|By Kirby Wadsworth||
|March 26, 2011 10:10 AM EDT||
We began hearing from our field teams, product management/development, partners, and even from our own internal IT team about an impending market transition. The SSL keylength of the RSA public encryption key was doubling from 1024-bits to 2048-bits.
This doubling of the keylength was imperative, the National Institute of Standards and Technology issued an edict driving conversion by January 2011.
Any website wishing to provide digital signing– anyone doing credit card transactions, for instance – would have to support the 2048 keylength.
The impact is huge. There is a significant increase in processing power required when you go from 1024-bit to 2048-bit, and webs sites performance takes a hit when key sizes increase, regardless of the platform or vendor.
Our product/solution teams had a solution.
Offloading encryption to the special purpose processors in BIG-IP helps reduce the performance impact of the conversion, and centralizing encryption across many application servers reduces the number of certificates required and thus cost. For more on the solution click here
So, we were facing a marketers panacea – transitioning market conditions, obvious and understood customer pain point, straightforward proven solution, solid value proposition and powerful cost drivers. What’s not to like about this story?
Of course, we were not the only game in town, and time was short. Then a competitor launched a program aimed right at the heart of the issue, and pretty darn close to the heart of our installed base. Yikes.
If we had one weakness in all this, it was that not all of our loyal and loving customers realized they could use BIG-IP to solve the problem. Thus, our customers were vulnerable to FUD from others if we did not inoculate them first.
Every marketer knows the ubiquitous floor wax/desert topping joke – well the government just had demanded every household wax its floors, and we already had delicious creamy desert topping that also shines floors in 90% of the refrigerators in the country. (Oh god, the product teams are going to kill me for this analogy). If we could just get customers to spray those cans of desert topping on the floor, it would shine like crazy, and they would buy a lot more cans!
We realized we needed to move fast. We wanted every BIG-IP customer to hear the message - F5 CAN HELP YOU SOLVE THE 2048 KEYLENGTH ISSUE! – before January 1st and before the other guys convinced them they needed new cans of floor wax. (Ok enough analogy).
We pulled everyone together – technical marketing, product management, field marketing, sales, field readiness, channels, community relations, operations, etc. We integrated email, social media, advertising, and web content. We reached out to sales teams in the field for success stories and incorporated them as proof points.
We built a technical webcast to discuss the issue and explain our solution. We decided on a slightly unusual approach for the webcast – instead of running it once in the US and promoting recorded versions world-wide, we opted to deliver three live webcasts on a follow-the-sun model, so everyone had a live experience and was able to have their questions answered in real time. We coordinated the event with partners and field sales to drive attendance.
To cap things off, we got on the phone, and contacted over 6,000 customers directly. Whether they joined the webcast or not, we were determined to get the message to every F5 customer we could.
Managing opportunities and following up was of paramount importance. While convincing customers to offload encryption was the goal, we knew this transition would drive new business.
Because we coordinated up front with our inside sales team they knew what marketing was doing to start and drive conversations and they knew what they could offer in terms of both information and solutions to follow up. They also knew these leads would be hot, so there was not throwing it over the fence from marketing to sales – both teams were running in parallel.
To paraphrase the old Monty Python song, Every Lead is Sacred, Every Lead is Great.
It took us three years to fine tune our lead management / marketing automation system. Again, we worked together – sales operations, marketing operations, inside sales, product and field marketing, etc. etc to create an integrated machine that I would hold up against anyone else in the industry. With it, we set scoring rules for incoming inquiries, and created lead nurturing tracks that take a common inquiry through several stages of qualification – instant email acknowledgement, 24 hour human contact, and very rapid escalation of hot revenue opportunities to sales teams and partners for fulfillment.
While the automation is all fine and good, human beings play a key role here as well so marketing and sales teams met before, during, and after the campaign to ensure no lead is wasted, (or Kirby gets quite irate…)
Bottom line – by the end of December we had touched upwards of 50,000 contacts, generated more than 3000 inquiries, and posted about $5M in sales pipe. Last time I checked, we were over $12M in pipe.
Now, that is a lot of floor wax, or desert topping, or…oh, never mind…
For more on this topic, there is a great case study write up done by RainToday posted here.
We will be speaking at the SiriusDecisions conference in May on this and other aspects of our sales/marketing alignment initiatives. Hope to see you there.
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