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Creating impact with an agile sales and marketing team and experimentation culture


Varma is a major pension insurance provider and one of the largest private investors in Finland. Varma offers statutory vocational rehabilitation and services related to predicting and managing workability risks.


As an important and respected operator in Finnish society, Varma provides pension insurance for private entrepreneurs and employees and aids its customers by offering vocational rehabilitation and services related to predicting and managing workability risks. Varma had identified a need to take its marketing and sales to the next level to meet its strategic business objectives.

More concretely, this meant bringing sales and marketing closer together, modernising their sales and marketing tools to advanced platforms and also deploying even more agile ways to develop Varma’s sales and marketing capabilities. We started our collaboration in 2020, and have since been able to support Varma with the transformation journey in both continuous growth-oriented development, and projects focused on building the tools needed for growth.

It was essential from the beginning to align all processes towards the shared target: to keep the customer experience at the centre of everything that Varma does.

Our approach

Building on Varma’s strong technological capabilities, we were able to have a flying start for the collaboration by clarifying the business requirements. Together with Varma’s team, we utilised customer journey mapping to clarify and prioritise requirements for new modern ways of doing sales and marketing. After the initial setup of the new marketing and sales tools, we jumped right in with the agile growth culture that Varma has already worked with.

In practice, this consisted of continuous data-driven sales and marketing experimentation, A/B testing, and backlog prioritisation based on impact/effort assessment. For the daily work of marketing and sales, this was part of the continuation of the cultural transformation, and it has since shaped ways of working in multiple teams. On the technology side, we helped build and operate two state-of-the-art platforms to streamline and strengthen the sales and marketing functions.

Leading and making decisions by using data has taken an even bigger role. The new tools have enabled Varma to do agile and business-driven data development to serve its customers better. At the same time, with the growth work and larger-scale strategic goals, we have worked with a joint team of many stakeholders on daily projects related to numerous growth marketing activities, sales tools, marketing automation best practices and supporting their integrations.

Focusing on the customer journey model has helped streamline activities and made things more efficient. Through continuous collaboration, we as a team have been able to bring marketing and sales further closer together. A key to the great partnership with the joint team of Varma and Columbia Road has been the close-knit collaboration and the focus on business objectives.

We’ve held daily and weekly meetings as well as bi-weekly demos, and even during the pandemic restrictions, we have been able to keep up the positive momentum and energy. A big part of this has also been the buy-in we have received from the client’s side - the Varma team has been very committed to the shared goals, and together, we have been able to test, learn, document and share information.


With the help of Columbia Road, we have achieved proven business impact through marketing automation and taken big leaps in our sales and marketing actions. It’s been a great journey so far, and we are looking forward to taking the next steps with the team!

Taina Ikola, Growth Marketing Manager, Varma


From the get-go, Varma’s team took us in as both collaborators and also as team members, and the “one team” mentality has been one that has enabled the projects and continuous improvement to have an impact also on the business. As one team, we have been able also to develop the work based on strategic business priorities.

The development of agile experimentation culture has helped in choosing the right, impactful tactics and taking up new technologies where they bring the most value to the business. As a result, Varma has verified the true business impact of the process and the transformation in the sales and marketing culture.

As a partner, we have made a difference in how they can reach the right people with the right messages at the right times and improve the customer experience for both new and existing customers.


  • Proven business impact through marketing automation in new customer acquisition and development of customer retention
  • Help broaden the use of agile experimentation culture in marketing and sales operations Improved account planning, sales activity planning, customer prospecting, lead process
  • Newly formulated sales process, reporting, forecasting and targeting
  • The utilisation of CRM and activity data for data-driven insights and triggers through a shared customer 360 view Implementation of new sales and marketing tools

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