In our previous editorial, we had the pleasure of interviewing Tom Disantis, Senior Director at CEB, the leading member-based advisory firm providing insight and actionable solutions to senior leaders and their teams. In our discussion with Tom, he was able to provide a little background on his role, along with insights on the Challenger Sales model and its impact on helping sales executives improve performance in a changing consumer behavior market.
This week we were thrilled to connect with Michelle Burrows, Vice President of Demand Marketing at inContact, a pioneer in helping call centers around the globe create profitable customer experiences through its cloud contact center software. In this exclusive interview, Michelle provides information on her professional background and her much anticipated presentation at the Eloqua Experience user conference in early November. She also shares some practical tips that led her firm to capture success with the marriage of marketing and sales, along with some advice for Eloqua to improve its service to clients.
Can you provide us with a little background on your role at inContact?
I’ve been with inContact for two years and serve as the VP of Demand Marketing. My role entails a myriad of responsibilities, which primarily focus on the end-to-end marketing and sales process. My team brings in leads (inquiries) and nurtures those leads all the way through to booking with the use of marketing automation and a wide range of sales enablement tools.
Like many organizations, our success relies heavily on a strong marketing and sales partnership. The alignment of our two departments has enabled us to exceed our opportunity creation goal, launch a customer-centric regional event series and reduce cost per conversion (CPC) significantly, just to name a few.
Can you enlighten us a little on your presentation at Eloqua Experience 2012?
We’ve experienced tremendous success over the last two years in a number of different areas at inContact. This success however, would not have taken place if it weren’t for the solid partnership, or marriage, between marketing and sales.
Of course, the alignment of our two departments did not happen overnight. Just two years ago, our marketing team was referred to as the “sales prevention” department.
My presentation, which is part of the Imagine It track, takes the audience through our journey of moving from sales prevention to sales creation.
What were some of the tactics you used to get marketing and sales aligned?
From the beginning, we took a deliberate approach to transform the dysfunctional relationship between the two departments. We had to make some simple, yet significant changes to remove some of these barriers.
For example, either my team or I started attending every regional sales meeting to improve collaboration. We also collaborated heavily with sales when we switched marketing automation platforms from Marketo to Eloqua. We involved the sales team throughout the sales process, connected our sales team leaders with their counterparts at Eloqua and had the sales leaders on almost every demo. This resulted in the joint decision to move to a new platform.
When we implemented Eloqua, we used it as an opportunity to thoroughly train the sales team on how to use the various Eloqua tools and playbooks to drive efficiency throughout the sales process.
It all really boils down to how we treat the sales folks. By nurturing the sales team as we would our prospects, we’ve been able to build internal respect and a collaborative environment. Two years later, we now have one view of the truth with related RPI’s (Revenue Performance Metrics) and terminology that both teams have agreed upon. This means we can monitor and manage the integrated marketing and sales funnel, and each team is accountable to each other with defined SLA’s (Service Level Agreements). It is much easier to measure success if we have a common understanding of what is defined as success beforehand.
As an Eloqua user, what advice would you give to Eloqua that could be beneficial for other organizations?
I’d like to see Eloqua be more prescriptive with clients. I’ve been with Eloqua for a long time as I was an early adopter back in 2002. I continue to choose Eloqua as I have yet to find a better marketing automation solution and I believe their team is among the best and the brightest in the marketing space. However, I’d like to see Eloqua get a lot more proactive in sharing best practices, lessons learned, and approaches from Eloqua’s other clients to help us get even more value from our programs.
Topliners, Eloqua’s social community, is a great place to interact and find answers but I’d like to see Eloqua facilitate the interaction between their customers a bit more deliberately versus waiting for clients to search for answers.