April 20, 2016
We’re excited to roll out the second half of our series on the key role process plays in building a sales organization.
You’ve heard about “Crossing the Chasm,” but what about “Crossing the Rubicon”?
Turns out a guy named Julius Caesar once led an army across the Rubicon River into Italy in 49 B.C. This was against the law at the time and marked the beginning of Caesar’s Civil War (and ultimately Caesar’s ascension as the Emperor of Rome). When he crossed the river, he was quoted as saying “the die is cast.” Since then, the phrase, “Crossing the Rubicon” is often used to reference “any individual or group committing itself irrevocably to a risky or revolutionary course of action” (thanks Wikipedia).
Lucid Software is no stranger to its own Rubicon River crossings, particularly on the product side. In 2012, we led the charge as the first integration partner with Google Drive. Most recently, we launched an automated mapping feature for AWS users. We’re betting on both of these ecosystems (among others) and aren’t turning back.
One of our Rubicon crossings was building out a sales team to handle our inbound lead volume. We had introduced a sales process that was working; however, we were tracking all of our activity in a Google Spreadsheet CRM that would’ve been acceptable to an I-banker or consultant. As proud as I was about building this CRM in a Google Sheet, I knew it couldn’t scale. It was time for a real CRM, which meant it was also time for another Rubicon crossing.
To be honest, we didn’t spend too much time shopping around. We looked into the CRM formerly known as RelateIQ (acquired by Salesforce.com), SugarCRM and Salesforce.com. Given the aniticpated amount of custom development work that would be necessary for us to use a CRM effectively, as well as having a few sales reps with Salesforce.com experience, we decided to move ahead with Salesforce.com.
Lucid did not have an in-house Salesforce admin at the time, so we decided to partner with Simplus (formerly known as Outbox Systems). Our first task was to design the backend in Salesforce. Salesforce provides a schema builder that allows technical administrators to view and modify all the objects and relationships that our Simplus partner would use to build our Salesforce instance; however, we decided to utilize our ERD shape library to build our schema in real time over a conference call with the Simplus team.
A key benefit to using Lucidchart for schema building was our ability to incorporate the third-party apps that we were planning on integrating with Salesforce. For example, in the diagram above, we mapped out how we wanted our payment processing software Recurly to integrate with Salesforce.
While the Simplus team built our Salesforce instance, we went to work designing our preferred workflow in Salesforce. We used Lucidchart to design these workflows in order to ensure they were built according to our spec:
A key focus was designing workflows in Salesforce that automated certain activities. Below are a few examples of workflow rules that we mapped out in Lucidchart to incorporate into our Salesforce design.
- Using a round-robin system to allocate leads equitably among the sales reps
- Creating notifications to sales reps when (a) they received a new lead and (b) they hadn’t responded to a lead
- Calculating commissions on deals sold
We hopped on a phone call and were able to collaborate in real time with the Simplus team via a shared Lucidchart document. They utilized Lucidchart’s comments feature to communicate questions or edits when we were offline.
The final piece of our Salesforce implementation was around the actual user experience. We were sensitive to designing Salesforce in a way that was thoughtful and yet had a level of organization. We utilized Lucidchart’s mock-up capabilities to actually design rough drafts of how we wanted the layout of our Salesforce objects to appear:
As a result of our doing some of this design work upfront, Simplus was able to spend more time building and less time on trial-and-error. While the end result looks very different from our rough mock-ups, our input provided Simplus with clarity and helped us beat our deadline for Salesforce deployment.
The result of using Salesforce for managing and tracking leads and opportunities has been phenomenal. We’ve now built trainings in Lucidchart that help our new reps learn the workflow, and we’ve been able to scale our team far more quickly than would have been possible with my Google Sheets CRM.
We crossed the CRM Rubicon and haven’t looked back since. Caesar would be proud.
Posted in Uncategorized |
Leave a comment
April 5, 2016
Over the past few months, we’ve launched successful, free integrations with messaging platforms Slack and HipChat. You might be wondering what the value is of integrating Lucidchart, a diagramming application, with these apps. It’s simple: they help us make visual collaboration and knowledge sharing easier for our users.
We want Lucidchart to work where our users work. HipChat and Slack are the latest in a string of our integrations (Confluence, JIRA, Google Apps, Office 365 and Jive, just to name of few) that make Lucidchart diagrams easier to create, share and use. The value of these integrations can be seen with a large number of our team accounts quickly integrating with Slack or HipChat within the first months of the integration launches.
Teaming up with these messaging platforms increases Lucidchart’s already collaborative cloud-based functionality in important ways. First, you can easily kickoff real-time group whiteboarding and collaboration, no matter where in the world your team members are located.
