Cover Story: A Paradigm Shift
A remarkable degree of knowledge can be gained from the explicit information customers share. According to Metz, Cisco taps into its data stores to build useful profiles of customers. “We use that data to have targeted, customized interactions by putting up targeted content, by watching what they do, by offering something and looking at how they respond to it,” he says. “And what you’re doing is you’re building a deeper, more robust relationship with your visitor … you’re doing it on a scale that simply could never have been done before.”
Based on these new-world principles, Cisco is in the process of implementing new strategies and tactics for generating and converting online leads—particularly in terms of its value-added resellers (VARs) and third-party partners, which account for 98 percent of its business.
Gathering information on leads may be the first step, but, according to Metz, turning it into a usable manifestation on the Web to give customers a fully interactive, engaging experience from pre-sales to post-sales is key.
Alex Landucci, manager of integrated marketing communications, global demand generation, describes two possible scenarios for a customer’s information to be filtered through to sales once this lead has engaged Cisco. Using the traditional method of lead qualification, a prospective customer’s data—criteria such as project, time frame, budget, whether his company is working with a partner and if he wants to be contacted by a sales person with rich lead notes—is forwarded to the sales organization.
The other new-world scenario, however, involves analytics processes, such as a new program that went live in September called Marketing to Sales Linkage. The program ties marketing information to the sales team’s accounts and contacts. “If someone downloads a whitepaper off Cisco.com or views one of our broadcasts and registers—and we know the name of that individual—that individual tracks back to our global CRM Tools, [which] then brings up an alert with the salesperson who follows that particular account, notifying them that you are a new contact or an existing contact within their account that has had some kind of meaningful activity with marketing,” explains Landucci.