This is a follow up story for Badger Maps. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 3 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Badger Maps is an app for field salespeople that provides tools like a route planner that empowers field sales teams to crush their quota. We’re focused on helping outside salespeople save time with scheduling and route planning to get back hours of selling time each day.
Badger is the complete field sales app: combining Google Maps integrates with your CRM, route optimization, schedule planning, and lead generation. You can check out a quick video on what we do here.
I started the company 8 years ago, and today, we’re making $4.3 million a year and have 70 employees.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
The business has been growing steadily since we last talked. We have grown to about 70 employees now and have offices in Europe, Asia, Salt Lake City and our headquarters in San Francisco.
If you are just building a small business to flip like a tuck-in acquisition, you can obviously do it faster, but if your dream is to create something lasting, you’ve got to be prepared to gut it out for a long time.
The biggest thing that we have been doing to drive traffic has always been our customers telling other people about how we help them. We are in a unique and fortunate position there, because we help field and outside salespeople. This is a special group of people, the type of salesperson that goes and meets their customers face-to-face because they tend to be great communicators who know a lot of people. So they are still the main way that we spread the word.
The new development since we last spoke was that my podcast for field salespeople, called Outside Sales Talk, has really taken off and become one of the most popular sales podcasts. I don’t attribute its success to me being the greatest podcaster around or anything, but because of the way, I structured the show. Unlike most sales podcasts which are usually the sales thought leader giving lessons, on my podcast I have the best Sales Trainers and authors of books on Sales on to summarize what they teach in one episode. Also, the episodes focus specifically on outside sales skills and strategies, and there is no other podcast focused on this group of people. So the result is that it has the top people in Sales on the show and gets their tips and tricks specifically for outside salespeople. Because of the podcast’s popularity, a lot of people have heard about Badger as a result.
I guess the lesson learned for your leaders is to find a topic that your customers are interested in and create good content - which has really been one of the main principles in marketing for a while now. I just got lucky that I managed to do that in a space that grew in popularity really quickly, podcasting. Here is a screenshot linked to one of my favorite episodes:
We’ve also had some marketing success with the Badger Maps Newsletter, where we aggregate some of the best outside sales training and learning materials that are available free around the web and send it out every month.
Another change in the business is that as the engineering team has grown we’ve been able to focus on features and capabilities that are more attractive for larger companies. That’s allowed us to shift the mix of our business towards larger companies, which has helped with performance because they churn at a lower rate and are less price-sensitive than small companies, although they do have longer sales cycles.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
My biggest lesson in the last year is something that is probably obvious to most people but it’s always worth reminding yourself of. There is nothing more important than creating value for your customers. We are right in the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak and I’m spending a lot of time communicating with customers and interacting with folks that use our product for their team that I haven’t for a long time. I’m always blown away by how much they tell me were helping them and their team. Many of them are pausing their subscription right now as field salespeople can’t go outside and sell, but they assure me that they’ll be back!
The whole organization from engineering to marketing to upper management needs to be in touch with your customers and truly know and understand them in order for your company to truly be successful.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
It’s hard for me to look too far out right now because it’s April of 2020, but we are going to get through this hard time and come out on the other side just fine. In the next five years, I plan to keep solving bigger and bigger problems that field sales teams have in growing the team here at Badger in a way that keeps Badger a fantastic place to work.
I can’t stress enough how important it is for an organization To value their employees and treat them well. The metric to use to know that you’re doing a good job at this if you have a very low voluntary attrition rate amongst your employees. Too many businesses are way too focused on what makes their investors happy at the expense of making their employees happy. And in the end that hurts the investors too. Investors tend to be more short term in their thinking but if you want to build a lasting business focus on your employees. Happy customers are a result of happy employees and happy investors are a result of happy customers. So many companies get this equation backward - probably because the guys that control the pursestrings have too much power.
Have you read any good books or podcasts in the last year?
Well, my favorite podcast right now (other than The Outside Sales Talk, of course) is the SaaStr podcast. But that’s only really useful if you are in a SaaS business.
Tools of Titans is a fantastic book and definitely worth reading, although it’s really long. Good for exercising our attention span!
I’d definitely like to read Good to Great again, and I always like the Hard Thing About Hard Things. That would be a good one to reread for these times.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
My best advice to entrepreneurs who are in the struggle is that this takes way longer than you would hope or expect. In 24 months you are usually just getting started - starting a lasting company is a 10 to the 20-year endeavor. If you are just building a small business to flip like a tuck-in acquisition, you can obviously do it faster, but if your dream is to create something lasting, you’ve got to be prepared to gut it out for a long time. This will have an impact on your friendships, relationships, your success, your finances, your health, etc. It is not the easiest path. But I believe that it is the most rewarding if you have the stamina.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We’re always looking to add more great people to Badger’s team. We are hiring engineers and product positions right now. Everything else is on hold pending how things go with the virus. Check us out on Glassdoor, it’s really a great place to work.
Where can we go to learn more?
- Podcast - Here is the link to my podcast - 'Outside Sales Talk’ that I think you might really like. Its 20 minutes or so episodes focused on outside sales skills and strategies. It has the top people in Sales on the show and gets their tips and tricks specifically for outside Salespeople.
- Youtube - Here is the link to some more videos on YouTube that I made for outside salespeople.
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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