Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Irani, Smith, Deiss and Briggs

Ted Irani of BP3 Global, Clint Smith of CareerPlug, Ryan Deiss of DigitalMarketer and Bernard Briggs of Humm Systems, photo by Susan Lahey

A panel of Austin entrepreneurs talked about the integration of marketing, sales, and software yesterday at a Salesforce event for small business users of the monolithic Customer Relationship Management platform.

Key takeaways included: Just because you can build your own solution doesn’t make it a good idea if it’s not your core business; having all the information regarding customer relationships in one place keeps the sales and marketing departments from killing each other; and having a big, robust CRM saves you from falling through the gaps while you’re scaling.

In essence it was a sales presentation for Salesforce, but one in which Ted Irani, vice president of sales for BP3 Global, Clint Smith, president of CareerPlug, Ryan Deiss, CEO and founder of DigitalMarketer, and Bernard Briggs of Humm Systems, shared a lot of useful information about the perils growing businesses face in managing customer relationships and the solutions that work.

One of these perils is the adversarial relationship often forged between marketing and sales people, because one or the other is blamed for dropping the ball on cultivating and nurturing customers. Deiss described this relationship as “You’re slimy. Well you suck at everything, except logos.” Having the entire customer “journey” in one place, where everyone is required to record all that happens resolves the bulk of this issue, he said, because everyone can see the efforts the others are making and the focus becomes the customer experience.

Irani said BP3 Global uses the data on the system to track how many sales pitches it’s actually winning. When they started, he said, they were winning about 50 percent. But with ongoing iterations in their sales process they got the percentage up to 75 percent within a few months, which helped them decide when it was the right time to add more sales people.

All the organizations said that having a scalable system helped them grow faster than having to move from a spreadsheet to another system, then another, then another.

Smith admitted that he “wrote a big check” earlier this year to get Salesforce implemented and ramped up, a process many small business owners dread because of the time and money that must be diverted from getting product out the door today. Salesforce has reputation for being both complex and expensive, a problem it has tried to solve partly through acquisitions of simpler, more user friendly interface software companies and partly through development of its own, according to Jamie Domenici, vice president of product marketing and SMB marketing.

But all of the entrepreneurs said that, once in place, anyone with a basic understanding of CRM systems—even without coding experience—could make tweaks.

“It’s a line item” Deiss said. “And not even one of the ones I worry about.”