Create new diagrams and start real-time visual collaboration from Slack or HipChat
Second, when you post a Lucidchart diagram to Slack or HipChat, team members can instantly see and comment from an app they’re already using. It makes it easy to reference visual documentation during group discussions.
Teams cans easily post visual documentation to Slack or HipChat for sharing and referencing
With our Slack integration, Lucidchart users are able to use the integration both in private group channels and in direct messages between users. This is particularly valuable if your team is using the private group feature.
Just typing “/” in Slack opens up a list of available options that help users find the /lucidchart command to create new Lucidchart documents. It’s [title] hint also gives users a nice reminder to name their diagram.
Lucidchart’s integration with HipChat’s Input action (the small button near the chat bar) makes it easier to use for those that are unfamiliar with the standard “/” slash command used in both Slack and HipChat. This feature also helps discoverability for users who aren’t aware that the Lucidchart add-on has been installed.
Additionally, the Glance functionality allows you to pin important Lucidchart documents, like network diagrams, project documentation and support processes, in a team chat room for easy reference without leaving the chat. This can help make Lucidchart or other documents easier to reference without searching.
One small drawback at the moment is that Lucidchart is not yet available for HipChat Server. This has been an issue for some customers, particularly larger enterprises that are using the Server version. We plan to make this available as soon as it is released by HipChat.
Lucidchart itself works seamlessly with both HipChat and Slack, offering the core functionality as described above. While both messaging apps offer similar features to end users, they provide surprisingly different APIs to developers.
By integrating with enterprise chat tools like HipChat and Slack, Lucidchart users can increase collaboration, sharing and productivity across their teams. Try out our HipChat and Slack integrations, and let us know what you think.
Posted in Uncategorized |
Leave a comment
March 31, 2016
Depending on who you ask, somewhere between 50% and 80% of businesses fail within their first five years. There are plenty of reasons why that happens, but they all come down to one thing: lack of profitability. Whether or not you make a profit depends on how well you design and execute all the activities and resources that make up your business—your business model.
In his book Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers, business theorist Alexander Osterwalder writes, “An organization must make a conscious decision about which segments to serve and which segments to ignore.” It’s vital to prioritize your efforts because there are so many ways to serve or ignore your company’s different segments, and every dollar spent on one project takes away from another project.
One of the best ways to weigh competing priorities is to use the Business Model Canvas, a strategic management and lean startup tool based on years of research by Osterwalder. It condenses strategic planning onto a single page and covers nine areas:
- Key partners
- Key activities
- Key resources
- Value propositions
- Customer relationships
- Customer segments
- Cost structure
- Revenue streams
The Business Model Canvas gives you a bird’s eye view of your business while encouraging understanding, discussion, creativity and analysis among your team members. It’s used by successful innovators around the world like Intel, Panasonic, 3M, and MasterCard, and many users recommend filling out the canvas in just 20 minutes.
Ready to fill out your own Business Model Canvas? Here’s a handy step-by-step guide, along with a free template.
Posted in Uncategorized |
March 17, 2016
“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” – William A. Foster, U.S. Medal of Honor winner
Scaling a business is no joke. Here at Lucid Software, we’ve been in full-scale mode over the past few years as our products, Lucidchart and Lucidpress, have reached the five million and one million user marks respectively.
As we’ve scaled, one thing has become abundantly clear. Scaling a business is about process. Developing a process, training team members how to execute on that process, and making the necessary adjustments to the process…oftentimes over and over again. This has been one of the hardest things to do, requiring discipline, executive and team member buy-in, and minimal ego (for all the times that you realize your process needs improvement!).
This blog post will highlight one of the ways that we’ve been able to develop and institute an effective sales process.
Building an inbound sales process
One of the great benefits of having the most popular application in the Google Apps Marketplace is that finding users of our product hasn’t been a problem. In addition to our position in the Google Apps Marketplace, our award-winning marketing team has positioned Lucidchart well within the Atlassian Marketplace, iPad App Store, and Slack marketplace, among other locations.
In 2014 we started receiving a lot of sales-related inquiries through our regular support channels. The inquiry volume increased to a point where we couldn’t respond to customers in a timely manner. We made a strategic decision to build out sales processes focused on fast response time, frequent follow-ups, and a more aggressive sales approach.
The first step was to understand our current support team members’ process when responding to sales leads. We quickly documented this process in a Lucidchart diagram:
As you can see, we were following up with a sales “lead” once a week for three weeks before we were “solving” the ticket. There was rarely any phone interaction, and we weren’t tracking these prospective buyers independent of our normal support ticket workflow. We concluded that our once a week follow-up was leading to a significant loss in interest from many of our inbound lead sources.
