A Vision for More Tightly Integrated Sales Workflows
Sean Nathaniel, CTO & EVP, Upland Software, Inc.
Document management and automated workflows have become the lifeblood of any highly functioning professional workforce. Regardless of the industry or use-case served, these solutions need to be stable, scalable, cloud-based, and integrated with mission-critical applications in order for them to deliver maximum value and to meet the growing needs of any organization.
B2B buyers have raised the bar
With our recent acquisition of RO Innovation — and Qvidian late last year – Upland is making steady progress at building a sales enablement suite that spans essential sales and marketing workflows. We have been watching this market for a while and appreciate the sizable changes in enterprise purchasing, where, more than ever, power is in the hands of informed sellers who rely on peer networks to make purchasing decisions, with “57% of the purchase decision taking place before a customer even calls a supplier.”(CEB) Buyers are putting pressure on sales and marketing teams to be more informed and responsive, and are bringing complex challenges to the table: larger cross-department buying groups; more complex technology stacks and a desire to consolidate vendor pools; increased data and security concerns; and overall, a greater reliance on proven, measurable outcomes.
The rapid growth of the sales enablement software market demonstrates how it is trying to catch up to these trends, with more than 15.5% annual growth and $455+ million annual revenues capturing 5.6% of the overall sales automation technology segment market share.(Gartner) Moreover, technologies in this area are established and are viewed as vital tools in helping organizations implement more customer-centric strategies that have evolved the sales and marketing funnel into an ongoing, dynamic feedback loop.
The start of Upland’s sales enablement suite
In the near term, Upland’s goal through acquisition, and customer-driven innovation is to connect sales workflows more tightly, resulting in improved customer responsiveness and sales productivity. More specifically, we plan to deliver the voice of the customer, and other important sales content produced by RO Innovation, more deeply into the sales proposals process upstream in Qvidian. Similarly, we expect to leverage insights from Qvidian’s sales proposals to better direct content development and reference selection downstream through RO Innovation. These connected sales workflows will be augmented further by maintaining a tight integration with CRM, all resulting in increased pipeline velocity and close rates.
Implementing automated workflows and centralized knowledge management
As we explore adding new applications to this portfolio, we envision being able to deliver a true end-to-end suite that can provide more process automation and drive even more sales efficiencies. Imagine having automated document workflows across the sales cycle, from account management and strategy to content development and delivery, and through sales activity across multiple customer and prospect touch points. For example, adding process automation can result in more seamless sales quota communication and management. Document automation could also provide improved collaboration and reduced response times, both in the bids and proposals stage, as well as when trying to solicit, manage, and store customer reference assets. When dealing with customers that require a higher level of security and strict data compliance requirements – like in financial services, government, and healthcare – the ability to deliver automated secure document workflows could be another critical feature of a future sales enablement suite.
With the massive amount of content and assets within an interconnected sales environment, comes the need to deliver contextually-relevant information when sales team members need it most. Sales and marketing teams would greatly benefit from a Knowledge Management engine that can both merge disparate sales content across an enterprise and deliver it more intelligently to sales teams across your organization. Consider how Chatbot technology on your website could facilitate a prospect’s search efforts and be integrated with external content delivery (e.g. RO’s Spotlight pages) to deepen their engagement with your content.
Extending your sales reach with mobile and tighter integrations
And what about mobile? Texts have a 99% open rate and 95% of texts will be read within 3 minutes of being sent. (Text Request) Mobile as a means of collaboration, process management, and content delivery will be a key addition to a future sales enablement offering. This could translate into automated notifications at different stages of the RFP process to ensure workflows are progressing successfully or even finding new ways to deliver content to prospects and customers via text, apps, and OTT notifications. Pre-built, smart, automated messaging capabilities offer a range of possibilities to further enhance sales responsiveness and content delivery. Imagine if a sales executive on the road could simply text the word “Reference” to a short code and with a few simple text responses, have a curated customer reference, or other timely content sent directly to their mobile device, or routed to a prospect and receive mobile alerts when that content has been read.
Underlying this vision of a more automated and feature-rich sales enablement suite is a common integration layer that can deliver a frictionless experience through additional data exchanges. This integration layer would also need to integrate the suite seamlessly with other 3rd party applications within an SFA ecosystem (and beyond!), without costly custom engineering. Pulling it all together could be a reporting layer that would extract immediate insights at the user-level to ensure high usage and customer responsiveness, and at the enterprise-level would be able to optimize process flows and measure sales and marketing efficacy.
The future is definitely bright in the sales enablement space, with tons of possibilities to create value across key sales and marketing workflows. I am excited to bring Upland’s deep experience with enterprise-grade, stable workflow automation solutions to what could be a tightly interconnected world-class go-to-market engine. I wonder what the next component will be?
Click here for more information on Upland’s acquisition of RO Innovation or to learn more about Qvidian.
About the Author:
Sean Nathaniel is CTO and EVP of Workflow Automation Solutions at Upland Software. In this position, Sean is responsible for the vision and strategy of Upland’s Workflow Automation product family with a mandate to drive efficiency and productivity, support revenue growth, and deliver on Upland’s commitment towards 100% customer success. Sean oversees all areas of this division as they relate to the delivery of customer success programs, high-quality customer-informed roadmaps, and expert professional services and support.