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Converting event attendance to sales

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Sourcefire is a world leader in providing security for computer networks, using a commercial version of Snort, the open-source intrusion-detection software created by company founder Marty Roesch. Sourcefire markets its products primarily through seminars and Webinars featuring Roesch, and the company's use of a demand-management solution helps market not only Roesch's appearances but also the ultimate sale of its security solutions.

According to Michele Perry, chief marketing officer at Sourcefire, based in Columbia, Md., events are tailored to vertical niches, such as health care or retail, with initial e-mail invitations going to IT and other technical employees, who then-the company hopes-carry the Sourcefire message up to decision-makers. Demand-management solutions provided by Toronto-based Eloqua Corp. help customize these initial overtures, and its scalability is essential, Perry said.

"There are many steps in driving people to events, including sending the initial invitation, a second invitation, a confirmation e-mail, the day-before reminder and the who-attended-and-who-didn't e-mail," she said. "When you try to do it for 14 cities, it gets tough if you don't have a system like this."

But Sourcefire isn't in the business of staging events. The company wants those events to drive sales, and Eloqua aids this, too, in its automated analysis of, and reaction to, prospects' behavior.

"We'll do follow-up e-mails thanking them for coming to the event, or send them a white paper," Perry said. "If they click on the white paper, we may ask them if they'd like to see a demo. If they watch the demo, we could have a sales rep call them. We want to take the Nordstrom approach," she said, referring to the upscale department chain. "We'll say right away, 'Can we help you?' and they may say yes or no. But when they're ready to buy, we're back there right away. And I think that's how customers want to buy, to be helped through the buying process, but not be badgered."

The sales team collaborated on the implementation of the system. Perry added that Sourcefire sales reps have complete visibility into the lead process and aren't restrained from approaching any prospect at any time. But the Eloqua solutions give them added information on really warm prospects.

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