Forrester analyst Laura Ramos may have said it best. In a report entitled "Why B2B Sales Teams Need Marketing Portals," she made the following illuminating observation: "By bridging the business-technology divide, marketing boosts reps' productivity and enriches their standing as valued sales partners."
Ramos' words are exemplified by Baltimore-based Constellation Energy, a Fortune 125 integrated energy company. Last year, Constellation implemented a technology solution that has already paid for itself in results and proved its value to the company's sales reps.
Constellation Energy generates, transmits, and delivers energy; helps customers manage their energy costs and usage; and buys and manages fuels for other power generators. It is the nation's largest competitive supplier of electricity to large commercial and industrial customers, and the nation's largest wholesale power seller.
Especially in these challenging economic times, it's critical Constellation retain profitable customers and maximize the value of these relationships, as well as attract new customers. To do so, the company has always engaged in a number of B2B marketing programs.
Getting the Edge on Prospecting
Over the past year-and-a-half, in an effort to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of its marketing outreach, Constellation has pursued an aggressive initiative to automate its marketing prospecting programs. The first step in this initiative was taken in January 2008: A distributed marketing automation platform called dmEDGE from Direxxis was chosen, and the prospect database component of dmEDGE was implemented.
"It is the first application we found that links data and campaign functionality with the ability to customize messaging at the local level," says Anson Asoka, Constellation's vice president of customer insights and market analytics. "We realized that this capability was exactly what we needed to maximize the results of our customer prospecting efforts."
Constellation's custom self-service solution based on the dmEDGE platform helps its sales reps connect with high-potential prospects in cross-selling, customer prospecting, and acquisition efforts.
Push and Pull
"Our marketing automation strategy has already paid off since we rolled out the new solution," says Asoka. "We have seen impressive results in a short time. Now, sales can access prospect lists themselves to pull leads, rather than waiting for internal data to be delivered to them from the back office.
"This saves our reps a tremendous amount of time, has increased their productivity, and more importantly, has resulted in an increase in conversions," he adds. "We also have the capability to electronically push campaign data out to the sales force, such as prospect or customer lists and marketing materials."
Reps also have the ability to electronically keep track of notes on specific customers and enter appointments into their Outlook calendars via the solution.
Because Constellation Energy's reps can now access more information electronically, it has reduced the amount of paper it uses. The company has been able to create a more paperless environment and is a "greener" organization.
There are other benefits associated with the dmEDGE-based solution, according to Asoka. "The actual time it took from the start of the build to a working model was a mere four to six weeks," he recalls. And the custom solution supports hundreds of geographically dispersed Constellation Energy users in the U.S.—mostly those in a sales capacity.
Next in line for Constellation Energy is another function to be added to its marketing automation infrastructure built on the flexible dmEDGE platform. This enhancement will enable users to access all of Constellation's digital assets as needed, using the same self-service model. Asoka says this component is currently being rolled out.
Capitalizing on local marketing efforts with the dmEDGE-based solution, Constellation Energy continues to improve its prospect targeting, cross-selling, upselling, and acquisition results, contributing to the company's top-line growth. Even in those tough times, finding good prospects has never been better.
When searching for an end-to-end marketing automation solution, here is a checklist of capabilities to look for:
• Secure web-based access.
• Password protection and user-identified access.
• Local asset customization.
• Single- and multi-channel marketing ability.
• Turnkey print and production.
• Turnkey e-mail campaign execution.
• Marketing campaign performance and tracking.
• Customer or prospect data selection through configurable filters.
• Multiple billing options.
• Corporate compliance and administration.
• User and usage reporting.
Steve Scruton is the president and CEO of Direxxis. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.