We started with a $200 budget and evolved into a company group. Why Western clients choose us even in times of war: Belkins case

Belkins searches for business prospects and engages them through email marketing. It operates in the US and on European markets and holds first place in its niche in the Clutch.co ranking.

Despite the war, Belkins hasn’t lost a single customer, and its sales haven’t dropped. In this affiliate project, the company’s founders, Vladislav Podolyako and Michael Maximoff, told MC.today how they manage to triple business growth every year and win the customers’ trust, and also shared some tips on how other Ukrainian companies can replicate their success.

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We haven’t lost a single client during the war

Ukrainian service companies that operate in Western markets are losing customers because of the war. We at Belkins haven’t lost a single one. The invasion began on Thursday, the evacuation lasted for two days, and on Monday, everyone was at work. The war did not affect our clients. We drive results and have built services so that our customers can trust us and never doubt us, even in crisis.

On average, we find 80 to 400 leads per day for one project. Within 1000 leads, we can schedule up to 30 meetings. This is 5 times more than our competitors do. We are one of the top-performing B2B lead generation companies in the US market with a 4.9 score and the #1 company with positive reviews in the sales & email marketing category on clutch.co.

Screenshot from clutch.co website

Each client is assigned to one of our account managers. We joke that becoming an account manager is as difficult as becoming a CEO. The task of these people is to make customers happy, so they do not have to wait and feel their problems are being solved.

How we work with clients

When the war started, the Belkins team didn’t have to worry about anything. We took care of the people’s security, transport, and money; evacuated their families and pets. The account managers had one duty back then, which was to take care of the customers. The guys evacuated with laptops and phones and, right on the way, were explaining to clients that there were no risks for their businesses and finances.

On the very first day of the war, we provided AMs with ten options in case the customers were worried. The guys could offer clients to reduce the minimum contract period from six to three months. Or to put off payment for our services for 30 days. Also, a customer could be switched to a manager located in Europe. We provided everything, and not a single account had to use the proposed options.

In peacetime, we also tried to do more for clients; for example, we suggested or taught something new. Once we noticed that one of our customer’s deals started breaking. It turned out that they had difficulties working with CRM. The account manager offered to hold a call with Michael, the company’s co-founder, who is well-versed in CRM. He helped the client figure it out, and the number of transactions started growing. We do not charge for such work, we just want to help.

What helps us triple our annual growth

When we started four years ago, our plan was simple – let’s do it. We attacked all fronts: sent cold letters to potential clients, set up organic search, and shaped customer stories into cases. It was like a rocket launch – the team’s size and number of projects tripled each year.

Now we have 210 people and 200 active projects. We receive 1500 applications per month from the U.S. and Europe, and we seal the deals with 400-500 leads. How have we achieved this? Our feature is rigorous efficiency. We track absolutely everything: the number of open emails, responses, conversions – more than 15 indicators in total.

Belkins founders Vladislav Podolyako and Michael Maximoff

With the help of the metrics, we build growth forecasts. Our budget is divided according to the expectations for the month, quarter, and year, so we see how far we are from our goal. This year, we expect to triple our growth again. Due to the war, there was an idea to adjust our plans, but we quickly abandoned it.

We can meet the KPIs thanks to well-established processes that we are constantly improving. If we talk about projects, this is how the work is done. Our sales managers find customers and transfer them to account managers. They figure out a client’s issue and explain what type of leads the researchers should be looking for. Our researchers create a contacts database containing people and businesses for this client.

Then the process is picked up by our SDR managerssales development reps, or sales development specialists - note ed.. They create email newsletters and book calls for clients with prospects who have shown interest.

The main key is the team

Belkins account managers might have one call with a client at 10:00 AM and another one at 10:00 PM. During the day, they can hang out for a few hours: go to the gym, take a walk. This is how most guys work: they schedule their day on their own.

Belkins team

Recently, we’ve surveyed what people value the most in the company. The second most popular answer is «flexibility». It refers not only to the schedule but also to tasks. With Belkins, you can create your own KPIs. This approach affects the company’s results. The teams develop their own responsibility, and by no means is it like «let’s give them 300 projects and make them choke».

Our entire team works with full devotion and searches for solutions independently. We are simple guys who did not graduate from American universities; we have no partners in American foundations, and we have been living in Ukraine all our lives. But we learn quickly, make rapid decisions, and are not afraid of making mistakes. We have big ambitions, so we were able to become competitive in the U.S. market. We can already give a head start to any Silicon Valley project – both in development and sales.

We, the founders of Belkins, hire people ourselves. We provide adaptation, training, internal Wikipedia, instructions, courses, and books. If someone wishes, they quickly become great specialists. Almost all the guys who joined us from the start have stayed here – there is no turnover in the teams. C-level specialists and department heads become the partners of Belkins and receive the company’s share.

Right now, we have 14 vacancies: HR managers, marketers, sales managers, and others. Read more about the job opportunities and apply here.

How we take care of the people

The survey showed that the people at Belkins value their team the most. Before we completely switched to remote work due to the war, everyone loved to come to the Kyiv office. We don’t need it to be efficient, but it’s rather nice to escape from the daily routine and chat with colleagues.

There was a friendly vibe inside, everyone was hanging around and chatting, listening to music, and not just scribbling like squirrels. Our PR manager, Nastya, brought her son, and we played Playstation together. Some people brought their dogs to the office. This did not interfere with the workflow at all but created a friendly atmosphere.

Команда Belkins в киевском офисе
Киевский офис компании Belkins
Киевский офис компании Belkins
Киевский офис компании Belkins

To maintain the feeling of warmth online, we came up with a few tricks. For example, we launched a coffee bot that helps introduce teams to each other by assigning calls to two randomly selected people. And a thanks-bot, with the help of which we express gratitude to each other and earn points for it. You can purchase a symbolic gift for these points: an extra day off, a book, a gym subscription, and more. All 210 people are constantly in touch on our Telegram channel where we exchange ideas, ask for support, and cheer each other up with funny memes.

Recently, we celebrated Belkins’s 4th birthday online. We released a collectible NFT ticket for it, developed a landing page and a script, and hired hosts for this event. All the guys got their crypto wallets now. The event lasted for four hours, including presentations, stories, and contests.

View vacancies at Belkins here.

How Ukrainian companies can attract Western clients

We can give some tips to Ukrainian creative teams on how to attract Western clients.

Find your niche and work there. If you are a top software developer for medical equipment, then it doesn’t matter whether you are in America, India, or Ukraine. A client does not look at the country, but at the industry, and one should strive to be the first there. We see how Ukrainian outsourcing IT companies come to this. At first, the company is engaged in web application development, a few years later, they develop web applications in fintech, and, in the end, they design fintech web applications for neobanks.

Be attentive to your client. You need to understand well what your client is doing. For instance: do not offer McDonald’s to a person who cares about their health. The better the manager knows their client, the more likely they are to win their heart and evoke positive emotions.

Invest in marketing. We developed our company without investment, with $200 in our pocket, so we immediately launched selling services. And the first employee at Belkins was a marketer. Now we have a whole staff of SEO specialists, link builders, and copywriters. And Belkins has grown into a group of projects in four years.

B2B lead generationBelkinsclutch.coemail-маркетингMichael MaximoffВладислав Подоляко
Опубликовано в Специальные темы
2022.06.22 10:40