How Underground Ecom doubled their business in 1 year using Close
Setting Close up as their single source of truth helped this email marketing agency scale successfully during an industry-changing year.
Do you have sales data scattered in multiple tools? Are you managing customer relationships from 5 different apps?
Does Google Sheets feel like the bane of your existence?
If you sighed ‘yes’ to any of the above, Matt Young has been in your shoes. Last year, Matt was invited to join the team at Underground Ecom to help shape the workflow and direction of the sales team.
While they were working very well with automated outreach, there was no center for their sales data. The whole company was on the verge of major expansion, and Matt knew there had to be a better way to track sales data and scale for quality rather than quantity. If they couldn’t pull their data together, it would be impossible to pull off the growth vision he had for Underground Ecom.
With Close already part of their tech stack, Matt and his team had a head start. But, they all needed to agree to actively use Close as their single source of truth. How did he encourage a somewhat skeptical team to fully adopt the platform in a matter of weeks––and what results have they seen since then?
Let’s take a deeper look at how Underground Ecom has expanded their use of Close in order to save time and build a more structured sales process.
How Underground Ecom is empowering eCommerce businesses through email
Online businesses need to invest digital marketing to survive, especially in the current climate. That’s the philosophy that drives Underground Ecom. But this marketing agency is focused on the channel they think has the biggest opportunity for transformation and traction in growing ecommerce revenue—email.
Based in the UK with employees all over the world, Underground Ecom prides themselves on providing full-service email marketing for SME eCommerce businesses that need an extra hand. With their unique approach, they’re working to build an extra 20% in revenue for their clients using email marketing every year.
Matt Young, now the company’s CMO, was brought into the sales team right around the time of lockdown in the spring of 2020. Previously, he had worked for large blue-chip tech companies, working for 17 years in lots of different sales roles.
Originally, he was brought in for consultative selling and assessment of the current process. But as circumstances changed drastically in 2020, Matt took on a deeper role to help formalize and scale the company’s sales process.
He saw a nearly overwhelming opportunity for growth both in his own role and for the agency––if they could scale quickly enough to seize it.
How the pandemic opened new opportunities for Underground Ecom
It’s no secret that, since the start of the pandemic, eCommerce sales have surged.
People around the world suddenly have restricted (or no) access to many brick-and-mortar businesses. Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z were all quite comfortable with online shopping, but Baby Boomers have now been forced to embrace this new way to shop.
Because of this, businesses who had never considered eCommerce sales have now rushed to adopt this new revenue stream.
Here’s how Matt describes it:
We’ve seen an absolute explosion in our business for sales events, eCommerce, and email marketing. Good manufacturers who have never done eCommerce are starting to see $1M+ per month with online sales. And they’re wondering, ‘Why didn’t we do this before?’
CMO, Underground Ecom
One particular story sums up the kind of shift that Underground Ecom has seen during 2020.
One of our clients is now getting 70% of their entire revenue from email when previously they weren’t even sure if they should invest in it. Building engaging content based on real-time customer data allows businesses to invest in these kinds of purchases, especially now when people can’t shop in-person.
With such a rapid increase in sales, how did Underground Ecom scale so suddenly without the wheels coming off the bus?
They went all-in on Close.
Life before Close: How Underground Ecom’s team saw the need for change
Underground Ecom has been using Close since 2019. But, when Matt entered the picture, he found that Close was the often-ignored oddball in the company’s tech stack.
“There was one sales guy who was doing outreach at Underground Ecom when I started,” Matt explains. “He was importing 10k leads per month into Close, and then sending automated outreach. Otherwise, it wasn’t really set up—there was no data being saved there, and honestly, nobody was really using it.
“I was brought in to help us scale, and so I suggested we apply a large business mentality to ourselves so that, as we scale, we can fill those boots instead of hiring on-demand for positions that may not be a good long-term addition.”
In Matt’s opinion, a successful sales process needs to be:
I knew that, if we were expanding, we needed to start centralizing the data. We had a team of 20 that was growing, and we had no single source of truth. We had a million Google Sheets, 5 Slack channels, 4 Trello boards—we needed to bring that all in-house.
CMO, Underground Ecom
To accomplish this, Matt decided it was time to use Close the way it was intended: as a centralized database for the sales team.
“You could probably save a few thousand dollars by keeping everything on paper or in free apps,” Matt says, “but things get lost through the cracks. That’s not the right way––there’s no single source of truth.”
Decision time: The steps Underground Ecom took to use Close to its full potential
For a long time, the sales team at Underground Ecom was using Close simply for automated email outreach. While that’s an important feature of Close, it’s certainly not the main reason our customers use our platform.
