Companies will spend $12 billion this year on technology that is supposed to accelerate sales and increase revenue. However, less than 60% of sales reps will hit their quotas, and the average sales team will deliver only 82% of the company revenue plan. (CSO Insights)
According to Frank Dale, co-founder and CEO of a new sales deal management platform called Costello, it’s because these investments are made in software and tools that are mostly designed to increase activity volume (which can help, but doesn’t help them sell better), and nearly everything on the market stops short of the critical time when they actually speak with prospects and leaves reps to their own devices.
Meanwhile, sales management has little to no visibility into how reps execute the sales process to properly coach, motivate and train their reps.
Frank DaleCo-founder & CEO
“After 40 hours of interviews and spending a lot of time in the field with reps, sales managers and VPs, we learned that there are three primary pain points killing sales effectiveness. Available software wasn’t designed to be used during sales conversations, which creates inconsistency problems, followed by visibility problems and ultimately insights problems, but we’ve solved all three with Costello.”
Inconsistency Problems — CRM systems and other sales tools were not designed to help reps navigate sales conversations, create business cases and track multiple deals from start to close. As a result, reps use ad-hoc tools like Post-It notes and Google Docs to help them navigate sales conversations.
Visibility Problems — Because the tools reps are provided aren’t designed to be used while they are doing their jobs (selling), and they are using ad hoc tools instead, it’s very difficult for sales managers to know whether or not the deals that reps are working on are quality or not, and it also makes coaching difficult.
Insights Problems — Because of the aforementioned consistency and visibility problems, the critical information exchanged during sales conversations rarely makes it back into the enterprise database, which makes it tough for sales VPs to understand what is and isn’t working so that they can make improvements and adapt the process over time.
Costello was developed to integrate with the Google G-Suite and Salesforce in particular, and will be CRM agnostic in the future as customer need dictates.
Rod FeuerCo-founder & Chief Strategy Officer
Feuer explained that Costello is a deceptively simple idea: “We provide sales reps a tool that is way better than what they are creating for themselves and successfully get the data back to the enterprise.”
“For too long, everybody has just taken for granted that the sales process has to be painful. They are ‘used to the abuse’ so to speak, and nobody was really trying to solve for these pain points in a way that worked for sales reps and their managers and VPs,” Feuer said. “Most solutions are hard on sales reps and designed to benefit management, or they’re solely focused on generating leads but don’t offer managers and VPs the data insights they need to know what’s going on. Costello is the first solution that aligns all three and delivers equal incentives and benefits.”
Costello initially focused on working collaboratively with and selling the deal management product to software-as-a-service companies, most of which are located in San Francisco, Indianapolis and Seattle, but the product works well for sales teams across multiple industries, and especially for teams with a heavy phone-based sales process. One current out-of-state client even became a paying customer sight unseen via a phone call before Costello actually had a working platform. A surprising number of these customers signed purchase agreements with Costello before the platform even existed, highlighting the acute need for improved alignment among reps, managers and VPs, and the pent up demand for a solution that addresses pain points for sales teams.
“What we’re doing is stepping into this gap in the market, and we’re applying technology to the messiest part of the sales process — the actual selling — and we’re making it consistent and visible, and then ultimately repeatable and scalable through insights,” Dale said.
Costello is an idea that Dale has been thinking about since he was CEO of blogging software company Compendium, which was acquired by Oracle in 2013. It was the real-world project of compiling all of this missing information that should have already been captured through sales conversations that first started Dale thinking there could be a better way to support sales teams and gain visibility into what’s working and what’s not in the sales process.
To date, Costello employs eight people from its headquarters in The Union 525 in downtown Indianapolis. Co-founders Dale and Feuer actually met during the judging process for the 2016 TechPoint Mira Awards.
“Rod was asking all these great questions and really putting the Mira Awards nominees through their paces in smart, insightful ways,” Dale said. “I knew then that he was someone I wanted to get to know. Fast forward to today and we’re officially launching our product, building this company together with a great team.”
Costello also announced today it has secured $1 million in funding led by Dundee Venture Capital, which was a relationship that began when Costello Co-founder and CEO Dale met Dundee Venture Capital Partner Greg Beaufait at the TechPoint Mira Awards Winners’ Circle event in 2016, and again at this year’s event.
The $1 million seed round included participation from Elevate Ventures, M25 Group and Service Provider Capital. It’s worth noting that among its investors, Costello marks the first time that some of the VCs are investing in a company located in Indianapolis as well as their first pre-product capital investments based solely on the strength of the concept, the team and its research.