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Ross founded the open source Mule® project in 2003. Frustrated by integration "donkey work," he set out to create a new platform that emphasized ease of development and re-use of components. He started the Mule project to bring a modern approach, one of assembly, rather than repetitive coding, to developers worldwide. He is now the Founder and CTO of Mulesoft. Ross is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 98 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

The Real ROI of Marketing + Sales Alignment = Return on Integration

07.07.2013
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Originally authored by Adam Biehler

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 is using upwards of 10 – 15 applications to engage, onboard and maintain customer interactions.  Believe it or not, here at MuleSoft our marketing and sales teams uses over 30 different applications. Yes 30, and we have less than 30 people in our marketing organization! Sample applications include, HootSuiteGoogle Apps, Confluence, Yammer, Salesforce, SurveyMonkey, WebEx Events, Eventbrite, Cloud9 Analytics, KISSmetrics, Google Adwords, GetSatisfaction and the list goes on. Each of these applications is used to engage the customer a different stage of the buying process:

Sample applications used in customer buying process

For the customer using these applications, dependency upon 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
  • Conversion
  • Customer Lifecycle Management

Modern Marketers Have Limited Choices when it comes to SaaS

The modern marketer is much more data and tech savvy than the days of “Mad Men” and collaboration with Sales is no longer simply a suggestion, it’s an essential component to 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 applications, 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 and the competitive landscape is fertile, the stumbling blocks that integration presents are hard to overcome, ultimately ruling out the possibility of adopting that application.

Marketing Automation and Sales Process Management Application silos

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.”

Salesforce.com AppExchangeConstant Contact Marketplace

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

Integration for SaaS Providers

How can the customer oriented SaaS provider not only solve the problem for the Modern Marketer, but:

  1. Create a competitive advantage
  2. Expedite time to live
  3. Drive additional revenue
  4. 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.

Interested in connecting to your application to existing customer acquisition tools? Contact me directly or click here to learn more about MuleSoft’s SaaS Partner Program.


 

Published at DZone with permission of Ross Mason, author and DZone MVB. (source)

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