In a recent interview with SalesTech, Shafiq Rajani, VP at Mintel Comperemedia, shares his thoughts about the organization, it's recent investment in Pathmatics, and this vision for continuing a sales-focused culture at Mintel Compremedia.
The original article can be found here on the SalesTech website, but we're sharing it on our blog as well. Enjoy!
SalesTech Interview With Shafiq Rajani, VP At Mintel Comperemedia
Sales Tech Journey
Tell us about journey into Marketing and Sales Technology. How did you arrive at Mintel Comperemedia?
My career began at Chase, where I developed a keen sense for understanding how middle market business works, as our group was ensuring that balance sheets were sound ahead of mid-market mergers and acquisitions.
After arriving at Mintel in 2008, I was instantly impressed with the data set that we had – as we were able to understand pricing, marketing and offer strategy through having the largest direct mail panel in the US. However, being the industry standard in direct mail was not enough. By 2011, we were being pushed by our clients and the market to bring not only direct mail, but digital data to them in the same capacity.
What is Mintel Comperemedia and how do you differentiate it from other technology platforms?
Mintel Comperemedia combines the best marketing data across our partners into one platform with a singular taxonomy. So within the tool, users can manage their competitive workflow by understanding which offers and channels their competitors are using in market instantaneously across 13 channels – from owned, paid and earned social, digital advertising, email and direct mail.
Our differentiator is combining the sound data- the absolute best data in each channel- with the speed of insight as the module updates daily. This technology allows our offline analysts to tell our clients the best and most complete story in the market.
How different is your role at Mintel Comperemedia compared to the ones you had in the early part of your career?
Outside of Chase, my career was groomed from an early age at my family business – which combines custom picture framing with laser engraving. I grew up with this business, so from a young age I understood how important it was to listen to the customer for success. This early experience also changed my mindset to understanding every part of the process to tell the best story. In framing, I understood how to make the frame,
cut the mat, the importance of each component and how to create the frame.
Similarly at Mintel, my goal is to understand how we acquire the data, why we deem it the industry standard, the story we can tell with the data, how it will ingest into our workflow and the data quality that goes into each insight. This allows us to speak to our clients with confidence knowing how the machine works.
Tell us more about Mintel Comperemedia’s recent investment into Pathmatics?
We look for partners that match our speed, our culture and our curiosity: Pathmatics was the right partner from our first meeting in 2015. After we met with them initially and built a relationship, other firms such as Kantar and Nielsen also deemed their data as best-in-class, which cemented our position and investment.
The investment was not only for Mintel, but for our clients. By investing in Pathmatics we ensure we are bringing the best data to market one channel at a time.
Most recently, Pathmatics was the first firm to bring their Paid Facebook study to market. Paid Facebook for some companies makes up 80% of their digital spend. Without this metric, our clients were flying blind when 2 measuring their campaign and spend metrics. Pathmatics allowed us to tell this story and now our reporting is more complete as a result of our endorsement and investment of Pathmatics.
We will continue as a company to seek out the best data providers for our clients – and not shy away from acquiring or investing when it makes sense.
How would it benefit your customers and marketing efforts?
We’re simply looking to tell our clients the most complete story. Our goal is for them to have one competitive intelligence platform instead of the four or five that they currently use to fulfill multiple needs. This is why we spent so much time perfecting the User-Interface and making it scalable.
Our clients benefit because we’ve done the due diligence to deem Pathmatics the industry standard. They enjoy insights quickly and are able to leverage our analyst recommendations within hours of a new campaign or product.
With Pathmatics, we are going to the market with joint marketing efforts, constant meetings on how to make our user experience better for mutual clients and prospects. Each one of our clients is aware of the relationship and excited by how we are teaming up with a client-first approach.
What are the core strategies you focus on at Mintel Comperemedia for Global business development? How does it impact your revenue channels?
Although Mintel has products spanning 50+ countries, we are solely focused on the US and Canadian markets for our Comperemedia solution. We find that these markets are still in need of transparent marketing data with thought leaders in an easily digestible experience. We are obsessed with fine-tuning this for years to come.
