We talked to Petra Kaul, Managing Director of Palturai, an independent start-up by leading figures in German credit agencies and here is what she said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Petra Kaul: Like all families, we have had to make adjustments with school and our usual activities and sports. We are thankful to have remained safe and healthy throughout the pandemic and have access to the food and other items we need for daily life.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Palturai.
Petra Kaul: I have a background in chemical engineering and have worked for many years as a consultant in the basic materials industry. Analyzing data was a major part of the job, so joining the German market leader for credit information was a logical next step, not as unconventional as it might seem at first glance. At the credit bureau, I was helping enter the market with new B2B information and analysis. That is where I met Tilo Walter (CEO & Founder). At that time, we were already convinced that networked data is key to value-added analytics.
Over time, it became clear that transparency and analysis of companies’ and decision-makers’ relationships can revolutionize many business parts. This was the starting point of Palturai and our BusinessGraph. Tilo founded the company, and I joined half a year later.
How does Palturai innovate?
Petra Kaul: As a start-up, Palturai is in a constant cycle of innovation. As our solutions mature, we continually find new ways to apply them. Innovative ideas come about through discussion and exploring the capabilities of the solution, and applying it in new ways. As we expand within our customers’ industries, we find novel uses for the technology.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Petra Kaul: Like most companies, the pandemic forced us to adapt quickly to remote teamwork and increased our reliance on technology. It was immediately clear that our planned sales revenue would be affected, particularly in the new North American office. Our planned introduction activities at major conferences and trade shows there were canceled. We conducted strict cost management methods and developed a code of conduct of how to handle funds. Basically, we tightened our belts and carried on with our core business strategy – and adapted our marketing, presentations, and interactions for the digital space and virtual events.
On the other hand, the pandemic also offered new potential. We started to support a new group of customers, which in the past relied on trade fairs and conferences as major marketing events. When people are not able to gather in person, we provide new, digital ways to find leads and potential customers.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Petra Kaul: Fortunately, we did not have to make any reductions on our team. We were already running a fairly lean organization. Keeping an eye on costs did help us determine with greater clarity where to spend and where to cut costs. In some areas, like sales and marketing, we found new ways of engaging with customers and prospects digitally instead of in-person.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Petra Kaul: The biggest challenge of the pandemic to our sales organization is that without events and conferences, we have to invest much more time and effort to identify and gain new customers. In this situation, our CRM system and internal communication is key. And, we are using our own solution, Palturai BusinessGraph, to find and contact leads.
Your final thoughts?
Petra Kaul: I am proud of how far Palturai has come since the early days of our founding and happy to have contributed to our current success. Despite the coronavirus crisis, 2020 was a big year for Palturai as we expanded the business with new offices in Austria and the US. Even though the challenges of this year, we moved closer to the realization of our vision of empowering companies to capitalize on the value of global business relationships.
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