Do you find yourself constantly juggling between your inbox and Salesforce? Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to view, create and update any type of Salesforce record directly from your inbox? I recently sat down for a chat with Brandon Bruce, COO of Cirrus Insight to get Brandon’s perspective on how Cirrus Insight can dramatically transform the way you work, by bridging the gap between your inbox and Salesforce.
David Giller: Brandon Bruce, welcome to the program. How are you today?
Brandon Bruce:It’s great to be here, David. Thanks for having me on.
David Giller:I love Cirrus Insight. Having been using Cirrus Insight for probably almost as long as I’ve been using Salesforce. I love the tool. I love the efficiencies it brings to me on a day to day basis. It feels very natural by bridging the gap between my inbox and Salesforce. That’s why I thought it would be awesome to have you on the program to sort of share because sometimes people are sick of hearing my own voice, to share along with you the insight and the experience of what Cirrus Insight is all about with my audience. So in that regard, I’m honored to have you on the program.
Brandon Bruce:I appreciate the compliment and suffice it to say, we, meaning Cirrus Insight the company, is really around because of early power users like you. So when we started in December of 2011, it was the first application to connect Gmail to Salesforce, the browser extension for Chrome or Firefox. When you and other core folks in the Salesforce installed it and then were willing to jump on the phone with me and kind of describe, “This is what workflow. We want to be able to save emails against related records in Salesforce and we wan to be able to see leads and contacts the Salesforce right inside our Gmail inbox, right alongside the email that we’re sending and receiving and here other additional features, other bells and whistles that we want to see as you guys evolve the product.” That feedback was invaluable.
Honestly, Ryan and I wouldn’t have been able to build out the roadmap from scratch in the way that our user base did for us by basically saying, “Hey, here’s 500 things that we would like to see in Cirrus Insight, like to be able to do the inbox in Salesforce,” and that really set us on our path for at least the next year, a year and a half after we launched and enabled us to build things into the platform like Calendar Sync which we have been doing now for almost five years to really keep your calendars in sync between Google Calendar and Salesforce. It’s really big platform developments like that where it was extremely helpful to have you all on board.
David Giller:That’s fantastic. I can honestly say when not only for myself but as I’m working with clients, helping them to utilize Salesforce, usually the first question that comes up relates to the automatic behind the scenes, the pushing of emails that they get in their inbox, pushing it into Salesforce so the synchronization of emails, pushing of contacts both ways from there, whatever they’re using, whether it’s Gmail or Outlook, pushing it from that system into Salesforce and vice versa as well as Calendar. But at the same, bringing it to that next level of, well, whether we like it or not, as much as you love Salesforce, perhaps any other productivity tools, whether we like it or not, can’t yet cut the umbilical cord from the inbox.
So most of us are spending a lot of time during the workday in our inbox and bridging that, I think, bridging that gap between the inbox so that when you’re either crafting an outbound email or looking at an inbound email to also see, to have that panel on the screen to see the corresponding Salesforce record for the contact or the opportunity or to create the contact, the account, the opportunity, the tasks, I think is something that I certainly as a user, I never anticipated that, “Oh yeah, that would make even more sense than just synchronizing data back and forth behind the scenes.
David Giller:So I guess my question is what made you even think of that? Where did that come about even?
Brandon Bruce:It is funny because I agree with you as a user that once you start using it, it’s really hard to go back to the previous way. In fact, funny story, it wasn’t long after we launched, was funny in hindsight, it was funny at the time but Amazon Web Services had a big outage years ago, right? Took down Netflix and Instagram when those companies were still early, tens of thousands of other really small tech companies like us. I started getting calls from our early customers like, “Hey, the service is down.” I said, “That’s terrible news and we’re hustling and we’re going to work with Amazon to get it back up,” et cetera.
But I said, “Well, in the meantime, good news, Salesforce is still up. Gmail is still up so you can still do your work just not with us bridging the gap and some of them were like, “Yeah, well, we really adopted Cirrus Insight as the new workflow so we can’t really go back. We’re considering it like a work stoppage.” So bad news, it became a very serious outage. But good news is we learned that our product was really necessary. It wasn’t the nice to have, it was a must have for lots of sales teams, lots of customer facing teams. That’s what I found as a user. I mean, once you get accustomed to the workflow and as an aside, we rhetorically asked in a lot of our demos, “Hey, it sounds like your team, you’re having trouble getting adoption of the inbox. People aren’t checking their emails.”
Companies will say, “Well, no.” I mean, everyone has to check their email obviously. I mean, you can’t do a day of work without doing email so that’s not the problem. I would say, “Oh. So well, is it the CRM then? You’re having trouble getting people to use Salesforce, put information in reliably.” “Oh yeah, it’s a huge headache, right? We can’t get people to log in. When they’re logged in, they’re not putting in the data right. They’re not putting as often as we’d like, et cetera.” I said, “Oh, okay. Well, in that case, let’s just solve this by bringing the CRM into the inbox. We know everyone’s spending their whole day inside Gmail, inside Outlook, let’s make CRM Salesforce as easy to do, as easy to use as email list everyone’s accustomed to and we spend our day there. That was really kind of the early aha moment my co-founder Ryan had when he started building Cirrus Insight is for those of us in customer facing roles, in sales roles. We really live in the inbox because that’s where we’re having customer communications.
