Eloqua Case Study: Starting Inside Sales

With products and services aimed at marketers who need to provide a continuous stream of high quality sales leads, Eloqua knows only too well how important it is to have an integrated marketing and sales strategy. That’s why Thor Johnson, Senior Vice President of Marketing, and Keith Nealon, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales, joined together to bring in The Bridge Group, an inside sales consulting organization, to ensure they had best practices in place to support their record growth.

Below, Thor and Keith discuss the engagement and how The Bridge Group helped refocus Eloqua’s existing Demand Generation group while building a new Inside Sales team to partner with the field.

Growing Pains in Marketing & Sales
Eloqua recognizes the importance of a focused sales and marketing selling approach. So when Thor Johnson and Keith Nealon analyzed their customer base and decided they needed to prospect and sell to larger sized companies, they knew it was critical for them retool their marketing and sales strategies. To help them with this, they decided to seek the advice of an outside consulting firm for expertise and a fresh perspective.

After numerous cold calls from The Bridge Group, Thor and Keith realized that they each had colleagues who knew of and had worked with Trish Bertuzzi, The Bridge Group’s president. After some informal reference checking on the company’s inside sales expertise, Thor found out that “Trish is a pro who knows what she’s doing and is someone that I should take seriously.” Keith’s inquiries supported Thor’s findings. “A former colleague highly recommended The Bridge Group and because of the conversations I had had with Trish, I knew they were experts in setting up inside sales models. I felt like we could benefit from their ‘lessons learned’ from past engagements so we decided to bring them in.”

Zeroing In On Core Issues
The Bridge Group initially started out with an assessment of Eloqua’s current situation through a series of interviews with key executives and members from both the marketing and sales teams. According to Keith, “The Bridge Group was very responsive to our needs as far as learning our business. They reviewed how the marketing and sales teams were engaging with prospects and customers, how the teams were engaging with each other, what standards we were using, what common processes existed, and which things were working well.”

After their initial assessment, The Bridge Group created a series of recommendations and then gathered all primary players from the marketing and sales groups together for a two-day meeting with the objective of obtaining agreement on the recommended processes and tools. The meeting included Keith and Thor as well as the directors of the Demand Generation team and the newly formed Inside Sales group.

Keith described the two-day session as a very productive forum, with The Bridge Group being very well informed. “The Bridge Group brought in their observations on where we were at the time, and provided recommendations on what we needed to do to reach our objectives. They produced a comprehensive document in advance which we walked through, page by page, to make sure we were all in agreement.” According to Keith, the meeting was one of the biggest challenges of the whole engagement. “Getting us all to agree on the process steps, from the generation of the lead through to the delivery to field sales, was a challenge. We recognized that it was necessary for us to all agree on what information was needed and how the process would flow.” Keith added, “There were multiple stake-holders present so having The Bridge Group there to provide guidance and remind us of what we were trying to achieve as we debated the whys and wherefores was a great asset in this engagement.”

The Demand Generation Group: Recommendations and Results
For Thor, the recommendations of The Bridge Group were an integral part of the Demand Generation team’s ability to achieve the goal of reaching a more sophisticated prospect. “Helping us clearly describe the prospects we are looking for and learn how to find them were the greatest contributions of The Bridge Group. They recognized that Eloqua, with its current market being half way between early adopter and early majority, is going after a very specific individual as opposed to a specific kind of a company.” Thor added, “The Bridge Group helped us realize that we’re not going after an industry and a title, but an approach and an attitude. They then provided us with a road map for identifying that kind of person.”

According to Thor, the Demand Generation group has now changed the way they go after prospects, based on the recommendations of The Bridge Group. “We’ve modified our vocabulary. The teleprospecters now have tools and processes that support reaching out to the type of customer who is likely to buy Eloqua.”

The Inside Sales Team: Recommendations and Results
One of the key deliverables of the engagement was an Inside Sales Playbook. According to Keith, “The Bridge Group provided us with everything in the Playbook that we needed in order to set the Inside Sales team up with best practices, such as techniques for outbound calling and objection handling.” As Keith explained, “It’s useful to have the Playbook because it gets new sales people up to speed more quickly. It’s also been helpful when it appears that something is not working – you can see pretty quickly what’s off because we’re engaging in a standard way.”

In addition to the Playbook’s tools, The Bridge Group was instrumental in developing processes involving how the Inside Sales team worked with the field sales force. As Keith described it, “The Bridge Group guided us on how to set up Inside Sales by working in collaboration with the field reps, with recommendations on how to hand off leads and other tactics to avoid field conflict.” According to Keith, the team model that The Bridge Group recommended is working well. “It’s just a question of building trust because you’re asking seasoned field sales people to trust inside sales people to close deals that are in their territory. But because of the conflict-free model that The Bridge Group designed for us, it’s going pretty well.”

As to the overall success of the team, Keith shared that the inside sales reps had been in place for only three months and were able to hit their quota in the first quarter of operation. “I know that The Bridge Group had a key hand in that success.”

The Bridge Group’s Expertise
Throughout the engagement, Keith and Thor recognized the value of The Bridge Group’s extensive knowledge in how to properly set up inside sales tools and processes. Thor, who already has recommended The Bridge Group to several colleagues, shared his impressions of The Bridge Group. “I see The Bridge Group as marketing-oriented selling consultants whose expertise is selling approaches. They understand how best to sell whatever it is you’re trying to sell.” He added, “It worked out nicely that they were able to help both Keith and me with their experience – they were able to help marketing craft the pitch and sales execute the pitch.”