IT Science Case Study: Adding Transparency to Sales/Marketing Processes

IT SCIENCE: SaaS provider Fonteva was experiencing significant growth and was looking for a way to establish a more consistent and transparent sales process to support its global momentum. Then it discovered Clari AI, which provides an end-to-end sales analytics and forecasting platform.

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Here is the latest article in the eWEEK feature series called IT Science, in which we look at what actually happens at the intersection of new-gen IT and legacy systems.

Unless it’s brand new and right off various assembly lines, servers, storage and networking inside every IT system can be considered “legacy.” This is because the iteration of both hardware and software products is speeding up all the time. It’s not unusual for an app-maker, for example, to update and/or patch for security purposes an application a few times a month, or even a week. Some apps are updated daily! Hardware moves a little slower, but manufacturing cycles are also speeding up.

These articles describe new-gen industry solutions. The idea is to look at real-world examples of how new-gen IT products and services are making a difference in production each day. Most of them are success stories, but there will also be others about projects that blew up. We’ll have IT integrators, system consultants, analysts and other experts helping us with these as needed.

Today’s Topic:  Adding Transparency to Sales/Marketing Processes

Name the problem to be solved: Fonteva, is a SAAS software company (a Salesforce-based ISV) that provides membership, events and ecommerce solutions for nonprofits, public sector and commercial customers.

The company was experiencing significant growth and was looking for a way to establish a more consistent and transparent sales process to support its global momentum. Then it discovered Clari AI, which provides an end-to-end sales analytics and forecasting platform.

Before that, Fonteva had no transparency into its sales pipeline and no way of knowing where reps are spending time, which deals were real and which were at risk so it could accurately do a forecast. Fonteva had limited visibility into rep activity on active deals.

Without this information, there was no way to coach reps to success and provide guidance for better productivity. The result: wasted time on one-to-one meetings and team calls—asking the same questions over and over again instead of having meaningful conversations about closing strategies. 

Salesforce is one of the primary tools in Fonteva’s sales stack. It works well as a customer database, but in reality, reps don’t enter data into the CRM. It’s time-consuming, and they will enter the minimum information needed, so the data is often incomplete and not reliable for understanding the health of the pipeline.

Describe the strategy that went into finding the solution: Fonteva is in the business of building membership, events, and ecommerce solutions on the Salesforce platform. It quickly realized that its current sales stack could not help the company achieve the level of transparency and predictability needed in the sales process. Fonteva wanted a solution that can automatically capture sales rep activity, customer engagement data and provide visibility into where reps are spending time, where they should be focused and where the company has risk in the pipeline. It also needed to know which deals are real, so analysts can accurately predict where the company will end the quarter.

Another key requirement for Fonteva was a solution that could be quickly deployed and rolled out to the team in a matter of days or a few weeks. The user experience and mobile support were critical to driving adoption while reducing the CRM admin burden for reps.

Lastly, it was important for Fonteva that everyone on the team got value from the solution--from sales operations to reps, managers and sales leadership.

List the key features in the solution:

Rep Productivity: Helps sales reps focus on the right accounts and opportunities—with more time spent selling and less time updating the CRM app.  

Pipeline Inspection: Gives sales managers instant insight into rep activity and the true state of deals, so they can guide reps to focus on deals they can close and walk away from those not going anywhere

Forecast Management: Helping sales execs roll up and forecast across teams, across product lines, across regions with less effort and more accuracy.

Describe how the deployment went, perhaps how long it took and if it came off as planned: The deployment time frame was very short. Unlike other sales solutions, Fonteva went live with its data in a matter of days and fully rolled it out to the team within a couple of weeks. The user experience was so intuitive that the company immediately started conducting internal one-on-one rep meetings, forecast calls and quarterly business reviews on Clari.

It required very little training to drive adoption, which saved a ton of time.

Describe the result, new efficiencies gained, and what was learned from the project: Clari has brought Fonteva a new approach to sales management and a new selling culture based on transparency. When sales rep activity and customer interaction are automatically documented and transparent, the nature of every sales conversation changes. With Clari, Fonteva now sees the path of the deal and all the activity and inactivity. Everything is automated and always accurate. It is easily visualized for every rep, manager and exec to consume. Users can now quickly look at the deal cadence and see what deals have slipped and which are accelerating based on price, close date, forecast and all the other categories required to properly manage a deal.

From a manager's perspective, Fonteva can see trends and how salespeople are performing. There’s a huge time-saving for both the manager and the rep. One-to-one conversations are not spent on fact-finding and inspection; instead, they are spent discussing closing strategies.

With better visibility and insights, Fonteva now has better foresight into the forecast at any given moment during the quarter, across teams, product lines and regions.

Describe ROI, carbon footprint savings, and staff time savings, if any: Fonteva sees increased productivity with:

  • Reps getting two to three hours per week back to sell, because they are not spending time documenting activity and updating CRM. Important sales conversations in one-to-one meetings and forecast calls are more efficient, because the entire organization is always looking at the same single source of truth about the business. Prep time for these calls is now minimal.
  • Data quality and completeness is 3X to 5X improved.
  • The company is seeing higher win rates on deals by having a more structured deal-review process and better visibility so managers can coach reps, identify risk and lower deal slip rates.

If you have a suggestion for an eWEEK IT Science article, email cpreimesberger@eweek.com.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...