Toronto-based Keystroke strives to inspire and support its clients’ ongoing success through quality business solutions. It began as a local technical sales and services company in 1994—though as computer hardware started to evolve rapidly in the 2000s, Founder and CEO Ken Quigley realized that the business would get lost in the industry if he didn’t specialize its offerings. With an expertise of CRM software and enthusiasm for the Act! product, in particular, Ken decided to become an Act! Certified Consultant (ACC) in 2008.
That strategy paid off; after years of continued growth, Keystroke took home the title of #1 Act! Certified Consultant in 2015, based on the company’s annual recurring revenue, and has held that title ever since. We recently spoke with Ken about how his company has evolved in response to emerging industry demands and what’s on the minds of customers today.
Q: To start, please tell us more about how Keystroke has evolved into the business it is today.
A: In the 2000s, I realized that I needed to specialize my business model to survive IT industry changes. My expertise was in CRM, so that’s where I decided to invest my resources moving forward. Once I became an ACC, my company started to develop add-ons, like Act4outlook, to provide extra stickiness for the Act! product.
While Act! is our main product, we also have offerings in the project management space and do website hosting. Act!’s marketing automation actually allowed us to expand our graphic design and marketing services as well since we’re able to create and sell templates for customers to use with the platform.
Q: How have you seen customers’ business needs change over the past few years?
A: Professionals are looking for a modernized customer engagement service. When they work from home, there isn’t an Open/Close sign outside the business to signal to customers when they are off the clock, so they need to monetize their time in ways they have never had to before. When customers engage with a business digitally, they are more often than not doing so “after hours,” and if you’re not there to help them, then you are inviting competition in. Business owners need to be able to capture customers’ questions even when they are not online so that those customers don’t look any further. To that end, our products allow websites to act like a 24/7 store.
Overall, business owners want a more time-efficient way of engaging with their customers, and we provide that with tools like the online family of products at Linktivity.net. These tools can instantly be integrated into their Act! platform through the Act! Web API so that the entire customer experience is enhanced. Everyone is also looking for automation. If you’re going to invest in a CRM solution, the goal is that it will make your business operations more efficient, and automation capabilities like Act!’s are key to that.
Q: How does Keystroke’s line of Act! add-ons add value to your business?
A: When Act! launched its subscription offering, customer retention became a more pronounced goal, so we had to think about how Keystroke could add value for customers to keep them coming back. This transition allowed us to expand our own business and invest in development to improve the customer experience.
One notable add-on of ours is Link2calender, an online product that works like Calendly and integrates directly with the Act! calendar to display people’s availability, and allow customers to books appointments with them online. We recently hosted a webinar series that explained how to use the Linktivity products, including Link2Calendar, Link2List, Link2Quotes, Link2Events and Link2Forms.
Essentially, we are teaching customers how to save time so that their Act! experience is as positive as possible.
Q: Keystroke has had a number of big acquisitions over the past few years. Talk to us about Keystroke’s growth strategy.
A: Once I decided to focus on Act!, I set my sights on being the No. 1 seller in the province. When I accomplished that, I wanted to be No. 1 in Canada. I can’t speak for others, but it helps me to constantly be setting goals for myself.
That said, there is only so much organic growth your business can do through direct end-user sales, so I decided to also pursue inorganic growth opportunities. In 2012 I started to watch for other Act! resellers that seemed to be de-committing from the business, and when the time felt right, I would approach them with an acquisition offer. I developed a pretty good formula around this practice, and it certainly helped me become the No. 1 Act! reseller in the world.