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Rebuilding a Sales and Marketing Culture

No surprise, but selling means you actually have to be selling something – and marketing needs to generate leads

By Patricia Hume, CCO

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Every business needs a well thought-out Go-To-Market (GTM) plan. The GTM plan and focused execution are fundamental to profitable growth. GTM defines the approach from which marketing plan are built to drive revenue growth. When building a GTM plan, it is essential to understand the addressable market: size, opportunity, segmentation, target buyer, buyer propensity, pricing, and competition and more. This data allows a company to identify the appropriate routes to market (RTM) and revenue sources. From this, sales channels are built and marketing plans are created for successful execution. This is of course overly simplified – but you get the point.

When I joined iPass, the GTM approach was focused on increasing revenues through existing customer account management, at the expense of closing new business. As a business with a usage based pricing model, the hypothesis tied to this GTM approach was that revenue would increase if company usage (as measured in minutes or megabytes) and/or new users grew – which is of course mathematically correct. And as such, the supporting marketing activities were directed to raising awareness across the user base and removing hurdles associated with using the application (i.e., “Help! I forgot my password and user id.”). The marketing team did a great job in building “in-app messaging,” keeping the user engaged in the application in hopes of driving increased usage.

However, not surprisingly, this focus on managing the existing accounts was not enough; in any recurring revenue business, it is very difficult to offset churn by only increasing revenue from existing customers. And as a result, iPass revenue was declining, and without sufficient net new customers, there was little hope of driving top line revenue and eventual profitability. So, with this headwind…

Welcome to the new iPass!

Once the current sales and marketing strategy was understood, we quickly changed our GTM plan and are now striving for top line revenue growth through new customer acquisition. On the surface, this sounds obvious and simple – I’d certainly not sell a lot of books with the title: “Selling Means You Actually Have to Sell Something.” But we needed to change a lot more than just our sales approach. This change, which was cultural, required a number of steps to position ourselves for a turnaround.

For example:

  • We introduced a cloud-based offering which included new features allowing our new users to get application with a simple download and single click activation – EASY! (There are a lot more features – so check us out)
  • We changed the price methodology from usage based to Unlimited WiFi usage. Moving to SaaS-based pricing – $/user/month – with an annual subscription. Customers no longer had to watch the clock – they could consume all the Wi-Fi all the time –on whatever device, as many devices as they choose, anywhere on the planet. ALWAYS ON!
  • We increased our addressable market by targeting not only large enterprise customers, but also small and medium companies, while increasing our buyer base from IT to Lines-of-Business (LOB) – primarily to the sales and marketing teams who most likely use product.
  • We reactivated our channels. iPass is fortunate to have some of the world’s best service providers as channel partners, as well as loyal and strong regional partners. However, in the prior GTM model, there was little need to work closely with our partners, so they were mostly ignored. We have reengaged with our partners as a primary RTM to drive our growth.
  • We created a new mantra for marketing – LEADS – LEADS – LEADS. We have launched our new look and feel so everyone could get excited about the new iPass. We have launched new awareness and lead generation activities to get the word out that iPass is NEW and that we are the BEST cloud based application providing seamless access to over 50M Wi-Fi hotspots around the world.
  • And finally, we infused the existing team with new leadership and new sales talent, including both executives I’d worked and trusted, as well as new hires with SaaS sales and support experience.  It ‘s been a great (hectic) six months, filled with change, challenges and lots of hard work. The team has come together to make it clear to the market that iPass is the hottest startup in the Silicon Valley, blessed with great technology, amazing customers, money in the bank, and a leadership position driving the Wi-Fi first phenomena.

Watch this space – we have only just begun. Check us out at www.ipass.com!