One common reason why companies outsource sales and marketing efforts is that they need to grow quickly and don’t have the time or internal resources to ramp fast enough. By outsourcing specific functions that help them keep pace with sales, they stay on course with the growth goals without causing upheaval in any specific function.
We just returned from the SiriusDecisions Summit in London where people were unfailingly polite, public transportation was extensive and timely, and it was easy to find a proper cup of tea. While there, we teamed up with our client, Marketo, to present how we created a global, scalable demand generation engine. Having just gone through an acquisition by Adobe and a well-timed rebranding (does #marketober sound familiar?), the topic of growth was spot on.
Working with an outsourced sales partner is a dance, and the poetic beauty of dance is shown when both partners move fluidly as one. Our engagement with Marketo is still in the early stages, so it’s important to note that we didn’t present results, but rather, the challenge, requirements, solution, and takeaways for outsourcing the outbound demand generation function. For those facing the challenge of rapid growth, there are lessons to learn from Marketo’s experience and we’ve highlighted the main points of the presentation below.
Full steam ahead – rapid global growth
For marketers, Marketo is a household name. Their product is built around capitalizing on inbound marketing and their own inbound marketing efforts make their brand one that is recognized globally. Overall, Marketo sources 90% of their leads through inbound marketing because they are second to none when it comes to inbound marketing. However, they realized that if they wanted to move into the enterprise market globally, they needed to also focus on outbound marketing. Specifically, they pinpointed three tactics to help with global expansion:
♦ Build an outbound discipline
♦ Quick and efficient execution
♦ Selling into enterprise accounts
With none of the systems, processes, or culture in place, this would be challenging to do quickly in-house. In order to see the results in the timeframe the CEO wanted, they knew they needed to outsource.
Partnering for success – outsourcing requirements
Although Marketo needed to move quickly, they also wanted to make sure that they had the right partner to help with growth. They needed a global partner to have the following:
♦ Quick scalability
♦ End-to-end solution with reporting and analytics
♦ Experienced teams, agents, and processes
♦ Best practices and a culture focused on outbound marketing
In true ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ fashion, Marketo’s overall focus on inbound marketing blinded them to some nuanced considerations when setting up a successful outbound strategy, which only reinforced their decision to outsource.
A four-prong approach to starting on the right foot
While onboarding Marketo (and any client, for that matter), we focused on a four-prong solution:
1. Data: Data accuracy is extremely important because it’s the first step to a successful campaign. Specifically, we started identifying, cleansing, and appending Marketo’s target accounts, working with their team to ensure we included the right contacts, personas, and buying groups. And, of course, GDPR and privacy are huge considerations when executing a global campaign.
2. Tech and tools: Next, we needed to understand how data moves, where it goes, and who is involved in the process. This focus on technology and tools is fundamental to ensure that leads are progressing through the right process so that the people working on the data are armed with all the tools needed to reduce any lag in the process.
3. Global team structure and resources: Local Sales Development Reps or SDRs, in each of the four regions, Europe, US, LATAM, and APAC, were a key to the success of the program. We went through extensive recruiting, onboarding, and training to put the right team in place to effectively represent Marketo, while focusing on the outbound motions and sales alignment. A huge part of the onboarding success is Marketo’s collaboration in training. With all the sales enablement tools that a Marketo internal hire received, we created a playbook specifically tailored to calling and social efforts. The Marketo SDRs reviewed materials and practiced the “golden pitch” until there was no difference between an internal Marketo sales person and an outsourced one.
4. Reporting and analytics: Reporting and analytics are important for many reasons. Reporting on the overall results to show the ROI is essential, but initially, the detailed reporting will help us understand what’s working, what’s not, and analyze this information to continuously improve and optimize results. Results and conversion rates through the entire funnel enable diagnostics not just for the campaigns, but for data sources, target markets, messaging, SDR performance, the sales process, and even the sales reps themselves.
The entire onboarding process is supported by a global management team with local support in each of the regions.
Early checkpoints to ensure we’re on the right path
Since the engagement with Marketo is only just kicking off, early checkpoints aren’t focused on results for the sake of ROI, but rather to identify places to improve and change – either the data, the process, or the alignment – with the understanding that regional variations are necessary.
Specific check-in items are the following:
♦ Of named accounts, how many have decision-makers fully populated?
♦ How many MQLs?
♦ Is the technical information complete?
♦ How many have account plans?
♦ How is the SDR/AE relationship?
The answers to these questions help Marketo and ourselves understand where the sticking points are, if the SDR/AE teams are working well together, and that processes are being completed. The goal here is long-term success, so taking the time to identify where changes are needed early on helps bolster progress towards goals later.
Looking in the rearview mirror
The key takeaways from the presentation will help anyone setting up an outbound discipline. It’s important to take the time to set up the partnership correctly rather than have to change processes, data, people or what to measure later on. Looking in the rearview mirror of the Marketo onboarding, together we created a list of the following key takeaways:
♦ Understand your challenges: Identify your pain points or weaknesses to pursue outbound marketing.
♦ Define your requirements: How will you address the weaker parts of your strategy? If you need to partner to achieve goals, define your requirements before talking to partners.
♦ Executive buy-in: Make sure that the C-suite is on board. The decision to outsource a key function of growth needs buy-in from the top because it’s a high price tag no matter who you go with.
♦ Look beyond the headline price: When shopping, don’t compare partners solely on price. Understand their processes and what is included in each. It’s often not apples to apples.
♦ Data workstream early: Data and data processes are so critical to the success of an outsourced sales partner. With data privacy on everyone’s mind, it’s important to work this out as early as possible – maybe even before the contract is signed.
♦ Invest in the process: Understand that this is a partnership that requires collaboration on both sides for success. There can be success with the outsourced sales team by themselves, but just as great things happen when sales and marketing pull together, the same is true with your sales partner.
♦ Collaborative effort to continually improve: This isn’t a ‘set it and forget it’ process. Companies evolve and markets change. It’s essential to build continuous review and improvement into your processes.
Trusting your sales and growth to someone or something outside your company can be nerve-wracking. We are proud and humbled that clients like Marketo trust our people, our expertise, and our business model. It’s exhilarating hard work to get a program up and running. There WILL be challenges – no one is immune to that. But with an emphasis on setting a solid foundation, you can minimize disruptions down the road.