The increasing integration of databases and Web analytics with sales-force automation systems is changing direct marketing dramatically. In fact, the process is showing signs of turning sales departments into true direct marketing units.
Within the last month, lead-generation software company Demandbase Inc. linked its customer analytics technology directly to CRM company Salesforce.com to improve and automate sales responses in real time. Sales contact resource Zoom Information also introduced an app that integrates its 65 million business contacts with Salesforce.com to append and update in-house data. At the same time, integrated marketing software company Aprimo Inc. released its own sales-support solution integrated with Salesforce.com that uses customer interaction data to improve cross- and up-sell programs in real time.
Recent developments such as these are not only augmenting the capabilities of sales-force automation systems such as Salesforce but are also providing sales reps with an increased selection of direct-marketing tools formerly found in marketing.
“It's giving sales a lot more information that prioritizes who to call,” said Meagen Eisenberg, VP-demand generation at electronic signature technology company DocuSign Inc.
Eisenberg said the company's volume of potential leads—50,000 every quarter via search, webinars, white paper syndications and free trials, plus 500,000 additional leads per quarter via mobile app downloads—meant that its team of 15 sales representatives needed plenty of help in cutting through the noise.
Eisenberg integrated DocuSign's Salesforce deployment with Demandbase to make sense of it all. Demandbase technology identifies website visitors in real time based on corporate IP addresses and other information mapped to such corporate data as business size, vertical and industry.
“As long as we have an IP address, we can do an API [application programming interface] call and find out right away if people are coming from a business, if they're in North America, what their industry is and the size of their company,” Eisenberg said. “We then do lead scoring through Eloqua to enable sales to work the sweet spots.” It puts the process of nurturing—traditionally considered a marketing function—right into sales' hands, she said.
“We have 35 different nurturing programs running concurrently to invite prospects into such things as thought leadership, webinars [and] white papers,” Eisenberg said. “And it's all under the control of sales.”
Marketing list-building company NetProspex Inc. links its crowdsourced databases to Salesforce and LandSlide CRM, as well as marketing automation platforms Eloqua and Silverpop, to provide contact information about people who may be actively looking to purchase. Among its services is TechProspex, which identifies the technology used by b2b companies and contacts down to the specific model or version.
“Marketing has changed tremendously,” said Maribeth Ross, VP-marketing at NetProspex. “The digital revolution allows email campaigns to talk to Salesforce automation systems to track opportunities that can become deals.”
Ross said databases are essential to the sales-powered direct-marketing process. Contact appends help keep registration forms short, she said. And a NetProspex partnership with VisiStat Inc., which like Demandbase identifies website visitors by IP addresses, further informs the sales process.
Aprimo Inc.'s Service to Sales app, available on Salesforce.com's AppExchange, uses customer data from call centers and points of purchase to tailor offers quickly after a purchase or conversion. Aprimo's solution includes an offer repository, a business rules engine, a contact history database and predictive analytics to improve offer targeting over time.
“The main purpose is to turn the call center from a cost center into a profit center by having the ability to up- and cross-sell,” said Dave Motheral, director-independent software vendor alliances at Aprimo.
Motheral said call centers using Salesforce's Service Cloud connected to an API with the Aprimo platform now have the advantage of predictive analytics to better inform product suggestions.
The process means that sales and marketing are moving closer together with new direct marketing capabilities, he said. And it's coming not necessarily from the long-awaited meeting of minds but rather through advances in technology.
“Sales has always had great insight into who's most likely to buy,” said Greg Ott, CMO at Demandbase. But information about likely buyers, Ott said, traditionally has been “trapped across the marketing wall” and isolated from sales.
“Now, as you integrate and push the CRM platform forward into something usable, it can trigger direct marketing based on an insight that the sales team might know,” he said. “That's where sales and marketing are beginning to converge.”
Ott said a Demandbase feature called an “account pulse” identifies the people from a single company researching a business and its products.
“If they have a "pulse,' indicated by activity across your website, that's a good indicator they're ready to buy,” Ott said. It's a signal for sales to actively initiate conversations rather than waiting for marketing to give the go-ahead, he said.
At DocuSign, classic direct-marketing offers are strong performers, and are initiated by sales through Salesforce syncing with Eloqua and an API integration with Demandbase.
“As sales works the leads, they market to different stages,” Eisenberg said. “If we're unable to reach a good lead after one month, we run a program that asks for a phone call back, five minutes of their time and [offers] a $10 Amazon.com card.
“You would be amazed how people respond to this,” Eisenberg said. “They pick up the phone right away.”