COMPANY OVERVIEWAs the recognized leader in the lighting industry, it is Acuity Brands’ mission to deliver consistently superior value to their customers. They are the world’s leader for many reasons: superior value, the broadest product offerings, competitive pricing, outstanding logistics, and the strongest sales and distribution network in the industry. Products include lighting for commercial, institutional, industrial, and infrastructure applications. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Acuity Brands employs approx. 6,200 associates and has operations throughout North America and in Europe & Asia.
SituationTo understand Acuity Brands’ need for outsource teleservices, you first have to understand their target markets. While Acuity provides commercial lighting to many market segments, two primary segments are new construction and renovations. Lighting is considered a “must have” for the new construction market, which traditionally purchases from a bid schedule, making identifying leads relatively easy. The renovation market, however, may or may not have a lighting purchase planned. “Our biggest competitor in the renovation space is a potential customer doing nothing. Therefore, we have to create demand and show value with financial metrics,” explained George Stringer, Vice President & General Manager Renovation, Government & National Accounts. Acuity creates this demand by proactively showing how a lighting renovation project can reduce a company’s energy footprint, often with investment payback in less than two years. While Acuity understands how to build demand within the renovation market, they lacked the bandwidth and personnel to engage in the level of prospecting activity that is needed to support their revenue goals for their renovation business segment.
SOLUTIONAcuity engaged TeleNet Marketing Solution’s outbound telemarketing team in order to proactively conduct cold calls on its behalf. TeleNet’s team is tasked with identifying decision-makers within the renovation market segments, positioning Acuity’s value and uncovering leads. In order to develop the lead generation messaging for the program, TeleNet’s management conducted a detailed due diligence, which included interviewing Acuity’s marketing & sales managers to gain a concrete understanding of Acuity’s value propositions, positioning, relevant probing questions, common market objections, etc, When selecting which TeleNet agents should support Acuity’s program, TeleNet picked those agents who had experience in Acuity’s target vertical industries, as well as those with experience in promoting green business solutions and similar “payback” value propositions. Training for Acuity’s program is ongoing. In addition to the initial training, which included an onsite tour of Acuity’s facility with product demos, TeleNet’s agents frequently review their recorded outbound calls with a TeleNet coach in order to hone their skills. Once leads are uncovered and qualified by TeleNet, they are passed to Acuity and are then further cultivated by Acuity’s internal team, and ultimately provided to their partner network, comprised of lighting management companies. As with most channel sales models, it is important for Acuity to develop and maintain valuable relationships with their key partners, and these partners appreciate the qualified “sales-ready” leads that Acuity provides with Telenet’s assistance.
RESULTS“The philosophy of our program and the processes we have in place is to drive for quality, not quantity. Our goal is to close business, not throw a bunch of leads at our channel partners,” said Stringer. To ensure Acuity’s goals are met, the two companies are measuring the results of this initiative three ways: effectiveness of the outbound telemarketing effort itself, Acuity’s conversion of leads to pipeline (partner engagement) and ROI. First, to measure the effectiveness of the outbound telemarketing effort, TeleNet set a benchmark that 10% of the prospect interviews will result in a lead for Acuity. To date, the program is yielding a 15% lead rate, exceeding the benchmark. Next, to measure Acuity’s conversion of TeleNet’s leads, Acuity set an objective for their internal lead specialist to convert one (1) lead to pipeline per day. To date, Acuity has averaged 1.2 leads converted per day, again exceeding their goal. Lastly, to measure ROI, Acuity has put into place a goal of closing $8 million in incremental revenue. While Acuity’s partners have already won new accounts as a result of this program, their average sales cycle is a lengthy 12-18 months. Thus, the final ROI has not yet been determined, but key indicators are positive. Ninety percent of the leads provided by TeleNet have been accepted by Acuity’s lead specialist, and 30 percent of the leads have been converted to pipeline and passed to partners already, thus the outlook is very positive.
"We may have been able to save costs by doing the project ourselves. However, the dollars saved would have been at the expense of the program’s effectiveness, measurability and reporting, which ultimately makes no sense" George Stringer Vice President & General Manager Renovation, Government & National Accounts