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A Passion to Improve: 2019 APMP Bid & Proposal Con Orlando Recap

A Passion to Improve: 2019 APMP Bid & Proposal Con Orlando Recap

At this point in my professional life, I’m comfortable saying that I’m a seasoned conference attendee. I’ve been to countless […]


Category: Tag: Events

A Passion to Improve: 2019 APMP Bid & Proposal Con Orlando Recap

A Passion to Improve: 2019 APMP Bid & Proposal Con Orlando Recap

At this point in my professional life, I’m comfortable saying that I’m a seasoned conference attendee. I’ve been to countless other marketing conferences, from Dreamforce by Salesforce to the “SiriusDecisions and Gartners” of the world.

Heading to Orlando last week happened to be my first time attending APMP’s Bid & Proposal Con (BPC). After many years of being the conference pro, I suddenly became the conference rookie. Seeing this proposal management event through a rookie lens was both eye-opening and inspiring.

Maybe you attended the conference and you’re ready to reminisce, or you didn’t attend and you’re curious about what you missed. Either way, I’m excited to share some of the insights and moments I experienced at BPC Orlando with you today.

How APMP’s Bid & Proposal Con is a conference unicorn

Sales and marketing exhibitor events tend to focus heavily on selling products and services. I won’t say none of that was happening at BPC in Orlando, being that our own team had booths where we gave demos of RFPIO.

However, the main difference between BPC and the other conferences I’ve attended was the emphasis on bettering the proposal professionals themselves. As usual, we ran with that educational focus in our booths as well. Because at the end of the day, proposal management professionals are less accepting of sales pitches and name-dropping. They want to learn how to improve in their roles.

Another thing that makes BPC unique is that it is one of the rare opportunities when proposal management professionals come together in one room—without being surrounded by 10,000 marketers and salespeople marketing and selling to them. Instead, they can focus on connecting with their peers and sharing knowledge about the day-to-day life of a proposal professional.

The expansion of proposal management thought leadership

As the proposal management industry expands, so do the thought leaders within the space. Not even five years ago, it was challenging to find resources and camaraderie. Thankfully, APMP has been leading the charge. Now an increasing number of proposal professionals are getting involved, sharing their expertise to help the entire community.

Some of the must-see BPC presentations came from RFPIO’s circle of friends, including:

  • Writing AUDACIOUS Content: Winning Proposals with Confidence – A lecture by our client, Lori Coffae, Content Writer from SHI
  • Realistic Solutions to Unrealistic Schedules – A lecture by recent RFPIO webinar guest presenter, proposal graphics expert, and Principal of 24 Hour Company, Mike Parkinson
  • Lessons from the Mouse: Adding Creativity to the Proposal Lifecycle – A lecture by friend, industry expert, and CEO of BZ Opportunity Management, Kevin Switaj (Check out Kevin’s government RFPs podcast here.)
  • Creating a Proactive Small Proposal Shop – A panel moderated by Kevin Switaj, featuring our clients—Lauren Daitz from HALO Recognition and Priscilla Swain from Casenet—both Senior Managers in their proposal departments.

My colleague, Chris Pulley, attended the Creating a Proactive Small Proposal Shop session. Both Lauren and Priscilla shared their experience with using a response management platform and how RFPIO has saved them an immense amount of time.

An attendee asked about the best way to start with response management software like RFPIO and Lauren had some great advice to share: “We had the same dilemma…we weren’t sure when to begin the process. The only advice I can give is that you should start!”

apmp presentation

Demystifying AI and the future of proposal management

We keep hearing “AI is coming, AI is coming,” but the fact is that the future of proposal management is happening. Our clients have been using artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities in the RFPIO content repository already.

For those unfamiliar with these capabilities, there is a lot of mystery around AI as a whole. During BPC, I presented on the Leveraging AI for Persuasive Proposal Writing panel, and the audience discussion was really interesting. There was a big debate about what AI really is and what it means for modern proposal management teams.

The conversation turned into the need for digital transformation in order to leverage some of these upcoming AI innovations. People who are not yet using a response management platform have not started digitizing their process. And, they’ll have a really hard time adopting any of these AI technologies.

