Congrats to our friends at Volition Capital!

Larry Cheng, Volition Capital

$250 million in capital commitments is no small feat. But we’d expect nothing less from our friends and colleagues at Volition Capital who just closed that truly impressive amount on their third fund in an amazingly short period of time—six weeks!

When Volition led the charge in Pramata’s Series A funding round last year, we knew we were working with a growth equity firm with a distinct collaborative philosophy that aligned very well with how myself and the Pramata management team looked at our business.

As Larry Cheng, Volition Capital managing partner and Pramata board member, has written in his illuminating blog post on the new fund, Volition is both a “conservative and aggressive firm.” At Pramata, we view ourselves in the same way—we are aggressive in creating a powerful and path-breaking suite of Customer Relationship Intelligence solutions. But at the same time, we are conservative in that we deliver what we say (no vaporware!) and we like to run our company as a healthy and profitable business.

With the support of Volition and our other valuable investors, Pramata is hitting its stride in a very big way. We’re digitizing valuable untapped customer data from contracts, billing systems, and CRM systems for some of the largest companies in the world. By partnering with us, they’re leveraging digital customer intelligence to unlock significant revenue opportunities within their most valuable customer relationships and establishing Pramata Customer Relationship Intelligence™ as a fundamental solution to drive results for finance, sales, operations and legal teams alike.

Entrepreneurs need more financial partnership options of the caliber Volition offers. It has been a wonderful partnership so far, and we look forward to becoming one of their market-leading home runs … adding to their outstanding track record. I’m also very excited to see the next class of Volition-funded companies and follow their own stories of success.

My hearty congratulations to Larry, Roger, Sean, and the rest of the Volition team. Cheers!

Pramata BoD Gets New Energy Boost

Patrick-Quirk

IBM. Oracle. PeopleSoft. Pramata.

Are we being a bit overzealous to place ourselves in that good company? Patrick Quirk doesn’t think so. Pat brings more than 25 years of experience in CRM, ERP, finance, supply chain and other high-tech industries, including senior executive leadership with those three big guys. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce that Pat recently joined the Pramata board of directors.

 “It is an incredible opportunity to join the Pramata board,” said Pat, founder and general partner of ORCA Equities, LLC. “I’m excited to be part of this visionary team that empowers companies with the intelligence to proactively grow, manage and retain their most rewarding business relationships.”

The Pramata Customer Relationship Intelligence (CRI) solution extracts and synthesizes essential—but often hidden—information about customers from contracts, billing systems and deal documentation. Sales, finance, legal and operations teams rely on this insight—placed into relevant context based on their role—to fuel rapid growth and stronger connections with their most valuable customer relationships.

Trusted by global brands, including Cisco, Callaway, CenturyLink, Comcast and FICO, Pramata helps B2B companies accelerate deals, strengthen customer retention and drive more informed cross-sell and up-sell initiatives.

Pat’s experience injects incredible value into Pramata’s strategic direction and growth. It’s one more big step toward putting the power of CRI to work for the world’s most innovative organizations.

Read the full press release to learn more.

Our Fantastic Welcome to Kansas City

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As vibrant technology communities and centers of innovation go, Kansas City may be the best-kept secret in the country.  Yet when you see everything that is happening, the guess is it won’t be under the tech radar much longer.

This past week we opened our Kansas City office at the Crossroads Arts District.  Yesterday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Kansas City Mayor Sly James welcomed us to the neighborhood at an event held at the Sprint Accelerator.  Governor Nixon also announced a major grant to the Missouri Technology Corporation to help attract and nurture more technology companies.We appreciate the warm welcome and are happy to be part of the burgeoning tech community in Kansas City.  It also makes good business sense – the Kansas City metro area features a deep and well-educated talent pool to fuel our expansion and growth.  And the center-of-the-continent location makes it a great spot from which to support customers too.

