Category Archives: CRM

How to Create Custom Test Execution Reports in Excel from Team Foundation Server – Part 1

Team Foundation Server (TFS) is a Microsoft product which provides source code management, project management, reporting, release management and testing. TFS has a lot of inbuilt reporting and dashboard services available. By connecting TFS to Microsoft Excel, we can use different functionalities of Excel to extend reporting capabilities and be more flexible with creating test execution reports. It is also excellent for users that are more comfortable and familiar with Excel.

The first step to this is setting up queries in TFS. Queries are the basic building blocks for managing work items. For testers generating custom test execution reports, we would be more concerned with TFS Bugs. Queries allow us to filter work items in TFS to be transported to Excel for data sorting, visualization, etc. It is also easier to update queries when work items also change. For example, a bug changes its state depending on the test lifecycle. This could mean that the bug gets removed from an Active Bugs query and gets added to a Closed Bugs query. Queries can simply be refreshed in TFS, which gets updated dynamically in our Excel spreadsheet when clicking the Refresh button under the TEAM tab.

How a user would log and label bugs (using TFS field Title) and group these bugs (using TFS fields e.g. Tag, State, Severity, Assigned To) would determine how bugs are sorted into different queries configured by the user. In this example below, I’ve grouped all my Active Bugs in TFS via the State.

image thumb 4 How to Create Custom Test Execution Reports in Excel from Team Foundation Server   Part 1

The bugs that are logged for this subcomponent in a TFS Team Project must obviously contain these filter criteria to appear under the query. This is entirely up to how the user would set up the query. Below is an example on how I labelled the bug in TFS such that it meets the conditions of the example query. This is done by including a Tag called ‘CRM’ and prefixing the Work Item Title with ‘[Magnetism Sub Group]’.

image thumb 6 How to Create Custom Test Execution Reports in Excel from Team Foundation Server   Part 1

You can be creative in what Work Item fields you are using to differentiate different queries. This added flexibility in TFS allows the user to further modularise different queries. Once I run the example query, this work item gets brought under the query results.

image thumb 7 How to Create Custom Test Execution Reports in Excel from Team Foundation Server   Part 1

Once we can effectively separate and group each different bug accordingly in TFS, we need to establish a connection between the source TFS to the destination Excel spreadsheet. The TEAM tab in Excel allows us to connect TFS with Excel such that we can create a custom report in Excel.  This automatically shows up when Team Explorer or Visual Studio is installed. If it does not show up, the TEAM tab needs to be enabled using the following steps:

  1. Go to File > Options to open Excel Options.
  2. Navigate to the Customize Ribbon.
  3. Click the TEAM checkbox. Click OK.

Once the TEAM tab is enabled in Excel, we can connect to a Team Project such that we can transport work item lists into Excel. Excel gives an option of creating two types of work item lists: query or input flat lists.

image thumb 8 How to Create Custom Test Execution Reports in Excel from Team Foundation Server   Part 1

Using our earlier example query “Active Bugs – Magnetism Sub Group Changes – CRM” and its work item components, it gets transmitted to Excel once we choose the query list. This is shown below. Note that the Refresh button highlighted gets activated once we have connected through our query list and loaded our work components.

image thumb 10 How to Create Custom Test Execution Reports in Excel from Team Foundation Server   Part 1

All done! Part 2 of this blog will cover how we can use Excel to pull in our data from TFS such that we can construct our test execution report and data visualisations.

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Magnetism Solutions Dynamics CRM Blog

Einstein Tries Sales Forecasting

When Salesforce unveiled sales forecasting with its artificial intelligence tool, Einstein, my immediate reaction was that it should have tried something easier — like solving global warming. Really, a sales forecast that bears some resemblance to reality has been a grail quest for all of us for many years, and Salesforce is not the first software company to throw its hat in the ring.

salesforce einstein Einstein Tries Sales Forecasting

On reflection, it’s not that the company should have tackled an easier problem, but that the success of a sales forecast is inversely proportional to the amount of human involvement in producing it. Because Einstein relies on AI and historical data, I can give it a higher probability of success than many other methods.

Avoiding Forecasting Pitfalls

You know a forecast is in trouble when it gets downloaded to a spreadsheet. Once optimism gets injected in the form of a spreadsheet jockey, you can abandon all hope. Not to be cruel, but the human brain is adept at playing tricks on itself and simultaneously assuring itself that it is not. Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel Economics Prize for figuring that out on the way to initiating the study of behavioral economics.

