Using Influitive with Salesforce

Salespeople foster relationships with propsects on a daily basis, looking at LinkedIn profiles finding new ways to reach out to people within the organizations you are targeting.  Influitive is a new tool that leverages your own LinkedIn network, and “adds” your co-workers LinkedIn networks – to uncover relationships with prospects you never knew you had. You are probably thinking, “I already do that with LinkedIn, what’s the difference?”Have you ever found out halfway through a sales-cycle that a prospect has a close friend who uses your software?  Or, a CEO during deal-close time, mentions his old-colleague used your service and had problems? Influitive builds a database of connections amongst all the people in your company – and as a result, you can see which prospects already know your EXISTING customers, users, and contacts via LinkedIn.

What does this mean?

During the sales-cycle you can easily discover who else, customers or co-workers, may have a connection with your new prospect.  You may decide that the prospect knows someone who had a great experience with your product and suggest they connect. More information about prospects and the connections your team and customers share.

How do I use it?

Your salesforce administrator has installed a new component in Salesforce – it should be visible when you view a contact record.  Look for an area that has the words “Influitive Social Connections

Using Influitive for Salesforce

1)   Login with LinkedIn

Influitive uses LinkedIn’s login to manage access to the database.  Simply click on the login button – and provide your LinkedIn details.    Influitive will figure out which customers,  prospects and other employees you are connected to via LinkedIn.

2)   Discover Connections

You now have access to your company’s “collective network” of people who are connected via LinkedIn.  Simply browse to another contact record and you can see which prospects and customers that contact is connected to in LinkedIn. Influitive 2 degrees of separation

3)   Make References

You may notice a small button to the right of each name.  This is functionality that allows salespeople to connect prospects and current customers together to have a phone call or a private conversation about your product or service.  This feature is available through our corporate sales team – we’d be happy to talk with you.

Get Early Access Now!

We are actively looking for beta users. We are testing the deploy with sales and marketing teams that meet the following requirements:

  • Salesforce.com Professional + API Access/Enterprise or Unlimited Accounts
  • >2 Salesforce.com Users with up-to-date LinkedIn Accounts
  • Optional: Customer Reference Program as part of your sales process

Let us know if you’re interested. Complete the form below or ping me, David and Mark at beta@influitive.com.


The Evolution of Net Promoter Score: The Advocate Mobilization Score

Some rights reserved Photo by bigbirdz
Attribution Some rights reserved photo by bigbirdz

I am a big fan of the Net Promoter Score.  In my view it is one of the most important business metrics discoveries of the past 100 years, in the same league as Dupont Analysis, Discounted Cash Flow, and Economic Value Added, It has tremendous predictive ability as to the future growth and profit of an enterprise, and yet is relatively easy to source and analyze.  NPS works because it measures the volume of delighted and angry customers, and these customers have a powerful influence on new customer acquisition and the costs of this acquisition – for many companies, the most important cost that they have to manage.

Promoters and detractors work on all phases of the buying cycle, from awareness to renewal and advocacy, so improving net promotion has an exponential effect on growth and profits.  Having a group of unpaid but enthusiastic and impartial “sales reps” – happy customers and advocates – promoting your company’s product does wonders for the top and bottom lines.  And having a bunch of boo-birds can be catastrophic, especially in this age of the hyper-connected market.

I’ve witnessed its power up close. As an executive,  I mandated the use of NPS as a component of variable compensation and witnessed dramatic benefits in customer growth and satisfaction.  As a strategy consultant at Bain & Company, the firm that invented NPS, I saw compelling evidence from multiple industries that loyalty and promoter leaders are also industry leaders.

What is Net Promoter Score?

For the uninitiated, NPS measures the difference between the proportion of promoters and detractors in the customer base.  Promoters are defined as people that score 9 or 10 in the question below, and detractors are defined as people that score 6 or below:

How likely are you to refer this company to a peer or colleague, on a scale of 0 to 10, 0 meaning “not at all likely” and 10 meaning “highly likely”?

For years, this survey has worked. It is reported to be effective, with predictive power for company growth and profitability.  It is relatively easy to gather the data, and also has been more resistant to gaming than the traditional customer satisfaction surveys – people tend to be more honest as to their willingness to refer as opposed to a more nebulous satisfaction score.

Gaming an NPS System

Predictably, as the metric has skyrocketed in usage, local managers are gaming the system to increase net promoter scores and defeating its usefulness as an analytical and management tool.

Last year I was at a major bank in Shanghai and they had a net promoter “machine” on the counter – I could pick a number between 0 (unhappy face) and 10 (happy face) to indicate how satisfied I was with the transaction.  The teller flashed me a flirty smile after I received my cash, motioning for me to give her a 9 or 10 on the machine.   She was clearly trying to bias my evaluation.  An associate in an NPS implementation company mentioned a similar story, of a major chain of car dealers who routinely tell customers to give them a 9 or 10 because “no other score really matters.”

Clearly, NPS gaming works across cultures and industries!

