The Potential for Much Needed Marketing Software Innovation
The marketing automation software space is getting pretty crowded. And notwithstanding the fact that the technology offers a tremendous demand gen opportunity to acquire more leads for the top of the funnel and potentially increase revenue cycle velocity, the category is in need of innovation.
If you think about, nearly all marketing automation software solutions perform the same five business processes – digital lead tracking/acquisition, lead scoring, nurture campaigns, lead transfer to sales and lead analytics. For some years I've been an advocate in suggesting new channels and new revenue cycle processes but to date only Eloqua and Marketo have picked up on pushing marketing automation to become more extensible.
CallidusCloud (NASDAQ: CALD) may be assembling the tools necessary to show the innovation and differentiation I've been advocating. But to understand a speculative future, it's helpful to recognize their recent past. The company acquired LeadFormix and its 200 customers in January 2012. The product was underwhelming but continued organic development suggests it may become a contender.
In February 2014 the company acquired LeadRocket/Genius (aka MarketingGenius). This is particularly interesting as the LeadRocket solution is unique in bringing both marketing automation and social media reach to sales staff. The application works within CRM or the salesperson's email client and provides the social listening and prospect engagement metrics sales people want. However, this is a double-edged sword that needs to be carefully balanced as providing sales pros marketing automation technology may actually exacerbate the perennial challenge of sales and marketing alignment. But on the flipside, if the strategy is shared and balanced between sales and marketing, CallidusCloud can aid some difficult processes such as lead scoring, sales and marketing SLAs and lead recycling, and more so, offer something unmatched by competitors.
CallidusCloud Marketing Automation (previously LeadFormix) offers some additional capabilities that stand out, including impressive mobility, indirect channel marketing, a pretty decent user experience and downstream support for sales processes such as coaching and playbooks, Configure Price Quote (CPQ), Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) and some other features I'll reference below as part of the Lead to Money Cloud. While not entirely unique, I also like the call tracking integration with CallTrackingMetrics and their use of NetProspex to deduce inferred contacts or otherwise identify anonymous visitors.
Lead to Money Cloud
The company's self-proclaimed Lead to Money Cloud offers another interesting option to provide differentiation in the marketing software industry. Lead to Money is reminiscent of what Eloqua and Marketo both called Revenue Performance Management, however while RPM was focused on identifying the drivers and impediments to revenue generation, the Lead to Money Cloud is more about assembling a sales and marketing application portfolio.
Lead to Money Cloud includes a suite of apps that aid hiring, learning, marketing, quoting and contract management. The hiring app offers candidate assessments, online interviewing and a job board. The learning app consists of a training and content authoring platform. Marketing includes both Marketing Automation (formerly LeadFormix) and LeadRocket. The selling suite comprises CPQ, a new contract lifecycle management extension, sales enablement portals, sales coaching and impressive compensation management that facilitates quota management, sales commission modeling and territory optimization.
For the CRM software component, CallidusCloud integrates to Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Zoho CRM.
According to Gartner analyst Chris Fletcher, the top cited lead management challenge incurred by businesses is alignment of marketing, sales and other customer facing departments. In fact, this challenge is consistently ranked the number one obstacle year after year as tallied in Gartner's research and was expressed as the top challenge by 72.2% of companies in the analyst firms prior year lead management research report.
The CallidusCloud Lead to Money application portfolio may offer some relief to the illusive sales and marketing alignment objective. There's clearly a potential to orchestrate more automation and a closed loop reporting system across what are traditionally complimentary but separate sales and marketing processes, people and objectives.
While it's clear that technology designed to help companies hire better sales people, acquire more leads, increase sales win rates and better incentivize sales performance is a winning strategy, it's less clear whether the Lead to Money Cloud is more of a collection of piecemeal components or a suite of symbiotic applications. My discussions with CallidusCloud customers suggest most customers purchase one or few company products and several of the products are yet to be integrated or share a common user experience. The application portfolio gives the company a viable land and expand sales strategy, but unless the products deliver genuine synergies, they won't achieve the game-changing potential a holistic lead to revenue cycle technology solution can offer. This is a strategic point that requires more diligence.
CallidusCloud isn’t yet one of the recognized leaders in the marketing automation software industry. In fact, in my daily discussions with marketing software buyers and industry influencers they very seldom get mentioned. But that may change if the company orchestrates their applications to deliver a synergistic affect, solidifies a strategy that shows relevant differentiation and amplifies their messaging. That's a big 'if', and there are literally dozens of competitors with significant head-starts vying for the same positioning.
With the competitive landscape challenges recognized, this company shows potential where many others fall short. The management team appears more tenacious and possibly talented than most. The company shows a history of acquiring interesting IP that lends to creating novel solutions. This is a big change in an industry whereby most competitors continue to pave cow paths.
For marketing software buyers and industry influencers, this is one of those solutions that’s worth checking out or putting on your watch list. The company’s progress has been impressive, the product road maps looks good and this just may be a publisher that delivers some much needed innovation to the marketing automation software industry.
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According to Gartner, the top cited lead management challenge is alignment of marketing, sales and other customer facing departments.