How different is Customer Success for Financial teams compared to other CRMs used by Marketing and Sales?
To support a Financial Services client, you must understand how they make money, who their competitors are and how their product provides differentiation to the market. Our Financial Services practice is predicated on understanding the marketplace, white space and also being creative in thinking about what is next.
For this practice we stay diligent on every new offer in market, trends in volume growth and decline. We obsess over terms and conditions within offers to understand not only the marketing strategy but growth strategy. For this sector in particular, our customer success is built on not just our database, but knowing the market.
How do you differentiate—Customer Success vs. Customer Service at Mintel Comperemedia?
Good question. Genuinely it is one in the same. Customer service could be simply providing a client with a
user-name and password. But, we never stop the conversation there.
Our goal is to understand every users’ objective. So if they need proactive content, we can be ready, and if they are working on a project we can curate the right saved searches and campaigns.
It could be an intern at an agency or a SVP at a bank. The first line of service is ensuring they are successful using our database. As a result, we hope they are taking the insights into their next meeting for the next big product launch.
What role does Customer Success play in retaining these customer groups and consolidation of revenue opportunities?
Customer success spans across support and insights for us. Even if a client were to never log-in to Mintel Comperemedia database, I truly believe our Customer Success and Insights alone would still retain the relationship.
After 20 years, we’ve understood in our business that a SaaS platform is not the end-all-be-all. It is the service, it is the insight, it is understanding objectives that allows us to retain and grow our client relationships. We are humbled by a retention rate of over 90% for 20 years strong.
What is the sales culture that you represent? Why is it important to build a sales-focused culture for any business?
Our end goal is for our Account Managers to become trusted advisors to their clients. I may sound like a broken record now, but if we are not tying ourselves to our client objectives then what exactly are we doing?
If we gain their trust and deliver on their goals, the sales culture, net new revenue and retention will take care of itself.
Our sales culture is simple: client obsession.
How do you achieve this culture-balance at Mintel Comperemedia? What percentage of this is driven by the application of technology, reporting tools and coaching?
Like many other firms, we believe in sales metrics, including the number of meetings both on-site and on-line, number of users and user growth and the number of on-site presentations.
But, the number I really zero in on is less tangible: “How have you moved the needle for your client?”
If our Account Managers can pinpoint actual situations where Comperemedia data enhanced a strategy, changed thinking or cemented a new product, I know we’ve done our work and our legacy will maintain at the firm. Thankfully, our team has also bought into this philosophy so we are always asking our clients the right questions to hit this metric.
Tell us how you achieve marketing-sales alignment. How does it impact your targets?
We can do better here, we’ve been lucky in ways as all companies want a “Mintel Sub” or are already clients. But, we need to branch out, we need to focus on new sectors and this will require a closer alignment for Comperemedia.
Across Mintel, we’ve had a lot of success in our conferences. Instead of focusing on cold-selling in these conferences we center it around exploring, meeting analysts and presentations. We’ll continue this strategy throughout 2019 as we expand our Comperemedia offering into Omni.
My Sales Magnifier
Which events and webinars do you most occasionally attend and why?
CES. Over the years, CES has become much more marketing driven, so for agencies and partners it has become a must. In the case of CES, for me, it is less about spending time with clients and more about bringing my clients insights throughout the year from these sessions.
I’ll bend the question a bit – as I’m big on Podcasts and there are a few must listens for me:
Each morning after the gym, I listen to The Daily – there is no better way to set up my day than understanding the World from the NYT. I love that it is a deep dive on one particular topic.
The GaryVee Audio Experience – full disclosure [VaynerMedia is a client], but even if they were not Gary Vee has been delivering practical words of advice for years now. With Gary, it just takes one or two words to get 4 me motivated and thinking in a unique way – what I love is that he is providing advice on how to use Social Media for sales growth so often that I find myself using his strategies when speaking to clients. It is simple, insightful and impactful.
Finally, how can I forget he Professor himself. Galloway. Outside of his Weekly must-read newsletter, Pivot with Kara Swisher is my favorite 30 minutes of the week. Galloway is the best story-teller of our generation – period.