Senior Marketing Manager
Q. What is your role in your sales/marketing organization?
I am a senior marketing manager within the enterprise markets group and I am responsible for content strategy and our sales enablement tools.
Q. What are the biggest sales/marketing challenges your company has faced/is facing?
At the 5,000 foot level, one of the biggest challenges for our sales people was ending up in a price bakeoff. Though we’re the third largest telecomm company in the country, we have a lot of the same features and products as our competitors. Our sales people were having a really hard time differentiating themselves. That’s one thing that we’re working to fix and is part of the reason that we engaged with Corporate Visions.
Like a lot of organizations, we struggle with providing our sales people with the best tools and resources for the various sales stages. We want to be really focused on what we’re working on, so that’s one thing that we’d like to get better at. We want to provide them with the tools that give them the biggest bang for the buck depending on the conversation that they’re having.
Q. What does your company do well to align marketing and sales? What needs work?
We have gotten much more aligned. I joined the company last August, and they had engaged with Corporate Visions in January and that really helped with the alignment because there was buy-in from all of the groups versus marketing throwing something over the fence saying, “hey, here’s something from marketing.” There was buy-in from competitive intelligence, product, sales, and the engineers. That really helped.
We rolled out a pilot earlier this year with a couple of sales branches and we really took the best practices and all the work we did with Corporate Visions and applied it and we’ve seen some great success. And now that we’ve seen success with the pilot, it’s time to start rolling it out to the rest of the company. The pilot was small in scale and we did it well. But now we’re figuring out how to roll this out to our general audience – how to mimic the success of the pilot but on a country-wide scale. One of the pieces of the puzzle for us will be really leveraging our field marketing managers – they sit in the branches and are our voice out in the field – and the relationships that they have with sales within the various branches.
Q. Was scalability one of the factors that you considered prior to kicking off the pilot program?
It definitely was something we looked at because the pilot was really hands on. We had a team of people who flew out to the sales branches and did in-person training and we did a lot of coaching. That really worked in our favor, but that’s not scalable. We can’t fly to every single sales branch. So now we’re looking at what worked in those in-person trainings and how to use the tools and resources we have internally to create something similar that is scalable. For example, we’re using BrainShark to provide some of the training and the messages, and to train the trainers. We’re looking at our options and are in the process of putting all of that together. We knew the pilot would look a little different than the general audience rollout.
Q. What kind of sales tools did you develop as a result of the pilot program?
We did playbooks – that’s a big thing here at CenturyLink. One of the other things we created that was new for us was a grabber pack with instructions. It was like a deck of cards that had grabbers specific to this vertical. The grabbers were what Corporate Visions calls a number play. The grabber pack walked sales people through how to approach the number play. They’ve all been trained on Power Messaging, so they’re all familiar with what a number play is, but we gave them a step by step that matches number plays with the particular challenges for this vertical. We got some good feedback…they thought that was pretty cool.
Q. What were some of the biggest surprises that came out of your work with Corporate Visions?
Based on my conversations with the people that participated in the Corporate Visions work, the big “aha” moment was the realization that we were able to differentiate ourselves in the market. I think that people had gotten so used to just talking about speeds and feeds that it never occurred to them that there really was a way to differentiate CenturyLink because it hadn’t been thought about in that way before. I think the real awakening was realizing it’s what you say and how you say it, so we can differentiate with our message – we have the same products and services, but we can stand out with our message.
The participants in the pilot program loved the results of the Corporate Visions work. Part of the reason we chose the branches we did for the pilot was we got buy-in from the sales leadership, so that was critical. We wanted to work with a sales team that wanted to participate. We also knew that they had opportunities within their area. We pulled the numbers from Salesforce, so it wasn’t just picking a name out of a hat. It really was backed up by some hard numbers and figures. We were able to show them how they were basically leaving money on the table. We created a business case going in. Once we had buy-in at the highest level, the sales people were really excited. They appreciated that we were giving them the messages to have meaningful conversations with prospects or existing customers, talking to them in their language and about their specific challenges. They liked that we gave them power and they now had the confidence to have that conversation.
I feel like what Corporate Visions does is cutting edge stuff. People are starting to get smart about sales messaging and marketing alignment, but nobody does it quite like Corporate Visions. You see people that do things that are somewhat similar, using different names and words, but this really is a new way of marketing and a new way of messaging. It’s been a great learning experience. I’d never done anything like this in previous positions. This really is an advantage for any company that takes it on.
Q. What can attendees expect to learn by attending your presentation at the Marketing and Sales Messaging conference?
We’re going to talk about alignment between marketing and sales. We’ll tell the CenturyLink story and how we got to where we are today and then we’ll dig into the details of the pilot as a case study. It’s great to talk about things in theory, but we’ll actually have some real-world examples. Jo Becker, who focuses on sales training at CenturyLink, will be my co-presenter and she’ll show some actual results of what people who use Power Messaging’s funnels look like. Her group is responsible for getting all of our sales folks up to speed and understanding how to use Power Messages and numbers plays.
Q. What are you looking forward to most at the Marketing and Sales Messaging conference?
Listening to the other speakers. One of the first things I did when I started last August was go to the Corporate Visions conference and, let me tell you, I drank the Kool-Aid. I think they have some excellent content and I’m excited to hear from other companies that are as far along as we are, to hear what their challenges are and how they’re solving them. I’ve noticed that at other conferences I’ve attended recently, CenturyLink is ahead of the game, which is a great position to be in, but I want to hear from people who are in a similar position to ours.
If you’d like to meet Amy and some of the other brilliant minds that have broken the status quo, aligned marketing and sales, and spearheaded lasting change in their organizations, please join us for our Marketing and Sales Messaging Conference, taking place in Chicago, IL, Sept. 18-20, 2012. Register now