Appirio Acquires the TRE3 Group

February 28, 2011 Appirio

Chris Barbin, CEO

I’m pleased to announce Appirio’s acquisition of the TRE3 Group, bringing us unique and deep expertise in creating high performance sales operations, collaborative selling and social CRM.

This is Appirio’s first acquisition, so it’s fitting that this acquisition addresses an area that’s been a core of our business since we were founded 4+ years ago – salesforce.com, sales operations and CRM. It also brings us expertise and an even stronger vision around the social business, and the technologies that can transform customer and employee-facing processes – just as cloud computing did over the last few years. It’s this blend of the pragmatic and the provocative that has set Appirio apart as a leader in this increasingly crowded cloud space, and made us a trusted partner for enterprise IT.

The founder of TRE3 Group, Eryc Branham (@erycbranham), has spent his entire career in the CRM space at companies like salesforce.com and Oracle, and founded two consulting firms focused on driving sales productivity through CRM technologies. Eryc is also the founder and manager of the Sales Ops Council (SOC), a 1,400 person strong LinkedIn community where anyone with a passion for sales ops can engage in discussions with their peers.

Rather than a press release, I wanted to introduce Eryc and the ideals of the TRE3 Group a little more informally and directly through a Q&A on this blog. World, meet Eryc (although you may already know him).

Q: Why did you start the TRE3 Group?
I’ve been in the sales productivity space for almost 20 years and we’re in one of the most exciting periods in the industry: the emergence of Sales 2.0 (buyer-focused re-alignment of sales processes) and Social CRM (leveraging collaboration and social networks to sell more effectively).

My experience working with Don Tapscott and the Enterprise 2.0 movement showed that Fortune 500 companies are desperate to find new methods for driving sales productivity and don’t know how to harness the power of Sales 2.0 / Social CRM. They need a roadmap and tactical, practical recommendations that are appropriate for the enterprise, not a consumer on the web or a small business. And most companies, frankly, realize that their foundation isn’t very solid to introduce new capabilities. They need to re-engineer their core sales processes before they can realize the full benefits of Sales 2.0 or Social CRM.

That was the genesis of TRE3 Group, an advisory firm to help enterprises prepare themselves and target new areas for sales productivity and sales transformation.

Q: When we started Appirio, we were passionate about the cloud and convinced it would change enterprise IT forever. We believed salesforce.com was the beginning of the much broader movement. Why are you so passionate about sales operations and collaborative selling?
Sales Ops is an under-served discipline in enterprise companies. If you look at the members of the Sales Ops Council, you’ll see an extraordinarily diverse group of people, from finance to ex-sales to reporting to sales applications and IT. These folks sit at the nexus of all the CRM functions within a company, between marketing, sales, support, finance & operations. They have the most to gain (and give) when it comes to creating enterprise-wide “collaborative selling” – harnessing the power of the “crowd” to enable sales teams to sell better. This can make a dramatic impact on a business’ bottom line.

Q: You mentioned collaborative selling and the ‘crowd’. Appirio has been a pioneer with salesforce.com Chatter among enterprise customers and has shown how it can dramatically improve collaboration between people in organizations. How does Chatter and these kinds of collaborative tools fit into the broader vision of social CRM ?
Social CRM is a toolset for collaborative selling that an enterprise can use to engage with their internal staff and external partners and customers. It’s a very crowded space, with many flavors of vendors making a claim to be true Social CRM providers. Some, like Chatter because of its tight linkage with salesforce.com CRM, are making a significant impact. Some aren’t. The truth is that this is still an immature market and companies need to integrate multiple applications into their IT footprint to create complete end-to-end Social CRM processes. I believe that sales ops leaders have a key role in driving Social CRM initiatives in their company, as the true goal of Social CRM is driving sales productivity.

Q: As an entrepreneur myself, I know the incredible feeling of building a company from the ground up. Why did you decide to bring the TRE3 Group into the Appirio family?
As an 11-year veteran of the salesforce.com ecosystem, I’ve seen the development of the “cloud” story from infancy to true enterprise adoption. Appirio is solidly in the middle of that shift, as both a technology enabler and an adviser to customers. That is where I see the opportunity for collaborative selling, as it takes the power of the cloud plus the power of social to create even bigger opportunities in the enterprise. That’s where I directed TRE3 Group and I felt like we could reach a wider audience of real cloud enthusiasts in the enterprise as a part of Appirio. And at Appirio there’s a vibe across the entire company that we really are changing an entire industry. It’s exciting to be in the right place, at the right time, surrounded by a group of similarly passionate people.

Q: Sales transformation and social CRM are big ideas that could go in a lot of different directions. What are some of your goals now that you’re officially an Appirian?
I want to build the world’s best examples of Social CRM in action in the enterprise, and have the ability to point to brand name companies that are seeing tangible, measurable benefits from these investments. I want to make sales teams excited to use these collaborative selling tools because they help them excel at their job and better serve their customers, and I want to create innovative new solutions that bring together the best-of-the-best when it comes to collaboration in the cloud.

Q: Prior to this acquisition, we partnered with you and the TRE3 Group on a few key client engagements. What do you think this acquisition means to Appirio’s customers?
I know from experience that the successful adoption of Salesforce in enterprise sales teams has everything to do with sales process alignment and making the app useful to a sales person, at the right time, at the right place. Does the cloud prevent you from creating bad sales process? No. Does the cloud make it easier to rapidly evolve your sales process based on real-time feedback from your sales teams? Yes, and that’s what we want to bring to Appirio’s customers in every salesforce.com project.

Q: The Sales Ops Council is a great example of the power of “social” and what can happen when you bring a group of like-minded people together to debate and solve tough problems. What are your plans for the Sales Ops council now that it’s part of Appirio?
We will continue to curate the Sales Ops Council as a free community in LinkedIn, and will continue to publish high-value articles on emerging sales ops trends to the SOC Blog, which will be incorporated soon into Appirio’s family of blogs to reach even more people. Our goal with the SOC is to contribute our own expertise in sales transformation to this community, and to use the discussions there to learn about the most pressing needs across our target markets.

Welcome to Appirio, Eryc! We’re excited to have you here and to have you working hand-in-hand with our customers. If you have questions for Eryc that I didn’t cover here, feel free to leave them as comments or reach out to Eryc on Twitter @erycbranham.

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