In addition to Governor Nixon and Mayor James, we want to thank the Missouri Technology Corporation, The Missouri Partnership, the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City and the Kansas City Area Development Council.  The leaders and teams of these organizations have gone the extra mile in assisting us and helping us get established. 

Please see the press release to find out more.

No Risk Offer: Increase Your Active Selling Time 10%

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We recently hosted a survey and live Twitter chat on the topic of #ActiveSelling.  The goal was to listen to more voices and get some fresh POV on the topic.

The response was clear:  sales professionals told us they spend far too much time chasing data about customers at the expense of actually engaging with, and selling to customers.  This is not a surprise.  Yet the extent of the problem, and its impact, is eye popping:

  • 43 percent of the participants in our survey report that the active selling problem negatively impacts customer retention
  • 30 percent say reps spend 10 or more hours each week just identifying the current pricing and discounts in effect
  • 40 percent report sales reps spend seven hours or more each week just trying to locate the documents that define the customer relationship
  • 28 percent say it reduces revenue

You get the point.  And if you’re living it, you know just how big and costly a problem it is in your organization.

We can help.  If you’re part of a big B2B company with complex enterprise customer relationships, let us show you how you can increase active selling time by 10 percent or more.

There’s no cost, no risk and no obligation.  But you will get some information that will make your sales team more productive and materially impact your bottom line.

Take the next step and we’ll take it from there.

The Edge in Consultative Selling

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B2B buyers are by some estimates, three-quarters of the way through their journey before ever talking with a sales rep or contacting a vendor.  At that point, the conversation is often about configuration, options and pricing.  This has fueled some critical thinking about the role and future of sales professionals, with Forrester predicting a million sales jobs disappearing in just four short years, by 2020.  Their excellent infographic predicts the most carnage among “order takers” and “explainers,” but also points to a net increase in jobs held by “sales consultants.”

Cognoscenti have been advising consultative approaches forever and a day, although often for reasons that have more to do with satisfying customer needs than predictions of fast approaching obsolescence.   There are some dissenting voices of course but many sales professionals intuitively approach sales as a conversation designed to uncover and satisfy customer needs. 

There’s a higher bar to jump over when it comes to talking with current customers.  A needs-based conversation with a current customer has to have a different starting point, grounded in a fundamental understanding of the relationship.  What’s been purchased and what’s been paid for?  Is the customer using the product or is it sitting on the shelf?  How does the customer compare to other, similar customers and does the comparison suggest a cross or up-sell opportunity?

And yet how many accomplished sales professionals are flying blind, lacking information about the essential dimensions of their current relationship?

It says here that it’s hard to argue against engaging a customer in a conversation.  It’s even better to come to the conversation with a little advance knowledge.  That’s an edge you can sell with. 

Pramata Again Certified for ISAE 3402 Type II Information

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Each year we go through a rigorous testing and compliance regimen to ensure the integrity of our business processes and data. The test, conducted by leading third party audit firm (that prefers we don’t mention them by name) evaluates every facet of how we collect, analyze and report customer data.

The auditing standard, called ISAE 3402 Type II, specifies the auditor certify that Pramata employs business processes and IT controls that stand up to the highest levels of scrutiny, for both the critical data we collect from customers and also relative to the infrastructure we employ to process and manage it.

The ISAE 3402 designation was developed to provide an internationally recognized standard about the integrity of a service provider’s controls. The Type II level Pramata earned requires an auditor to declare whether tested controls are appropriate, suitably designed and sufficiently tested to assure they meet their objective.

The latest audit looked at the effectiveness of these controls for a nine-month period in 2015 (Mar – Nov), and examined information security policies & procedures, change management, logical and physical access to data, data backup, contract processing, and support services.

Each of these categories includes a number of sub-categories and measures as well. For example, nine discrete controls are evaluated when looking at just contract processing.

This is the third consecutive year that Pramata has earned the ISAE stamp of approval. It’s a high standard – and one that we are proud to meet. Our customers expect, and we expect, nothing less.

