The Aragon Research Tech Spectrum™ for Sales Communications, 2015

Author: Jim Lundy, David Mario Smith               Date: September 2, 2015
Topic: Sales and Marketing                                      Research Note Number: 2015-34

Issue: Who are the sales and marketing providers and how will they evolve?

SummaryAragon Research releases its first Aragon Research Tech Spectrum for Sales Communications. It examines 13 providers in a market that is featuring explosive growth in part due to the need to provide Sales Professionals with tools that help them sell and engage more effectively.

 

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………….2

Sales Communications Market Overview……………………………………………4

Key Aspects of Sales Communications………………………………………………. 4

Aragon Research Tech Spectrum Overview…………………………………………5

Dimensions of Analysis…………………………………………………………………….5

The Three Sectors of the Tech Spectrum…………………………………………….5

Inclusion Criteria…………………………………………………………………………….6

The Tech Spectrum for Sales Communications, 2015………………………… 7

Leaders………………………………………………………………………………………… 8

Contenders…………………………………………………………………………………… 11

Promising…………………………………………………………………………………….. 14

Getting Started With Sales Communications……………………………………..17

Aragon Advisory……………………………………………………………………………. 17

Bottom Line………………………………………………………………………………….. 17

Introduction

Sales Communications is part of the new era of enabling Sales Professionals with the tools to enable digital selling. The traditional tools for the workplace are not providing enough insight or intelligence to compete for reaching customers in an increasingly information-overloaded workplace. This Research Note introduces, overviews the market and evaluates 14 providers in Sales Communications.

The race to digitize the sales organization is on, and goes far beyond pipeline tracking in a CRM application. For years, the code name for sales tools has been Sales Enablement and this was the battle cry among Sales Leaders around the world. The reasons were simple – the Sales Pipeline needed to be full and, increasingly, buyers were getting tired of the same old approaches and content that didn’t work.

Message Overload

One of the first things that happened to the business buyer was that workloads increased and so did message volumes. Emails were overlooked, phone messages were often missed and voicemails were not listened to. Just getting the sales call to try to get the sales appointment became much harder.

Face-to-Face Meetings Are Not Always an Option

In the early days of Sales, it was all about face time. Today, the fastest growing and most effective means to sell is with inside sales organizations. This makes it even more challenging to reach the right contact at the right time.

Sales Communications to the Rescue

Sales Communications is an emerging business application that enables sales professionals to send content to contacts and track the interactions. A form of 1:1 content marketing, Sales Communications is extremely effective in the early part of the sales process when qualification is needed. While it can be used to deal with later stages of a sale, it has a greater effect when prospects are looking for validation and justification via impactful content. Interactive content, including video, is increasingly being used to add more visual cues and impact to Sales Communications.

The Marketing Suite Came First

Chief Marketing Officers and their staffs, under pressure to build out their sales pipelines, have been using multiple sales and marketing tools, and their spending has been growing substantially in the quest to grow their brand awareness and sales pipeline. Marketing Suites are often disparate, but they are increasingly being integrated. Large providers have been on acquisition sprees to build out their suites.

Marketing Suites (often called customer experience management platforms) have to date focused on building automated campaigns (marketing automation) and touch points, as well as monitoring social media. The true goal of Sales and Marketing is to be in harmony in overall messaging and total customer experience. That said, there has been a massive focus on Marketing Technology over the last 9 years and with the exception of CRM, it has often left Sales with little more than their laptop, phone and their CRM App.

The Rise of Sales Communications and Sales Platforms

The intense competition to win deals and the realization that Sales Professionals need more is one of the reasons for the shift to Sales Technologies. Sales Communications is the tip of the spear in Sales Engagement. The rise of full Sales Engagement Suites is the next move for major providers as customers demand fuller platforms to ensure engagement is tracked across communications channels and the inefficiency of managing point solutions is reduced or eliminated. For now, the race is on to equip Sales teams with better tools to engage directly with prospects and customers.

Sales Communications Market Overview

Sales Communications products and services have been part of the Sales Enablement playbook for several years. This market evolved from traditional communications tools and in most cases, still uses core email platforms for message delivery The difference is in the content packaging and in the analytics, the latter which is often delivered to sales professionals in real-time.

Key Aspects of Sales Communications

Some of the keys aspects of Sales Communications include the ability to communicate with a suspect, prospect or existing customer. Email has become a reliable way to connect, but often, sales professionals do not know if someone opened an email. Analytics are part of the key ingredients to effective sales communications offerings.