Like the BPC audience, you’re probably wondering how long it will be until proposals start writing themselves. Well, we can’t predict where AI is going to be over the next ten years. Most immediately in the next few years, AI will be used mostly to do the repetitive things you don’t want to do, in addition to the ability to handle high volumes of data analytics.

Imagine a team of humans going through 20,000 of your previous proposals, connecting the dots between selections and outcomes. One BPC attendee popped up and said this analysis would take 30+ years for his team to complete manually.

So, AI isn’t replacing anyone’s job. AI is giving you the opportunity to accomplish things you couldn’t before.

A hunger for knowledge and preparing to evolve

Again and again, from conference attendees and the APMP team hosting the conference, I heard the same thing. There was an immense hunger for more knowledge about how technology will evolve the way we manage proposals.

People wanted to see what products were out there and they listened attentively during demos. We’re just starting to see the early adopters in this industry, the bell curve in terms of technology from proposal management teams.

Over the past few years, there has been a dramatic increase in technology solutions that specifically empower proposal professionals. People are ready for it and they’re learning everything they can about these products to find out how they will benefit and improve.

The BPC experience is all about a passion to improve

I’ll sum up the way I felt when BPC ended in a single word…excited.

While sitting on the long flight back to Portland, Oregon, I still felt excited about the general sense that everyone was at BPC to better themselves. They truly want to make themselves and their companies successful.

They were passionate about improving their proposal management teams, passionate about accepting and making changes with processes and technology, and passionate about supporting each other. That kind of passion is exciting to see—and I can’t wait to see it again at the next APMP Bid & Proposal Con.


Are you ready for the future of the proposal management industry? Schedule a demo of RFPIO to start evolving your response process.

Reflections from the RFPIO User Conference 2018

Reflections from the RFPIO User Conference 2018

It’s here again, that time when we reflect upon where we’ve been and where we’re going as we set our sights on a brand new year. As the RFPIO team looks back on 2018 and considers how much we’ve grown and what we’ve accomplished, one of our proudest achievements was organizing and hosting our first-ever user conferences, to great success.

We knew it might be ambitious to put together not one, but two, big events in only our second full year. But the RFPIO team doesn’t shy away from a good challenge, and we were itching to spend some time with our customers face-to-face.

RFPIO has clients all over the world that we would have loved to visit, but we decided to start in the United States first. Early in the planning process we surveyed our U.S. customers to gauge interest, and determine the most convenient location. We ended up going coast to coast and held two events, one on October 4 in New York City and the other on October 25 in San Francisco.

It was no small feat putting together a program that would wow our clients and give them more tools for response management. We had breakout sessions for best practices with the platform, held a client-lead panel discussion, a town hall for questions with the executive team, and more. Ultimately, we had three main goals:

  1. Build community among our users and the RFPIO team
  2. Provide thought leadership on RFP process and strategy
  3. Offer product training our users can take back to their teams

Through a mighty effort from the RFPIO team and many enthusiastic and generous customers, we had two very successful days of learning, networking, and having fun.

KV-Ryan-User Conference-NYC

RFPIO’s Khalees and Ryan S.

Community

Building community among our users was a high-priority goal. Many of the people we work with are lone wolves in their RFP response efforts, so this was a chance to meet other folks who experience what they do every day.

One of our first sessions of the day was a panel discussion with a few selected client representatives. In New York, the discussion leaned heavily toward RFP process. For Susan Stein of ServiceNow, RFPIO has helped her automate the proposal response process, reduce the time that solutions engineers have to spend on projects, and collaborate more easily with other stakeholders. “They call me the great cat herder!” she told the crowd.

Alexei Budsan of Routematch Software said that he’s saved time and believes more strongly in the quality of his RFP responses. “It’s possible to step away and feel good about the content.” That same sentiment came up in San Francisco, as the discussion focused heavily on the power of having a solid and ever-updated content library.

Chances for networking presented themselves throughout the days’ events too, and by the evening festivities, many connections had been formed.

Client Panel-RFPIO-NYC

Alexei Budsan (Routematch), Susan Stein (ServiceNow), Elizabeth Duke (Informatica), Josie Fey (RFPIO)

Thought Leadership

It was important for us to give our guests some outside perspective when it comes to RFP management. We invited two of the industry’s premiere thought leaders to give presentations that would speak to building a strong process and organization, agnostic of any tool or methodology.

