How Dell EMC is changing sales culture and results with data, Domo-style

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed March 30, 2018
Getting salespeople to use a new tool is one of the biggest challenges in enterprise software. But Dell EMC's Matthew Coblentz had a plan. Here's how his team is using Domo to change how sales is done - with noteworthy results.

We talk about the urgency to become data-driven. But how many are serious enough to go back to school mid-career? Matthew Coblentz is. At Domopalooza 2018, Coblentz told me why he did it:

Given that my background was knowledge management, my daughter talked me into going back to school in the area of library and information science. And part of that was because of Domo.

Coblentz took the plunge; he's now in the process of completing his Master of Library & Information Science and the University of Kentucky. On his LinkedIn profile, Coblentz says this about his school pursuits:

Specializing in the science of managing digital libraries and datasets, which enable data scientists to use previously curated data and reach their application needs in half the time normally required.

And that's exactly where his job comes in. As a Data Scientist and Competitive Intelligence Manager for Dell EMC, Coblentz has the pressure - and the fun - of turning data science into sales results. He does this via Dell EMC's Competitive Intelligence unit, where Coblentz has worked the last five years. His mission? Figure out how to arm sales teams with the data they need to boost results. He functions as an interpreter/motivator/shaman between the algorithmic pursuits of the data science team, and the gritty data expectations of sales.

Changing sales culture with data - the early days

These days, Coblentz is doing that with Domo - and he brought numbers to back it up. Coblentz told me that his Domopalooza presentation opened some eyes. The example of holding sales teams to account with Domo data was new to many:

It was the first time, I think, anyone in the audience had really seen that.

The early days of the Competitive Intelligence team were tough:

The thing that was good was we inherited a sales culture of collaboration, as well as being externally highly competitive. But they didn't necessarily have good sense of what things were going on, so as a competitive team, we would analyze how well they're doing, what their effectiveness was, what they were using for use cases, whether or not there were take out campaigns by the competition, price discounting, all the usual stuff.

Tooling, however, was a problem:

We tried at first with Excel - it didn't go well. We subsequently tried it with Tableau and IT's implementation of it, you know, just caused us more pain than it was worth.

Domo changed that, but it took some elbow grease to get the IT side on board:

We brought Domo on. I actually had a lot of uphill fights with that, but we got it certified by security, which was something else that had never been done before. It's basically a giant sandbox. Take a look at all this data, put it together. If you find a pattern, let's go talk about it. And we've been wildly successful ever since.

Closing deals with "battle cards" - and driving Domo adoption

Coblentz at Domopalooza 2018

Coblentz has big dreams about the future of data cleansing and auto-curation (more on that shortly). But for now, he's wearing that curation hat:

In the meantime, I'm curating data for the scientists to use, and explaining what it's good for, how it's constructed, those kinds of things. What you can do, what you can't do, what techniques were used to build it. By the way, that drove a boatload a revenue.

Hold up - just how much is a boatload? Now we're venturing into trade secrets, but Coblentz calculates we're talking in the eight-figure range without a problem. His latest numbers say nine figures.

So how was that done? Coblentz's team equips their sales team with Domo "cards" that display the competitive intelligence, which they call "battle cards." They can track who is using the cards and who isn't. Over the course of four quarters, those using the cards moved from a 72 percent probability of close to 82 percent:

One quarter, we actually elevated it to 89 percent probability of close. Unbelievable.

Take the number of sales reps using Domo, times the number of deals in a quarter, the average deal size, the percentage of close increase, and now you're talking. Even if the exact number can't be shared, Coblentz can share this: hitting numbers like that does wonders for user adoption. Not to mention executive buy-in:

That's when you show that stuff to the executive, and the executive says, "Two-thirds of my people aren't looking at this data? I can fix that." Oh yes. We did that.

Coblentz says they've expanded into attach rates. A customer might buy the latest hyper-converged system, but not buy a backup. That's where product attach recommendations via Domo come in:

We're in the backup and data protection business. We want to attach that to our hot selling portfolio items. It's a high tech version of the grocery store stuff on the end of the aisle.

Fine tuning with data is paying off:

Every time we attach, that's a significant profit. We were only attaching at 8 percent. We're now at 35 percent.

Those numbers make an impression:

The executives love this stuff. When you can tell them that a team member with an account on a battle card system, has a win/loss ratio is 89 percent, but when they don't, it's only 72 percent - that's an easy message.

Salespeople are notorious for being, shall we say, extremely picky about the tools they use. But with the Domo cards, they have the dual motivations of outperforming their colleagues (the carrot), and getting held to account by management (the stick).

We gave salespeople access to the cards, and then we challenged them when they didn't avail themselves of it. It was that simple. No change in head count or anything.

The wrap - customer advocacy for a better Domo

Coblentz embraces the role of customer advocate, pushing Domo on areas where he wants improvement. He wants to reduce the time needed curating the sandbox, and get Domo content to the point it is iron clad for auditing. With his typical color, Coblentz said about the sandbox:

It's wild, wild west, so everybody can be a citizen analyst. The problem right now is nobody can find [email protected]

Coblentz wasn't kidding about the "giant sandbox." They are pulling in data from 39 sources (that means 39 Domo connectors), and managing 1,200 data sets. During Domopalooza, Coblentz met with Domo execs and aired his feedback. He notes the progress made by certified cards, as well as Domo's new data schema, but he wants to see it go further:

I'm a MajorDomo (Domo admin) and all that, but I call myself the librarian, because now what I'm realizing is the management of this much big data is a huge problem.

Data citizens create a lot of Domo cards. Coblentz told me they've made some internal progress with card management. Example: you keep the cards you create to yourself.

That's your stuff. If you want to ask a question for yourself, come knock yourself out. If you want to build it for everybody, it better change our behavior.

Coblentz advises customers to get in on Domo's beta programs, and get access to new functionality early. He's looking ahead:

I'm looking forward to these new tools. Some of the new things that Catherine (CPO) was talking about or the CTO was talking about when they're building stuff out in those product demos - they're going in the right direction.

Domo can count on plenty of vocal feedback from Coblentz and team:

We throw all kinds of stuff into Domo's feedback thing; we track the support cases and stuff like this. We're loud and proud, and we're scrappy.

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