Blue Coat Systems, which develops secure Web gateway and application-delivery network technologies, was struggling with the challenges of rapid growth, outdated systems and a lack of alignment between marketing and sales.
“As a company with over $500 million in revenue, trying to achieve our first billion, we had a lot of challenges,” said Maxine Graham, senior director-global integrated marketing and operations at Blue Coat. “We are in a high-growth phase. We had a lot of legacy stuff to deal with. We have a global sales force. We sell through a channel, and we are getting more customer segments, channels and partners.
“Our problem was that "moment of truth' when we realized that sales and marketing were using the same data, but reporting different results.”
She listed some of the problems: Marketing and sales data resided in multiple systems and required complex custom reporting; marketing and sales had different definitions for the same terms; and the systems and processes were very North America-centered.
After realizing these deficiencies about 15 months ago, sales and marketing decided to launch a joint initiative to more closely align the two functions and build common systems and processes, as well as manage and nurture leads.
The goals of the project were to ensure data integrity; build closed-loop systems to track leads from start to finish; develop tighter data integration between sales and marketing automation systems; establish common definitions, terminology and business processes within sales and marketing; prove a defensible marketing ROI; and adhere to industry best practices.
“It was a joint effort between marketing, sales and marketing operations,” Graham said. The teams working on the project included marketing and sales operations, field marketing, channel marketing, inside sales, tech reps from sales and marketing automation platforms, and executive sponsorship from senior marketing and sales management.
Peter Johnson, senior manager of marketing operations at Blue Coat, said the first step in the process was an internal audit and “gap analysis” of all existing systems and processes within sales and marketing.
“First, we needed to understand where we were,” he said. The audit included a comprehensive review of Blue Coat's sales force automation (Salesforce.com) and marketing automation (Eloqua) platforms; metrics and reporting processes; data integration issues; campaign management; and lead-scoring processes.
The company also looked at industry best practices and worked with consultancy SiriusDecisions to develop new processes.
The next phase included creating standard terminology between sales and marketing; defining data requirements; developing new business processes (such as getting as much information from sales as possible without asking them to do too much work to provide it); and implementing consistent global reporting systems.
Next, Blue Coat put into place new systems and processes, including data cleansing, a lead-scoring update, a centralized lead-routing structure, shared dashboards for marketing and sales, and training for the sales teams.
Finally, it monitored, measured and refined the systems.
“You have to make a tremendous amount of compromises when you are going through this process,” Johnson said. “From the sales operations view, it was a joint project; it was "socialized,' and it was agreed to. We always put data integrity and processes in front of system limitations.”
Since implementing the new system, Blue Coat has seen dramatic results.
“Now we have lead status reporting—we know what stage a lead is in and who owns it. We have closed-loop metrics from lead to acquisition. We know how many deals are influenced by marketing or sales,” Graham said.
Pointing to some of the key results, she said marketing-qualified-lead (MQL) conversions are up 108%; marketing contribution to the pipeline is up 68%; marketing contribution to wins is up 73%; and leads to the channel are up 34%. M