By Sramana Mitra and guest author Sudhindra Chada
SM: Let’s talk a bit more about touching prospects. Let’s say it’s not sales or marketing touching the prospect, but inside sales. In your experience, what does touching the prospect look like?
DF: The term “inside sales” has multiple definitions. Some people refer to inside sales as telemarketing; others refer to it as people really selling, closing business, and making contracts. Our inside sales group sells $25,000 worth of products over the phone. Back to your question about what does the touching look like. It starts with marketing in two forms: inbound marketing and outbound marketing.
Outbound marketing is classic database marketing. We acquire e-mail addresses, put them in a system of record like Salesforce.com, a CRM system, and probably have it integrated to a marketing automation system such as Unica, Aprimo, Eloqua, or Marketo. Then I have to devise a communication stream, a series of touches, to various audiences. I get involved with segmentation; I need to get these messages to the financial services industry, to the high-tech industry, the pharmaceutical industry, so I have different messages to different roles. I sell products and services that have to do with demand generation, which is not going to be interesting for someone in the training department. So, creating multi-step campaigns and pushing them out, this is outbound marketing. I think data maintenance is a huge issue. Brainshark is relatively small company, 170 people, and we are growing profitably at 31%. We have one person who does nothing but merge, purge, de-duplicate, and clean data for our outbound marketing person.
SM: In inbound marketing, as you are capturing leads and categorizing them, whether it’s role-based segmentation or industry-based segmentation, what is the role of technology? Or is this a manual process?
DF: It is a combination of process and technology. Basically, we are dealing with thousands and thousands of records; we have nearly 840,000 opt-in marketable e-mail addresses in various segments. You need technology to slice and dice all that stuff.
SM: What tool do you use for that? Is that custom built? Or is there a vendor that provides that kind of rules engine?
DF: We have seventeen different SaaS technologies.
SM: This particular problem you are talking about, taking inbound and outbound e-mail databases and categorizing into different segments so that it can map to a messaging matrix for the outbound communication, is there technology to help with it?
DF: It is not one technology; there are several technologies involved in the process. Salesforce.com, and Eloqua, which is integrated with Salesforce.com are two of them. We use another product called InsideView, which is a sales intelligence tool for gathering information about an audience. We use Jigsaw, OneSource, NetProspect and ZoomInfo to buy data, merge it, purge it, de-duplicate it, and so forth. We use Cloud9, which does a lot of analytics on this data. Those analytics are not provided by Salesforce or Eloqua, so we needed another SaaS tool. Another big one for us is Brainshark, the rich media communications we send out to people. You have to have the technology to create custom messages on the fly. My point here is, sales and marketing 2.0 is a collection of a number of technologies that you need to integrate into a tightly worked back-end system integrated with your sales, marketing, and service processes.
As I said, we at Brainshark have seventeen different SaaS technologies all tightly integrated. Most of them are app exchange integrations, if you are familiar with that. I pay just a little under $500,000 a year for a $30 million-plus company with 170 people for SaaS subscription fees. That works out to about $4,000 a person in sales, marketing, and inside sales. That is the technology. Then I have the processes and people. You have to put the process, people, and technology working all together. In 2010, we have a lot of great technology available that was not there ten years ago. I could never have built a suite of integrated technologies like I have today ten years ago. It would have cost $10 million. In my world today, I have no software in my office; it is all in the cloud. I have single sign-on for all employees, and every employee uses all of this technology to sell, market, or service. They all have to work together; they all work in the same suite of applications. They are very much dependent on each other. I think sales and marketing 2.0 is a combination of new and improved processes that leverage new and improved technologies, and you get all that together to move the needle, to increase your revenues, and decrease costs. I did a presentation on this for an audience of about 250 people a few weeks ago in Boston. I started by having a show of hands of how many people in the audience used Salesforce.com, and about two thirds raised their hands. That’s a lot of people. I was shocked at how many $40 million–$50 million companies are providing Salesforce.com as the only tool for their sales people.