TechBytes with Johnathan Bell, International Manager – CRM and Invoicing, Sellsy

TechBytes with Johnathan Bell, International Manager - CRM & Invoicing, Sellsy
Johnathan Bell, International Manager - CRM & Invoicing, Sellsy

Tell us about your role at Sellsy and the team/technology you handle.

At Sellsy, I am responsible for our international team as we start to grow in key territories outside of France; namely the UK, Germany, and Spain. Previously, I managed our international marketing efforts, however, as things have developed my role has become a 70/30 split between sales/customer experience and marketing.

I also manage the tech stack for our international marketing and sales efforts.

What is the overall state of Customer Relationship Management?

To streamline processes and increase profitability, businesses are taking a more customer-centric approach. This has driven greater adoption of CRM — the latest figures from Market Research Future published earlier this month reveal the market is expected to grow up to 35 billion by 2023. The evolution of Artificial Intelligence in collecting data certainly has something to do with that as it makes this software an indispensable tool for businesses.

What are some of the core differences in marketing methodologies between the US and Europe?

Privacy vs Personalization

The implementation of GDPR was not the start of European consumers worrying about how their data was being used — the sentiment has existed ever since personal data was ever used to adapt marketing messages. American consumers seem to accept their data being used without explicit consent in pursuit of a more personalized experience; whereas European consumers, although open to the idea, seem to prefer transparency on how their data is being used. This varies from market to market though, where the UK seems to be less sensitive to personalization than Germany.

Local vs Global

European brands tend to emphasize their city or country as part of their identity and in direct relation to the quality of the product or service, even for commodities. You’ll probably notice this if you go to the footer of a European start-up and see something like “Made in Vilnius with love”. A noticeable trend for US brands coming to Europe is to hide any relation to their birthplace so to as appear global and without local links. Increasingly, American brands are adapting to this in Europe when possible, for example, McDonald’s emphasizing what product in their supply chain come from a specific region.

As a marketing leader in a fairly competitive technology, what are the biggest challenges that you face on a day-to-day basis?

Time. I wish there were 48 hours in a day! Content quality and creating content is always top of mind. It is only by creating the right content and distributing it via the right channels that my team and I can increase engagement and, therefore, generate more marketing qualified leads.

Is Sellsy’s CRM capable of both, Sales and Marketing? What is the value addition towards a brand when they get involved in your product?

Sellsy can be a CRM but it’s not only a CRM — but it can also be used for lead generation and management, email automation, inventory management, helpdesk and support services, POS systems, budgeting, invoicing, chasing late payments and more.

Sellsy is the best of both a CRM and ERP, in one software. We take a modular approach to ERP functions built around and integrated with our powerful CRM. Companies can choose the solutions that are right for their business and are able to seamlessly integrate new features as they grow. Not only does it ensure their CRM and ERP are fully integrated, but it also ensures they don’t have to keep up with a dozen different usernames and passwords!

It is also cost effective. As a small business owner, you don’t want to pay separate subscriptions for a CRM, marketing tool or accounting software from multiple vendors, especially if they don’t work well together. Our software offers a compelling, innovative solution to this dilemma and provides a 21st-century solution to the age-old problem of marketing and sales teams finding it difficult to collaborate.

How important is the role of Artificial Intelligence in your domain?

Artificial Intelligence in our domain is very important and I think we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the value that it can bring to a business. Predicting the ideal contact times, a number of relaunches, the medium, and thousands of other variables are better managed. More efficient data management means companies can respond more quickly and accurately to customer requirements and increase customer satisfaction.

Which sectors are your ideal buyers (Start-ups, SMEs, Enterprises)?

It depends on the market we are selling to. In the UK, our ideal buyers are marketing agencies of 5-50 employees and fast-growing SMEs

As a marketing agency, you need to be able to figure out what clients and service offerings provide you the most profit margins, then determine where your real value add is. Especially as we note the trend of more and more agencies project managing freelancers for specific services. Our time-tracking tool links with the invoices generated on Sellsy to make that information a matter of a few clicks away.

If you are an SME, cash flow is king. Issuing quotes or invoices or getting contracts signed or paid on time be very difficult, often involving a long administrative process. With Sellsy, you can offer your customers various payment methods and can easily scale the process of chasing late payments.

We often find that SMEs love that Sellsy grows and adapts to their business. You only ever pay for the modules you need, you only pay for the features you use — you don’t need to worry about changing software if you are growing. You might not need a CRM on day 1, but when it becomes necessary, you add it in a few clicks and your pre-existing invoicing data is already there. Sellsy grows with your business.

What Sales and Marketing Technology tools does Sellsy currently use?

Ours, of course! We also use Slack, Gmail, WordPress, GoCardless, Clearbit, Unbounce, YouSign, Stripe, and PayPal, which all integrate with our software.

The rest of the list is probably too long to go through here!

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

If you can afford it, Ahrefs is such an amazing all-in-one SEO powerhouse that you can use for a whole number of things.

I’m also a sucker for nifty little Chrome extensions that we encourage both sales and marketing to use such as:

  • Keywords Everywhere
    This means that when the sales team can feed the marketing team with any keywords they spot when asking a prospect how they came to find Sellsy, and the marketing team can constantly remain in the mindset of PPC.
  • MeetingBird
    An amazing tool that I’ve suggested to many start-ups as it has the core features of other popular scheduling tools but is completely free.
  • Dataynze Insider/WhatRuns
    We encourage our marketing team to check what technology a website uses when they visit it so that they can remain curious and in the loop with what’s happening across a spectrum of different companies and industries. Of course, for our sales team, it helps them qualify prospects, adapts their pitch, and prepare their pitch if they note that a prospect already uses a competitor.
  • SimilarWeb
    There are so many potential uses for this. My favorite is getting a snapshot of where in the world a website’s traffic comes from. For our international expansion, this has helped greatly as we can create a competition matrix with information on who are the most relevant local, regional, and global actors.
  • Auto Text Expander
    This is a neat tool that allows you to create keyboard shortcuts for the phrases you continually have to type and type again. For marketing, I use this to remember the Sellsy central number, address, boilerplates, and bios for our key directors, as well as the HEX color codes to stay on brand.

If you weren’t into marketing, what would have been your alternate career option? 

I’m not the type of person that occupies themselves with a career path because there’s really way too much to keep me curious and learning. God, I hope I’m not developing a career. I guess the marketing industry would call it a T-Shaped personality?

That said, I’ve always loved technology in any capacity. The thing I first dreamed of becoming was a binman and I still find the job insanely cool. Today, I just sit behind a computer or on a phone in an office most days. Let me fly about on the back of a lorry crushing stuff all day.

Thank you for answering all our questions!

Johnathan started his career in marketing at Webmecanik in Berlin. After a couple of years in Germany, Johnathan decided to move back to France to join La Rochelle-based start-up, Sellsy, as Marketing Manager, where he headed up European marketing, with a focus on the UK market. Now Head of International at Sellsy, Johnathan is responsible for the international team and growing the business in key territories outside of France including the UK, Germany and Spain.

Sellsy Logo

Sellsy is an all-in-one solution for sales management: CRM pipelines, Invoicing, Timetracking, Customer Support Ticketing, ERP, POS and many more convenient features. Since 2009, its mission has been making SME’s work easier by providing a seamless environment: everything in one single app! Today, Sellsy assists more than 15,000 users globally to run their daily business and transform the way they manage their sales and delight their customers.

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