Company: SalesTrac, Inc.
Contact: Ken Wahler, President of SalesTrac, Inc.
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Industry: Software manufacturer (B2B)
Annual revenue: Confidential
Number of employees: Confidential
Obtaining timely data is usually key to understanding which strategies and promotions are worthwhile investments. SalesTrac, Inc., a large developer of Web-based event-management software, understood that this was of paramount concern to its clients—mainly beer and spirits manufacturers that spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on events and promotions each year.
SalesTrac's main function was to help automate its clients' event-management functions and connect them with contractors who could represent clients' brands at various promotional events throughout the country. The company realized, however, that its clients were looking for more in-depth consumer insight to determine the effectiveness of these events. It seized the opportunity to provide increased value through an all-in-one system that added survey management and real-time reporting of consumer feedback to its services.
This additional functionality enabled SalesTrac clients to better understand event execution and build more insightful brand strategies. And SalesTrac was able to become much more than a software provider: It can now be considered a key component in its clients' marketing.
SalesTrac, Inc., a developer of Web-based event management software, hosts a social network called PromoSpace.com, which locates independent brand specialists to represent various brands (mostly beer and spirits labels) at promotional events around the country. PromoSpace also helps connect these specialists with consumers in bars, clubs, and other venues where those brands are featured.
The PromoSpace application further assists SalesTrac's clients—the manufacturers and their brand marketing agencies, which typically execute thousands of promotions each month—with event management technology that automates event scheduling and payment processing, in addition to field staff recruitment.
Although these services were valuable in their own right, SalesTrac clients still found it difficult to determine why certain events excelled while others fell short. In an effort to improve its customer relations and boost its competitive advantage, SalesTrac sought to bridge the gap between event management and effective brand management in these promotions.
SalesTrac identified field surveys as a way to address that gap, especially since the company already had a large network of contacts in the field who were attending events and coming face to face with consumers in an appropriate environment.
As a noted software developer that prides itself on saving clients' time and money, SalesTrac knew that paper surveys were out; these had to be high-tech surveys consistent with the SalesTrac brand and cohesive with its existing PromoSpace ASP model, which its clients were already accustomed to using.
Furthermore, the technology had to be flexible so that it could effectively support each client's unique strategies and key performance indicators.
After a fair amount of due diligence, SalesTrac found Prezza Technologies' Checkbox Online to be a good back-end solution for its clients' data collection and analysis. Key factors in this decision included the following:
- Ease of use: The technology could be integrated directly into the existing PromoSpace platform, so clients could use a single interface for all services and would need little to no training on the new features. In addition, the handheld mobile devices and tablet PCs used in the field would allow field staff to easily receive survey questions and systematically input data.
- Customizable surveys: Surveys could be tailored to each client's interests in terms of formatting, style of question (including radio buttons, open-ended text, etc.), and content, all of which could be quickly and easily adjusted as needed.
- Real-time results: Select survey questions could be deployed to a particular field group within minutes; survey answers could be instantly conveyed back via an online connection; and the client could immediately view and track the results through the PromoSpace platform. When no immediate internet connection was available, field staff could conduct offline surveys and later synchronize when a connection was found.
"If a company is interested in which brand is particularly 'hot' in a certain area, they can come up with that question at 2:00 PM; by 2:04 PM the question will be populated on users' devices in that location; and they can have results [in hand] within the hour," said Ken Wahler, SalesTrac president.
Implementation of the Checkbox technology began in early May with the help of long-time client Coors Brewing Company and its promotions agency Stage 2 Marketing, both of which saw the potential and were eager to try it out. Once integrated into the PromoSpace platform, the companies used online training seminars to quickly educate their field managers, and then put the technology to the test at seven separate Coors Summer Promotions that took place this June in Phoenix, Chicago, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Tampa, Boston, and the Jersey Shore.
The questions used in the surveys were formulated by Coors and Stage 2 Marketing and included event evaluation inquiries such as "Will you tell anyone else about your experience at the event?" and product-specific questions such as "How often do you or will you buy Coors Light?"
Field staff at the Coors Summer Promotions used tablet PCs to gather feedback, and the insight collected allowed Coors and Stage 2 Marketing to immediately decide which aspects of the events needed to be adjusted. For example, they learned that certain venues were more appealing to consumers and better reflected the Coors brand.
"The powerful combination of brand strategy implementation and consumer feedback enabled Stage 2 Marketing and Coors Brewing Company immediate insight into the mind of the consumer, allowing them to alter strategy quickly and effectively," said Wahler. "It shortened the brand and marketing-intelligence cycle from what could be months to literally minutes, on a very localized basis."
Within three short months, SalesTrac has been able to not only strengthen existing client relationships but also significantly expand its client base and add non-alcohol-related accounts. New clients include a major clothing manufacturer, a food manufacturer, and food-equipment supplier.
"We are picking up new clients weekly, and the combination of our software and Prezza's is allowing us to dominate the [events management] space," said Wahler.
The Checkbox integration has further helped SalesTrac set the industry standard for enterprise applications in the events and promotions industry and established the company as an important partner in its clients' strategic brand management process.
For all sides, this experience drove home the all-important lesson: Listen to your market.
Coors was able to better direct its efforts by monitoring consumer feedback and adapting its strategy in response to those reactions. And SalesTrac was able to transform its role in its clients' strategic marketing process, essentially by giving them what they were asking for.
In terms of generating good customer feedback, SalesTrac and its clients have found that...
- Conventional survey tactics apply: SalesTrac's suggests keeping questions short, limiting the number of questions asked, and offering very specific answers, such as single-select or multi-select options, then supplementing those with open-ended, free-text feedback.
- Standardization is key: Structured surveys and a single platform set-up enabled SalesTrac clients to easily compile data from multiple sources and ensure data consistency throughout the process.