Tech Marketer Talks: Bridging the Gap Between Sales and Marketing with Priority Engine – SolidFire

Sandra Nangeroni

Senior Director, Marketing & Sales Enablement

solidfire-head-shot-logoTracy Earles, Senior Manager of Demand Generation, runs a global demand generation team for SolidFire. His team manages all aspects of demand generation across all marketing channels with the goal of delivering MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) to inside sales for sales pursuit. Tracy is a long-time digital marketer who began his career in electrical engineering and went on to receive his Marketing MBA. He transitioned from engineering and product management to digital marketing over a decade ago.

Can you provide a little background on SolidFire?

SolidFire is a five-year-old company in rapid high-growth mode. SolidFire provides data storage equipment for people deploying public or private cloud and has established itself as a market leader in all-flash storage systems built for the Next Generation Data Center.

Does SolidFire sell its solutions globally?

SolidFire sells worldwide and continues to open new offices in new geographies and deploy staff to support SolidFire’s high growth. Our demand generation services are global in scope but we also have in-region marketing resources who handle local tactical marketing activities. We manage all marketing channel activities from our Colorado headquarters.

What changes have you made to drive more alignment within marketing and sales?

We are actively doing a few things to address that. We physically moved to new offices and are using that opportunity to co-locate our demand generation team and inside sales team. For the first time, these two teams will be in the same building sitting close together. We think this will encourage more daily interaction and collaboration between the two teams. As marketers, it’s important to us that we understand and hear from the frontlines about how sales is using the information we provide, what’s working, what isn’t, so we can refine and improve on what we need to.

We’re also investing in a newly created position – Demand Generation Sales Coordinator. This role will be an experienced sales development rep (SDR) who will work on our team to help bridge the two teams. This person will be responsible for training the SDRs on the most effective ways to pursue different MQLs we deliver and will also train the marketing team on what’s working, and what’s not, in terms of leads we deliver. We think this will help to keep our teams closely aligned and working together effectively.

What role is data playing in your marketing and sales efforts and how are you using it to be more impactful?

Data is an essential part of our marketing and, as a former engineer, was a big reason why I transitioned into digital marketing when I did. For the first part of the year, we were given the goal to triple the volume of marketing qualified leads and we did that. But we didn’t focus that much on the quality of those leads. Then the marketing operations team put tools in place so we could measure how those leads yielded opportunities and enabled us to measure our lead flow at every stage. Between that and getting more feedback from our SDR team, volume wasn’t our number one driver anymore.

How is using TechTarget’s Priority Engine supporting your marketing direction and what impact is it having?

Our SDRs were receiving 6-8 different types of MQLs from different sources. Those sources could also have had global geographic differences as well. There were a lot of variables the SDR had to deal with and manage. With Priority Engine, we found it delivers very unique types of lead data to us as compared to somebody that simply did a search and landed on our site. These leads hadn’t necessarily engaged with us or read our content, but they were engaging in a lot of other relevant content we needed to know about. This is the exact type of data insight we regularly get from Priority Engine and we in marketing can pass over to SDR’s so they are armed with information they can utilize.

What is unique about the data you get from Priority Engine?

Among all the different types of leads our SDRs get, no other lead source has such clean integration into account views and lead detail views than what Priority Engine delivers. Priority Engine is really unique and we realized that to take full advantage of the rich information it delivers, we needed to share what we were getting from it right way with SDRs. Priority Engine’s clean integration enables this.

Has using Priority Engine made you think differently about other approaches you want to implement into your marketing?

Priority Engine is a tool that supports Account-Based Marketing, a process and model we’ve been strongly considering putting into place at SolidFire. The nature of equipment we sell is complex and not based on engaging with a single individual. We often have to engage with 6-8 people. You might have John Doe at Company ABC that’s the active researcher but there are six other people we need to engage with, all requiring different types of content, at that account. Because we are a young company and compete with larger established companies, this account may not have ever heard of us. So with the Priority Engine service, it has led us to think about how we can start effectively doing Account-Based marketing. We want to get the right types of content to the entire purchase team Priority Engine surfaces by identifying active researchers.

Can you share any feedback you’ve gotten from sales on how Priority Engine is helping their sales process?

Some of the more significant feedback we’ve received has been on the active researchers Priority Engine delivers and the titles of those researchers. Those are very different than the ones we pursued before implementing Priority Engine. Priority Engine made us realize we weren’t always targeting the right titles to open the conversation with. Knowing that has significantly changed how our field account executives approach a new prospect. Furthermore, Priority Engine has really helped us uncover where we needed to fill in some of the gaps organizationally. As we get more of that in place, we will be in a better position to share more results.

How are you utilizing Priority Engine to enhance other marketing activities you’re doing? (for example: campaign building, increased targeting)

We are using Priority Engine to help in display targeting. We target based on company. We download Priority Engine accounts of active researchers to our targeting company and then wrap any sales outreach effort with awareness of display that’s simultaneous. I also think as we start to implement Rapid Response and Account-Based Marketing it will create an even greater impact.

How does sales like the integration of Priority Engine to their Salesforce workflow?

Sales really likes the integration of Priority Engine into Salesforce. The Priority Engine interface tells them whose content the researcher is consuming and  highlights to our team that the world may not be as aware of SolidFire as we’d like to think. That changes the whole way sales opens the conversation. We learned that sometimes we need to start with something more introductory that educates who SolidFire is first and can’t just jump in saying “I know you’re actively researching all flash arrays and that’s why I’m calling you.”

With the richness of integration Priority Engine has, we can now deliver the SDR team contextual information around a lead that makes them far more effective at pursuing that lead.

Can you describe your experience working with the TechTarget Account Team and do you have any additional feedback on Priority Engine?

The TechTarget account team has been very helpful. They were instrumental in making sure the integration with Priority Engine and Salesforce went smoothly and in understanding the specifics to our integration details.

As a fast growing company, we’re building and growing our database every day. It’s extremely valuable to know which companies are actively researching or in a buying process for SolidFire solutions and then knowing the names within those accounts to pursue. Priority Engine provides all that rich account activity and lead data that directly integrates into our own database so our SDRs can actively follow up on them.

IT Deal Alert, Priority Engine, sales and marketing alignment, TechTarget

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