What to Change in Your Demand Generation Strategy to Double Your Sales Pipeline [Podcast]: Interview with Jim Kruger

Glenn: Hi, everyone. I’m Glenn Gow, Founder & Advisor of Crimson Marketing. Welcome to Moneyball for Marketing where we talk about the incredible changes happening in marketing organizations around big data and marketing technology. We feature marketing technology insights from the top marketers in the world. The reference to Moneyball is from the story of how the Oakland A’s baseball team were able to win and win and win because they figured out how to use data and technology to their advantage. If you’d like to learn about how to use big data and marketing technology and marketing to help you win visit us at CrimsonMarketing.com or email us at info@CrimsonMarketing.com. And now on to our podcast.

Glenn: Today I am very pleased to welcome Jim Kruger. Jim is the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Polycom. He’s responsible for overseeing all facets of global marketing, including product and brand marketing, corporate communications, demand gen, channel marketing and web and digital marketing. Polycom is a leader in unified collaboration solutions. Their telepresence, video and voice solutions enable geographically dispersed work forces to communicate and collaborate more effectively and productively over distances. Well, Jim welcome–I’m very pleased to have you here today.

Jim: Thank you, Glenn, it’s great being here and thank you for inviting me.

Glenn: Absolutely. So, we were talking earlier about how big data is becoming a foundational element that marketers really need to operate in; and how in addition to that, it’s important to show metrics around the impact of marketing initiatives. And you told me a few stories about some of the things you’re doing at Polycom. I’m sure we’d love to hear some of your thoughts.

Jim: Yeah, so marketing is definitely in a transformation stage, and technology and analytics and the move to digital are all having a dramatic impact on the way that marketers go to market, the way that they think about things, and things that really shifted from activity based things in terms of the number of things that you do to really focus on the results and the impact of the programs, the initiatives, the campaigns and strategies that marketers put in place. And we’re right in the middle of that shift at Polycom. And we are definitely leveraging technology in a big way, and data, to help us make better decisions, and help us drive more efficiency and better outcomes.

Glenn: Well I’d love to hear a bit about how you measure impact, because I think a lot of marketers struggle with that.

Jim: Yeah, it’s definitely a challenge and there certainly are some areas that you can’t necessarily measure a specific ROI on, but typically you can always come up with a metric around how you define success. And that’s a really important part of our planning now. So, we’re just actually in the process of starting our 2015 planning–and it’s a shift for our team. It’s not about how many things that you do, it’s really about what results you’re driving. We’re actually trying to really size down and prioritize even more than what we’ve done in the past and really focus on the bigger things that are going to move the needle from the metrics perspective, from the return on investment, to ultimately help drive revenue.

Glenn: Well that’s really a great question to ask at the beginning of any planning session, is how are we going to measure success? That really puts that particular program in the spotlight and causes everyone to think differently about it.

Jim: Yeah so let me give you a couple of examples of things that we’re thinking about. You know, obviously I think the one that’s probably the easiest, although, still not easy, is measuring demand generation, and really measuring things from the entire funnel perspective in terms of marketing responses, conversion rates, down into sales and our channel partners, and ultimately converting them to revenue. So, we definitely have specific targets that we’re shooting for related to that. But then as you go across the marketing disciplines, and you look at PR, AR and social and ARs is a great example before we’ve actually transformed the way we measure results from that perspective. You know part of it is we do surveys with our industry analysts in terms of likelihood to recommend us to customers as they’re talking to customers. But then we also measure AR from an impact on sales. So we actually have our AR team assist sales and connect customers up with analysts, especially if a customer is already talking to an analyst we want to make sure that they get a broad perspective.

So we might bring in one or two more analysts for them to talk to and then we actually tag that in our CRM system and go back and take a look at the impact that’s had. So we do that in three key areas: we do that in analyst relations, we do it in competitive assist because our competitive team actually goes out and assists our sales team, does demos and so forth, and we track that in our CRM system, and then we also have an industry team that’s out in the field that are industry experts that go on sales calls with our sales team; they are truly trusted advisors that don’t have a quota and they work to really develop us a solution orientation and we tag and track that. So all of those things are important ways for us to basically show how we’re influencing revenue and really driving opportunities from the top of the funnel to the bottom of the funnel.

Glenn: Well that’s really interesting because eventually you build a database of information that indicates what is moving something down the funnel, and perhaps how it’s different depending on the type of deal, or the type of customer or they type of industry you’re going after and so eventually you’re going to become smarter and smarter, at where to apply those resources.

Jim: Yeah, definitely. And then also a key part that I didn’t mention is it’s not only about creating the demand but it’s also the sales enablement. And from the sales enablement perspective, we’re not only measuring the number of people that are taking our training sessions, but we’re also getting into measuring sales productivity. And seeing how we can try to move that needle of sales productivity to make our sales teams more productive and then of course the conversion rates from the leads into revenue and making sure that we’re continuing to drive that conversion rate up.

