Jeff Winter brings a wide set of experiences to his role as Global Head of Marketing and Communications for Software at Pitney Bowes.
Prior, Jeff Winter spent 10 years at SAP in the software space, doing every type of marketing role including product marketing, demand generation, content creation, and market research. Prior to SAP, he was at IBM on the services side of the business.
Today he runs the marketing program for the software business at Pitney Bowes. The company is in the middle of a significant transformation and this was the reason Jeff Winter joined. He loves the excitement of being a part of a major shift in how a company generates revenue.
For Pitney Bowes, a 98-year-old company, its legacy is in shipping and mailing. Today, from the company’s growth business is focused on technology, ecommerce, and software offerings.
This transformation means defining and executing new go-to-market strategies. Building something new and building something great, like establishing a partner channel, and these are the endeavors that are most exciting to Jeff Winter.
In our interview, Jeff Winter tells us about what makes corporate reinventions successful, driving cross-functional alignment, and establishing a successful customer community program.
How do you balance leveraging the heritage of a company like Pitney Bowes with the new messaging associated with a transformation?
One mistake that is easily made in these situations is to ignore the heritage. Making the distinction, “This is the old Pitney Bowes, and this is the new Pitney Bowes,” divorcing yourself from the heritage is a mistake that would have been easy to make. But the reality is, the reason you are where you are is because of the legacy. There are incredible strengths and values that the market believes in and validates. But you need to take that and pivot, and create new products and services and innovations. And help clients innovate. You have to lean in and tap into the legacy.
For Pitney Bowes that legacy is the address and mailing information, the relationship with postal services, and the 15 billion pieces of mail we process.
Our products have been validating and scanning names and addresses. This history means we know location. What we’re doing is taking that information and applying it to different use cases.
Instead of saying we’re in the mail and postage business, we say, “For 98 years we’ve been doing mail and postage and that gives us the ability to understand location and addresses better than anyone else.”
We’re now applying that to different use cases. We do it in retail, banking (for fraud detection and anti-money laundering), and insurance.
For example, for insurance companies, they have to write policies for homes and businesses, and they have to know where those locations are and the features of that location.
The fact that we have that precision and accuracy, unlike anyone else, allows insurance companies to understand the kinds of risks associated with certain locations, for example areas with flood risk, fire risk, and claims risks for different properties.
From a marketing perspective, we created a new messaging platform, which we call the Knowledge Fabric. We talk about our ability to weave together all of these different data points, from location data to demographic data, weaving it together with the software tools into this concept of Knowledge Fabric that helps solves specific business issues.
We’ve embraced our heritage, and companies need to do that. Customer’s needs change, markets change, but you don’t want to ignore your legacy. You want to embrace it.
How do you as a marketing leader drive alignment across functions to embrace and innovate?
Rare is the time where marketing is the number one priority. Ultimately all levels up from customer satisfaction and revenue have differing goals. One of the things you must do is spend time on relationships, cultivating them with people in every single function, not just the leaders, but at all levels.
I try to understand what their day-to-day is within their respective functional areas. This gives me a deeper perspective so when I’m coming up with an idea, or a situation arises, I have the perspective needed to engage with them successfully.
The second thing is setting up a consistent communication and management approach so there’s transparency into what’s going on. One of the ways it manifests itself is when we hold QBR’s, and we do it for every industry, product area, and every region.
We invite people from across the organization and functional areas, including product, sales, and tech support. We start with the results for those areas, then go through the marketing results, and then focus on SWOT. We go over what’s working and what’s not. Thirty percent of our time is spent covering cross-functional topics.
These have proven to be really effective, it brings the different functions together in a consistent way, in a consistent format, and it holds everyone accountable. For example, we include business reviews with a sales leader or product management leader.
What’s the key to success for cross-functional collaboration?
It’s important to pick your battles. Don’t ask for too much. Don’t ask for alignment on every single KPI and share every single objective. It’s not realistic.
Instead, hone in on a few different initiatives, topics, projects or programs, (i.e. the areas where you really want them to get behind you). Do this for every team you need help from, such as pre-sales, services, and product management.
When I get commitment, that’s when I get really specific. For example, we’re building a community, and my team needs support building it. I’ll ask our head of pre-sales for resources since we need content that leverages their expertise. I’ll request three people to write three blog posts over three months. I’ll ask the leader if they can put in their team’s personal objectives.
