IdeaPaint’s Chris Doney Uses Segmentation to Keep Sales Rolling
Selling a high-performance erasable paint to architects, designers, general contractors, paint contractors, and end users through multiple channels keeps IdeaPaint’s director of global sales operations Chris Doney on his toes. In this Strategic BizOps Profile, Chris talks with Rekener’s Greg Keshian about how segmentation efforts are focusing sales and marketing efforts and propelling growth.
Greg Keshian: Your company sells paint not software. How different is segmentation for a company like yours versus a technology company, and where are you with your current segmentation efforts?
Chris Doney: We do sell paint, but we’ve always thought of ourselves as a technology company. Like many tech companies, we’ve driven growth through our data and a lot of rigorous analytics. Using sales and marketing data to target prospects and drive product through direct and indirect sales is something that we pride ourselves in.
Right now we’re in transition with our US segmentation efforts. We’ve gone from a national sales program, to a territory model with 8 geographies, to a broader view with dozens of major metropolitan areas and 6 reps focusing on markets with strong real estate activity. As we’ve grown and gained validity in the marketplace, our business has changed. Now, not only are we selling directly to end users but we’re also segmenting through our dealer channel with our sales reps in the 6 major metro areas.
GK: How does segmentation drive your marketing and selling activities?
CD: We sell to architects, designers, general contractors, paint contractors and end users and each of the different stakeholders within that ecosystem care about different things. As a result, our marketing efforts are focused on the attributes of the paint that each stakeholder is interested in. For example, paint contractors really care about pricing and ease of installation whereas our end users are focused on how it looks in the office, how it performs, and how they can re-shape their company culture through that.
GK: Does account-based marketing and selling impact your segmentation efforts?
CD: Yes, definitely. In the beginning, our marketing and sales efforts were focused on brand awareness to try to gain validity in the marketplace. As we’ve grown and gone upstream to corporate accounts and the enterprise level, we get a lot more involved with the paint contractors and the distributors, so now it’s about making sure we’ve got the right marketing effort for end users and also for our paint contractors.
GK: Who is involved in the process of segmentation analysis at your company?
CD: It’s me as well as our director of operations, our VP of international sales, our VP of direct sales, and sometimes our CEO. We use a mix of both anecdotal and hard data about what’s going on. It’s a real team effort with lots of collaboration, which is key.
GK: What is the most challenging aspect of the segmentation effort for you and why?
CD: There are two major challenges. The first is around data. We are quite young so trying to incorporate all the data that comes from disparate systems such as NetSuite and Salesforce and then framing that data and making it actionable is a big challenge. The other major challenge we have is around compensation. Our model is a little bit different than most since we sell direct and through distributors, so figuring out how to drive growth at both the end user level and the distribution level is challenging. Nearly half of IdeaPaint’s business is fulfilled through paint contractors who buy from paint dealers and paint distributors so we have to very thoughtful with our compensation plans and efforts to ease channel conflict.
GK: Selling through channels certainly adds a lot of complexity to segmentation and compensation. What kind of issues have you experienced?
CD: When we rolled out our first cut at segmentation a few months ago, we didn’t clearly define the lines of engagement. It’s difficult because our ecosystem is intertwined. One of the issues we’re working on is how we allow our reps to go after end users and focus on certain accounts when a paint contractor gets involved in the sale. For example, a pharmacy retailer has a $30K sale coming up and we have one of our global real estate sales reps involved but the retailer is going to use a paint contractor. How do you compensate the sales rep? Our comp plan is primarily direct, but we’ve baked in overlap that’s driven by dealers and also by our direct reps and we’ve modified quotas for our direct sales reps. We also have transactional online business and when it meets key criteria we comp the rep on that as well. It’s tricky but we understand the complexity better now and we’re getting a handle on it.
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Steph served as Rekener’s Community Manager and CMO. A Rekener co-founder, she was previously Senior Director of Marketing at CCC, a $300M+ recurring revenue business, and served in marketing leadership roles at Vertical, @stake, Informio, DotContent and Meridian. Her first recurring revenue role was as an inside sales rep selling real-time stock pricing subscriptions.
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