Glenn: Now, you told me a story earlier about one particular campaign that you ran that touches on many of these points. Are you ready to share that?

Jim: Yeah, yeah. So we, just late last year, we rolled out probably the largest campaign in the history of the company. It was an umbrella campaign, which prior to that we had a very fragmented strategy, we had local campaigns going on, there wasn’t a lot of sharing across the globe in terms of different theatres, and it was really inefficient because we had multiple agencies. So we decided to come up with more of an uber campaign and we worked very closely with our agency and came up with the theme of that campaign which was ‘Defy Distance.’ And that actually was a great umbrella by which we could launch the campaign, but not only launch it, but add additional elements and additional phases over time. So we’re still running that campaign, we’re adding elements to it. But the basic premise of the campaign was a big strategic shift because most of our sales teams and channel partners sell into kind of the lower levels of IT and we wanted to help them to change the conversation because I think the most we heard was the statistic, but the business functions within organizations are influencing up to 60 percent of IT purchases. And so, it’s really important for us to have a conversation and to engage through marketing and through our sales teams with business functions within organizations to influence those purchases.
So, we developed the campaign that really got deep into the personas of each business function from sales to HR to marketing to product development, facilities, in terms of how they would be able to leverage our collaboration technology to improve the way they work, become more productive. So for example, from an HR perspective, how do you expand the pool of candidates that you can tap into? How do you reduce your time to hire people over interviewing over video versus having them fly in which ultimately reduces travel costs as well?
So we built all those personas and built the campaign around that. You know, a couple of key elements around the campaign which really made it successful was; number one, it was fully integrated–we had about half of my entire marketing team which was about 90 people working on the campaign. And it was extensive, and we basically put all hands on deck and we actually did it in a really, really tight timeframe. We actually executed from kind of start to finish within four months and launched it in October of last year and the results that we’re seeing are the best that we’ve ever seen in the company’s history from that campaign; and it really, from an integrated perspective, it included our AR team, our PR team, it included Sales Enablement, of course the Demand Generation aspect of it, and then we really focused on the content that we were developing for the campaign. And so, we did some primary research and developed a Collaboration Across Borders E-Guide that was really interesting to our customers and we saw just huge conversion rates within the first 30 days of the campaign, up to 70 percent conversion rates. And from that research, we also integrated that into our PR strategy and we actually had over 400 articles written across all technical and business publications around the results of that Collaboration Across Borders and we also created, I think over the first 90 days, we had over two million impressions on social as well.
So all of those elements really helped us to shift from where we were previously which was more of an outbound–had more of an outbound strategy–and this really helped to drive inbound. And we saw some increases on our website and just last quarter from the campaign, we had one of our largest quarters in terms of driving marketing responses, we generated over 40,000 marketing responses.

Glenn: So I’m going to imagine that is a measurable impact and you can show how much you spent on that integrated campaign and you can show the results at the where, at the pipeline level?

Jim: Yeah, absolutely, so we’re tracking that very closely as it comes into the pipeline and managing it through the pipeline to make sure that we’re getting those conversion rates working closely with our lead development team, our inside sales team, and then getting those leads out to our channel partners and sales teams and then really watching the timeframes to make sure that they’re following up.

Glenn: Well you’re sharing a few things that we see in a lot of our clients, Jim. One is starting with personas. I think that’s so critical for everyone to rally around and understanding of who are we trying to communicate and how do we communicate with them–so congratulations on that. The second is, in integrated approach as opposed to a lot of ad hoc campaigns, looks like you stepped back and said, “we’re going to create greater impact by combining the resources of multiple, what would have been maybe smaller initiatives in the past, into a single one,” and then the final is you’re really focused on measurement.

Jim: Absolutely, and I think another key part of it is just involving the sales team. So we had specific asks of them, we developed emails for them, we developed calling cards, and just recently I’ve gone out on a couple of sales calls. I was travelling in Asia-Pacific and went out on a day of customer calls with one of our reps in Australia and they’re starting to use it. It takes time, but you have to be relentless–you have to continue to push and then you start to see the sales team engaging and leveraging the content so they’re using the calling cards before they go in on sales calls, they’re trying to leverage IT to broker meetings with them, with different business functions within the company. They’re sending emails out, so they’re starting to get really good traction with changing that conversation and moving from IT into the business functions which has more influence and in some cases taps into different budgets.

Glenn: Right.

Jim: Which is helping us in a big way.

Glenn: Here’s another thing you’re pointing out–that when you start to measure the campaigns or initiatives you’re running, you can show success and therefore the change management process becomes easier. Because if you can show in one sales region how it’s working, other sales regions are going to start paying attention.

