In Reviews We Trust

Ep. 23 - 2023 eCommerce: Trends, Tools and Tips with CRO expert Rich Himsworth

January 31, 2023 Season 1 Episode 23
In Reviews We Trust
Ep. 23 - 2023 eCommerce: Trends, Tools and Tips with CRO expert Rich Himsworth
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode Callum McKeefery, show host and CEO of talks to Rich Himsworth, Founder & CEO of Salesfire, an intelligent conversion rate optimisation solution.

They discuss their fundraising journeys, the unpredictable route of product development, AI-powered search, SaaS tools that enable merchants to manage their own services, taking control from agencies, and the new affiliate wave.

Episode links:

Rich Himsworth:

Callum McKeefery:

Show notes:
Triple Whale
Hubspot Flywheel
Salesfire Trends (TrendDesk)

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Ep. 23 - 2023 Ecommerce Outlook: Trends, Tools and Strategies with Rich Himsworth


Callum: So today I have Rich Himsworth with me. Rich is the CEO and founder of Salesfire. Salesfire, if you don't know, is a great product. It's basically popups, overlays, onsite marketing. How would you, how would you describe Salesfire, Rich?

Rich: Suite of CRO tools, basically. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: So I guess everything we're doing is aiming towards what it is is we're trying to look at the major touch points on the site, which influence the most revenue. It's almost like a bit of a cheat code really, I guess, in terms of taking those over or hijacking them and then trying to get the most conversion out of them. 

Callum: One of your, sorry, one of the products I always liked on your site is the, the search functionality that you offer to e-commerce D to C brands.

 I know you've been working hard on developing that product and getting it into more retail. Isn't that a point now you're selling? Cause I remember when. Is that a, a 

Callum: chargeable product now? 

Rich: Yes. 

Callum: Yeah. 

We've got that essentially we've got five chargeable products. And the idea is originally, I guess the idea [00:01:00] was that us being a little lowly company from Teeside, we shouldn't be able to compete with any of the big players.

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: So we thought we need instead developing one product where we'd always be superseded by some company that's had, you know, 

Callum: Being a feature. You don't wanna be a feature, do you? 

Rich: No, that's it. So we developed five products that would work together. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: To generate something greater than the sum of the parts.

What's what's happened on for a variety of reasons, I think, is that they are, they are certainly, certainly some of the products are best of breed now and the others are on their, on their way to that, which I didn't think when we started the company five years ago, I honestly didn't think that'd be possible, but I think it's the nature of a lot of businesses where they'll take on funding and it all get, goes into driving sales.

Everything's driving sales instead of the product and innovation. 

Callum: Yeah.

Some of the rivals we come across naturally pick up bit bits of information about them. They haven't, they haven't touched a line of code in four years. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: And [00:02:00] they just haven't developed anything.

So it's just a case of right, sell it. Sell it into another country, that type of thing. Not, they're not evolving. 

Callum: The bums on seats selling. 

Rich: That's it. 

Callum: Cold emailing. Cold calling. Sales team. 

Rich: But I guess what we're trying to do, 

Callum: That's what happens when you get VC, isn't it? 

Rich: Yeah, yeah, I think so. Spin up, spin up offices in all the, all the prime locations kind of thing, but. I guess what we've wanted to do similar to yourselves really, I guess is just look at making the product as strong as possible. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: And, and evolving it and taking, taking the customers on the journey with us, really. I think that's been quite important. But yeah, in terms of the search, it's a fun one really because you, you're developing it with certain constraints, so you, we're trying to make it so that you can just, you can deploy it very quickly.

We appreciate that. E-commerce retailers, they are. They've got everything to do. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: They're the busiest people on on Earth. No one's, no one's sitting there twiddling the thumbs in that industry. 

Callum: No. 

Rich: Especially with current climate. So we want tools where you switch them on and you're live within. Within minutes.

So it's trying to work to those [00:03:00] constraints of like having that philosophy in mind where you can, you can be live very quickly working into refining it later. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: But get live, make it look good on site. 

Callum: Yeah. I remember when you launched like the, your minimum viable product and you showing it to me and the, the speed of it was absolutely brilliant and I, I was always concerned about can you keep that speed up when you get more, when you grow solid. 

Rich: First iteration the answer was no. 

Callum: Right. Okay. That was always my worry. 

Rich: We are giving you the inside track of what happens behind the scenes here. But going, going back years ago, we we, we launched the search, I think we got it live on about five sites. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: And it went from blisteringly fast to fast and then fast to kind of worrying. It's a good job. It was proof for concept at the time, but 

Callum: Yeah.

