Sunday, December 2, 2007

Case Study Monday: The Bridge Group and Eloqua

It's Case Study Monday again -- are you starting to look forward to Monday's yet? All right, call me PollyAnna, but it's always good to be able to learn from a good analysis of how to make our lives better by using proven approaches that net out in positive results. Today, we're going to look at a Case Study from The Bridge Group. Since 1998, The Bridge Group has specialized in building, evolving or validating inside sales strategies for their technology clients. Trish Bertuzzi, President of The Bridge Group, responded to my LinkedIn question about contributing Case Studies -- and we appreciate her response. The Bridge Group has a virtual plethora of really great ones -- check out their website for yourself.

This particular case study has to do with how the successful integration between your marketing and sales groups can increase your sales results. As you know, this is an area that we are passionate about. If you can enable effective communication between these two groups, we believe that you are destined for success. Without it, you are destined for a lot of frustration, inefficiency, and eventually, failure. I know, tough words. But, time and time again, we have seen really intelligent marketing groups provide targeted leads to sales -- only to have them fall through the cracks and not get worked. And, to be fair, we have seen really great sales organizations who are not happy with marketing because of their perception of low-quality leads that are being supplied to them. It's definitely a conundrum.

In addition, we think this case study points out that it is sometimes imperative to bring in an outside, unbiased perspective to help you identify those areas that may need to be improved.

Check out this case study. Again, if you have one you'd like to contribute, just let us know and we'll highlight your success story on an upcoming Monday.

Here's The Bridge Group's Success Story:

Growing Pains in Marketing & Sales
Eloqua recognizes the importance of a focused sales and marketing selling approach. So when Thor Johnson and Keith Nealon analyzed their customer base and decided they needed to prospect and sell to larger sized companies, they knew it was critical for them retool their marketing and sales strategies. To help them with this, they decided to seek the advice of an outside consulting firm for expertise and a fresh perspective.

RRW note: Again, we think this is an excellent idea! Sometimes, it is extremely difficult to get outside of your own situation and truly see specific areas for improvement because you are so closely involved in your day-to-day fire-drills. It makes a lot of sense to seek an outside perspective when this is the case. The key here is being able to identify that this is the case . . . and this is not always easy.

After numerous cold calls from The Bridge Group, Thor and Keith realized that they each had colleagues who knew of and had worked with Trish Bertuzzi, The Bridge Group’s president. After some informal reference checking on the company’s inside sales expertise, Thor found out that “Trish is a pro who knows what she’s doing and is someone that I should take seriously.” Keith’s inquiries supported Thor’s findings. “A former colleague highly recommended The Bridge Group and because of the conversations I had had with Trish, I knew they were experts in setting up inside sales models. I felt like we could benefit from their ‘lessons learned’ from past engagements so we decided to bring them in.”

RRW Note: Another great idea . . . check out the company that you are interested in bringing in. When you talk with other folks who have worked with the outside consultant that you are interested in bringing in, you will find out exactly the way that your business will be able to profit by bringing in that expertise. On the other hand, you'll also find out if you really shouldn't spend the money with that specific firm! Net-net, it's always good to ask the questions.

Zeroing In On Core Issues

The Bridge Group initially started out with an assessment of Eloqua’s current situation through a series of interviews with key executives and members from both the marketing and sales teams. According to Keith, “The Bridge Group was very responsive to our needs as far as learning our business. They reviewed how the marketing and sales teams were engaging with prospects and customers, how the teams were engaging with each other, what standards we were using, what common processes existed, and which things were working well.”

After their initial assessment, The Bridge Group created a series of recommendations and then gathered all primary players from the marketing and sales groups together for a two-day meeting with the objective of obtaining agreement on the recommended processes and tools. The meeting included Keith and Thor as well as the directors of the Demand Generation team and the newly formed Inside Sales group.

Keith described the two-day session as a very productive forum, with The Bridge Group being very well informed. “The Bridge Group brought in their observations on where we were at the time, and provided recommendations on what we needed to do to reach our objectives. They produced a comprehensive document in advance which we walked through, page by page, to make sure we were all in agreement.” According to Keith, the meeting was one of the biggest challenges of the whole engagement. “Getting us all to agree on the process steps, from the generation of the lead through to the delivery to field sales, was a challenge. We recognized that it was necessary for us to all agree on what information was needed and how the process would flow.” Keith added, “There were multiple stake-holders present so having The Bridge Group there to provide guidance and remind us of what we were trying to achieve as we debated the whys and wherefores was a great asset in this engagement.”

The Demand Generation Group: Recommendations and Results

For Thor, the recommendations of The Bridge Group were an integral part of the Demand Generation team’s ability to achieve the goal of reaching a more sophisticated prospect. “Helping us clearly describe the prospects we are looking for and learn how to find them were the greatest contributions of The Bridge Group. They recognized that Eloqua, with its current market being half way between early adopter and early majority, is going after a very specific individual as opposed to a specific kind of a company.” Thor added, “The Bridge Group helped us realize that we’re not going after an industry and a title, but an approach and an attitude. They then provided us with a road map for identifying that kind of person.”

According to Thor, the Demand Generation group has now changed the way they go after prospects, based on the recommendations of The Bridge Group. “We’ve modified our vocabulary. The tele-prospecters now have tools and processes that support reaching out to the type of customer who is likely to buy Eloqua.”

The Inside Sales Team: Recommendations and Results

One of the key deliverables of the engagement was an Inside Sales Playbook. According to Keith, “The Bridge Group provided us with everything in the Playbook that we needed in order to set the Inside Sales team up with best practices, such as techniques for outbound calling and objection handling.” As Keith explained, “It’s useful to have the Playbook because it gets new sales people up to speed more quickly. It’s also been helpful when it appears that something is not working – you can see pretty quickly what’s off because we’re engaging in a standard way.”

In addition to the Playbook’s tools, The Bridge Group was instrumental in developing processes involving how the Inside Sales team worked with the field sales force. As Keith described it, “The Bridge Group guided us on how to set up Inside Sales by working in collaboration with the field reps, with recommendations on how to hand off leads and other tactics to avoid field conflict.” According to Keith, the team model that The Bridge Group recommended is working well. “It’s just a question of building trust because you’re asking seasoned field sales people to trust inside sales people to close deals that are in their territory. But because of the conflict-free model that The Bridge Group designed for us, it’s going pretty well.”

As to the overall success of the team, Keith shared that the inside sales reps had been in place for only three months and were able to hit their quota in the first quarter of operation. “I know that The Bridge Group had a key hand in that success.”

The Bridge Group’s Expertise

Throughout the engagement, Keith and Thor recognized the value of The Bridge Group’s extensive knowledge in how to properly set up inside sales tools and processes. Thor, who already has recommended The Bridge Group to several colleagues, shared his impressions of The Bridge Group. “I see The Bridge Group as marketing-oriented selling consultants whose expertise is selling approaches. They understand how best to sell whatever it is you’re trying to sell.” He added, “It worked out nicely that they were able to help both Keith and me with their experience – they were able to help marketing craft the pitch and sales execute the pitch.”

RRW Conclusion: So, here is a case study where bringing in an outside expert really helped a customer to increase sales, while integrating the company's marketing and sales efforts. By getting these two groups into sync, they were able to more effectively distribute marketing's important leads to the various sales organizations, and, in the process make the newly launched inside sales center successful right off the bat.

All in all, a great success story!

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