More and more, business applications are using data science to automatically provide intelligence and insight in real-time to users, especially when it comes to customer engagement. But most of these systems typically are created with larger enterprises in mind. Still, small and midsize businesses have as much to gain as anyone from timely insights being delivered to improve sales effectiveness.
Chad Kutting, General Manager of SalesforceIQ CRM, Salesforce.com’s targeted solution for SMBs, discusses how relationship intelligence can help create more efficient relationship building opportunities for small businesses. He also shares how more intelligence and automated data entry improves CRM adoption, and finally provides real incentives for salespeople to use CRM.
* * * * *
Small Business Trends: Maybe you can give us a little bit of your personal background.
Chad Kutting: I’ve been in SalesforceIQ for about a year and a half now. I started in October 2014, when we were known as RelateIQ, just after the acquisition by Salesforce. Prior to coming on board at SalesforceIQ, I was at Facebook for about four years in the product marketing side, focused on bringing the ads platform to the advertisers across the world.
Small Business Trends: Talk to us about SalesforceIQ CRM, in particular, how it fits with small business customers.
Chad Kutting: The vision all along for SalesforceIQ is being able to provide real-time information to help you build the relationships with your customers. Within the SMB space, they don’t have the mechanisms of scale built in just yet, like enterprise customers do. Enterprise customers have that sales process. They know what works. They know what data they need.
On the SMB side, you’re trying to scale, not just hiring headcount, but using any type of tool at your disposal to make your business run more efficiently. What we saw, as far as the trends in the industry, is that the amount of signal coming into a salesperson’s world is growing exponentially every single year. The stat that’s thrown around, is 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in the last 12 months, and that continues to be the case.
As an SMB rep, as a sales rep sitting there trying to digest the thousands of emails coming into the system or the hundreds of meetings that you have in a given period, we wanted to provide a tool that sifts through, prioritizes, and brings a little bit of intelligence to that system so you can focus on what matters. At the end of the day, that’s building better relationships and focusing on closing more deals.
Small Business Trends: Can you tell us a little bit more about how you’re providing that kind of relationship intelligence, where that information is coming from, and how you put it in front of the SMB sales rep to be able to use it?
Chad Kutting: Relationship intelligence really is the secret sauce that makes SalesforceIQ so powerful for any person, any customer that’s using it. We’re building on data science to be able to analyze emails, analyze that calendar, and do a little bit of math on the back end to understand what really is most important. As an example, we have a tool called suggested follow-up. Basically, since we’re connected to your inbox, we’re able to see if a question is asked. Me, as a sales rep, I may have not answered that. I may have not responded to that email in about 24 to 48 hours. When the system recognizes that, it will prompt our customers to follow back up.
An example would be, can you send me over your pricing details? Can you explain a little bit more about the contract? Once we pick up that question, we’ll then suggest, hey, this is important, you have an engaged customer, you should follow up today. Another example would be, within the actual data structure itself, this is all of your relationship information, we have fields that we call intelligence fields. Normally, you’re used to your standard fields of owner, status, revenue potential, that type of thing. What we try to surface is, how many days has that relationship been in its current status? How long has it been since there’s been activity on the account? Again, because we’re connected to your inbox, or connected to your calendar, we know all this information and can do all of those calculations. Instead of a rep or a sales manager going through and figuring out who to reach out to next, or who should be at the top of the burn down list or the call list, we’re surfacing that information automatically. It’s up-to-date by the second, automatically calculated, To be at that salesperson’s disposal.
Small Business Trends: How much information does it really take in order for this to work as effectively as it can in terms of number of emails, or number of people in the company? What are some of the parameters that make this more effective as it goes on?
Chad Kutting: That’s really what’s most powerful about the way that we analyze this data. Because we’re connected to the inbox and the way that we analyze it, you look at the most important emails. As soon as you connect to Gmail or Exchange with one button, we start going back in time a little bit to understand … Who have you been exchanging emails with? It’s really just a few, and combined with a few other parameters of: the time, the level of engagement, the amount of customers that our customers are reaching out to. We’re able to really provide value within that first minute, first five minutes of connecting to SalesforceIQ.
Small Business Trends: How quickly are they seeing these benefits?
Chad Kutting: Yeah, it’s really two things. The first thing is, getting that first account set up and being able to put the signal into the system. If you look at a tool that we launched a little while back in 2015 with our activity reporting, a manager’s able to see how many calls are being made, how many emails are being exchanged, how many meetings are taking place. Then it’s that next few people that are on-boarded. Really, once you build up that collaborative nature of SalesforceIQ, I know exactly where every deal is. My counterpart as an account manager, my sales manager, knows exactly where the deal stands. You’re looking at a matter of days to start moving deals through the funnel faster, to seeing more deals being closed. It’s really a virtuous cycle, as more information is being exchanged, more collaboration is taking place in the application, that our customers are able to find that value within the first week of signing up for SalesforceIQ.
Small Business Trends: Is this making it more likely that sales folks are using the system because of this kind of relationship intelligence pay off?
Chad Kutting: We have a tool like SalesforceIQ that automatically captures data. It automatically makes everything more relevant across the team. Adoption spikes because … And I can attest to this, as a former sales rep I was dialing for dollars. I’m picking up the phone 60 to 80 times a day. I didn’t want to spend the time to get data in the system. I just wanted to move the deal forward and build better relationships. That was by me picking up the phone or exchanging emails. It wasn’t, in my mind, necessarily about updating that data, because I didn’t see the value. I saw the value directly in those emails. What SalesforceIQ does is, it eliminates the need for manual data entry. When a salesperson goes into the system, they know everything is up-to-date. They can go on vacation for a week, or go out of town on sales calls for a week, come back, and things are updated for them. The next time they pick up the phone or the next time they need to exchange an email, they have all of the relevant information at their fingertips.
While we get rid of that manual data entry, and that’s kind of been the mandate for our product team is, make it more intuitive and a simple, more valuable process for every sales rep logging into the system. You then have our customers looking to those intelligence fields, looking to those suggested follow-ups, as a way to move their business forward and prioritize the day. Then again, we’re eliminating the non-relationship building time because they can then simply scan the most recent exchanges in the stream of SalesforceIQ, pick up the phone, or make that email, knowing that they have the most relevant information.
Small Business Trends: Email is still kind of the lifeblood of business interactions but the phone is still there as well, what are some of the other signals that you may be thinking about incorporating into SalesforceIQ CRM to enable even sharper, quicker opportunities for the folks that use the system?
Chad Kutting: One of the biggest benefits and potential curses, is that the customer knows the amount of data that’s out there and has the expectation that you’re going to leverage that data to make a one-to-one relationship with them. They feel you should be building a customized experience. For us, we need to scale across all SMB’s, and have our platform available for everybody to use. We need to leverage all of that signal. We need to be able to plug into every piece of their workflow. I think one of the trends that we’ll start to see is plugging into the SMB specific tools that may exist across the board.
You saw us do this in the past couple of months with Desk.com. We know there’s a service element to making sure that our customers’ customers are able to surface issues, follow through on specific cases. We plugged in with desk to get that signal into SalesforceIQ and send that signal back into desk to provide that 360 degree view. I think moving forward, the ability to plug into those SMB specific tools is going to be the most helpful in making our customers more productive, and finding more value across their entire ecosystem of touch points.
This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.More in: Salesforce