Rich: We were thinking, right, we can deploy it. We, we had, we had visions of deploying this on a thousand sites by the end of the year, and that wasn't that. Yeah, that wasn't the case. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: It didn't, the, the first one did not scale too well.

Callum: So you're on version two of that now, or version three? 

Rich: Yeah, version three of it. Now we're, we're up to, but I think [00:04:00] it's, I mean, the philosophy behind the search has always been, make it as fast as possible. It's what, what things as, as consumers, what we're interested in. We want the fastest, we want the fastest mobile phone.

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: We want the fastest PC or whatever it is. We want the fastest car. So it's making the fastest search possible. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: And making it look good. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: And more searches that you see. I mean, you've got horses for courses, haven't you? But you'll, you'll go on Amazon, for example. It's not the sexiest search in the world.

Callum: No. 

Rich: But they've got 11 million products on site. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: So it's, it's all very practical. Whereas with ours, we've, we've tried to make it so you can shop with your eyes a lot more. I think. 

Callum: Image-led. 

Rich: Yes. Yeah, absolutely. 

Callum: So I think obviously that that's the way it's going with, especially with D to C brands, it's all about the images.

They're spending so much money on creating those images. They want them in the search. 

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: And that makes massive sense. On, on search, how, when you say on your product in its entirety on the product suite. What [00:05:00] e-commerce ecosystems do you play in most? What is it Shopify? Is it visual? I know because obviously Salesfire was a really close partner of VisualSoft's.

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: Is it still VisualSoft mainly, or is it, is it, is it 

Rich: I think the, the biggest, the, the biggest platform we've got going is, is Shopify. Yeah. They're a monster out there. Basically. 

Callum: They're a thousand pound gorilla. 

Rich: So they're the biggest, they're, they're also the fastest growing, I'd say the big one that's, that's really making moves is BigCommerce.

Callum: Right. 

Rich: I think they're the ones where they've, they're obviously they're really going after the UK market, but they've been more surgical about it? 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: I'd say. So they're just onboarding everything. They're kind of going after key wins. Key wins. 

Callum: Yeah. I've noticed that as well. They're going for those key accounts.

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: I remember when they targeted Ted Baker. 

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: They've just won some other like really key brands and I think that's a good approach for them. I actually like BigCommerce. I think they're a good company. They've got good management structure. 

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: And I think they [00:06:00] treat their partners really well. I like Shopify, but I'm not, I think Shopify is, can be a game system, especially with them buying up all these different apps in different sections and then promoting them and pushing those brands. 

Rich: It's almost like being a partner with Google, isn't it? 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: Cause they're so big. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: Whereas I think with the likes of BigCommerce, with VisualSoft, with yourselves, you can have, you can sit down and have a conversation.

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: You know, you can talk about what you're doing and throw around ideas and, and 

Callum: You can come out with actually a better solution for the client. 

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: So, you know, if BigCommerce say to you 'Right, we're doing Ted Baker's search. We need it to be like this.' 

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: You can work with that, salesperson or that developer who's working on that on a one-on-one basis.

And you know, to win that account, you can do customization and 

Rich: That's it. 

Callum: Same with REVIEWS. We can go above and beyond what we give out the box. 

Rich: Yeah, exactly. 

Callum: So how, obviously we're coming towards the end of the year, you know, we're in December now. How do you, what do you think is gonna stay [00:07:00] the same in 2023?

What do you think is, is happened in 2023 that we're gonna carry through and see more of in 2023 that we saw in 2022? 

Rich: I think we're gonna see more of, unfortunately we're gonna see more of, retailers tightening the belts. 

Callum: Yeah.

Rich: I think they're going to start questioning the, their outlets, basically.

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: They're constantly gonna be looking at the monthlies and looking at how they can stay in control of them. You're gonna see more of the likes of your mates and people like that. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: That've unfortunately, gone outta business, I'm kind of a, I'm kind of seeing this thing where I think a lot of, a lot of companies, they've tried recovering from the pandemic. I thought I'd get through a whole podcast without mentioning the C word, but 

Callum: Yeah.

Rich: Unfortunately not again, but you've got a lot of companies where they, they're looking to, they were trying to recover from that, some of them getting kind of, You know, almost bailouts and some assistance in places.

And now with the recession, it's kind of come home to bite. So I think you're gonna have a lot of people [00:08:00] where, a lot of companies where it's gonna make or break over this Christmas period. Cause it's kinda that golden quarter. So I'm, I'm afraid you're gonna see a continuation of that, but in that lies opportunity.


Callum: Yeah.

Rich: Because if you look at, I mean, it's the SaaS businesses like, like yourselves, like us, which you'd hope they, they'd win out overall. 

Callum: Mm-hmm. 

