TreeHouse Interactive Gives B2B Lead Management a Partner-Centric Twist

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TreeHouse Interactive wants to grab a piece of the growing B2B demand management market, by focusing on more complex lead management processes. Not just B2B, but also B2P2C (business to partner to customer) and eB2C (e-commerce business to customer).

Oh, and how about reporting the real campaign ROI, says head TreeHouseon Erich Flynn, also known as the CEO. Flynn proclaims that, unlike his competitors (such as Eloqua, Marketo and Vtrenz), TreeHouse “takes the discussion all the way back to dollars generated against money spent on each campaign.”

This kind of rhetoric will put some other vendors on the defensive—much like Republicans are now having to answer that pesky question, “Is Rush Limbaugh the leader of your party?” Good Silicon Valley style marketing warfare: declare victory and then work out the details!

From PRM to CRM? Not Exactly

But I digress. Yes, calculating a true campaign ROI is important, but to me what’s most interesting about TreeHouse is their support of complex business models. Think distribution channels and partner networks. And it makes total sense, because the roots (sorry) of TreeHouse are in the PRM (partner relationship management) space, where it competes with companies like Blueroads and Click Commerce, along with CRM vendors that have PRM modules (Oracle, Salesforce.com, etc.).

So far as I know, TreeHouse is the only vendor that has attempted to start from PRM and expand into a multi-function CRM system. You see, after starting with PRM (Reseller View), it added SFA (Sales View) and then marketing (Marketing View). The only thing missing is a customer service module.

This is highly unusual. PRM is a natural extension of CRM, although most CRM vendors tackle channel requirements in a lightweight fashion that leaves plenty of opportunities for specialists like TreeHouse. But, I can’t think of a single case of a PRM vendor going the other way. It’s like a branch growing into a trunk.

Still, it seems to be working for TreeHouse in the channel world in which they have worked the past decade or so. Flynn says they don’t market themselves as a “CRM” solution, and while they have a full marketing/sales/partner solution suite, they play nicely with mainstream SFA solutions from Salesforce.com, Oracle and others.

Quantum Mechanics

Storage vendor Quantum is a flagship customer of TreeHouse’s PRM solution, and has been working with the newer Marketing View solution since last September. According to channel marketing director Greg Fredericks, Quantum goes to market almost exclusively through channel partners that sell backup, recovery, and archival solutions (complex disk- and tape-based systems). Partner-centricity is key, so Fredericks spends a lot of time trying to deliver value to partners (e.g. leads) and to “make it as easy to work with Quantum as possible.”

That’s all well and good, but like most marketing organizations these days, Quantum has to justify spending. After investing in a complex portfolio of programs like web downloads, webinars, seminars and tradeshows, it was hard to answer a key question: which programs generated real business? Leads were handed off to a partner, but a manual process made it tough to tie a closed sale to the campaign that generated that lead up to six months earlier.

Without that, marketers can’t communicate campaign ROI in terms that the CEO and CFO will understand: “I spent $X on a campaign and got $Y sales as result.” I’ll bet the CxOs will want to see $Y > $X.

So, Quantum turned to TreeHouse, a company that has helped with them with PRM solutions for years (partner portal, deal registration, etc.). Wth Marketing View, Quantum can now track leads efficiently from campaign to closed sale, with a tight integration with Salesforce.com. Pretty nifty.

Partner-centric lead management

There are a number of B2B lead management solutions on the market, but generally they have focused on B2B sales where a direct sales force closes deals. From what I’ve seen so far, they tend to be stronger on behavioral-based lead scoring and automated nurturing programs. TreeHouse, on the other hand, is better suited for complex partner-centric and multi-channel sales models.

At a time where marketers are trying to make every dollar count, kudos to TreeHouse for also taking ROI tracking a bit further than other vendors, and for supporting e-commerce sales models.

Further Reading:
* TreeHouse Interactive Creates The First Marketing Automation/Demand Generation System To Deliver Real Campaign ROI Reporting

* B2B Marketing 2.0: How to Engage Social Buyers and Break Marketing/Sales Gridlock

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