Really though, even setting aside gaming for a moment, should we be leaving this crucial metric – one of the best, if not the best, predictor of future growth and profits to a survey of customers’ subjective predictions of likeliness to refer?  Frankly I am surprised that NPS has worked as well as it has, given the flimsiness of the data collection methodology.

We should be measuring actual referral and reference behavior for our customers.  With just a little more effort we can detect what they actually do rather than what they say that they will do.  With the pervasiveness of the web and social platforms, surely there must be a way to get the real data.

Measuring Advocacy

I propose that we go a step further than measuring willingness to refer.  Customers express their advocacy in different ways.  Some people are merely content to take a reference call now and again.  Others have great ideas for service improvement and new products.  The connected generate new referral leads.  The younger generation is often more comfortable expressing their advocacy publicly in social tools than spending time interacting with people one on one.  The most valuable – what we call full-spectrum advocates – do it all.

The net promoter score was a fantastic metric for the past 15 years, but it is time for it to evolve.  It is time to consider an advocate mobilization score, measuring real advocate contribution on their terms.  At Influitive we are pumped about making this a metric part of the management system for the considered-purchase companies that we serve.

How would this work?  We’re still working on the details, but we do have some solid ideas as starting point.  We are going to make the tools available to our early customers and work together with them, constantly testing, experimenting and learning to come up with right formula.

I would divide advocacy into private and public components:

  • Private components would include such items as reference and referral behavior.
  • Public components would include social media, community, press release and case study contributions.

The weighting between these items is probably variable on industry – I would imagine that the more complex the buying process and value of a new customer, the more the private components should be given greater weight.   That is the area that we are focusing on in the near term.

Forrester - Marketing's New Key Metric: Engagement - Evolved
Adapted from Haven, B. (2007). Marketing’s New Key Metric: Engagement, Forrester Research [PDF version].

I think that the key is to match together advocates with the prospects that they influence, and track this interaction through the buying process.  This is especially true for considered-purchase companies.  Shortening the buying cycle is the primary way that advocates express their influence, it is important to track the impact on the buying process on an individual basis.

Making Advocacy Work

I want to give a shout-out to one of my full-spectrum advocates from my former company, I’ll call her M.  M was a force of nature, contributing in all phases of advocacy for us, but especially shining in the private sphere, reflecting her C-level position.  When we matched her up with an appropriate prospect, or she referred us to one of her industry colleagues, we knew that the deal was going to close, and close fast.  M, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything that you have done for me.  You have inspired me to build a company to make you and people like you happy and productive.

Can we use technology to make people like M even more effective, and help create more M’s?  I think we can.  And use the same tools, processes, and metrics to help make companies grow their profits by delighting their customers, transforming their fans into advocates and evangelists.

What do you think?  How do you measure advocacy in your organization?  What do you most value?  Let’s get the conversation started, nobody has written the book on it yet, so it’s up to all of us to figure it out and make it happen.

Customer References – How do you handle it?

Influitive is a startup that is focusing on mobilizing your happy customers in a variety of ways. We are trying to help companies recognize and reward their best advocates and reference customers using social networks.

We try to turn the reference process around: instead of asking for a favor of a client, we are offering the opportunity for them to expand their professional social network in the same industry or using the same product.

We need all types of  Marketing and Sales people to give us some honest feedback so we can better plan out our next build. We want to make an impact on the sales cycle through mobilizing happy customers to advocate their positive experiences, both publicly and through private customer references.

We appreciate you taking a few minutes out of your day to participate in this survey. (less than 5 minutes – we promise!)

Are you a marketer? – Marketers Survey

Are you a Salesperson? – Salespeople survey

Déjà vu: Mobilize Your Advocates for Brillant Demand Gen

Retro Sales Guy

It’s been more than 11 years since I co-founded Eloqua, today one of the leading global marketing software companies, as a naïve 26 year old consultant.   I’ve been out of the company since 2007, now run under the capable stewardship of Joe Payne, so I have had some time to reflect on it. There is a lot to that story which I may get into in future posts, but I want to focus on the early mission and insights that the three co-founders had back then, and how those remained invariant even as the product and target market changed considerably.

One of the key insights that we had, with powerful data from my consulting work, was just how valuable sales rep time was.  Even more valuable was experienced sales rep time. When I showed the partner on my case that for every month this company we were researching retained its experienced sales reps, it was worth more than $20M per year, he made me redo it.

At the same time, companies were frittering away their valuable sales rep time on prospecting, an activity where yields were plummeting. Prospects were screening out cold calls. At the same time, there were loads of prospects surfing Internet sites, and interacting with company email. It did not take a group of rocket scientists to generate the blinding insight that if we could connect together hungry sales reps with sales-ready web/email prospects, “there was a pony in there somewhere”.

More complicated than Rocket Science

 

Our peers often focused on “new age” web metrics like email open and click-through rates, web site visits, and similar “eyeball” type metrics. I think that one of the reasons why Eloqua achieved success in the marketing content automation / demand generation market was its unique focus on sales productivity as the main metric we were trying to optimize. A focus on the metric – sales productivity – that truly drove business success helped us shape the product and distribution strategy in the right direction, even if we cut across existing company function and product-market boundaries.