“We started to pick more carefully through Close,” Matt says. “When we saw powerful features, such as automations and Smart Views, we knew this was what we needed.”
For what we needed, Close was spot on.
Normally, making this kind of decision involves comparing various competitors and making an informed decision. But for Matt, the answer was clear.
“We’re not a 250-person business. We needed a centralized place for documents, data, and outreach. For what we needed, Close was (and continues to be) spot on.”
But, would the rest of the team feel the same way?
From a skeptical first reaction to full team adoption
“The initial process of getting our reps to commit to using Close was a bit painful,” Matt admits.
So, how did he encourage wider adoption across the team?
"I focused on the fact that the faster they started using Close, the less admin work they’d have to do. I showed them how fundamentally beneficial Close was to their day-to-day work, and how it could cut out 30 minutes of everyone’s day. They thought that was brilliant, and adopted so quickly!"
Aligning their CRM to their team and process
Underground Ecom differentiates themselves by doing all the work for their clients in-house—they don’t outsource any part of their process.
In total, the company has six customer-facing teams: design, QA, copywriting, and client management. Their goal is to keep tight control of the quality of the emails they create for clients.
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Team structure is pod-based:
• Design, QA, copywriting, and client management around each client
• Plus a sales team with 7 seats, focused on outbound
Underground Ecom has now set up Close to align with their sales process and scale their revenue without losing that in-house uniqueness.
The unique process Underground Ecom uses to sell inside Close
A total of 8 team members use Close every day at Underground Ecom, including the team’s 6 client managers. But Matt needed to link the process and data in a way that allowed him to actively report on the goings-on.
“I’m very data-driven, that’s just the way I work,” Matt says. “We didn’t have a way to get that data until we built out Custom Activities, Smart Views, and Tasks. Then, we built dashboards for everyone to report on what each team member was doing.”
Pre-2020, Underground Ecom only used Close to store some data and hammer people with emails. “Now,” Matt says, “Close is our primary means of communication, we use it for everything.”
He describes the team’s sales strategy as mainly outbound:
We send 15k emails per week via automations through 15 different domains, and we closely monitor what comes back in. New prospects can book their discovery call through the Close + Zoom integration. We also use Close and Zoom to run audits and technical assessments, looking at the prospect’s current system for email.
CMO, Underground Ecom
“Finally we give the prospect an example website showing exactly what happens when their own shoppers abandon a cart, using real emails to make the point.”
As the team continues to scale this sales process and build better results inside Close, Matt sees even more benefits to his own daily process.
“Everyone is getting on board with Close. I can listen to calls, hop on video meetings—it’s incredible. Now as we scale, it’s key to have that sustainable repeatable process in place.”
Close features that this team couldn’t live without
“99% of our sales process is email (after all, that’s our business),” Matt says. So, the main feature that this team uses is email automation and sequencing.
Smart Views help the team organize their leads and bring focus to each individual.
And of course, where would the team be without tasks?
“Literally everything our reps do is assigned to tasks,” Matt explains. “It’s the backbone of their workday and the first thing they do in the morning.”
After setting up a clear, scalable process for sales inside Close, what results have the team seen?
What makes Close worthwhile—saving 150+ hours per month with centralized reporting
It only took a couple of weeks for the whole sales team at Underground Ecom to go all-in with Close. What convinced them Close was worth the effort?
The early ROI of Close: Saving both time and money
Matt refers to two key benefits that the team saw early on when they started using Close more fully.
First, it was clear from the get-go that the team was saving loads of time.
To do a manual version of what we do in Close would be so hugely time-consuming—we never could’ve expanded so fast. Our reps easily save 30 minutes every week, per rep. And Close frees up the C-level massively, it’s hard to quantify just how much. To have a sales meeting with the data coming together in 5 minutes rather than 30, the amount of time Close frees up for our team is invaluable.
Across the whole business, Matt estimates that they save a full-time employee’s hours each month.
“We were actually looking to hire a second C-level assistant. But now, with Close, we don’t need to do that. The ROI clearly outstrips the cost of Close.”
Scaling for higher-quality results in the long-term
“Our business won’t continue to expand unless our team continues to use Close for centralizing reporting (instead of Google Sheets),” Matt says.
Planning future goals with Close by their side
During the craziness that was 2020, Underground Ecom more than doubled in size, headcount, revenue, and profit. This year, they’re looking to do the same.
“If we had tried to fragment or use different systems to save money, it would’ve been a disaster for our business,” Matt says. “We’re hoping to double in size again, and it’s key to have this scalable, repeatable process in place.
“Last year, we generated $25M in revenue for our clients. This year, our goal is to make ourselves an invaluable partner to our clients, and keep growing with them (and with Close).”
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