Survey: Top 10 Reasons People Love Salesforce.com and Marc Benioff

On the eve of the week of Dreamforce ’14, the annual tradeshow of salesforce.com in San Francisco, we reached out to tens of thousands of customers of the cloud-based sales, service, marketing, and analytics platform and asked what they loved most about the company and the man behind the company, CEO Marc Benioff.

Trending to #4 Most Popular on Forbes and #5 Most Active Conversations

Here is what 280 respondents said were their Top 10 favorite things about the company offering:

1-    Ease of use – 16.1%
2-    Customizable – 12.0%
3-    Cloud based – 11.9%
4-    Reporting – 8.0 %
5-    Organizational capability – 6.9%
6-    Dashboards – 6.3%
7-    Integration options – 5.9%
8-    AppExchange ecosystem – 5.2%
9-    Pipeline management and forecasting – 2.7%
10- Continuous improvement – 1.9%

Other notable mentions were availability, innovation, mobile integration, lead management capabilities, and the fact that it was built by people who care about customers and know about sales.

The company itself was noted for culture, social responsibility, market leadership, unique community, and emphasis on client success.

Specific products mentioned often were Chatter, Data.com, the API, Pardot, and Work.com.

Only 6 people said they don’t like the Salesforce products.

Of those respondents who knew about Marc Benioff his Top 10 endearing qualities were:

1-    Visionary – 18.6%
2-    Philanthropist – 14.1%
3-    Leadership – 10.2%
4-    Innovation –7.3%
5-    Guts – 6.8%
6-    Focus on Client Success – 4.1%
7-    Public Speaking capability – 4.0%
8-    Cloud pioneer – 2.8%
9-    Smart – 2.8%
10- Energetic – 2.3%

Most notable after his visionary status were his philanthropic ventures which have set an example of a corporate giving-back model that Marc calls the Salesforce Foundation.

Marc Benioff and the Salesforce Foundation sponsoring The Concert for Kids featuring 2013 Billboard's Artist of the Year Bruno Mars benefitting the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals

His innovative 1/1/1 Model where the company donates 1% of time, equity, and product to integrate philanthropy into their business has influenced countless individuals and companies including our own InsideSales.com to ‘Take the 1/1/1 Pledge’ over the last 15 years.

He has plowed the deep snow in so many areas that matter.

The foundation website shares that they have given $68+ million in grants, 680,000 hours of community service, and donations to over 23,000 nonprofits. Stated causes include reduced poverty, more jobs, less hunger, better education, fewer homeless, cleaner planet, productive workplace, and more successful graduates.

His annual Concert for Kids is featuring Bruno Mars, 2013 Billboard’s Artist of the Year, on October 14th, at the City Hall and Civic Center Plaza to benefit the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals.

Marc was particularly hailed as a leader and innovative and courageous in taking on Larry Ellison of Oracle and for his emphasis on sharing what he had learned and gained to improve client success.

Noted just outside the Top 10 were his inspiration, relentless improvement, attitude, charisma, ability to execute, and the fact that he comes across as a real person.

Only 3 people had anything negative to say about Mr. Benioff.

His hair, shoes, and book Behind the Cloud were also recognized, as well as a call-out for getting his start as an inside sales representative years ago while still at Oracle and the fact that he used a telesales or inside sales model for the first 6 years to launch the Salesforce CRM to market leadership.

Several hashtags were highlighted like #DF14 and #RoadToDF14, and others were started including #WeLoveSalesforce, and #ThanksMarc.

With so much craziness leading up to Dreamforce 2014 it’s important to recognize that hundreds of people were willing to take time and share why they love Salesforce.com…

And to say…

Thanks Marc!

Author: Ken Krogue
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Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

6 Keys to Change Management: VitalSmarts Bestsellers ‘Influencer’ and ‘Change Anything’ Even Explain How to Lose Weight!

(This is an expanded version of the second article on managing change and business transformation… and weight loss! — Ken

Why is it so hard for companies and people to change?

My long time neighbor Ron McMillan recently co-wrote two amazing books on change: Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change, and most recently, Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success.

