Monday, December 27, 2010

Lessons learned from our clients: When is it time to change your demand generation strategy?

Panaya is a great success story. The company’s SaaS solutions help SAP customers automate their ERP upgrades and save thousands of hours in the process.

When Panaya first started marketing its solution, the challenge was to get the word out as quickly as possible, says Chief Marketing Officer Amit Bendov.

Amit and his team orchestrated an aggressive direct marketing program, using rental email lists that targeted SAP directors. A highly qualified phone sales team was hired to follow up on the leads generated.

Panaya’s value proposition is extremely compelling. Not less important, it is really easy to prove, and the solution requires near-zero implementation effort. With these assets in place, the number of deals closed kept growing at a double-digit pace quarter after quarter.

By the beginning of 2010, the company had several hundreds of customers. Despite these impressive results, Amit knew that sustaining this growth would require a different approach.

Realizing that going after the low hanging fruit could not support Panaya’s growth targets forever, Amit has refocused his team on a new strategy. With a well-defined target of SAP customers, the Panaya team has reoriented itself to methodically reach the 30,000 companies that make up this universe.

Instead of working on Leads, the Panaya sales development people now work on Accounts and Contacts. Within each account, contacts are classified into three categories—decision makers, influencers, and irrelevant.

“We had so many leads we couldn’t see the forest from the trees,” says Amit. “Once the list was reorganized into accounts and contacts, we could see which accounts we were missing or where we didn’t have the right level contacts.” A research team is now focused on identifying the missing accounts and contacts so they could be added to the house list and targeted by the sales team.

“With this systematic process in place, we can clearly see how many accounts we are touching each week and what is our level of engagement at each account,” says Amit. “We have much better visibility into our entire sales and marketing funnel from the very early stages. We can have 20 different leads from one account, and each one on its own may not be qualified enough. Now we can see that 20 people from the same company are showing interest, so we can take action on that.”

What Panaya is doing makes a lot of sense. They are not the first company to employ an account-based strategy. What I find notable is that they didn’t wait for things to get bad. They had the insight to recognize that their success had brought them to a new growth stage that required a different approach, and they acted on it. Way to go!

Related article: Reverse Engineer Your Marketing

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