With he upcoming Sales 2.0 conference in Chicago September 10th, it's time again to provide a few pre-show interviews.
David Thompson, CEO of Genius.com was one of the early leaders of the Sales 2.0 movement and recently co-authored Sales 2.0 For Dummies.
Mike: David, what is the hot topic of the upcoming conference? Will Social Media dominate the discussions again?
David: Social Media is taking the world by storm. There are 275 million blogs and 43 million LinkedIn users. Each day there are 1.9 million Tweets and as the New York Times recently posited, Twitter early adopters are adults and not their kids. The question is how can B2B Sales and Marketing organizations take advantage of the social media revolution to better engage with their customers and close more deals? In the Sales 2.0 Conference panel I’m moderating, “Social Networking in a Sales 2.0 World”, social media experts and practitioners will describe what’s in it for sales and how they can make the most of conversations in the clouds.
Mike: I recently interviewed Joe Galvin of SiriusDecisions on the topic of Sales and Marketing Alignment and his feeling is that it's one of the barriers companies need to overcome to succeed. What are your thoughts there?
David: Sales and Marketing Alignment continues to be a hot topic. In the current economic climate everyone is being asked to do more with less—and so there’s increased focus on getting previously silo’d departments working from the same playbook so they can be more efficient, more productive and ultimately more results focused. The panel on “Customer Engagement Strategies” will highlight how Information Builders and others are aligning their sales and marketing departments for greater revenue success.
Mike: Demand gen marketers work hard to generate sales leads, how is Sales 2.0 impacting the effectiveness of sales reps and lead management?
David: And, not surprisingly, everyone is looking for better ways to manage their pipeline. And while most want to move prospects through the funnel faster the true test is actually not velocity but surfacing sales ready leads and handing them off to sales in a timely fashion for right time engagement. Recent studies from MIT/Kellogg point out that a salesperson’s ability to connect with a prospect drops precipitously in only five after a website visit is concluded. The conference will highlight users who are using Sales 2.0 technologies to help salespeople engage in timely conversations, pursue better opportunities and eliminate time chasing after unprofitable prospects.
Mike: Last question, the B2B Marketing Thought Leaders Curry Poll: red, green or yellow curry? Which do you prefer?
David: Yellow thai curry with chicken and potato!
In the Smashmouth Review of Genius.com Part 1, we focused on Genius Pro. Since then, we've had the opportunity to work with and evaluate Genius Enterprise. The one liner summary: marketing automation and sales enablement with a 2.0 twist.
The product is so rich in features that this article alone will not do it justice. It’s always tempting to try to make apples to apples comparisons with other marketing automation vendors, but Genius is different. Genius eliminates the need for heavy IT support. After just a few hours of use it allows a non-guru to establish some incredibly strong functionality. It's suitable for small business, or for a larger, more sophisticated organization.
The heart of the package is the Automation Workflow Designer. This provides a the ability to create logical processes of conditions, actions, and communications that together can walk a prospect through the nurturing and selling process.
Consider this example. Sounds complex, but it was able to be configured in 30 minutes with the drag and drop editor that is both intuitive and fresh in its design.
- If the prospect is not on any other campaign, send an initial email
- Wait for 5 days, and if during those 5 days the prospect had clicked through to the site, increase their lead score, and keep watching and waiting
- If during those 5 days they visit the site multiple times, then increase their lead score again
- If during those 5 days they download a specific white paper and look at the Contact Us page, increase the lead score and send a more targeted email offer. At this point, notify the sales rep and then remove this lead from the workflow and have the rep pursue them by phone
- What sets Genius apart from the rest if at any time during the waiting process a qualifying conversion event is reached the rep will notified immediately and the prospect will be removed from the workflow
etc. (you get the picture)
Key among the features is the ability to have the Genius Tracker notify you by email, SMS or the Genius Tracker IM-like interface when a rep takes a qualifying action like visiting your site or reaches a qualified lead score. From there the rep can link to the contact's history -- what emails have they received, and what actions have they taken. There is also a TiVo-like replay of their visit available, which is a rich way for a rep to find out what the prospect was interested in and target the followup conversation. To top it off, the system also has an integrated chat/messaging system for visitors to use, as well as the ability to display an Instant Promo window that can contain custom messages.
Smashmouth recommendation: Thumbs Up
End of independent review.
As opposed to the obligatory comment from the company, I asked if I could speak with a power user. .
