Former Compendium CEO Frank Dale on Friday announced his new technology company, a sales-management-software firm called Costello.
The outfit, which targets business-to-business firms, helps guide sales reps through phone calls with prospects and provides insights for sales managers. Dale, who's founder and CEO, said the idea took root in early 2016. Later that year, he landed his first client and venture capital commitments, even before having an actual software product to sell..
Dale spent nearly two years as CEO of the marketing software firm Compendium before its 2013 sale to Oracle. He has spent more than a decade in sales, operations and consulting roles, including chief operating officer of DemandJump and vice president of operations at KSM Consulting.
Dale said he's noticed over the years that technology has helped increase the quantity of deal prospects, but companies have not really gotten better at closing deals.
"We worked collaboratively with over 50 sales leaders and professionals to solve the most important challenge faced by sales reps and leaders—execution," said Dale, 40. He added that execution mostly takes place on phone calls, and that "Costello gives every sales rep a co-pilot for sales conversations, an analyst to improve performance, and an assistant to reduce admin burden."
While the idea for Costello germinated about 18 months ago, the software has been live less than a year.
Costello is headquartered out of downtown flexible-lease space Union 525. It has eight employees, including co-founder Rod Feuer and 10 clients. It raised $1 million in seed money late last year in a round led by Nebraska-based Dundee Venture Capital, with participation from Indianapolis-based Elevate Ventures, Lafayette-based M25 Group and Colorado-based Service Provider Capital.
"We invest across the Midwest, and are excited that Costello is our first investment in Indiana," Dundee partner Greg Beaufait said. "The incredible thing about Costello has been their ability to sell their solution to companies like TinyPulse, who Costello had never met, with no product to show when TinyPulse committed to being a customer."
TinyPulse is a Washington-based employee-engagement-software firm that Dale was introduced to through venture capitalists.
Costello is for sales teams, not just sales reps. For account executives, it sets the agenda for calls— helping them ask the right questions as the call progresses—and serves as a repository for them to take notes.
For managers and vice presidents, it's an analytics tool, giving them visibility into the quality of deals in the pipeline and information about what's working and not working for reps on calls.
It integrates with Salesforce and Gmail, allowing users to access customer-relationship-management data and calendar information.
Dale said he got the idea for the company around February 2016 while leading TechPoint's Tailwind program, which involved advising scale-up companies.
He said he noticed that sales reps were challenged navigating the sales process among various decision-makers. He set out to see how big a problem that was and whether companies would pay for something that helped.
In more than 40 interviews with sales leaders, Dale said he kept hearing from companies that a bigger pain point for them was sales-rep execution with just one decision-maker.
There's a lack of sales software that's designed to be used during phone calls and that ushers deals to close, so account executives have largely resorted to ad hoc tools like Post-It notes and Google Docs.
"Ad-hoc tools inevitably lead to ad-hoc execution," Dale said.