Meanwhile, Salesforce is a brilliant database. It’s a management reporting tool. It’s where we can catalog information so that we have a record, historical record of what’s happening and we can also make some pipeline and forecasting predictions but the key then is keep salespeople close to the customer, so let them stay in their inbox, don’t force them to go into Salesforce or any other system for that matter and enable them to do the work easily from there. So as you mentioned before, there’s a lot of background processes. We can sync all your email, sync your calendar events, make it really easy to add bits and context. But what’s nice to see is over the past several years, what Cirrus Insight has done, what we’ve tried to do with the platform is make it really integral to anybody’s workflow.
So if your workflow includes, well, every time I after I have a meeting and you’d update that meeting to identify did the other parties attend, what was their feedback, what type of meeting was it, what are the next actionable steps of the meeting, et cetera, rather than having to go into Salesforce to enter that information, we make it so you can do it from inside your Google Calendar or inside your Gmail inbox by selecting the right check boxes and the right pick list, everything from standard pick list or custom fields. We support custom objects, record types, et cetera. So we really mirror the experience that businesses and Salesforce admins had built out for their users but we make it accessible, readily accessible from the inbox.
David Giller:Which is why I personally love and can’t live without it. I mean, seriously whether getting an email from a person that I’ve never interacted with before and I can immediately see on the right hand side on the Cirrus Insight panel from within the inbox, I can see on the panel that, “Oh, this person does not exist in Salesforce.” Or in the flip side, speaking with someone who I have had interactions with before, I don’t have to open up another window to look in Salesforce to find that contact, to find the related opportunities or cases or activities, it’s right there. It’s right in front of me. It’s right in my inbox which I think is-
Brandon Bruce:Yeah, that’s interesting. It’s a little, it’s a microcosm of the old time industrial revolution, like time and motion studies, right? So you’re at a desk and then, “Oh, I need to go and pull a file on somebody. So I got to stand up, walk across the room, open up the file cabinet, pull the file and take it back to my desk and call the customer.” That’s how it used to be. Today, it’s similar but instead of the file cabinet, everything’s in the Cloud so all the data is there but now you’re in two separate tabs, your email in one tab, Salesforce in the other tab. When I get an email from you and it says David Giller and I’m saying, “Well, okay. I know David but what’s our history? Do I even have open opportunities? Are collaborating on anything? Are we trying to solve a case together?” I’m not sure.
I guess I need to go open up a new tab. Search for him in Salesforce, find the right search result, drill into the record and look through it. Or with Cirrus Insight, I just stay in the inbox, immediately I receive your email and it says, “Oh, David and I are working through two opportunities. But we also have one outstanding and the last time I talked to David, it was on a podcast,” right, on a Tuesday. There it all is. So I didn’t waste any time proverbially walking across the room to pull the file, instead, I just stay where I was. So from the time and motion perspective, it saves a lot of time and it naturally, I’m thinking and listeners maybe thinking, “Well, they’re both tabs. I mean, how long can it possibly take?” The answer is you’d be surprised.
To run a search, to mentally kind of dedupe it, look through which record is the right one to open, et cetera and then to go back into Gmail and craft your response. Each one of those actions takes time. You’re talking we got 60 to 90 seconds let’s say to run that process, it’s probably a little bit longer, but to estimate. But if you’re in sales and it’s not infrequent that I’ll get 100 to 200 actionable emails a day, then it really adds up then you’re talking about an hour and that makes a huge difference, right, spending an hour of additional time talking with customers, actually trying to build a relationship versus going back and forth and doing manual data entry, huge difference over the course of a week, month, year.
David Giller:I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I think the value is exponentially higher as soon as we start to consider all of the data points that colleagues within the organization might have contributed associated to the particular record you’re looking at. So if I’m receiving an email or I’m sending an email to a client who’s whether they are really excited or really upset and to be able to see that, “Oh, this person actually has a couple of open cases that are sitting and collecting dusts for a while,” or, “Oh, marketing just invited this person to a really important, a VIP event that’s coming up.” To be able to see all of those other records that not only I put in but my colleagues within the organization contributed to that record, it makes it even more enriched in terms of the data that I’m going to find with the fewest clicks and to the scenario that you just described, Brandon, by going into Salesforce and looking at all of these records.
It’s like, “Wait a minute, now it’s taking me exponentially longer to drill into the five open cases and three open campaigns that this person is also related to.” So I think the value is even more, is even higher as others within the organization are enriching the data as well.
Brandon Bruce:It’s true. it’s a mirror of Salesforce itself, or maybe even better it’s a window in the Salesforce. Salesforce has always, any CRM platform, is always more valuable when your colleagues, your partners, third party vendors even that you’re sharing your order with have input information that’s actionable. So before starting Cirrus, I worked in fund raising and it was always a oh, oh moment if we were preparing to go ask a significant donor, lets say to sponsor a scholarship or a classroom and then come to find out that a couple of weeks ago, someone already asked them to sponsor a [brick 00:14:48] and that was so disappointing that they hadn’t seen that we were preparing this big ask and instead had really let the donor off the hook by the small ask, “Hey, we do $1,000 brick, we’re paving this walkway,” versus, “Hey, will you do a $50,000 endowed scholarship?”