In New York, we hosted B.J. Lownie, co-founder of Strategic Proposals and a pioneering consultant in proposal response. His presentation was called, “The Proposal Support Function: From Stepchild to Strategic Partner,” and he gave tips for building confidence in proposal support, and how to communicate that importance to management. B.J. recently joined us to give his presentation again over webinar. You can watch that here.

In San Francisco we were joined by Lisa Rehurek, founder and owner of The RFP Success Company. Lisa’s presentation, “Ninja Tricks to Capture the Evaluator’s Attention,” was about getting into the mind of the person issuing the RFP, and how to reflect that in your content. After our user conference, Lisa invited us on her podcast, The RFP Success Show to talk all things RFPIO.

Cision-RFPIO-Case Study

Gavin O’Donoghue from Cision leading a breakout session

Training

The afternoons were made up mostly of breakout sessions, for customers to get firsthand knowledge from the customer success team on how to use RFPIO to implement the strategies and processes we’d been discussing all morning.

Some of our best attended workshops were about best practices for maintaining a clean answer library, training your team, how to use export templates, and collaborating on projects, among many more.

In New York, we were lucky to have a customer run one of the breakout sessions to talk about his success with implementing RFPIO in an enterprise setting. Gavin O’Donoghue was one of our first power users, as the global RFP manager at Cision, formerly PR Newswire. The organization’s growth since the acquisition presents its own challenges, which is a familiar scenario for many of our enterprise clients, and Gavin was able to offer some unique insight.

RFPIO User Conference_Likes

“What did you like about the RFPIO User Conference?”

Lessons Learned

We couldn’t have asked for better turnout, more beautiful weather, or lively and energetic locations for these events. And we definitely couldn’t have done it without the hard work of our marketing, customer success, and executive teams.

In discussions with various clients throughout the day, we heard over and over how much our customer success team has made people feel like they are consistently being heard, and how impressed they were that their product suggestions were often added to the solution―many times just shortly after they’d given their feedback.

The sense of community and connection was incredibly powerful to people, and we are glad to have provided that opportunity. Join us at the 2019 User Conference!

Read more about RFPIO’s company culture here.

Practicing what we preach at Dreamforce 2018

Practicing what we preach at Dreamforce 2018

It goes by so fast! After all the planning and decisions and hard work, Dreamforce is but a memory in our rearview mirror yet again. Salesforce’s user conference is larger than life and there is a ton of stuff to absorb, but after a week, it feels good to be home.

Our campaign this year was focused on something we’ve discovered as RFPIO has grown. We already knew that people who respond to RFPs are incredibly busy. Many have other, primary roles, and these proposal projects—while incredibly important for companies—take up a lot of time and energy. Our response automation software is there to make the process more efficient for these folks and their responses more effective.

RFPIO Fun Survey

What we didn’t know was how RFPIO was making people feel. Overwhelmingly, our customers have told us that saving time on RFP and security questionnaire responses has given them time to spend with their families or do things they didn’t normally get a chance to do. They are grateful for RFPIO, not entirely because it makes them more efficient at their jobs—it does—but for what they can do with the time they are getting back.

And that’s where #WinMorePlayMore came in. We encourage our customers to use their newfound time in ways that enrich their lives, and our time at Dreamforce was spent doing the same.

Dreamforce Mariachi_RFPIO

Mariachi band at Dreamforce

Work/Life Balance

Our customers have told us in many ways that we’ve given them time back to have fun. Hear it from them:

“I’m truly enjoying the fact that I’m not working late every night. This week I finished a huge RFP response 3 days early, giving me time for my husband and I to take our paddle boards out!” – Mona Sampson, RFP Specialist, Writer, and Coordinator at LinkedIn

“RFPIO has saved me countless hours on RFP responses. My kids and I took time to go parasailing in the Gulf. No time is better than time spent with your family!” – Alexei Budsan, Communication Specialist at Routematch

“I have really enjoyed having more time to spend with my kids. We’ve been able to go on several bike rides together. Thanks, RFPIO.” – Mitch Rogers, Engineer, Casualty Solutions at Mitchell International

Giants game Dreamforce RFPIO

Giants vs. Padres

#WinMorePlayMore at Dreamforce

We try to take our own advice, too. The leadership team at RFPIO always stresses the importance of work/life balance and spending our off-time doing meaningful things. We participate in quarterly philanthropy and never miss out on a chance to do something fun as a team.