Rich: I think in, in certain, and you've probably seen this over the years, when, when a technology appears, it tends to be an agency that takes it to the forefront.

It's very expensive. 

Callum: Mm-hmm.

Rich: It's very, everything's kind of agency-led account managed like the agency's doing. Take, take for example, search. Search is a good example. Going back just five years ago, you had agencies where they're charging literally tens of thousands of pounds a month for the search, and they're the ones redirecting keywords.

They're the ones that are kind of optimizing the search. The agency. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: And now you've got AI, you've got, you've got machine learning, which is doing a lot of that for you. Or [00:09:00] you are educating the client to the point where they can do it themselves. So what happens over time is the SaaS businesses start to take over.

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: Where people just pay a monthly, monthly subscription and the tools are in their own hands to do it. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: And that's what we've seen with the overlays world and you've seen with, with the search world. I think there'll be a continuation of that naturally where customers that they are tightening the, the belt buckle, they'll be looking at more kind of cost effective.

Callum: I totally agree with you. I think agencies that are doing all, you know, that are doing everything for everyone sort of thing. 

Rich: Yeah.

Callum: I think they're really gonna struggle. I think the specialist agencies will still do well for me. I think the, the changes that brands are gonna have to get a control on spend, they're gonna have to, in the new year, they're gonna be looking.

At ad spends. 

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: And ROIs.

Rich: They already are, aren't they? 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: They're already. 

Callum: So how do you track ROI with, with your solution at the minute? 

Rich: So where we stand, we're always open and honest with it. [00:10:00] We are someone, we're a company where we can assist, we can assist in, in generating a sale.

Callum: Right. 

Rich: We're not that company where we turn around and say, we have generated you those sales.

Callum: Because there is some competitors of yours directly that say 'that sale came from.' 

Rich: Literally in their reports, they will turn around and say, you've spent a thousand pounds with us, we've generated you quarter of a million.

Callum: Yes, that's right. 

Rich: But your sales have gone up by 20 grand. 

Callum: But everybody is almost claiming that sale you've got. 

Rich: Exactly, yeah. 

Callum: You know, Klaviyo's claiming it on a abandonment call, email. You've got Privy claiming it. You've got all of these brands claiming the sales and yeah I always wonder about how, I think you've gotta try and show an ROI.

Rich: Yep. 

Callum: But how do you, how do you do it, obviously, truthfully. Do you integrate, have you looked at integrating with Triple Whale yet? 

Rich: No, not, no. 

Callum: They're a, e-commerce analytics solution, but they might be good for you guys to, 

Rich: That'd be cool. Yeah. 

Callum: Integrate with, yeah, they're really good brand. [00:11:00] 

Rich: Well, what I've noticed is that they I think, again, this has been changed in the last couple of years and we'll continue to in 2023, but this, this movement away from like a CPA, so what you're talking about there in terms of ROI and actually claiming the sale, you're very restricted in, in terms of what you can do with a lot, lot of these kind of, product suites that are based around CPA.

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: Because, you know, look, looking, looking back at the look at the overlay as well, for example. If you're on CPA, you are paying 5% of a sale to that supplier. Mm-hmm. And you're doing an exit intent. You could say you could, you could claim that there's a certain percentage of people will not come back to the site.

So if we can engage with them on exit, I can give them some kind of promotion, get 'em to continue the customer journey and purchase, and you pay a percentage, but there's so many subtleties along the way. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: There's so many nice ways that you could, you could engage with a customer just saying things like.

You know, for example, communicating that there's low stock or often items are hurry, hurry and purchase. Free delivery over a certain amount. You don't wanna be a paying a [00:12:00] CPA on that. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: It doesn't make any sense. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: And that's where I think a lot of, a lot of these product suites are kind of, they struggle to get long-term traction with the customer because they always using it sparingly cuz they've got one, one eye on what the monthly bill's gonna be.

Callum: Yeah. And I, I was talking to somebody the other day about, about like their bills. And this, and they were a e-commerce brand, pretty big. And they had a, he goes, Callum, I'm spending, they were spending $10,000 a month with MailChimp for their email list. 

Rich: Goodness me. 

Callum: Right? And I'm like, what? What do you mean? How many emails are you sending? What you? 

Rich: A billion. 

Callum: Yeah. And he wasn't, it was a lot, but not massive massive. I've seen bigger lists. And I was like, you've gotta get those emails out of there and you've gotta use a, go and look and find different solutions. Yeah, they found the solution pretty much. I think they moved, I think they moved actually to either Klaviyo or Omnisend and they save like, nearly $9,000 a month.[00:13:00] 

Looking and, you know, whittling down their list. They were leaving everybody in. 

