How Lead Liaison Built Real Time Email Sync Into Their Sales Enablement Application in Just Three Weeks [Video Interview]
Nylas Fireside Chats: Episode 1
Serena Malkani | October 11, 2018
In our first fireside chat episode, Mike Pfister, Head of Customer Success at Nylas, discusses the integration process and four use cases of the Nylas API with Ryan Shefke, Founder & Customer Success Manager, and Emad Atya, Director of Engineering at Lead Liaison.
Mike Pfister: Hi everyone, my name’s Mike Pfister. I lead Customer Success at Nylas, and I’ve been working very closely with Ryan and Emad that are joining us today from Lead Liaison, really just to make sure that their integration with our API is going as smoothly as possible.
A little bit about us at Nylas: We have an API for email, calendar, and contact data so that you can pull that information into your application, and power features like open and link tracking and other types of email automation, which is something definitely that Lead Liaison has been doing. So, I’d love to introduce Ryan and Emad. Would you be able to dive in and share a little bit about yourself and what you’ve been doing at Lead Liaison?
Ryan Schefke: Absolutely. Hello, everybody this is Ryan Schefke and for our fireside chat I’ve got some marshmallows here for us so, ready to rock and roll. I focus on product management at Lead Liaison. I help out with customer service as well, and I’m one of the founders of the business. A little background on our company and then I’ll have Emad introduce himself.
We provide what we call revenue generation software. It’s a suite of software that really has four key areas. Number one, we track website visitors. Number two, we provide automation. There’s an overused phrase called marketing automation, but, there’s automation. You can say marketing automation for the sake of the example. And then we provide sales enablement, and that area is really where Nylas is powering that particular solution. And the last thing is what we call event lead management, and that’s helping companies at marketing events, could be at a trade show or a corporate event. With that said, Emad can you intro yourself real quick?
Emad Atya: Sure thing, I’m Emad Atya, the lead engineer on the project to integrate Nylas with Lead Liaison. So, I am a part of the technical team who has built integration with Nylas.
Mike Pfister: Awesome. Ryan, how long have you been around as a company? And I’m also curious to hear where Nylas came in in the process there?
Ryan Schefke: Absolutely, yeah, so we’ve been around, we’re coming up on our fifth year anniversary. So we are a younger emerging company, for sure, and we’re trying to be ahead of the curve in terms of being different from all the other companies that overuse the phrase marketing automation. And really we were seeking a solution, again, to power technology that would help us reach sales people, not just marketing people. Sales and marketing, they really compliment one another.
Ryan Schefke: So we looked at a lot of offerings. There was another solution similar to Nylas, but if I remember, everything was very proprietary. Emad actually, you might remember a little more than I do, but there was certain limitations – “oh, I think your contact data could be shared with other people” – so it just really wasn’t appropriate for the enterprise, and I think it posed a lot of security concerns for us. That was one of the factors for us using Nylas. Plus Nylas actually offers the ability to tie in with email, and calendars, and contacts. Really, our main use is around email. I’m happy to talk to that in more detail. But the other two areas are areas that we’re planning to use Nylas for on our road map.
Mike Pfister: Awesome. So why don’t you jump into how you’re using it today.
Ryan Schefke: Definitely. Emad, I’m going to steal your thunder and you could talk a little bit more in detail if you’d like. But really it’s four key areas where we’re using Nylas. I should have had a fourth marshmallow there to represent the four areas, but…
Ryan Schefke: Number one is what we call in line email. We do offer a CRM. It’s a very modern day visual CRM, drag and drop, your pipeline, your deals, and your pipeline, all of that. But with a CRM, one missing feature was the ability to send emails from the application. So we added Nylas and now you can go to a prospect record in the system, and you’re going to see an email tab in there. So Mike, if you had a record in our CRM, I could send you a direct email, and I could monitor if you open the email, if you click links in that. All of that is powered by Nylas, so the sending of the message goes through Nylas, and all of that engagement tracking all comes from Nylas and the rich web hooks that are sent back. So number one is in line emails.