Very different ask and it would have nice for the different parts of the campus to be on the same page but how do you do that when the different parts of campus are half mile apart. They’ve got their own budgets, et cetera. Well, you’ve got to get all the information in a central place. Then even better, even when it’s in that central place, it still relies on peole going to that place and checking it. That’s good. But even better is instead of having to go check it, as soon as I’m crafting the email to the donor, let’s say I was the one asking for the brick, “Dear donor. I’m writing to ask about a brick. Wait a second, do we have an open opportunity for $50,000 with this donor? I better wait before I send this email. I better call my colleague and find out what they have planned because if the donor gives $1,000, they might consider that to be their gift for the year and walk away and so we got a problem.
So 100% agree with what you’re saying. It’s when we all agree, when we all enter in kind of a social contract like, “Hey, I’m going to put the important stuff in the Salesforce so we can all see it.” Then it’s when we surface that, right, when we’re having conversations whether by email or a scheduled meeting in the calendar or a phone call, that we can see that information and say, “Oh, before I send this big proposal, why don’t I go ahead and try to close those three open cases?” ..It’s really low while these are sitting there waiting to be resolved. Or, “Before I pick up the phone to call this customer, it looks like someone else on my team called them three hours ago. I should go find out if they connected, what that call was all about. So it’s nice to have that transparency inside the organization. Because typically, transparency leads to increased accountability because everyone’s on the same page. You know you have the same information I have so we can be accountable to each other.
David Giller:Absolutely. Yeah, those are some great examples in terms of … It’s also showing how the data and functionality goes hand in hand with adoption and accountability which is I think a resonating theme with every organization that uses Salesforce.
Brandon Bruce:Absolutely. I think there’s no question what we’ve seen is Salesforce continue to add more functionality and features in this direction which has been great for us to see as customers and also as partners. So what we’ve done now over the past couple of years is to continue to differentiate ourselves and our product offering and continue to try to offer the best possible service to our customers and as we on board new customers, we’re readily able to explain, “Hey, this is Cirrus Insight fits, alongside all of the other applications that are available inside the Salesforce ecosystem. This is how we work with those.” This is how we become integral into your workflow whether you’re a support team, customer success team, sales team, anything customer facing, we can add value. We typically don’t sell to purely internal users, although occasionally we do. But if you’re customer facing, this is where we can be useful because we’re plugging into where you spend a good portion of your day, inside the Calendar and the inbox.
David Giller:So let’s talk a little bit more about the differences between Cirrus Insight and Salesforce inbox or Lightning for Gmail.
Brandon Bruce:Yeah, absolutely. So over the last, we’ll call it especially a year and a half, two years, Salesforce has introduced a couple features or products. So on the one hand, you got like Salesforce for Gmail, Lightning for Gmail it’s now called, Lightning for Outlook, used to be called Salesforce for Outlook, those could be considered more features. You can use them as part of your Salesforce subscription. Those will tend to have basic integration with Salesforce, like you want to save an email against a meet or contact, you can definitely do that, you want to see an instant look up of meet or contact inside your inbox, it will definitely do that too. Those are all the core things that we launched with Cirrus Insight six years ago as well.
But when you start to get into kind of the, we’ll call them the power tools for the inbox, I want to track emails so I can see when my recipients open them. I want to use Salesforce email templates with merge tabs and be able to send out quality, personalized emails based on that approved marketing content. I want to schedule out a drip campaign of multiple emails over time that are all personalized. I want to be able to quickly schedule meetings with customers by embedding my calendar availability into my email so they simply click a time and it books the meeting. Those are all the things that Cirrus Insight has in the core platform. Those are not things that a Lightning for Gmail or a Lightning for Outlook has. Those are kind of the obvious differentiators.
Then we have like a whole separate product at Salesforce inbox. So Salesforce largely obtained the foundation for that with the Relate IQ acquisition and so Salesforce inbox which was previously called Relate IQ and then was Relate IQ for Salesforce inbox. It went through a couple of different names. Now Salesforce inbox. So it has some of the Salesforce integration, right? Save an email with Salesforce, update records in Salesforce, do the look ups from the inbox. It also adds some of the productivity features. So email tracking, you really see when people open your emails, et cetera. But lacks some of the kind of bigger platform type features that we’ve added to Cirrus Insight.
So for example, the ability to schedule out drip campaigns which can include emails, can include scripts for making phone calls as well as action items, like for step three of a given drip campaign, I need to update this particular custom object from Salesforce, that’s something that we do. Some really tight integration with Process Builder which is pretty slick. Then additionally, on the platform side and we recently added this through acquisition of our own, the company called Attach.io, is the ability to track attachments. Super excited about this because for years, all of us have just been dragging these bulky PowerPoint slide decks PDF proposals and contracts, Word Documents, in the email and we send them and we have no idea what happens to that attachment. It could be blocked by spam filters or it could exceed the file size that a company or an individual is going to accept or they could just fail to see that there’s an attachment on that email, they just miss it and we really don’t know. We really what happens to our attachments once we send them.