 

The key things that buyers are looking for in a Sales Communications Platform include:

  • Email or SMS Communications with Analytics
  • Advanced Analytics on what recipients do with the message and the content
  • Ability to create or assemble compelling Content
  • Integration with leading CRM Tools
  • Live Presentation Capabilities – eliminating the need for separate Web Conferencing Tools. Not all products offer this, but more are as the market matures
  • Mobile options for email tracking and notifications, as well as in-person presentations
  • Content – ability to create or edit content, including video content and to communicate it at the right time.

One thing to realize is that pricing for Sales Communications tools can be more than traditional collaboration. Street prices can range from $15-125 per user per month. This is less than what is being spent on CRM, but it shows that when a business application makes an impact, buyers will pay for it.

Tech Spectrum Overview

The Aragon Research Tech Spectrum is our newest market evaluation tool that graphically represents analysis of both emerging and mature markets and the vendors that participate in them. We use a rigorous analysis of each vendor using two dimensions that enable comparative evaluation of the participants in a given market.

The Tech Spectrum looks at a focused set of criteria that helps enterprise planners understand and navigate the market of technology provider options.

The Aragon Research Tech Spectrum for Sales Communications is segmented into three sectors, representing high and low on both the Product/Service and performance dimensions. Vendors fit into one of the following sectors:

Leaders

Leaders are the providers who have comprehensive strategies and products/services that align with industry direction and market demand, and who effectively perform against that strategic backdrop. Leaders help to drive a market and in a majority of cases, have a vision for the future.

Contenders

Contenders are those providers with strong performance, but with more limited or less complete strategies. Their performance positions them well to challenge for leadership by expanding their strategic focus.

Promising

Providers who are Promising have strong strategic understanding and objectives, but have yet to perform effectively across all elements of that strategy. This includes breakout or emerging players who maybe focusing on specific capabilities.

Inclusion Criteria

The Aragon Research Tech Spectrum for Sales Communications, 2015 will help clients differentiate the many vendors who offer tools to let enterprises communicate and interact with prospects and clients.

The inclusion criteria for this Aragon Research Tech Spectrum are:

  • A minimum of $3 million in primary revenue for Sales Communications or a minimum of $10 million in revenue in a related market (Collaboration, Content Management or Portal/UX Software).

Shipping product. Product must be announced and available.

Leaders

Brainshark

Brainshark, based in Boston, was one of the early pioneers in Sales Communications, having focused on Sales Enablement, marketing, and training from the beginning. In 2014, they focused on both Sales Communications as well as onboarding and continuous training. One of the strengths of Brainshark is its ability to enable fast Sales Rep onboarding, in part due to its heritage in Learning.

In 2014, Brainshark announced a partnership with Salesforce and introduced its Brainshark Sales Accelerator for Salesforce application, which has been gaining traction in the market. In addition to onboarding, Brainshark Sales Accelerator enables sales reps to engage customers and prospects with Sales Communications content in the context of the account, the opportunity, and content directly within the Salesforce; it then allows them to track content usage and finally, provides analytics that correlate Sales Communications to rep performance. Brainshark’s large install base of users makes them one of the firms to beat.

Strengths Challenges
·  Brand Awareness·     Native Salesforce Integration·     Content Creation and Sharing·     Live Presentation

·     Analytics

 

 

 

·   Focus outside of Training and Onboarding

 

Clearslide

Clearslide, based in San Francisco, with additional offices in New York City, Seattle and London, focuses on Sales Communications and overall engagement at the Rep and Leader roles. Their platform has expanded considerably in its ability to allow sales reps to engage with customers and prospects with highly customized, rich media content that can be delivered via email and also via live presentations. Analytics show both usage and engagement at a detailed level, providing Leaders in Sales and Marketing with insight into what is working and measuring content impact.   Live presentations can also be monitored remotely by Sales Managers for later feedback and coaching.

Clearslide has been gaining momentum because of their content assembly, content formatting in email and detailed analytics down to the slide level. Clearslide has also gained recognition because of their ease of use in creating custom presentations.