So we put that same #WinMorePlayMore ethos into effect in San Francisco. We hosted a party with the WalkMe team at the Terra Gallery, caught a bit of a Mariachi band, snagged some tickets to a Giants vs. Padres game (mostly for the garlic fries), and shared a delicious Pakistani/Indian meal at a restaurant called Lahore Karahi. It was an awesome event to be a part of, but the time we spent together was what we’ll remember most.

You know what they say, “All work and no play” makes life dull, right?

Communicating business value and aligning teams at APMP

Communicating business value and aligning teams at APMP

Last week we traveled south to San Diego for the Association of Proposal Management Professionals’ (APMP) annual Bid & Proposal Conference. “The world’s largest conference for proposal, bid, tender, capture, business development and graphics professionals,” according to their website.

These are the people that we work with every day. It was our second year at the event, and since last year, our presence and impact within the proposal management industry has grown.

We were thankful for the opportunity to share thought leadership on two panel sessions with other industry experts: “Communicating Tangible Business Value Propositions,” and “How to Wrangle Your Subject Matter Experts.”

David Blume_RFPIO_APMP

Communicating tangible business value propositions

A poacher turned gamekeeper
As an accomplished sales professional, David Blume, RFPIO’s Senior Sales Director, knows what it’s like to just want to get the RFP out the door and focus on “real” sales opportunities. To demonstrate his evolution in this area, he gave a hunter’s analogy. In the past, he was a poacher—focusing on the highest quality sales and using laser focus to attack.

Now, David considers himself a gamekeeper, managing the whole perimeter of the RFP process and all the wild elements that come along with it.

Aligning teams internally
It’s not that sales and proposal teams are at odds. They are both in pursuit of new revenue.

David said the difference is in their horizons—RFP teams want to build a repeatable process and improve capabilities over the long-haul to support future business. Sales executives are focused on the next one or two quarters, so their time and attention are likely centered elsewhere.

And oftentimes, sales cycles can be long and complex—a proposal is just one element to that process. However, its impact is generally underestimated. An RFP gives you the chance to articulate:

  • Your understanding of your prospect’s needs.
  • How you can help them solve that problem.
  • The tangible value you will deliver.
  • Why they should choose you over your competition.

This calls on both sales and proposal teams to align. Your company’s value should be communicated throughout the sales process, and the RFP should be the icing on the cake. Align your resources internally first, and RFP wins can be truly shared across departments.

A message for the marketers out there: When developing case studies, try to include quantified evidence to support your company’s value proposition. You’ll appeal to sales teams especially if you can include a dollar value.

RFPIO Team APMP

Are all RFPs worth it?
As you’re evaluating an RFP, make sure you know precisely what corporate initiative the investment supports, what you expect the return on investment to be, and why you’re pursuing it at this moment.

An exercise: Find out the the monetary value, win or lose, of the all of the business influenced by a proposal (RFP response or sales generated) in the last year. What would an extra deal a month mean for your organization’s bottom line?

Once you’ve decided an RFP is a viable opportunity and your sales and proposal teams are working together to deliver your value proposition, make sure your message is:

  • Quantified (use real numbers wherever you can)
  • Evidence-based (show, instead of tell)
  • Differentiated (describe how you stand out from the competition)

“An RFP is not a quote, or a bill of materials. It’s a critical selling document designed to move the deal forward,” David said. “It has the potential to persuade (or at least reinforce the solid work done by sales and others), and to quantify business impact and value.”

How to wrangle your subject matter experts

Like herding cats
Ganesh Shankar, RFPIO’s CEO, knows it’s not easy to manage subject matter experts. After all, he used to be one. From his perspective, the elusive SME is focused on their primary roles, and may not have the time or interest to offer input into the sales process.

Proposal managers, we know how hard this makes your job. You’re stuck between sales and product teams and marketing, trying to manage an important revenue-generating process. It takes a village to respond to RFPs and requires a special kind of tenacity to solicit input from people across your organization, over and over again.

