Driving engagement and sales conversion in today’s market means increasing customer and prospect conversations through phone, email, social media, texting and other touchpoints. Marketing technology and automation is delivering many more leads for the sales team to follow up on. But to date, the tools available to the sales force have been limited to phones, their laptop and CRM software – with none of the automation and message synchronization needed to meet the challenge. FrontSpin is addressing this with its sales communication platform that streamlines sales cycles by bringing a host of communications and automation tools into one, easy-to-use platform. FrontSpin promises to deliver the ability to contact up to three-times more leads along with streamlined workflow and increased engagement. To find out more from the pioneer in sales automation tools, we sat down to speak with FrontSpin CEO and Founder Mansour Salame.

You are a successful entrepreneur in the sales enablement market having pioneered SaaS contact centers before selling your company and starting FrontSpin. What’s the market opportunity now?

The opportunity for the call center was to take established, on-premise enterprise software and put in the cloud to make it more available. Contact centers as a service allowed a greater range of companies to benefit from this technology because it became less expensive to deploy.

With FrontSpin and its sales communication technology, we’re really entering a greenfield opportunity where our biggest competitors are CRM systems and the phone. They are not adequate for a sales force that needs a comprehensive tool for communicating via phone but also through other channels. What we’ve done is take contact center concepts and adapted them to sales communications. This lets sales teams automate repetitive and error-prone communications activities such as emails and voicemails, reducing the amount of time needed to contact a prospect and to leave a message. All this outreach is automatically logged so that it’s easy to review the account and understand sales trends. Good sales representatives like to be engaging with customers and not focused on back-office tasks, so automating those tasks frees them to spend more time where they add the most value.

In addition to automating and improving sales outreach, FrontSpin also provides sales playbooks to help salespeople to define a sales engagement strategy for inbound leads and to prioritize hot leads over those from prospects that are not yet ready to buy. Each of these lead types has a different priority and deserves a different response. Creating different sales playbooks for each prospect type is the way to manage these priorities and the appropriate sales outreach.

One of the big reasons that sales automation technology is starting to take off is because marketing technology is becoming more effective at generating new inbound and outbound leads. At the start of the decade that wasn’t the case, but now web-based marketing technology is very prevalent in marketing departments and now sales teams need to catch up with their own tools.

The success of your product is based on helping salespeople work through all touchpoints – phone, email, social media. Social media is the newest addition to the mix. How are sales people embracing this and how can they be more successful?

It’s essential that sales people reach out to prospects and customers using social media. But even though many prospects use these tools daily, they’re not always valuable as sales outreach tools. The key is to experiment with these tools and when you have a successful combination then add that information into the sales playbook so that there is a common understanding of which tools are appropriate for which type of customer.

To be successful, playbooks need to consider all the prospect touch points and there needs to be multiple playbooks for different customer types. One playbook cannot fit all customer types.

Playbooks are meant to change over time as messaging evolves, or as you find success in certain outreach combinations. For example, we’ve found that when we’re upselling our customer base, both phone calls and emails will work, but a phone call and voice mail letting them know that a special offer is coming by email resulted in a response rate that was four-times greater than if we used each approach separately. Playbooks are also a good place for a/b message testing, where you try one message on half of your prospect base and another message on the other half to see which has a higher response rate.

And because you can track every interaction, you can know which message is working and if it’s worth making seven calls to a prospect or only three. Every time you add a touch point, you are creating work for a sales resource, but FrontSpin tracks these interactions and can tell you if that added effort is worth it.

How does access to HG Insights technographics bring value to your customers when integrated into FrontSpin?

Engagement success is dependent on the right message. HG Insights brings the accurate and comprehensive technographics that help to make a message more personal and impactful. Picture that I’m talking to a prospect for FrontSpin. If I know the technologies they are using, I can tailor my message to make it much more relevant to that person. So, instead of saying “we can make your CRM more effective,” I can say, “I see you are using Salesforce.com and Marketo. Did you know that FrontSpin has been proven to increase the productivity for users of these systems by 35%? If you have time, I can tell you how.” These are two messages that have a similar goal of engaging with the prospect. In our experience, the more personalized message is always going to be more effective than the generic message at accomplishing this task. By integrating the HG Focus Chrome plug-in into our platform, we provide SDRs with quick access to the tech install information they need to have these types of conversations with their prospects.

What’s next for FrontSpin?

We have been focused on building a great product; a product that sales reps want to use and enjoy using. We continue to add to the product — for example, we recently launched our real-time mentoring feature that lets the sales team leader listen to a sales rep without having to stand behind them awkwardly trying to eavesdrop.

What we’re working on now is what we call Triggers, or the ability to incorporate events into the system that will impact the playbook. One of the challenges of managing a salesforce in a real-time environment is that sales by nature is process oriented. You call lead number one and then you call lead number two and so on. But Triggers seeks to help prioritize leads using real-time marketing input. For example, you may have two prospects who get email from you, but one of them has opened all the email and the other opened only one email. Given this information, the playbook for the more interested prospect can be re-prioritized. As we were developing this feature I was surprised at all the different ways you can streamline the lead flow. With FrontSpin doing this work, the sales rep is freed up to just sell. The result is more sales productivity and a focus on higher priority leads.