CASE STUDY - TRANSITION
A $60M enterprise systems management company lost yet another VP of Marketing. Privately held, the company's woes in the marketing area were all too public. It had won a reputation as a technology pioneer and leader, but industry watchers had saddled it with the rap, "great product, no marketing."
Since its founding, the company had turned over a half dozen executives in sales and marketing, and appeared never to have established a consistent game plan or message. Its end user and reseller customers were starting to chafe over conflicting channel strategies and policies. Many new prospects seemed confused over the corporate message and wary about purchasing.
Competition was heating up. A multiplicity of technology options, and disagreements over varying standards, were creating confusion among potential buyers. A number of small to medium-sized companies were starting to nip away successfully at different niches within the market. Large hardware and software companies with strong war chests and clear plans were mobilizing quickly to attack this company's core market.
Internally, the shapes and purposes of the various groups within marketing had shifted several times under the different regimes, muddying employees' sense of mission. People not seasoned in their respective functions were being asked to shoulder unfamiliar management responsibilities. The morale of the marketing group had plunged to an all-time low; the frustration of those depending on marketing had surged to an all-time high.
Anxious that there was probably one more crucial opportunity to get it right, the CEO resolved to put its latest VP Marketing opening out to search. The task at hand seemed to be convincing an already successful marketing executive to gamble - seemingly against the odds.
SolutionTo attract an impact player, success had to be seeded into the process from the start, beginning with a frank discussion of the essential issues at hand. The crux of our initial presentation to the CEO: "How many people can say they've developed the best technology in the industry? It's a rare accomplishment. But we're here because Marketing is broken. It's been mismanaged and disenfranchised. And the difference between just hanging on, or grabbing and building ownership in your space will likely be Marketing. If you want to bring on a search team that will put a 'spin' on your problems just to convince someone to say yes to an offer, we're not for you. But if you'd like to work with us in confronting the problems, so that we can create an environment that fosters success for the new VP, then that's the search we'd like to do."
The CEO was acutely aware there were problems and was happy to address them in an open, reflective fashion. We met individually with the rest of the management team, and researched the market. We then delivered an assessment of the key issues, along with options for how to deal with them, and specific recommendations.
Our recommendations, all of which the CEO adopted, dealt with the shape of the organization itself, as well as significant changes in the job description the company had written. They also detailed specific steps in, and some "out-of-the-box" ideas for a highly effective campaign to attract world-class marketing talent.
When, during the course of the candidate development, we were questioned about the commonly known marketing woes within this company, we were able to demonstrate a turnaround in attitude by describing the up-front consulting process we went through with the search. We turned many an initial "no" into a "maybe," which, through careful management of the interview and follow-up process, we converted into increasing interest from the proper candidates.
Ultimately, we attracted a pool of candidates that included a number of industry-known executives from which our client was able to choose. The result: an industry luminary that was subsequently named to a list of the top 16 high tech marketing people in the country by Microquest.
We then worked with our Vice President of Marketing to bring in a new and highly seasoned team of four directors, recruited from high echelons within our client's most respected competition.
The new marketing team proceeded to usher in what has been called the company's "Marketing Revolution." Of itself, it became the subject of great attention from the press and industry analysts. Probably not coincidentally, at the end of that year, revenue projections were surpassed, reseller relations were strengthened and our client started to make the "Hot Company" lists.