Today we’d like to introduce you to Phil Benavides.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I knew I was going to start my own business since I was 10 years old when I bought the lemonade stands out on my block then raised my prices. I come from a family of hard workers with very humble beginnings but I still could not be more grateful for the life I had growing up — I had a roof over my head, I was fed, and it made me driven.
Anything else is considered icing on the cake. I was lucky enough to have had key people support and motivate me too throughout different parts of my life. My mom raised me by herself working as a waitress and went to school at night so she can give us a better life, she moved us from Boyle Heights (East LA) to Alhambra (San Gabriel Valley) when I was 6 and ended up getting her degree from Pepperdine when I was still in school – she’s definitely my inspiration.
Growing up we didn’t have money for a babysitter and because my mom was working and going to school at night, I spent most of my childhood staying home by myself and indoors. This made me independent. I had my own set of keys to our apartment since I was 7, and learned to cook and take care of myself.
To pass the time I used to do draw and watch TV, so much that later in life I got accepted into the Gifted and Talented Education Program (Gate) for Visual and Performing arts and in college one of the 10 films school in the country. (along with the school of business).
My landlords become like my adopted grandparents, when I was a kid they used to sit with me every day after school to teach me how to read when I was behind — now I read a book a week and anywhere from 100-200 articles.
The summer before high school I fractured my cheekbone during football practice and was unable to play. My coach told me to go run with the cross-country team to stay in shape and on the first day I beat the varsity team in practice. Their jaws dropped and I asked if I work hard at this do you think I could get a scholarship and they said Yes!
4 years later I received a full scholarship to Loyola Marymount University (LMU) for both academics and athletics, participating in both the nationally ranked Business and Film programs. During college, I had practice twice a day, was a member of 3 orgs and did 4 internships which included digital marketing for the TV show Extreme Makeover Home Edition and a special program for Fox Sports where I got to work directly with Executives in Ad Sales.
In my 2nd semester senior year I interned at a B2B mobile marketing tech company, a month in they offered me full-time and placed me into an executive development program. First I reported to C-level and they rotated me amongst different departments so I could understand how decisions at the top impact all aspects of the business. At the same time, my main tasks included market research and analysis. The company went through 3 acquisitions in 4 years and I ended up being prompted or taken on a new role each time.
It was at this company I met my future business partner. I switched to sales and he managed sales operations and demand generation. I had never done sales in my life but in my first year I ended up number #1 salesman for the company influencing or directly bringing in millions of dollars over the years.
Eventually, we both left to new companies to expand our knowledge. I went to Vibes, the #1 mobile marketing player in our space after I emailed the CEO and told him I’d make him a million dollar. They paid to move to Chicago and I got to train and a build a sales prospecting team under a former VP of Sales at Salesforce Jim Kreller.
6 months later my old CEO took over a new company and asked me to help run sales. He paid to move me back to LA and I moved back with the intent of helping them until I was ready to start my own company. My partner ended up at TaskUs where he managed sales prospecting and demand generation helping them from $30M to $100M in 2 years. We always kept in touch and one day I texted him, “F*ck working for anybody we should be doing this for ourselves.” and he said, “Hell Ya, want to grab a beer after work?” I met up with him and that was it.
We wrote the business plan within a week, used our own service to build our own business, and I quit my job with 3 paid clients already signed up. Almost 2 years later we’re still here and growing our service business faster than most tech companies.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Boy howdy! It has definitely not been smooth. I’ve pulled more all-nighters for my company than I did in college.
Honestly, the biggest struggles are all the little things they don’t write about in articles or books about running a start-up. For example, companies don’t like to pay their bills on time, vendors are always the lowest priority to get paid, as a business we’re bootstrapped and cash flows are important to us.
Fortunately, we realized we can move everyone to credit card billing and even offered a discount for those who did so.