As big fans of the InsideSales.com methodology, we knew that if we could speed up our response time and follow up more frequently (at much shorter intervals), we would see greater satisfaction with our customers and prospects and see a corresponding increase in revenue as well.
Our next step was to design a new and improved process within Lucidchart:
They key process changes we made that led to tangible results:
- Responded as quickly as possible to inbound tickets/leads (with five minutes as the goal)
- Shortened the follow-up cycle considerably (to one day)
- Increased the follow-up cadence to six follow-ups instead of three
We dedicated a full-time sales resource to executing this process and saw immediate results. Our response time on inbound sales-support tickets decreased from an average of two to three hours to ~30 minutes. Furthermore, our response rates increased dramatically, with over half the incoming sales-related tickets resulting in a revenue generating outcome.
The successful implementation of this process led to fantastic results at Lucid Software and created new and exciting problems. One such problem was deciding how our new sales professional would track all of the opportunities that he was chasing. The answer to this problem?
Read all about it in the second half of our “Lucid Software Process: Building a Sales Organization” series.
Posted in Uncategorized |
March 9, 2016
Why software companies should measure the impact of every change—including back-end updates.
You probably expect UX and design changes to affect users’ behavior, but are you testing the impact of infrastructural changes as well?
Last year we began testing all major changes to Lucidchart, our diagramming web app. We had learned that if we didn’t implement careful tracking, we could potentially lose thousands of customers without fully understanding why.
Our goal was to improve app performance across our entire user base by implementing Web Graphics Library (WebGL), which would leverage users’ built-in graphics processors to render Lucidchart more quickly.
Although increasing payments was not the primary motivation for the project, we tracked payments relative to WebGL use in our analytics tool, Kissmetrics. We’ve found that measuring a test’s effect on payments provides a general indicator of success or failure.
Using Kissmetrics allowed us to not only find early signs that something was wrong but also to diagnose the problem and solve it before it caused more damage.
Reading the warning signs
For the initial rollout, we activated WebGL for just 2 percent of users, then increased activation to 10 percent of users. In each case, we saw the expected improvement in loading speed but also noticed a statistically significant drop in payments.
Our first response was to review support requests from users to see if they could reveal what was wrong. Unfortunately, WebGL-related support requests were trickling in at just one or two a week, so it was impossible to identify a trend without deeper behavioral tracking.
We then dug into Kissmetrics to see if we could tie the drop in payments to any certain user type. No matter how we sliced the data, we weren’t able to identify any obvious trends.
Diving into the data
At that point, we faced a difficult choice: should we give up on WebGL even though we knew it could improve most users’ experience, or should we continue testing it even though it was costing us money every day? In the end, work we had done beforehand to estimate the value of a better rendering experience led us to keep testing WebGL.
But we still needed more information, so we configured Kissmetrics to gather additional data points for each user, including WebGL renderer, WebGL vendor, browser type, browser Version, OS, and OS version.
It quickly became apparent that users in Firefox and Safari were paying at much lower rates than normal in a WebGL experience. That was the smoking gun we were looking for. From there, it was much easier for our engineers to hone in on the problem.
Since none of the computers in our office were having trouble, we needed to test older machines. We offered lunch to any employee who would contribute their time and old computer to a “laptop graveyard” for testing and soon discovered an old Macbook that didn’t support WebGL.
One intrepid developer even tested WebGL on every computer for sale at the local BestBuy, eventually finding one that didn’t support it.
Analytics pays off
It turned out that a missing extension among some users with experimental WebGL had created the confusion, causing them to appear as though they supported WebGL when they actually didn’t. Once we discovered the issue, we started checking for that extension and enabled WebGL for all our users, resulting in the expected performance improvements:
It can be tempting to skimp on analytics and instead rely on users to report problems. However, since most users just leave if the product’s not working for them, it can take much longer to diagnose any problems. Monitoring the data allowed us to zero in on the issue much more quickly.
Best of all, after implementing WebGL for all users, we saw the increase in revenue that we had been expecting all along. Thanks to the powerful analytics capabilities of Kissmetrics, we turned what could have been a million-dollar mistake into a major win both for us and our users.
Posted in Uncategorized |
Leave a comment
March 2, 2016
Google Sheets is by far the most popular spreadsheet app online, with good reason: free with any Google Apps account, it’s both powerful and easy to use. But even the best organized data collection can turn into a confusing eyesore. That’s why we’re pleased to announce a new Lucidchart add-on for Google Sheets.
