In 2009 the VitalSmarts marketing team increased sales leads by 13%, which contributed to an increase in the company’s annual growth of 7% over 2008. While 73% of VitalSmarts’ competitors experienced declining activity in 2009 (according to the Association of Learning Providers VitalSmarts had achieved its largest-ever annual revenue.
This marketing success was recognized when VitalSmarts received the Stevie Award for Marketing Department of the Year at The 2010 American Business Awards.
“We were honored to receive this recognition from The American Business Awards,” said Mary McChesney, senior director of marketing at VitalSmarts. “Our hard working team works closely with the rest of the organization to contribute to the company’s continuing success.”
Strengthening the Marketing/Sales Relationship
VitalSmarts’ record-breaking performance was achieved not just by outstanding teamwork, but also by the simple strategy of strengthening the marketing/sales relationship.
The sales team is marketing’s most important internal customer. To build the strongest, most efficient sales/marketing relationship at VitalSmarts, marketing set out to improve the lead-scoring process, instigated candid and consistent communication between the departments, and sought ways to meet client needs.
The sales team had often been frustrated with the quality of leads coming from marketing, so marketing revisited the lead-scoring process. The team closely monitored the efficiency with which they collected leads, refined tools that captured lead information, and worked with data entry to get leads entered
correctly and quickly. They also built a concierge lead process to ensure valued prospects received rapid response and five-star support. Ten of the top-tier clients purchased $200,000+ worth of product as a direct result.
To increase the number of leads, marketing built a lead data-capture campaign that capitalized on untapped information in the database. Through simple e-mail campaigns, marketing scored and moved 1,600 leads into the sales process that had previously been unusable due to insufficient information.
To increase communication between the sales and marketing departments, marketing regularly attended sales meetings, trained sales reps in the use of marketing tools, introduced marketing campaigns, and prioritized projects to meet sales needs. Marketing also reported on lead follow-up time and respectfully held reps accountable for the amount of time it took them to connect with prospects. As a result, sales follow-up time decreased significantly.
In turn, sales shared insights on client needs and industry trends, which ensured marketing better-tailored campaigns and products to meet client needs.
At the same time as it was building its cooperation with sales, the marketing team continued to execute its public relations program, including an extensive media-relations campaign that generated 79.5 million impressions in media outlets around the world. They also secured a recurring column on BusinessWeek.com for author and company cofounder Joseph Grenny that generated leads and provided sales with content to share with prospects. The marketing team accomplished this without an outside agency, using just one full-time PR staff member.
Marketing grew the VitalSmarts’ external newsletter to 117,000 opt-in subscribers, a 50% increase. This weekly e-newsletter positions the company’s spokespeople as thought-leaders. As a result, sales was able to increase paid speaking fees of company spokespeople by 27% in 2009.
To support its client advocates, marketing sustained a passionate community of trainers certified to train VitalSmarts’ programs within their own companies. Marketing developed an online social network, an exclusive website to improve training delivery, professional development web seminars, and live chat sessions. As a result, the training community grew 22% and now includes 4,857 trainers, who are the company’s most active customers.
Marketing supported 19 trade shows and sponsored speeches targeted at various vertical markets. They also held breakfast events where VitalSmarts’ bestselling authors introduced products to client decision-makers. The team also developed and hosted REACH, a 2-day conference for its client trainers. At REACH, trainers learned best practices, networked with peers, and heard from the VitalSmarts’ authors. 188 trainers attended REACH, a 49% increase over 2008.
Marketing hosted web seminars with industry thought-leaders. They also built websites that offered valuable research and tips for readers in exchange for client information and custom product demos that generated more than 1,000 further sales leads.
Foundation for Success
“I am very proud of our marketing department,” said Andy Shimberg, CEO of VitalSmarts. “The team members are experts in their field who have worked tirelessly to create enormous impact and awareness in the marketplace. This is the foundation on which our sales, operations, and delivery teams can build and succeed.”
About Mary Dondiego
Mary Dondiego is the senior director of marketing at VitalSmarts. Since joining the company in 2004,Mary has led Vitalsmarts’ largest integrated marketing and publicity campaigns as well as seen the company’s revenue more than triple from $7.9 million to $25 million. As senior director of marketing, she was instrumental in launching and sustaining the company’s three New York Times bestselling business books and two major product lines. She also oversees three main marketing functions: corporate communications led by Corporate Communications Manager, Brittney Maxfield; demand generation led by Marketing Director, Paul Yoachum; and channel marketing led by Channel Marketing Manager, Chris Evans.
VitalSmarts provides corporate training and organizational performance motivation programs that combine speakers, presenters, best-practices research, and related training products. The company also has three New York Times bestselling books: Crucial Conversations, Crucial Confrontations, and Influencer. Their fourth book, Change Anything, is scheduled for release April 2011. VitalSmarts has been listed twice on the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing companies and has taught more than 2 million people worldwide. For more information go to http://www.vitalsmarts.com