Ron helped found Vitalsmarts and he and three other colleagues are probably most known for writing the New York Times landmark bestsellers as Crucial Conversations and Crucial Accountability. Ron was unavailable for an interview but his co-author David Maxfield joined me for half an hour on the topic of change management for companies and individuals.

I was sitting on my phone, taking notes in Evernote at a table at Roxberry, drinking a green smoothie to lose weight as I listened to David.

I had already heard he and his colleagues speak several times on these critical topics at BYU Education week every August.

The book Influencer is already on it’s second edition and is currently ranked in the Top 20 on Amazon in three categories.

Influencer stresses the importance of leadership in helping others change.

Change Anything is about changing yourself.

I asked David, “Why did Vitalsmarts choose the topics of change leadership and changing oneself?”

David responded, “Because change management isn’t working.”

“The Standish Group says 9 out of 10 large scale IT engagements don’t deliver on time, within budget, or to the specs that were promised.”

“At the more mundane personal level, we spend $2 billion a year on diets, but 19 of 20 people lost nothing but their money. Stanford studied the top 3 diets available and found that they all work… if you stick with them. But almost nobody does. We can’t live up to the change commitments we make.”

I said, “Wait, don’t call weight loss mundane! I represent that remark!” I at least lost 13 pounds on my last very expensive dietary adventure.

I go on, “So let’s attack both directions; how to change an organization and weight loss. Every day we have leaders in companies come to us to help them change their technology, but they don’t want to change their behavior or their culture. They’ve been working under the traditional sales model for decades. They have salespeople going face-to-face all over the country. They are faced with competitors who are generating web leads and inside sales people on the phone and they are getting hammered. They pull me aside privately and admit they don’t have the skills to actually change.”

I continue, “They buy salesforce.com, they hire sales trainers. They try to get marketing to stop worrying about un-trackable advertising and branding and start generating web leads, but nobody wants to change. They can’t get the reps to make the calls, to use the CRM, to follow the skills training. They can’t get marketing to focus on all that matters… leads!”

He laughs. “There are two forces at play here. Those things like technology, tools, and skills are above the water line. You can see them. But then there is everything below the water line: The cultural norms, what people do, the internal politics, the things you have to do to get things done. Change stops when it hits the iceberg below the waterline.”

“Here’s an example,” he continues, “Hospitals in the US are all trying to get 100% hand hygiene. There are 100,000 deaths a year in the US alone because people don’t wash their hands enough in hospitals. We stress what we call 200% accountability; for you, and for everyone else.”

“If you are a housekeeper cleaning the window, you wash your hands. And you better speak up to the surgeon who hasn’t washed her hands who walks in the room with the patient.  But that is hard, very stressful. That is countercultural. Housekeepers don’t speak to surgeons, nurses don’t even speak to surgeons.”

“Unless you change that norm you don’t get hand hygiene. Putting up posters doesn’t work. But if you can change this one thing, you change all other areas of patient safety and cost control because you address personal factors, social factors and the environmental factors of change.”

I joked about drinking my Roxberry and my own crazy cycle of weight loss in a high stress environment. I asked David next, “So tell me about these six sources of influence.”

He responded excitedly, “Before the six sources of influence you ask two questions: Can I change? And, will it be worth it?”

He goes on, “Then you dive into personal motivation and ability, whether others around you enable or disable you, whether there is a system of incentive and if your environment makes it easy to do the right stuff, or tempting to do the wrong stuff.”

From his book, “Influencers do three things better than others. They are clearer about the results they want to achieve and how they will measure them. They focus on a small number of vital behaviors that will help them achieve those results. They overdetermine change by amassing six sources of influence that both motivate and enable the vital behaviors.”

The Influencer teaches how to master six sources of influence from psychology, social psychology, and organizational theory:

Personal

1-    Personal Motivation: Help Them Love What they Hate. Work to connect vital behaviors to intrinsic motives.
2-    Personal Ability: Help Them Do What They Can’t. Build personal ability to do behaviors through deliberate practice.