 

Strengths Challenges
·   Ease of Use·   Analytics·   Content Creation, Sharing & Management·   Live Presentation

·   Email Tracking & Notifications

·   Salesforce & Dynamics Integration

·   Mobile Applications

 

·  Occasional Voice Call Lag

Showpad

Showpad, which offers a mobile-first SaaS Service, was founded in 2011 and has offices in San Francisco, London and Ghent, Belgium. Showpad focuses on enabling sales with a solution that gives marketing teams the capability to provide approved content for sales teams to present and share with prospects across mobile devices and on the desktop. In December 2014, Showpad acquired the customer base of StoryDesk, an iPad Presentation application.

Showpad’s strength lies within its custom branding capabilities, real-time updates across all assets (content and emails), access regardless of connectivity, and robust analytics. The platform encourages prospects to invite other key stakeholders into the sales conversation, and tracks these interactions.

 

Strengths Challenges
·  Analytics·  Content Sharing·  Salesforce Integration·  Intuitive User Interface ·  Social Media Sharing

 

Contenders

 

Fileboard
Fileboard, based in Mountain View and Rotterdam, is a newer sales development enterprise that focuses on bettering presentations and prospect interaction based on their content engagement. Fileboard makes it easier to present and share slide presentations and other files, and also provides analytics. Fileboard also lets you see who is paying attention during your presentation as well as who viewed your slides after the presentation. The same applies to any other content that has been shared with prospects.Fileboard also provides analytics for both sales and marketing. Their marketing offering is focused on bringing marketing and sales together for a more cohesive unit and making digital sales possible, while their sales management offering is focused on assisting salespeople to prioritize the most engaged prospects, as well as helping them to boost numbers and meet or exceed forecasts.
Strengths Challenges
·   Analytics·   Salesforce Integration·   Marketing Integration·   Live presentation/screen share

 

·  Market Awareness

 

 

Nirvanu

Nirvanu, based in San Francisco, focuses on multiple aspects of the sales cycle with deep expertise in presentation content. They provide an enterprise-wide content library that can be updated and synced across all devices for the entire enterprise, and also provide the tools to create new presentations and videos. The program also lets users publish dynamic customer-specific microsites that include rep-created video introductions. Nirvanu supports all content types including graphic, audio, and video, as well as interactive content using HTML5.

Nirvanu also provides solid analytics on usage and provides separate customer engagement metrics to reps – including push notifications when customers have opened their presentation. It also integrates with many common CRM systems for a more unified sales force. Nirvanu’s remote selling function allows salespeople to have full control over their sales presentations.

 

Strengths Challenges
·  Presentation Quality·  Custom Slide Creation·  Dynamic microsite with rep intro videos·  Live Presentation

·  Tablet Support

·  Awareness in the Market

 

Qvidian
Qvidian, based in Chelmsford, MA, has a long history of enabling sales people by providing cloud-based solutions that focus on Content and the Sales Process. By integrating the sales process along with content, Sales Reps can ensure that they are following proven approaches.Qvidian is known for its Sales Playbooks, where it has market leadership, and for its ability to share Content. Playbooks help to ensure that Reps leverage a proven repeatable sales process. The ability to find or create content that is consistent helps to also ensure solid sales engagement.
Strengths Challenges
·   Market Awareness·   Custom Content Creation·   Sales Playbooks ·  Lack of Live Presentation

 

 

Seismic

Seismic, based in Boston and Solana Beach, CA, has a management team that is steeped in the Document and Content Assembly business. As such, one of the strong features of Seismic is its dynamic content assembly capability, which includes a shared, cloud-based content library that will sync to the enterprise whenever something is updated. If the user updates a single slide, all presentations using that slide will also be updated, ensuring the enterprise will stay both on-track and on-brand.

Seismic’s software also provides analytics designed to help marketers examine how their content is doing in the field. It gives them usable data that enables them to market better and generate more leads. Seismic also includes a document creator and editor that draws off the cloud-based library, and allows users to deliver content from tablets, the web, or from Salesforce.

Strengths Challenges
·  Automated Content Assembly·  Analytics ·  Market Awareness·  Lack of Live Presentation

CustomShow

CustomShow, based in New York, allows users to build and store custom presentations. They can deliver content and video across multiple mobile platforms. They also provide a cloud-based content library, and all stored presentations can be easily updated across the enterprise, ensuring quality and consistency.

CustomShow also provides live presentation features that are tightly integrated with their presentation platform. In addition, CustomShow’s software provides analytics on presentations, so users can determine what are the most effective slides or presentations.

