by Allison Banko
CentricsIT offers numerous solutions for the enterprise data center from hardware to technology support to IT staffing. But despite the fact this company is a one-stop shop in the IT realm, its marketing department once stopped at one.
In 2010, CentricsIT welcomed Mandy Hauck as its inaugural marketing employee. Hauck, onboarding with an expertise in email marketing, was challenged with building the marketing function of this comprehensive IT solutions provider from the ground up.
While Hauck was setting the building blocks of the CentricsIT brand, such as getting the website up and creating marketing collateral, she also wanted to amplify an area she knew quite well.
"Since my background was in email marketing, I obviously knew what it could do and that we had an opportunity to reach people through that outlet," explained Hauck, Manager of Marketing Communications, CentricsIT. "So I pushed for email marketing early on."
At the time, CentricsIT's email marketing wasn't highly sophisticated. The company performed general email blasts
such as wishing its customers "Happy Holidays."
Hauck described the existing email software's function as "dump your list in and send out a blast."
That third-party email marketing company's branding was also printed at the bottom of the CentricsIT emails. Hauck wasn't fond of this and preferred to find a more sophisticated, white-label alternative.
"I knew that we could do so much more," Hauck said. "What I didn't know at the time was how much more we really could do — I just knew we could be doing better."
When Hauck joined CentricsIT, she hadn't yet been introduced to the world of marketing automation. However, a coworker had a connection to the CEO of a marketing automation software company, and suggested she give its reps a ring.
Hauck's interests peaked to the vendor's pitch. The MA software could offer the company:
- A robust email application
- Lead scoring
- CRM integration
- Advanced reporting
Perhaps most appealing was the software’s ability to integrate email with lead tracking from the Web. CentricsIT was using two tools at the time: one for email marketing, and one for tracking website activity. The pitched software boasted these tools as an all-in-one package.
CentricsIT was soon onboard to implement this MA technology and replace its current tools to improve its marketing.
With the current website tracking tool, all leads were sent into Hauck's inbox. This required her to manually forward them to the proper sales rep. However, this new software would automatically route each lead to the correct rep according to their territory.
Reps would receive email alerts to do more research into the organization or contact that was performing the relevant web activity. This way, Sales could follow up and attempt to qualify the lead.
"That gives us the opportunity to instead of worrying who the leads are going to, worry about what happens to those leads and track where those leads go so we can evaluate our ROI," Hauck explained.
Step #1. Set the foundation for the new system
When CentricsIT first deployed the new technology, Hauck still stood alone in the company's marketing department. So she worked closely with an IT employee to ensure the company's records were primed and ready to go for a software switch.
As the one championing the new system, Hauck, of course, also had to learn the software. She did so through one-on-one training with a vendor employee, an easily searchable help document, video tutorials and responsive customer service.
"I was able to learn the software really quickly," Hauck said.
She added that she considered herself "extremely comfortable" with the new software in less than a year's time.
Step #2. Get Sales to adapt to new software
During her technology training journey, Hauck learned the importance of getting the sales team onboard with using the system — both an arduous and frustrating task.
"We really didn't have a CRM-friendly team," Hauck said. "It's just not the way they were used to working. Some sales reps are all about CRM and some are all about their Excel documents."
But the sales team's buy-in was essential to the system's success. Just as sales reps rely on Marketing to get leads, Marketing relies on Sales to be aware of what happens to those leads. Yet, Hauck admitted that achieving adoption from the sales team was the biggest challenge in the process.
"It was extremely frustrating in the beginning — I'm not going to lie," she said. "There were times when I was like, 'What have I done?' They just didn't get it."
Hauck ended up attending a conference on the software in 2012 and learned exercises to involve the sales team in the planning of the new system.
This entailed getting their input on what they considered a lead. By doing this, the sales team could feel like a part of the decision-making process as opposed to simply being told what to do. Hauck brought these exercises and tips back with her to CentricsIT.
"Slowly but surely, things started to turn around," she said.
Members of the sales team even began to emerge as "power users" of the new software, which CentricsIT capitalized on. These employees were asked to serve as leaders in their group for the software, teaching their team members internally. Wins with the system were also broadcast within the company.
"We would send out little success stories to everybody to show, 'Hey, this is really helpful, look what so-and-so was able to do and deals so-and-so closed,'" Hauck explained.
Top-level leadership support
In addition to getting buy-in from the sales team, CentricsIT wanted to ensure it had the support of top-level leadership, as well.
"It was about getting the time with them to explain the benefits and why the sales reps need to be doing this or that," Hauck explained. "Because once the sales managers and the VPs are on board, it trickles down."
This involved explaining the benefits of the system to managers and vice presidents so that if someone in the company asked them about it, they could speak about the system. As the system was implemented, leadership was kept abreast of the resulting achievements, such as the percentage increase in leads.
Step #3. Grow the marketing department to support the technology
"As we became more successful with this tool, it obviously drove the need for more resources on our end," Hauck said.
Since the switch to the software at the end of 2010, CentricsIT has grown its one-person marketing team to a group of five to support the system.
The company has also collectively hired about 75 people in the past three years, which has made training for the MA software easier due to the fact they don’t have to unlearn an old process.
"Things have really improved and I think at this point right now, it's the best it's been," Hauck said.
CentricsIT's move to marketing automation technology has resulted in big wins, particularly in the realm of lead management.
Before, the IT solutions provider didn’t have a refined method of tracking its leads or nurturing them. Leads were thrown into Hauck's inbox for her to manually forward to Sales.
Now, leads are automatically directed
from landing pages to sales reps, which takes a step out of the process of marketing.
That has certainly proved valuable given the 59% increase in leads from 2012 to 2013. Before the system change, Hauck said CentricsIT was lucky to get a lead per week, but now the company boasts more than 100 a month.
"If I had to forward all of those leads, that's all I would be doing all day," she said.
By taking forwarding out of the process, Marketing can now focus on evaluating ROI and tracking where the leads go. The software has also armed CentricsIT with the ability to track leads from online advertising campaigns and pull reports based on results calculated from the software.
With the integration of CRM, Sales and Marketing can access marketing automation tools to share information more efficiently. For example, sales reps can now segment their customers and contacts into lists for reporting and email blasts.
From January to September of 2013, CentricsIT generated $1.5 million in revenue attributed directly to its marketing automation technology.
Moving forward, the company plans to use new system more strategically for lead nurturing and scoring campaigns.
For CentricsIT, the implementation of marketing automation certainly didn't happen overnight or without — as Hauck stressed — teamwork. The transition took plenty of learning, collaborating and prepping before leading to strong results.
"It sounds basic, but nothing you implement is going to work unless those building blocks are in place," Hauck said. "It takes time and you have to be patient, you have to be diligent, keep going on it and get the buy-in from Sales as early as possible."
- Old holiday email
- Sales alert
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