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Looking Forward – Q and A with Stefan Willimann

SIGMA Account Manager, Teddy Malone, sat down with Stefan Willimann to hear his reflections on 2018 and hopes for 2019.

Let’s talk about 2018. Where did we come from? Where are we going?

2018 was a strategic year, one in which we really started to integrate an important value into our culture — empowerment. Empowerment begets risk and risk begets leadership, and surrounding myself with leaders whom I can serve is rewarding to me personally and makes SIGMA a better company.

Last year we put a “bottom up” structure into action, and as our COO Gregg Sullivan expressed recently, “What comes with empowerment is accountability, and therefore if our team feels empowered they hold themselves responsible.”

How has your role at SIGMA changed in the past year? 

I made a concerted effort in 2018 to move from working IN the business to working ON the business. Practicing my own empowerment has allowed me to start to think of the business in more strategic terms. I’m more focused on the vision of the business and taking this new approach has helped me climb out of the trenches and be less myopic. Right now, I am more focused on the evolution of SIGMA than ever before.

As we look toward 2019, SIGMA is poised for growth. Tell us about “Digital at SIGMA.” How do you feel about SIGMA utilizing its data expertise to inform a digital capability for other companies?

Digital is a part of everything we do, and SIGMA is poised to turn up our resources in this area. Regarding growth, I think that the digital application and what we can expect this year into next is leveraging expertise in certain verticals. We do a lot of business in the membership organization sector, museums and the like. Agriculture and financial services as well.  We are prepared to leverage our knowledge in digital and take it more into vertical practices. I see a move to expertise in verticals, and anticipate that we will have vertical practice leaders rather than account managers as we continue to evolve.

SIGMA’s new Boston office is set in the heart of the city, accessible to the surrounding area

Speaking of the future, let’s talk about SIGMA’s expansion into Boston. How that will influence our business?

Boston is a much larger market than Rochester, ranking #24 in the country based on population. There is a tremendous amount of thought leadership coming from Boston, There is a tremendous amount of thought leadership coming from Boston, which is how we started 30 years ago in the database marketing industry, so it is exciting to be in such an innovative and investigative city as we evolve again.

Additionally, from Boston, SIGMA now has easier access to NYC, Philadelphia and other potential clients. We want to meet people face to face and demonstrate that we are committed to being a part of their team and understanding their needs.

Finally, we are going to be able to find more talent in this highly educated market. We’re grateful that Rochester has a pool of talent from RIT and University of Rochester; Boston is simply a bigger city and bigger cities have more talent to draw from and we’re excited about that potential as we grow here too.

Finally, back to SIGMA’s data business, why do you think companies are rapidly moving towards the customized visualization SIGMA provides rather than generic build-outs from other software?

Honestly? Generic dashboards are becoming obsolete. Everything now should be tailored to the specific needs of the client and their business so they can put in the KPI’s and content they want to see. Generic dashboards don’t compute or tell a coherent story.

Custom dashboard reflecting a campaign summary

Our customized dashboards are tailored from a tool, with experienced data scientists to back them up, and they can tell a story that is highly applicable to the client’s business.

“Smart” Data Can Help You Align Marketing and Sales

Sales and marketing team alignment is more important than ever! Our partner Hubspot reports that companies that get marketing and sales working together not only generate 208% more revenue from their marketing efforts – but they see 36% higher customer retention and 38% higher sales win rates.

Where does data fit into this alignment? Capitalizing on customer intelligence and making insights and clean data available to Sales can lead to a more efficient and effective process that can motivate and fire up your sales teams. Get started by using these analytical techniques:

Create Common Sales Cycle Definitions Across Marketing and Sales

Your sales team lives and dies on what they call leads, but Marketing might have a very different definition. Adopt a common language for each stage and definition of the sales cycle. Whether you use Prospects, Inquiries, Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), Sales Accepted Leads (SALs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) or some other set of opportunity ratings, collaborate to define each stage across Sales and Marketing –so you can all start working towards the same goals, and be able to understand each other’s measurements.

Data Dirty? Build the Case to Invest in Clean Data
Both sales and marketing hate dirty data – but how much revenue is it costing your company? Build some scenarios for better demand generation and increased close rates with better data – you’d be surprised how much lost revenue can be picked up with just a lift of 5%!

Here are some ideas for the metrics you might use:

 

Add a Score to Your Leads

Nothing will kill Marketing’s demand generation credibility faster than a bunch of unqualified leads being sent to the Sales team. Sales probably shouldn’t make a call until you know there is a budget and a timeline. Maybe lower cost sales channels like email or outbound telemarketing can be used to collect the missing data before a lead reaches an acceptable score. Alignment on the meaning of a “good lead” can really reduce friction and time to close.

Build a Common Definition of Your Segments – and Assign all Prospects and Customers

Building personas for web development won’t help the sales team much if they never see those types in the market place. Find real customer segments that purchase in distinct ways, and help the sales teams craft a USP for each segment that will give them a better shot at creating opportunities. Then, make sure each prospect and customer is assigned to a segment so sales can put that messaging to work on the ground.

Find Your Territory Gaps

Use your customer and prospect data to find the holes in territory maps where you have low coverage but high potential. You can often pull much more opportunity out of an area with better or more salespeople. Marketing often has the data to help make these decisions, but Sales is the team that needs to make decisions about coverage.

Use Purchase Likelihood Scores for Call Center Targeting

Outbound phone calls are not inexpensive and turnover in telesales can be high. Invest in reaching only the highest priority prospects by using predictive model scores in your call center. Focusing calling from the top down – best to worst prospects. This should cut the calls needed, improve team morale, and increase the success rate significantly.

Your marketing team should be able to add these types of smart data to customer and prospect records – and both Marketing and Sales can get aligned around your target and your critical asset – your data.