Martech Interview with Brian Giese, CEO at True Influence

MarTech Feature Story with Brian Giese, CEO at True Influence

Tell us about your role and journey into Technology. What inspired you to be part of True Influence?

RK Maniyani and I Co-Founded True Influence in 2008. RK’s background is Software Development so he serves as the Chief Technology Officer and heads up our Bangalore, India office. I drive the vision for the company, combining innovative technology with Marketing and Sales expertise to help businesses connect with the right B2B decision-makers. Both RK and I are passionate about the use of smart data to improve Marketing and Sales ROI and fuel higher revenues for our customers.

When we first started True Influence, we targeted the emerging B2B Sales and Marketing Automation software category. By 2010, there were more than 200 B2B Marketing Automation installs worldwide, so we surveyed the landscape for a new opportunity to use our Marketing Technology. We found that it was capable of dramatically expanding the reach, scope, and relevance of behavioral data used to identify and engage with in-market B2B prospects. As a result, we created the True Influence Relevance Engine™ and began to focus on demand generation. We have continued our journey in the demand generation market since then.

Since 2016, how much has the True Influence’s digital marketing campaigns evolved?

True Influence has evolved in the following ways:

  • 2010 – Focused on-demand generation
  • 2010 – Created the True Influence Relevance Engine™
  • 2011 – Launched Content Syndication (now called PersonaBase™)
  • 2011 – True Influence opened the Bangalore, India office
  • 2013 – Launched TripleCheck® Verification for all contact records – machine email verification; tele-verification of business contact records; 100% guarantee for all contact records
  • 2014 – True Influence became consistently profitable
  • 2014 – Launched ActiveBase® – teleprospecting for every stage of the funnel
  • 2016 – Launched InsightBase® – SaaS intent solution
  • 2017 – SiriusDecisions named a new category – Intent Monitoring
  • 2018 – Launched InsightBase® 2.0 – focused on Intent Monitoring
  • 2018 – Launched AppointmentBase™ – setting Sales appointments
  • 2019 – Launched InsightBase® 3.0 with both Inferred Intent and Contact Intent
  • 2019 – Launched DisplayBase™ – display advertising solution
  • 2019 – Launched InsightBase® 4.0 with buying group capabilities

The True Influence Relevance Engine uses Machine Learning, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), and regression analysis to analyze web search behaviors and page content identifying intent data. The intent data is then compared to behavioral levels forming a baseline that is compared to current activity for every individual. The advanced analytics use variables for 6,000+ topics (hardware, software and service solutions) that are essential to B2B markets. To obtain Intent Signals™, intent data is assigned to relevant topics and then mapped with its corresponding:

Company domain
Location (headquarters, branch)
Key firmographics (industry, employee size, revenue)
Full contact record for the respondent(s)
Installed technology for that location
Our Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithm allows for google-like search capabilities making it easy for customers to find appropriate topics for their business.

How much has B2B Marketing and Lead Gen services evolved with ABM, Salesforce Automation and AI-based analytics?

SFDC, ABM, and AI are the cornerstones of Marketing and Sales collaboration and potential increases in revenue. With the Salesforce CRM, a company’s Sales, Marketing and Customer Service teams can understand every customer on an individual level and create a personal experience for each. This makes the CRM software more than just a platform or a service; it’s a tool that can directly increase Sales, Customer Retention and Revenue.

ABM focuses on Marketing and Sales on accounts with the highest opportunity. By combining efforts and resources, Marketing and Sales can more efficiently engage and convert accounts and spend dollars and time on accounts that can deliver the needed revenue.

AI is assisting Sales and Marketing on strategies such as product recommendations, lead scoring, personalized messaging, and intelligence. Intelligent AI engines, such as the True Influence Relevance Engine, allows us to provide behavioral information on in-market contacts. The net effect is an increase in revenue and a reduction in costs.

What is the current state of your B2B commerce initiatives?

True Influence has created a solution called OpportunityBase. This allows us to create and track online orders, status, and delivery between our partners and for True Influence. Because this is all digitally processed, we have increased efficiency and reduced costs for our partners and True Influence.

Who are your customers? Which businesses and economic regions have been the fastest to the adoption of your products and services?

