Introducing Ricochet — a quicker, easier way to fill your sales pipeline
AKA Once More, with Feeling *
Today, we’re delighted to publicly launch our MVP of Ricochet — a B2B search engine to help sales teams find and qualify new business leads faster.
And yes, this all does sound eerily familiar.
We previously spent six months building something we thought people wanted, and launched that version of Ricochet in January.
It didn’t work for all sorts of reasons, but because we were paying attention to what customers said and how they used it, we cut our losses after less than a month, and closed Ricochet 1.0 in February.
So what happened next?
The problem we wanted to solve didn’t change —B2B sales professionals enduring the pain and drudgery of prospecting for new business, the daily grind to find fresh leads, trying to hit their targets. Long hours of repetitive, mostly manual effort. Week in, week out.
One of the top reasons it’s such a pain, is because any one source of business information is incomplete and disconnected.
For example — Companies House has publicly available records of all 4.2 million incorporated companies in the UK, but nothing in those records will neccessarily tell you what name a company is trading under, its website address, what it sells or who works there.
What about LinkedIn? In the absence of any significant competition, we’ve been left to assume that LinkedIn is an indisputable, unrivalled resource of business information, even though:
- LinkedIn holds information for over 30 million businesses, which at best is 25% of the total number trading in the world;
- Nearly all of that information is user-generated — there are bots that scrape Companies House to try and fill in the gaps (you’ve probably seen these “ghost” profiles with no logo and minimal detail) but otherwise the information relies on somebody adding it, or editing it.
In other words, the universe of information available through LinkedIn absolutely does not represent all the businesses you could be selling to.
And throughout our customer conversations, interviews and surveys, it’s LinkedIn that we kept running into, time and time again; because of its legacy and monthly pricing, Linkedin’s Sales Prospector was the only product consistently used by the majority of SMEs we talked to.
Since Sales Navigator dominated the prospecting activity of our potential customers, one of our early exercises was to review customer comments posted on software review sites:
What did customers like most?
- The information was (mostly) up-to-date and relevant
- Search results could be filtered to make them more relevant
What did they dislike about it?
- There’s no readily available contact information like phone numbers or email addresses; LinkedIn is a walled garden that tries to force customers to use its (costly) InMail service;
- Unless you pay for the higher tier — which is only available for teams buying multiple seats per month — there’s no easy way to get information out of LinkedIn and into a CRM.
Our (new) solution
If we could begin to address these four points — a solution that offered the same benefits as Sales Navigator, but also addressed its faults — then we’d have a place to start.
We also wanted to consider how we’d bring the benefits of RPA to SMEs. RPA means Robotic Process Automation — using tech to do manual, mundane, repetitive jobs so staff can apply themselves to more meaningful tasks, and in turn increasing operating efficency. RPA is a hot space for Enterprise-sized companies (see UIPath, Tray.io), and it’s obvious automation will soon dominate business functions in all sizes of business, so exploration of RPA felt critical.
But how can a startup team of three founders and two part-time engineers possibly hope to stick it to LinkedIn?
We couldn’t possibly be better than a multi-billion dollar global entity from day 1. Instead, we decided to do things differently. We would:
- Provide a different user experience that made life easier;
- Figure out how to build a comprehensive, dynamic database of the world’s business information, without relying entirely on LinkedIn or Companies House.
And this is what we’ve spent the last four months doing.
We rolled out a beta version of our new product to B2B SMEs in June, to employees in a variety of roles, to see who it would resonate with — Heads of marketing, startup CEOs, BD execs, commercial directors, sales teams big and small were invited (we found our beta-testers through a mix of previous customers, newsletter subscribers and professionals who’d engaged us on social media, commenting on our posts).
Beta-testing isn’t just about finding bugs, it’s also about discovering who your launch market is — and who it isn’t. Not everyone saw the value in Ricochet — some professionals used it once and never logged in again. That’s hard to take, but we paid attention, and through surveys and in-person debriefs, we uncovered their use cases, and we’re now able to articulate why they didn’t like it.
But we also dug deep with those who used us several times a day, each and every day. Sales Development Execs and BDEs really liked Ricochet — to the point that they integrated Ricochet into their workflow from the very first time they used it.
There were two specific groups of sales professionals Ricochet really resonated with:
Sales/Business Development Executives (SDEs/BDEs)
Small commercial teams in companies with 10–50 employees
ABM (Account Based Marketing) prospecting processes
Business development-related roles
Working solo in smaller companies of up to 25 employees
Prospecting for leads, but broader responsibilities (e.g. marketing / social media)
The message came through loud and clear from multiple sales professionals in different businesses — not everything was perfect and we weren’t neccessarily better than LinkedIn Sales Navigator, but we we’re certainly holding our own against it:
“It’s saved me countless hours researching sales prospects. I am blown away by how easy it is to use. You’ve earned a lifelong customer.”
“It’s an incredibly helpful tool that really compliments Sales Navigator. I was able to find a huge amount of new leads in a short space of time.”
“I found a lot of new leads that I’ve never found with the traditional Sales Navigator search. Quick and easy access to information about a potential lead really improved my lead generation output.”
“It’s been a big help in identifying on-persona targets for us. It’s highly intuitive and is very easy to use, and saved me time usually spent on researching decision-makers in a business and finding their contact details.”
A key reason SDs and BDs liked Ricochet was because the information was “accessible” — it was easy to get started, and super-quick to filter and find new results.
We’d found that the same types of business professionals in different businesses would use Ricochet several times a day, every day. And that was enough for us — we weren’t going to please everyone straight away, but we stood a chance if we could delight just a few.
Today’s launch is a point we can iteratively improve from. There are still bugs, and gaps in our data (and it only focuses on UK businesses at the moment) and things that don’t always work as we want them to — but we’ve a robust roadmap to improve customer experience, and increase the quantity and quality of our data.
We’re building a significant technology, and we’re starting by streamlining and automating the sales prospecting process for B2B SMEs.
Our intention is to move further and deeper into business intelligence and RPA for businesses everywhere.
Our vision is to create economic opportunity from the world’s business information.
And, also, kill LinkedIn.