How Belly Aligned Marketing and Sales to Build a Successful Inbound Sales Organization

Lessons on How Belly Retooled its MarTech Systems and Processes to Increase Leads by 125% and Close Rates by 30%

Marketing and Sales alignment

Belly is a high-growth company based in Chicago. It was founded in 2011 as a technology company focused on enhancing customer loyalty for small and medium-sized businesses, like coffee shops, retailers and dry cleaners. Belly has helped over 10,000 businesses serve loyalty rewards programs to about 8 million consumers with its iPad and mobile-based solutions. It’s a “two-sided” network that serves both businesses and consumers (those businesses’ Members).

Belly landed its initial customers with outside sales and “feet on the street.” By 2015, Belly had gained a significant market presence, and shifted from a dominant outside sales team to a dominant inside sales team. We de-emphasized cold calls, and invested heavily in Web-based leads for this transition. We found that customer acquisition costs were 30% lower with inside sales than outside sales, and that inside sales were more willing to properly use CRM (Salesforce), giving Marketing more control. However, the shift to inside sales required that we retool our marketing and sales systems to optimize the sales process.

Over the past year, we have made significant progress in growing our inside sales team, and retooling our technologies and processes to grow leads and sales. We have seen a 125% increase in total lead volume over last year, and a 30% improvement in deal close rates. In this blog, we will be sharing details about how we increased our leads and sales effectiveness. We have engaged a number of techniques and technologies to achieve this, including:

  • HubSpot for Website forms and marketing automation;
  • SendBloom for email lead nurturing campaigns;
  • OpenSoon and other 3rd party data providers for contact information on brick & mortar companies that will open in 3-12 months;
  • Salesforce for overall business sales and lead tracking;
  • Infer for lead scoring and management (predictive analytics); and
  • InsideSales for lead operations.

This blog is most relevant to B-to-B marketers, especially within high-growth companies.


By the time Belly had gained more market presence in 2015, we decided it was time to invest more in inside sales. Rather than focusing on cold calling, we invested in modern digital marketing practices to find and grow leads.

We started working with 3rd party data providers, including OpenSoon, to identify good prospective business customers. OpenSoon provides data on brick and mortar companies that will open in 3-12 months. Now when we receive information on an emerging business, we use SendBloom to reach these prospects with attractive, informative emails. The “call to action” is typically a response from the new business requesting a Belly demo. Each email is associated with a specific inside sales representative, who can provide a demo or other follow-up information upon request from the prospect. Once we show a demo to a prospect, the close rate is generally very good – over 40%. But the response rate (as measured by demo requests) on SendBloom emails to OpenSoon prospects is only around 2%. We continue to work with other 3rd party data providers to find the highest conversion.

We also invested significantly in the design and optimization of our Website to attract and convert relevant small business prospects to request a demo of Belly. We use HubSpot for the Website forms themselves, and Optimizely to find the best format:

loyalty program for small business

When a prospect visits our Website and fills out a HubSpot form, they are converted into a lead and pushed into Salesforce. We engage these leads by enrolling them into a “prospect journey” that includes a pre-defined series of phone calls and educational emails from our inside sales representatives.  The educational emails and persistent followup has allowed us to convert about 10% of prospects that originated from the Website into paying customers.


Belly Lead Gen

We continue to experiment with new approaches and programs to drive more quality leads. For example, we are working to iterate on our current referral program; an initiative that started during an internal “design sprint.” The customers we gain through referrals have over a $600 higher LTV (lifetime value) than non-referrals. We are also using paid search and experimenting with programmatic display through QuantCast. We also continue to invest in content including webinars, blog posts, white papers and video. In addition, we just launched a new way for prospective Merchants to buy Belly right from the web, without having to talk to an inside sales representative. We are focused on educating our prospects and giving them the tools they need to make a buying decision. How they buy should be up to them. From user testing, some folks prefer to buy without having to talk to someone.


Belly also invested in several new processes and systems to make inside sales more effective, including lead scoring. After a lead is pushed into Salesforce, it is given a lead score with Infer, a predictive analytics vendor. Belly uses two lead score models:

  1. Predictive lead score model/ likelihood of closing. Infer assigns the lead a number, from 0 to 100, and also buckets the lead into a letter ranking, from A to D that corresponds with the lead number. The Belly inside sales team have found leads in the “A” group 4.2 times more likely to close. Infer uses its own proprietary system/ data to evaluate multiple attributes from each lead (e.g., the email domain, the FaceBook page status, and the zip code) to arrive at the lead score.
  2. Lead qualification. Belly created a secondary model with Infer’s help to assess if a lead is qualified for Belly’s services. Mainly this model evaluates the lead’s geographic qualifications, as Belly only operates in the US and Canada. This model also uses lookalike models based on earlier, unqualified leads in Salesforce.

Lead scoring through Infer has been a game-changer for us. It allows sales to prioritize their outreach and it allows marketing to have a deeper understanding of our ideal customers, so we can find new ways to get in front of them.

Belly also invested in to manage the sales workflow for each lead. Belly distributes each lead to a sales representative for follow-up through Since building this lead scoring and management system, the close rate per sales representative has increased 30%. Our inside sales lead management systems look like this, where Infer is scoring/ categorizing leads, and Salesforce CRM acts as our leads “platform”:

Belly Lead Management

With a lot of experimentation, measurement and adjustments, Belly has established effective inside sales systems and processes. We never stop improving. We’re always looking for ways to improve our performance, either by growing our top of the funnel lead volume, or optimizing our current sales processes to increase our conversion rate further down the funnel.

Lauren Licata is a Vice President of Marketing at Belly. James Riseman is a Principal at MarTech Review.