Blog: Sales and Marketing Automation

Archive for January, 2008

LoopFuse OneView 3.0 Announced

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

So ends yet another cycle of coding, testing, deployment, and overall innovation. Although I’m starting to get tired of constantly out-innovating our bobo competitors and watching them cry like little babies, I never get tired of bragging about it or taking their customers – such is business, the American way.

This past weekend, the LoopFuse team deployed the latest release [press] of our On-Demand offering to our Tier-1 network operations center. This release marked a major milestone for LoopFuse, as it added several significant features to an already feature-rich and flexible product suite, designed to improve marketing and sales efficiency (ie. Increase revenue and lower costs). Below is a short description of what you’ll find in the latest release:

  • Automated Lead Nurturing: This isn’t your grandmother’s lead nurturing tool. OneView’s Lead Nurturing module touches every part of the LoopFuse system and your CRM, allowing you to create the richest lead nurturing programs for your organization imaginable. You can instantly build workflow’s that encompass a lead’s web activity, email activity, and CRM activity and have that workflow automatically send email campaigns and modify that lead’s fields within your configured CRM. The additional reporting capabilities built around lead nurturing also allow you to not only gauge how your programs are performing, but provide the necessary information to better-tune them for maximum efficiency in warming up your prospects until they’re ready to buy.
  • Activity History CRM integration: Now in 3.0, OneView automagically enters in real-time information in to your CRM for specific leads. The as-it-happens activity history injection is triggered whenever a lead visits your site, opens an email campaign, or completes a lead capture form. This is an important addition, allowing sales personnel to have real-time actionable data from within your CRM and continuing to provide a 360-degree of a particular prospect’s activities and interests.
  • Lead Capture Reporting: What good is a process if you can’t measure it? To answer that question, we’ve augmented our reporting capabilities with a real-time look at your lead capture information. Marketers can now gauge their lead capture activity for specific lead capture forms and also view trend information over time.

So thats my elevator-pitch on the recent additions to the LoopFuse platform. All great additions to help round-out our marketing automation solution.

Looking forward to February, we will be releasing Google AdWords API integration, allowing marketers to better measure ROI against their Google AdWords spend. Although this is possible currently, the addition of the API integration will make the process seamless and increase flexibility for our users… and inevitably make our competitors cry some more.

SpringSource makes a big move

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

It was announced today that SpringSource is acquiring Covalent. For those who are not interested in the happenings in the technology space, no reason to read further. For those that are, this is BIG news.

For those not familiar with Covalent, they are the commercial entity behind several Apache projects, Apache Web Server being the most notable. Although not as flamboyant as other open source business, they are THE guys you would want to go to for Apache Web Server support. Heck, they are the guys that JBoss partnered with so can include Apache Web Server support alongside Tomcat and JBoss support.

To me, this acquisition signals intent to broaden the reach of SpringSource towards being the source for a larger stack. So compared to the much talked about LAMP stack (i.e. Linux, Apache, MySQL, Php/Perl), another popular stack is LAMJ (i.e. Linux, Apache, MySQL, Java). Spring is already well positioned to be a top provider of the “J” in the stack and now the “A” as well.

Forecasting beyond the pipeline

Monday, January 21st, 2008

After reading one of Will Prices’ blog posts that touched on the impact of forecasting, it started me thinking about how most companies look at sales forecasting (btw, Will’s blog is a great read in general). Today, most companies use their CRM to forecast their future revenue stream. This is a perfectly acceptable practice and is frankly one of the primary reasons for using a CRM. Actually, when you look closely at CRMs, will see that they are designed more towards providing insight to management than actually helping the sales force close deals (but that is for another blog).

While many of these companies using a CRM are able to produce short term forecasting based off of the immediate sales pipeline, they often have little or no way to forecast beyond it. The main reason for this is that they usually don’t have the data needed and when they do, no way to analyze that data for predictability. I’m going to assume I just lost some people with this last sentence, so let me provide a simplified example.

Let’s say you are a B2B company that sells software primarily online. Most of your sales originate from people that visit your web site (which you know based off the lead source within your CRM). Your average sales cycle is 60 days (i.e. period from lead creation to opportunity closed-won… again, courtesy your trusty CRM). Your close rate is 50%, because are not doing a good job of qualifying leads (shame on you). Finally, your average deal size is $25K. So, in this example, if have 10 new leads created today, can estimate that will have $125K in revenue from them in 2 months time (obviously am over-simplifying this).

Since I know that most of my leads come from my web site, if I see that my web site traffic doubled since last month, I should also be able to safely assume that my revenue will increase as well. The problem is how much?

Now, let’s assume you have the capability to determine that 90% of your sales came from leads that visited your web site at least 4 times within 6 weeks of becoming a lead within your CRM. Given this indicator of sales, you can start predicting sales from web traffic. For example, if know that have 25 companies who have visited your web site more than 4 times within the last 6 weeks, then forecast a revenue of $562.5K in 3.5 months.

There are a number of data points correlating web traffic patterns to sales patterns that can be used to help forecast future sales. The key is to be able to derive these correlations based on historic sales information; otherwise all you are left with is a SWAG. Having a tool that automatically ties web traffic patterns to consequential sales opportunities also helps.

On Hiring Talent

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Right on the heels of LoopFuse being proclaimed “like crack for marketers”, I happened across a CNBC special, “A history of video game industry”. Although it was a great summary show on the history of the industry, I found the few minutes covering the Atari developers mirroring something I have often experienced in the past and experience almost daily at LoopFuse. The short of it is that after Warner had purchased Atari, it’s small core of developers were responsible for creating, designing, and programming the actual video games. Where competitors and consumers alike, believed there were hundreds of employees involved in the production of these video games, in all cases it centered around 4 to 5 very accomplished programmers.

I know what you’re thinking… “Who cares? Atari died a painful death anyway.” Indeed, but the painful death occured after this small clan of developers decided to leave, and start Activision. You’ve heard of Activision, right? Guitar Hero, Call of Duty, Quake, and now (acquired Blizzard) World of Warcraft.

Ok, so now for how the relation happens… Not a week goes by that we don’t have a prospect investor, analyst, customer, or even bobo competitors wondering how LoopFuse is able to innovate so quickly. An astute observer will note that we have literally built an enterprise-class product within a year, comparable and very often exceeding the functionality and reliability of competitors that have been in business for over 7 years with mountains of capital behind them.

So the question inevitably pops up… “How do you do it?

I still think people don’t want to hear the truth. The truth is boring, simple, and probably sounds like a lie… “We have the most talented and motivated people we can find working on the product”. Too boring, right? Yep, so Tom and I have resorted to asking people “Do you take your $120k Mercedes for maintenance to the dealership or Bob’s mechanic shop?

So there you have it, folks. Theres our secret sauce, our kimono is wide open, and the cookbook is in circulation. We learned just a little bit of common sense while at JBoss… Marc taught us well, as he pushed for all-stars in every corner of the company; IT, Development, Sales, Marketing, and even Accounting.