At any rate, that is exactly what Einstein Forecasting does not do. It is automated, and it gets human optimism out of the way and analyzes real historical data. It also compares present data about a deal with the history of a sales rep’s earlier deals to derive an understanding of where a deal is in its progression.

However, my experience is that this route really, really needs to include a sales process or model of how “we sell our stuff.”

Specifically, other AI systems have made discoveries, like higher rates of closure on deals where the budget owner/decision maker is involved in a demo, just to pick an easy example. It would be great if the AI system took that kind of history into account rather than simply discovering that one rep sandbags and another is overly optimistic.

Opportunity Scoring

It seems as though Einstein does. It is fully automated and able to understand process and key factors like seasonality, according to the company, and that’s great. Perhaps more important than the forecast at the end of a sales cycle is a less well-advertised capability, called “Einstein Opportunity Scoring,” that does exactly what you’d expect from such a product.

Getting the score right on a new opportunity does some valuable things. For instance, it focuses the rep on the best deals, not necessarily the easiest, and that automatically will make for a better pipeline that is easier to forecast.

You might think that opportunity scoring is a no brainer but it’s not; sales reps can waste a lot of time and resources chasing deals that will never close.

My Conclusion

To demonstrate how important all of this is for Salesforce, the corporate investment group, Salesforce Ventures, also announced a US$ 50 million innovation fund to promote development of increasingly better AI functionality on its platform.

Salesforce has broadened its outreach beyond traditional CRM in the last few years, and it now boasts applications in multiple subspecialties and vertical markets, like media and finance.

Einstein is a broad-based tool that can be applied to benefit almost any business or process. While this has been the year of Einstein, in which all elements of the portfolio have begun receiving an AI assist, it’s good to see the company paying attention to its CRM roots.

Forecasting and opportunity scoring are two of the more difficult challenges that we’ve faced in CRM, and it’s good that they’re receiving attention.
end enn Einstein Tries Sales Forecasting


Denis%20Pombriant Einstein Tries Sales ForecastingDenis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry researcher, strategist, writer and speaker. His new book, You Can’t Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It, is now available on Amazon. His 2015 book, Solve for the Customer, is also available there. He can be reached at
denis.pombriant@beagleresearch.com.

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New Mobile App Promises Full B2B E-Commerce Experience

Insite Software on Tuesday released the InsiteCommerce Mobile App, describing it as the first fully configurable white label mobile app built for leading manufacturers and distributors.

mobile b2b New Mobile App Promises Full B2B E Commerce Experience

The app supports everyone involved in the B2B e-commerce experience, Insite said — from customers to channel partners, to field sales and support teams.

Companies purchasing the app can tailor its functions to specific roles and responsibilities by delivering customer-specific product catalog and data, pricing and product recommendations, and order and reorder capabilities.

“There’s a combination of customizations and configurations driven by a single instance of the InsiteCommerce Admin Console across Web and mobile apps,” said Karie Daudt, VP of marketing and customer experience at Insite.

“We customize the color scheme, icons and certain images in each build of a private labeled application to suit the branding standards of each customer,” she told CRM Buyer.

84817 620x680 New Mobile App Promises Full B2B E Commerce Experience

Private labeling of each application is done internally, and “doesn’t require any code customization or additional implementation effort for our customers,” Daudt said.

The app includes a biometric login capability, customizable alerts, bar code scanning, GPS capabilities, speech-to-text and enhanced security.

Among the app’s prebuilt features are product catalog search, order status check, and the ability to add items to a cart and check out.

The app is available for iOS and Android.

Integration, Integration, Integration

The InsiteCommerce Mobile App works with Insite Software’s e-commerce platform, which integrates with leading enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and Web content management systems.

It automatically builds experience based on a business’ existing InsiteCommerce instance.

“Any new customer can extend their reach with a native mobile solution when they roll out an InsiteCommerce system,” Daudt remarked.

Companies with a mobile-first implementation strategy can “focus on implementing a light version of the branded mobile application first, then execute a more complete integration of e-commerce, including integration with their ERP and other core business functions,” she said.

Insite partners with each client to manage and deploy its apps to the iOS and Google Play app stores, Daudt noted.

“This lets our customers maintain their branding standards and achieve app store presence while still complying with Apple’s rigorous approval standards.”

Use Cases

Manufacturers or distributors who want to improve their customer experience and better enable their direct and channel teams to serve the customer would benefit from the InsiteCommerce Mobile App, Daudt said.