20 Stats That Will Make You a Better Proposal Manager

But when it comes to the people in your company who understand the technicalities of your product or service—the SMEs— there are implications of non-responsiveness. These are “ready made opportunities,” and avoiding them will have consequences.

So how do you get them to pay attention to you and answer the questions you need, in order to support an opportunity for the whole company?

Ganesh Shankar_RFPIO_APMP

Communication and ownership
Try implementing a system of communication in your organization where the subject matter experts are looped in from beginning to end of the process, avoiding surprises and allowing them to take ownership. This way, they can see and feel the impact of the proposals they’ve responded to, whether they are positive or negative.

Let them use their own tools
When it comes to content management, organizations should understand which tools their busy SMEs are working in from day to day. Consider utilizing integrations so they can collaborate without having to learn a new tool. If you’re using RFP software like RFPIO, you can integrate technologies like CRM and collaboration and cloud-storage tools.

Define a Service Level Agreement
Only approach an SME with a proposal if it’s been qualified to the company’s agree-upon standards. Once you’ve determined it’s a worthwhile opportunity, give as many details as you possibly can. Let them know exactly what the document is, what they are being asked to include, and approximately how long it should take, so that everyone is on the same page. Make sure to give them some lead time, too. Don’t ask for input at the last minute.

The responsibility here doesn’t fall entirely on the proposal manager, though. If the proposal team has kept up their end of the agreement, the SME should be responsive and clear about their timelines and contributions to the RFP process.

9 Challenges Every SME Shall Overcome with RFP Software

From Ganesh’s point of view, these are the three best ways to try and manage difficulty getting responses from subject matter experts, and relieve you from your frustrations in the RFP process. Forget wrangling, and start working harmoniously.

Making the most of MarTech Conference 2018

Making the most of MarTech Conference 2018

Last week my colleagues and I attended the MarTech West conference in San Jose. According to their website, the organization’s mission for the event is to “cross-pollinate the best ideas and latest innovations across marketing, technology, and management.”

Technologies in the marketing and sales enablement spaces emerge and connect year over year, and we were thrilled to be alongside so many companies showcasing these innovative products and services.

It was our first time sponsoring a booth at MarTech, so we absorbed as much as possible and took stock of our experience. Here are a few things we learned that made it a standout event for RFPIO and one we’re looking forward to attending in the future:

RFPIO_MarTech Booth

Attend an unplanned session

I had high hopes for my session-going at MarTech. I’m a marketer, so I’m often researching marketing and sales enablement tools that could enhance our processes and results. Alas (and fortunately), we had a steady stream of traffic to our booth, and my time wasn’t as flexible as planned.

This change of plans ended up working in my session-going favor. A booth visitor had told me about a presenter who was extolling the virtues of the RFP in the technology vendor selection process. The speaker, Tony Byrne from Real Story Group, was giving another presentation at a nearby stage.

We’ve talked before about how RFP software fits into the marketing and sales technology stack. The challenges of responding to requests for proposal, “ready made opportunities,” can be improved with RFP automation software.

On the other side, if you’re the one sourcing a technology vendor, Byrne suggests using the method of design thinking to plan a system for evaluating tools. He also suggests reframing your RFP by asking narrative questions. Don’t ask if their solution integrates with the ones you use, ask them how it will work within the context of an actual, real-life scenario that’s causing you trouble.

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Real Story Group

Try something new

This is something a marketer often thinks about. We’re going to this event—how do we stand out from the rest, and attract the people who can benefit from our product or service? And how do we do it without breaking the bank?

What worked for us was to give attendees an incentive to ask us about what RFPIO does. We dropped an invitation to coffee on us (via a Starbucks gift card) in the complimentary conference bags. This served a couple purposes: 1) it gave visitors a soft way to start a conversation about our technology, and 2) allowed us to offer something useful and easy to transport.

Have to give a shout out to Valassis Digital for their creative use of individually packed cookies to market their digital advertising platform. “Don’t rely on cookies for your digital advertising.” Talk about something useful!

Valassis Digital MarTech

Explore the city

This luxury is not always possible, but can be really rewarding if you have the chance. When attending conferences, sometimes you’re in and out so fast, you don’t have time to remember where you are. But you traveled to get there, why not make the most of it?