Social

3-    Social Motivation: Provide Encouragement.
4-    Social Ability: Provide Assistance

Organizational

5-    Structural Motivation: Change Their Economy. Attach appropriate incentives or sanctions to motivate people to pick up or stop vital behaviors.
6-    Structural Ability: Change Their Space. Things such as systems, process, reporting structures, visual cues, work layouts, tools, supplies, and machinery support vital behaviors.

Combining all six of these sources of influence help an Influencer overdetermine change.

I ask, “So tell me about your newest book, Change Anything.”

He responds, “We challenge you to escape the willpower trap and evolve a plan that works perfectly for your subject: you.”

He goes on, “When people can’t change, it’s rarely because they lack the will. They are blind and outnumbered: They’re blind to all but 1 or 2 of the 6 sources of influence… and there are far more sources under the waterline working against them than there sources acting for them.”

“People who see and use all six sources of influence are 10 times more likely to change and create change.”

“We all think we have the power to change just through our force of will. We know we should change. We want to change. But we don’t change!”

“That calls into question the belief that we actually do have power to change on our own. We call it agency.”

“The numbers say we don’t have as much as we think we do!” I pipe up.

He continues, “In the book we quote research that shows: 85% of efforts to drive new behavior in organizations fail. 87% of employees have suffered economically because they didn’t change. Only 1 in 5 American adults are financially prepared. Only 1 of 10 couples in marriage counseling actually stay together. 90% of those getting coronary bypass surgery are back to the same behavior within 2 years.”

Then his tempo increased, “4 years ago we studied 5000 people who tried to change. 4400 failed. 600 succeeded. How much more successful were the 600? As I said, they were 10x more likely to change. Why? They did 6 things better.”

He lists them, so I number them:

  1. They learn to love what they hate.
  2. They learn skills to do that they couldn’t.
  3. They recruit accomplices to help them change.
  4. They remove the accomplices that stop them from change.
  5. They use or lose incentives to help them change.
  6. They control their space, their surroundings, to make it easier to change.”

“They focus on the 6 sources of influence, 6 levers they can pull, rather than endlessly tugging on willpower alone.”

So I stop him, “So where do you begin? How does a business leader start?”

He responds, “Ask first… is the problem worth solving?”

He laughs, “My dad always said, ‘If something’s not worth doing at all, it’s certainly not worth doing well!’ So build a business case. In the hospital example we call it a clinical case. Is it worth it? Or more important, what happens if you don’t change?”

“Ouch!” I say, “I better stick with my green smoothies! So teach me to lose weight, what would you tell me to do?”

He eagerly responds, “Start with what we know. Calories. Eat right and exercise. Track progress. If you are normal you will encounter setbacks. Instead of being frustrated, turn a bad day into good data. You are a scientist. What were the ingredients of the setback?”

“Let’s say you stop at Starbucks, you are late for  a plane, you order a beverage with 3000 calories. Then later you say, Dang! That was a horrible thing to do for my diet. What was I saying to myself? I skipped lunch. I’ve been standing all morning, I deserve it. I’m worn out, I’m tired.”

“Should I say something else to myself?

“Identify crucial moments when I fail. The 6 sources come in when I light up an exercise strategy. Are there obstacles that I can turn into advantages. My plan is to run an hour for 3 days a week. Personal motivation. What do I dislike most? The place I run. Indoors? Go outdoors.”

“Do I love music playing? Download your favorite songs to your iPhone 5s. Get a carrying case to strap on your upper arm. Maybe there are a new pair of shoes to make it more pleasant.”

“That us Personal motivation.”

“Personal Ability? Learn more about running groups. Learn a new exercise for when it’s raining or my knees are sore.”

“Social motivation. Partner to run with, email a partner when you run. Have them email you also.”

“Social ability side. Maybe I need to work with my spouse to free up time with me in the morning, she fills in, then I help her out in another time…”

“Structural. Incentives work. If I can find short term rewards for myself it makes a big deal. Also, put skin in the game. Put something at risk.”