“For B2B companies, much of their customer and team experience is in the field, out at a job site, or traveling through a sales territory,” she noted. “They need key data available to them and easy to use in their moment of relevance, across any mobile device.”

Among the possible use cases for the Insite Mobile App, according to Daudt, are the following:

  • Direct sales reps in the field needing to look up end-customer order or delivery details or other information, or place an order on a customer’s behalf;
  • Direct service technicians in the field needing to look up a detailed product tech spec or order a replacement part; and
  • Direct shipping clerks or delivery drivers taking a picture of a shipment at the outbound dock or upon delivery to the customer, and attaching it to the order as proof of delivery.

The InsiteCommerce Mobile App “may be attractive for existing Insite customers,” said Rebecca Wettemann, VP of research at Nucleus Research.

However, “I don’t see a broader reach than that,” she told CRM Buyer. “Unless I’m a frequent purchaser from a vendor, I’m unlikely to download their app.”
end enn New Mobile App Promises Full B2B E Commerce Experience


Richard%20Adhikari New Mobile App Promises Full B2B E Commerce ExperienceRichard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology.
Email Richard.

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How to Change Icons of Custom Entities in Dynamics 365

Once you’ve created your custom entities in Microsoft Dynamics 365, you’ll probably want to give them custom icons to make them more easily recognisable, and to give the entities a more finished feel.

Thankfully, this is very easy to do in Microsoft Dynamics 365. Simply acquire the image that you want to use as the icon for the entity, then create two copies of the icon, of sizes:

  • 32 x 32 px
  • 16 x 16 px

The reason for this is that Microsoft Dynamics 365 uses the two differently sized icons in different places. For example, the 32 x 32 px image is used in the site map, while the 16 x 16 px image is used in lookup fields.

In order to use an image as an icon, the image must first be uploaded as a web resource formatted as a .png, .gif, or .jpg. The image also must be smaller than 10 kB.

When you’ve uploaded your desired image, navigate to you custom entity in the solution explorer in Dynamics 365, and select the update icons button at the top of the window. This will open a wizard which will allow you to select your image.

image thumb How to Change Icons of Custom Entities in Dynamics 365

Some Considerations

When selecting an image, you may want to consider using a vector image, as these scale very nicely, and remain sharp no matter the resolution. Also, in interests of keeping things consistent, consider either styling the icons to remain consistent with the out-of-the-box Dynamics 365 icons (white on a transparent background, material design), or making all of the icons for your custom entities consistent in some way.

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Environment Permission Error on Dynamics 365 Plug-in Execution

Recently I bumped into the below error while executing a custom plug-in in Microsoft Dynamics 365. This plug-in was using a NetworkCredential class to authenticate a SOAP request.

image thumb Environment Permission Error on Dynamics 365 Plug in Execution

On scrutinizing the problem, it was realized that the error was thrown due to the plug-in being registered in the Sandbox environment of Dynamics 365. When registering the same plug-in outside the Sandbox environment, the error was prevailed.

So, if you happen to register the plug-in in the Sandbox instance, you wouldn’t be able to access IP addresses, registry, file system, system event logs and certain network protocols. However, Azure Cloud Services can be accessed by these Sandbox plug-ins.

The thing to be jotted down here is that the Sandbox instances exist for the security reasons. Microsoft Dynamics 365 online supports only sandboxed plugins and thus, be mindful of this restriction when developing systems or migrating CRM to online.

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Finally Oracle

Oracle showed some very good numbers in its latest earnings announcement. As it begins its second year of aggressive cloud promotion, the company overall is showing significant year-over-year improvements, thanks to its turn to cloud infrastructure, applications and platforms. Yet when read right, the numbers announce the end of the beginning of the end as much as they announce the end of the beginning.

Oracle is the last major software vendor to adopt the cloud as its primary medium, and while it will support its legacy customers as long as necessary — it has a good history of loyalty to customers in this regard — there’s no doubt about its direction. With a legacy installed base, moving to the cloud has been difficult for Oracle. Competitors Salesforce and NetSuite, on the other hand, were cloud natives from day one.

To make its pivot, Oracle has had to spin up three “as a Service” businesses: one for infrastructure, IaaS; one for software, SaaS; and one for platform, PaaS.

AI, ML, IoT – and What Else?

Infrastructure is a low-margin business, because there’s a lot of low-priced competition. Yet it’s essential to the company’s strategy, because there will be a fraction of its 425,000-plus customers that get to the cloud simply by moving the locations of their data centers. Without an IaaS business, those customers could go anywhere, and keeping them in the software fold would become more difficult.

