“We constantly need to focus on developing and evolving our retainer business, because we need to engage with customers over time in order to achieve our profit targets. Clarizen’s External Collaborator solution, real-time feedback data and the ability to share information in dashboard format are critical tools that support our business.”
LeadMD is a marketing services firm specializing in lead generation and marketing performance management. Founded in 2010, LeadMD is a full service marketing solution that helps SMBs make sense out of marketing automation. With deep expertise in Marketo, Salesforce integration, and in how to shape a strong working funnel, LeadMD can develop, streamline, and maximize any lead generation program. More information is available at //www.leadmd.com.
LeadMD is markedly different than conventional marketing services firms, because rather than viewing project management as auxiliary or optional, it sees it as a core driver of its value proposition and competitive advantage.
In light of this, CEO Justin Gray recognized that in order for LeadMD to continue growing — the company has had more than 2,500 engagements in the last 5 years — it was essential to overcome a series of interrelated challenges, including:
- Time tracking inefficiencies, which were threatening project performance and profitability
- Low project visibility across the entire portfolio of over 400 open projects
- Sales teams making promises and commitments to customers that service delivery teams could not realistically fulfill
- The need to engage in a higher proportion of profitable, retainer-based customers
- No mechanism in place to translate customers’ conceptual visions into practical deliverables
- Manual and costly processes to keep customers up to speed on project progress
On this last point, Gray notes:
Our biggest challenge is that marketers by nature aren’t technical people. They’re perspective is conceptual. For example, they want to nurture leads, score their database, increase engagements and conversations, and so on. We had to find an effective and customer-focused way to drill down past this conceptual vision, and get very granular so we could clearly understand and define their core issues and requirements. Otherwise, we couldn’t know with precision when a project should start, when it should end, whether the milestones were aligned with core customer needs, and to what degree the engagement was going to be profitable.
Thanks to Clarizen’s full integration with Salesforce.com, LeadMD’s sales and service teams are now working together as a unified group to develop realistic project scopes and SOWs, which are based on clearly defined customer requirements. Once a project is approved, it syncs seamlessly from Salesforce to Clarizen. There are “no unwelcomed surprises” for the service delivery team since they contributed to and signed-off on a specific project plan ahead of time. Instead of struggling with a disconnect between what was promised, what can be delivered, and what customers ultimately need, LeadMD now enjoys a tightly integrated handoff from development through to delivery.
To drive efficiency gains through automation, LeadMD is also using Clarizen to rapidly create project plans by “dragging and dropping” the company’s differentiated Service Pack offerings (e.g. lead nurture, lead score, setup Marketo, etc). Each Service Pack is pre-populated with key project data, including time, duration, dependencies, and resource requirements. So far, LeadMD has over 40 Service Packs, and each is associated with 10-15 deliverables and tasks.
During project delivery, LeadMD’s teams are also accessing unprecedented real-time project visibility thanks to Clarizen. For example, teams can see how projects are performing over time, and whether projects are lagging behind or struggle to close. As Gray notes: “Clarizen’s reporting gives the management team the ability to proactively identify what is holding a project up. Just by generating a simple report, we can see what items the team hasn’t been able to deliver. As a result, instead of having to deal with declining input as a project unfolds, our people are engaged, connected and focused on solutions”.
Furthermore, because of Clarizen’s cloud-based infrastructure, LeadMD is able to extend project visibility to its customers by collaborating together directly in the project within Clarizen, as well as sharing reports like the Project Highlight Report for real-time project status updates. This is not just strengthening the level of customer engagement, but it is helping prevent customer-driven mid-stream scope changes, which can lead to missed milestones and erode project profitability.
One of the largest initiatives at LeadMD has been project transparency and the ability to effectively capture customer change orders and requests through a unified portal, Clarizen’s External Collaborator solution. The first stage in providing better customer insights was certainly provided by reporting, but as of late LeadMD has also implemented a full online customer portal with External Collaborator which allows customer stakeholders to access real-time and on demand insight into their project(s). The impact to LeadMD has also been realized in the ability to aggregate requests from the customer directly through that same portal – rather than the maze of emails, calls and even text messages customers had previously been using to convey requests. The organization and trust benefits were evident right off the bat as customers could see the timeline adjustments as a result of change and request management. “It takes the notion of time out of the black box it normally resides in and makes it a very visible process – it’s been great,” Gray explains.
With respect to analysis and reporting, LeadMD is syncing Clarizen data back to Salesforce, in order to perform revenue recognition and compare expected outcomes with actual results. The company is also using this data to measure and increase their Net Promoter Score (an NPS survey is automatically launched at project closeout). Says Gray: “Sixty percent of our business comes from our existing customer base and through referrals, and so keeping these customers happy by driving up our NPS is vital”.
Perhaps most importantly, however, is that LeadMD can now accurately track customer value, both in terms of one-time projects and retainer-based projects. As Gray notes:
We constantly need to focus on developing and evolving our retainer business, because we need to engage with customers over time in order to achieve our profit targets. Clarizen’s External Collaborator solution, real-time feedback data and the ability to share information in dashboard format are critical tools that support our business.
- Improved time tracking, which contributes to project cost control and profitability
- Unprecedented real-time project visibility for both internal teams and customers
- Eliminated disconnect between sales and service teams: now working together to develop realistic project scopes and SOWs
- Rapidly creating project plans via pre-populated task/deliverable packages (“Service Packs”)
- Can proactively identify what is holding a project up and implement resolution
- Can perform revenue recognition and compare expected outcomes with actual results
- Driving NPS scores higher for retainer-based customers