Strengths Challenges
·  Presentation Creation·  Live Presentation and Live Video Support·  Content Analytics ·   Market Awareness

DocSend

DocSend, based in San Francisco, helps sales teams engage clients more efficiently and more effectively by providing a smarter way to distribute sales material. DocSend provides real-time analytics, which give insight into how prospects engage with collateral, so salespeople can follow up with the right messaging at the right time. Sales managers can view team-wide insights to understand deal progress and individual rep performance. Companies can also use DocSend to update and control access to documents even after they’ve been sent.

DocSend integrates with Box, DropBox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive. Salesforce and Gmail integrations make it easy to include DocSend in a workflow. DocSend also provides a plug-in free live presentation capability that enables a document to be presented remotely.

Strengths Challenges
·  Analytics·  Freemium Offering·  Live Presentation ·  Market Awareness·  Focus on Freemium vs. Paid Deployments

 

ToutApp

ToutApp based in San Francisco, focuses on analytics, as well as sales rep and manager productivity. Its Command Center feature provides a one-stop dashboard of interactions and a status for each prospect.

While providing robust email templates that are easy to share between reps and teams, ToutApp lacks some of the content management capabilities that others offer. Sales People still need to be able to create and share content, particularly by customizing presentations that may have originally created by the Marketing Department.

 

Strengths Challenges
·   Analytics·   Salesforce Integration·   Sales and Sales Manager Command Center  ·   Content Creation·   Lack of Live Presentation

 

Yesware

Yesware, based in Boston and San Francisco, focuses on email tracking with tight integrations for Google Gmail and Microsoft Outlook. They also include email templates to allow for sharing of templates that have an impact.

Yesware provides basic analytics on content viewing but not page or slide level, but its auto-dialing feature, which allows calls to be placed from Salesforce, is a popular feature set that others do not yet offer.

Strengths Challenges
·  Mail Integration·  Phone Dialer·  Salesforce Connector  ·  Awareness outside of US·  Slide and Page level analytics

 

Promising

 

OneMob

OneMob, based in San Francisco, is a new enterprise focused on asynchronous video and voice messaging. Their software enables sales reps to record personal, company branded and trackable video and voice messages to introduce themselves or their product and then share it.

OneMob is offered primarily via its Salesforce integration, which has helped it win deals due to its built-in Force.com security. OneMob is capitalizing on the growing popularity of Video and the ease of personalization, which means that most sales people could use its software to create and share a custom video. We expect OneMob to expand its feature set as it grows.

Strengths Challenges
·   Video and Voice Creation Capabilities·   Video Uploading·   Message Sharing and Engagement Tracking·   Analytics ·   Non Video Content Creation·   Market Awareness

 

Tinderbox

Tinderbox, based in Indianapolis, has shifted its focus to Sales Communications and the overall Sales Process by integrating with Third Party Partners. It has 3 primary offerings: Pitch, Propose and Close. Pitch is presentation software for online presenting, Propose enables the creation of sales proposals, and Close makes it easy to get contracts signed with integrated eSignature capabilities from DocuSign.

Tinderbox Users have access to this cloud-based library, which integrates with leading CRM Platforms. Tinderbox will also track the usage of documents and provides users with real-time analytics to determine what documents are the most effective, and how your team can make more sales.

Strengths Challenges
·   Live Presentation·   CRM Integration·   Contract Signing ·   Market Awareness·   Dependency on Third Parties for Core Functionalit

 

Getting Started With Sales Communications

Enterprises are looking for new ways to increase Sales Effectiveness. The competition to have higher and more complete levels of customer engagement means that the old ways will no longer work. Sales Communications is still in its early phase, but adoption is proving to be swift and sure. Careful evaluation of the capabilities of a provider, along with the right integrations, can assure maximum productivity.

Aragon Advisory

  • Deploy Sales Communications capabilities for efficiency and effectiveness in your Sales Organization.
  • Utilize the Aragon Research Tech Spectrum for Sales Communications as a guide to create a short list of vendors to evaluate.
  • Improve Sales and Marketing synergy. Sales Operations should work with Marketing to ensure that the latest content is always available within the Sales Communications and/or CRM Platform.

Bottom Line

Sales Communications products are changing the way that Sales organizations engage with prospects and customers. Choosing the right provider who is focused on core capabilities as well as the broader long-term vision for Sales and Marketing is key. Ensure the provider’s technology roadmap is also in line with your organization’s sales strategy.


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