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: People, they were segmenting off and they weren't sending into, were staying in MailChimp and MailChimp charges you per record. 

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: And they were getting charged for sends. But I think you're gonna see a lot more of that.

I think that looking at your account, I mean, we are seeing it with reviews. You know, we, we actively ring our clients up and say, you know, you've got this feature you're not using. 

Rich: Yeah.

Callum: You know, either use it or, or drop down to the, the lower tier. 

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: You know, and I think by being proactive about that, you can actually build a better, longer term relationship.

So talking about going forward 2023, 2024, how do you see that, that the landscape changing in your space and in the wider e-commerce. 

Callum: Landscape. 

Rich: In terms of how it's gonna change, I think, I think a lot of the agents, a lot of the agencies, a lot of, they right across, right across the board, there's, there's less money going in the top of the [00:14:00] hopper, I guess.

Callum: Mm-hmm. . 

Rich: I think we've, we've both been lucky as companies in that we've managed to get funding or acquisitions or over the line. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: Probably acquisitions or funding that's been negotiated. Like, like say up to a year ago? 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: We're in the sit ways. We're in the similar boat. We, we raised, we raised, 2 million, just two months ago.

So I think off the back of it, you're gonna, you, you're probably gonna see, money, money spent less frivolously I think you're gonna see a lot more of that where, where companies are gonna be appreciating the customer a lot more.

Rich: Like you said there, like ringing a customer and taking the time to make sure you, you they're using the product suite. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: Accordingly and properly, whereas before, I think it's a case of. A lot of these companies that funded, like VC funded Get the next customer, get the next one.

Get the next one through the door. Yeah. And they're just like, churn is just a stat. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: You know, it's just a stat that they worry about later at some point. 

Callum: Yeah, 

Rich: I think, 

Callum: I think you see that. Definitely. 

Rich: I think that's how we're gonna see the industry. Industry. Everyone's just gonna be a lot more.

Callum: Have you had chance to play with, the AI stuff, the ChatGPT [00:15:00] 3 and all of those things? These like chat, not chat bots. It is a chat bot, but it's more of like an AI thing where you ask it a question and it'll give you a full answer. Or you say, write a description for this.

Rich: I've seen little demos of it and they, they are, I mean, you dig into tech a lot, a lot more than me with these things. But,I always see the demos and think I'm obviously cynical. Cause I was looking 'God, I bet, I bet he couldn't do this and I bet he couldn't do that. But 

Callum: Yeah.

Rich: But moving on that there, 

Callum: I think brands have gotta adopt this a lot more in 2023, 2024 and going forward, simply because they're probably paying a copyright amount to write descriptions for all of their products. 

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: Unique descriptions. Whereas they can use GPT 3 to, you know, put in what it is and gimme a description for this iPhone case made out of this.

And it'll simply write you a description for the site. So I, I think. There's gonna be a lot more of that. 

Rich: I'm gonna say rise of those affiliate sites again. Do you remember the [00:16:00] ones where it's a case of. take the Wikipedia description. 

Callum: Yeah.

Rich: Put that against the product listing and then send all the traffic to eBay like that.

Callum: I think, right? Talking about affiliates, I actually think affiliate stuff is gonna come back in 2023. As an acquisition model, affiliates, an acquisition model has been like a, is affiliates a dirty word almost in the industry, isn't it? Because there's so much fraud.

Yeah, but actually I see solutions like, Social Snowball. Which is, an affiliate solution that turns past customers into affiliates. And there's a couple of solutions like this out there in the minute. And I think that is gonna be a channel that, that Over time it's gonna be expand. Yeah. what I see, the, they're, they're gonna change the name because affiliate is such a, you've got such bad connotations in the industry. I think it'll be influencers or something like this, but it's gonna be 

Callum: turning that, 

Rich: No no, that's the hot term right now. 

Callum: Normal customers, it's gonna be turning normal customers into revenue drivers.

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: Share [00:17:00] this link and we will pay you 5%. and I'm sure there's gonna be some abuse of that. I did see some other solutions, membership solutions. So 

Rich: Yeah. 


Callum: So it's like a membership scheme. You pay 29 pound and you probably get free delivery for the year and 10% off everything you buy. 

Rich: Yeah.I do see the rise of solutions like that again. 

Have you noticed it's, it's more, it's more to do with looking after that customer we're, we are talking about our business and looking after existing customer.

It's the same with the retailers, isn't it? 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: It's, it's mirrored there, so it's, it's getting the most out that cust out that customer base, I think. 

Callum: Yeah, and I think that'll be the trend going forward. I think that will be one of the key trends going forward. 