Oracle’s transition to the cloud removes the last legitimate holdout — the last objection to cloud computing almost anywhere — and with that we can call a top to an age of computing that began with mainframes more than 50 years ago.

The logical question now is what’s next? The rest of the industry is not standing still. Along with transitioning its customers to the cloud, Oracle is continuing to invest in advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and the Internet of Things, where it competes with most other vendors.

At the same time that Oracle is competing, it is leading in database — and some of its competitors are also customers. During last week’s earnings call with press and analysts, former CEO and founder and now CTO Larry Ellison offered a preview of Oracle OpenWorld, which will run during the first week of October in San Francisco.

Ellison announced that the next version of the Oracle database would be automated so that better than 99 percent of setup and tuning could be done by the system itself using AI and ML.

So I’m calling another top, in another part of Oracle’s business: database. Most of the competition from the early days of relational databases either has departed or been absorbed by larger entities, and Oracle may be the only fully independent vendor left (I can’t think of another).

Never-Ending Quest for Profits

The database industry, along with satellite industries in various forms of hardware, software and services, once formed the backbone of a major economic driver, the tech industry. In its heyday, the industry employed — and still employs — a huge number of people.

However, with the introduction of an automated database, coupled with an already strong cloud sector, there has been a good deal of automation. The industry has been cannibalizing itself, erasing jobs, and commoditizing products based on databases.

There’s nothing to be done about it. Business runs on information, but it also runs on efficiency. Cloud computing and automation are part of a never-ending quest to keep overhead low and profits high.

The more important question for now is, what’s next? What will be the next disruptive innovation — the thing that drives the economy and that hires lots of people and deploys new infrastructure?

Many people figure the next shift will look a lot like today, and think IoT and things derived from it might be next in line. I don’t know. Viewed in a certain light, the IoT looks more like a further commoditization and automation of traditional technology than it looks like the next big thing.

After all, the IoT is supposed to be about automation — using the Internet for communications between remote devices with sensors. The IoT is supposed to be the mothership for the purpose of dispatching services and supplies, among other things. It’s hard to see how this would lead to a great expansion in employment, though it certainly looks like a way to improve capital efficiency and profits.

For the moment, it’s enough to understand that the next major economic move will stand on the shoulders of the current paradigm and that it will be steeped in technology. Iron and stationary steam engines gave way to steel and mobile steam engines. The next decades are likely to look like the cutover from iron to steel. It will be an interesting time, as the Chinese say.
end enn Finally Oracle


Denis%20Pombriant Finally OracleDenis Pombriant is a well-known CRM industry researcher, strategist, writer and speaker. His new book, You Can’t Buy Customer Loyalty, But You Can Earn It, is now available on Amazon. His 2015 book, Solve for the Customer, is also available there. He can be reached at
denis.pombriant@beagleresearch.com.

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Data and Metrics: What Investors Want to Know About your Business

websitelogo Data and Metrics: What Investors Want to Know About your Business

Posted by Mark Woodhams, Oracle NetSuite EMEA Vice President

To measure is to know. For investor and company owner alike, it’s difficult to overestimate the power of up-to-date, real-time, cross-functional intelligence.

Data informs investment decisions, it demonstrates maturity and it is an essential marker for accelerated growth. The technology that underpins it is an essential tool for value creation.

Indeed, so rare is it to find fully-scoped business metrics among start-ups and scale-ups being considered for investment, private equity specialists have expressed their surprise when they do come across useful data. “Whenever I see cash flow statements, I always think this is a good start,” noted Thomas Studd, partner at Vitruvian Partners, at a recently convened NetSuite event that put PE investors in touch with founders and owners.

Given the weight applied to data, what are the key metrics a likely investment prospect should be able to produce? Here’s what some of the UK’s leading private equity (PE) specialists told us:

1. The essentials

“The metrics depend on the business you run,” said Vitruvian Partner’s Thomas Studd. But beyond the specifics, he adds: “If I was introduced to a company… I’d want to know what the P&L [profit and loss] statement looks like. I’d want to know top line growth, churn in the customer base and the upsell. If you were to tell me that, I’d have a pretty good perspective.”

2. The payroll 

“Aggregate payroll data is helpful because you can compare it to various benchmarks,” said Jack Alcock, investment director at Permira. Rob Foreman, chief investment officer, Primary Capital Partners agreed, pointing to salaries. “How much of it is fixed? How many businesses do we find that haven’t had a pay rise for a few years, where the staff say, ‘We were promised a pay rise when the business was sold.’” That imminent strain on payroll can have a direct impact on future growth plans.

