Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Eloqua Adds Free Implementation Offering

On Monday, Eloqua announced a new free deployment service for its clients. This is part of a larger industry trend to offer free deployment. It follows last month’s free deployment offer from Eloqua reseller Pedowitz Group, which generated quite a bit of comment on this blog. The new service, called QuickStart, will also be delivered by Eloqua partners, giving them an opportunity to start a relationship that could lead to future paid business. Crafty.

Eloqua Senior Vice President Paul Teshima, who is in charge of post-sales support, said the new program includes system configuration, CRM data integration, setting up an email template, landing page, three-touch lead nurturing program and a lead scoring discussion. It is delivered remotely and can be completed in two days to two weeks, depending on how much time the client has available. Advance preparation involves filling out a survey and receiving (if not reading) simple documentation. Clients fill out a workbook during the sessions and are the consultant leaves behind a 90 day plan for future action.

Teshima said the new program was developed in response to customer requests for a fast way to get some immediate use from their systems. It is a subset of the company’s year-old SmartStart program, which take five days or longer but includes more extensive email set-up; data posting from an external Web form; deeper CRM integration including lead flow, activity-triggered sales alerts, lead assignment, and email opt-outs; creation of either a lead scoring or lead nurturing program; and several types of marketing assessments and planning. SmartStart involves on-site consulting and costs $3,000 to $8,000.

The difference in scope between QuickStart and SmartStart provides a useful reminder of the importance of digging into the details of vendor claims about deployment. The question isn’t whether it’s free or can be done in one day, but what’s included and how much your company must do in advance.

The reality is that a complete demand generation program is something you develop and expand over time. A good start is important but it’s only a start.

Another reality is that most companies need help with improving their programs. Teshima pointed to Eloqua's customer success managers, who meet with each client quarterly to review system usage and develop a plan for improvements. They are compensated solely on retention rates, so their focus is on making better use of existing components rather than selling new licenses.

Eloqua also has its professional services group and consulting partners to provide more hands-on assistance. Other vendors also provide such services, either with their own own staff or through partners.

My point is to recognize that you’ll very likely want to purchase such services to get the most value from your demand generation investment. If that sounds like bad news, I guess you don’t absolutely need to. And while you’re saving money on that, you can also change your car’s oil and cut your own hair to save money on mechanics and stylists.

Sarcasm aside, a few companies already have skills to deploy a demand generation system effectively, but most do not. The reason you pay money for these systems is because they’ll help you do a better job. Not investing in the training and consulting means you’ll get less value than you should. Of course, you still need to invest wisely, in the sense of getting the right training and consulting. And, yes, you can probably get some value even without outside help.

Training and consulting are ultimately business decisions about where you can spend money to get the greatest return on your investment. A small investment in using your system effectively is likely to be a wise choice.


Anonymous said...

Good article, David. I find it interesting in how, in the very competitive world of marketing automation, Eloqua is trying to remove risk by taking the cost out of implementation.

David Raab said...

Thanks Jeff. I find your blog at http://fearlesscompetitor.com/ extremely insightful. Seems all the great minds these days are thinking alike. Almost makes me want to be contrarian.