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I’m excited to share the latest Dreamforce Sponsor Success Story from our friends at NTT Centerstance. This Platinum SI partner has been in the ecosystem since their inception in 2001. They’re doing truly transformative work that’s the true definition of connected customer companies, and event sponsorships have been a key part of their meteoric growth in the last couple years.

Before we get into the Dreamforce Q&A, I want to share a very cool story. In early 2012, the leadership team at Centerstance decided to sponsor every single event possible as a show of strength in the ecosystem. It was considered a test with emphasis on brand benefits. One of the first events of the year was Cloudforce San Francisco. They made a ton of great, unexpected connections on the floor. One of those connections would change their future, and FAST.  An NTT Group executive saw something special in Centerstance, so special that a super-fast acquisition took shape in the weeks after that meeting, and Centerstance launched as NTT Centerstance at Dreamforce ’12 in September.

I chatted with Greg Lueck, SVP Global Sales & Marketing about NTT Centerstance’s Dreamforce ‘12 sponsorship, and tapped into a story that truly demonstrates how sponsorship of events can transcend traditional event marketing. There’s advice here that every partner should take to heart for participation in any event.

Q: What were your expectations for your Dreamforce ’12 Sponsorship? Did you get the results you wanted?

A: Our expectations for Dreamforce changed some as the acquisition came together, but the foundational goals remained the same. And yes, we definitely exceeded our expectations – to the point that we’ve moved from Gold sponsorship in 2012 to Titanium sponsorship in 2013! Here’s an overview of our primary objectives, victories, and some inspiring surprises.

* CUSTOMERS FIRST: We’ve always centered our attention on being at our customers’ sides throughout the event – as guides and collaborators to make the most of learning and inspiration. At Dreamforce ’12, we were very deliberate about using our booth in the Cloud Expo as the home base/meeting point for our onsite customer interactions. This made it really easy for everyone to find us, and afforded the best opportunities for smart introductions.  We also hosted daily customer lunches, dinners and cocktail receptions. A ton of great momentum came from all these efforts, but one of the most notable was that a major Allergan implementation came together during a reception we hosted at Dreamforce ’12.

* ELEVATE EXPERTS: We brought an army of delivery experts, and had them interact with customers and prospects in the booth. Those interactions turned out to be our most effective influenced and net new opportunities in terms of quality and time to close! When we’re meeting and socializing, we treat happy customers and the delivery teams as an important part of prospect conversations. That kind of cross-pollination is very effective for establishing early trust and momentum.

* CONVERSATION: The true key to success for us is always around creating a deep conversation with customer and prospects before, within and beyond the event. We leverage all the insights and inspirations of the conference to position our expertise in a helpful, meaningful way. Our primary vehicle for starting and continuing the conversation was email because it’s so personal, and of course a ton of direct contact with our relationship leads.

* AWARENESS: The emphasis on awareness became increasingly important as the acquisition progressed. We worked really hard to close the deal and develop our new NTT Centerstance brand in time for Dreamforce because it would be such a massive, concentrated opportunity to reach a ton of influencers. The incredible interaction we had with customers, prospects, our friends in direct sales, and even our new NTT colleagues made all the midnight hours well worth the effort!


Of course we track all our event participation as campaigns in Salesforce. Here are a few highlights on our success:

–       Our investment resulted in 5X ROI in terms of closed business on a combination of net new and influenced opportunities.

–       We generated over 40 net new, qualified opportunities, many of which have closed or are still moving forward. This was a very pleasant surprise given our approach, and it told us to think very seriously how many senior business leaders actually walk the floor looking for ideas and solutions.

Q: Did you see any really cool marketing from another sponsor at Dreamforce ’12?

There’s so much creative work that goes into creating sponsor booths. Everyone is looking for that little differentiator to really stand out. FinancialForce really hit the nail on the head with their wall of multi-media screens. It made such a strong, attention-getting visual impression, and we definitely heard lots of buzz about it from our customers and prospects.

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