• Building business over dinner

      OpenText is one of the world’s most successful providers of enterprise content management systems, but faces a sales challenge because its implementation calls for a wide group of its customers’ senior management to be involved in the decision to buy.

      Adrian o’Gara, EMEA Marketing Director,  knew that the best way to get senior level buy-in was through face-to-face engagement, but ‘C-level’ execs don’t take sales meetings. “Our decision-maker base includes senior managers in IT, Business change, Marketing and Operations, so we have to be able to talk at a senior business level to get their attention.

      “Fortunately, when I was at MicroStrategy and faced a similar challenge, I had worked with the Marketing Doctors to help us build a wide-based ‘C-level’ engagement programme, and I’d seen at first hand how well they do it. So I asked them to help out.”

      Engaging Directors

      The challenge was to build a thought leadership proposition that built on what customers are experiencing and showed how ECM can solve those challenges. Our experience is that when a business challenge is widely felt, senior execs are happy to engage with their peers and discuss their findings, especially if they can hear how one of them has successfully overcome it.

      So we started with an executive dinner at Benares in Mayfair, to discuss how companies are re-shaping their businesses in line with the societal changes being driven by technology and mobility. We featured as guest of honour a senior director from HSBC who shared their experience with the group, and invited a range of senior managers to join us.

      The guest list was a ‘Who’s who?’ of UK PLC featuring HSBC, Ford, J&J, Aviva, Barclaycard, Visa and several others giving 20 guests.

      “With a room full of business heavyweights like that, moderating the event would be way above the capabilities of any sales person, however senior,” comments Adrian, “but having sat in the MD’s chair himself,  Peter Smith, our Marketing Doctor, was able to run the evening with the smoothness of a well-oiled machine and bring the unique understanding of an experienced senior exec.

      “The discussion was lively and hugely informative as well as very interesting to all. It also provided us with more sales intelligence about our target customers in just a single evening than we could have harvested in months.”

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      Capturing momentum

      Sales director Peter Edwards was also delighted. “Throughout the evening every guest was made to feel special. Peter ensured that their opinions were sought and got them to share some incredibly deep insight with the group. It gave us a massive opportunity, and indeed we harvested business that will be worth millions.”

      Guest feedback was also very positive, with over half of those attending going on to become high-value customers.

      The dinner was just one step in a complete campaign targeted at those customers. In addition to the preparation, securing a guest of honour, organising the venue, guests and so on, the discussions were gently steered to ensure that the guests found themselves asking questions to which OpenText provided the answers.

      In addition the Marketing Doctors wrote an extensive report on the dinner in the form of a white paper which delivered a very valuable document for strategic marketing, together with a series of  guest profiles for OpenText sales staff featuring the comments their prospects had made, and giving them valuable ammunition for follow-up meetings.

      “This kind of programme can be outstandingly successful at shortening sales cycles and increasing customer value,” comments Adrian. “Especially when you get the Marketing Doctors involved!”

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