In 2011, Cornerstone Information Systems, a provider of technology for the corporate travel market, changed the way its sales team was organized. Along with that, said Alan Minton, senior VP-marketing, the marketing department decided to revamp its sales support processes as well.
“At least at my company, sales is about ruthless disqualification,” he said. “It's about getting people who are interested in what you do and are able to buy something to open their wallets.”
The marketing department, Minton said, wanted to help sales disqualify the wrong prospects and move the right ones into and through the sales funnel more quickly. Email marketing, he said, could help them do that.
Cornerstone has a mature email marketing program. It was launched a decade ago and is used for lead generation, upselling and cross-selling its current clients, as well as product and partner announcements. Combined, its list of almost 20,000 email addresses includes customers, prospects, end users and partners. While the program was successful, it offered no formal way to communicate with sales and score prospects.
After meeting with Act-On Software in September at Salesforce.com's Dreamforce conference and learning that it integrated with Salesforce.com, Cornerstone signed up for the service. Immediately, the company gained a way to give salespeople insight into who might be the best prospects for follow-up. “Now, we can say, "Did you open an email?' That's worth one point. Did you click through to a landing page? That's worth three points.' At the end of the week, we add up all the points and push out a report on Monday morning to the salespeople that [highlights] the people who earned the most points the week before,” Minton said.
Cornerstone's marketing team at the same time decided it wanted to build its list, so it started using Salesforce.com's Data.com service (previously Jigsaw) to prospect. “Now, I can go in and search by title, find my leads, and load 50 new names into [the email system] on Monday,” Minton said. “The following Monday, I can see how those new leads scored and follow up with the best ones.”
Although the email and Salesforce.com integration has only been in place for about seven months, it's already been what Minton characterized as a success. Sales are up 7% year-over-year as of the end of April, and Minton expects them to continue to climb since his company's sales cycle is between 90 and 120 days, he said.
“I attribute it much to the better targeting and prospecting we're able to do,” he said. “The critical key is that salespeople might have 100 people they should contact; but with marketing and prospecting, we can prioritize for them who they should call and they can literally click on the person's name [in Salesforce] and call them immediately; we're definitely seeing a better funnel.”