TrustRadius at Dreamforce 2015: Interview with Fred Shilmover, founder and CEO of InsightSquared

Vinay Bhagat
September 22, 2015
Marketing, Sales

TrustRadius at Dreamforce 2015: Interview with Fred Shilmover, founder and CEO of InsightSquared

InsightSquared is a sales performance analytics solution that includes sales forecasts, KPI tracking, and multi-data source reports. The solution helps businesses immediately identify weaknesses in their sales process, diagnose the root cause of the issue, and take action to correct course. It’s a top rated BI solution in the small business segment on TrustRadius.

What’s new at InsightSquared?

We’ve grown a lot this year and had a great year last year. We feel like we’ve really found product market fit, so we’re leaning into growth. We moved to a new 45k square foot office in Boston – that’s triple our old space. Our team has doubled in the last year to over 150 people. Our sales team, in particular, has grown pretty aggressively. There’s been a lot of change.

What’s new on the product front?

We’ve doubled down on sales performance analytics. If you look at our reviews on TrustRadius, we are the top rated sales performance analytics product on the market. We offer over 400 reports – we think it’s the deepest library out there. Our product is very configurable, but customers can still be up and running within a week with limited to no professional services. That’s really unique in the industry.

To date, you’ve focused on SMB. Is that still the sweet spot for you?

We are uniquely positioned for SMBs, which often have small teams with limited money to spend on BI. We are the only game in town that can scale down for a 5 person sales team. So we’re in a green field opportunity there. We do have larger customers as well, but we’re very much focused on the SMB whitespace in the market.

What technologies does InsightSquared replace?

Most of our new customers are moving away from spreadsheets; we’re not replacing other BI or analytics tools. Typically we’re replacing non-consumption of BI tools—folks driving decisions off of gut instincts, or people spending countless hours building Excel reports and not getting the full answer.

Aside from being quick to deploy and economical, what distinguishes InsightSquared in the sale analytics space?

Irrespective of price, we have the deepest set of sales analytics out there on the market bar none. I look at our value proposition as having three components:

1. Understanding what has happened—this involves trend analysis, pipeline management, and historical data. Without having a data warehouse to snapshot your data over time, we can pull data from Salesforce (going back to the first day that you used it) and show you how your pipeline has evolved. We can drill into any cohorts to see how they’ve played out. When we show that to people it’s mind-blowing. These are customers who can’t afford to operate a data warehouse, and even with that technology, they would have needed to wait 6-9 months before looking back at it. Typically, another challenge with snapshotting has been when users want to change intervals. If they set up a weekly snapshot, then they can’t look at it on a monthly interval. We’re able to let them change intervals and look at different cuts of their data, which is something they just can’t do with traditional BI technology.

2. Applying the historical data to what’s going on in the business today—for example, if a company is very strong in healthcare but weak in IT, we’ll surface that through historical win-loss analysis. Then we’ll show risk factors in the pipeline, such as when we see that they usually win deals in 60 days and there’s something in the pipeline that’s 8 months old. We’ll highlight that in a big red box. We look at lots of risk factors that we then tie back into the Salesforce UI. Whether you’re a CEO or rep level, you see these alerts.

One of the big challenges in CRM and analytics has been that benefits accrue to management, but the cost of running the programs is to individual contributors. That asymmetry creates adoption problems. Our approach is to arm everyone with the same tools, with a single version of the truth. This system enables reps to reverse engineer their W2. If their OTE is $150k/year, they know their quota plan, they understand their historic win rate, and what their average sales price is, so they understand how much pipeline they need to get there. InsightSquared drives behavior to either fix the risks or add more pipeline. We envision sales reps acting as mini CEOs of their own businesses, which drives really good organizational lineup.

3. Forecasting—we use predictive analytics to apply the learning from historical data and current pipeline risks to decisions moving forward. Let’s say there is an opportunity worth $100k, the win rate from stage three is 50%, and the average sales cycle from stage three to win is 30 days. From that information, we can form an opinion as to whether that specific opportunity will close this month or this quarter. We then build an aggregate with all the nuances of different reps’ behavior, to answer the question that’s on the mind of every sales manager: “Will I hit my number?”

What are the major predictive factors that go into these forecasts?

We have a portfolio approach to forecasting. Early on we realized that if we give customers a black box, we run into trust issues. In general I think the market is still early in the lifecycle of predictive analytics. So we provide a portfolio with a few types of forecasts. We show quantitative predictions, by stage/sales cycle, by rep, and by industry. We show trends, like closing velocity booking per period. We also overlay with collaborative forecasting in Salesforce, to show you whether those call-outs were accurate. If there are large discrepancies, those are places to explore. If reps say they will do a million dollars this month, but the trending says they’ll do half a million and the quantitative says they’re only going to do a quarter million because your pipeline is light, it’s a big discrepancy and teams need to have a data-informed conversation about it.  I think there’s a huge opportunity to uplift our business community by giving them this toolkit. 

How else do you address customer success?

From a customer service perspective, we punch above our weight class. There are two key differences between InsightSquared and legacy BI tools, in terms of the way we approach customer success.

One, we’re not driven by professional services. So a customer might get an SOW (statement of work) from our competitors, whereas we give them proof of implementation and some early value straight away.

Two, we’re a full-service shop. Customers bring us questions about how to configure their Salesforce architecture. Or, they come to us and say, “Here’s a challenge. We just missed our quarter, can you help us understand how to use your tool better?” We are their outsourced data team. We’re not just a piece of technology. That full-service approach really makes a big difference.

Are you finding that you have to do a lot of customer education around best practices?

We’ve designed our product, like the library, for example, to drive people towards best practices. We also have a whole set of video training from our amazing content team. We try to leverage automated technology to make customer education cost effective. We have an InsightSquared Academy; right now it’s really aimed at supporting our customers, but over time it will include best practices for a broader sales team perspective.

To share your own user insights about InsightSquared, write a review on TrustRadius. For more information about use cases, pros, cons, and ROI, find and filter InsightSquared user reviews here.

About the Author

Vinay Bhagat
Vinay Bhagat, founder and CEO of TrustRadius, is an entrepreneur passionate about tackling big problems. Vinay conceived TrustRadius after experiencing challenges when buying enterprise solutions at his last company. In 1999, Vinay founded Convio, the leading Software as a Services platform for nonprofits. In April 2010, Convio became a public company, and was acquired in May 2012 for $325 million. Prior to Convio, Vinay was at Trilogy Software and Bain & Company. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School where he graduated as a Baker Scholar, an MS Engineering Economic Systems from Stanford University, and a MA Engineering Information Sciences from Cambridge University with First Class Honors. When he’s not working, Vinay loves spending time with his family, playing squash and racing cars.

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