Picture this: virtually everyone in your business is a new business prospector, providing hundreds of new sales leads every month. You’ve got a system to capture and qualify those leads, and a reward program designed to keep the sales funnel full.
Sound like the stuff of sales science fiction?
Well, the future is clearly in focus at Wingmate, a Toronto-based company that makes collecting sales leads almost effortless – with an app that allows anyone who can take a picture with a cellphone to create a sales lead on the fly.
Delivery drivers, courier drivers, frontline staff – everyone involved in day-to-day operations is incentivized to snap a photo of a new business, a “coming soon” sign or any street-level intel. The app does the rest by geo-tagging the photo and uploading to a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) program that organizes and stores the data in real time. A lead that is captured on Wednesday could become a new contract on Friday.
“In most service companies, there is often a huge disconnect between Operations and Sales and that keeps those companies from realizing their full potential,” says Matt Leuschner, President of Wingmate. “The operations folks are the foundation of the business; they see everything and they’re the ones interacting with the customer. Those are the people we’re reaching.”
Leuschner, working in tandem with his business partner Louis Anagnostakos, took over the 2015 start-up company two years ago. He rebranded with a new moniker and doubled sales year over year, now boasting more than 35 clients, including the likes of Purolator.
Anagnostakos had experience using driver leads to build a recycling business, and it was this intuitive, on-the-ground practicality that helped Leuschner turn Wingmate around and grow it by leaps and bounds.
In the competitive market of business technology, Wingmate is a very smart app with development potential and a cool name, Leuschner says. “We thought of military intelligence with homing pigeons bringing back information from the field – that idea.” Wingmate is also evocative of air force tactical operations where your wingmate or wingman has your back covered and is there to ensure that a pilot has an extra set of eyes to improve safety and efficacy.
For example, the company helped a commercial laundry business that cleans and delivers linens and uniforms solidify sales leads from the frontline drivers to the Sales team. The company retired a pen and paper program that wasn’t being properly tracked.
Leveraging Wingmate technology and its incentives for drivers, “they actually got 24 of their 26 routes to send over one lead per shift,” he says. “Now they have an engagement of over 90 percent, and they’ve got over 300 leads from the field and multiple closes under two months.”
Leuschner’s rise to the presidency of Wingmate is equally impressive. He joined the company straight out of university with a business degree, and offered to work for free for a month to demonstrate his abilities and prove himself. Fuelled by his success and work ethic, in 2017 the board offered him the role of President.
“We’re taking an old-school, organic approach,” says Leuschner, “growing a business with a really solid foundation and making sure the product is bulletproof.”
He has no patience for people with the mindset of finding reasons why things can’t work. “When you’re building something like this, you need to get there fast and just get things done,” he says.
Leuschner himself has entrepreneurial DNA. In high school, he and a friend started a profitable clothing business and earned enough money to live briefly in Prague after completing university. Leuschner knew that he couldn’t fathom working for a big bank or corporation. He yearned to create and grow a business.
“For me, my favourite thing is the relationships you get to build and the ability to go into different businesses in different industries and understand how they work. And of course, the fulfillment of growing something and creating value that’s my own. It changes you. It teaches you something that other jobs couldn’t.”
And it is not always easy. “It’s very challenging and quite an uphill battle, but every time you move forward, it feels better than anything. Fulfilment would probably be the best word to describe it,” he adds.
Along with Leuschner’s entrepreneurial drive and Anagnostakos’ experience, the product that was originally marketed under the name Gopher Leads was upgraded with a breadth of new features and offerings. The app is simple to use with large buttons and friendly streamlined interfaces.
Leuschner’s own ideas have been included in the development of the dashboard with built-in ease of use as the driving mandate behind this functionality. “I think it just needs to be easy and straightforward,” he says. “People are busy with a billion other things.”
Indeed, it is the efficiency of the app that leads to efficiency of lead generation. Leuschner says that Wingmate should really be defined as business intelligence rather than simply lead generation. Already he is finding interest growing in other industries, including property management, realtors, telcos, logistics, commercial laundry and restaurant linen businesses, and most recently, municipal government. Truly, any business reacting to customer needs would benefit from the use of this product, he explains.
“A telecommunications technician goes into a customer’s home and installs internet service or whatever it may be but there are still a bunch of other opportunities there that with Wingmate, Rogers or Telus – whoever it may be – can incentivize the technician to get the information back to Sales,” Leuschner says.
So what happens when you incorporate Wingmate into your operations, doing away with traditional pen and paper lead and intel capture?
Clients experience a windfall of leads from drivers on the job. In fact, some need help managing the sudden boost.
“It was a bit like drinking from a fire hose,” Leuschner says. “Clients were getting all these leads and a lot of the leads were falling by the wayside. Drivers would send in the leads and Sales couldn’t get to them in time or provide the drivers with feedback.”
Keep in mind the drivers are very motivated to provide leads as they are bonused or rewarded for leads that turn into business, definitely one of the keys to the success of Wingmate.
What was clearly a challenge for customers was an opportunity for Wingmate. The company created a new position on its customer support side called the Pipeline Manager. That person is dedicated to handling those leads coming in and qualifying those leads for customers.
“Drivers are sending the leads to us rather than one of their salespeople,” Leuschner explains. “We set the appointment, we qualify the lead, and we make sure the driver who sent the lead is pumped up, providing them feedback, and then we assign it to a salesperson.”
This lead qualification process is an option companies can opt into with Wingmate. It’s a popular one, and Leuschner now is hiring additional staff to assist in pipeline management, testimony to the fact that companies recognize the value in this additional service.
“A Wingmate is a person who helps you,” he says. “In our case, we’re a company helping other companies and their people are helping each other grow the business. So it works really well.”