“My neighbor is on the Olympic Nordic combined team. His coach asked him to lose 10 pounds. Strict diet. Weigh food. Exercise. He decided to put a pile of $20 bills on the mantle. Every Friday his wife and daughter would evaluate whether he did good. They would so something fun or burn the $20 bill in the fireplace. Yale expert Dean Carlin studied that and found it is very effective.”

“Structural Ability. How about a heart monitor. New shoes. Identify more trails. Moving to a location on a trail. That is changing your environment to help you succeed.”

I interject, “So I’m stacking the deck every possible way for my success! Where does building a predefined plan fit in?”

He responds, “It would fit into defining Vital Behaviors. We often map out a plan, it really starts getting meaty when you get setbacks. Here is a crucial moment when you combine 6 sources of behavior.

“Who is the german general said there is no war plan that withstood the first battle? You have to extemporize. It was often cited by Henry Kissinger.”

“No plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force.” – Helmuth von Moltke the Elder

I’ll try and find the quote. With the interview coming to a close, I ask, “Of the 6 variables, which is the one they don’t do? And what are the easy ones?”

He chuckles, “Couple of different answers. Easy answer, people are different. That is a copout. I was working with the leader of an addiction center. He said he  can put all sources in place for a Hollywood starlet, but they have to want to change.” Personal motivation is first. Agency, or what little they have.

He went on, “The ones they underplay the most is the social support. Adding a social element, getting a partner. Many times the people you think of as friends, are accomplices. They enable or discourage the wrong stuff. Your friends won’t tell you to lose weight, if you give them permission they will help you. If you don’t, they won’t.”

It finally dawns on me, “So I guess I get my friends involved, especially my wife Crystal. So what’s first, how to get started? Where do you begin?”

David concludes, “Is it worth it? What is your default future? If you don’t lose the weight, what will happen? Where do you want to be? Can you visit it and make it tangible?”

I start thinking that it’s hard to lose weight. But it’s also hard living life without losing weight. Which life do I want?

“Ok,” I respond, “I’m in.”

Long interview, breakfast is over. I order another green smoothie for lunch. 132 calories, light and lean. Fresh Pineapple, celery, other green stuff.  I wonder if I can do the same for dinner.

Time to change.

Author: Ken Krogue | Follow me on Google+
Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

Cloud Computing, Predictive Dialers, Gamification, and How We Got the Name InsideSales.com

This is section 2 of The Story of InsideSales.com

CLOUD COMPUTING AND TELEPHONY

One of the very first things we did after we started InsideSales.com and built out our technology was that we calculated how much it would cost a company to purchase this technology in-house, it came to nearly $650,000; we offered it for rent for $135 a seat plus 2 cents per minute. We handled all the headaches and hassles of security, maintenance, upgrades, and uptime. We brought enterprise class technology to any size business without an enterprise-size IT staff. We soon found that IT loved to wash their hands of those pesky salespeople and turned it over to us who do it for a living so they could focus on the core of what they do for a living.

In 2004 we partnered with my old company inContact but they had their business to run which focused more on inbound call centers rather than sales, so we decided to build everything we needed from the ground up. Dave had Thomas Purdy and Rob Christensen who pioneered a rapid application development platform that completely blew my mind. We got projects done in days and weeks, not the months and years I had seen it take at my previous companies. I would come up with an idea and Dave would have it in production in a couple of weeks. Within six months the whole platform was working.

Tom Pilkington, the VP of Sales at PeopleWise, a subsidiary of LexisNexis that was our Founding Case Study.

Tom Pilkington, the VP of Sales at PeopleWise, a subsidiary of LexisNexis that was our Founding Case Study.

We showed it to 5 companies, 3 of them bought it, 1 was PeopleWise, a subsidiary of LexisNexis.

Dave and I both agreed on a few main things, we hated telemarketing, and we loved the Salesforce.com model.

 

PREDICTIVE DIALERS

Telemarketing used a 30-year-old technology called predictive dialers. Aggressive marketers abused it so bad the FCC had to dramatically limit it’s use and we wanted no part of it. You know, it’s that call you get at dinner time with a pause, click, and voice comes on and says, “Please wait for the next available representative”, and you think, “Wait a minute, you called me!” It’s that call where you have to say “No!” seven times before they let you hang up.

