Background on 4R Systems
Gabi: Can you start by sharing background on 4R Systems?
Mark: 4R Systems is about 15 years old. Our Chairman of Board Dr. Marshall Fisher from Wharton Business School and Dr. Ananth Raman from Harvard Business School authored the book called “The New Science of Retailing,” out of which then they founded the company 4R Systems back into the early 2000s.
The premise of their research was that retailers are investors, and therefore they took investment management theories from the financial world and applied it to retailers.
There are a couple key insights that serve as the foundation of the company. The number one asset outside of real estate in retail is inventory. They developed the approach: if you buy one item you want to make sure you put that item in the most profitable location to get the financial return.
Growth strategy: marketing
Gabi: Fast forward to today, what do you as head of sales and marketing see as the company’s core growth strategy?
Mark: Number one is marketing. This is our top area of investment - we want to drive more people into the top of our sales funnel.
Related to this, is increasing our overall outreach from an outbound marketing perspective, supported by our marketing technology. That incorporates putting in our CRM, putting in our marketing automation, integrating that through Bedrock Data, and putting in all the traceability and tracking throughout the process.
It includes our database through ZoomInfo, it includes our content marketing program. And it’s not just North America, it also covers Europe and Brazil.
If that be pulling in the CRM putting in the marketing automation, integrating that with results through Bedrock, putting in the lead to enable video content, and all the traceability and tracking.
4R System customers & prospects
Gabi: What types of companies are you targeting your marketing efforts?
Mark: First, let me share some of the customers we work with today. Some of our customers are businesses like Toys R Us, Family Dollar, Vitamin Shoppe; also OXXO, which is a 14,000 convenience store retailer in Mexico; and Aubuchon Hardware, which are family owned 108 stores up in Westminster, Massachusetts. Another one is Dillard's department store, who do footwear and have now branched out into the cosmetics side.
Gabi: How about the individual you're selling to?
Mark:The individuals that we typically target to are more on the business side. Because we're a SaaS services model, we have very very little play into the IT organization. We only require IT support at the very early stages to get the data models.
Our focus is on the business value. It's about the profit we can drive as part of the overall approach. The CFO is the person with which ideally we’d have that initial conversation. If not the CFO, other roles that we typically work with include the VP of Merchandising and the Chief Supply Officer.
Sales & Marketing processes
Gabi: How do you generate new leads? You mentioned earlier the marketing investments that you are making to drive growth.
Mark: In the past we've been heavily focused on events, and we only did the very basics in terms of email marketing.
The big turning point for us was earlier this year I attended the B2B Marketing Conference in Phoenix. That’s where I met most of the companies that now today are part of our technology stack.
We know to be most successful we need to break down the big retail space into verticals where we can be laser focused.
So today what we have now setup is retail verticals that we want to target. Number one is footwear retailers. We can talk their language. We can show tangible benefits. We’ve developed a multi-touch email campaigns that speaks to them. And we are adding new vertical campaigns - we have automotive aftermarket, and then next up is home improvement.
Gabi: Can you walk us through the rest of your process for generating and following up new leads?
Mark: We have Marketo forms on our website, so we capture leads and score those individuals who engage with us. We are scoring the leads so once they’ve shown a certain level of engagement, our sales team will follow up. We have our own people here in North America, and a distributor in Brazil and moving to a distributor model in the UK.
We also look at the companies visiting our site using KickFire. Because we are so targeted by vertical, a target account visiting our website is very interesting to us, even if they don’t fill out a form. So these accounts we reach out to the key contacts.
Integrating Sales & Marketing Technologies
Gabi: You mentioned you built a new sales & marketing stack this year. Can you walk us through your decision making there.
Mark: For CRM, I didn’t want to go down the Salesforce route, as there are many CRMs out there and I couldn’t justify the cost of Salesforce. I felt that Zoho met our needs in terms of tracking pipeline accounts and leads. And for marketing automation, we liked Marketo.
The Marketo team recommended Bedrock Data as the best option for integration, and we read about how D-Tools had recently integrated Marketo and Zoho. We were impressed with the expertise that your team brought to the table, we knew that we were getting an integration that would help us get the most out of both systems, as they could talk back and forth to each other, continuously.
It wasn’t just a one-way or one-time push of data, like some of the tools out there. It also wasn’t something that put a big burden on us with IT integration tools that we had to figure out ourselves.
And when you consider that Bedrock allowed us to use Marketo with Zoho instead of Salesforce, it’s a significant cost savings for us.
Integrating Marketo and Zoho using Bedrock Data
Gabi: Can you walk us through your Marketo and Zoho integration.
Mark: Number one, we wanted to make sure we sent the relevant lead data from Marketo to Zoho, because we wanted the sales team to do all of their work in Zoho. We didn’t want them having to learn another software like Marketo - it wasn’t going to happen.
Marketo became the originating system for our prospect database. Then as qualified leads come up through the scoring model, Bedrock automatically pushes them to Zoho. We have many of the key fields from leads mapped to custom fields in Zoho, so that our sales team can see that data right there on the records in Zoho. Again, no extra clicks needed - we don’t have time for that.
We also have account data flowing from Zoho into Marketo, so we can use that data for segmentation on the Marketo side.
Gabi: Tell me more about the segmentation.
Mark: Marketo has both data that we import, and data syncing over from Zoho, and ZoomInfo. So as we build out our vertical targeting, we have the industry data right there in Marketo for smart lists. We can target based on any criteria, such as revenue, number of employees and, location. And Bedrock ensures we have consistent data between our CRM and marketing automation systems.
Gabi: And how does it work for you on an ongoing basis?
Mark: For the most part, it’s “set it and forget it,”, unless we need to make changes like adding new fields to our integration, which we can either do ourselves or with the help of the Bedrock Data support team.
That is key for us, as we don’t have a large team. We don’t have a luxury of sales and marketing admins, or IT resources supporting sales and marketing day-to-day. We’re a lean machine when it comes to the sales and marketing organization.
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