True Influence focuses on Marketing and Sales for companies with $50M in revenue and above. Our sweet spot is global, large enterprise customers in the technology vertical – IBM, Microsoft, and Spectrum, for example. Other vertical markets served include manufacturing, energy, financial services, transportation, telecommunications and wholesale trade (durable goods). We are a global company with quality data that serves North America, EMEA, Asia, and Latin and South America.

Tell us more about AppointmentBase and ActiveBase and the impact it has on Sales performance and competitive intelligence.

Both solutions allow us to provide critical information and appointments to the Sales and Marketing teams. In fact, ActiveBase saw an increase in sales growth of 63 percent from 2017 to 2018. Please see our case study from Nuix about ActiveBase presented at the 2019 SiriusDecisions Summit – https://vimeo.com/348274604. Nuix stated the reasons they use ActiveBase:

  • True Influence understood the challenges Nuix faced
  • True Influence had solutions ready to meet those challenges
  • ActiveBase stood out compared to the solutions from other vendors
  • True Influence took the extra step to verify contact data – TripleCheck Verification
  • ActiveBase provided intelligence that could be used by sales reps
  • True Influence helped Nuix understand our potential customers better
  • True Influence provided information to help Nuix segment the marketing efforts

Overall the programs provided to Nuix increased demand generation 5 times and provided faster demand generation to all stages of the funnel.

Tell us about your technology integrations with other Marketing Technology platforms such as Contacts, Social Media, Automation, Contracts, Email, and Customer Service.

Our solutions integrate with Eloqua, Marketo, HubSpot, and Salesforce.com. Our rest API allows us to integrate with most MAPs and CRMs.

Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently use?

The major technologies we currently use are Marketo, SFDC, Domo, WordPress, Drift, and our own InsightBase and OpportunityBase.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in Event Marketing technology for 2019-2020?

We only use Event Marketing Technology, but do not track it or develop it.

What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?

We are watching technologies that assist with Edge AI, self-healing system technology, AI PaaS, Artificial General Intelligence, Virtual Assistants, Blockchain for data security and knowledge graphs.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Business Leader?

We use AI in our Relevance Engine and continue to look at ways to increase its use in our business – Marketing, Sales, Operations.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

Technology is the lifeblood of True Influence. We use technology and create technology. I am a life-long learner, mentor, and coach. As such, every day we use our own technology as well as key technologies in the industry. We use technology, such as Domo and OpportunityBase, to report and drive our business. Domo allows for near real-time viewing of the sales pipeline and our finance system, as well as other systems. Daily Sales, Marketing and Leadership review the domo cards and discuss where we are with the business.

OpportunityBase is our in-house developed system that identifies all orders and their status. This information is fed both into SFDC and NetSuite and then to Domo. Daily we watch orders and fulfillment as that drives delivery.

I lead by example to inspire my leadership team and the rest of the organization to use our technology every day, learn about new technologies and bring that learning into our company. I use our technology every day, read about new technology and email relevant employees about it so we can share the knowledge.

One word that best describes how you work.

Persistence. My background is in Marketing and Sales. I worked as a Senior Vice President, Technology Markets for Harte Hanks and for Avectra (now Abila) (decision-support platform). I learned that persistence pays off in all aspects of the business. However, don’t do the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Zoom, DOMO, SFDC and our own platforms InsightBase and OpportunityBase.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

Do it now and make it simple.

What are you currently reading?

Great question…The Declaration of Independence and short stories of the signers, Blackhawk Down and the Bible on a Kindle.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I have received a lot of great advice over the years, but one that stands out is, form a Venture Capital guy – “Don’t take money as a trade for equity to build your company. Do it yourself. Or one day I’ll have to take it all from you. And I certainly don’t know how to run your business.” Profoundly true for so many entrepreneurs. So we never took his money or any other money from any source. We are completely self-funded.

Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?

I’m the best at putting the puzzle together. And it’s working – 2018 was a year of significant growth and success for True Influence. The company continued to increase year-over-year revenue in 2018, as well as accomplished 21 consecutive quarters of profitability.

The fourth quarter of 2018 showed great growth momentum quarter-over-quarter with a 37 percent increase in revenue over the third quarter of 2018. Adding to the growth momentum, the fourth quarter of 2018 revenue grew by 32 percent over the same quarter the previous year.

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

Kay Kienast

Thank you, Brian! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

 

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