Rich: Well, acquisition, it's gotta be, it's gotta be worth it in terms of paying for the acquisition because I think. I don't wanna say people have been lazy, but it's been a case of spend this much on paid, you know, on paid search, drive traffic in, try and make a sale. 

Callum: Yeah. 

And there's no thought to the, you know, the, the, the repeats repeats, you know, the repeat, the repeat orders and things like that. There's been less thought, There's a really good, [00:18:00] there's a thing I show people all the time, which is the HubSpot flywheel. Which is basically, you know, you're try really trying, you're not just using it like a funnel and kicking them out the bottom of the funnel once they're paid. It's really getting them in the flywheel and keeping and spining.

Rich: We're in the middle of that HubSpot Flywheel. 

Callum: Yeah. Have you seen it? Have you seen that? 

Rich: I've seen, I think I've seen you share it before. 

Callum: I have shared it a few times on LinkedIn and on Twitter. Talking about your acquisition, how's things now, now you've come through it. How was the process?

Rich: Good. 

Yeah, it's been, it's, it's been good because I think when you've, when you've put your heart and soul into something for five years, you don't want to relinquish any kind of power or control over. Over what you've created. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: You're essentially, you, again, you've, there's so many ways that the companies are mirrored in the, in this sense, you've created your dream scenario.

 You've created a sales process. That's exactly how you want it. You've created the product. 

Callum: Yeah.

Rich: Where you've literally sat over there, I'm sure you've done this as well, sat over the designer's shoulder and gone, let's try it like this, and let's bring new [00:19:00] ideas in every, every day. You always find it difficult, kind of relinquishing any of that control.

And we spoke to a lot, a lot of people. We, we started the process, I think it was October last year, so right, so that's 14, 14 months ago. We started pulling everything together for it and we ended up with, we ended up with kind of a fairly local funder. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: One that admittedly it was off a relationship that I'd, you know, I got from previous, so I'd known him first.

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: At least the, the group of people that we were dealing with. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: I'd known them from seven or, you know, seven or eight years previous. 

Callum: Yeah. So you had that relationship, 

Rich: Had that kind of confidence. You had that confidence there. But going into it, we we stopped started a few times, but we got to the point.

Where we felt it was right. We felt it was right for the company. In terms of, you kind of we're kind of heading in what, what was even a few months ago? Very obviously a recession that we're heading into. Yeah. And it's a case of, with a, with a few million behind [00:20:00] us, we can do it. 

Callum: So what are you gonna do with the. 

Rich: We can do a lot.

Callum: What's the plan with the money? Is it just to wait and see and, or is it, you've started, pouring petrol on the fire and you're, you know, you're hiring. 

Rich: Well, we are a company that started with about, I think with, with a 20k loan. 

Callum: Right. 

Rich: And we've done very little, very little else in terms of fundraising ever since.

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: So we're, we're naturally very, we, we make money last, I think, which is, which is nice. Which is good for a funder to hear, I think. I think the guys at Mercia will be happy to, happy to hear that. But I think what we're doing is we're basically getting all of our ducks in a row for, for January.

So all these, all these ideas and things we've been naturally building. Building them up. Yeah. But come January it's a case of we've had this, almost like this three month sprint of getting every member of staff working towards some, you know, some pretty serious goals. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: Serious goals and some tight deadlines really. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: Which will hopefully culminate in and around [00:21:00] the Christmas. We hope everything complete. But then, so January, we're really looking at doing things aggressively in terms of growth, but also rolling out a lot, a lot of new tech. 

Callum: Right. 

Rich: So. 

Callum: Yeah, I think so. Is that your, would you say that was basically your series A or would you say that's seed?

Rich: I'd say it was. It depends on how you define it. I've always called it, I've always considered it a series, series A. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: Just cause we're, we're turning over, we're quite well established in terms of, in terms of turnover. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: So.

Callum: So what are you gonna have to look at then? This time next year you're gonna be looking at going out and raising Series B.

It a much bigger valuation. 

Rich: Not yet, not again. Yeah. 

Callum: Wouldn't you get on that treadmill, Rich? That's, you have to stay on it. 

Rich: That's it. 

Callum: You're on it now, you have to go 5x of your last raise to, to keep, keep going on the machine. 

You have to grow fast, don't you? You know? 

Rich: That's it. Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Cuz it's, it's seriously. 

Callum: See, I was never ready to do that. I was never ready to do the growing up there.

I [00:22:00] was, yeah. With REVIEWS, I was just like, no, I don't my, every time we looked at raising money, the people. When we went out, me and Nicky went out to Silicon Valley a few times to try and raise. And that was years ago, but we found it very difficult. One because of my accent and being from the UK and two, we was husband and wife founders and they were like 'No, 

we don't.'

