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Seismic CMO Discusses SAVO Acquisition, Growth Of Engagement In Sales Enablement Sector

john raguin headshotThe sales enablement sector has been heating up recently, both in terms of B2B companies prioritizing and deploying the tools, as well as some shakeups among the vendor community. One of the biggest headlines over the past month was the announcement that Seismic had acquired the SAVO Group.

Most analysts have pointed out that the combination of the two leaders in the sales enablement space is a game-changer for the category. To learn more about how the merger of the two companies will impact customers and the category overall, Demand Gen Report recently caught up with Seismic CMO John Raguin.

In addition to sharing some further details about the integration of the two companies, Raguin gave his perspective on the expansion of the sales enablement category across different verticals, as well as the growing role of marketing teams in utilizing sales enablement platforms to collaborate internally and externally.

Demand Gen Report: Can you talk about the complementary aspects between Seismic and the SAVO Group? Why is the SAVO Group a good fit for Seismic?

John Raguin: The real complementary aspects are that SAVO was targeting the same kind of prospects that we were — enterprise companies, global companies and larger companies. We were really excited about that. Our customer success teams also had similar philosophies on how to work together and with our customers. One of the things you hear from SAVO customers is how great some of their people are. We really felt like that was very complementary. The third thing is that they had a good European presence. We have a small presence there that started really at the beginning of this year in London, but they have been in Europe for some time.

We knew going into the acquisition that the Seismic platform is the platform going forward and the SAVO customers will eventually migrate over to the Seismic platform. However, they have no rush to do that. They have as long as they need and we’re going to help them with that.

DGR: Can you elaborate on the migration of SAVO customers over to Seismic? What is the company’s rollout plan for SAVO customers?

Raguin: First, we have a lot of experience doing it. We’ve had quite a few customers migrate over from SAVO to Seismic before this transaction. This is something we have experience doing and we have a system in place for the process.

We have no specific dates or plans around when they need to move over. We’ve repeatedly said — and Doug Winter, our CEO, has repeatedly talked to their customers about this topic — that it’ll be when their time is right, so we don’t have any specific date or plan in mind.

DGR: Have any other details been finalized in terms of what will happen with SAVO team members or offices?

Raguin: SAVO had a great office in Chicago and all of our team moved in there almost overnight. That’s really exciting, but nothing else really changes. The headquarters of the company is still in San Diego, we have a much bigger presence now in Chicago and Boston is still one of our biggest, if not the biggest, presence for us.

DGR: When you look at the sales enablement category, what do you see as some of the growth drivers and where are you seeing your biggest spikes in terms of new customers coming from?

Raguin: We’re definitely seeing growth in various parts of the manufacturing sector — whether it be smaller, discrete manufacturers or larger manufacturers.

We’re also seeing greater interest in the banking and financial services. There’s always been a strong interest in asset management. We’ve done well there, but banking is a big sector that we’re seeing growth in.

DGR: What are your thoughts on the current marketing and sales tech space? There has obviously been some consolidation — your acquisition of SAVO included — but do you believe it’s needed? What are the realities and benefits of it?

Raguin: There certainly has been some consolidation over the last few years. This [acquisition] happened to come our way; and as we had more discussions with the SAVO folks, we got an understanding that we thought it would be beneficial for both parties. I don’t have a big opinion on how much consolidation there will be. We’re just happy to be one of the leaders in the space and we just think this further strengthens our position.

DGR: The category is broadly labeled as sales enablement. We’ve heard some firms starting to describe it differently, such as sales engagement or sales experience. What’s your sense on where the category is heading?

Raguin: Well, a few different analysts call it different things. Personally, I like the term “engagement” because that’s what we are doing. First, we help sales and marketing. Then we help sales teams engage better with our customer.

I’m not sure it’s really broadened in its definition. Right now, the definition is, for most analysts, pretty broad. It includes many things that we don’t do — and we’re the broadest of any of the current providers. Like many, often it includes what we might call “learning management,” which are companies such as Brainshark and MindTickle. So, it is broader than any of the other categories today, and I’m not sure they’re going to broaden it further.

DGR: How are you seeing marketing’s role change and expand when using your solution?

Raguin: We’re definitely seeing it expand. What we’re seeing is that customers are using Seismic far beyond just pushing out the right content to the right teams. We have some features that are more around collaboration, so users are building the right content and using that more within Seismic than outside of Seismic. That’s where we’re seeing a big growth in usage. It’s a part of our product called Workspace, which allows people to collaborate. We're definitely seeing marketing do more with the subject matter experts, the product management and marketing teams being able to make the final push to the sales team and also gaining visibility to analyze outcomes.

DGR: How has ABM as a trend driven Seismic’s direction in the marketplace?

Raguin: ABM is always a hot topic. It hasn’t been a major driver in our sales conversations. Certainly, customers bring it up as part of their strategy. I think a bigger driver is still creating greater awareness amongst non-traditional verticals in sales enablement. They might not call it that, but that’s the idea — how can we get the capabilities of our sales force better than it has been to understand and show the right [content] to the right customers at the right time? What we’re seeing is lots of other verticals are starting to understand this concept better and, therefore, we’re seeing greater opportunities in many different verticals — not just tech or software.