The 2007 Market Awards: Elite -- Voices.com

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There's nothing we love more than a thriving CRM implementation. Some projects, however, stand out--not for the technology involved (though we applaud innovation), not for the money saved (though we celebrate savings), and not for the efficiencies achieved (though we believe in synergy). Our 2007 Elite winners stand out because they embody the best of CRM at the enterprise, midmarket, and small-business levels--making the most of technology to enable sales, marketing, and service to fulfill the promise to the customer. VOICES.COM Three free trials lead to another dulcet-toned Salesforce.com deployment.
Voices.com, an online marketplace for voiceover performers--for commercials, cartoons, YouTube content--and those who provide related services (e.g., writing a voiceover script), is helping talent connect with radio stations, audio and multimedia producers, and other relevant clients. "There's a big need for this, particularly in small markets," says David Ciccarelli, chief executive officer at Voices.com. "If a company [needing a voice actor] is in New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago, it can contact its advertising agency, which will then go to a talent agency, which puts out a casting call for voice actors," he says. "But this isn't as easy to do in small markets." The small-market talent pools are much more limited, Ciccarelli explains. With a portal, buyers and sellers of talent can cut out the middlemen, namely the agencies, reducing overhead costs and speeding the time between the actual request for talent and delivery of the finished product, Ciccarelli says. "This lowers the barriers to entry. Agencies are open only 9 to 5. We offer 24x7 availability." Being Internet-based also allowed for a small-business CRM application to help match talent sellers and buyers. "If you do everything manually, you can only serve a limited number of people--unless you increase the size of your sales team." But the first of these applications provided only limited usability. The performers, who each pay a subscription fee of $29.95 a month or $199 a year to use the service, had to use a very rigid, standard template to indicate the services that they offered. This provided limited functionality and no internal metrics, Ciccarelli says. Despite the limitations of his legacy CRM, Ciccarelli wanted to ensure that any replacement application not only provided greater usability and a reduced learning curve for users, but also that it didn't introduce new problems to the system. So he took advantage of the free trials offered by Salesforce.com three times before finally settling on the company's CRM solution. To grow the business further, the company sought an easy-to-use, Web-based CRM replacement that could deliver "whenever/wherever" access and provide an end-to-end view of the business, including not just the collection of performers and search capabilities for talent-seekers, but also a seamless interface with marketing, billing, financial reporting, and other facets of Voice.com's business. The previous application's poor usability led to low adoption by those inside and outside the company, Ciccarelli says. But now, complaints at Voices.com are virtually inaudible: There's 100 percent adoption of the Salesforce.com application, helping set the company apart from its competition, he says. "Other [online firms] offer a listing service of male and female voice actors," he says. "We've spent a lot of time building trust and relationships with those in the [voice] market. They want to work with best-of-breed companies. Part of being a best-of-breed company is using best-of-breed applications." Salesforce.com fits that definition, Ciccarelli says, because it enables ease-of-use for customers and a plethora of uses for the company itself. For example, when performers sign up, the form they fill out uploads automatically to the Salesforce.com application. Whenever a talent-seeker conducts a search, actors meeting the requested criteria are automatically contacted. This data is then fed into the company's internal marketing and billing departments, to develop marketing campaigns aimed at potential new customers and to retain current actors. Using this information, in conjunction with the Salesforce.com service and automated support features, Voices.com can develop and initiate an email marketing campaign in as little as three hours. The campaigns are more effective as well, Ciccarelli says. The company saw new leads rise by 215 percent over three months. The returns-on-investment attributed to Voices.com's marketing campaigns were recorded to be as high as 1,189 percent in an eight-month period. The outstanding results were attributable to tracking and use of Google AdWords, a practice that Ciccarelli expects to continue to hone as Salesforce.com provides additional metrics in the coming months and years. Real Results -- Voices.com
  • 100 percent user adoption, resulting in cleaner, more-complete customer data and increasingly streamlined business practices;
  • a 62 percent increase in gross sales;
  • a 215 percent increase in new leads, in only three months; and
  • ROI from marketing campaigns as high as 1,189 percent.
--Phillip Britt
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