After a holiday hiatus, #50startups is back! And to kick off 2015, we’re talking about companies with outside sales channels and how Bend-based LeadMethod aims to solve a real business problem. So first, imagine you are a large manufacturing company (you can make whatever you want: donut machines, tractors, beer pumps).

Now you probably use a network of outside distributors to sell your stuff. But how do you know what those sales reps are doing? Can you tell whether they ever followed up on a sales lead you sent them? Do know which sales reps contact prospects the fastest? You don’t know these things! You probably should — and LeadMethod’s software aims to give you answers.

BendTECH recently sat down with LeadMethod founder and CEO Justin Johnson to learn more about the startup and the big opportunity he sees in an unexpected space.

Startup: LeadMethod
Started: January 2014
Founder: Justin Johnson
Employees: 7
Headquarters: Bend

What does LeadMethod do? We’re a B2B software company. We’ve created channel sales management software specifically for businesses that sell through outside sales reps. These companies definitely face some unique challenges that aren’t addressed by existing CRM or marketing automation software, which is typically geared toward companies that have their own direct sales teams.

So you are like … We’re like Salesforce for companies with outside sales channels.

Justin Johnson, founder of LeadMethod.
Justin Johnson, founder of LeadMethod.

How did you come up with the idea? About three years ago I started my first company after I saw an opportunity to help industrial pump manufacturers generate more online sales leads. I created a software business, PumpScout, that did that. We started sending our clients these sales leads and they were thrilled, but then they’d send them onto their distributors and often never hear back. They didn’t know if those outside sales reps had followed up or if the lead had turned into a sale. I wanted to create a software system that help close that communication gap and allowed any business using outside sales channels to understand all aspects of their sales operations. That’s where LeadMethod came from.

Who are your customers? We’ve started with industrial companies, because most of them don’t sell directly to their clients and instead rely on outside distributors. But we’re getting a lot of interest from other verticals such as tech, medical devices, electronic chip manufacturers and even large furniture companies. The market is significant and our team really understands the challenge of the channel sales model. We feel like we can really offer a solution that fits their needs.

How are you funded? We’re mostly self-funded.

Are you fundraising? Not immediately. We want to get to the next stage of business growth with what we have, but we’ll likely raise money in the next year to help us scale faster.

How it is going so far? Really good. We built an incredible enterprise software product and we’ve been able to sign up a number of clients quickly. The clients love the system and this point we’re working on bringing in more business and growing the team. I’m excited about the hires we’ve made in marketing, sales and development over the past few months and we’re always looking for more good people.

Tucker, head schnauzer at LeadMethod.
Tucker, head schnauzer at LeadMethod.

What have you learned so far? I realized pretty quickly that I love being an entrepreneur and I love the team we’ve built and getting to work with them every day. I also learned the importance of surrounding yourself with good advisors and asking for help when you need it. We moved to Bend from Tacoma in 2013 and I’ve been amazed at the breadth and depth of tech and entrepreneurial expertise in this community, and how many people have been willing to offer critical advice when I’ve needed it. This is an awesome place.

What’s next for LeadMethod? Our big focus is on sales. Our current clients are loving the product and we just need to get LeadMethod in the hands of more companies.

Have a startup in Central Oregon? Tell us about it! Email [email protected]