Company Born At Startup Weekend Detroit Releases Sales App
When Sandy Barris came to Startup Weekend Detroit last year, he had an idea for an app that would help people working in direct sales track their activities and stay motivated. He hooked up with some developers at the marathon event, and a rudimentary product was created. Barris says it wasn’t long before things fell apart, though. “They all quit because I wouldn’t give them 80 percent of the company,” he explains.
Despite losing his developers, Barris pressed forward with his idea and his plans to launch a startup around it. He says Paul Czarnik, Compuware’s chief technology officer, took him under his wing, and he eventually hired jacAPPS to work on the software. Calls on Fire was soon reborn. “It’s an iPhone app that tracks sales activity, but it’s not connected to any CRM [customer relationship management] software,” Barris says. “It feeds back to you the value of your sales call. I decided to streamline the app to make it really simple and less distracting for sales people.”
Barris says most sales people charged with making sales calls will find anything else to do besides the task at hand. “The phone gets heavy, you get into slumps, the pipeline gets empty, and then you’re in real trouble,” he notes. “Most sales people keep two sets of books: The private one and the one they show their sales managers.”
What the Calls on Fire app does is allow users to customize up to five different sales goals—30 calls per day, for example, or one referral per day—as being of top importance. Users then plug in their annual goal in terms of money, and the app calculates how much each task on the to-do list is worth. Users go to a dashboard and tap every time they complete a sales goal, and the app tells the user the dollar value for that completed goal as a way to keep salespeople motivated. Having a bad day? Users can also tap a button inside the app for a motivational quote or ideas on how to improve performance.
Barris says the Calls on Fire app, which just launched last month, was the end result of two and a half years of work and was originally called What Gets Measured Gets Done. Barris, who is based in White Lake, MI, has a 30-year career in business marketing, and most of that time he has owned his own business. (He’s also written a book called Sell More of Your Products, Services, and Ideas.) The market he’s looking to tap now is the 16.5 million sales people working in the United States—and the 87 million working in sales worldwide—and not only sell them his Calls on Fire app, but assorted training and marketing services as well.
Barris says his goal is to accumulate 50 million users and eventually incorporate graphs and charts into the next version of the app. That might sound like a lofty goal, but Barris points out that he’s come a long way from the kid who began selling seeds as a way to buy a baseball glove. “I’m looking for the dollars to market this worldwide,” he adds. “I haven’t had a lot of luck with the incubators, but I’ve gotten a lot of good guidance from individuals.”