By Rory J. Thompson, Web Editor
With the economy finally shaking off the doldrums of the past few years, those companies that have kept moving forward are finally reaping the rewards for their hard work.
None is more deserving than VanillaSoft, manufacturer of the industry's leading software for Sales by Phone (News - Alert). The company’s intuitive and easy-to-use inside sales software takes the best of CRM, Lead Management and Telemarketing applications to create the most productive phone sales environment available today.
We recently caught up with Kevin Thornton, EVP Sales and Marketing at VanillaSoft, for his insights on where the company has been and where he hopes to take it for 2015.
TMC (News - Alert): Looking back at 2014, what were some important advancements or trends that emerged in the market you serve? What were the key trends that impacted your business?
Kevin Thornton: One of the biggest trends in 2014 has been the focus on social selling, which is not to be confused with social media marketing or content marketing. Social selling is about building one-to-one relationships with leads, prospects, and customers. Social media marketing and content marketing, on the other hand, are about engaging and informing audiences. It's an important distinction to make because of the buzz surrounding marketing automation. Some companies mistakenly believe that marketing automation will automate their sales efforts—in other words, get rid of the need for making one-to-one engagements. If that's why an organization chooses a sales tool—especially a B2B company—they may see more leads, but they won't necessarily see higher close rates. Complex B2B and high-end consumer sales typically require a trusted advisor. A sales rep needs to engage with the prospect. One way a salesperson may do this is through social networks—reach out to set the tone for what's to come next in the buyer's journey. The prospect's engagement during the sales cycle will go beyond social networks, of course. Sales teams still need training and tools to help them perform well with cold/warm calling, sales emails, and leaving great voicemails.
TMC: What were some of VanillaSoft’s biggest achievements in the past year?
KT (News - Alert): In 2014 we were honored to receive several awards and honors. Among them are the TMC CUSTOMER Magazine 2014 Product of the Year Award, the 2014 Communications Solutions Product of the Year Award, and our COO, Genie Parker, was named to the Sales Lead Management Association's “20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management” in 2014.
TMC: Overall, how would you characterize the past year for your company and industry as a whole?
KT: VanillaSoft has seen tremendous growth in 2014. Inside sales, one of our primary audiences across multiple industries, is coming into its own as more sales teams shift from outside sales to sales by phone. In addition to the changing sales landscape, there is a lot of constructive dialog about the importance of alignment between sales and marketing. We are helping to drive that dialog with subject matter content such as white papers, blogs, studies and webinars. In fact, a new white paper will be released shortly that touches on the marriage of marketing automation technology with sales automation platforms.
TMC: What are you planning for 2015?
KT: We plan to further engage with our customers to understand their needs and pain points, to help us evolve and determine the future course for VanillaSoft, and to provide additional tools to enhance the customers’ experience. At the same time, we’ll be taking a look at exciting new verticals and markets where we can add value by providing the tools and services to help sales teams increase productivity and efficiencies.