Finding information about a product or service is easy, but trusting what you read is another story. With more information available than ever before, buyers are becoming more and more skeptical of sales and marketing literature, and businesses are rethinking their approach to connecting with customers.
“All the sales and marketing data shows that sales prospects trust recommendations from like-minded customers more than any content vendors put out,” explained David Priemer, Vice President of Sales at Influitive. “That’s why companies are realizing that getting the people who already love their brand to be their advocates is critical to attracting new business. For this to work, they need to develop stronger and more meaningful relationships with potential advocates. Our job is to help them do that.”
Founded in 2010, Influitive provides software solutions wholly focused on advocate marketing, helping companies discover, nurture, and mobilize their happy customers to drive new business though recommendations, referrals, and social proof. Influitive’s solutions also help build deeper more personal relationships with potential advocates at scale. “By building a large community of healthy advocates, companies avoid relying on the same handful of customers to do things like give references, referrals, or even provide product feedback again and again,” added Priemer
From day one, Influitive has had a keen eye for innovation and ambitious growth plans. “We wanted to grow and evolve as quickly as possible, so we needed a CRM platform that would scale with us. We need to practice what we preach, so understanding our own customers and building strong relationships with them is vital for successful growth.”
The company started using Salesforce, the world's #1 CRM company and Intelligent Customer Success Platform in 2011. “Salesforce was the natural choice for us – not only does it satisfy our functional requirements, it also integrates with our other systems easily,” said Priemer. “Many of our customers also use Salesforce alongside our advocacy solutions so integration with CRM helps boost the value of both platforms.”
For example, new sales leads generated through a customer’s advocate community can be automatically attributed in Salesforce CRM so that the effects of their campaigns are clearly measured. “Many of our customers have discovered millions of dollars of sales pipeline and downstream revenue they’ve directly linked back to specific advocate programs and campaigns,” said Priemer. Even better, they’ve also discovered huge cohorts of previously silent fans within their customer community that they were never even aware of.”
Influitive can also integrate with Community Cloud, which enables companies to create online destinations to interact with customers, employees and partners in a branded and personalized environment. Through these communities, Influitive is able to discover and nurture new advocates to help their customers promote their brand. “Having an online community, makes it easy to tap into and engage large sets of potential advocates. For example, AdvocatedAnywhere, our simple embeddable widget helps companies learn about their advocates and gauge interest in performing variety of helpful actions from participating in a case study or Net Promoter survey, speaking at an event, or even providing product feedback.”
Influitive recently used their own advocate community to get feedback on a new sales pitch. “We wanted to know what customers thought of some of our new positioning and within hours we got really valuable feedback from dozens of customers. Our community not only continues to be an indispensable resource for us, but the solution helps us build stronger customer relationships and grow our pool of advocates,” added Priemer.
Besides integration with its advocacy platform, Influitive uses Salesforce internally to help drive growth and support innovation. Sales Cloud captures customer data, tracks opportunities, and manages renewals. “Influitive’s relationship with the customer starts with the very first outreach or advocate referral and continues past the sale, all the way through to contract renewal,” explained Priemer. “A single view throughout this lifecycle is vital to ensuring a consistent and frictionless customer experience as different teams get involved.”
With Salesforce, Influitive’s sales and senior management team has the visibility it needs to identify potential bottlenecks in the sales cycle and take action to eliminate them. “We now have greater insight into the sales pipeline and ways we can better serve our customers during the buying process– all this helps us close deals faster.”
These insights have helped Influitive increase sales 10-fold in the last two years. And as deals have got bigger, thanks to Salesforce the sales cycle lengths have remained the same.
Forecasting is also more accurate, Priemer explained, “I can see how we’re doing against our targets, and the steps needed to bring our deals to fruition. And with Salesforce1 Mobile App, I can do all of this while I’m on the road.”
Almost all of Priemer’s team uses Salesforce1 Mobile App to access and update customer details, dashboards and Chatter while travelling, which maximizes productivity. “Chatter is the hub of communication for the sales team,” explained Priemer. “If I have a question about an opportunity or spot something odd, I can get answers quickly without having to wait for people to be back at their desks. I also use it to capture one-to-ones and share relevant sales content with the team.”
“With Salesforce, we have a solution that adapts to our needs and brings ideas to life,” said Priemer. “If I want to try a new way of doing things, I know that with Salesforce, I can. Our IT team loves using it and our operations manager likens it to one of those Russian dolls; we can keep opening up new layers to reveal greater and deeper capabilities as the demands of our business change.”
“To ensure it can take full advantage of Salesforce functionality, Influitive uses Trailhead to ensure everyone who needs to knows the ins and outs of Salesforce,” added Priemer.
As the company continues to flourish, Salesforce will remain an important part of Influitive’s DNA,” said Priemer, “Salesforce is a key part of our future plans to help more businesses discover, nurture, and mobilize their advocate communities, while achieving our own ambitious goals for growth.”