Plus, we have no ability to edit the attachment, hence going back and forth with a Word Doc like 20 times, version five, version six, version seven. It’s hard to keep track of all that stuff. So what Attach does, Attach.io which we bought and now integrating into Cirrus Insight does is you take all those marketing approved, sales approved collateral, put them all on this Cloud repository inside of Attach and each of those slide decks and documents and PDFs now get their own individualized links that you can put into emails, you can put in your email signature, you can put in social posts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, et cetera. You can put on blogs. That way, when you send out that link to a customer and say, “Hey, why don’t you check out this slide deck. I think it speaks to your use case.” When they click on that, you get instantly alerted, “Hey, Brandon just viewed your slide deck and in fact he’s viewing it now.”
So you can go and actually watch someone view your sales collateral in real time which is really helpful because you spent all this time and energy or marketing has putting together this slide deck or proposal, then you can actually watch someone look through it and it’s a 10-slide deck and then everyone leaves after slide six, like, “What the heck is going on? They’re never getting to the money part right at the end. So it’s not really working.” So you get kind of this instant feedback of that works and what doesn’t and you can also see which customers are engaged versus not engaged. If they go back and open the proposal a dozen times in the first 48 hours, yeah, they’re seriously thinking about it. You should probably pick up the phone and call them or certainly at least follow up by email and see, “Hey, maybe we can get this deal done.”
By contrast, if they open it up once, go through a third of it, close it and leave, that’s not a strong of a signal, obviously. If they circulate around the office in five or 10 different people then share their name and email in order to view the file, now you’re really cooking, right? They’ve shared it with everybody on the team. They’re trying to get buy-in and you can use that to your advantage in trying to close the sale or advance the relationship. So we’re very bullish on attachment tracking.
The other thing and I use this feature myself all the time so I love to talk about it is the scheduling. So we enable our users to choose time from their calendar, insert them dynamically into an email, send the email and then the recipient can just choose a time that’s convenient for them. I remember the first time I received an email like this, the person was using a product called Assistant.to, and I thought, “Man, that was awesome.” Like I scheduled a meeting with a person. I wanted to meet with them. They didn’t even have to reply and I certainly didn’t have to go back and forth 20 times trying to decide what times should we meet, what day should we meet, what times are you in, oh, that time just got booked up, maybe we can try for a different time. So none of us got fatigue in the conversation, none of us kind of gave up on it. Instead, I just chose the time that I liked and then I got booked automatically.
So we have that feature and then we’ve taken it to the next step by saying, “Well, not only that but you can also just put a page, your own personalized web embedded your free, busy, available and you can share that page out with customers and prospects and vendors, et cetera, as you choose and that way it makes it really easy for folks that want to schedule a demo with you, schedule time to meet up in person, what have you, just by going directly to your calendar and choosing that time that works for them and then you get the invitation and it’s seamless. So that’s how we schedule across our sales the vast majority of our meeting with customers.
Then we also create customized pages whenever we go to a conference or a trade show. We’ll create a custom calendar that shows this is where we’re going to be, this is when we’re available to meet, this is how long we like to meet for the trade show, just quick 15-minute demo meetings et cetera, that way it helps us book up our calendars whenever we travel, we can maximize the time and also customers can maximize their scheduling by working around keynotes, et cetera. So those are kind of some of the big things that we feel like today differentiates Cirrus Insight.
Plus of course, and we’ve had this for years, our support for other apps that are virtual course applications, other apps that are developed for the app exchange. So for example, you take chatter, the ability to see a chatter feed, update a chatter feed from the inbox. We have that as well. So there’s a lot of really deep, deep Salesforce integration into the record types, checklists, custom object stuff that’s always differentiated Cirrus Insight. Then we add to that drip campaigns which we call flight plans, attachment tracking, enterprise scheduling and that’s where we feel like our platform really gets powerful for our customers.
David Giller:Yeah, the differences are pretty stark and I have to tell you, just from my own utilization of Cirrus Insight, I personally, I’m a Gmail person. I’ve cut the umbilical cord with Outlook quite a few years ago so I’m using Gmail everyday. For me, to be able to use the Cirrus Insight features streamlines and simplifies my day tremendously. I see this through and just to use some examples of the some of the things that you’ve about how I use every single day for creating records. It’s not only creating of leads or contacts, sometimes I might have, it could be even a relative or a long time friend who’s emailing me and through the course of the email, I realize it’s time to create an opportunity and I don’t have to leave the inbox to create that Salesforce opportunity record.
