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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

CEO Spotlight

CEO Spotlight: Listen to Your Customers by InfoFree Founder Vin Gupta

Vinod "Vin" Gupta, Founder of Infofree.com
Vinod "Vin" Gupta, Founder of Infofree.com

Sales are the most essential element to success in any business. Whether you’re selling products, services, or even yourself, it pays to understand the process of selling and utilizing available resources to maximize the chance of making a sale. High-quality leads are one such resource that can mean the difference between success and failure, however, sourcing leads isn’t as simple as downloading a list off the internet. It’s an art form. InfoFree Founder, Vin Gupta explains the art of creating valuable sales leads and how listening to customers can be the key to success.

After just under a decade of studies in both India and the United States, through which he secured a Bachelor of Technology, a Masters of Engineering and a Masters of Business Administration, Vin Gupta began his career as a marketing research manager. It was through this role that Vin recognized the importance of quality sales leads and database management, which led him to launch American Business Lists, a categorized leads resource of businesses across America.

Following its IPO in 1993, Vin continued to lead the company through success until 2010, when he sold the company. Since then, Vin has returned to his entrepreneurial roots to found InfoFree.com, a low cost subscription-based sales leads and CRM resource that provides users with triple-verified business and consumer leads to maximize efficiency and ultimately increase sales for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Why did you start InfoFree.com?

With a heavily sales-focused background and skill-set like mine, it becomes easier to see the industry as a whole, as well as trends within specific markets. One such trend was the amount of time small business leaders and entrepreneurs spend on developing and perfecting their product or service. While having a perfect offering is an important component of any business, the mistake these entrepreneurs were – and are still – making was allocating all of their focus to that one aspect. It’s too singular, and means that the majority of energy and capital goes into creating perfection with no emphasis on selling it. I wanted to streamline the process of creating verified sales lead databases so businesses of any size could have a reliable and affordable platform to streamline their sales process.

What’s the prevailing point of difference between InfoFree and other sales resources?

There are two main points of difference between InfoFree and other sales resources. The first is in the breadth of our offering. We have more than 100 databases under one roof, and these cover the spectrum of industry categories – more than any other competitor in the same space. Our second point of difference is our quality. Many lead databases are scrubbed from the internet and are unverified and full of dead names, so despite the fact that they may be larger, the contacts might not be active, details might not be correct or out of date, data might be corrupted in other ways, irrelevant contacts may be included… the list goes on. InfoFree has 95 percent accuracy, we don’t scrub our contacts using outdated tech, and they’re triple-verified, with sources included, for accuracy.

What was your background prior to starting InfoFree?

After completing my studies, I landed my first role as a Marketing Research Manager at the Commodore Corporation. There I discovered the importance of – as well as my talent for quality sales leads. After some time in that role, I borrowed $100 to obtain nationwide Yellow Page directories to launch my first venture, which I initially named Business Research Services before rebranding to American Business Lists. After our IPO in 1993, I managed the business until 2010, when I decided to sell the company. That was short-lived, however, because by 2011 I had returned to my entrepreneurial roots with the launch of InfoFree.

Have you made any mistakes building InfoFree so far? What have you learned from them? 

The main lesson learned through developing and launching InfoFree was neglecting to build a simple product early-on in our journey. Our initial product was tech-heavy and complicated to use. I believe simplicity is the essence of success, so we ended up creating extra work for ourselves in having to simplify each of the processes to make it accessible to people at any level of software proficiency. As such, I believe the lesson is to continually test your product throughout the development process with people from a range of backgrounds, skill levels and industries. This will ensure the initial offering is received well, and ideally, will lead to less work on development overall.

What lessons learned from your time building American Business Lists have been useful in building InfoFree? Do you subscribe to any business philosophies?

One of the biggest lessons learned was to focus solely on the customer. While building InfoFree, I’ve applied these lessons by asking what the customer wants and how they use it on a regular basis. The most vital thing here is to actually listen. Through listening and placing myself in their shoes, I can better understand the limitations as well as advantages of my product and make changes accordingly.

The business philosophy I subscribe to also falls under this advice. It comes from Lee Iacocca, who turned Chrysler back from the brink of bankruptcy in the 1980s. He said, “business people need to listen to customers more than they talk.” This resonates with me because at the end of the day, if you don’t listen to your customer when they tell you what they want (and act on it), you’ll likely never be successful in business.

Do you see any sales trends post-reopening?

One trend I’ve noticed throughout the pandemic has been the ways in which salespeople have had to make initial contact with customers. Prior to the pandemic, many would travel and complete the sales process with customers in person. Now, they’ve had to adapt different methods of making initial contact and selling. Whether it’s email, phone, Zoom, and even postcards; we are finding that the old method of direct mail is becoming most effective in reaching the attention of customers. A range of effective sales strategies have been uncovered through the pandemic and I’m confident they will persist past reopening and into the long term as additional tools.

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Sophie Ireland
SVP for News and Editorial Director. As CEOWORLD magazine's senior vice president for news and editorial director, Sophie Ireland oversees CEOWORLD magazine's journalism and journalists around the world and across platforms. She leads an award-winning team of journalists and newsroom executives who are committed to excellence, innovation and the highest quality reporting and storytelling. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or connect on LinkedIn. Email her at sophie@ceoworld.biz.