Rich: Is that big no no? Is it? 

Callum: It was and now it's not. Actually, now it's kind of changed around a little bit. husband and wife found founders. There's been a few of them now and they've had really good exits. So, and yeah, we've had a good exit. You know, we just got acquired, so I think husband and wife founders are looked on at very differently to how they were six or so years ago.

but yeah, whenever I looked at VC, I just found it. Maybe it was just me. I just found it. I can't schmooze, I struggle with that. 

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: I struggle with having these [00:23:00] conversations. I can talk to our customers really well cuz they're looking for a solution. I can work with them but I really struggle with the schmoozing part of it.

The handshakes and the, the 

Rich: I see, yeah, I do see what you, I mean, almost traditionally or naturally, I, I'd sit within that product. My, my background's on sales. 

Callum: It's all product. ,

Rich: Yeah. It's all sales, but it's product where, where I'm happiest is sitting in with a, to like, I mean, they hate me doing this, but sitting in, sitting in with the designers 

Callum: Yeah.

Rich: And sitting in throwing ideas and looking at designs. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: Because I'm not a coder. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: Cause I've got developer and I can't read, read what's on their screen and interpret it. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: And I'm, I'm working off visuals, basically 

Callum: What's coming out the other end. 

Rich: That's it. Yeah. So that's what's ex that's what's exciting to me.

So to then go be going and working in the, it's basically like the financial sector that you, you're getting into. That's it. It's yeah, It's a very different world, isn't it? Yeah. 

Callum: I yeah, I just didn't like it and I had a natural fear people who work in the financial environment anyway.[00:24:00] 

So I was like, I'm terrified of you lot. I'm staying away. I'm gonna run my own course. 

But that's 

Rich: where taking your time's coming, coming handy, isn't it? That's where it's been useful. And again, with us it was looking at the right company that's going to, that's gonna be then and, and support us.

Callum: So what do you think 

next for Salesfire? can you give us any insights into products coming out possible? 

Rich: So, one of the main things that we're looking at doing in January is our launch in January is we've had TrendDesk. Which has been, 

Callum: I love TrendDesk. Yeah, no, I absolutely love it. I absolutely love it when you share those graphs on me. 

Rich: So it was brought about through it. It was lockdown time. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: It was around that time when it was almost, it was shameful to try and sell anything. Everything was about, you know, just everyone lending a hand.

So we looked at it and we thought, how can we, what 

Callum: Pure survival wasn't it? 

Rich: Oh, absolutely. Especially those first few months. I mean, there was a company, there was a company close to us, I, I won't mention the name, but they, there were an [00:25:00] agency and they got about 600 clients and going into lockdown, they were on, month to month contracts going into lockdown.

They had 280 of their clients. Sent notice on them because they just went panic, ran the spending. As it turned out, obviously E-commerce. E-commerce, absolutely fluent. So those, so tho those fears were kind of put to one side after, after a couple of weeks. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: But the, the idea was we were thinking, we, we kind of predict, we've done very well through Fluke & Design, at, at kind of predicting how things would, how things would kind of come to pass.

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: So we, we thought actually there's gonna be a bit of interruption as long as they're not gonna ban people from a warehouse. then e-commerce is gonna absolutely, absolutely fly. So we, we were saying to ourselves, how can we, how can we provide the evidence for this? So what we did was we took our clients anonymized all the data, and everything that we've got to do with, with transactions and user behavior.

And we made it public facing and free to, free to all users. So we've had a few iterations of [00:26:00] it. And then what we're doing is we are, we're actually rebranding it as, and again, this is where, this is where chairman comes in with kind of marketing expertise. 

Callum: Mm-hmm. 

Rich: And he's kind of looked at it and gone, why are you growing a brand called Trenddesk when you've got, you are Salesfire.

Callum: Yeah. Yeah. 

Rich: So we're launching Salesfire. Kind of rebadging it as Salesfire Trends. And the idea is we're just literally gonna work into it and work into it. Make it more and more in depth kind of data and information. 

Callum: I, I can definitely see why you went separately at the start though, because almost if you're gonna launch an MVP, you don't want to, now you can do it, you know it works.

Rich: Know it works. 

you can bring it into the fold. I've done that with a couple of things that we did at REVIEWS. We did, you know, FullPicture, which was session recording and to show a return on investment for But now we're bringing that actually in and it's gonna be part of our core offering.

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: And I can definitely see, I think you did the right thing originally by branding it separately. 

Rich: Josh and marketing will thank you for saying that. we're log heads with it, so we're both right in the end I guess. 