Then I can even more seamlessly use, I’m personally using Conga to create, Conga Composer to create the actual proposal template that I’m sending the client and then once again using Cirrus back in my inbox, I’m using Cirrus in order to leverage the email template, the cover letter of an email that’s going to the person and at the same time using the calendar features, let’s set up our next call and it completely blows them away, first of all in terms of how quickly I was able to turn it around and I told them straight out I’m a firm believer in transparency, “Hey, it’s not that I’m the Energizer bunny or I’m super caffeinated, it’s just I happen to be using the right tools and I’m doing it with very few clicks. This is really not a big deal.”
Brandon Bruce:Yeah. I think that’s a key, it’s a key point because I think frequently we stop at saying, “Well hey, we can save activities in the Salesforce and we can create leads and contacts, right?” These really building block bread and butter parts of what it means to do customer relationship management. But that really is just the foundation, like it’s really interesting to your point is really getting embedded into the workflow. What is it exactly across the entire lifecycle of a relationship with a customer that I do and that includes things like you’re mentioning, how do I generate a document using this third party application with Salesforce and then send it to the customer and then when I get that reply, what do I do with the reply, what if they send back a red line, do I save that deadline document into the record, do I relate it to the opportunity, do I then chatter on the opportunity to the DL team to share with them that this bio has hit the record.
When you really start to document that time and motion not just for, “Hey, we added another lead with the CRM,” but more, “Hey, I just moved this prospect into stage four of the opportunity pipeline and then the following things happen and they’re automatically added to this drip campaign and we’re tracking attachments and we’re automatically scheduling meetings.” Then things get really interesting. Then you can start finding those second and third order efficiencies beyond just doing basic prospecting which is hard enough for all of us that have done it for many years but getting into the full workflow of what it means to maintain and build and grow a customer relationship. Yeah, we love that stuff, that’s why we built the app.
David Giller:Yeah. I can also tell you that there are so many examples where it’s far more than what I’ll describe, like the use case that I shared a moment ago is I’ll refer to it as a one to one relationship, one person, one opportunity, one proposal, rather simple and straight forward, even though the … While at the same the same time the efficiencies are monumental, they’re tremendous. But I think we’ve all been in scenarios where we receive an email and in that one email, it could be a bulleted list. Let’s say it’s a bulleted list, me being in a Salesforce consulting business, I could easily be receiving an email from a client that has a bulleted list of here are all of the things that I need you to do, I need your help with as it relates to our Salesforce configuration. What I want to do, it’s more than just pushing that one email into Salesforce, that’s easy. But what if each item on that bulleted list is truly its own separate case or a task?
So from within the inbox, I can simply cut and paste each bulleted item, turn it into its own unique case, give it the appropriate categorization, assign it to the appropriate team member, give it the appropriate status because maybe I started working on some on them. So I could easily be creative five, 12, whatever cases, directly again from the inbox and even assigning it to other internal team members for additional follow up which goes far, even far beyond that one to one relationship scenario that I described earlier and at the same time all of those cases are natively in Salesforce. They’re tied directly back to the appropriate account, the appropriate contact person, the appropriate customer. They’re as I mentioned earlier, assigned to the appropriate team member for follow up.
Brandon Bruce:In a lot of ways, doing CRM kind of reminds me of it’s like surfing the web, right, or arriving at the home page of YouTube and you’re like … You end up adventuring around.
Brandon Bruce:It’s not because you’re wasting time, maybe we are on YouTube once in a while but it’s because these emails aren’t straight ahead necessarily. They’re not sending us in one particular direction. In fact, that’s what sales is all about, creating these connections between things that look disconnected. So to your point, this maybe a prospect that we can work on in 10 different ways, across 10 different accounts with hundreds of opportunities in the future, let’s say they’re an architect. They’re not just going to do this one building. So then how do deal with that? How do we make those connections in our CRM so we can track the relationship going forward, where should we put the emails, where should we put the activities and can you drill in kind of like you surf the web, can you drill into all those different related records, all those different accounts, see the different activities and so for?
The answer certainly rhetorically with Cirrus Insight is you can, just like you can in Salesforce with the benefit that you don’t have to go into Salesforce to do it. You can drill through those different levels. Now, you can I think go pretty much infinitely deep in Cirrus Insight, you just keep drilling down, down, down till you find the record you need and then you can pop back up again and create the relationship that you wanted. So yeah, it’s interesting how much that’s evolved from the early days when we launched, where we had pretty basic functionality with the core objects of Salesforce, leads, contacts, accounts, activities, opportunities, cases.
Now we have customers like, “Well, we see all that but what we really need is for you guys to support these three custom objects which we’ve written to really handle our business.” We say, “That’s great. Cirrus Insight automatically mirrors the configuration that you’ve created in Salesforce. All that custom work that you do is fully supported out of the box, and yes, all your profile and permission sets will work just like you’ve created them in Salesforce so people and see and do what they’re allowed to do in Salesforce, not more not less.” Folks are like, “Well, this is great because we wrote that object or we created this junction because we want it to work this way.” So we’re in the nice position to be able to say, “You know your business better than anyone else possibly could, so whatever you’ve written to make it work well, we want to support that for your users in the context of where they spend a lot of time in the inbox.”
