7/28 Interview with ClearSlide

Let’s Get Real.

In this series, we interview sales tool providers and get real about the problems they’re solving and why you should care (or not).

This week I interview Jeff Schmidt, SVP of World Wide Sales & Services of ClearSlide.

Nancy: I ask guests to answer the first question using what I call the “You know how…” format. Tell us, what does your solution do?

Jeff: You know how 58% of forecasted deals slip out of quarter and 75% of deals in pipelines never close? When I talk to sales leaders, what I hear consistently is that they see activity happening on opportunities but don’t really have visibility into what is going on. How were the last few meetings? How did the customer respond to the latest outreach? What was presented? Who joined? How did the prospect respond? This lack of visibility is what we call the “Customer Interaction Gap.” And this is what ClearSlide solves.

The other challenge I see is that sales teams are struggling to manage the proliferation of point solutions. There are an overwhelming number of tools that promise some type of productivity and revenue gains, but the reality is that these tools don’t work together and they actually take up more of your teams’ time to manage the complexity. Recent research that we did with CSO Insights shows that 60% of sales leaders are not getting value out of their current sales enablement tools.

ClearSlide is different – it’s a Sales Engagement Platform that is easy for your sales team to use, it integrates into existing workflow and works with the tools that your teams currently use (e.g., Gmail, Outlook, Dropbox, Box). ClearSlide also helps make your data more effective and saves your team time – with the ability to auto-log engagement data into Salesforce and Dynamics, and through critical customer engagement analytics that drive actionable insights.

Nancy: That sounds like a problem worth solving (and a worthy solution). But let’s get real, sales and marketing organizations have a lot of challenges and they have to make choices about which to solve first. Why shouldn’t they continue with things the way they are if they’re getting by? What are the ramifications of not solving the problems you outlined?

Jeff: There are indeed a lot of challenges that sales leaders have to face, but consider this. Recent research by Accenture and CSO Insights uncovered that 93% of companies are closing less than 25% of forecast. This a problem that you really can’t ignore, and it’s rooted in the customer interaction gap I discussed before. The lack of understanding about where your prospects are in the buying cycle and how they are engaging with you, your team, and your content is what leads to you miss your number, lengthen sales cycles, and waste time.

For example, we have a customer that was immediately able to save each of their reps two to four hours a week by auto logging activity directly into their CRM system, as well as consolidate various tools that were not working for them – generating real cost savings for their team. The result is that they were able to hold more meetings with the most engaged prospects, resulting in an incremental $2.3M in contracted revenue. That’s real impact.

Nancy: What types of questions should Marketers ask to decide whether solving this problem should be a high priority?

Jeff: I see too many companies that have an adversarial relationship between Sales and Marketing. The reality is that both groups need to work together – it’s no longer optional. But, marketers need to ask themselves how effective their content actually is, and do you really know what’s working and what’s not. Let me give you a couple of stats that should really give you pause. The first – and this is from CSO Insights – is that 65% of content created by marketing for sales never gets used. The second is even more scary. According to Aberdeen Research, the average sales rep spends 440 hours each year searching for content. So as a Marketer, you should ask yourself:

  • Do I have good visibility into content usage and effectiveness?
  • Am I creating meaningful content that turns leads into customers
  • Do I have tools and data to measure content ROI?
  • Is content aligned to the sales stages?

Nancy: What types of questions should Sellers ask to decide whether solving this problem should be a high priority?

Jeff: One of the biggest challenges I still see Sales Leaders struggling with is forecast accuracy. Research shows that 70% of Sales Reps don’t validate customer interest during the selling process – this is what drives people like me crazy. A solution is to focus on engagement analytics versus activity levels. There is a strong correlation between buyer-seller engagement and likelihood of the deal to close.  I would encourage Sales Leaders to ask themselves:

  • Am I losing productivity due to inaccurate data?
  • Is my team wasting time on non-engaged prospects?
  • Can I measure how engaged a buyer is during the sales stages?
  • Are deals slipping because we’re not disqualifying opportunities early enough?

Nancy: This question is your choice. What do you want to answer that I didn’t ask?

Jeff: Something that you haven’t asked, but that I think is important to cover is why customers choose ClearSlide.  For me it boils down to four things:

  • Drive viral adoption. The feedback I hear most is that ClearSlide is easy to implement, and reps love to use it. With ClearSlide connected with Salesforce or Dynamics, we see a huge increase in CRM adoption that improves overall data quality and forecast accuracy. Additionally, the speed at which reps are able to see results makes a huge impact.
  • Invest in a single platform. The average sales rep today uses between 5-8 different tools each day. ClearSlide combines content, integrated communications, and analytics together into a single solution. Having an integrated system that can work within your existing sales processes, and that can guide sales reps through the selling cycle, is becoming a ‘must have’ for any organization.
  • Get actionable insights. Buyers are smarter and better informed than ever before, and requires that sellers be more strategic in their outreach. ClearSlide takes engagement analytics from sales activity and helps prioritize which prospects to interact with – allowing deals to progress faster and more effectively.
  • Leverage existing investments (e.g., Gmail, Outlook, Salesforce). ClearSlide helps improve CRM adoption and data quality, because it’s a solution reps love to use. It also works seamlessly with e-mail tools that your reps use every single day.

Nancy: What should people do next?

Jeff: We continue to hear from sales leaders that this is a tough economic environment. The sales landscape continues to change and the proliferation of data means that buyers are smarter than ever before. Leveraging a Sales Engagement Platform can greatly impact your business. Aragon Research recently published a new report on the digital sales called Digitize the Sales Force – Leverage Sales Engagement Platforms. You can download the report here.

Stop by and see ClearSlide in action at Dreamforce. We’ll be in booth 2025.

Or visit ClearSlide.com to learn more