Pipestry – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Sure, at age 26 along with partner Brendan Burnett, founded a service company which is on pace to grow about 1,400% in our first 2 years by the end of 2018.
Pipestry helps B2B companies get more qualified sales meetings. Specifically, we do this for B2B companies who sell software or services for over the minimum $10,000. Either they have low performing sales support (sales development reps) or none at all, and/or they need extra resources quickly and affordable to increase the # of companies they are contacting on a daily basis.
Before I explain more let me give you some more background… The industry best practice today for B2B sales is to have seasoned salespeople focus on closing deals and have low-level salespeople do the cold calling and outreach for them. (all the sales grunt work essentially)
The problem is, this model has become so popular that the low-level sales role called a Sales Development Rep (SDR) is now the #1 in demand sales position in the U.S. and costs all in about $75-$120K a year depending on experience. For 1 SDR.
Most B2B startups don’t have the budget, experience or time to hire and train a sales development. The old solution for this is what the industry calls “Outsourced Appointment Setting” (which we hate) because older appointment setting companies to remind you of annoying telemarketers, they don’t understand complex businesses, use little technology, and it looks like their websites have not been updated since 2005.
When my partner and I were responsible for sales prospecting we both looked at using outsourced sales development companies because we didn’t have the budget to go and hire 10 folks right away or the time to train them. Unsure if we should we still worked with them but were ultimately disappointed with the results.
They asked us for a value prop and a list and then they weren’t transparent on how they were contacting our prospects, which is a really scary feeling when you hand off your sales to someone and you don’t know what they’re doing.
That’s where my partner and I saw a need and we founded a Pipestry solely on the idea that we wanted to be the Uber of this legacy outsourced sales development industry where we really flipped the script on the business model to provide much better service, use better technology, communicate with prospects in the way they want to be communicated with, and made it affordable for B2B startups.
More importantly, we created a very transparent process where our clients get strong visibility, feel confident knowing what we’re doing and the results, and can communicate 24×7 with their Los Angeles based team over slack and phone. Pipestry is now considered a full-service sales prospecting company, some people would even view US as B2B sales prospecting agency because we have trained sales copywriters and creative on staff. Put simply our business works like this:
First, we help you understand how many potential businesses there are in the US that need what you offer and the type of person we need to reach out to. Second, we create a plan (in the biz it’s called a Playbook) with exact steps, resources needed, and details on how to reach your target businesses. Finally, we provide a Los Angeles based team to contact your potential customers at 50% of what it could cost you to hire and SDR.
Direct Mail has become our strongest differentiator because no one else has figured out how to really scale it. We do fulfillment in-house and have 14 different partners with all sorts of direct mail tactics and distribution capabilities. We can send a thousand handwritten notes tomorrow if we want to and combine it with multi-channel outreach using Direct Mail, LinkedIn, and Email.
Example: We track when employees get promoted at companies and will send them a Champagne bottle along with a note congratulating them and explaining how we can help them look like a rock star in their new role. Follow up with email, if no response then messages on LinkedIn.
What sets us apart are a few things:
1) We connect with almost all our clients on Slack and anyone who touches your prospects you’re allowed to be in contact with 24×7.
2) We found something our future clients desperately need and we give it to them, for free – The Playbook (detailed step by step plan to build and scale a sales team) and Total Addressable Market.
3) We’re month to month with no long-term contracts
4) Sales Development is a science and an art. We’re always improving the science, that should be a given for any company, but in addition, we have doubled down on perfecting on the art. What that means is we’re focusing on understanding the psychology of buying, how to craft a value proposition that is truly unique and relevant, having our entire company take copywriting classes to effectively communicate the message.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I define success as when I can take of my family, future, and present. For all the years they took care of me, and let them finally rest.
1) Grow my business to where I can hire smart people to run it for me before I’m married
2) Then find the love of my life and travel the world with her
3) Buy our dream house
4) Buy houses for our families
- $3,000/month to month (help build your unicorn)