David Giller:Yeah. Absolutely. I have to tell you the one feature out of … There’s a lot of features that I love about Cirrus Insight but the one feature that for me brings it just completely over the top that I love is seeing the live real time open and click metrics. So for those who are not familiar with it, most people will automatic … When they hear the terms that I just used, the open click metrics, they automatically assume that it’s the equivalent of getting a read receipt in Outlook. It is way more than that. So what I’m talking about is and I’m going to put it within the context of a realistic use case that I experience all the time, whether I send someone an email, maybe it’s a client that has been completely dormant, I have not spoken with in quite a few years or I sent someone an email many months ago about some new features that Salesforce recently came out with or recommendation that I gave them or a proposal that I send someone and I have not heard anything from them in a while.
All of a sudden, out of the blue, I get a notification on my screen that that person opened up that email just now or even gets more interesting and I start chuckling is they open a sequence of several emails that I’ve sent them over the period of time that they’re suddenly opening all of these emails within the course of two to three minutes and I can also see exactly which URL they are clicking on on that moment. So I am bracing myself, I have to hold back from picking up the phone and calling them, “Hey, what’s going on exactly?” I am bracing myself waiting for either a fresh email to hit my inbox from them or I’m waiting for my phone to ring. I don’t need to look at caller ID. I know exactly who’s going to be calling me within the next couple of minutes. I love this feature.
Brandon Bruce:Yeah. It is somewhat addictive, right? Because you get a little dopamine hit just like Facebook messenger alert, “Hey my friend just sent me a message. I better check it.” But what’s useful here is that with sales, you’re making money. So perhaps it’s even a bigger dopamine hit. That proposal email that you sent in fact got opened and in fact they’re opening it many times today.
Brandon Bruce:This is exciting and the same is true on me link tracking like, “Oh, they’re clicking all the links I sent them to all our different web pages and they’re really checking out our site, they want to learn more or they want to know what I sent them and then oh they just opened the proposal and I’m tracking that.” So all those different engagement metrics, the email open alerts, the link click alerts, the attachment open alerts, how they’re viewing the attachment, et cetera, all play into this overall kind of sales and [inaudible 00:36:42] game where you start to get a vibe of is this heading the right direction, are we going to advance to the next stage of the relationship.
Versus, “Yeah, I keep emailing this person and they never open the email.” It’s not engaging. Which maybe an indicator of lack of interest but it may also be because maybe your email, they’re hitting their filter, maybe they’re getting filtered out for some reason. So it’s letting you know that this means of communication, email, may not be working with this customer. It maybe time to pick up the phone or if you’re local, it maybe time to go visit the office and do a personal stop by. So it at least lets you know where you stand at or it gives you indicators on where you might stand in a particular deal so that you can figure out what should I do next. To your point, should I in fact call? Sometimes that is the right thing and it’s the right thing to do right away.
As soon as they open the proposal, you can call and just say, “Hey, I just want to follow up. I sent a proposal. Did you receive it?” Then they’ll say, “What a coincidence. I’m looking at it right now.” “Well, it’s not a coincidence. I knew you’re looking at it.” But for all intents and purposes. “Oh, well that’s great. Well, I’ll tell you what, while you have it open, I’ll just hold here. Have a quick read. Let me know if you have any questions. Maybe we can just knock it out now, save each other some time.” That’s thoughtful, tracking them whether they’ve opened or not, maybe somewhat spooky, helping to get the deal done faster for the sake of the customer and for you, that’s thoughtful so there’s a happy medium there that allows us to kind of streamline and simplify the back and forth communications that today it requires to get anything done. This gives a way, a path forward to getting things done hopefully a bit faster.
David Giller:Yeah. Absolutely. Can you share with my listeners a little bit about aside from the live notifications, the historical view of tracking metrics. So let’s say I have one particular email that I sent to a bunch of people or the historical metrics as it relates to this one person and what is this person’s tendency to open emails that I send them. Can you give us a little bit of, share the features and the benefits of what Cirrus Insight gives as it relates to looking at those types of metrics?
Brandon Bruce:Yeah, it’s nice. I mean, in our day of analytics and metrics, sales intelligence, it is useful to be able to see not just real time alerts, as it’s happening right now, but let’s look back over the last month let’s say, which of the templates that I used to personalize my emails last month worked the best based on open rate, right? Was the subject interesting? Did it get people to open it? And or based on engagement. So was there a link in the email? Did people click it? Were they interested in that call to action and that slide deck that I offered to show them and the web page that I was trying to get them to go to to read more about our offering or some special offer?
So being able to see which templates performed the best for example helps me to say, “Look, I am going to start leveraging this template more and this one that nobody opens, it’s time to phase that one out, regardless of what anybody else on the team might say or what marketing is saying, ‘This is our great language.’ ‘Well, the results are indicating that maybe it’s not in a sales context. Maybe it works really well for once a month marketing emails. Maybe it’s not right for a one to one message. It doesn’t have that level of personalization.”