Callum: No, [00:27:00] I think, I think it was the right move to do it separately. I don't think you would've had the traction of it and the users of it, cuz I think bringing it as a core product straight away. 

Rich: Yeah, it looks like it's for sale. 

So I think it was a good move on that way. 

Rich: What we're gonna do on top of it as well is, so we're gonna launch that and then, and what we noticed, the subscribers are incredible.

They, they, so there's a level of, there's kind of your, your SME that we work with as Salesfire, but the people signing up to, to get insights on. 

Callum: Who are the signups? 

Rich: So, Samsung, Aston Martin, people like that. They've like, 

Callum: Oh, such big brands signing. 

Rich: Big, big, big brands where admittedly at this, at this time, you know, we've like, in terms of our Salesfire offering. 

Callum: Yeah.

Rich: It's not, it's not what we're targeting, it's not what we're targeting right now. So, but it's, it's interesting. It's interesting to see these companies and these people from these companies that are signing up all the time. So the idea is we're gonna back it up as well with, we're going old school with this as well.

And cuz we find a lot of the old school marketing tends to work. It's almost, [00:28:00] people go for what's modern and the leave behind what's, yeah. You know, what's... 

Callum: Throwing the baby out the bathtub? 

Rich: Yeah. What, what's used to work. So we're basically sending out, there's about 30,000, essentially newspapers we're gonna send out in the post in January, end of January.

Callum: Oh gosh. 

Rich: So every e-commerce manager, CEO, FD. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: We're gonna push out this, this Trends magazine. So the idea is no sales pitch behind it really. It's just obviously it helps. Yes, it helps in terms of the brand. 

Callum: It's brand awareness. 

Rich: Yeah. And then get people to collaborate with us, partners to collaborate with us in, in providing the content.

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: And basically just providing this, this insights, this data for people. So that's, that's, that's our, that's one of our big plans. 

Callum: Yeah. I like it. The Trojan Horse. 

Rich: That's it. Yeah. 

Callum: Get people to like your brand. It's that soft seller and I, I think that works. I think that works massively. Giving them the information upfront.

Rich: And that's where fundings come in really, because I don't think, I think previously to justify that big an operation so 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: Left field from what we typically do. I think that's [00:29:00] where we can we, we can do that with a lot more confidence 

Callum: That the, what you are talking about there is very similar to like what HubSpot did.

It started, they started building out, building out a lot of free tools. That a lot of people were using. 

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: And then they charged 1% of those people. 

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: For their key offering. And obviously now it's changed, but they charged a lot more than 1% now. But that was what they were doing. 

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: They were doing these a, a free CRM, a free dialer, you know, they were doing all these tools that were, were absolutely free and we we're just there to get their brand out.

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: And I, I love that you are doing that with Trenddesk. Cause I think that's a great product. I think, have you seen SimilarWeb? Have you ever seen SimilarWeb? 

Rich: Yep. 

Callum: And I think Trenddesk is a bit a bit like that. It could almost be a bit like that, where at a product level, that data could be used. So the biggest buyer of SimilarWeb is hedge funds.

Rich: Yep. 

Callum: So they buy the data, the anonymous data, and they say, well, Nike's had a good month cuz it's had this many searches and it's done this and then. 

Rich: Yep. 

Callum: And they [00:30:00] invest loads of money into Nike or, or they short Nike if they look at the sales. And I think maybe Trenddesk could go out and doing reports for the hedge funds in that way.

Rich: Yeah. There's certainly value in that. I mean there always has been, you look at where Facebook's growing, any, any of these huge businesses, the biggest companies in the world. The data business is 

Callum: Knowledge is actually, knowledge is power. 

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: And you've got it. You've got it through the solution that you are, you are, you are actually bringing capital from, which is your paid SaaS solution.

So I always ask this towards the end of the interview, which is like, what are you reading? What's influencing you? Are you reading a newsletter? Are you into a podcast at the minute? Are you reading a book? What is it, what have you been learning from recently? 

Rich: Well, I think from the last time we talked, I think you guilt tripped me into, into reading a bit more.

I think the current one I've got is the and it's, it's so cliche to even say it, I'm cringing, but the Steve Jobs auto autobiography. 

Callum: Brilliant. 

Rich: [00:31:00] And it's, it's interesting because he's deeply, was deeply flawed. 

Callum: Deeply, deeply flawed. 

Rich: I've, I've always got this, I've always got this kind of, thought process whereby, there's gotta be an idiot in charge of some of these, some of these huge, you know. 

Callum: Yeah.

Rich: Trillion dollar companies or whatever, where they've just, they've, they've essentially won the EuroMillions twice in a row. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: Kind of thing to end up in that position where, where they're at. And I wouldn't say it's to that extent. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: But there's certainly, I don't think he could get away with it nowadays. That what? Like, like what? 

