Interview: Phil Freo, Engineering Lead @Close.io

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Phil Freo

Interviewee: 

Phil Freo

Leading Product/Engineering

at Elastic Sales Inc makers of Close.io

 

Sales4StartUps: Tell us about the Close.io story. How was it started? What problem were you trying to solve?

Phil: Close.io was developed as an internal product to make our own salespeople at ElasticSales more efficient. Our company was doing sales for a bunch of companies (with different types of sales processes and needs) and through all these difference sales campaigns we recognized a lack of good software geared at the day-to-day tasks a salesperson faces. Our team needed to be able to make many phone calls quickly, send more emails, and see a history of sales activity for any given lead without having to do a bunch of manual data entry, and surprisingly none of the solutions we tried seem to actually be designed to make salespeople’s lives better in these ways.

After several of our customers asked if their salespeople could use our software (since they saw our productivity improvements from it), we decided to focus on productizing it, and Close.io was born.

There’s more of the backstory at:

https://elasticsales.com/blog/2013/02/07/turning-coworkers-customers-your-office-ultimate-development-environment/

https://elasticsales.com/blog/2013/01/29/y-combinator-alumni-launches-crm-and-sales-communications-platform/

http://pandodaily.com/2013/01/29/elastic-launches-close-io-sales-software-designed-by-salespeople/

 

Sales4StartUps: How is close.io different from other CRM software?

Phil: Other CRM software acts as a database for your sales information. A lot of it was designed with sales managers/directors in mind and built in a way that would provide them the high level dashboards / reports that they want, but only slows down the actual salespeople. Close.io replaces your CRM but is actually sales software — focused more on helping individual sales people/teams become more efficient.

One way we do that is by focusing on sales communication so that you can just focus on selling and your activity is logged automatically, reducing data entry. For example, you can send & receive emails either from Close.io OR from your existing Gmail/Outlook/whatever and we’ll automatically track all the relevant sales emails in the CRM. You can also click 1 button and have a contact’s phone dialing in your headset, with the call already logged in the system, and a textbox open for you to take notes on the call (as opposed to other CRMs where you have to manually dial the number on your phone, and then 3 clicks later you can log that you made a call).

Finally, our search (“smart views”) is super powerful at letting you instantly build a lead list fitting whatever criteria you want. You can read more at:

http://blog.close.io/post/47494547893/introducing-lead-search

http://pandodaily.com/2013/06/26/close-io-adds-smartsearch-data-analytics-so-simple-a-salesperson-can-do-it/

 

Sales4StartUps: What does entrepreneurial happiness mean to you?

Phil: I think Steli answers this question pretty well here:

https://elasticsales.com/blog/2012/08/03/entrepreneurial-depression-happiness/

I agree with his points, and overall I am driven by wanting to build a product that adds a lot of value to people’s lives. I care about making Elastic (the business) wildly successful, but I know this will happen if we’re adding significant value to people’s workflow.

 

Sales4StartUps: Where does the name Close.io come from?

Phil: We picked the word “close”, as in “close more deals” to emphasize that the primary purpose of our product is to help salespeople close more deals, rather than to be a dashboard with tons of reports designed for a VP of Sales. And we liked “io” (geeky abbreviation for input/output) because it emphasizes our focus on communication channels – a tight integration with phone & email within our application.

 

Sales4StartUps: What does “start-up sales” mean to you?

Phil: At Elastic we’ve helped a lot of startups come up with a solid sales plan. The motivation has always been that we hate seeing good products and companies fail due to lack of sales. It also means that we like seeing and building sales processes that are scalable.

 

Sales4StartUps: Anything that you want us to point out about the product via screen shots and anything else you want to add would be great.

Phil: Here’s the main one below, showing an active call. This blog post http://blog.close.io/post/47494547893/introducing-lead-search also has some screenshots of the advanced lead search.

close.io screenshot

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