3. The salesforce

“One area where we might spend a little bit of time is around the salesforce,” said Permira’s Jack Alcock. “What is the efficiency of your salesforce? How much is your salesforce being paid versus how much revenue is being brought in? What is the acquisition cost per customer in terms of amount of sales person time it has taken? How much sales compensation is variable versus fixed?”

“Ultimately, you could then benchmark this across a wide range of companies so you could tell relatively quickly whether things are way out of whack, and whether your people are overpaid or underpaid,” Alcock said. “It’s really valuable data because your sales people are the people who drive the top line.”

4. The customer

Provide Vitruvian Partner’s Thomas Studd with as much information on your customers as you can and you’re likely to impress. What is the value of each customer? What is the likely upsell value? If a customer is worth £100 in year one will the same customer be worth £110 or £80 in year three? By attributing value to each customer – or cohorts of customers – the investor has a better view on future potential and the company will know where it should be concentrating its efforts.

5. The top line (not the bottom line)

Broadly, private equity firms are less interested in indicators of cost cutting than they are in data that points to top-line growth. “There’s probably a slight bias towards measures of revenue growth and what that says about the market,” said Lewis Bantin, partner at ECI Partners. “We’re all here because we’re investors in growth,” noted Permira’s Jack Alcock. “We’re not people who go into a business and say that your EBITDA [a measure of a company’s operating performance] margin could be 10 percentage points higher if you cut out all of your sales people. It’s not how we operate.”

Learn more about how NetSuite is helping private equity firms with its Private Equity Services Practice.

Posted on Fri, September 22, 2017
by NetSuite filed under

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Nimble's Social CRM Finds Its Way Into Office 365

Social sales and marketing software provider
Nimble and cloud services consultant
NeoCloud on Thursday announced a partnership to deliver a simple, affordable contact management and CRM package for Microsoft Office 365 and GSuite users.

nimble crm Nimble's Social CRM Finds Its Way Into Office 365

NeoCloud has agreed to bundle Nimble CRM into all of its Office 365 deployments, beginning this month. Small and mid-sized business customers and workgroups in larger organizations will be able to access social business insights on any contact in Office 365 everywhere they work — across the Web, in popular Web applications, and in personal productivity applications.

Nimble CRM adds employees’ individual connections to a shared team relationship manager and enriches them with social insights and business context.


84828 500x349 small Nimble's Social CRM Finds Its Way Into Office 365

Click Image to Expand


“What I like about Nimble’s solution is that users continue to work through their usual tools such as email or social media platforms,” said Cindy Zhou, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

They “gain context and information on individuals through Nimble plug-ins to facilitate social selling, adding or augmenting CRM records, and marketing,” she told CRM Buyer.

Nimble also tracks engagement history, Zhou noted.

Insights for Everyone

Nimble integrates with first-party cloud-based solutions including Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Office 365 and Microsoft Outlook.

NeoCloud will provide sales, marketing and technical support services for the Nimble package.

Office 365 and GSuite are the two key business platforms NeoCloud sells, and virtually all of its customers need a simple relationship management platform that layers on top of those tools, said NeoCloud CEO Van Murray.

Nimble delivers relationship insights to users of the following products:

  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Safari
  • Edge
  • Hootsuite
  • iOS
  • Android

Nimble is available in two versions:

  • the Nimble Business Edition, which delivers access to team social sales and marketing functionalities, as well as social business insights on people and companies; and
  • a standalone freemium add-in for Microsoft Outlook Desktop and Outlook Mobile on iOS and Android, which allows profiling of email contacts.

Partnership Advantages

The partnership “will give SMBs an integrated, cost-effective way to execute on social selling,” said Rebecca Wettemann, VP of research at Nucleus Research.

“At a considerably lower price point than most other options, this makes social selling more accessible to firms with fewer resources,” she told CRM Buyer.

Social selling “increases sales productivity by more than 12 percent on average,” Wettemann said.

“As the number of people we work with increases, both internal and external to our organizations and across a variety of tools and channels, it becomes ever so important to provide context to the relationships and history we have with them,” Constellation Research Principal Analyst Alan Lepofsky told CRM Buyer.

How Users Will Benefit

The leading CRM challenge for companies of all sizes is the loss of engagement data, Constellation’s Zhou said.

Many solutions require users to input contact or associated emails, communications and other data manually, she noted. Tracking and inputting data “becomes a burden on sellers, marketers and services personnel.”

