How just one sales alignment success can open the doors

It’s almost ‘Summit time’!

The MGM Grand in Las Vegas will welcome up to 10,000 marketing nation rockstars for the Marketo Marketing Nation Summit 2016 on May 9-12. I’m really looking forward to Will Smith’s keynote and some of the other great sessions I’ve put on my personal calendar. Next to that, I’m honored to present a session too. I’ll be taking you on The Road To Successful Marketing Operations, which includes topics like sales alignment. The session is on May 12 at 9.30am in room 319. Make sure to get your XXL coffee that morning, the night after the big gala at the Hakkasan!

About my presentation “The Road To Successful Marketing Operations”

At Quintiq, an international B2B Enterprise software company in supply chain planning & optimization, I 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? Join the session and go home with strategic insights and actionable takeaways to help your colleagues excel in their commercial efforts.

The story about my first sales alignment success at Quintiq

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

About Quintiq
Quintiq was founded in The Netherlands, but opened an office in the United States a few years ago. I’m 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 I worked for, who joined one month after I started at Quintiq.

The challenge
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.

The solution
I was already working on an idea that I 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. We listed all relevant whitepapers, case studies, and video testimonials. We also added some of the presentations we did at their office. That way the prospect would have a great resource of all relevant materials.

The result

The next day I get 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?

Next steps

Hoorah! Sales knows I’m 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.

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

Productize it
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. We 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.

Spaghetti statistics
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 we 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).

Final thoughts
I think it’s almost 2 years ago, since I built one of those portals myself. Knowing what I know now, those portals could be taken to the next level. I’ve 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.

Hope to see you at the summit!

This is 1 of about 10-15 'stops' in "The Journey to Successful Marketing Operations", which I'll share during my summit presentation. If you made it to this part of the text, I assume the content got your interest. In that case, I hope you’ll be able to join the session on May 12 at 9.30am in room 319. Until then, feel free to ask questions and/or leave comments below or on my blog, where this article is also posted.

Best regards,

Diederik Martens