CallidusCloud is an odd duck.

In a crowded market of point solutions around marketing automation, CRM, or sales enablement, and an even more imposing world of marketing clouds from the likes of Adobe, Salesforce, Oracle, and IBM, CallidusCloud stands apart — maybe even aloof.

cloud emailSo it makes sense, I suppose, that the company is bringing a potentially disruptive sales/marketing tool to the market, while downplaying the grand old man of marketing tech: CRM.

Shortly, the company will launch a hybrid marketing automation/CRM-light/social media marketing capability for sales reps that will live right inside their Gmail inboxes. It’s called LeadRocket, drawing on technology from an acquisition CallidusCloud made in February of this year, and theoretically, it will integrate seamlessly into what sales reps already do.

It’s intended to make sales reps’ lives easier and improve their results — without adding any burden onto their already-overloaded backs.

Heard that one before?

So has Giles House, CMO at CallidusCloud.

“It’s easy to get on salespeople’s back,” he told me while chatting about the forthcoming release. “But CRM is a tool for management … it doesn’t add a ton of value for salespeople. In fact, 67 percent of sales reps found that CRM didn’t improve their revenue results. And that’s not really what it’s designed to do.”

Read David Raab’s list of the 5 worst mistakes in picking a marketing automation system

In fact, CRM is a forecasting tool that VPs of sales and CMOs use to understand their pipeline, House said. And it’s built on the backs of salespeople, who fill in forms and tick off boxes so that their managers know what’s happening.

The problem is, that leaves salespeople doing non-sales activity, and the features don’t help them sell more, faster. LeadRocket is built to do exactly that — while also giving CMOs and VPs a window into sales activities.

It’s a tall order.

A different kind of marketing tech company

CallidusCloud has what looks at first glance to be an odd mix of products. Probably even at second glance.

Nestled next to marketing automation and channel management solutions are sales coaching and gamification solutions, plus mobile learning and contract lifecycle management tools. Then the company also owns big data and sales analytics products. Not to mention 6FigureJobs, a job board, plus a bunch of other properties and capabilities.

Box money Khomulo Anna ShutterstockThere is a thread that ties it all together, though, House said. It’s a  new category the company is calling “lead-to-money.”

“We think lead-to-money is going to become the next big category,” he told me, indicating that CallidusCloud wants to provide solutions for companies at every stage of nurturing, closing, and sustaining customers. “Our approach has been a little bit disruptive … and we compete against eight or nine categories with five to six major competitors in each area.”

That would seem to be the business equivalent of starting a land war in Asia, especially since some of those competitors are giants like Adobe and IBM, or strong focused competitors like Marketo. But House said CallidusCloud is remarkably successful — despite spending a fraction of what its competitors do on marketing.

“We went toe-to-toe with people like Marketo and Eloqua and beat both of them in winning the world’s largest software company’s business,” he said, vaguely referencing an anonymous German company.

A different kind of marketing automation

If you’re focused on sales enablement in a new lead-to-money category you’re trying to build, you’re probably going to want something for sales reps. That’s exactly where LeadRocket plays.

House said it’s much like a marketing automation system but much simpler. Inside Gmail, sales reps can tap into assets and campaigns defined in the CallidusCloud marketing automation system, run their regular correspondence as they would normally do, and still have the tracking and management features that the higher-ups want.

Social media monitoring“The sales reps get the benefit of all the workflows marketing is working on … and as CMO you get a lot of insight into what the sales reps are doing,” he said.

The tool includes automated follow-up and integration with nurture campaigns, taking some stress off reps’ shoulders. It also provides editable pre-built blocks of text for sales follow-up emails, and it gives sales reps insight into whether or not emails were opened, right within Gmail.

Via integration with CallidusCloud’s marketing automation functionality, however, reps or marketing staff can see which links a prospect clicked on, what pages he or she visited, and what they looked at. And it adds a social component, also integrating prospects’ social media accounts, which allows sales reps to tweet or message their clients as well as email them.

“Think of a sort of mini-Hootsuite,” House said.

From the CMO perspective, content can be A/B tested, flows can be adjusted, and offers can be varied. From the salesperson’s perspective, the conversation is just progressing toward a close naturally.

“We want to give the power of marketing automation to salespeople without [them] having to read the manual or get familiar with the system,” House told me. “Marketing automation is not a simple fire-and-go thing. You have to know what you’re doing.”