Staying on top of customer intelligence to target marketing campaigns can be challenging at a large corporation, and that’s why at Xerox, marketing and sales cooperate on these efforts. Gina Testa, Vice President of the Graphic Communications Market and Business Development for the company, says marketing plays a key role in aggregating, analyzing and delivering customer intelligence to sales, and sales is ultimately responsible for verifying and developing account contacts.
Testa works in the high end of the company’s technology business, which provides heavy-duty, sophisticated digital presses and related systems for production-printing operations, such as commercial printers. The group’s campaigns usually target a specific audience, often a vertical, using a target list of current and prospective customers, which can be challenging to keep current.
“In some ways we are fortunate because we have a robust sales channel that does face-to-face lead verification, but a lot changed during the recession,” she says. “Many enterprises and print companies closed down or changed hands, and people changed jobs, so maintaining information that’s current requires a lot of self-discipline from our sales reps to constantly update our database.”
Xerox customer databases—some of which are proprietary systems while some are managed by partners such as Sigma Marketing and Catalyst—are updated daily as new information becomes available. While technology enables this process, the system still depends on sales reps to enter data promptly and accurately.
“Sales is the key stakeholder in making sure the customer data is accurate, and if it isn’t, they have to work that much harder to find the proper contact to make a deal,” Testa says.
Another complication is that the relative complexity of the sale often requires buy-in from multiple customer stakeholders.
“We are a solutions partner—not just a vendor selling a piece of technology—so we’re helping customers be more successful at their business and expand their client base,” Testa explains.
Within the graphic communications industry, C-level executives are typically the key decision makers. On the enterprise side, she says marketing is having more say in terms of how companies invest in solutions, along with chief financial officers, chief marketing officers and IT professionals who all can influence decisions.
Testa says Xerox is very effective in penetrating and multiplying relationships in key accounts. The marketing team contributes by tracking what is happening in the industry and identifying real-time insights they can feed to the field to leverage into opportunities for customer outreach. The marketing team strives to be thought leaders, who participate in the industry’s ongoing conversation.
“We sit on boards of associations where a lot of our customers participate, and we take part in industry events, conferences and trade shows,” Testa says. “Our participation builds awareness around our brand, so the sales force is backed by a strong reputation and brand recognition to get them through the door for initial sales calls.”
While sales is responsible for identifying opportunities at the account level, Testa says that marketing still plays a role. For example, they determine which applications are most suitable for a given company, and then they apply that thinking across the industry to identify top targets. Testa says that pursuing particular industries with solutions that are tailored to their business models has been a very successful strategy—one that they recommend to their own customers. However, it can be difficult to get and maintain a 360-degree view of enterprise accounts.
“The challenge is keeping track of who’s who as an organization continues to morph,” Testa says. “On key accounts, we assign one of our executives to work as a second level of support beyond sales to try to establish an ongoing relationship that will sustain itself over time. This program is important to our customer retention efforts and also helps us learn when changes occur.”
Customer retention is considered part of the regular sales process for Xerox and is one of three key sales challenges, along with selling to new accounts and closing deals.
“From a marketing standpoint, we help sales retain customers by communicating with them directly through social media channels, webinars, blogs, articles and our website—separately from the sales force,” she says. “We are constantly feeding customers information to help them be more effective in their businesses, and in doing so, we add value to the technologies and solutions they acquire.”