Influitive is an Advocate Marketing platform that helps companies leverage their biggest fans to drive marketing pipeline. The company was founded 5 years ago by Mark Organ, the founder and CEO of Eloqua, and helps businesses create customer referrals, references, reviews, word-of-mouth recommendations, and more.
Emmanuelle Skala, the VP of Sales at Influitive, explained that while the value of customer advocates is obvious, the concept of advocate marketing is still new.
“The idea of leveraging customers to drive referrals, get testimonials and case studies is not new, but doing it in a formalized program is very new,” she said. “It’s important now more than ever, because people are trusting their peers more than they’re trusting brands. All companies must leverage their customers.”
A Lack of Historical Data
Influitive leveraged this interest in Advocate Marketing, and grew the business over 200% this year, over 400% last year, and raised $30.5 in Series B funding in July 2105. But as the company scaled up rapidly, Skala said she struggled to run in-depth analyses of the historical sales data.
“Before using InsightSquared, we were using Salesforce dashboards,” she noted. “While I could get a good snapshot of what my pipeline looked like right now, it was really hard to get any historical information. It was difficult to do any analysis on the key metrics that help me actually predict the future.”
Skala explained that without this data, she couldn’t be sure when she needed to take action to create more pipeline, or if the team was on track to hit goals. Without historical conversion rates, she couldn’t accurately forecast sales for next quarter. Because of this, Influitive decided to look for a solution to get the historical data the business needed.
Emmanuelle Skala of Influitive
A Better Understanding of the Pipeline
Influitive chose InsightSquared specifically for the software’s ability to analyze historical sales data. Skala explained that she was quickly able to understand not just how her sales team is doing right now, but how they’ve performed in the past.
“We use InsightSquared to get rich data out of Salesforce that’s a little bit tougher to get directly — especially some of the key metrics that you need to run your SaaS business,” she said. “I’m able to analyze our historical forecasting accuracy, as well as push rates.”
We use InsightSquared to get rich data out of Salesforce.
This data is vital to Skala, because now she can identify the open opportunities in her forecast that are unlikely to close this month and clean up her current sales pipeline. The data pushes her sales team to be honest, and really think hard about their forecast.
“Salespeople are notorious for having happy ears and thinking a deal’s going to come in this month, when actually it won’t,” Skala explained. “A better understanding of your rep’s push rates and historical conversion rates gives you much better predictability in your forecasting.”
In addition to more accurate forecasting, InsightSquared also enables Skala to identify weaknesses in the sales process. Her favorite report, she said, is the sales funnel, which helps her understand historical conversion rates through the entire sales pipeline.
“For instance, I noticed about 6 months ago that we were really struggling at the top of the funnel,” Skala shared, explaining that reps were having trouble converting deals at the start of the sales process. “Once we got someone into an evaluation process, we’d win most of those deals, but we were struggling early on.”
With that data, Skala was able to analyze why the team was struggling to close those deals, and actually get out in front to intervene before there is a problem and deals are lost.
Wins for Influitive:
- Insight into historical pipeline conversion rates
- Improved and data-driven sales coaching
- Transparent data across the sales team
Empowering Sales Reps
For Skala, the biggest benefit has been the ability to drill down into the data and get a detailed view of sales performance. She can look at the overall pipeline health, but can also filter the report to see how close rates differ by rep and by time period through the entire sales funnel.
“The sales funnel report helps focus my coaching efforts, as well as the tools that I built, and the training that I did, on top of the funnel,” she said. “I wouldn’t have had that insight if it wasn’t for InsightSquared.”
In addition, individual sales reps at Influitive use InsightSquared to analyze their own funnel reports. Skala said reps like to know their own close rates by stage and compare it to their peers. Reps have begun to think about their pipeline coverage and goals in relation to those win rates, running their personal sales process like a mini-CEO.
Those metrics give reps insight to think more strategically about their pipeline.
“At our Quarterly Sales Review, it is not uncommon that a salesperson gets up and says, ‘Well, my close rate last quarter was 30%, and here’s my pipeline going into next quarter, and therefore I have a gap in order to hit my target. So here’s what I’m going to do in month one in order to fill that gap,’” Skala explained. “Those metrics give them insight to actually think more strategically about their pipeline versus just the deals that they are working on.”
With data to help her coach and forecast so easily available, Skala can now look past the day-to-day sales operations and focus on the overall trajectory of the business.
“The biggest benefit it delivers to me is the ability to actually coach reps on something very specific that is not just, ‘How is this deal going?’,” she said. “It’s bigger picture; it’s more strategic and longer term. I can make sure reps are not going to only be successful this month, but that they’re set up for success next month and next quarter.”
Skala said she understands how tough it can be for a VP of Sales to set aside the time to invest in analytics. However, she explained that it’s completely worth it in the long run — especially when it comes time to raise money from investors.
“When we were fundraising for our series B, the potential new investors wanted to dig into the key metrics for sales specifically,” she said. “I used InsightSquared to pull together a lot of those metrics that they wanted to look at in order to determine whether they were going to invest in our business. It was a success, and we got $30 million last July.”
“I’d recommend InsightSquared to pretty much any VP of Sales, especially in a SaaS business,” Skala advised.