The integration of contact management, as well as allowing users to see social context and other features that come with layering contact management software on top of productivity applications, “helps users or companies engage with customers more efficiently and reduces the manual data entry effort,” Zhou remarked.

“Integration is key,” Nucleus Research’s Wettemann pointed out. People “aren’t optimally selling if they spend more than 8 percent of their time on entering data into a CRM.”
end enn Nimble's Social CRM Finds Its Way Into Office 365


Richard%20Adhikari Nimble's Social CRM Finds Its Way Into Office 365Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology.
Email Richard.

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Improve Sales, Marketing, SEO and more with Sales Call Analysis

blog title rethink podcast amit bendov 351x200 Improve Sales, Marketing, SEO and more with Sales Call Analysis

This transcript has been edited for length. To get the full measure, listen to the podcast.

Michelle Huff: What are people trying to learn from analyzing all these sales conversations?

Amit Bendov: Sales is a pretty complex craft. There’s a lot of things that you need to do right. Anything from being a good listener, to asking the right questions at the right time, to making sure that you uncover customer problems, that you create a differentiated value proposition in their minds, to make sure you have concrete action items. So, there’s quite a lot to learn. And then there’s also product and industry specific knowledge. For example, if you hire a news salesperson at Act-On, and first they need to be good salespeople; second, they need to understand marketing automation, they need to understand the industry, they need to understand competitive differentiation.

So, all those things are little skills that Gong identifies how are you doing and how you compare against some of the best reps in your company. And then it starts coaching either by providing you feedback or a manager feedback, and improving your reps so you can become better at all these little things, becoming a better listener, asking better questions, and becoming a better closer.

Although we sell primarily to the sales team, the product marketing and marketing teams are also big fans, because you can see if there are new messages that are being rolled out, and are customers responding to the new messages, are we telling the story right. What are customers asking about, both from a marketing and sales perspective, but also from a product, which features they like, which features they don’t like, which features they like about our competitors. So, it’s a great insight tool for marketeers and product guys.

Michelle: What do you think we could learn from unsuccessful sales calls?

Amit: I’m a believer we could learn more from successful calls. There are fewer ways to succeed than ways to fail. So, learning from what works is usually more powerful. But we all have our failures. And nobody’s perfect. Even some of the better calls have lots of areas to improve. One of the first things that people notice is the listen to talk ratio. And one of the things Gong measures is how much time you’re speaking on a call versus how much time the prospect is speaking. The optimal ratio, if you’re curious, is 46 percent. So, the salesperson is speaking for 46 percent of the time of the call and the prospect’s filling in the rest.

A lot of the sales reps – especially, the new hires – tend to speak as much as 80 percent of the time. Maybe it’s because they’re insecure, maybe they feel they need to push more. And that’s almost never a good idea.

Michelle: That’s such a good feedback loop. Forty six percent, that’s a good ratio, right? It’s not not saying anything at all, but letting them do the majority of talking. That’s interesting.

Amit: It is like a Fitbit for sales calls. Once people see that feedback, it’s pretty easy to cure: ‘Oh my God, I spoke for 85 percent.’ And then they start setting personal goals to bring it down. And because they get feedback on every call, every time, it’s pretty easy to fix this problem.

Michelle: What are certain keywords when it comes to customer timelines that you train people to look for?

Amit: One of the things we’ve analyzed, and we ran these on a very large number of calls, is what’s a reliable response to the question regarding the time of the project. If a salesperson would ask a customer, when would you like to be live? And there’s a range of options. We found the word “probably,” as in probably mid-February, is a pretty good indicator that they’re serious about it. We don’t know exactly why. But I mean we can only guess that maybe they’ve taken their response more seriously. Versus “like we need this yesterday,” or “we have to have it tomorrow,” which are not really thoughtful answers. Or obviously, “well, maybe sometime next year,” which is very loose. So, the word probably is actually a pretty good indicator that the deal, if it happens, it doesn’t mean that it will close, but if it will, it will probably happen on that timeframe.

Michelle: That is super insightful. Because it’s almost counterintuitive. You’d think that if you hear the word probably, it wouldn’t, they’re not very firm.

Amit: Here’s another interesting one. A lot of the sales managers and coaches are obsessed with filler words, things like you know, like, basically. And sometimes they would drive the salespeople nuts with trying to bring down their filler word portions. And what we’ve found, we analyzed a large number of calls, and tried to see if there’s an impact on close rates, in calls where there are a lot of filler words and calls where there are not a lot of filler words. And we found absolutely zero correlation between the words and success. So, my advice to our listener, just don’t worry about it. Just say what you like. It doesn’t make a big difference. Or at least there is no proof that it makes a difference.

