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How sales alignment can accelerate digital growth

The MGM Grand in Las Vegas welcomed up to 10,000 marketing nation rockstars for the Marketo Marketing Nation Summit 2016 on May 9-12. Diederik Martens, founder of Chapman Bright, was honored to present a session in Las Vegas on the road to successful marketing operations, which includes topics like sales alignment. The session was on May 12 at 9.30am in room 319. Diederik’s presentation included a chapter on a sales alignment success story. Below is the story, but in a bit more detail, than presented at Summit.

About Diederik’s presentation “The Road To Successful Marketing Operations”

At Quintiq, an international B2B Enterprise software company in supply chain planning & optimization, he started as the first marketing automation expert in December 2012. Within 2,5 years this turned into a marketing operations team of 5. How did that happen? What was the business case? In other words what were the lessons learned? And the pitfalls? People how joined Diederik’s session left the session with strategic insights and actionable takeaways to help their colleagues excel in their commercial efforts.

The story about Diederik’s first sales alignment success at Quintiq

One ‘stop’ during the journey is “Diederik’s first sales alignment success”. That success opened the doors for him at Quintiq.

Quintiq, founded in The Netherlands, but opened an office in the United States a few years ago. Diederik is working from the Netherlands office, which traditionally has a lot of global resources. But in the past years a lot of new global roles were hired in the US office. This included the CMO he worked for, who joined one month after he started at Quintiq.

He called me on a Tuesday. He brought me up-to-speed on a 99% deal the US team was working on. At the last second the CEO of the prospect expressed her wish for one or more reference visits. This posed several issues. It was a relative new vertical for us, so there were very few references we had available. Another issue was that it can take up to a few weeks to arrange the visits. During that time competitors could potentially offer crazy discounts. But a few weeks delay also poses other common sales challenges.

Diederik was already working on an idea that he called Prospect Portals. A Prospect Portal is a landing page specifically designed for one prospect. It has their logo on it. And it has thumbs of the sales team on it. It also has a fancy touch responsive slider on it, which is used to showcase all kinds of content. The pieces of content can be videos, presentations, and/or PDFs. They listed all relevant whitepapers, case studies, and video testimonials and also added some of the presentations they did at their office. That way the prospect would have a great resource of all relevant materials.

The next day Diederik gets a call from the CMO again. “You’re the talk of the day!”. The prospect browsed the Prospect Portal and came to the conclusion a reference visit was no longer needed, as the Prospect Portal covered enough. They immediately signed the deal. That’s a sales alignment success right?

Hoorah! Sales knows Diederik’s here! A few more Prospect Portals were built in the weeks after. And they were resulting in more successes. Some prospects even reached out to sales representatives to express their enthusiasm about the portals. It didn’t took long before the portals became mandatory for opportunities at a certain sales stage.

He noticed he was interacting more and more with sales directly, next to marketing and management. It also enabled him to learn more about the sales process. It also connected him with sales. This turned to trust. Which in turn enabled him to launch new initiatives easier (e.g. lead nurturing during later sales stages).

It didn’t took long before the rest of the regions at Quintiq learned about the portals. In order to be scalable we involved the regional marketers. Obviously they were interested in sales alignment as well. They then introduced Account Portals, which were less fancy (e.g. no sliders). This way marketers could easily build portals themselves in Marketo with snippets. Account Portals were mostly focused on target accounts, whilst Prospect Portals were focused more on x% opportunities.

At a company quorum about a year later the names of some of the new clients for that quarter were announced. The team (yes, the team was more than one person by then ;-), recognized nearly all names. So we dived into reporting after that quorum. It turned out that all Prospect Portals that were visited by the prospect turned into deals, and all portals that were not visited didn’t turn into deals. Well… That’s some spaghetti statistics right?

In the months after they kept adding more functionality. This included password protection, personal introduction videos for each sales representatives, direct contact options, and progressive forms for anonymous visitors (who do have the password). The forms enabled the sales representatives to discover new decision makers and influencers in the prospect’s decision making unit (DMU).

Diederik thinks it’s almost 2 years ago, since he built one of those portals himself. Knowing what he knows now, those portals could be taken to the next level. He’s also discovered some tools, outside of Marketo, that offer similar portal functionality. Combine this with some of the account based marketing (data) vendors and you could be on to something.

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