"Genius Enterprise is designed for Marketers with sales in mind," says Joanna Giannotti, Global Marketing Director at ClickSoftware. "It’s simple drag and drop campaign creation makes cumbersome, complicated marketing automation solutions a thing of the past while their exclusive Tracker alerts Sales with an instant notification when prospects are hot so they can offer rapid service. It all means greater Marketing success and more closed deals for Sales."
As a postscript...this whole exercise had my desktop going off every few minutes with an audible signal that someone was visiting my site. It leads me to continue the debate...when I hear that noise, do I pick up the phone and POUNCE? (more: Pounce, Pause, Nurture or Wait?).
We all know that accelerating a prospect through the educational/discovery phase onward to a selling cycle and then a buying event takes time. Especially today when the buyer defines the sales cycle, not the seller. The typical decision maker is bombarded with marketing contacts each day, yet they are still finding information on their own, they are educating themselves on industry sites, blogs, twitter and your website and emails.
Genius.com helps you take back some of that control that the buyers are claiming. As with other product reviews on Smashmouth, this will be an ongoing experiment. Today I'll describe what Genius brings you, and in later posts, I'll talk about some of the benefits and issues it has surfaced.
There are two levels of product, Genius Pro and Genius Enterprise. Both have the ability to do email marketing, website tracking, instant web visitor notification, visitor session replay, and have salesforce.com integration. Enterprise adds marketing automation features such as lead scoring and automated lead conversion as well as advanced process design using the workflow design tool.
Here's a working scenario of using Genius Pro that I was able to test on my own using just a trial account:
- Load a list of prospect email addresses and send an email (this can be done as individual users, or marketing can send on behalf of sales teams)
- Launch the Tracker (which is a web-based client like Yahoo Instant Messenger but instead of showing your buddies you see your prospects), and see visitors show up live after they have clicked through the email
- Replay the visitor's session in a Tivo like fashion
- Respond to prospect activity and interest with additional or next-step level emails (or phone call)
- Review integrated activities in salesforce
Remember, prospects want to sell themselves nowadays, but it's our job as marketers and sales people to accelerate that process or educate them along the way. Combined with other tools such as LeadLander, LivePerson and Salesforce, the average sales exec can be armed to the teeth with the tools to track, nurture and accelerate the close of prospects.
The next level of the product, Genius Enterprise, gets into serious marketing automation, but with the same usability and non-IT methodology of Genius Pro. As mentioned I’ll provide a high level overview here, but blog review part 2 will be coming after I get a chance to experience more of Genius Enterprise.
- Use the workflow designer to map out an automated rules-based marketing campaign
- Define steps in the lead nurturing process
- Define Conversion Events that removes a prospect from the work flow and instantly alerts team member for follow up
- React to a visitor's activity in a complex and immediate manner
- Monitor activity within Salesforce
Let me give you an example of a typical use in simple terms: if a visitor who received a trade show followup email, they visit page X and they are not already on nurturing path A or B; you can use Genius Enterprise to automatically nurture them with an email later that day referring them to a study on page Y, increase their lead score, convert them to an active lead and notify the sales exec, etc.
Does it work? My real world evaluation is still under way, but one of the inside sales reps at Genius nurtured me during each of my visits prior to my evaluation (with follow up emails, etc.) and then once I did a 15 page session, my phone rang and there he was. I’d say that’s proof positive the system works. I'll give you my thoughts and experience using Genius Enterprise in Part 2 of the Product Review of the post.
Smashmouth recommendation: Thumbs Up
End of independent review.
During my evaluation, I had a chance to speak with Matt West, Director of Marketing Programs at Genius. I asked him what separates Pro and Enterprise as a reason a company would just purchase Pro versus the full marketing automation product.
“Many companies are just getting started using email marketing in conjunction with their selling efforts, so they may want to move forward a step at a time, and getting started with an email marketing service that also provides website visit tracking (and shares those results with the sales team) is an easy way for organizations new to email marketing to see real results very quickly. We started out that way ourselves and found that sending emails on behalf of the sales team increased our open rates (because the emails were from a real person) and then let sales see how prospects responded. As we grew and gained experience with what worked and what didn’t in terms of messaging and website content, we began running enough campaigns that we wanted to automated them, and that’s where Genius Enterprise comes in. It’s a natural progression, especially for smaller companies.”
More detailed review of Genius Enterprise and some real world results in Part 2