Insights from the #ActiveSelling Tweet Chat

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We recently hosted our first live Twitter chat on #ActiveSelling.  We asked participants to weigh in on this topic because it’s a critical issue for sales professionals, and because too many of them spend too much time chasing data at the expense of actually engaging with customers.  Our goal is to engage members of the sales profession in framing the true costs of unproductive time, and to help gauge the business outcomes that suffer the most.

The tweet chat is part of an ongoing conversation about active selling that also includes a simple 10-question survey.  If you haven’t already, please participate in the survey.  And please check out some of the comments from the tweet chat below.  You can comment on the blog or tweet to us @PramataCorp.

Thank you to our participants for all of your valuable insights and for helping to make our first Twitter chat a success. We look forward to hosting more in the future.

Join the #ActiveSelling Conversation

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Too many sales professionals spend too much time chasing data at the expense of active selling time. It’s a common complaint and one of the key reasons customers ask for our help, so it’s a topic we’re especially interested in. If you haven’t already, please take our short survey on the true costs of this behavior, and the business outcomes that suffer as a result.

Also, please join the #ActiveSelling conversation. We’re hosting a tweet chat on Tuesday, December 8th from 11 – 11:30 am Pacific. We’ll be asking questions based on the survey and responses, and look forward to your comments and observations.

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Follow the #ActiveSelling hashtag and @PramataCorp on Twitter.

Bubble Or Not, Ready Or Not

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Vanity Fair published a story today asking whether the air is finally coming out of the tech bubble. Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz recently said we’re not even in a tech bubble. And Adam Marcus of Openview Venture Partners offered some sage advice on how to survive the coming unicorn winter.

Whew. We’re not going to speculate, at least not publicly. But Marcus’ comments about running lean make a lot of sense regardless of whether the sun continues to shine or whether we’re all cast into the shadows. And whether your company is a unicorn or not.

We’ll add to Marcus’ list that the notion of the headlong pursuit of growth can be troubling when the emphasis tilts too much in favor of net new logos at the expense of current customers. And that a recalibration toward current customers may help you survive a potential bursting of the bubble, unicorn winter or other such calamity.

By now it’s common knowledge that for many companies, current customers represent a massive amount of future revenue. Yet they spend a disproportionate amount of energy and budget pursuing new customers rather than selling more to people with whom they have an existing relationship.

There’s a lot at work in this equation, including the challenges associated with getting meaningful information about current customers into the hands of the sales professionals responsible for cultivating and nurturing relationships with those customers. It doesn’t have to be difficult, and the goodness that results can help companies prosper regardless of whether we’re in or out of a bubble.

 

From Stickiness to Loyalty

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Conventional wisdom holds that the key to stickiness is a highly intuitive and engaging user interface, a coolness factor that prompts users to want to share with their friends and colleagues, and a strong sense of inherent value. A pair of Odell Beckham’s gloves won’t hurt either.

Hard to argue these aren’t important criteria for consumer businesses, but surely B2B customers act rationally and make retention decisions based on functionality, adoption, usage, price and ROI. Sure. But loyalty may play an equal or more likely, even bigger role in stickiness and customer retention.

Satisfaction is fungible. Another vendor can promise the same benefits at a lower cost. Loyalty is built on relationships, and relationships are grounded in trust.Recently, after some amazing food and great wine, one of our customers spent 45 minutes with us on a guided tour of his company. “Here’s how to work with this group and how to get things done with this guy;” “be careful over there because that’s where good ideas go to die.” His investment in our success is a reflection of his trust that we’ll do the right thing for him and his business, and the relationship that’s been built with members of our team.

Sales pros know how to build relationships. But it’s hard when they’re flying blind. Their ability to build a trust-based personal relationship improves when it is based on deep insight into every dimension of the business relationship, and when they are able to offer customers specific solutions to specific business problems, rather than cookie cutter ideas pulled from the product menu.

Loyalty is unlikely, probably impossible, if you don’t know the customer. In vino veritas is optional.