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The team at Stride wants to change the way people think about sales. They were just like you, trying tool after tool to help make the sales process more efficient. But with every new tool they tried, they got further away from their goal — growing their business. That’s why they built Stride.
MO: How does Stride let users focus entirely on managing and closing their deals?
Adrian: Stride was originally envisioned and built by one of our cofounders as a tool to help track his sales leads. He evaluated a number of sales tools that were available, and none of them fit – they were either too cumbersome, complex, or required too much busywork.
We focus entirely on the deal itself, not the contact – there are other services out there, some of which we’re integrating with, that handle contact information already. Why, for example, should I have to maintain a contact database when I already have one in my phone, or on LinkedIn?
We also strive to keep Stride actionable, and this can even be seen in the visual design of the deal dashboard. There’s a visual progression towards getting each deal closed, you can see at a glance at what stage of the pipeline every open deal is at, and moving deals along the progression is instant.
Ideally, we don’t want people to spend all their day sitting in Stride, micromanaging every last detail about their customers – we want them to be out there growing new business, with Stride helping them do that and then getting out of their way.
MO: How has your background and experience contributed to the development and direction of Stride?
Adrian: I’ve been building web software since high school, and then got into the startup world in college. Initially I focused on honing my product skills, then growing towards the strategy and business side of things. We’ve definitely pushed the bleeding edge technically on a few parts of Stride to give the user experience we want, and without having done this a few times before, it would have been a challenge.
Another thing that my experience helps us with is speed – we were able to get a minimal version of Stride up and running in a matter of days, so we could immediately start getting customers in and learning from their feedback. This was wonderful, as it gave us some early insight into ways and places where we were deficient.
Lastly, having done freelance work on and off for the last ten years, I’ve got direct experience with the pain of trying to manage your deal pipeline at the same time you’re trying to run the rest of your business as a solo or small business. I too have spent too much time in a CRM system, trying to make it work for me, and inevitably falling back to an Excel spreadsheet, Google Doc, or moleskine. Especially as business ramped up, I let far too many potential clients wither on the vine, simply because I lost track of where they were at.
MO: What are some trends in the app market that you’re excited about or that you think our readers should be paying attention to?
Adrian: Lots of folks are talking about the shift to mobile. One of the driving factors on this, aside from the platform growth & recent availability, is the fact that user experience has become a huge priority. This is important – a piece of software can no longer simply provide some value to be wildly successful, it also has to be a pleasure to use. Part of that is the level of competition these days, part of it is a shift in priorities.
Understanding what the user really wants to do is key. An easy out is to simply create a mobile experience thats a clone of your desktop experience, but more often than not, a desktop user and a mobile user are doing different things. A mobile experience has to be lightning fast and simple to do what the user needs to do. On a mobile device, I most likely don’t need or want as many advanced features as I would want on a tablet or desktop. We have different capabilities available to us as well – not just screen size and processing power, but connectivity and background ability.
MO: One of the hardest things to do when building any sort of product is to keep it focused – how did you manage to actually focus on the root problem and solve it?
Adrian:We use a few techniques to keep our product focused. Firstly, we all use Stride heavily ourselves, so we experience it daily as customers, and can look to our own use. We also listen to every piece of customer feedback – we don’t necessarily act on every piece, but we certainly take it all to heart, and use it to drive our understanding of the pain points that people are seeing.
Lastly, we measure lots of usage data, and lean on it whenever we’re going to make a major product decision. Data is a great way to cut through any bias or assumptions and cut straight to the core of an issue.
MO: What advice would you give to our readers who are looking to break into the app market?
Adrian: Stay simple, focus on just the core features, and execute on those as flawlessly as possible.
It’s very common to try and win by adding more and more features that may or may not be cohesive. Not only does this make your app more difficult to maintain, it also negatively affects your market positioning. The real challenge is truly knowing what the core features are – you’ll most likely not be right the first time, and you’ll have to pivot, but making the right pivots are what will bring success. Move fast.
With today’s tools, we can build software faster and better than ever before, especially on the web. Responding to customers in a matter of minutes isn’t unheard of, and rolling out new features in weeks or days has become the norm. Without a team that can move fast enough, it’s tough to succeed.
MO: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?
Adrian: Professionally, helping and being a part of Stride’s growth for the next few years is going to be a great experience, both to learn and grow my own skills, and for the adventure. Growing a startup is truly the best job you can ever have.