Cover Story: A Paradigm Shift
Filtering the IT domain also provides Cisco with other trackable information—particularly when it comes to anonymous users—that helps generate lead information such as geographic location, companies, past sites viewed and search terms. “The marketing information—as it happens—is passed along to sales, which gives the sales person the opportunity to make a warm call—to have a reason to call—as opposed to kind of doing their dialing-for-dollars approach,” says Landucci.
Gathering information is more straightforward when users register, however, and that information may be coupled with other data the company has in its data stores to enrich a customer’s or prospect’s experience. “If we’ve got registration information and we can make the association to the company that they work for, we can actually start to do things to show how effective what we do on the Web is,” says Kushner. “So we know whether those companies have actually purchased something or not, or whether they were there just in the beginning of the buying process and might be prospects for us, people that we’ve never seen before.”
To efficiently cover the expansive small- and medium-sized business (SBM) market, Cisco works with VARs and third-party sellers. Consequently, the company leverages these relationships in its marketing program, linking prospects to partners in real time. “We have hundreds of thousands of customers coming to Cisco.com every week, and as we enter into the SMB marketplace, we couldn’t possibly hire enough sales people to deal with that,” Metz highlights. “So we depend on this army of hundreds of thousands of partners worldwide to engage those customers.”
Software takes on the role of matchmaker, according to Metz, linking customers with partners who specialize in specific technologies or perhaps even those within specified geographic locations. “Our goal is to be able to manage those broker relationships—thousands per week, hundreds per day—so that we can scale our growth in the SMB marketplace,” says Metz.