IBM, Miller Heiman Find Multichannel Success

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ASPEN, CO--IBM previously used a scattered approach to sell its zSeries software: "Basically, we just e-mailed everybody," said Bill Romenesko, chief information officer at IBM.

A year ago, 96 percent of the messages going out about software were by e-mail. Now, that's down to 75 percent, he said, and IBM executives want to see the number drop to 50 percent. The company had phenomenal success using a multichannel approach on a recent zSeries campaign, Romenesko said at last week's Donnelley Privacy Forum.

"We used every channel -- we used e-mail, direct marketing, newsletters, e-newsletters, events, conferences, user groups, telemarketing, face to face," he said. "We had print and PR. We used the whole gamut of channels for this effort."

For the campaign, IBM saw a lead conversion rate of more than 9 percent, "which in the IT industry is great, that's a great lead conversion rate," Romenesko said. "We were looking at the metrics week by week, looking at it by differences of business -- by geography, sales team. We've been able to improve our leads, our opportunities throughout the life of the campaign."

Today, the software group is one of IBM's growth areas, he said.

At Miller Heiman, vice president Jeff Brunings said the global sales development, consulting and training company started a program two years ago with the objective of gaining more Fortune 500 business.

"We took the list of Fortune 500 and applied a criteria of both demographic and behavioral attributes and narrowed it down to 238 companies, specifically vice presidents of sales," Brunings said.

Miller Heiman used what Brunings called "high-end thought leadership research-based content" and sent it by FedEx. Two days after the package was delivered, the company followed up with a call.

"It wasn't just telemarketing," Brunings said. "These people actually consider themselves business development experts, not just telemarketers. What they do is very scientific, an art, to get past the gate keepers to these top-level people."

Packages were sent every week for a six-month period with the goal of initiating a dialogue, he said.

"The content was critical. It had to be very specific, issues based," Brunings said. "Of the 238 that we pursued, we had a 28 percent conversion rate of executives willing to take a one-hour appointment either face to face or over the phone. Over an 18-month period, we saw 10 percent of these 78 appointments yield revenue in 2004, and one of the companies resulted in one of the top five revenue producers for our company."

To work properly, the marketing department had to work closely with sales to "make sure you have alignment, that you're targeting the right people at the right time with the right content and the right call to action to slowly move the dialogue forward and actually put opportunity into the funnel of the sales reps," he said.

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