Ryan Schefke: Number two is a feature we call two way email sync. Previously before this, to get an email message into your CRM or your marketing automation system, in other words our software, you would have to use a BCC address, and that’s always a pain in the butt. You’re creating your message, you gotta add something else in the BCC. Basically, our users don’t have to do anything. They can drop the BCC to CRM address completely. Now when their sending a message through their iPhone, their tablet, their desktop computer, their web app email client, doesn’t matter where they send it from, all of the messages get synced with the record, so it’s actually pretty amazing. When you bring up a contact record, you can see all of the threaded emails. Again, Nylas gives us the ability to show those threads, and then to even interact, reply and forward, right there in the profile on all of those emails. So again, all the syncing, it just happens.
Mike Pfister: What about in terms of the kinds of email service providers your customers are having. Have you noticed that it’s kind of been a broad array of different providers? What do your customers’ email systems look like?
Ryan Schefke: Yeah, we’re seeing about, I’d say 40% are using Gmail, another 40% are using Exchange. I’d say 10% have GoDaddy, and then the other 10% have something else. And I don’t usually go into the Nylas dashboard, but I actually went in there over the weekend, I know I’m geeking out, but I went in there to go look at different connected accounts and it was pretty cool cuz it would actually show me what type of email account it was, so I could see the data you’re asking me, you know GoDaddy, Exchange, all that. So it was pretty cool to see, ya know hey this one’s running, this one was stopped, the billing status stopped, so on so forth.
Ryan Schefke: So it’s really an array, but here’s the good news, we didn’t have to program to basically work with all of these APIs that are continually changing. Nylas is an extraction layer for us, and again allows us to keep all that behind the scenes. It’s transparent to us and I really don’t even need to know if its GoDaddy or Gmail or Exchange. It’s transparent. We don’t care.
Mike Pfister: Awesome. So what else has it helped you do at Lead Liaison?
Ryan Schefke: Yeah, there were four things. I mentioned the two, right, which was the in line emails and the two way email sync. And the other two would be what we call rhythms. That’s one of the two. And a rhythm is basically a sales plan. So if you’re a salesperson, you really need help doing prospecting and reaching out to individuals who maybe don’t know who you are. So our software allows a salesperson to build their sales plan. Multiple touch points. These could be email, postcards, handwritten letters, text messages – there’s all different kinds of channels we use to communicate. And for the email piece again, it’s all powered by Nylas. Pretty straight forward. So again, that’s sales prospecting, what we call rhythms.
Ryan Schefke: The fourth piece is a feature we call smart BCC. I would probably bet that not many companies are using Nylas for this capability, so we kinda feel like hey, we found somethings that’s really neat, but again shows kind of the versatility of the Nylas API. But the smart BBC feature allows us to basically give one email address to each of our customers, and our customers use that email address. If they’re not using the two way real time sync that I mentioned, they can use that company email address, and then the message will go right into an inbox that we monitor using Nylas, and we’re parsing the information and sending it back to our application, so Nylas web hooks are helping to send that information back when a new message shows up. So that’s smart BCC. So, multiple ways we’re using Nylas, it’s not a one trick pony.
Mike Pfister: Yeah, and it’s also great that you’re looking at calendar and contacts as well, so really expanding the offering there. Really great to hear.
Mike Pfister: So in terms of what you’ve seen Nylas already do for you and some of the features its powered, what results have you seen today, and what are you really hoping to see in the future as well?
Ryan Schefke: I’ll take that Emad. Pretty soon we’ll let Emad talk some more. But basically, it has helped us attract sales buyers. Like I said before, typically we were selling to marketing people. So it’s really helped to attract the VP of sales, the sales rep themselves, the inside salesperson. I read a study here recently by insidesales.com, and they said that companies will spend $169 per month on technology to help their salesperson. Our goal is to basically capture the majority of the revenue on a monthly basis, and we feel again, our sales enablement solution with the ability to send these emails and create these rhythms, that can help us capture the majority of that revenue, but again, it’s powered by Nylas.
Ryan Schefke: So moving forward, we’ve kind of carved out in our plan that our sales enablement piece should represent 15% of our total company revenue. So really, by working with Nylas, again they’re helping us achieve that 15% goal.
