Rivalry, founded in 2012, is an Atlanta Tech Village based SaaS startup. They were originally focused on a gamifying sales teams (check out our previous coverage here), but they have recently pivoted their focus to facilitating one-on-one meetings between salesman and managers. We caught up with Jon Birdsong (CEO, pictured in logo tshirt) and the whole Rivalry team at the 36|86 pitch event in Nashville to learn more.
“Rivalry originally focused on live leaderboards and sales standings. We pulled the data straight from Salesforce and projected it up on a big leaderboard,” explains Birdsong. “However, what we found is that just because a sales manager has all this data in front of them, it doesn’t mean they’ll act. Data doesn’t equal control. The number one job of the manager is to make sure his/her reps are developing and the right behaviors are happening so they can perform. It’s no different than a sports coach. If your players focus on the strategic things they need to do throughout the game, at the end, you’ll look up at the scoreboard and see you’ve won.”
After hearing multiple customers complain about their inability to facilitate conversations between managers and salesmen about sales performance, Birdsong and the Rivalry team knew they had an opportunity at hand. “One-on-ones are backbone of sales development. If you’re a manager and you’re not doing them with your individual reps, you’re not going to be a manager for long,” he continues. “One-on-ones rarely happen, are unproductive, and almost never documented. Those are the three problems we wanted to fix with our software. We make sure that those crucial one-on-one meetings occur, they’re strategic and productive, and they’re well documented. When the big boys use Rivalry, we own the most important 3 to 5 hours of their month.”
As anyone who’s ever attempted a pivot knows, it’s never an easy process. “People still know us as the sales leaderboards brand,” says Birdsong. “Changing that messaging is huge and you have to do that across the whole team. It takes a lot of courage to be working on something and then realize that there’s a bigger need that customers truly want. It’s all about using what they want to drive revenue.”
After launching their new software only months ago, Rivalry is currently used by 61 teams (including GE and Insightpool) and the company is “on a warpath to cash flow positive” affirms Birdsong. He projects that moment to be months away. “We want to create a business that grows at the pace that we can sustain the best culture possible.”
Rivalry’s culture is something Jon prides himself on. Uncommon for the tech world, the team is made up of mostly women (3:5). “It is an amazing experience working at Rivalry: a competitive startup with a supportive culture. I am blessed to be a part of such a great team with leadership that values its employees as much as its customers,” says Amanda Raymond, Rivalry Junior Software Engineer. Jon is also driven to add to the startup culture in Atlanta. Many know him as the coordinator of Atlanta Startup Village, the largest monthly business and idea pitch forum in our local ecosystem.