Jim: Definitely, and the other piece is that it’s just a great platform for us, I think as marketers sometimes we get bored with something but the reality is, is that your customers and your targets haven’t seen the nod . So we’re sticking with this overall umbrella concept which has just been accepted broadly across the world in almost every geography and across our channel partners and sales teams, but now we’re starting to–we built up the business functions, now we’re moving into vertical markets. So we’re launching a health care campaign, a manufacturing campaign, and then a campaign specifically targeted IT all under that umbrella so we continue to leverage that message and build momentum behind it.

Glenn: That’s great. So, on the topic of measurement, you had shared with me that you report to the CEO. And the CEO has a certain perspective. Let’s talk a bit about that as it relates to measurement of what marketers do.

Jim: Yeah, so we have a relatively new CEO, his name is Peter Leav. He joined us back in December of 2013 and he’s having a big impact on the way that we look at things. And is really focused on return on investments, and is really challenging–not only marketing, but across entire company to really look at every dollar that we invest. And from a marketing perspective is very focused on results. Again I think marketers tend to look at activities, and even my team, that’s a tough transition because that’s the way people are used to doing things and shifting to a more results oriented and really thinking about programs and initiatives that we’re going to put in place and what type of results that’s going to drive, and ultimately how that ties in to our overall strategic plan.

So Peter has really challenged me from that perspective which has really changed the way we think, and then he’s also really focused on productivity of the team and making sure that we have the human capital focused on the right areas. So, again I think many of us get stuck that we have an organization, and it’s been that way for a while, and we don’t organize around the opportunities. And I think it’s really important to be agile, be able to shift resources. You know that ties all the way back to making sure that you’re developing people that have the capability to shift into different areas. And so make sure that you have the training in place and the development programs to give people a broad perspective versus focusing on one specific area. So we’re–as a part of our 2015 planning–we’re really looking at how do we organize effectively and really maximize the team, and make sure that we have the resources on the specific initiatives that we’re driving, but also looking at it from a geography perspective and an opportunity perspective. And there’s certain geographies that we’re going to put more focus on in 2015 than others and so we might do some shifts from one country to another, things of that sort, and I think that will ultimately really help us to drive up productivity and drive better results.
Glenn: Well one last question for you. We talked about how this focus on measurement has had you change your marketing mix. You used to do some things more and you realize that you’re now shifting to do other things. Tell us a little about your discovery there.

Jim: Yeah so our solutions are very experience oriented so there’s a tendency of our sales teams and our channel partners to really push hard to do a lot of events. And I think last count we were doing well over 400 events a year.

Glenn: Wow.

Jim: You know, of course there’s very small ones but then there’s large ones and a large part of our marketing mix was going towards events. And there’s certain events that you just have to be at and of course you do need tracking from that perspective. But the ROI related to some of those events just was not good, so we actually cut down on our number of events by almost 30 percent and we took that money and we shifted it into digital marketing and we’re seeing a much higher return on investment from that perspective and we’re seeing a big shift in our marketing source pipeline and marketing source revenue.

Part of it is from our shift in the programs that we’re doing and then of course part of it is just doing better tracking of the specific leads in our CRM system, but we’ve almost doubled our percentage of marketing source pipeline and marketing source revenue within that timeframe. So the strategy is working and we’re working hard to become a larger percentage of that pipeline to ultimately drive results and really drive to have a strategic seat at the table in terms of the impact that marketing has.

Glenn: I’m just so impressed with that because what you are now able to do that may not have been able to do in the past is you’re able to show through facts, right through the data, through “here’s how we’re having an impact” in a way that wasn’t really that measurable before. And now that because you’re really focused on measuring it, you can say why we’re moving that marketing mix, why we’re changing it, and here’s the impact we’re having and that, I think, gets everybody’s attention at the executive level.

Jim: Definitely. Yeah, absolutely because if you can’t prove the ROI and you can’t prove the numbers out then you’re just not going to get that strategic seat at the table and you’re just not going to get that much attention within the company.

Glenn: Well, Jim, thank you so much–I’ve learned a lot and I appreciate your time.

Jim: Alright thank you, Glenn.

Glenn: Talk to you soon.

Jim: Okay, bye-bye.

Glenn: If you like this podcast please subscribe and rate us on iTunes and tell your friends about us. You can also go to our website, CrimsonMarketing.com, and sign up for our free monthly newsletter featuring the very best of our marketing insights, featured Moneyball for Marketing podcasts, and one of our favorite features called, “Bad Marketing,” or email me at info@CrimsonMarketing.com. Thanks for listening to Moneyball for Marketing from Crimson Marketing. Have a great week and let us know if we can help you in any way.