It’s why Do Not Call was implemented. As I mentioned, “Tele” was and still is a four-letter word.

We decided to take a different approach.

We wanted to call businesses.

There was no dialer technology at all for for B2B.

We wanted B2B and large ticket B2C only, no telemarketing.

So instead of using the brute force predictive technology that predicts how many calls to make at a time in hopes of getting a live answer to route to a rep, and hanging up on anyone else who happens to answer, we decided to use a more elegant Power Dialer strategy that puts the salesperson in charge of the experience, and moves the Predictive Analytics into the database. We called it Predictive 2.0.

Then we would build all kinds of little “power tools” we called them, to leverage everything they did.  Our favorite was a voice messaging tool where a salesperson could record their own voice in a library of messages for every situation, and when they got to an answering machine, they would wait until the “Please leave a message at the tone” and with a single click of a button, leave their 30 second message and already be on to the 2nd or 3rd call before it even finished. And the person at the other end didn’t realize it wasn’t the salesperson who took the time to leave them a message.

Dave and I firmly believed we could build a whole new kind of experience that didn’t burn out salespeople or their prospects.

 

Chuck Coonradt was the author of The Game of Work that dramatically affect Dave Elkington and I when we started InsideSales.com.

Chuck Coonradt was the author of The Game of Work that dramatically affect Dave Elkington and I when we started InsideSales.com.

GAMIFICATION

We also decided that we loved the Inside Sales way of life: Work hard, play hard.

Put in a good day, then go home and have a life. It fit who we were, and all the Millennial’s who we were hiring. Dave and I love a book called The Game of Work. It was the story of Charles Coonradt, who consulting with companies to increase their productivity and employee morale. He noticed that the same employees who plodded their way through the day at work, would all scramble out to the parking lot during lunch hour and put their heart and soul into winning a pickup basketball game where they didn’t earn a dime. Then come back to work and trudge through the end of their day.

I had done some research while at Franklin where we were trying to find what made our best performers. I had interviewed nearly 400 people and had 70 great performers: A background in athletic achievement. Great athletes turned into great salespeople. I think it is the practice, the repetitions, keeping score, watching the numbers.

So from the very beginning we tried to use these principles to Gamify our software solution. We tried to give the data to the salespeople long before the Gamification craze came into being in 2010. We started with the Athletic model from the Game of Work, and folded in the Game Mechanics model when we realized every Millennial on the planet grew up playing Mario Cart, Starcraft and World of Warcraft.

Charles made quite an impact on our company! I recently wrote a Forbes article calling him the Grandfather of Gamification.

 

One of the original logos of InsideSales.com

One of the original logos of InsideSales.com

INSIDE SALES

We needed a name.

I told Dave that the best possible name would be the name of the web category we were creating… InsideSales.com. We tracked down the guy who owned it, he first wanted over six figures. Dave put his negotiating chinese water torture techniques to work and the guy called us back right before Christmas and said, “I need $3000 today, if you can get it to me, it’s yours.”

We went out to Google and typed in “Inside Sales” and there wasn’t a single ad, it was blue ocean.

There were 40,000 companies in a row trying to hire professional inside sales people, we knew there was a serious trend building. The 1st week of January in 2005 we brought up the website and got 8 leads the very first day. Today we get 750 inquiries a day. We had built the ultimate cold calling technology, but never made a single cold call the first several years of the company, we were to busy responding to leads from the web.

Inside Sales was already a profession, but it wasn’t an industry. People like Trish Bertuzzi, Anneke Seley, Art Sobczak and many other notables had already spent years solidifying the inside sales profession.

Bob Perkins is the original founder of The American Association of Inside Sale Professionals that helped make Inside Sales and industry

Bob Perkins is the original founder of The American Association of Inside Sale Professionals that helped make Inside Sales and industry

There were people making cars by hand before Henry Ford built his assembly line and put a conveyor belt on it. But he built the profession into an industry and built the American middle class.

Our strategy was to help form an industry out of what was still perceived only recently as a 2nd class department that was taking the scraps off the table from the old timer field salespeople who had been in power for 100 years.