Being very specific is so helpful in creating clarity. You have to be specific.
Tell me more about the community program and how this cross-functional program is driving success at Pitney Bowes.
Both of my goals cascade down from client satisfaction (NPS) and growth numbers for the year. The key initiative to support and improve customer satisfaction is building a customer community, which covers about 80 percent of our products. We call it Li360, and it’s a user community.
Prior to creating the community, we found we weren’t consistently engaging our users. We have tens of thousands of users on some of our products, and we weren’t engaging them. We launched it less than a year ago, and today we have roughly 2000 registrations and really good activity. So far it’s been deemed a success.
To build that community, there had to be content there first. If they arrive at your community and there’s no content, they’ll leave, and you will have lost them forever. To build up that content we had to go across the organization.
So to build up that content, we had to go across the organization. It’s not brochures and white papers and marketing collateral. It’s knowledge on using the product, product best practices, and user-relevant new features.
This knowledge and subject matter expertise originates from across all of our organizations, including the team in professional services, IT, pre-sales, and the demo experts. They all have expertise.
We had some team members writing articles, monitoring community engagement, and fostering community engagement. We distributed different roles across a few organizations. We had very specific asks all around this initiative that tied to overall objective of improving NPS.
Did you discover anything unexpected after founding the customer community?
When we first started the community, it was focused on a specific product. It started with a focus on upgrades for a specific product, but it’s expanded to cover of all our products. We’ve been able to do this because of the success around customer acquisition, cross-sell, upsell, and the rich community discussions.
It’s pulled together the rest of the portfolio, and the intersection points, the synergy, the cross-sell opportunities, and the collaboration and connection between the users of the different products in the community discussions was unexpected.
It started because we were asking the right questions. We have a great program for Pitney Bowes team members who are early in their careers, and it’s comprised of members across the different functions. They are assigned an executive sponsor and get to explore a problem.
We discovered through this early in career program that we were slow to notify customers about product updates and upgrades.
Therefore, we focused on two things: The content that will drive customers to upgrade and getting customers to join the community.
You get tons of intelligence about how people are using the product, how they are talking about it, what’s most relevant to them. We will also leverage the community for all of our product launches.
The other unexpected win was the opportunity to improve our product by recruiting beta testers from our community. We sourced 300 users from the community, and this was a big win for the engineering team.
As you know, the partner channel is important for software businesses. We have over a dozen partner-driven forums within our community, and they’re seeing value in these discussions. Now partners can use the community to engage with their clients who are using Pitney Bowes technology and our partners’ technology.
We’ve been able to correlate engagement with the community with a reduction in the number of calls to our tech support team. A lot of the calls were about how the customer can use the product. And now those conversations are part of the community and reduce the amount of tech support resources.
I love talking about our community. It’s brilliant.
How does being data-driven pay off in terms of improving conversion rates and increasing revenue?
Not too long ago there was a lot of process missing in our revenue generation process. There was a lack of transparency and our process was very loose. Through looking at data and our framework it’s likely you will find small wins that improve the system overall. For example, we made adjustments to how leads were being scored using feedback from Sales on the quality of leads they were getting.
We developed an SLA. We put together a framework with more specificity on different roles and responsibilities. This resulted in a reduction in lead turn backs of about 80 percent and the velocity of how leads get executed from a lead to a sales accepted lead went from 75 days to 17 days. These are vast improvements.
We discovered through this process that certain tactics had much better conversion rates. This led us to investigate why, and make changes to improve accuracy and consistency.
There were small changes we made. For example, we were counting booth scans as leads and as a result events were showing a very poor conversion rate since booth scans don’t necessarily qualify as a lead. It was a behavior we changed, and we made sure that a ‘contact me’ booth scan gets routed through a qualification process and not straight to sales for follow up. We all attend conferences, and a booth scan doesn’t necessarily mean, “Contact me, I’m a qualified lead.”
By looking at the conversion rate performance we could identify areas to investigate, asking why the conversion rate is low, and taking corrective action.
It’s important for leaders to think about how they incentivize. For example if you’re doing a webinar, do you want registrations, or do you want a percentage of the registrants to have a certain job title?
Whatever you incentivize, you will get. So it’s important to take a very detailed look at incentives and to always focus on the “why” and look closely at the data.