit of their search performances.
By developing a free pre-sales diagnosis, the Sales team managed to create anticipation. Grader showed a taste of Algolia’s product before the first meeting. From this moment on, the sheer value of building internal tools became a no-brainer.
→ Building internal tools can make a difference by showing your prospects a taste of how you tackle issues. It helps you create anticipation before the first sales meeting.
SCALING UP PROCESSES
Having internal tools specifically built for employees help them focus on what matters most. If a low added-value task takes too much time, it can probably be automated by the engineers.
For instance, Algolia receives 300 signups a day on average from its website. Qualifying new leads and assigning them to SDRs is very time-consuming. So the tech team created a tool to automate qualification and attribution of these sign-ups, dividing the time spent on this task by three.
Time is a major data to measure the efficiency of internal tools. Adoption rate is much more simple to evaluate: “If people don’t complain, then everything is OK,” Gaëtan told us.
→ Building internal tools is a must-have to automate tasks and scaling process.
TOOLS FOR EVERYONE
At Algolia, tech is used to help teams in their daily work. For instance, the multiplication of SaaS products used by employees (SalesForce, Asana, G-Suite to name a few) can turn out to be challenging when searching for specific information. This issue often leads to a considerable lack of time and energy. When implementing new solutions, you need to take care of the way knowledge is made accessible to the whole organization.
Enhancing knowledge management is a central goal at Algolia. The tech team developed an in-house tool to gather all the data in a central point to make it available in one click. If an engineer wants to know which Sales Development Representative (SDR) is in charge of a specific account, he doesn’t need to browse SalesForce. He just enters the email address in the tool and instantly gets it.
Developing such tools may require both time and internal resources but they allow to save a tremendous amount of time as they fasten processes at work. In the case of Lycos, tech skills are employed to create a tool from scratch. But engineers can also optimize existing tools. For instance, nobody at Algolia uses the Salesforce search bar any more since the tech team has built a search engine inside the software for internal use. “Internal tools aim at helping everyone: the more, the better”, Baptiste told us.
→ Make sure that you opt for the best option between optimising existing tools or building one from scratch.
PRIORITIZING TOOLS CREATION
Algolia tech teams work with a “problem-solution” logic. Then, sales and other teams are used to report the recurring problems they face. The next step is to prioritize tool creation between engineers and to allocate the right resources on the right missions.
A specificity of Algolia is the organization of the R&D team in squads. Those are small transversal teams working on dedicated projects. The Intelligence Team dedicated to internal tool creation is one of them. “It works like a side-project, provided it does not slow them down in their work. Internal tools should concern everyone”, Baptiste explained us.
Squads are in permanent motion with engineers working on projects defined at the beginning of quarters, with short development cycles. Of course, arbitration is required to decide to create a tool from scratch versus to enhance an existing tool. Gaëtan gave us an important tip: “If a tool is inefficient or underused, do not hesitate to kill it or to start again from scratch. Despite being unpleasant for the ego, it is necessary to use internal tech skills wisely”.
→ Make sure your processes are solid enough before allocating time and resources in tool creation.
With a problem-solving mindset, any team can benefit from internal tools. The key is to take the habit of reporting issues whenever there is an obstacle on your way. “Identify your problems and talk to the engineers. Very often, a lot of issues can be solved by code”, Gaëtan advised us.
Instilling tech culture within a company is not about putting tech everywhere, everytime. It’s about growing the awareness that tech can help coworkers whenever they need it: “The real challenge is about making people adopt the automatic reflex to talk about their problems. Because in the end, engineers will inevitably develop a solution to help them,” Gaëtan concluded.