Reducing friction within products and sales automation

the most important thing that I’ve learned while working on Eventup has been to reduce user and consumer friction. This is inherently difficult when working on a product that is disrupting an industry that has previously not been touched by technology. The events business is entirely relationship driven. Changing this will take time, we understand that, but, we’re super focused on finding ways to automate processes to fix problems and reduce friction.

Sales process automation:
So, the first problem we had to solve was getting locations (venues) signed up, but, at first this was painful. I was getting on calls, I was knocking on doors, attending mixers and at most getting 10 places signed up. We hired sales reps to do this and we still had trouble. We kept adjusting scripts, talked to friends, and got things moving a little quicker. Increase volume by 5 venues a day to 15 a day on average! Amazing right?

The key thing we learned was that because we offer free listings and only make money when a venue does, it was important to communicate this to venue owners. But, we weren’t done there, I still felt like there was room to automate further. Luckily we had a sales rep that created some automated scripts for email mail marges that allowed us to save time on communication and we decided as a team that we could outsource tasks that took us away from the important task at hand, closing. 

Now, our team has reps confirming 25+ venues daily. Also, they’ve developed into hybrid roles working on further process automation and figuring out further revenue challenge. The team is now working on processes to further add accelerant to the venue acquisition process.

Product Automation:
When we pushed what I’m calling “Eventup 1.0″ live mid January, we we’re inquiry based. I wanted to test out theories and assumptions we had made before building product, attempting to be a bit methodical about the products we build. I wanted to know what every customer wanted and was going to ask about. That’s where I learned a few things:

  1. The wedding lifecycle is extremely long. Inquiries came in for June 2013 and trying to plan around that was difficult.
  2. There were lots of questions. We were the middle man to questions like “does this location have a dinner table for 20 people?”
  3. People wanted to visit the location. I would say 75% of people wanted to visit a location and had to adjust for this.

Based on this we made adjustments to the product for our initial launch and realized that from a revenue perspective, certain things just couldn’t be accommodated to start with, but we’d work to adjust for over time. But, that said, the goal was to automate things that didn’t need to be handled by Eventup staff. So, we built features we were pondering based on some of these use cases.

  1. Messaging: We built in-site messaging based on consumer demand to handle the obvious need of simple questions like the above. There has been unbelievable activity through the messaging product which validated it’s necessity.
  2. Site Visit Scheduling: People wanted to do walk through’s, so we decided to build this into the book product. We’re still working on ways to further reduce friction and increase efficiency between customers, ourselves, and venue owners. Looking to remove us completely.
  3. Favorites: Since we knew that things like weddings had long purchase cycles, we decided to build this so people just browsing for now could create a list of their favorite locations that they could come back to when ready.

Everything we do as a company is focused on reducing friction for people looking to book locations while giving our sales teams automation tools to increase efficiency.

Marketplaces are difficult to build but are also the most fun when it comes to challenges and problem solving. You have to account for so much, but, the key is to be really thoughtful about the problems your trying to solve and who you are solving them for. I like feeling the pain of the process and going through it manually before building product to address it.

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