Journey into Tech
Hi Austin, tell us about your role and journey into Technology. What inspired you to take up the role at Outfield?
I am the Co-founder and CEO of Outfield, which is a web and mobile app designed for Field Sales and Marketing programs. I began my journey at the age of 20 when I started my first company. It was a fashion website where I imported apparel from different countries around the world and sold them on eBay and my college campus. I eventually went on to receive my BA in Communication from Eastern Michigan University and an MBA from Texas A&M University.
Throughout my career, I have spent time working within the consumer goods and IT space in various roles – including Field Sales and Marketing, Management, and Business Development roles.
I was inspired to start Outfield after working in various roles touching Outside Sales programs. I realized that the technology we were using was not built for the workflow of Outside Sales specifically. Eventually later on, in conjunction with several other parties, I was fortunate enough to build a mobile CRM that comprehensively solves challenges related to programs meant to drive high-level impact within their organizations.
You belong to the cadre of young MarTech and SalesTech CEOs. What are the most unique challenges you face in your industry and at workplace? How do you tackle these?
The ever-changing standards and expectations around data security responsibility is adding complexity to our day to day business operations and how we approach building incremental solutions for our present and future customer base.
The operational delivery and estimation accuracy around technology development is a challenge we’re constantly trying to approve upon. How can we be more efficient and set the right expectations around development? This is something that we’re always thinking about.
We’re always thinking about additional ways to generate value for our customers and prospective customers above and beyond what we’re offering. Success in this way defines our ability close to new customers and also retain the customers that we already possess. In SaaS, it’s always about improving funnel conversions in addition to reducing churn.
How does Outfield simplify Marketing and Sales operations?
Outfield provides support to companies that utilize Outside Marketing and Sales teams. The biggest issue these companies face is managing remote teams in various markets under the conditions of possessing insufficient amounts of data to maximize their Field Sales and Marketing agenda.
We’ve created a solution that helps companies acquire the information they need to drive strategy and execution. An example of this is helping these companies standardize operations across the entire Uutside Sales team by providing a platform that ensures that each member is able to follow the same procedures. Moreover, Outfield is a simple to use platform for field reps to plan their days, access account data, and communicate with the rest of their team.
In the marketplace dominated by Salesforce, HubSpot and Zoho, how do you build your niche customer base?
I don’t believe Outfield directly competes with these traditional CRMs. In fact, they provide a hard contrast to our positioning. We built our niche customer base by creating a product for companies that rely on Outside Sales and Marketing efforts.
Customer Success and Experiences
Tell us something that fascinates you the most about creating opportunities for Outfields’ customers. Which industries and titles subscribe to your Fields Sales and CRM solutions?
The thing that fascinates me the most is creating a platform and customer success experience that challenges customers to think outside of the traditional box that has existed in Field Sales and Marketing. We have arrived at a time in the world where there is so much data accessible to us.
Now it’s about knowing exactly what data (traditional and non-traditional) serves as the key variables impacting success. This means that we have to be more analytically inclined as we approach the execution of Field Sales and Marketing agendas. We serve industries such as CPG, Retail, CBD and Insurance/Hospitality.
How does your global Marketing team analyze the various diverse economic regions for customer demands and Sales growth?
Luckily, Outfield has done a pretty decent job of generating a nice presence on search engines via SEO. This, in turn, has brought about learnings on the markets around the world who are most likely in need of, and able to afford our services.
So based on inbound leads, which we followed up with discovery calls that ultimately led to closed opportunities from customers globally. We just turned around and remarketed to those same regions via referrals and customer testimonies, but mainly through digital advertising and promotion platforms.
Generally, this is how we discovered where our opportunities existed worldwide. Then, we took into account the cost of doing business economic indicators (i.e purchasing power parity, how much their employees were paid) of those regions to learn the size of the opportunity.
In order to market in the developing countries, where purchasing power was significantly lower, we decided to strip the costs associated with our service offerings in order to make the price affordable, while still maintaining some margin of profit. A real-life example is coming to an agreement where our customers understandably wouldn’t receive as much real-life support but instead would have to rely solely on recorded versions of training videos and e-learning in order to get their questions answered.
Finally, with digital marketing, it’s easy to receive instant data from your Marketing initiative. Much of what we do involves hypothesis testing. We’ll pick parts around the world and start fishing in those waters to see how many take our bait. Depending on what results we get, we’ll either change the bait or find new waters, sometimes both. The key is having the right people on your team who can analyze and interpret the data in both advanced and simple ways.
Tell us about your most recent customer acquisition/customer success story. How did you manage to leverage Sales-Marketing alignment in these wins?
We have close to 200 organizations worldwide using Outfield, a large percentage of that is attributable to how we think about Sales and Marketing alignment.
Presently, our Marketing team is trying to optimize our ability to generate leads through various marketing channels – whether they be event-based, digital advertising platforms or public relations initiatives. Understanding our most effective Marketing tactics involve knowledge transfer and feedback from our Sales agents because they interface with the customers directly, and can speak to what exactly compelled them to respond to our Marketing/Advertising agendas.
Marketing downloads information from our Sales team through direct informal conversations, in addition to running analysis around the reports and forms, filled out by our sales reps pertaining to their client touchpoints. To make this easy, our sales team uses Outfield to record information related to their touchpoints with customers in a very detailed way (qualitatively and quantitatively). An example of questions being asked on the reports are:
– Where is the customer/prospect located?
– How many licenses will they need?
– What are specific challenges that the customer/prospect is facing?
– What are their top objectives in solving these challenges?
– How did they hear about us?
…and so on.
Our Marketing team is then able to export this information and combine them with other sources of data tied directly to their Marketing platforms in order to understand impact and correlation events. We try to use a sophisticated approach to developing our customer acquisition process. Sales and Marketing working together is critical to this goal.
Insights and Predictions
One epic moment from the decade (2011-2019) that changed your outlook into tech landscape –
When European regulators passed GDPR. Its impact on tech companies is far more reaching than just business activities in Europe. Many companies, like ourselves, have had to dramatically change our data security infrastructure and protocols. Company-wide, we were required to develop competencies around standards and practices in addition to now having to constantly shift our attention to what’s trending in data security.
Personally, I think GDPR was just the start of a new wave of prioritization around security in tech. Not necessarily a bad thing, but there may be unintended consequences. One concern I have, are the economic implications this shift will have on smaller companies and startups. The costs associated with managing security dynamics in the most responsible way is no easy pill to swallow and could serve as a barrier to entry for, otherwise, would-be tech entrepreneurs.
What are your predictions for your industry and CRM/Marketing Automation technology markets for 2020-2024?
Businesses that have Outside Sales and Marketing teams will need to become smarter about how to get the most ROI out of their resources. As a result, more and more companies are going to rely on data to make decisions. This means CRM/Marketing Automation technology will need to be able to provide users with data-driven insights.
I also believe we will begin to see an increase in Sales tech providing a gamified experience for users. Gamification will become a prominent way to manage teams as the millennial generation takes over the workforce.
What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?
I’m paying attention to EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) startups. These are the companies that will help us build out the infrastructures to leverage various sources in order to generate new revelations that will drive more deliberate decisions for the Outside Sales and Marketing spaces moving forward.
SaaS companies in general – simply because I like to keep an eye on new ideas around revenue and business models. If they’re trying new things I like to see what ideas we can borrow.
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Chris Buckner, CEO at Mainline
Thank you, Austin! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Austin is Co-Founder and CEO of Outfield. He is an MBA graduate from Texas A&M, and has a professional background spanning a variety of Sales and Marketing related roles.
The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.