And my theory that it’s more annoying when you listen to it in a recording versus in a live conversation. Because in a live conversation, both you and the customer are focused on the conversation and trying to understand what’s going on, and you don’t pay attention to those filler words. But when you listen to a recording, they’re much more prominent.

Michelle: I think at the end of the day, if there’s a connection, people are buying from people. I feel like those are all things where it’s good feedback, where you can just improve on how you up your game across the board on all your conversations.

Amit: Absolutely. You shine a light on this huge void that is sales conversation, what’s happening in conversation, just how people see clearly the data, versus just rely on opinions, or self-perception, or subjective opinions on what is actually happening.

Michelle: We talked a lot about the sales use case. What are some of the other areas we can use Gong? How about customer success?

Amit: Almost all of our customers now use it for customer success as well. Again, here’s where you want to know what the customers are thinking. Are we taking good care of them? Are we saying the right things? What is it like, which customers are unhappy with our service, what do we need to improve? So that again shines a light on how customers feel. Because without that, all you have is really some usage metrics and KPIs and surveys that are important, but don’t tell the complete story. What people actually tell you, I mean you could have customers that use the product a lot and are not very thrilled with your product. Or customers that don’t use it as much as you think that they should be, but they’re very excited. So definitely Gong is used for customer service in almost all of our customers.

Here is another interesting application. I know a lot of our audience are marketers. A lot of what we do in marketing has to do with messages. First is like how we describe the product. So, you can learn a lot about it from what your customers say, not what your salespeople are saying. But if you listen to real customer calls, I mean existing user, and you’ll hear how they describe the product, this is probably a very good language for you to use. If you listen to enough calls, you can get a theme that will help you explain your product better.

You might have heard that I’ve used ‘shine a light on your sales conversation.’ I didn’t make this up. We’ve interviewed 20 VPs of sales that use the product. And we looked at what are the common themes they use when they describe the product. And this came from them. So, it’s a great messaging research tool.

The other application you could use Gong for is SEO and SEM. Usually one of the first things people will say when they join an introductory call is, we’re looking for “X.” That “X” might not be what’s on your website, or how you describe your product. If you listen to a lot of calls and use their own words, those are the words you want to bid on or optimize for. Because that will drive a lot of traffic. And this is what people really search for and not the words you would normally use in your website. We do that, too.

Michelle: In our conversation, you’re bringing up your research and the insights you’re able to gain. Having these research reports seems to be a key part of your marketing and brand awareness. How do you leverage these research reports? What are you doing? And how is it helping?

Amit: We identify that’s the key strategic marketing capability that we’re going to be counting on. Something that people have not seen before, so it’s like the first pictures from the Hubble telescope. OK, so here’s what the universe looks like. Or the first pictures of the Titanic. This is what it really looks like and that’s where it lies. So, we’re doing the same thing for sales conversations. It’s something that people are very passionate about. There’s some 10,000 books on Amazon on how to sell. But nobody really has the facts. So, we identified this as an opportunity.

And we’re trying to do things that are interesting and useful. We try to keep it short. We take a small chunk, we investigate it, we publish the results, and try to make sure that whatever we do it’s something that people have at least some takeaway. So, it’s both interesting and immediately be applicable to what they do.

That does generate activity on social media. We get hundreds of likes per post. We get press from it. Some of it got published on Business Insider, and Forbes, and it drives a lot of traffic. Plus, it’s in line with our message, shining the light on your sales conversation. We do get a lot of people coming into sales calls, ‘Hey, I read this blog on LinkedIn, this is very fascinating about how much I should be talking, what kind of questions I want to apply to my own team, which is what we sell.’

Michelle: I enjoyed the conversation. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us.

Amit: My pleasure, Michelle. I had a lot of fun. Thank you.

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Draper James gains foundation to grow graciously with NetSuite

og image Draper James gains foundation to grow graciously with NetSuite

Southern Lifestyle Brand Supports Omnichannel Strategy with NetSuite’s Retail Apparel Edition

SAN MATEO, Calif.—September 20, 2017—Oracle NetSuite, one of the world’s leading providers of cloud-based financials / ERP, HR, Professional Services Automation (PSA)</a> and omnichannel commerce software suites, announced today that Draper James, a fast-growing Southern-influenced apparel and homewares line founded by actor Reese Witherspoon, has implemented and gone live with NetSuite’s Retail Apparel Edition in 144 days to power its financials, inventory, customer and order management processes. Draper James now has an end-to-end view of the business across its wholesale distribution, ecommerce channels and three brick-and-mortar locations, to enable seamless omnichannel experiences for its customers and retail partners.