We were in San Jose, right in the thick of sunny Silicon Valley, so we decided to do as the locals do and try some new technology—we rented Bird scooters. It was an inexpensive and super convenient way to get from place to place when we weren’t carrying luggage or event swag. And let’s face it, they were really fun.

If you can, try to bookmark a day around the event that gives you a chance to do some extra exploring. Even if you don’t have that much time, grabbing breakfast or dinner at a local establishment can give you a peek into a community’s culture.

Bird Scooters

Connect with people

This may seem obvious, but it can actually be one of the hardest things to do. I get it—you’re busy talking up your business from the confines of your comfortable, handsomely-adorned booth.

We were lucky too—our neighbors (shout out to the team at Adstage!) were awesome (not the least of which because they offered us sparkling water in a koozie). They were the first ones to ask us about RFPIO, and engaged with us candidly about our respective parts of the marketing and sales tech ecosystem.

But we also made sure to spend some time venturing out to talk with our fellow conference goers about what they do—including, and especially, some of our customers. With a global user base, we don’t have the chance to meet each of them in person, and this was our opportunity to put a face to a name.

Overall, it was a positive event that connected us with people, ideas, and technologies that will enhance our marketing and sales processes as our business scales. We are already looking forward to next year’s MarTech West conference—see you in 2019!

6 can’t-miss Dreamforce 2017 sessions for RFP responders

6 can’t-miss Dreamforce 2017 sessions for RFP responders

Dreamforce 2017 is approaching quickly. With less than a month to go before the biggest sales technology conference of the year happens, RFP responders are gearing up for the excitement.

It’s my first time attending Dreamforce. As a longtime Salesforce user, I am really looking forward to connecting with the sales community and checking out tons of educational sessions. Needless to say, seeing Lenny Kravitz and Alicia Keys perform will be an amazing experience as well.

Even more exciting is that the RFPIO team will be at Dreamforce in full force with our first booth. Whether you’re a friend of RFPIO—or an RFP responder we have yet to befriend—we would love for you to stop by Booth 1954 to say hi and hang out with us.

If you haven’t checked out RFPIO yet, this is a perfect opportunity for you to learn how you can save time and boost productivity by streamlining your team’s RFP response process. Bonus: We will be giving away an Amazon Fire Stick to anyone who completes a personalized demo with us at Dreamforce.

We know exactly how crazy Dreamforce can be since we attended last year as a team. In 2016, over 171,000 people from 83 countries attended the Salesforce conference in San Francisco. This year is expected to be bigger than ever.

It’s all good…until you realize there are nearly 3,000 sessions you have to choose from. Not to mention, you’ll be running all over the streets of San Francisco (ladies…wear flats!) to try to catch as many sessions as you can in only a few days.

To help our busy proposal managers and sales teams prioritize a bit, we pulled together a quick list of can’t-miss sessions at this year’s Dreamforce. These productivity focused sessions are worth considering as you plan your attack.

6 can’t-miss sessions for RFP responders attending #DF17

3 Tips to Avoid Sales Burnout – Did you know sales has one of the highest burnout rates of any profession? Learn some proven techniques to beat burnout and focus on productivity, so you can keep your eye on the prize.

Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) Best Practices from Uber and ADP – Become a master of of efficiency, much like our own RFPIO gurus who automate their RFP response process. Learn how to overcome common challenges created by contract and document bottlenecks.

Advanced Reporting Tips and Tricks for New Admins – Reporting is important, but it can take too many hours sales teams don’t have to spare. Find out how your team can minimize reporting time, but still present the data effectively to make informed decisions at your organization.

3 Tips to Boost Sales Productivity With Salesforce Inbox – Administrative tasks like scheduling meetings and replying to emails often distract sales teams from achieving their revenue objectives. Find out how Salesforce Inbox adds 25% more selling time back in their day.

A Connected Business: What it Means and How to Make it a Reality – What does it mean to build a truly connected business? Walk away with best practices to bridge the gap between data and people by automating key business processes.

All Treasure No Hunt: How AI Will Transform Your Leads into Golden Opportunities – One-third of companies completely ignore their best leads today. AI is the way of the future. See how conversational AI is automating lead follow-up in Salesforce to convert more of your leads.

dreamforce conference

Let’s get together at Dreamforce!

Schedule time for a personalized demo and we’ll see you in San Francisco.