I, you know, I've read the Steve Jobs autobiography, several versions of his, the autobiography, a couple of times, and I love the story. I love that he was there. Biggest shareholder in Pixar. And then when Disney. 

Rich: That was incredible with, with Pixar!

Callum: When Disney bought Pixar and he was the biggest shareholder in Disney then.

Rich: Yeah. Yeah. It's absolutely incredible. But there's, there's some, there's a certain charm I think about that kind of, I don't know whether it can [00:32:00] exist anymore. Is that, is that kind of garage business? Like, you go in your garage and you pull things together and physically pull together, pull together a computer.

You couldn't do that now it's not, you know, it's not. 

Callum: I don't know. 

Rich: It's possible, but, but.

Callum: I think that's gonna change. I, I still think that a small team of five people sitting and concentrating and focusing on one problem, can fight a company of 500 people. 

Rich: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. 

Callum: I still think that's there. 

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: Can they get to the scale?

Rich: I think they can still do that in software? 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: If you're producing something physical? I think, I think it's quite difficult. Dyson was the, the, the last one of naughts, I guess in the, 

Callum: Yeah... 

Rich: Up in the nineties. I think. Something like that. but in terms of software, my, my fear for the next generation really talking to a very world-wise way.

But is that, that fades out in that, you know, the, the big, the big money companies can, 

Callum: I know what you're [00:33:00] saying. A hundred percent agree with you. It's gonna be harder, but I think it can still be done. The reason, so I'll give you more personal, I've been following and speaking to quite a bit recently, and it's a client of

Guy called Chris Meade. Him and his brother have invented a whole new sport, right? And I thought what you would've thought, has anybody invented a sport in the last few years? No. You know, in the last decade, no. And these guys have CROSSNET and they've invented a whole new sport. 

Rich: That's sup.... 

Callum: They've invented it from their apartment in Miami. We're gonna do this sport. What's it gonna be? Well, we'll take a badminton and a volleyball net and we'll put it on a cross and we'll and they've done the rules and now it, it's absolutely fine. Literally, you go to any beach in America, there's a 10 CROSSNETS being used. 

Rich: That's incredible. 

Callum: So don't get me wrong, I think it's harder and happening less often, but I think it still can happen with a small team that 

focuses on a, on a problem or an [00:34:00] idea for a long time. 

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: And look at, I, I, you know, we say Dyson, but you look at what Elon Musk's done with, you know, Tesla. He went in Tesla when it was, you know, he didn't invent Tesla. He wasn't the first founder. He came in. 

Rich: He broke into a multi-billion dollar market.

Callum: Yeah. 

He came into Tesla when an investor originally and actually ended up becoming the CEO and taking it from this 20 people team to what it is now. but I think you can still do it. I think that, you know, I think the funding is there, but it. If you've got that great idea now. 

Rich: Yeah.

Callum: But can you hold onto it like Steve Jobs did? Probably not. 

Rich: Yeah. 

Callum: You know, like, you know, these businesses are a wild horse. He's running away and you're trying to, hold on. 

Rich: That's it. Yeah. 

Callum: I had that with REVIEWS, you know, like. I felt like, was I ready for this next stage almost, you know, they were offering us a large [00:35:00] amount of, of capital to, to get out the way almost.

Rich: Yeah. it's like levels in the compute again. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: That's the way I always see it, is that you've got to, you, you're gonna do your series A, move towards your series B and you're gonna go through several levels. 

Callum: Yeah. 

Rich: It's gonna get more difficult. 

Callum: Every time. I mean, I learned a lot on our journey.

I'm glad we got the outcome that we did. And I'm really excited for what's gonna happen for and I'm excited for what's gonna happen next for Salesfire. 

Rich: Yeah, it's gonna be interesting. 

Callum: Yeah, I, I do like that though, that recommendation. I will put a link in the the description and everywhere to that, that Steve Jobs's book.

Rich: That's alright, mate. 

Thanks for coming on. do really, really appreciate everything you do, everything you post.

Callum: I think you are a really positive voice in the tech industry, especially in the UK and, you know, we've been friends for a long time, so it is really good to see the company grow from what it originally was. No, thank you so much. 

Rich: Cheers. 

Callum: If [00:36:00] you have any questions for Rich is a very, you know, vocal person I suppose on LinkedIn, he posts a lot.

 follow Rich on LinkedIn and yeah, if you've got any questions, DM him. Thank you very much.


Callum: Thank you for listening today. In reviews we trust is a bi-weekly podcast where I hope to be bringing you advice and insights from brands that are taking the e-commerce world by storm.