Matching data with diagrams
Adding an explanatory diagram to a data set gives context, so viewers can grasp the situation right away and better know what to do as a result. A sitemap is a perfect companion to a data set showing the results of pages undergoing A/B tests. A flowchart explaining changes to a business model over the past year nicely complements a year-end financial report. From mockups to Venn diagrams, the possibilities for combining info with images are endless.
Lucidchart diagrams fill a different role than the Google Sheet built-in chart generator. Lucidchart diagrams supplement data sets with context and insight, and the Google Sheet chart generator converts a data set into an easy-to-digest visual. Both approaches add a necessary level of clarity and depth to your communication.
There are two ways to install the Lucidchart add-on for Google Sheets:
- While editing a Sheet, click “Add-ons,” then “Get Add-ons” and search for “Lucidchart.” Click “Free” to install.
- From the Chrome Web Store listing for Lucidchart, click “Free.”
In both cases, grant permission to link Lucidchart with Google Sheets as prompted.
Using the add-on
Follow these steps to easily insert a diagram in Google Sheets:
- On the add-ons menu, click “Lucidchart Diagrams for Sheets,” followed by “Insert diagram.”
- Sign into Lucidchart in the sidebar, or sign up for a free account.
- Select the document you’d like to add and click “Insert.”
- Click and drag to reposition the image after it appears.
There are also options for setting a fixed image size or creating a new document. If you create a new document, be sure to close and reopen the sidebar to refresh the document list.
Adding diagrams to any Google Sheet gives your project the effectiveness and power of visualization.
Posted in Uncategorized |
Leave a comment
February 24, 2016
Startups often have a very limited marketing budget (if it exists at all) but still need to have killer marketing. Inbound marketing (bringing customers closer to your brand through blogs, videos, email, social-media, etc.) is a fantastic way to generate new business without breaking the bank. Done right, inbound marketing can be very good for your startup’s bottom line and your brand.
For any company email is a very successful cost-effective inbound marketing solution to reach customers and generate a significant amount of revenue. This is especially true for start-ups trying to hit the $10 million ARR mark. According to one survey, marketing executives believe that email alone drives the same amount of revenue as their social media, website and display ad efforts combined.
Executing Successful Marketing Emails for Your Startup
According to Tracy Vides from Tech.co, customized components such as segmenting your audience, personalizing the message and testing subject lines are all part of successful email marketing campaigns.
Customizing email automation can be challenging. With 5 million customers (and 5 million inboxes), email is a customer loyalty program teams need to get right the first time, everytime. Email workflows are an excellent way to organize your efforts. The marketing team at Lucid uses our own online diagramming software Lucidchart to map out multiple email workflows for customer acquisition, training and re-engagement.
With Lucidchart, our marketing team can look at any point in the email workflow and even link from the flowchart directly to a specific email in our automation tool, HubSpot. We can coordinate with every team member, no matter where in the world they are at the moment, allowing everyone to be literally on the same page.
Through Lucidchart we manage customer emails: we track what we’re sending, when we’re sending it and who we’re sending it to. Using Lucidchart allows us to communicate effectively not only with our customers but also with other internal teams—such as engineering or customer success—by flowcharting first and then creating emails and groups in HubSpot. Our sales team builds out custom workflows for enterprise customers, and we can easily show sales team members exactly what emails are being sent, without having to search through mountains of data or needing to know specific names.
Charting out email workflows also helps when on-ramping team members. Lucid is a rapidly growing startup, and we are constantly bringing new talent onboard. By diagramming out the process, a new team member can easily see and comprehend complicated processes like our email workflows.
As a growing startup, it’s important to connect quickly with new clients. Mapping out new subscriber email workflows in Lucidchart allows us to ensure new customers aren’t falling through the cracks. When we first charted out our email workflows, we found gaps that we didn’t know existed, like a particular group wasn’t receiving the all-important “Day 1” email. By diagramming out our email automation process, we can quickly remedy any hiccups and not miss out on nurturing important relationships.
We can also simultaneously track multiple “if/then” scenarios for new customers as well (e.g., subscribers who opened but didn’t click your call to action (CTA); opened multiple times but didn’t click your CTA; opened, clicked the CTA but didn’t convert, etc.). We also track our A/B testing—a process key to the success of any email marketing campaign—by using Hubspot groups to send different email versions to different customers based on our Lucidchart workflow.
Choosing the Right Email Automation Tool for Your Startup
Finding the right tools for scaling your business is essential. One of the simultaneous signs of success and growing pains for a startup is when it needs to find an outside marketing tool to augment its homegrown customer email system, but picking the right email processing system can be daunting.
