Lack of Connectivity Limits Marketing and Sales Engagement with Customers
As more companies adopt SaaS sales and marketing applications, SaaS providers are under the gun to create and offer functionality that supports the business process and automation requirements of these individual and sometimes silo teams. In any given organization, sales and marketing use upwards of 10 – 15 applications to engage, onboard and maintain customer interactions. Believe it or not, here at MuleSoft our marketing and sales teams use over 30 different applications. Yes 30, and we have less than 30 people in our marketing organization! Sample applications include, HootSuite, Google Apps, Confluence, Yammer, Salesforce, SurveyMonkey, WebEx Events, Eventbrite, Cloud9 Analytics, KISSmetrics, Google Adwords, GetSatisfaction and the list goes on. Each of these applications are used to engage the customer in a different stage of the buying process:
Due to the ease of use and availability of software development tools in house, abundance of developers, coupled with the affordability and simplicity to deploy cloud infrastructure, it’s hard to imagine that the pace at which new SaaS applications are being developed will slow in the near future. The focus of SaaS development is shifting towards the customer and their vertical needs and this is extremely present in the business processes of:
- Demand Generation
- Lead Management
- Opportunity Management
- Customer Lifecycle Management
Modern Marketers Have Limited Choices when it comes to SaaS
Unlike the days of “Mad Men”, the modern marketer must rely more on data and technology, rather than their gut feelings and perfectly quaffed hair to achieve success. The marketing and sales processes are intertwined, requiring an integrated view into the customer acquisition process. Even further, not a day goes by that a Marketer isn’t asked to consider a new type of Marketing or Salesforce automation application, which can add value to all aspects of their customer’s buying process.
As exciting as these applications or tools are in what they promise for ROI, the value proposition remains unrealized. Without the ability to use each new tool with the existing applications that their sales teams leverages, both newly adopted cloud based applications as well as legacy on-premise applications. Today’s marketer demands “Best of Breed” functionality often found in SaaS applications, however the $$$’s and time associated with building custom, in-house integration to this new tool can leave them with their hands tied. In an economy where speed is essential, the stumbling blocks that integration presents are hard to overcome, ultimately ruling out the possibility of adopting that application.
SaaS Marketplaces Fail to Meet Customer Expectations
Marketing and sales force automation software providers traditionally haven’t looked at connecting to existing system as their problem. The customer has typically taken the cost on, either in the form of custom development or 3rd Party Systems integration.
This shift to cloud-based SaaS offerings has brought some more light to the challenges as well as the opportunities that integration creates for the end customer, but in most cases it’s still being handled in a reactive fashion. Some of the more progressive customer oriented SaaS Providers like Salesforce, HubSpot, Marketo, ExactTarget, Acquia, ConstantContact, MailChimp, and LinkedIn to name a few, have taken these integration challenges and turned them into a competitive advantage. They’ve fostered extensive communities and created robust API’s enabling complimentary application providers to provide seamless integrations and created partner ecosystems in the form of “MarketPlaces” or “Exchanges.”
At a glance, the ecosystem approach provides a viable solution for many end-users, but the downfall is typically in the SLA associated with these integrations. For example, the first call for support and maintenance on any of these issues is directed to the core SaaS provider, despite the application coming from a 3rd party. Mission critical integrations become unreliable, and the end-user is forced to take matters into their own hands once more.
So here we are back at square 1, with the Marketer trying to figure out how to capture the promise of the ROI that these SaaS applications provide.
The Answer – Productized Integration for Customer Acquisition Applications
How can the customer oriented SaaS provider not only solve the problem for the Modern Marketer, but:
- Create a competitive advantage
- Expedite time to live
- Drive additional revenue
- Reduce overhead of supporting these complimentary integrations.
The answer is to take a proactive approach and invest in building productized integrations with an integration platform. The fragmentation of the customer acquisition SaaS companies provides a tremendous opportunity for offering the integration component as a portion of the solution where everyone wins!
- The Marketer is able to select the “Best in Breed” Applications to perform the required business process and do so in a cost-sensitive fashion with an expedited time to live.
- The SaaS Provider can drive higher margins, enable more customers, expand addressable markets and reduce support and maintenance headaches that are irrelevant to their core offerings.