So that sort of historical data on the template side can be really useful and on the one to one communication side, yeah, I can look and see, okay, of all of my interactions with David, the relationship seem to be escalating. Are we getting closer to a sale or perhaps not? So maybe early, yeah, we were … He was really opening all the emails that I was sending, really engaging and opening them a lot and in fact clicking on all the links. But now, things seem to have cooled down a bit. I’m sending him all these great information, these case studies and so forth but something’s going sideways here. The engagement is way down. What does this indicate? Maybe he’s on vacation. That could be one answer. But maybe it also indicates you’re shopping around or maybe it means the deal is dead. So it sends me in the right direction to find more information to help corroborate whether in fact I’m making progress or not.
So having all that data in there is useful in each individual deal. It’s also useful for just prioritizing our time. So a sales person might be working 100 bids or 100 existing customers for an add-on or expansion opportunities. But which of those 100 customers that you’re going to spend the most time with? They can’t possibly establish a high level of relationship with all of them simultaneously. They’re going to right out of time. So based on those engagement metrics that you referenced, okay, this one looks particularly interested. I’m going to spend the most amount of time with them and then in descending order, as people get less and less interested, I’m still going to keep in touch, I’m still going to try to nurture those relationship with various touch points whether those are emails or phone calls or in-person business, et cetera.
But I’m really going to focus my effort on the folks that are engaging today and that’s going to comprise the highest probability in my forecast for the next month. That’s where things get interesting. It goes from engagement to sort of how do we connect that with revenue, with outcomes and so we built in for example to our drip campaign engagement metrics is this concept of an outcome. You’re doing all these work but what is exactly what you’re trying to get to and if it’s a trial start of your software then define that as the outcome and give it a dollar value. Back into that number by looking at your conversion rates and say, “Well, the trial start is worth $5 for this company and so therefore if in my efforts I’m successful in getting a trial start, I will attribute $5 to that effort.”
Then you can you can go back and say, “Okay, this particular drip campaign,” or as we call them internally a flight, because we call drip campaigns flight plans, “this flight had this sort of payback. We got this ROI. We built this flight and it took us two hours to custom craft these personalized emails and phone scripts, et cetera, but as a result of that, we made $15,000 and therefore this is our ROI, versus we had this other flight that only made 5,000 and then we had our best flight of all time that made 25.” So you can start choosing which ones to use in which situations based on the probability that they’ll net out a positive ROI.
David Giller:Very cool. Yeah, that level of metrics to be able to see what’s going on helps anyone, certainly if you’re in sales but let alone any other type of role within the organization to prioritize your time, does it make sense for me to follow up with initiative or, “Hey, I’m running behind my goal on this particular initiative for this drip campaign where I haven’t brought in the dollars that I expected to.” To be able to see, you’re essentially holding yourself accountable.
Brandon Bruce:Absolutely. I mean, that’s the key, right, to success anywhere. All of us want to be part of a fast moving or most of us want to be part of a fast moving, exciting, high growth situation because we’re buoyed by that, we’re lifted up by the team around us and all the energy and excitement. At the same time, we’re all accountable to ourselves. We know in our heart of hearts what our individual contributions are and we all want to be significant contributors to whatever we’re trying to do individually and whatever our organization is trying to do. So getting to this, being part of a feedback loop, having an individual feedback loop which is relatively new when it comes to tracking emails, tracking calendar events, et cetera, tracking attachments, the tech has been out there for some time so early adopters..
But for most of the working population, these are pretty new tools. It’s unique to have an individualized feedback loop versus hearing about the overarching feedback loop on all of our marketing initiatives, right? So people have had those feedback groups for a long time. We ran this commercial, this is what came back. We ran these ads. We sent these big blast emails to hundreds of thousands of people. This was the click through rate, the engagement rate, et cetera. But it’s been only in the very recent past that we started to do that for ourselves as individuals. What about the emails that I’m sending? Just a little quick reply to my customers, are those good or are those not good?
Most of us hadn’t been tracking that very much until the last few years. I think that’s getting exciting because it means that we can get that instant feedback on, “Okay, do my efforts make sense? Am I spending the time doing the right thing? Does email work for me? Should I be calling more people or vice versa?” That’s helpful information. We all want to spend time doing the things that make the most difference.
David Giller:Absolutely. So can you tell me what, to the extent that you’re able to share, what’s coming next for Cirrus Insight? What do you see as being on the horizon?
Brandon Bruce:That’s a great question. I think as we look at our platform, one of the things that we tried to focus on here last few years is let’s make sure we’re solid all the way. We like to envision it, kind of cradle the grave of the sales relationship, it’s kind of a torture analogy but at the very beginning, you want to be able to add new prospects, new leads into your pipeline. How do we do that? Well, [inaudible 00:46:21] an email from somebody and then we say, “Well, are they in Salesforce or not?” So Cirrus Insight will tell you, they’re in Salesforce, they’re not in Salesforce. If they’re not, we enable you to instantly grab the relevant information from the person’s email signature and add them in as a new lead or contact and we also supplement that data with information about them as an individual as well as about their account, their company, their organization, that we sorted through third part database vendors.
