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How Citrix used third-party data to improve its sales pipeline

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In 2011 marketers at Citrix Systems found themselves facing a lead-quality problem. The company effectively leveraged lead-generation tactics, including webinars, product demonstrations and search, but it struggled to predict conversions. Plus, marketing was funneling more leads to the sales team than the representatives could handle. “We were plugging the funnel with poor quality leads,” said Eva Tsai, director-marketing operations for the cloud services company. So Citrix implemented a Big Data initiative to help it increase the efficiency of its sales team. The overhaul began with a critical look at lead-scoring models. The company abandoned industry standards and instead developed a custom lead scoring system that, in conjunction with marketing automation tools from Marketo Inc., improved its lead conversion rate by more than 20%. But Tsai and her team saw more room for improvement. In December 2012, Citrix begann working with predictive analytics company Lattice Engines, a partnership designed to allow the marketing team to score not only the individual behaviors of each lead but also the attributes of the company that those individual leads represented. “Once we layer in the account perspective,” Tsai said, “we are better able to predict whether or not a lead will convert.” Lattice used third-party data such as financial reports, news stories and social media to develop a profile of the type of account most likely to purchase Citrix solutions. The process led to several big-picture insights, Tsai said. For example, Citrix realized that it should be targeting established companies instead of the startups that it had thought were its ideal audience. The new profile of its prospects now also allows Citrix to make better-targeted list and ad buys, Tsai said. “Most marketers are looking at 1% to 2% of what is knowable about an account,” said Brian Kardon, CMO of Lattice. “There is so much that is hidden.” Citrix layered that account data on top of individual lead scores. The data sources were weighted, with attributes of the company that a prospect represented accounting for about 20% of the overall lead score, Tsai said. The process helped Citrix refine its funnel, increasing the impact of a Big Data initiative that now has improved the company's lead conversion rate by 30%, she said. The improved performance has reshaped the relationship between marketing and sales. “Our lead scoring now is so effective that we are doing part of the inside sales or sales qualifications job,” she said. With lead volume down to a more manageable level, the company has leveraged some regional teams' additional capacity to pursue lucrative cross-selling, up-selling and renewal opportunities. In the past, the sales team manually assembled a targeted list of existing customers that might be interested in investing in or renewing Citrix solutions. Later this month, the company will begin using Lattice Engines analytics in conjunction with other sales tools to automate that process on an ongoing basis. Sales representatives who have down time will turn to that database. “Sales shifted part of their budget to our team to help automate the intelligence,” Tsai said. “Sales is prioritizing their activity based on lead scoring. They tackle the highest lead score first. When they have excess capacity they figure out who to call from the database intelligence.”
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