Mike Pfister: Awesome. So Emad, I think it’s time for a question for you. I’d love to hear about, what was the integration process like with Nylas?
Emad Atya: Yeah, sure. Sure thing.
Mike Pfister: How long did it take?
Emad Atya: Yeah, Integration with Nylas API went smooth, basically because their implementation is really good compared with many other APIs that we have worked well during the past three years. The integration is straightforward because that implementation also provides best practices and answer questions for those cases that we need. The support team have been also very helpful, providing us with the answers we need. They guided us to get the integration as we need to build a powerful platform that with two way sync emails. This requires a lot of attention, and its really challenging. And with Nylas’ help and with the features they are adding, like webhooks notifications they are sending, this has aided us to make the integration really smooth.
Emad Atya: Regarding the duration, how long did this take, the technical part integrating between Lead Liaison and Nylas, this took about three to four weeks to build the technical integration. And then the other part, other time part, this was on our side, building the timeline for the prospects and so on.
Mike Pfister: Awesome.
Ryan Schefke: I will add to that, Mike. You know I mentioned that smart BCC feature. Once we had everything created, we thought of the smart BCC feature. We were actually going down the path of implementing it yourself, and then we had one of our solutions architects say, “Hey, what about that Nylas thing? Let’s use that.”, and we go, “Oh, okay, that’s a good idea.” And literally the next day we had our smart BCC feature cuz we just leveraged all the code that we created and leveraged the API, so that was very fast.
Mike Pfister: Awesome.
Emad Atya: Yeah, that’s true.
Mike Pfister: What about, in terms of when you were still kind of in the discovery phase, did you actually, Emad, you had kinda mentioned earlier looking into other solutions in our space and maybe even looking at integrating directly with all the various mail providers. Did you go down that path, and if so, what did you discover there?
Emad Atya: Actually, most other providers mainly provided direct API calls, and we have a really weak point, which they don’t give us the option we need to build a real time sync. So the webhooks notification that Nylas have and with the power of deltas and cursors, this helped us to ensure that we have different ways to build a real time sync mechanic between the users connected email account and what he can see at Lead Liaison. So other providers didn’t have this option to help us get the real time sync built.
Mike Pfister: Very cool. So Ryan, tell me, what are your thoughts on the future? Where do you see the future of CRM going? Marketing automation and sales enablement?
Ryan Schefke: Sure, yeah. Basically, everything is moving very quickly. We’re in a technology driven world these days. Marketing automation, sales automation or sales enablement, whatever you wanna call it, it’s growing all very rapidly. I read reports recently, marketing in the nation is growing at a 30% clip, year over year. And again, I would compare all of this to what CRM was 15, 20 years ago. It came out, everybody said, “Hey, that’s cool” and then you see companies using it, and then other companies see those companies using it. Nowadays, if you go and you ask a company, “What are you using for your CRM?” And if they
said, “Oh, we aren’t using a CRM” you would go, “Oh my gosh, what is this company doing?”
Ryan Schefke: And now, I think over the next five years, it’s gonna be the same thing. Adoption of marketing automation. Depending on who you ask, it’s 50, 60 percent of all market leaders have adopted marketing automations. So, it doesn’t have 80, 90 percent penetration in the market, but its getting there. I think over the next five to seven years, you’re gonna see a ton of adoption in marketing automation, and it’s really important. Sales and marketing teams need to continue to work closer together in software like ours that actually helps to do that. But sales enablement is really gonna be following that path, and I think it’s going to be growing just as fast as well. So, marketing automation in the U.S. is estimated at about $3.3 billion, and again it continues to grow. I saw reports that, over the next five years total spend on marketing automation is $25 billion, so we’re talking multi-billion dollar industries here. I think the same thing applies for sales enablement, so Nylas is providing a solution that helps us take a share of that multi-billion dollar market which is very valuable.
Mike Pfister: Awesome, Ryan. Thank you for sharing. I’ll end on that note. I really appreciate you both joining, Emad, Ryan, and we’ll talk soon again.
Ryan Schefke: Alright. Thank you for the opportunity.
Emad Atya: Thanks everyone.