Why we created Qualified

Today we're excited to introduce Qualified, a new conversational marketing app coming from your friends in San Francisco. Question is, what happened to big air Bing Yang?

Why we created Qualified
Kraig Swensrud
Kraig Swensrud
min read
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We're software makers from San Francisco who have been building, marketing, and selling business apps for more than 20 years. When we were right out of college we worked at big behemoth enterprise software companies including Oracle and SAP. In those days, enterprise software could only be bought with a perpetual license, installed on servers that the buyer had to own, in data centers that the buyer had to manage, and it was all maintained by IT professionals that the buyer had to employ. Even though the software was all incredibly powerful, the experience for the buyer was less than ideal. ...and when the buyer experience is less than ideal, there is an opportunity for a new company to come along and radically change the game.

Changing the game:
Why isn’t business software more like Amazon?

Enter Salesforce, the first enterprise software company that changed the game for buyers of enterprise software. We were sitting in the audience around the turn of the century when CEO Marc Benioff asked a simple question to an audience of 800 Dreamforce attendees: "Why isn't business software more like Amazon?"

He said: “When you use Amazon you don't have to go to a training class, you don't have to install the software, you don't have to update or patch the software, you can access the software from anywhere in the world, the software auto-updates and auto-upgrades itself and get better and better over time, there are no long term contracts that commit you to using Amazon forever. Why isn’t business software be more like Amazon?”

For us his message was clear:  These giant software companies like Siebel, Oracle, and SAP were not focused on designing a CRM  offering that was optimal for the buyer. They made the buyer jump through hoops, they made the buyer fork out cash for data centers, they made the buyer assume all the financial risk if the solution didn’t work for them

It seemed like this was an inevitable shift in the business software industry, so in 2004 we jumped ship from the old enterprise software companies and into the world of Salesforce. In 2004 we started working on the first Salesforce cloud integration platform, and in 2006 we started our own software company that integrated Google AdWords to Salesforce. It was one of the first 5 companies listed on the AppExchange, and we sold our company later that year to Salesforce and joined forces with Marc and the band of forward-thinkers.

Over the course of the next 7 years we were lucky enough to be part of an amazing company that was driving every major shift in business software with a buyer-first and customer-first mentality.  And over that timeframe we all know what happened to the CRM market share of Siebel, Oraclel, and SAP.

To this day, Marc says at every Dreamforce conference "What I love about our industry is the constant and never ending pace of innovation.” That made us think, what is the next opportunity that will represent a fundamental shift for today’s buyers?  What other old stagnant software market will be ripe for disruption?

Today’s B2B marketing automation

As sales and marketing professionals, we’ve been particularly excited over the last decade by the promise of marketing automation.  The promise that the marketing and sales process can be improved by being able to reach new prospects online, craft unique experiences for them, deliver them personalized content, and track their every interaction they have with your marketing materials. All with sophisticated levels of integration to sync data to Salesforce. While this technology has indeed been ground-breaking, we've always felt that there has been something completely broken with today's marketing automation software.

Today’s marketing automation software doesn't focus on creating a phenomenal experience for the buyer.  Rather, marketing automation systems were built to automate the way internal hand-offs between marketing and sales teams are managed. It’s a process that makes it easier for internal teams to define their roles and responsibilities.

  • Marketing: Responsible for running advertising campaigns, send emails, and drive traffic to my website content.  Then I’ll present a bunch of “lead capture forms” that are designed to collect key bits of information like name, email, company, company size, product interest etc.  Based on this into I’ll pass those qualified leads to by sales development team.  

  • Sales Development: Responsible for taking leads generated by the marketing team and meeting with them to confirm that they’re qualified.  That means sending them some educational emails, and going back-and-forth a few times to get them on the phone.  Ultimately confirming that they are a real person at a real company with buying intent.  Then the buyer gets passed over to my sales team

  • Sales Executives: Responsible for taking qualified buyers and turning them into customers.  From here the selling process can involve a number of meetings with various constituents, product discussions, objection handling, competitive positioning, pricing discussions and contract negotiation

Changing the game:
Why isn’t the B2B buying experience more like an Apple store?

In the B2B world we’ve always taken cues from the greatest consumer technology companies.  

Just like Marc Benioff asked one simple question: “Why doesn’t all enterprise software work like Amazon?” Today we’re asking ourselves a similar question: “Why Isn’t the B2B Buying Process more like an Apple Store?”

The Apple store has crafted the ultimate buying experience.  When you arrive there are friendly faces to welcome you and guide you to the right area based on your product interest.  No one hassles you but if you have a product or pricing question there are knowledgeable employees standing by ready to answer all of your questions.  If you have detailed technical questions there is a genius bar staffed with technical experts.  And when you are ready to buy there are no long lines or checkout counters.  The whole process is frictionless.

By contrast let’s take a look at the modern B2B buying experience.  You might respond to an ad campaign and click through to a company’s website.  There is a lot of great content on the site giving you product details, maybe some pricing information, but when you’re ready to engage with the company they pop a “lead capture form” in you face where you have to tell them your name, email, company, company size, geography, product interest, and often more.  The lead form almost always ends with a message saying “Thanks, we’ll get back to you shortly.”

And what happens after that, a barrage of back and forth emails and voicemails to between you and a sales development rep where they try to get you on the phone to further qualify you.  Can you talk to a sales rep now?  No not yet, you then have to wait around to schedule a meeting with an actual account executive.

That process sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

Conversational Marketing
Crafting the ultimate B2B buyers experience

Having worked on B2B sales and marketing technology for as long as it's existed, and having worked in some of the finest sales and marketing organizations in existence, we know that there is one magic word for marketing and sales teams....qualified

- Marketers are on a constant search for more qualified prospects

- Sales reps want want to meet with more and more qualified leads

- Account Executives want to be working on qualified opportunities

Our approach is simple. If you could literally see qualified buyers the moment they landed on your website, how would you treat them? You wouldn't make these people jump through hoops to talk to you. You wouldn't make them fill out your lead capture forms and wait for your to reps get back to them in a few days.  You wouldn't subject them to a barrage of  back and forth emails and voicemails. You wouldn't subject them to your decade old marketing automation process at all.

You would roll out the red carpet and have your best reps meet with them instantly

We’re creating Qualified.com because of our desire to help B2B companies deliver the ultimate buying experience. With the competition only a click away, the companies that delivery the most seamless buying experience are the ones that will succeed in the next decade.

We look forward to working with you.

The Qualified Team

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