An interview with Kanika Bhalla, CRO at Increff
We sit down with Kanika Bhalla, CRO at Increff. Increff is a retail SaaS company solving complex inventory management & supply chain challenges and empowers brands, & retailers to optimize inventory across the web, marketplaces, & wholesale channel
How did you end up at Increff and what problem does Increff solve for its clients?
I have spent a large part of my career as a retailer. A few years back, I switched sides and joined another startup that created products for the retail industry. After spending almost 6 years there, I was bitten by the entrepreneurship bug and started up a retail-supply chain company. A common industry acquaintance referred me to Rajul (Increff Co-founder, CEO) to help them set up their sales & marketing function. When I had to shut my own startup down because of Covid, Rajul asked me to come on board Increff full-time. Increff is a data & technology company providing end-to-end merchandising and omnichannel inventory management solutions for complex supply chain challenges to over 200 global retail brands. Increff Warehouse management system has helped increase the e-commerce sales of our clients by up to 2x, and our merchandising & planning software is designed to help brands & retailers improve their bottom line by up to 5%.
As the Chief Revenue Officer, what are your main responsibilities at Increff?
My prime responsibility at Increff is to ensure we achieve our business plan numbers while enabling highly efficient supply chains for our clients. Running the sales teams in four primary geographies - North America, UK/Europe, MEA-APAC, and India, planning and overseeing execution of our marketing strategy, enabling the partnerships & alliances function, and running the support functions like revenue operations, inside sales, and pre-sales, my calendar rarely has any white space in it. Traveling across the continents for client conversations and running the show while on the road keeps me up at odd hours spread over multiple time zones.
What role does your C-level team play when it comes to organising, operating and improving your marketing-sales funnel?
We, at Increff, have a very strong culture of enabling others. In fact, "Unblock others" is one of the 7 core values we have as a company. Whenever we come across a problem for the first time, we make sure we figure out a preventive action to avoid having the same problem occur in the future, while taking corrective action at the moment. We also make sure that we document as many processes as possible so that our teams can learn asynchronously rather than having to reach out to another team member for everything that they need to do, to do their jobs effectively. And since there is so much focus on being process-oriented, I also ensure that we are constantly training the team to perform better than yesterday. In fact, I have only 2 recurring weekly meetings with my entire team and both of them are training sessions where topics keep changing from day to day.
At ColdFire, when we look at our clients' Lead Generation strategies, they vary greatly. Some have found a single, scalable client acquisition process while others thrive on a mix of top-of-funnel strategies. If you had to summarise the high-level LeadGen strategy of Increff, what would it be?
We are the latter. We have a mix of TOFU strategies. Our initial success came in from Word Of Mouth largely, but that was only in the market. As we started expanding into multiple geographies across the world, we decided to experiment with a wide-variety of funnel generation approaches. Participating in relevant events and conferences is something we did extensively over the last 2 years after Covid that gave us a lot of recall value with our prospective customers. We also spend top dollar on demand generation through highly focused Google and LinkedIn ads. Since we are a vertical SaaS company, our audience is quite niche and we know exactly who would we need to talk to, when it comes to their warehouse management or merchandise management needs. Partnerships & alliances with other like-minded companies on a barter system or a revenue-share model have also worked well for us in some of our key markets. Partnerships with specialized agencies and individuals who are well-connected in the fashion & retail industry have also yielded results. Just about a year back, we also started our outbound motion which is starting to pay off now. We have a team of in-house SDRs who are geographically aligned, and also work with agencies who help us in setting up meetings with prospects for us. However, by far, references from our satisfied customers remain one of our highest revenue generator.
What is a Lead Generation technique that you've used at Increff or at previous companies which you believe is underutilized at most C-level teams - and why?
Most B2B companies underestimate how powerful a reference from an existing happy customer is. While we all want happy customers, we more often than not, tend to not utilize them well. At Increff, we made sure we told the world how happy our customers are with us through various means - video testimonials by customers running as ads, reviews on trusted review platforms like Gartner or G2, and the most powerful of all - asking our customers to refer us to 3 of their colleagues in the same industry. These measures brought us more leads than we could have imagined.
Has your C-level team experimented with some kind of cold outbound strategy (like cold email)? If yes what was the general outcome and if no, why not?
Yes, we have experimented with a cold outbound strategy. The results have been quite varied across geographies. For example, in UK and Europe, cold reach outs don't work. Almost no one responds to a cold email and cold calling is nearly impossible, thanks to GDPR regulations. In the North American & MEA-APAC markets, we have seen some success with cold emailing but not enough to encourage us to spend disproportionate time and effort on this strategy. Therefore, our outbound strategy is limited to supporting our other lead-generation methods.