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[Escape Velocity] – Episode 6 – Vivek Sharma at Movable Ink

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You’re a cash-starved startup owner. You go hard after one of your big enterprise clients and they pay for a whole year of your service in advance… Just like this, without any additional questions or arrangements.

This is what happened to Vivek Sharma back in the day, when his now $50+ mil ARR company MovableInk was struggling to score its first few corporate clients. 

But this idea to ask for a 12-MONTH ADVANCE PAYMENT didn’t come out of nowhere. 

Although it sounds intuitive, not a lot of startup founders will come up with it on the spot if they have no experience.

Even if they do have experience, it may still not be enough. Because what matters the most is the context and the knowledge of the client.

Vivek didn’t come up with the idea with himself  – it was a suggestion from his sales partner at CheetahDigital, which is one of the ideas he talks about in today’s Escape Velocity episode. Vivek had no idea the client would be totally OK with this…

He elaborates about the advantages of selling with other technology partners who already know the client you’re pitching to. This gives you leverage because you can get inside information as to which solutions the prospect is looking for.

Watch the video below to catch Vivek’s insights firsthand:

In this incredible interview, we discuss:

  • Sales partners to increase velocity
  • The Nifty Fifty
  • Director-level objectives for sales alignment
  • Relationship-based sellers vs product-based sellers
  • Pitching solutions to increase win-rates
  • Using “Crossing the Chasm” for account targeting
  • Startup sales to increase sales velocity
  • The Customer Conference
  • Pushing yourself out of the comfort zone

Lots of SaaS juice in all of them, but I especially want to unpack for you the customer conference, as it’s one of the more neglected marketing channels. Skip to 32 minute in to hear it for yourself.

Vivek has done the Customer Conference for 3 years in a row already. At first it started organically when his client services team organized dinners with prospects….

Super casual, super conversational. And guess what? It had a great engagement. Because everyone likes being treated as a good friend, and your customers are no different.

Seeing the good engagement with smaller scale events, Movable Ink eventually decided to do an Email Transformation Tour – visiting cities around the country to get together with customers and prospects. That’s the business equivalent of a rock band tour…pretty awesome… 

The tour got very good attendance, and great ROI, which the company tracked with Splash.com (and events management platform). 

So the natural thing for Movable Ink to do next was to organize a customer conference. You definitely need the right team to pull this off, but if you do it right – from there on, things will only grow bigger…

How big? Last year, the Movable Ink Customer Conference got more than 600 marketers at a larger-than-life venue. You can imagine the value of mixing existing customers with prospects and being able to use real-life recommendations – one of the best ways to grow a brand.

Obviously, to be successful, event marketing needs time to grow – you cannot simply get the crowd necessary to pull this off as a 2-month startup. But if you do things right, engage your clients, and create value, you can get leverage and acquire new customers by inviting prospects to attend

So what’s your event marketing strategy? Drop a comment below and share your insights and questions. 



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