Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Marketo Sales Insight Expands Salesforce Access to Marketing Data

Summary: Marketo's new Sales Insight ranks prospects for sales people, based on recent Web and email activities. It lets Marketo sell seats to sales departments, which could be more lucrative than selling its core demand generation system. But I expect the sales automation vendors to take the business for themselves.

Marketo today officially launched “Sales Insight”, an application that makes prospect activity history directly available to sales people from within Salesforce.com. I had a personal demonstration last week (are you impressed?), but there’s an online demo that seems to cover pretty much the whole product. Features include:

- a ranked prospect list, based on measures of interaction intensity (represented by one, two or three flames) and prospect value (up to three stars). The idea is to help the sales rep decide who to call first. Users can drill into the details of each account, including Web activities, emails and score history.

- a list of “interesting moments” for each prospect, showing activities that the company has deemed significant. The moments are set up as real time triggers within Marketo. They can be linked to a specific campaign or defined more generically (e.g., three Web site visits in two days). I found this the most interesting capability in the system, because it fills a middle ground between summarizing all activities and providing the item-by-item detail. It does depend on marketing setting up the definitions, rather than letting sales people create their own. But, then again, how many salespeople really want to do that?

- a “lead feed” feature that can send “interesting moment” alerts via RSS, SMS, email, iPhone and other mobile devices. Sales people can select the individuals and accounts to monitor and the types of activities that trigger alerts.

- an option to send emails and add prospects to Marketo campaigns.

- ability to track anonymous Web visits within the sales person’s territory, using IP lookup to identify the visiting company and location. This can be integrated with Demandbase and Jigsaw to download the names of contacts at those firms. The system can also open a window to LinkedIn to let the sales rep find network contacts of her own.

It’s irresistible to compare Sales Insight with Eloqua Prospect Profiler, launched two weeks ago (see my review), which also gives sales people access to prospect activities gathered by the marketing system. The products are designed around slightly different scenarios: while Marketo starts with a list to help the sales rep decide who to call, while Eloqua aims to help the rep understand a prospect she has already selected. Still, both systems provide views into the data and both let salespeople receive alerts about prospect activities.

There are some subtle differences. Marketo is a Force.com application that works only with Salesforce.com, while Eloqua works with several CRM products. Eloqua lets sales people define their own alerts rather than relying on marketing to predefine the “interesting moments”. Marketo lets sales reps send emails and add prospects to demand generation campaigns. Eloqua provides interesting graphs of activity trends. Marketo includes the anonymous visitor tracking.
It’s hard to say which product will be more appealing to sales people, but that probably won’t matter: any significantly attractive feature in one product will (and should) be quickly copied into the other. Competitors without any equivalent product are more at risk, but, you can bet they'll quickly add something similar if it becomes an issue.

What really matters is that these products provide an opportunity for the marketing system to integrate more deeply with sales. This is THE big industry trend right now, so much so that we’re probably due for some clever nay-saying. The attraction to vendors like Marketo and Eloqua is quite clear: they can expand the size of their installations by serving new customers within existing clients.

This could have a substantial impact on total revenues. At Marketo’s price of $49 per seat, a 20-user license would bring in another $1,000 per month. (Genius.com's Genius Pro, a somewhat similar tool that helps sales people track prospect activities, is also priced at $49 per seat.)Compare this with maybe $2,000 per client per month earned by most demand generation vendors. Figures like these radically change the economics of the demand generation business. They also explain why some vendors have been willing to sell to new clients at very low prices.

But these figures also raise the specter of sales automation vendors moving in the other direction. An average Salesforce.com seat is around $100 per month these days. From the Salesforce.com viewpoint, adding marketing automation for $1,000 to $2,000 per month per client isn't particularly exciting. But if that same application also justified another $49 for each seat, you're starting to talk real money.

Of course, this has always been the threat inherent in demand generation vendors’ symbiotic relationship with CRM in general and Salesforce.com in particular. I’m increasingly convinced that it’s just a matter of time before sales automation and demand generation / marketing automation do merge – and it will almost certainly be sales systems swallowing the marketing vendors, not the other way around.

That will put the business marketing world pretty much where consumer marketers have already landed: most companies will use the marketing features of their CRM vendors, except for a relatively small number of businesses with marketing needs so advanced that they can really need the special features of a “best of breed” system.

In support of this view, it’s worth noting that demand generation systems for small businesses already routinely include their own sales automation system. This integrated model will likely filter up into larger companies, even as CRM vendors add marketing automation features and move down from above. Vendors offering just marketing automation or just sales automation will be trapped in the middle – rarely a pleasant place for a vendor to be.


Fred said...


I agree with the trend toward integrating sales more deeply with marketing. ActiveConversion has been beta testing it's SalesVision product for sales executives. You will hear more about it soon.

I also agree that there is a relationship between CRM and MA but don't agree with the fact that the CRM/SFA vendors will consolidate marketing automation into their offerings. Unlike CRMs, it is much more difficult to have a one size fits all that will work. Another reason is feature superiority - eg. bulk email marketing is available from SFDC, but few people use it because it is inferior to using SFDC Appexchange email marketing partners and more expensive.

The other reason I think is CRM is not always in the domain of sales and marketing. If you talk to SAP, Oracle etc., they see it as an extension to ERP systems. In fact, having MA in your CRM does not mean a net add of CRM seats as the sales people likely already have those seats.

Having said that, I'm not saying it will never happen, but that I don't think it will be a wholesale change.

David Raab said...

(Fred is president of Active Conversion)

Hi Fred,

I doubt the CRM vendors would agree that building a one-size-fits-all system is easier in their space. Serious CRM systems are much more complicated than MA (marketing automation), although it's possible to build simple versions of both.

It's true that SFDC's current marketing capabilities are not well regarded, but that is surely something they can change if it seems worth the investment. As to your point about the number of seats--the point is to increase revenue per seat, not necessarily sell new ones.

I'll look forward to hearing about SalesVision.