TriNet Uses Digital Body Language to Arm Sales Reps

Finding potential customers through e-mail sales campaigns was only half the battle for human resources outsourcing company TriNet. The company really needed a novel way of convincing those prospects to meet with sales representatives.

TriNet’s offerings are complex and best explained in-person, said Ian Brown, the company’s senior Internet marketing manager. While the word “Internet” is part of his title, Brown found that even the most compelling e-mail campaigns couldn’t convincingly express all the value of TriNet’s services.

“Because of our business model, it’s always better to have face-to-face interaction with people so we can understand what their needs are and they can better understand us,” he said. What TriNet needed was “a carrot” to dangle in front of potential customers that would prompt them to agree to a sit-down with a rep, Brown added.

TriNet, a company with about $85 million in annual revenue and 400 employees, actually decided to use a multi-carrot approach. It offered $75 gift cards to those who agreed to a meeting. To prospective customers who weren’t moved by the gift card pitch, TriNet offered free MP3 players.

Giving stuff away in order to secure sales meetings can be a costly endeavor. Brown and his colleagues knew there would be plenty of people who had no real interest in TriNet but would agree to a meeting just to get the gifts. To minimize that, TriNet sought help from Vienna, VA-based lead generation company Eloqua.

“Eloqua has a thing called Program Builder that allows you to create a flowchart of the different steps you want to occur to allow an individual… to interact with your Web site.” The system keeps track of the actions taken by those visiting TriNet’s site, a process referred to as watching the visitor’s “digital body language.”

By noting which parts of the TriNet site are viewed by the prospective customer, the Eloqua technology can paint a picture of that customer’s interest level and the types of TriNet services he or she finds most interesting. It’s all valuable information for the TriNet sales staff when they do the sit-down meetings.

Brown said the meetings go well because the sales personnel are armed with a portrait of the prospective customer based on information gathered by Eloqua. They also can save time because they have a good idea about how much the person already knows about TriNet.

“We built this four-to-five step process,” said Brown. “A person gets an introductory e-mail that invites them to visit a hyper-site we made which displays information about what our services are.”

The site offers videos, downloadable documents and information tailored to the prospective customer’s industry. “If they are in technology, all the content they see would be related to the tech industry,” said Brown. “If they’re in financial services, it would all be regarding financial services.”

If the hyper-site fails to compel the prospective customer to meet in person, the Eloqua system sends out an e-mail and a print mail piece offering the gift card. If that doesn’t work, the free MP3 player is offered. Brown said the Eloqua-based process has worked well, resulting in many more sit-downs and a 20 percent increase in conversions.

While Brown would not reveal figures, he also said the campaign has been inexpensive, at least when compared to the amount of money normally spent courting reluctant prospects. In a statement, TriNet said sales that can be directly attributed to the campaign have generated more than 10 times the campaign’s cost.

“It’s the cost of a first meeting,” Brown said. “It’s 50 bucks for a first meeting. Overall, in marketing terms, that’s really cheap… These are real people saying, ‘I want to sit down with you and talk for an hour.’ “

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