Multichannel access to customers has impacted sales management as much as it has influenced marketing media strategy. New enterprise software has automated many managerial tasks, creating a potential for better decision making, but leaving some critical tasks isolated from overall strategy. Thus sales teams find new means of connecting to potential customers, only to leave certain follow up and categorizing opportunities incomplete.
Those unfinished opportunities have also raised compensation worries among some sales teams that live and die by commission. How does automation affect what they do? CallidusCloud, the California-headquartered marketing and sales services platform, addresses those opportunities by offering cloud-based solutions that link sales and marketing operations. The solutions identify lead opportunities and automate associated operations that impact the sales process, such as configuring price quotes, and streamlining sales compensation. Over 4,600 organizations across various industries are CallidusCloud customers.
I spoke with Giles House, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for CallidusCloud about the automation environment, particularly with respect to the Internet of Things. House has been with CallidusCloud for 6 years. He is a 15-year veteran in the technology sector, having lead the marketing team in consistently growing the sales pipeline in excess of 60% year over year. He earned a Marketing Team of the Year Award at the 2014 International Business Awards. His lifelong passion has been for discovering the connections between technology and business requirements.
What trends did you see in the sales industry that guided CallidusCloud to focus on automation of incentives, particular in respect to IoT devices?
We are about helping sales people be more successful. Incentives certainly drive meaningful behavior. There are other things sales people need to create a sales funnel that leads to results–what the product did, how to price it, how to develop leads. We provided the ‘Lead to Money Suite‘ – everything a team needs to close leads from outcomes, achieving more productivity from their sales.
Once we provided the software and begun managing the outcomes, we started to find huge value in the data. We have powerful data that captures at any one time, how many contracts have had out their for signature, how many quotes, how many lead you are working, how many documents you read. We can capture that and report back. You can then have a view, what is our selling environment now, versus three months ago, and ask “Is it better or worse than what expected?”
Forecasting is important because there are numerous constituents within the business than need a good degree of predictability in the sales process. Depending on how well integrated sales is with the rest of the business, the forecast could affect functions from finance to manufacturing to customer service. For example, the volume of production in a manufacturing setting may be based on the sales forecast. So might the timing of investments or staffing levels in different parts of the organization. Being able to trust the forecast allows others in the organization to make important decisions with confidence. So, the goal based on someone’s gut isn’t going to cut it anymore – especially since there are so many data sources now available to sales managers. There’s trend data. How do sales fluctuate based on seasonality? How much is closing in the last week of each quarter? With that data available, guessing is out of the question.
How does the emphasis on automation of the incentive environment create an overall influence of marketing strategy?
It means building a strategy around a connected platform. More and more of customers have automated their sales process, but need to know the implication and how does that influence the customer experience. One of our customers builds big industrial machines with hundreds of configurations. These machines, when networked, can report on their health and functional status. If there is a machine working outside of its tolerance, we can help the customer know when to schedule service. If you are mining in Brazil, and if you can protect the production schedule, you can prevent delays from receiving parts.
The CPQ (Configure Price Quote) tool can review contract details, the model name of the machine, and in the blink of the eye send a price quote to a customer. With a system like this, most people don’t get a five o’clock call in the morning. And customers will buy from you to take advantage of such reliability, even if the charge is 10 times more than competitors.
What is the value of sales people in an automation environment? What has and has not changed for the sales team in an overall strategy?
People are grappling with what to do about the sales commission. No sales person activity is involved in automated activity, so clearly management is not going to pay the automation system or the machines involved. Some salespeople fear the change, but these predictions are wrong about sales. You need someone to research and explain complex sales. Salespeople do not really lose in the process. They instead get to sell larger things and make a larger sale. Overall, there’s an opportunity to revise the commission plan and use the incentive dollars better.
In fact, for me it’s all about upping the stakes. In the Internet of Things environment, we’ll give you more time. Let’s see what you do with that time.