In this series, we ask Sales Tech Executives to describe how their solution can change a sales organization in a significant way. We call it Sales Tech Game Changers.

This week I interview Ian Levine, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of RO Innovation.

Why You Should Incorporate Customer Advocacy in Your Sales Cycle

Nancy: What are the top 3 ways your solution changes the game for a sales organization?

Ian: Today’s B2B buyers trust the opinions and advice of their peers above that of any salesperson or marketer. They trust the authentic testimony of someone who’s “been there, done that, and thrived,” which is why more companies are incorporating customer advocacy into every stage of the buying cycle. RO Innovation’s platform changes the game by:

  1. Activating customer advocacy end-to end in sales cycles. This has been proven to help accelerate the sales process and close more business. A 2017 study by LinkedIn said “Trust” is the number one factor in purchase decisions.
  2. Matching CRM opportunity record information to available references and content to “spoon feed” the best, most relevant assets (whether ‘live’ reference calls or ‘static’ like a written case study) for salespeople to utilize when and where they need them.
  3. RO Innovation’s prescriptive selling Quick Plays module helps new sales people ramp up faster and disseminate tribal knowledge of top sellers at scale.

Nancy: What are the top 5 things your solution allows salespeople to do better, or faster than they can today?

Ian: Although it was originally built to activate and leverage a company’s best customer advocacy assets, the RO Innovation platform was designed with sales enablement in mind, so salespeople can spend less time on non-selling activities and more time closing deals.

  1. No database searching or guessing. The system recommends customer references and sales content based on opportunity record data.
  2. The ability to search customer advocate testimonials and content to help drive sales cycles.
  3. Create company branded microsites to send to prospects that then provide sales instant sales intelligence on buyer committee asset consumption and engagement levels for smarter follow up conversations.
  4. CRM Opportunity record tabs that put Content, Playbooks, Messaging Guides, and Training material at sales reps’ finger tips with one click
  5. Dynamic mobile experience for pre-meeting and post-meeting support. Search for assets via mobile interface and have the ability to send assets directly from your phone in a highly intuitive, user-friendly interface.

Nancy: Describe the first 30 days after a company purchases your solution.

Ian: It may be the world’s largest customer advocacy management platform, but the RO system is highly configurable for sales and marketing workflows. To make sure it’s optimized for your company’s needs and strategic goals, the RO team will provide a few homework items for your sales and marketing departments to think through, followed by an on-site work session to discuss configuration for your specific processes. We’ve been doing this for 15 years with all shapes and sizes of companies, so RO shares best practices and success strategies from peers like you. After the on-site session, the RO team configures the system for an administrator roll out prior to opening it up to the whole user base. After Go Live, the RO customer success team steps in to help your team with end user adoption, engagement metrics, optimizing dashboards to measure desired outcomes, and continual sharing of best practices documentation, peer networking, and events.

Nancy: How have companies determined the ROI of your solution?

Ian: The RO system has a ton of reporting functionality, making it easy for companies to track data to determine ROI. Since every company seems to measure ROI differently, we’ve accounted for that and given our customers the freedom to determine that accordingly. The RO system measures a plethora of proven metrics such as:

  • Revenue influenced by advocacy and content. Our clients are often blown away when they see how customer references have helped them close hundreds of millions in new business!
  • Track customer advocacy and content efficacy on win, loss, and no decision situations.
  • New channel ramp up time cut in half.
  • New sales rep ramp up time cut in half.
  • There is also an ROI exercise that compares the cost of attempting to do what our system does and comparing that to doing the same thing manually, with apps or home grown solutions. Typically, our clients find the latter costs 3-4 times more with less efficiency.
  • The RO Quarterly Business Review process is in place to make sure our customers are achieving the strategic outcomes they are seeking.

Nancy: What should companies do to ensure success of your solution?

Ian: Our clients share best practices through our quarterly business reviews, user group calls, and the RO Elevate Customer Summit (RO customer best practices conference). In addition, several keys to the success are: strong executive sponsorship, cross-divisional understanding of the system and its functions/goals (including integration into the sales/marketing/customer success tech stack), and aligning different stakeholder goals with specific metrics reports that impact their role.

Nancy: What are some good resources if someone wanted to learn what questions to ask, what others are doing, and purchase considerations?

Ian: The RO website is loaded with helpful resources. However, for those just starting the research process, these would be the top few I’d recommend:

Nancy: Who benefits most from your solution?

Ian: Our client base tends to be mid-market and enterprise-class companies, although anyone that regularly uses customer references, testimonials, any form of customer advocacy, or frankly, anyone who sends any form of content in sales cycles can benefit. We have found the value and ROI of the solution goes up as the size of the salesforce grows, and that a logical entry point for needing our solution is once a company exceeds 40 salespeople. We’ve seen the strongest demand for our solution is with high-technology companies, but we do have healthcare, financial services and professional services clients.

Nancy: Why are sellers more successful when customer advocacy is incorporated in the sales process?

Ian: There’s a cultural shift in the way B2B customers make purchase decisions. More than ever before, with social media, public review sites, and the Internet giving people unprecedented access to information and opinions, buyers’ B2C purchasing habits are starting to blend into the way they make B2B purchases as well. With this much access, buyers are tuning sellers out. They are more skeptical of sales content and have lower trust levels in the messages from salespeople. When Sellers integrate customer success stories, customer advocacy, and customer references from peers that look, talk, and act just like the buyer in their sales process, it mimics this natural buyer shift and builds trust faster to keep deals moving forward much quicker, and often, for larger revenue.