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By Sarah Perry.
SnapComms’ employee messaging software helps put important messages in front of employees, wherever they are, in a way that’s noticed and measurable – including pop-up alerts, scrolling news tickers, interactive newsletters, screensavers, pop-up quizzes, surveys and mobile notifications.
We launched in 2007, offering internal communication software solutions aimed at businesses of 5000 or more employees. This clearly presented a problem, when one considers the size of the New Zealand market. In order to remain sustainable, we needed to go offshore almost as soon as we launched.
We decided not to seek any investment funding, and instead to fund the business from customer revenues. In the beginning, we had to run everything from the ‘smell of an oily rag,’ which meant finding the lowest-cost marketing solutions, with the biggest impact. The obvious choice for us was selling online and optimising our website landing pages for customers searching online.
Initially, there were only three of us in the business, so I upskilled and became an SEO and digital marketing expert. I was surprised at how much easier it was to convert a sale when potential customers had found SnapComms online, while searching for the solution to their communication problem. The sales dynamic and conversion time was completely different to outbound selling, and we were hooked.
We formed alliances with key influencers and area experts in our target market early on, to provide us with market credibility (plus inbound links and badges for our website). This was expensive, but well worth the investment. From the credibility perspective, we also published as many case studies as we could, which helped build trust in our brand. Once prospects read the stories of other well-known customer brands, it was much easier for them to trust a small software company on the other side of the world.
Once we nailed our online strategy, we built a marketing automation model, which allows potential customers to sign up for a free trial, and tracks their interactions. We send automated emails to follow up the trials, and have implemented lead scoring in our CRM system. This was extremely helpful, as we had more leads than our sales team could follow up on, so it allowed the prospects showing the best buying signals to rise to the top for sales attention.
When we had the funds available to do so, we employed a salesperson in the US and one in London. These salespeople understand the buying context and needs of the local market and are able to close large deals with local buyers, helped by familiar accents and time zones. 
SnapComms’ growth period coincided with the emergence of great cloud based solutions, which allowed us to use enterprise-level systems at a low entry cost and scale them as the business grew. Cloud solutions allow us to deliver an enterprise-level service on a low budget, in just about every aspect of the business, including CRM, marketing automation, customer support, ticketing and accounting. 
Personal development
Growing a business and raising a young family has been like drinking from a firehose over the last few years, and every stage of growth brings new challenges. I'm a firm believer in learning continuously and reading widely; evolution is one of SnapComms’ core values.
Joining the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) was a big leap forward, which allowed me to further develop, personally and professionally. Being part of EO has helped to build my confidence and evolve my thinking further, through engaging with like-minded entrepreneurs, many of whom have faced similar challenges. 
Despite the fact that I work with my husband (or perhaps even more because of it), it can be a lonely journey as an entrepreneur, and nothing beats the value of shared experiences from others at the coalface. Networking through EO has provided me with an avenue to find solutions to problems rapidly, as it’s almost guaranteed that other members have “been there” and can share their experience and advice. 
EO has great learning and social events too, which I attend frequently – finally, a life outside of the business and family again!
SnapComms is now in over 30 countries. We employ 35 people and run a 24/7 customer support team from Auckland. At the rate we're hiring, we expect to double our team within 12 months. 
In April 2015, we won the Endace ICT Exporter of the Year Award, at the Auckland Export Awards. Our sales are 99 percent from overseas exports, so many Kiwis don’t know who we are. Receiving the Award was a huge shot in the arm for the team, and it was wonderful to be recognised for our hard work.  
Sarah Perry is CEO of SnapComms
Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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