This post is part of a series of Executive Interviews of top sales and marketing solutions company. We ask the same questions of every executive so readers can learn about their unique positioning  and their vision for the industry. 

ROinnovation Jim Mooney

This week I interview Jim Mooney, CEO of RO|Innovation.

Nancy: What does RO|Innovation do? What problem/s are you solving for sales and/or marketing organizations?

Jim: RO|Innovation brings the Voice of the Customer front-and-center through intuitive, easy-to-use, cloud-based sales and marketing solutions that drive revenue for B2B organizations. Our SaaS business applications enable companies to accelerate sales cycles, increase close rates, increase sales efficiencies and “bridge the gap” between sales and marketing.

Research has shown the average sales rep actually only spends 35% of their day actively selling to prospects. The rest of their time is spent doing admin activities, searching for “stuff” to send to their prospects, or creating their own marketing materials to send. We are helping sales reps increase their efficiency so they can spend more time actively selling and drive revenue. In particular, RO’s sales enablement solutions help reps send the right information – whether it’s a case study, white paper, setting up a customer reference call, internal battle card or other – to the right buyer at the right time in their B2B sales cycle, while giving them valuable real-time prospect engagement insights to know when to follow up, what to say, and how to drive the sale forward faster.

At the same time, we’re helping marketers and customer advocacy departments centralize assets for sales rep use and report which of those assets had actual impact on sales cycles to determine ROI and drive smarter marketing spend.

Nancy: How does your solution uniquely address the problem (or in what way do other solutions fall short from solving the problem)?

Jim: In B2B sales, trust is a massive accelerator to reducing the sales cycles. In the past, enterprises used marketing, events and branding to create awareness, build affinity, and increase confidence. However, customer success stories and references are critical for closing new business. The problem was, enterprises were unable to scale and leverage success stories and references to the level they needed – especially as the number and types of decision makers involved in the buying process increased.

RO’s solutions are built around the premise of featuring the #1 accelerator to trust – happy customers – and ensure customer proof points are easily scalable, accessible, present and aligned with each stage of the buyer’s journey. This in turn helps accelerate sales cycles and helps increase close rates.

Nancy: What’s the most important thing that today’s business decision-makers should look for (or ask, or consider, or solve)?

Jim:  The number one thing decision makers should ask themselves is: “Will having this solution help drive revenue for my business?” Decision makers should be asking solution providers how much and how they’ve impacted their customer’s businesses – and be talking to those customers first hand. If the vendor can’t share that with confidence, they’re probably not the right vendor to help you meet your future goals.

Nancy: What are you most excited about for the next 12 months?

Jim: I’m excited about being a player in the sales enablement space. Because sales enablement is still evolving, it’ll be exciting to watch how the marketplace changes and how vendors respond to the real business challenges B2B organizations are facing in sales and marketing. We believe our unique value proposition of being able to leverage the voice of the customer will resonate.

Nancy: What do you think is the biggest underlying theme or trend for sellers and/or marketers in 2014?

Jim: I believe the biggest underlying trend for both sellers and marketers in the next year will be embracing your customer base. Sellers and Marketers will need to work to create a better understanding of who their best customers are, who the company’s advocates are and activate them in a way that impacts the sales and marketing funnel.  I’m sure you’ve heard the stat before, but since something like 70% of the buyer’s decision is made before they contact a sales rep, having customer advocates in your sales and marketing arsenal is going to be more critical than ever.

Plus, buyers today trust the experience of their peers over that of a vendor. Research has shown that the #1 way B2B buyers make their decisions is first through their own experiences, but their #2 information source during the decision process is their peers. To that end, 84% of decision makers begin their buying process with a referral (Source: Edelman Trust Barometer), which means you better have happy customers willing to share your name when a peer initially reaches out to them. It also means by the time that buyer does contact you, you better be darn sure you’re building trust and influencing their decision with the right testimonials and proof points from their peers at the right time; else risk losing the deal all together.

Nancy: What would you challenge sellers and/or marketers to think about for 2014? 

Jim: With the shifting B2B buyer landscape, I’d challenge sellers and marketers to sit down at the table and really strategize how they’re “bridging the gap” between their departments. Is marketing creating content that sales isn’t using or doesn’t really find valuable? Is sales constantly calling upon their “pocket references” (and burning out relationships) or spending too much time looking for stuff because it’s in too many places, and thus not spending that time in conversations with buyers? Can marketing really tie a hard ROI to assets they’re producing to support the sales cycle? Is sales doing a good job of really differentiating their solution and building buyer trust? These are all questions today’s marketers and sellers are wrestling with. They’re hard questions to answer sometimes. Just know there are tools out there to solve these problems – so it’s not worth losing sleep over!

Note: To learn more about RO|Innovation, watch a webinar replay of “Valuable Message Development and Delivery in the Context of Sales Enablement”  with featured guests from Forrester Research, Intel, and VMWare, or visit www.ROinnovation.com.