We saw change coming. We didn’t know that the crash of the economy in 2008 would be the biggest catalyst for change of all.

Larry Reeves is CEO of The American Association of Inside Sale Professionals that helped make Inside Sales and industry

Larry Reeves is CEO of The American Association of Inside Sale Professionals that helped make Inside Sales and industry

A few years later we got fully behind Bob Perkins and Larry Reeves, the founders of The American Association of Inside Sales Professionals. Their isn’t anyone with more passion and care.

We believed if there was a trade association, inside sales was an industry.

We had no idea.

***

Author: Ken Krogue | Follow me on Google+
Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

 

Go back to read Section 1 of: The Story of InsideSales.com

 

 

 

Dave Elkington, Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com, Philosophy, Hyper Growth, and Shrimp Tacos

The first company picture of Dave Elkington in August of 2005.  No grey hair at all!

The first company picture of Dave Elkington in August of 2005.
No grey hair at all!

Dave Elkington and I met early in 2004.

He had graduated from BYU with a degree in Philosophy and had already been working at Deutche Bank Alex Brown, an investment bank and a venture capital firm through the dot com era. He had a strong sense that web software, and especially software-as-a-service was a huge opportunity. He had tasted a small win or two and had dipped his toes in the entrepreneurial stream with an early Bluetooth company. He went through the dot com crash and saw the future of internet-based companies but knew they would need to have a strong financial model.

We often would laugh at companies with great ideas but no way to monetize them.

He wanted to start his own company in that space but wanted to grow it out of revenues, so he went back to BYU and started a graduate degree in computer science. He had already seen ignorant founders of companies who didn’t understand enough of the technologies who couldn’t guide the outcomes of their IT staffs and who sold their souls too early to raise money and then had new bosses before they even hit critical mass.

While doing this he started a web development company and began doing all kinds of projects as he zeroed in on what he wanted to focus on.

Marc Benioff started salesforce.com with Inside Sales during the First 6 Years

Marc Benioff started salesforce.com with Inside Sales during the First 6 Years and pioneered the world of SaaS software for the rest of us. – (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

He knew he wanted to use machine learning, artificial intelligence, and what he called “set theory” to do things that had never been done before in business. He had seen many companies’ come and go and was especially watching Marc Benioff plow the deep snow in application service provider platforms (ASP) just when the phrase Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) was being tossed around from the waves being made by saleforce.com.

 

PHILOSOPHY

Dave would talk about his philosophy degree and how it had taught him to think. That was one of the strongest things we both held in common; philosophy, and how to think. I was amazed out differently we thought, but we agreed on many common areas. Though we disagreed strongly on others. Dave believes strongly in what he calls “pragmatic relativism,” he has some pretty compelling arguments and has almost convinced me… almost. 🙂

He and I have warmly debated that topic from about the first few days we met each other. I believe much more strongly in universals principles and laws; I worked under the guidance of Hyrum Smith and Stephen R. Covey during my days at FranklinCovey, and my philosophic mentor had been Dr. Chauncey Riddle since I was just out of college. I had moved my family to Provo, Utah, and audited his last BYU class; the only class I ever took without getting a grade. I remember I felt my brain hurting from the rigorous Socratic method and System Thinking and strategic methodologies he shared. I regard it as more valuable than everything I studied at the University of Utah and the Naval Academy combined to help me be successful as an entrepreneur.

It was from this that I distilled the Systems Model we use:

Analyze > Design > Implement > Evaluate.

Or in one word: Test.

Dr. Riddle challenged me to learn how to think, not just what to think and when to think.

Dave had gone through a similar level of rigor and the two thoughtful backgrounds combined to make very animated discussions. We found when we could both engage we would distill things down to almost their very essence and spent many late nights doing just that.

 

HYPER GROWTH

I had gone to the Naval Academy and when we started this company in 2004 I had already been in the world of sales and marketing for 16 years, I had pioneered the use of inside sales at Franklin Day Planners when they were the 2nd fastest growing company in the US. My plans had abruptly changed from being a Naval Aviator and flying the space shuttle to pioneering professional sales over the phone and through the web. I had learned through sad experience that hyper growth was a unique animal all it’s own. We would set appointments and invite training directors at 115,000 companies with 100 employees or more to see a Franklin seminar and turn it over to the field sales teams. Then we started proving we could close them ourselves.

