Marketing

Sales automation, not CRM: Autopilot reinvents marketing automation for sales teams

Above: Not how sales is supposed to go, typically ...

Last week, marketing automation system Autopilot released a new type of automation tool designed to save time, increase revenue, and help companies grow.

But no, it’s not for marketing.

Instead, the company’s new tool, called CoPilot, is a sales automation system that Autopilot says takes the grunt work out of sales, provides much higher numbers of warm leads, and can be implemented in companies using any marketing automation sales automationsystem — or none at all. Plus, in the process, will allow sales people to focus on what they do best: selling.

That’s interesting, because there’s been a trend lately of sales teams using low-end marketing automation systems to do what CRM doesn’t typically do: help with outbound. But marketing automation systems, by design and by name, are not really intended for salespeople, nor are they typically tailored for the specific sales process.

I asked CEO Michael Sharkey for more details on this new type of automation.

VentureBeat: What is this actually? Marketing automation, CRM, or a new combination, sales automation?

Sharkey: We call CoPilot a Sales Automation application, but I think it speaks more to the convergence of marketing and sales technology in general. It’s not marketing automation, it’s not CRM, it fits into this gap in the market that is completely unserved.

In one corner marketing has marketing automation, in another corner sales has CRM, but there is this third corner where sales development representatives live and that’s who CoPilot focuses on. Marketing doesn’t want salespeople using their marketing automation solution, and CRM doesn’t have the technology to help automate outbound prospecting. So instead, we’ve seen task driven applications try and tackle this problem: email tracking, email reminders, and template management for email clients like Google Apps.


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All of these are great tools, but as a result of their use, sales development reps have to become task masters and rely on manual tasks everyday to stay on track. In fact, they’ve become so busy being task masters they hardly focus on creating opportunities, qualifying and having conversations with engaged prospects.

sales automation

CoPilot removes all of these manual tasks and allows sales development teams to add potential prospects to CoPilot. CoPilot will automatically engage prospects through an outbound campaign (that sales teams can design and test) based on the prospects’ behavior. CoPilot will then automatically follow up and only land engaged prospects into the sales person’s inbox. A real time activity feed and sophisticated reporting give sales teams complete insight into prospects’ behavior whether that is clicking on a link or opening one of several touches.

VentureBeat: How does it integrate into Autopilot or other tools?

Sharkey: We think of CoPilot as the perfect sales companion for Autopilot, but in reality, CoPilot will work in any organization no matter what solutions they are running; it’s truly a stand alone application. And of course Prospect Ace (our targeted prospecting application for Google Chrome) allows you to seamlessly add new, and highly targeted prospects into your CoPilot campaigns.

VentureBeat: What size of teams does this work best with?

Sharkey: We have launch customers with anywhere from one individual sales development rep right through to accounts with over 20 users. While CoPilot is targeted towards sales prospecting with sales development reps, we see everyone from VPs of Sales, Account Executives and Sales Ops all using CoPilot for automated prospecting.

sales automation

VentureBeat: Who would you position this with, ideally?

Sharkey: I think logically it positions against sales use cases of marketing automation today.

Take a sales team I talked to recently pitching CoPilot. Their marketing team were using Pardot, and the sales team has approached marketing to run sales promotions and some mass outbound campaigns. The complexity involved with setting up such a simple automation use case in Pardot was incredibly challenging for the sales team … so much so that while they could accomplish what they wanted, the pain involved and learning curve meant they had never bothered since. Instead they found it more simple to revert to a manual email and reminder based approaches.

CoPilot has taken this overly complex process for the sales use case and simplified it to an intuitive, step by step process. Once it’s setup it can be re-used over and over to start conversations with engaged prospects.

VentureBeat: What kind of results can you expect with this? what will it do for you?

Sharkey: In sales teams, the ultimate goal is predictable revenue. For every 5,000 prospects I reach out to, X percent will become qualified leads, Y percent will become qualified opportunities and Z percent will become new closed business. Everyone talks about predictable revenue in sales by having a process, but the problem is the process of today turns salespeople into task masters, outputting so much energy for each of those 5,000 prospects.

Copil

Above: Copil

Image Credit: Autopilot

CoPilot removes the manual work from prospecting. Whenever a prospect engages with an outbound campaign, CoPilot can automatically send a personalized response based on that person’s actions. Interested prospects land directly into the salesperson’s inbox while the rest continue to receive automated nurturing giving teams more time to invest in engaged prospects.

The real secret sauce and “magic” of CoPilot though is the feeling when an engaged prospect who is ready to buy lands in your inbox and the first conversation you have is about getting a deal done. That’s the predictable revenue dream!

VentureBeat: What’s the cost?

Sharkey: Pricing starts at $39/per seat/month and includes 5,000 emails per month and a bonus 500 Prospect Ace Credits to help sales teams discover new prospects.

More information:

With more than 100,000 customers, salesforce.com is the enterprise cloud computing company that is leading the shift to the social enterprise. Social enterprises leverage social, mobile and open cloud technologies to put customers at t... read more »

Pardot is a B2B cloud marketing automation software provider that increases revenue and maximizes efficiency for companies with multi-touch sales cycles. Pardot's platform features CRM integration, email marketing, lead nurturing, lead... read more »

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7 comments
Brad Hodson
Brad Hodson

I appreciate very much where they're going with this and hope to see some great progress in the future.

I'm always wary of going from CRM to sales automation because you can lose a whole lot of the human connection when you start removing yourself from the picture and managing everything from the push of a button.

I know it's not just that I'm old fashioned (I am), but customers are looking for a closer connection to companies these days and cutting corners by automating processes that should be done by a human isn't going to be the right way to go.

But if you can balance your automated efforts with your human interaction, you can build a winning formula.


Brad Hodson, JobNimbus

Shashank Tripathi
Shashank Tripathi

Venturebeat, do you have any idea what those jargon words mean?

Ramin Ettehad
Ramin Ettehad

This sounds great. I'll be playing with the trial for sure. 


Joe Reis
Joe Reis

Somebody needs to reinvent stock photos.