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How a Winner from Shark Tank Wins Sales with a CRM

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Author photo: Shabnam Kakar

Shabnam Kakar


More and more people are adopting a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle by making greener choices—and how they care for their beloved four-legged companions is no exception.

You might’ve heard of Wild Earth. They were featured on Shark Tank earlier this year (and were hugely successful, fetching a $550,000 investment from the legendary Mark Cuban himself).

Wild Earth is a Berkeley-based alternative protein pet food company dog food company with a mission of formulating “the highest-quality clean protein the world has ever seen.” Their first product was a dog treat featuring Koji: a Japanese fungi typically used in the making of soy sauce, sake, and miso. Fancy.

We sat down with Brian Grupe, the Manager of Sales and Customer Success at Wild Earth, to hear about one of the great business decisions that’s helped the company get to where they are today: choosing Copper.

A happy WildEarth pup

A rapidly growing startup needs a system that’ll scale with it.

Wild Earth was founded only about two years ago, and like a lot of other companies, started out managing their sales and customer relationships using good ol’ Excel.

Which worked fine… at first.

Though Wild Earth began by selling their products directly to consumers, they soon realized that model wasn’t sustainable on its own and that an omnichannel approach was needed (since pet food is still largely sold in brick and mortar stores).

So, they shifted their focus to retailers instead of direct consumers. The startup gained momentum fast, and soon Brian’s team made the decision to try a solution that would scale with them as their customer base quickly expanded. They decided to adopt Copper.

Wild Earth’s CMO (and Brian’s boss), Florian Radke, recommended Copper because he’d had success with it at another one of his startups: Cinnaholic (which was actually just named one of Forbes Top 500 Franchises in the U.S.).

“I had used Salesforce before,” recalls Brian, “and what I like about Copper is that it feels like a stripped down Salesforce with only the good stuff.”

Brian adds: “And the CEO was like, ‘I know salespeople. We’re right at that point where you're going to start to lose track of accounts. We're seeing that this is working—let's get the CRM in place ASAP.’ So we got Copper at the perfect time, before the storm hit.”

So, did replacing Excel with a CRM end up increasing the number of relationships his team was able to manage? “Absolutely, 100%," says Brian.

How can you say no to a face like this

CRM is pipeline tracking made easy.

With Copper, Wild Earth has been able to improve the way they organize their tasks and streamline the way they manage their sales pipeline.

We’re mainly using Copper for pipeline tracking. We live in the opportunity dashboard, and within tasks. And that has really kept us on track. We live and die by our tasks.
Brian Grupe, Manager of Sales and Customer Success at Wild Earth

While the company relies primarily on pet food retailers to drive revenue, they do have an e-commerce website as well where consumers can continue to buy the fungi-based dog treats directly. Without a good system in place, it would be easy to lose track of all of these people, especially working in both the B2B and B2C space.

Here’s how they handled it: “We did a custom integration to link Copper with our Shopify store. So, all Shopify orders—which is how we do all of our wholesale and direct to consumer sales—live inside Copper as well.”

And this is why we love integrations.

It’s never been easier to build a wide range of relationships.

For a lot of startups, the thought of getting their product into big box stores is what dreams are made of. The team at Wild Earth, however, view things a little differently. “We are only working with local and independent retailers—we’re not into big box stores. We are not in Costco. We are not in Pet Smart. That's not the approach that we're going for.”

“We’re about building relationships with independent business owners that believe in our products and think that the story of Koji, and the story of us will resonate with their customer base. And we're seeing this work really well in the Bay Area, Portland, Seattle, New York, Los Angeles. We have some other key markets emerging as well, but that's our deal.”

“We’re focused on building relationships with retailers and managing those relationships is an essential part of Copper.”

One of the ways that Copper helps Wild Earth to manage these relationships (and ensure none of them slip through the cracks) is by creating follow-up tasks.

“Follow-ups is a big one. Basically, what we're doing is calling up the stores, and once we’ve gotten permission to send them samples, then we create our lead in Copper and convert it. We send the samples and set our first follow-up for within a week.”

“This is to check on the samples to see how they’re doing in the store, whether they have questions for us, or if they want to carry our product. And then we play a lot of phone tag with these people—who are hard to get a hold of. So we're constantly moving the days and times of the opportunities around.”

Much aesthetic wow

More transparency, better collaboration.

Another helpful feature was Copper’s email notifications; they meant Brian didn’t need to constantly check in on his teammates to see what they’re working on. Any time a team member changes a customer’s stage in the sales cycle, logs sales notes, or completes something, he gets a notification.

“The collaboration factor in Copper is great because we have total visibility of the other person's dashboard and their tasks. We also have the ability to turn that visibility off if we just want to focus on our own stuff. But as a manager, it allows me to see what's going on at all times with everybody.”

And better transparency isn’t the only perk that the team has experienced since collaborating more with Copper.

“The labeling of tasks is nice as well. Even within my follow-up tasks, I can see a note of where I got a lead. ‘Re-engage, follow up, West Coast, inventory check-in. Follow-up related to Salty's. Shark Tank display.’ Other things like that. So, I can make myself little notes.”

“Also, the logged activity in the notes: I love that it all lives there. I mainly live inside Gmail, and it’s nice that Copper logs everything.”

Copper: the perfect personal lead management assistant.

After their appearance on Shark Tank, Wild Earth gained a whole lot more exposure, which has resulted in explosive growth—specifically related to wholesale. “We had retailers reaching out to us directly, so we created a system on our website that sent inbound leads automatically to Copper, which is really helpful.”

The "wholesalers" lead capture form on Wild Earth’s website asks for information like the lead’s name, title, company name, business address, and contact information. When the form is submitted, all of this data is automatically synced to Copper and tagged based on their lead source (e.g., “As seen on TV - Shark Tank”).

“Then, we would just go into the Leads dashboard in Copper, see the new lead right away and reach out. They’ve already filled out everything we need to know. We’re able to convert on the spot.”

Little to no CRM experience? No problem.

When Brian decided to get Copper, and it came time to roll it out to the team, the process was a breeze.

“Everyone picked up Copper quickly because it was just very, very intuitive.

I went straight to work with you guys after just a brief training. We didn’t want to be sitting on our hands just trying to slowly figure this out. I remember when I first had Salesforce training at another company. There was a room of 20 of us, and we spent two full days doing Salesforce. Just the most ridiculous stuff.”

“With Copper, we set it up, customized some settings, learned the basics and that was it—we were rocking and rolling in a few hours.”

And the results? Well, on top of everything else mentioned above: better use of time.

“Copper has saved us so much time. I don’t even remember how I used to track things anymore—and I don’t want to. It's a huge efficiency improvement.”

Just call me Kate-9 Moss

This is only the beginning...

Wild Earth’s on a mission to reinvent pet food, and they’ve only just begun. They’re continuing to expand their business to more and more consumers—with Copper scaling with them as they grow.

We can’t wait to see where they go next! (And for more dog photos.)

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