Our department was gaining the nickname “Telesales,” but I recoiled at anything with the phrase “tele” in it. To me it was a four letter word. We coined the phrase “Inside Sales” which was just beginning to be used.

I told them I would stay 5 years or until we did a million dollars in a single month. I knew I had a long way to go, when my first month sales was just over $27k. I told them we would use college kids on the phone for 60k to sell what their 300k salespeople would sell. We started with six phone reps transferred out of the call center on old furniture out of the warehouse. I researched to see what new outside sales Account Executives would close in the first six months…

We beat it by 127% at a small fraction of the cost.

They closed at two to three times better ratios, but we made seven to eight times more contacts. Sales was a numbers game, and still is.

We made a ton of the old timer outside sales people very mad at us. They first tried to crush us, then control us, then cooperate with us. It was so stressful I would wake up in the mornings with what seemed like little pieces of rock in my mouth; the edges of my own teeth. But much of the problem was me, I needed to grow up and so did my people.

We were dialing by hand but still doing great. Franklin struggled so badly with technology at the time they actually made us dial a 10-digit account code in the phone system after every phone call to track and charge us for any personal calls. It was a policy of the accounting or “sales prevention” department and it drove me nuts. I initially wanted a dialer technology just to store that dang account code under a single button, but I remembered my earlier days at Quota Marketing Centers where we invented one of the very first “power dialer” technologies as we generated leads for Toshiba copy machine dealers all over the country.

I had all kinds of ideas to leverage inside sales, but no technology, just a big leather book. I would go to lunch with Mike Shelton, the Telecom Director at Franklin and we would brainstorm new ways to save time. Next thing I know, he had left the company with some developers and built many of the very things we had talked about. He sold it for millions of dollars; I never got my dialers.

I left Franklin four years later to the day when we did our Million Dollar Month. I left with my dear friend Paul Jarman, who was one of my first two sales reps at Franklin to start what became a long distance company. After being there about 5 years I went to a meeting one day to buy another company and there was my old telecom guy from Franklin seated across the table. He had already sold his first company and was working on rewriting the same code to be the first call center technology in the cloud. He wanted to launch the first SaaS telephony company.

He did.

We saw the possibilities and a year later we bought his 2nd company and eventually changed the company to what is now inContact, the top inbound SaaS contact center company in the world. But I hated inbound, I loved going outbound; causing sales… not catching them.

Talk about destiny, now we owned the very technology I had sketched on napkins in the Franklin cafeteria. Within weeks I started pulling together the single most powerful inside sales technology ever invented. The problem was we didn’t have a way to handle all of the leads. We tried embedding the dialer technology into Act!, then Goldmine, but it took them right to their knees. I had a consultant helping me and he called me and said I needed to go to Springville, Utah and meet Dave Elkington, who had just finished a massive lead management database in the cloud.

Dave Elkington and I first went to lunch at Bajios in 2004 when we decided to launch the project that is now InsideSales.com

Dave Elkington and I first went to lunch at Bajios in 2004 when we decided to launch the project that is now InsideSales.com

I called and we went to lunch at Bajios, we had shrimp tacos and horchata.

We soon realized he had the database technology, the drive, the financial expertise, a crushing discipline, and an ability to execute with charisma like nobody I had ever seen before. I had the dialer technology, the strategy, a clear vision for the future of inside sales, and way of buffering to hold it all together.

We soon decided to build the world’s first customer database with built-in dialer tools in the cloud (though the phrase ‘cloud’ hadn’t been used yet.) The database had the qualitative data, the call center tools had the quantitative tools and we had a feeling that the two together would open up a whole new world by letting us see things in a new light… the light of data.

Dave and I both knew this synergy of predictive analytics, big data, and artificial intelligence would change sales and marketing forever.

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Author: Ken Krogue | Follow me on Google+
Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

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