Neal Davey, editor at MyCustomer.com says, “Before you go external you really need to map out your own customer journey – how long is your sales process; how many products are you selling; what is the ROI of each product,” he explains. “You’d be surprised how many companies don’t do this and there’s often a very limited knowledge about how long it takes them from awareness to acquisition. But this really does determine the platform or vendor that you should be selecting.”
Building email workflows in Lucidchart gave us the ability to scope out exactly what we needed from an email processing system, so we could quickly narrow down our choices and spend time comparing what really mattered, leading us to ultimately select HubSpot.
HubSpot provides us with an easy and intuitive email editor, list builder, event creator and template builder. We wanted a marketing automation tool that worked quickly and correctly, and HubSpot offered the best value for our needs.
Crafting and understanding the right email workflows to achieve effective email campaigns can be challenging for any company. When email workflows are visualized in a flowchart, it can help ensure that the your messages are getting to the right people at the right time.
Posted in Uncategorized |
February 18, 2016
We are pleased to announce that Lucidchart now integrates with HipChat, a free chat service for your team. HipChat keeps you connected through group chat rooms, video chats and more. Lucidchart already provides free integration with two other Atlassian products, JIRA and Confluence, making it the first and only third-party app to integrate seamlessly with all three of these Atlassian products.
Integrating Lucidchart and HipChat allows your team to have ad hoc brainstorming sessions in real time, anywhere in the world. All you need to do is type the /lucidchart command in any HipChat room, and it will create a Lucidchart diagram that everyone on your team can collaborate on. Ideas produced in a brainstorming session will be visible and accessible long after the meeting is over.
Kick it off with HipChat
Instead of hashing out ideas on a whiteboard, simply type /lucidchart in the message bar of any HipChat group room and join a working session with your team to start collaborating visually. Now your entire team — even those working remotely — can add ideas to the diagram in real time. No more taking pictures of the whiteboard when you’re done — your brainstorming is already documented in an editable, readable and searchable format.
Need to start a conversation around an idea, process or problem? Use the Lucidchart share button to post a diagram to a HipChat room for further group discussion.
In Confluence, the results of your brainstorming session are shared safely on a centralized platform. Organize your work, create documents and discuss everything in one place.
Bring in JIRA
Creating flowcharts, wireframes and other diagrams adds a visual component to complicated ideas. JIRA allows you to take action on these ideas by planning, tracking and reporting on your projects.
Example use cases
Lucidchart combined with HipChat, Confluence and JIRA fills many needs across different departments. Here are three areas where you can start collaborating with these tools internally:
- Product – create a document in HipChat to collaborate on product design and brainstorm ideas. Embed these ideas into Confluence and add notes, research and data to support the ideas. As your plans turn to action, simply attach the diagrams to JIRA tasks to ensure seamless communication of any work that needs to be done.
- Engineering – post an existing Lucidchart UML or network diagram back to HipChat for team discussion. Make edits to the document as needed, then embed it in a Confluence page for future reference, or attach it to a JIRA issue to clearly communicate the underlying architecture.
- Marketing – create a flowchart in your marketing HipChat room for everyone to map out their email campaigns. Identify gaps or excessive emails and embed the flowchart into Confluence for future reference. Bring everything together in JIRA and track the emails that need to be adjusted, who’s responsible and when assignments are due.
They say good things come in three, and the seamless Lucidchart integration with HipChat, Confluence and JIRA is evidence of this. Using Lucidchart with this power trio increases the effectiveness of your team’s collaboration from ideation to action — saving you time and money. It’s all part of our mission to ensure Lucidchart works wherever you do!
Posted in Uncategorized |
Leave a comment
December 16, 2015
It’s been an exciting December at Lucid Software. Lately, we’ve put a huge amount of focus on making sure Lucidchart works wherever you do. We want you to be able to access your diagrams anywhere, including within the tools you already use. With this in mind, we’ve made some powerful updates to our Confluence and JIRA integrations. Be sure to check them out if you haven’t yet.
Continue reading →
Posted in Feature Spotlight |
December 8, 2015
Nothing can make growing a business easy. But these strategies, shared by Zenefits’ CRM manager, can make it more manageable.
Since its launch in 2013, more than 10,000 companies have begun managing employee benefits through Zenefits. Unsurprisingly, keeping up with demand for its free HR software hasn’t been easy. And perhaps no one is more familiar with those challenges than Gram Bischof, who optimizes Salesforce use across the entire company.
Continue reading →
Posted in Tech Talk, Thought Leadership, Uncategorized |
Tagged business, growth, productivity, scaling, Zenefits |
Leave a comment