This post is part of a series of Executive Interviews of top sales and marketing solutions company executives. We ask the same questions of every executive so readers can learn about their unique positioning and their vision for the industry.
This week I interview Al Lieb, CEO of ClearSlide.
Nancy: What does ClearSlide do? What problem/s are you solving for sales and/or marketing organizations?
Al: ClearSlide is an enterprise SaaS platform that enables sales and marketing teams to better engage with their customers. We focus on driving sales productivity – helping salespeople and managers to be more effective when communicating their message in-person, over the phone, or via email.
Sales and marketing teams start by uploading sales collateral to ClearSlide in a variety of formats. They can then deliver this message to the customer using our platform, which we have fine-tuned for the needs of sales teams. ClearSlide also collects detailed analytics about how customers interact with the content. For sales leaders, the insights we deliver help them to optimize and refine their approach to coaching so they can improve their team’s tactics in a fast, iterative way. In essence, we’re bringing science to the art of selling.
Nancy: How does your solution uniquely address the problem (or in what way do other solutions fall short from solving the problem)?
Al: Traditionally, there has been a divide between sales-focused solutions that don’t really focus on communications and communications products that aren’t focused on sales. That’s what is unique about ClearSlide – we do both.
We got feedback from tens of thousands of sales teams on their pain points and built ClearSlide to solve them. Our fully integrated platform includes everything from content management to phone-based, email, and in-person presenting, and allows data collection across everything. We integrated solutions that hadn’t traditionally been well integrated before, because we started from a customer-first perspective. The breadth of our solution is unique as well as our core focus on helping sales organizations communicate in a way that’s most useful for their sales processes..
Nancy: What’s the most important thing that today’s business decision-makers should look for (or ask, or consider, or solve)?
Al: The biggest question today’s business decision-makers should ask themselves is – do we really understand our customers? Are we able to adapt to their needs and how they want to buy from us? The nature of sales is changing – in times past, more purchase decisions were driven exclusively from the top down within a structured purchasing process. Today, more companies rely on a networked approach. There are many more influencers in the decision – everyone from staff level employees to management, and they each have different perspectives.
Decision makers have to be able to use more flexible, responsive, and iterative approaches, which are able to react quickly to feedback coming from customers, and then react accordingly, faster than their competition.
Nancy: What are you most excited about for the next 12 months?
Al: I’m excited about the development of how companies are utilizing data and analytics – I think that when you take new sources of data and apply it to business problems in ways that haven’t been thought of before, you’ll drive tremendous value. Meaningful data can help improve and change how you sell and how you refine products and services.
Additionally, advancements in hardware devices, especially mobile devices, are also changing rapidly. New technologies open up interesting applications and use cases that weren’t possible before.
Nancy: What do you think is the biggest underlying theme or trend for sellers and/or marketers in the next 12 months?
Al: There is a new focus on driving sales effectiveness. Historically, sales tools didn’t directly impact sales processes. For example, tools that focus on territory management, tracking commission payments, etc. are back-office tracking and reporting solutions. Those things aren’t making salespeople more productive; they are not changing the way people sell. That is all changing, as sales teams have to adapt to be faster and more nimble.
Also, the technology is become more accessible. Enterprise systems used to be big, bulky, and hard to use – so sales people avoided them as much as possible. Now, services are based on modern consumer-type solutions – web & mobile solutions developed with user-centric design processes. These things mean that sales people actually want to use them since they are easy-to-use and deliver immediate benefits.
Nancy: What would you challenge sellers and/or marketers to think about for the near term?
Al: I would challenge sales to rethink traditional forecasting models. I’ve seen sales leaders often get too comfortable with their traditional manual forecasting models and become resistant to change. With the latest set of data sources that are becoming available, leaders can start to use much more sophisticated, science-based forecasting methods. Not only does this make forecasting more accurate, but it creates opportunities to increase sales, by identifying over- or under-forecasted opportunities.
Note: To learn more about ClearSlide, watch their overview video.