Bulldog Solutions Blends SiriusDecisions’ Waterfall Method with Full Circle’s Performance Management for New Paradigm in Marketing Management
One of the great unsung themes running through marketing today is organization, which says a lot about how far marketing has come in the Internet Age. Not long ago, organization was less critical because virtually all leads were the same. They were low quality and generated from broadcast methods like advertising and direct mail, which meant that they required much more effort to convert into something useful in sales.
But a lead that comes from a business card collected at a trade show is potentially different. So is a registration on a website that provided a piece of thought leadership to the prospect in exchange for the data provided on a form. These leads should take less time to make sales ready and have a higher chance of closing on average. So why would a marketing organization comingle these leads with those that came from a lower productivity campaign?
They shouldn’t. When comingling occurs it becomes hard or even impossible to determine which marketing campaigns provide the biggest bang for the buck. That’s the essence of SiriusDecisions’ new and improved marketing waterfall methodology. Now, I am not an expert in the method nor do I work for Sirius, but intuitively it makes a great deal of sense to do that kind of organizing.
Keeping birds of a feather leads conceptually segregated makes it much easier to do meaningful things with them. For instance, you wouldn’t send the same introductory content to a prospect that has a defined need, budget and timeframe that you would send to someone just looking for information. Rather than that, you’d fast track that lead and ensure that every time you touch it you add value. And that takes organization.
If you organize your marketing pipeline into distinct tracts, or as SiriusDecisions would say, waterfalls, you will be better able to apply consistent policies and procedures. You will also be able to determine to a higher degree of certainty, which programs work best in particular situations.
Bruce Brien is senior vice president of client success for Bulldog Solutions, a business-to-business demand generation agency for enterprise businesses in high tech, financial services and insurance, and he knows quite a bit about marketing, demand and organization. Bulldog has been using Full Circle CRM since December of 2012 and with a full quarter of data and experience he has a good perspective on the Sirius waterfall methodology and Full Circle CRM. I caught up with him the other day to see how things are going.
Brien is level headed and logical about everything and while he rarely uses the word “organization” that’s pretty much what he means when he says things like, “Full Circle is not a magic bullet, you have to decide to fix your processes first.” Fixing processes means making sure your data is clean and that you have data governance rules in place and follow them. In a word, organized.
If you are an old school marketer this might surprise you but the point is clear, if your database includes opportunities without contacts or it has multiple duplicate entries, then you will need to de-duplicate and update your data before you can reasonably expect to have success with either the waterfall or Full Circle. While you are at it institute some data governance rules to prevent this sort of thing from happening again. You will also need some buy-in from sales about what a lead really is and about how the SFA system needs to relate to marketing for the simple reason that many SFA systems don’t offer data governance so people must. That’s organization again.
With organization, Brien has discovered he can learn a lot using Full Circle. For instance, Bulldog now measures four separate waterfalls for each of its key lead sources — one for marketing, one for sales, one for telesales, and even one for existing customers making repeat purchases. Each waterfall has a cascade of well-defined events and rules that stipulate how and when a lead matures along its path to a sale.
The rules and data governance are all part of more organization. In this case, they represent agreements within marketing and between marketing and sales, concerning what a lead is and what should be done at each step in a phase. Full Circle CRM comes into play here because its analysis can tell the user how things are proceeding at each part of the waterfall. Full Circle CRM helps managers to understand what specific results accrue to each process and how well matched results are to the type of lead in each phase.
In prior marketing approaches, where the leads were less organized it would have been harder or even impossible to figure out if a particular program was working or what its returns were because the programs were operating over a heterogeneous group of leads. But with the Waterfall method to organize marketing flow and Full Circle to do the attribution, it’s easy for Brien to see what’s working and what’s not.
Full Circle’s greater ability to attribute results to specific inputs, “Just gives you the information you need to make adjustments,” according to Brien. Early in the life of a Full Circle implementation, those adjustments might come frequently but over time the pace should slow as you might expect in any fine tuning situation.
You should also expect that the cadence of change would depend on your sales cycle. Enterprise sales cycles that can take six to twelve months are slower than sales of more tactical goods and services and so the rate of change would be different. But no matter how you slice it, the days of quick and sometimes dirty marketing are behind us. What’s here now is a demand for greater accuracy and precision and that takes greater organization.
