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Howard Brown Creates Revenue.IO To Optimize Digital Sales, Marketing And Service

By News Creatives Authors , in Leadership , at November 18, 2021

The Revenue Enablement Institute states in its 21st Century Commercial Model reportDigital Technology and the advent of advanced analytics and AI – offer tremendous potential to improve the productivity, engagement, speed, and visibility of sales teams. While we’ve seen sales and marketing technology generate real value for revenue teams, overall, it has never fulfilled its immense promise. 

This is about to change. A mix of customer, demographic, financial, and market forces will finally force enterprises to take the digital transformation of sales seriously. Over the next five years, an exponential rise in digital interactions between buyers and suppliers will break traditional sales models, with 85% of B2B sales occurring through digital channels, according to Gartner. 

One company helping to lead that transformation is Revenue.io (formerly known as ringDNA). Founded in 2012 by CEO Howard Brown, Revenue.io is a revenue operations platform that captures customer engagement data from live rep conversations, CRM and digital touch points and uses that information to help sales and service reps automate selling tasks, prioritise opportunities, and recommend follow up actions and content. 

After selling one of his previous companies, Brown was consulting for companies like Marketo, Salesforce and Workday helping them to integrate their sales and marketing platforms to deliver better experiences and to help reps perform better based on data. “And then the idea of ringDNA [now revenue.io] was really born out of that. We were at a Dreamforce conference in 2011 and me and my developer did a hackathon where we hacked together the Salesforce SDK with a new Twilio API and a Google analytics and AdWords API and created a distributed call center on an iPad. And we won first place in that hackathon. The good news and the bad news was we won $20,000, which was awesome. The bad news is the following year, they gave away a million dollars in cash,” says Brown.

Brown and his small team dabbled with their invention as they were working at their consultancy and building it as a product on the side. “In 2013, we really started focusing on it and building out what we felt was a great opportunity because it wasn’t just the inbound use case. There was a company at the time, Inside sales.com, and I had done a bunch of implementations of this thing. And it was horrible. The telephony was horrible. The integration was horrible. And I thought, okay, well, we have an inbound use case to provide context and to help the inbound use case. I worked with Salesforce. I saw that the outbound use case was growing and there was opportunity there,” says Brown.

He continued to build and iterate the platform based on feedback from the few customers that had. Then, in 2015, the company landed Hewlett Packard Enterprise, then AWS and Twilio. “We had some really great customers that we could learn from. And one of the things that became really clear for me. This whole thing for me was a data exercise. I wanted to study what ads worked that delivered the best results. I wanted to know which reps, how they were performing, what they were saying, what they were doing. I’m studying everything from marketing to first touch to conversation, to SMS, to the cadence of how they do things. Then we started realising we need to give managers better visibility into what they’re doing. It’s not just the activities. It’s their performance on those activities. So, we started building tools for managers to listen into calls,” says Brown of the evolution of ringDNA.

For Brown, the mission was larger than just helping sales reps or support teams provide a better buying experience. It was helping to fix what he saw as a breakdown in how people communicate based on his training and experience as a clinical psychologist. 

“We sit on phones all day. We don’t truly connect. The lost art of actually having a conversation of understanding what builds trust, what builds rapport, how you connect with people, this is what we’re really studying. And we just happen to be utilising it in an area of marketing sales support that will pay for it. But I’m studying language. It’s a vital piece of data, but what makes it incredible is the outcomes. You can tell the outcomes through changes in disposition. Was a meeting booked? Did the opportunity move forward? So, you’re able to tweak out all of those variables and then essentially see what’s working and what’s not,” says Brown.

According to Brown, his platform has a proven track record of helping companies grow their revenues and improving sales productivity for companies like CVENT, SAP Concur, Nutanix and Autodesk, as well as retaining his original customers. Today, the company is growing fast, has some 120 employees and over 300 customers, most of whom are large enterprises.

While the company has attracted $32 million in venture funding, it hasn’t sought any new funding since 2018. “We focus on growing a solid business. We’re capital efficient, R and D focused, product focused, customer focused on retention and expansion. I want more options for me and the investors who have been with me through a few companies as well. I also want to retain the shareholder value, meaning every one of my employees owns shares. And what people don’t realize is if you just keep taking more and more money, you dilute your employees. And it makes it impossible for them to ever have the payday,” says Brown.

Brown grew up Beverly Hills, California where his father was the Mayor. “I grew up in a very interesting way. My first sales job was walking door to door with my father, asking people what they thought about the services that the city was providing them, introducing them to my dad. I was essentially doing a sales job. I was asking them what they needed, what would be helpful,” says Brown.

He went to the University of Arizona for his degree in political science to follow in his father’s footsteps. He became a speech writer and campaign manager in Los Angeles for a few years, but felt less than fulfilled. He started doing volunteer work working with the homeless. “One of the guys at the volunteer organisation said, ‘I’m going to get my master’s in clinical psychology. You should try it’ Of course my parents thought I was nuts because I had a beautiful house at the beach. I was driving a nice car, the whole thing. I ended up going for it and absolutely finding a passion for helping people. And I think that’s what we’re doing here [at revenue.io],” says Brown.

After graduating, Brown went on to get his Doctor of Psychology and began a private practice in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. He then founded his first company, 4Therapy.com Network in 1998, which was then acquired by CRC Health Group in 2005.  He then founded the nation’s leading eldercare referral service, Senior Transitions, that was acquired by RealPage in 2013. Along the way he did some consulting and founded another company DemandResults before founding ringDNA (now revenue.io).

Brown attributes his entrepreneurial drive to watching his father succeed. “My father was a good businessman. He was very successful in real estate in Los Angeles. I think what I got from him was the perseverance gene. He never really stopped. The thing that drives me every day is I love solving problems that people say can’t be solved. Whether it’s treating a patient that couldn’t be treated or solving a technology problem. I didn’t fashion myself to be a CEO. I learned on the job. I got to work with incredible people. I surrounded myself with people that are constantly pushing me to do better. I’m constantly learning,” says Brown.

As for the future? “I think that every company in order to thrive needs to put the customer at the center of their revenue engine. And I think that they need to no longer talk about revenue operations, but actually set up the governance, the organisation, the data, and the tooling to deliver on the results that customers need. And that’s where we’re squarely focused. And I think every company that wants to thrive and see hyper growth needs to focus in that way,” concludes Brown.


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