Todd Olson and his team at Pendo have built a business around how digital products can help companies learn from their customers, and create better products in the future. Unlike products that can’t be tracked once they’ve left store shelves, web applications can gather and report usage data every time they’re used. Through a combination of analytics and in-app messaging, apps built with Pendo help companies both better understand how customers use their products and then use that knowledge to increase customer engagement. Backed by a Series A round of financing closed in late 2015, the company is growing quickly.
Pendo is CEO and Co-Founder Todd Olson’s third startup. So when he founded the Raleigh, North Carolina-based company in October of 2013, Olson was already familiar with some of the challenges commonly faced when getting a new venture off the ground, and in growing while maintaining mission focus. “When you’re a startup, you need to focus all of your energy on the things that are most important. In the early days, that’s making sure you find product-market fit. Anything else is noise, and you should outsource it,” he said.
Olson also adopted a growth philosophy from his previous ventures: land and expand. “You become a great company when you can land someone small and then expand them over time, providing more value, more services,” he explained. For Pendo to successfully land and expand clients, Olson needs his teams not only to avoid losing time to “noise” that could better be outsourced, but also to work across departments to find ways to offer customers more value. Already familiar with Salesforce dating back to 2001, Olson knew the platform could help his company’s efforts on both counts. So Pendo started using Sales Cloud from the company’s earliest days.
Salesforce is more than Pendo’s system of record for the sale process. “If it’s not in Salesforce, it didn’t happen. That’s one of the rules at the company,” Olson said. “I don’t care what a rep tells me about how great his call was. If he’s not sharing it with the rest of the team, he’s not contributing to help the company move forward.” Sales Cloud helps Pendo’s small but growing sales team manage the complex process of prospecting into enterprise technology companies. A Sales Cloud feature called Sales Path helps formalize the company’s sales methodology by giving notes to sales reps at each stage of the opportunities process. “Salesforce helps even the best salespeople be more successful,” said Olson.
Pendo also adopted Desk.com for customer support and Pardot for marketing automation, moving on from older systems. “By moving to Desk.com, we standardized on a single platform,” Olson said. “Salespeople can see what’s going on in support. Support people can see what’s going on in sales. And that makes everyone better at their job.” Desk.com affords Pendo’s service team a more complete view of its customers than the legacy system did, and it also helps support agents resolve issues and close tickets faster.
Pardot, which went live for Pendo in late 2015, offers the company better Salesforce integration, customer segmenting, and calculating and reporting on ROI than the old platform could. Running the entire business on Salesforce allows everyone at Pendo to work more efficiently, and to know where each customer is in every part of the sales and support cycles. “Our sales force has tripled in two months, and with Salesforce, we’ve been able to maintain our speed to value,” said Olson.
The philosophy behind how Pendo’s products and services help clients serve their customers is the same one that informs how the company works with its own customers. Both revolve around sales as a partnership, and not merely a transaction. “The modern salesperson is a partner. Sales is absolutely a process whereby we’re extracting needs from customers, crafting a solution, and then making sure that end customer is getting real value,” Olson said. Much as Pendo helps its customers shape their apps based on customer usage and feedback, the company uses Salesforce to offer more to its own customers.