Oracle scored points in its ongoing battle with Salesforce.com for primacy in the CRM world. Personally, I am not sure it matters much because the two companies’ approaches to CRM are so different. Coke or Pepsi? Harley-Davidson or Honda? Who knows? At the end of the day, it’s about helping a customer realize a vision of customer outreach. Today for Sony-Ericsson the answer was Siebel.
What’s interesting about the selection is that it plays so well to Siebel’s strengths. Over the last five years and under the wing of Anthony Lye, Oracle has carefully managed a customer base of some of the world’s largest companies as they grapple with what to do in the face of increasing complexity brought on by cloud computing and social media.
They’ve done a lot, not simply upgrading Siebel and incorporating new technologies but they’ve gone a step further and analyzed how Siebel customers would interact with their customers in the years ahead. The answers were surprising and inspiring. One big take away from Siebel’s thinking is the importance of conventional B2C marketing.
The result has been a sophisticated product and a business process they call clienteleing (not sure about that spelling). With it, a vendor representative uses analytics and customer history to make intelligent recommendations. The result is marketing in action or customer experience management and it matters to companies that have hundreds of thousands or even millions of customers.
The product works well on conventional computing devices as well as mobile and gives a vendor selling consumer devices an edge, especially in an age of product line extension. Simply put, there are so many choices and options today that a vendor can use the automation help.
Marketing has made huge strides in the greater marketplace during the CRM era but one knock against it is that marketing products are largely still separate, third party add-ons. The integrated solutions have done great service and are very useful. But tight integration between advanced marketing products and the rest of a customer record — an Oracle specialty — might have pushed the deal over the line for Oracle. I expect we’ll hear more from Oracle as it potentially builds out a niche in this kind of marketing automation.
A long time ago I wrote a white paper about how on-demand technology would change business. The paper covered all of the ideas you’d expect including lowering costs and improving access to on-demand applications. But there was another part of the paper that speculated that if technology was that easy to come by then the next thing to look for was enhanced service based on the technology.
In other words, technology access would cease being a gating factor in executing business processes. Replacing technology as a gating factor would be having the smarts to use it optimally. I envisioned that service companies that had operated more or less locally would, or at least could, become national or global by selling their expertise based on the on-demand technology. The computer and telephone enabled public relations firms to become national in scope, but a bit more is required for a marketing services company or a design company for example.
It has taken a long time and it seems what happened first and what I had not fully foreseen was the globalization of applications based on platform technologies. Right now, Salesforce appears to be the most successful practitioner of that art. But now we appear to be at the beginning of an era when business services will become global or at least national based on the consolidated expertise of some organizations.
Judging by some of Sage Software’s recent actions, that globalization might be taking off at the SMB end of the spectrum. Recently, Sage announced new marketing services for its ACT! customers. The first service will be email marketing available on-demand. Now this may not seem to be a very big move since there are many independent email marketing providers already on the market like Constant Contact, ExactTarget, VerticalResponse and many others (you get 36 million hits on Google).
But don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. With a three million user installed base in North America that has many marketing needs beyond email, Sage is poised to build a services engine that could eventually rival its software business. This would be a very smart end run around the company’s own business model limitations. To be precise, Sage sells its products exclusively through a reseller channel. The resellers deliver product, customization and advice leaving slim pickings for Sage beyond the license revenue.
The primary way Sage grows in this model is through product sales and by recruiting new partners. But no market is infinite and the market of resellers is relatively small compared to the market of end users. You see where I am going. There is nothing prohibiting Sage from offering services based on the products it makes and the installations that its partners effect. As a matter of fact, offering this kind of service, which only makes the end customer more productive, should drive demand for the products themselves. Looks like a smart and virtuous circle to me as well as a new kind of on-demand service.
I believe the era we are entering will be constraining for many companies in several ways, not the least of which is transportation. As fuel prices resume their rise with the recovery, companies will need to find ways to take travel costs out of their value propositions. That should mean a need to enhanced marketing as in, how can we use marketing rather than face time to close more deals?
The answer to that question goes beyond email marketing and probably beyond the meager efforts that so many SMB companies now use to sell their products. Centralizing key services that can be delivered at scale via the Internet will enable SMB’s to continue to compete in select markets against larger competitors. It is also a growth market and who doesn’t like that?