Content marketing with segmentation and automation was a big idea in 2001. Let’s fast forward to 2011, and see how the situation has evolved in my view, with an eye towards understanding the trenchant metrics to drive success for marketers today:

Technology Changes in Enterprise Marketing Automation 2001-2011

 

Don’t just take it from me. Salesforce.com, which I consider to be consistently on the leading edge of B2B marketing techniques, has cut demand gen spending 69% over the past year. While increasing demand gen production. What is salesforce.com investing in? YouTube videosProprietary and public communities. Todd Forsyth, VP of Global Campaigns (a demand gen function) put it simply at the 2010 Dreamforce conference: the goal of his group is to grow customer advocates into evangelists, and facilitate the conversation in the marketplace. Amen to that, sounds like the future to me.

Déjà vu, haven’t we seen this before? The time is right for a change in the systematic way that we generate demand for our products and services.

Overproduction of content marketing and advances in social marketing technologies are catalyzing a shift in the most scarce and valuable marketing asset, from the qualified prospect, to the customer advocate.

The qualified prospect is a golden egg and the customer advocate is the magic goose – helping to generate dozens or even hundreds of qualified prospects and help close them as well.

Demand generation leaders have an important role to play in the cultivation and motivation of these special people.    We need people, processes and technologies for getting the most out of our customer advocates. We need to elevate and celebrate them, and give them the value they seek.

How about some advocate mobilization scenarios – how might the new processes and technologies work?

  1. Advocate-Centered Reference ManagementConsider the status quo reference management process:
    • Johnny Sales Rep needs a reference to help close a deal with Percy Prospect.
    • He goes back to his Ann Advocate, his trusty customer advocate (or a references manager does this on his behalf), that he has requested a reference 5 times in the past quarter.
    • He lobbies aggressively, and somewhat annoyingly, for the connection. He wants Ann to take a call in the next couple of days.
    • She has a board meeting to prepare for.
    • Ann has little in common with the prospect.
    • How many more times can Johnny go back to the well, before Ann lets him know that company policy has changed and she cannot provide him with references any more?

    This scenario shows why so many B2B companies have a crisis in references – not enough of them, advocate burnout, and a vicious negative feedback cycle as advocate counts decline.

    How about this for an alternative?

    • Johnny Sales Rep needs a reference to help close a deal.
    • He submits his request to the company community manager.
    • He invites his qualified prospect Percy Prospect to join a VIP community, where he can choose between available customer advocates who fit his profile.
    • Ann Advocate receives an email detailing her advocacy opportunities, which include connecting with interesting people – like Percy Prospect.
    • Ann and Percy choose each other based on shared needs, connection on the LinkedIn social graph, same title and industry.
    • Ann makes a great connection and improves her relationship with the company, providing her and her company with enhanced services. She’s excited to make more connections and recommend more of her peers.
    • Percy buys quickly on Ann’s recommendation and Johnny gets his accelerated commissions.
  2. Trusted Referral Campaigns
    Consider the status quo referral campaign:

    • Mary Marketer’s company is behind the revenue number again this quarter so they ask her to run a referral campaign.
    • Mary has little idea which advocates are satisfied and are willing to refer, so she has to communicate with every advocate the same way, or –
    • She requires a lengthy interaction with the service / delivery organization to identify who should be approached.
    • She sends a mass-blast email to her customers asking them to provide feedback and to recommend their colleagues. She allows for an iPad2 prize. Or perhaps a big check of 5% of deal value.
    • She “helpfully” provides a form where people can register their friends in return for their prize.
    • Customers struggle with who to refer, and in creating the right message for appropriate referrals. They are not motivated by the prizes, and feel tawdry for the quid quo pro
    • Response is lackluster.

    It is such a wasted opportunity, because trusted referral leads are so much more valuable than garden-variety leads. How can we improve this scenario with advocate-centered campaigns?

    • Mary Marketer’s company is behind the revenue number again this quarter so they ask her to run a referral campaign.
    • Mary decides to focus her campaign around her main product’s user experience, an underexploited opportunity in the market
    • She enters the VIP community management console and identifies all of the customer advocates with positive ease of use experiences. The system matches advocates with prospects in her CRM system. She recommends matches and emails go out to both advocates and prospects.
    • Advocates may choose to interact with the recommended prospect or alternatives. The system also crawls her LinkedIn social graph to identify additional potential matches.
    • Pre-written content is available for the advocates to quickly customize and send out. Two of the most important barriers to referring are now eliminated..
    • Advocates earn points for their advocacy and can compare with other advocates, redeemable for items that enhance the relationship with the company – better service, unique networking opportunities, donations to charity and more.

I am excited to be tackling these scenarios and others with my fantastic team at Influitive. How do you best leverage the power of the customer advocate to drive demand generation performance?  I look forward to your comments!