Relationships, technology, and data ruled Dreamforce 2016

Relationships, technology, and data ruled Dreamforce 2016

When nearly 200,000 people invade a crowded city like San Francisco, that might seem crazy any other week of the year. When it’s Dreamforce, all bets are off as salespeople, marketers, CEOs, and every techie imaginable come together to learn and connect…and celebrate all things Salesforce, naturally.

As the new startup kid on the block, the RFPIO team was excited to attend—and ready for almost anything.

salesforce dreamforce

Ganesh and Britt were having their first Dreamforce adventure, while Angela was on her fifth. Even with their different levels of conference “black belts,” the team spent the week soaking in unbeatable inspiration from one of the biggest sales conferences of the year.

Now that the team is back in the swing of things, we thought we would share a few takeaways for those who didn’t get a chance to attend this year’s conference—or those of you who went and had an entirely different experience.

So, what do we think ruled Dreamforce 2016? Relationships, technology, and data.


expo at dreamforce

Ganesh

What was your first impression of Dreamforce? Will you be back in 2017?

My first Dreamforce certainly isn’t going to be my last—it was quite a party from the daytime sessions to the nighttime events. Now that we are Salesforce partners, I am convinced that RFPIO should have a dedicated booth next year.

So, yes…I will definitely be back to explore more great sessions and the latest technology Salesforce has to offer.

You had several meetings with prospects. Can you share the importance of personal connections at Dreamforce?

As most sales occur virtually, Dreamforce is the perfect opportunity to meet prospects face-to-face and get to know them on a more personal level. It also gives the prospect an opportunity to know more about you and your company, which opens up conversations about how our tool integrates with Salesforce. The wonderful thing about Dreamforce is that everyone is connected to Salesforce in some way.

Making time at the conference for meetings is key to future opportunities. If every conversation happens remotely, you risk lacking a real connection with your prospects that has the power to deepen the relationship.

dreamforce conference

Britt

Session: #MarTech Demystified: Build Your Small Business Marketing Stack
By: Scott Brinker of Ion Interactive and Chiefmartec.com and Travis Wright of CCP Digital

Why did this session stand out to you?

This session was actually a last-minute addition for me and I was stunned by how jam-packed it was with solid insight. The Q&A led by Capterra’s Director of Marketing, Katie Hollar, was seamless, and both Scott Brinker and Travis Wright peppered plenty of humor throughout to top off a memorable discussion.

Frankly, it was the one session I went to where everyone was truly engaged—which is no easy feat with an audience of easily distracted marketers. It’s safe to say I wasn’t the only one in the room who didn’t want this session to end.

What were the key takeaways?

Beyond marketing technology, Scott and Travis provided learnings that can be applied to any solution purchase. They really stressed the importance of what technology means for individual companies—and how to get the right team and stack in place.

  1. Technology Investment: Use the 90/10 rule. 90% should be spent on teaching your team to understand and maximize the tool. The money invested in the software should be the smallest part of the ratio.
  2. People Investment: Wright warned there can be a deficit in your organization if someone is holding the keys to your castle. Employees will not stay at your company forever, so it’s smart to train multiple people on the tool.
  3. Future-Proof Technologies: As Brinker wisely said about the vendor selection process: “Vet vendors through a lens of optionality. Anticipate transitions. Say: I love you, I hope this lasts forever…but what is the prenuptial here?”

radius dreamforce

Angela

Session: The Network Effect on B2B Data
By: Darian Shirazi of Radius

Why did this session stand out to you?

What really stood out about the Radius session was how direct and valuable it was. Most of the sessions at Dreamforce take an aspirational theme—like exploring predictive analytics to get more accurate or quality leads, or 10 segmentation ideas you haven’t thought of before.

Darian’s discussion was refreshing, because it wasn’t about the shiny objects and tools. It was about the foundation of good data.

What were the key takeaways?

All of the campaigns and tactics are only as good as your data. If the data is bad, nothing will work—and unfortunately, the time and resources your company spent will be a waste of energy.

When you buy a tool, it can take months before you see revenue generation. If your data is in bad shape, it can take even longer. The house has to be in order.

Everybody tries to scale through automation. Think of the efficiencies that could be gained by sales teams if they had a good data set to work with.


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