How did eSales Hub start?
Hear in his own words how Mark Taylor, Founder and CEO of eSales Hub, set the company up:
“I was sitting at home with my eBusiness Manager from Halfords Autocentre creating content for the new website. We’d decided to use my lounge as a base for the day to add some fresh impetus to the process – it was the end of the week and inputting content into a 300-page site had taken its toll.
We’d been working pretty hard on driving sales through the website up until now – we’d taken the site from doing £6m in revenue to over £15m in 12 months.
And then it suddenly hit me; “Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to do this for other companies, but charge them a commission on sales instead of a fixed management fee.” We’d got a pretty good handle on local search and the type of page that could drive conversion, so knew our stuff pretty well.
As we walked across to Budgens to get our lunch, we talked more about the idea, but the one thing that was missing was the ability to track all the sales we were generating. We knew calls through to the garages were being driven from the website, but they weren’t being tracked and we were missing loads of revenue in our figures. The first thoughts of eSales Hub started.
I then tested various elements of what was to become eSales Hub through two private equity backed companies. At Esporta we were able to grow online leads from being 2% of sales mix to 29%, just by focusing on local search. We were then able to create a standalone consumer locksmith and glazing business with a run-rate of £1.8m in 12 months, with very little investment. Maybe the concept of driving sales from local search really could work?
Then came the game changer – Google launched the Hummingbird update in August 2013. This wasn’t so much as an update but almost a complete over-hall of the search engine algorithm that created a new level of relevant search results based on location and conversational search.
After two successful private equity ventures, the time was right and eSales Hub was born on 5th December, 2013.
I didn’t just want to generate sales for businesses big and small, I wanted to do it in a very transparent way so that the success, or failure, could be monitored and rewarded. I’d gotten tired of others not giving me the full picture, or promising the world and not delivering, so whatever eSales Hub was going to be, I only wanted to be rewarded on the results I generated. I also didn’t want to generate a lead and sell the same lead to 5 competitors – where was the loyalty in that? The way I wanted to work was exclusively with a client over a longer period.
However, growth isn’t easy – driving sales of new customer for a company is one fo the most difficult channels to manage effectively. Which is why we decided early on, that if a company has a genuine desire for growth, they deserve to be successful. Those without a genuine desire to grow aren’t right for us as working with us is a partnership – we can drive the inbound calls or emails, but it takes the client sales team to make the most of each sales opportunity we drive.
So we set about creating our minimum viable product, something we could use to illustrate our thoughts about the way local search was developing after the Google Hummingbird update and to show how you could capitalise on local search to drive sales.
With the help of Anas and Mark from Google (both of whom would later join me) we set about creating a process to drive sales from local search using others technology. At first, non-one wanted to take the risk on an unproven concept, so we created our own sites and sold the sales leads on.
Our first attempt was Go Locksmith. We were able to drive 20 leads a day for a national locksmith company, and on a good day, get 50% conversion from lead to sale. But this is when we hit our first snag – with an average invoice value of £120, there simple wasn’t enough revenue to pay for the cost of sale and make a profit. Which is why today one of our parameters for working with a client is that they have to have a minimum order value of £150 or a high repeat ratio for the client to get profit out of our leads.
Our client acquisition strategy was working well and we started to work with big companies like Dwyer Franchising (America’s fourth largest franchise company) and Homeserve (FTSE500).
But as we rolled out the technology stack, we knew there would be a better way for it to work; we needed our own technology. Our own schema code, our own call–to-click funnel tracking technology and our own sales reporting analytics.
Working with Andy our Head of Product Engineering, we set about to create what eSales Hub is today; a patent-pending sales knowledge tool for local search. We didn’t just want to create sales leads, but we wanted to “close-the-loop” of on-call or in-person sales conversions to their respective online click and campaign data; not only do we make the phone ring and email ping with sales, but we can analyse the click-to-sale data of an in-person or on-call sales as if it were a sale generated online.
Having financed the company myself and with it now making a modest profit, we sought our first round of investment to help grow the business in August 2016. Having had several options, we decided to choose an angel investor rather than a large corporate investor as we wanted to stay agile whilst rapidly drive sales. We were valued at £2m in August 2016 and landed our first investor.
Appointing Kelly to the role of Head of Client Implementation enabled us to speed up the client implementation process and provide a channel of communication with the client so we knew exactly when and where a client wanted their sales. Bringing her onboard enabled us to grow at an incredible rate.
Richard Jackson, our European Sales Director, was the final piece of the senior management jigsaw. Having sold data for lead generation purposes for years, he got our proposition very quickly and is a real advocate for eSales Hub having seen first hand the value we can delivery across a range of clients. His passion for client account management support has enabled us to retain clients at an impressive rate.
Today we are trusted by FTSE-500, DAX-500, FTSE MIB-500 companies to drive sales from local search on a pay on results basis, increasing sales volumes by up to 35%, increasing conversion by 65% and driving invoices values by 300%.”
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