The phrase “sales acceleration” with respect to software should trigger a modicum of healthy skepticism.
Since the 1980s, software that purported to automate sales processes by attaching fixed procedures to them ended up funneling sales through a narrow tunnel, like turnstiles at an amusement park.
You could control sales by making them regular from month to month, but frankly, that’s not what you really want.
A company called Intelliverse is now in the business of delivering a sales acceleration service, which it began integrating with Microsoft Dynamics CRM in mid-March.
Intelliverse is a three-decade veteran communications service provider.
It had already been producing a sales prospecting tool for several years, and began integrating it with Salesforce in April 2013.
Although Salesforce is sometimes called a prospecting tool unto itself, Salesforce suggests salespeople adopt their own personal best practices when it comes to prospecting methods.
In other words, rather than automating any one method of prospecting for multiple clients, Salesforce prefers its customers to develop their own methods, and perhaps automate them themselves.
That puts Intelliverse in an interesting situation, especially with respect to producing “sales accelerators” now for Salesforce and Dynamics.
It has to explain its value proposition in a way that’s compatible with both manufacturers’ philosophies for customer prospecting and retention.
So how does Intelliverse perceive its role in sales automation? CMSWire put this and several other questions to Intelliverse CEO Sean Gordon.
“Intelliverse believes strongly in making use of a customer’s ‘small data,’” he said. “We use a customer’s own data to help prioritize who is the best person to contact right now.”
How It Works
That prioritization takes place in the background. This way, the Dynamics user launches Intelliverse, and instead of Microsoft’s typical wide world of options, she gets a big, bright button that reads, “Begin Calling.”
Salesforce’s cloud is presented as an applications service atop a huge data service. Intelliverse’s service runs on its own cloud, which was intended not as a big data store so much as a communications platform. It’s on this platform, called ION, where customer calling takes place.
ION is actually capable of placing the call to the next prospect on the list, while the salesperson is wrapping up the previous call, and scheduling — at the software’s prompting — the follow-up meeting. This way, said the CEO, “the prospect is already on the line before the salesperson has time to think about being demotivated.”
Big Data: Too Big?
Gordon argued that big data may be too big to provide guidance specific enough for any individual campaign.
For this reason, Intelliverse does its own lead scoring. In the Salesforce ecosystem, there are several tools available for lead scoring. Dynamics does its own lead scoring.
But as Gordon explained, his service incorporates data from other departments, including marketing. He continued:
Typically, the function of rating prospects based on demographics is a marketing function — title, company type, location, etc. The issue is the divide that exists between many sales and marketing departments, especially when it comes to the issue of lead generation. By linking sales activities to the data that marketing has already entered, sales acceleration is helping to increase sales and marketing alignment, allowing the company to make better use of the resources it has already allocated to the overall prospecting process.”
Intelliverse then concentrates on communications activities (the product’s original purpose) to maintain a cadence with clients. It compiles its own event logs of calls and other customer activities as they happen.
Next, it pores through those logs to determine which activities — for example, downloading a truckload of white papers — may elevate an otherwise dark-horse customer into a hot lead.
To make sure the salesperson maintains a steady cadence himself, Intelliverse adopts a gamification strategy. Gordon admits this strategy isn’t the least bit new. It’s classic “wall psychology,” he said, that’s the modern equivalent of the team progress poster.
Said Gordon, “We have features intended to motivate the ‘A Players’ to keep up the good work, help to motivate the ‘B Players’ so they can become ‘A Players,’ and identify the ‘C Players,’ who either will be motivated with the ‘B Players’ or may not be the best fit for that particular position.”
With Intelliverse’s gamification dashboards, as he described them, “A real time, stock market-like ticker runs across the top of the application showing results by salesperson. Not every salesperson is motivated to be No. 1, but most salespeople do not want to be last.”
So how does Intelliverse distinguish itself against Salesforce’s built-in, socially engineered, high-potency motivational framework?
Gordon feels Salesforce may rely too heavily upon batches of hopefully accurate updates to the data being fed into the CRM, processing it after it’s already entered.
“Intelliverse first ensures that good data gets put into the CRM as it happens,” he said. “Intelliverse’s gamification dashboards add an element of excitement and energy to the salesperson’s experience in the CRM.”
It’s a sales acceleration strategy that’s less about options and more about orchestration. Sean Gordon describes this as simplification, though it is indeed about process control. And that could change the very dynamics of Dynamics.