So that’s the very beginning. At the very end, you get a signed contract, right? That’s the close of a sale and then it advances to the customer success role. So from that perspective, we’ve added on attachment tracking where you can send a proposal and track and see what happens to it and we built out some threshold eSignature integration. So our team internally uses that to send out our contracts and we get those signed. So now we have the bookends of the beginning of the relationship, the signed deal at the end and a lot of what happens in the meantime, right, you’re sending emails back and forth, you want to track those news templates, you’re scheduling meetings with the person so we’ve got all that. We’ve got the ongoing kind of nurturing through drip campaigns.
We’ve got some telephony integration. I can see us over the coming year or more building out even more on the telephony side. So right now we have call scripts built it and you can click the hyper link for the phone number, pop it open in Google Voice or Skype or whatever you use and complete that call and add call notes. I can see that going deeper. So yeah, I think it’s going to be exciting time. We have our near term roadmap that goes out six, 12 months. At the same time, having done this for six years, it’s pretty safe to say the ecosystem changes so fast, software changes so fast that I think I would feel and end up looking silly if I say, “It’s exactly what we’re going to build because this is the state of the art.” The state of the art is going to change over the next year and we’re going to be pulled and pushed and driven into new directions by what our customers are asking for.
I think I’m as curious as the next person to see what’s next for sales, for those of us that are customer facing and then our role historically for the past six years had been to meet that demand, build those things as quickly as we can.
David Giller:That is incredible. I really can’t wait to see what the ecosystem comes up with next and where it goes because it’s been, from my perspective, it’s been nothing but an amazing ride, not only because I love technology but like we talked about earlier, the practical efficiencies that are introduced by using the tool on a regular basis and bridging the gap between the inbox and Salesforce which is otherwise a major source of pain for those of who aren’t aware of Cirrus Insight being around and being available.
Brandon Bruce:We are around and available and thankfully very accessible and easy, right? So this isn’t the big, “Hey, make sure [crosstalk 00:49:15] an admin or a boss to get this installed.” We’re talking about like a two-click install. We’re an extension into your Chrome browser or Firefox browser. Or if you use Outlook, it’s about a two or three-click install for the plugin or you can use the Office 365 Cloud add-in and we have mobile apps for Android and iPhone. So really at the end of the day, our goal is to say, “If you’re spending time in an inbox on some platform or device, we want to be either connecting you with Salesforce if you use Salesforce.” If you don’t use Salesforce, we still have a version for Gmail that just have all kind of the email and calendar power tools built it.
So at our core, we’re a Salesforce integration application but we’ve also branched out now to serve folks that don’t use Salesforce. So if half your company doesn’t use Salesforce, but they still want to be able to track emails and use templates, we’ve got those folks covered too.
David Giller:Sweet. As a special gift for Brainiate listeners, we have a free trial and 20% off. So for those of you who are listening, you want to get started with Cirrus Insight, you can get a free trial and 20% off and all you have to do is go … You can either go to the Cirrus Insight website and use promo code Brainiate or you can use the link that will be provided in the show notes. With that, Brandon, I want to thank you for being on the Brainiate Show. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your insight and your perspective on Cirrus Insight. I love it.
Brandon Bruce:Awesome. Hey, it’s always great to be on. We’ve been friends for a long time so I appreciate you taking the time to have me on and chat about sales software and Salesforce stuff. We do it all day and we always enjoy it.
David Giller:Yeah, sharing the love with the rest of the Salesforce is what it’s all about because to me it just helps empower others to use the same types of tools and best practices that you and I take for granted.
Brandon Bruce:Yeah, I echo your point. We’re constantly learning from the community and we’re going to be out and about. We’ve done a few already this year. We’re going to out and about, a lot of user group meetings around the country. If you happen to be listening and you’re part of a user group or you help organize one, let us know. We always love coming and sponsoring and presenting. Then of course, for those that are listening that are going to head out to Dream Force in the fall in San Francisco, we’re always there and we sponsor a number of fun events there. So hopefully, for those folks that are listening that we haven’t had a chance to meet already, one of those events will provide an opportunity to do so.
David Giller:Super. Brandon, thanks for joining.
Brandon Bruce:You bet. Thanks, Dave.
David Giller:All right. I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Brainiate Show. If you’ve found this content helpful, feel free to share it with your colleagues at work and on social media. If you have additional thoughts on the topic, go ahead and drop me a note as I would love to hear from you. If you haven’t already done so, make sure to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Spotify. Also you might want to check out my Brainiate YouTube channel for videos, demos and other wacky Salesforce related content with corresponding visual elements to help you become a Salesforce rockstar. Also, don’t forget to check out the show notes for links to any resources that I mentioned today. I look forward to seeing you in the next episode.
Salesforce Consultant and Trainer
I'm a Salesforce Trainer and Consultant, and I love helping businesses use Salesforce to improve their profitability, revenue, and productivity. I have an unusual background for someone in this field - I'm actually an attorney by training, but through a series of strange incidents in my professional life, I've ended up handling product development and marketing for legal industries. Then I worked on large-scale IT projects at NBC Universal and GE Capital, where I was initially introduced to Salesforce. Yes it was love at first login! After that, it's all history, and I'm here to assist in any way possible!