Witherspoon founded Draper James as a tribute to her Southern heritage and gracious Southern living, and in particular her grandparents, William James Witherspoon and Dorothea Draper—who never left the house without her pearls or wedding ring and always drove her white Cadillac with the proper driving gloves. To realize its mission to give everyone a taste of that contemporary yet timeless Southern style Witherspoon grew up with, Draper James needed to scale operations for growth across expanding channels—which included ecommerce, plans to open brick-and-mortar locations and engage in B2B partnerships with leading retailers.

When running a clothing line whose founder is an internationally acclaimed actor, a big part of delivering a great customer experience is ensuring that whatever Witherspoon is pictured wearing is available for purchase. And when a dress can sell out in mere minutes after she is photographed wearing it, ensuring supply matches demand is crucial.

That wasn’t so hard to do when Draper James first launched as an online brand in 2015. But demand for its dresses, t-shirts—adorned with phrases like “howdy,”—and friendly, powder blue gingham stationery, grew across the country. People everywhere from Greenville S.C. to Greenwich, Conn. were looking to incorporate a bit of Southern charm into their lives.

“We really needed to have unified data to remove the barriers between channels,” said Melissa Baird, VP of Systems and Procedures for Draper James. “If a customer shopped in the Lexington store, and the only dress left in the network was in Nashville, we wanted to allow the customer the ability to easily purchase it from an iPad and have it delivered directly to the location of their choice.”

Draper James couldn’t meet the buy-anywhere customer expectation and wasn’t pleased with its previous inventory management processes, being forced to perform time-consuming, error-prone and inefficient manual workarounds in Excel. Disparate systems held the company back from getting to know its customers better, and from ensuring that what they wanted to buy was in stock. It knew sustainable, efficient growth depended on managing and maintaining flexible inventory across channels.

Draper James implemented NetSuite’s Retail Apparel Edition in June 2017 in 144 days using NetSuite SuiteSuccess; a methodology designed to deliver faster time to value, increased business efficiency, flexibility and greater customer success. SuiteSuccess leverages NetSuite’s depth of experience in the retail industry and business operations functionality, including preconfigured dashboards for retail-specific roles and reports with business intelligence for retailers that provides insight into top selling items, units per transaction, shrink reports, sales per hour, sell-through figures and retail stock-ledger.

“Since we’re such a young business, we needed a vendor flexible enough to allow us to morph and grow as a company,” Baird said. “We wanted a good partner for the long run—a like-minded vendor that understood what we were trying to do as we scaled as a company.”

NetSuite allows Draper James to manage its business across ecommerce, wholesale distribution and brick-and-mortar channels in a smarter way, maintaining flexible inventory and avoiding stock-outs. Efficient, lean operations allow Draper James to keep a laser focus on listening to customers, detecting patterns and focusing on adding value to the customer journey across its different retail touch points.

Since implementing NetSuite, the now 30-employee company has forged wholesale distribution partnerships with luxury retailers like Nordstrom and Net-a-Porter, and opened brick-and-mortar stores in Nashville, Dallas and Lexington. The business is headquartered in New York, with a warehouse in Greenville, S.C. and much of its manufacturing done in the south.

NetSuite provides an end-to-end view of business for retailers such as Draper James across wholesale distribution and ecommerce channels, as well as company brick-and-mortar locations, to enable seamless, omnichannel experiences for customers.

NetSuite’s cloud-based software removes complexity, and allows fast-growing companies with many remote workers to run best-in-class processes without high implementation costs and overhead associated with managing on-premise software. In turn, the business can adopt new functionality when it needs it to reach new goals. For more information on NetSuite’s products, please visit http://www.netsuite.com.

About Oracle NetSuite
Oracle NetSuite pioneered the Cloud Computing revolution in 1998, establishing the world’s first company dedicated to delivering business applications over the internet. Today, it provides a suite of cloud-based financials / Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), HR and omnichannel commerce software that runs the business of companies in more than 100 countries. For more information, please visit http://www.netsuite.com.

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About Oracle
The Oracle Cloud delivers hundreds of SaaS applications and enterprise-class PaaS and IaaS services to customers in more than 195 countries and territories while processing 55 billion transactions a day. For more information about Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), please visit us at oracle.com.

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