Running modern online sales in a fully integrated team



Thriving in online sales is a continuous learning journey. It’s about increasing revenue, making buying easy, and growing the customer value. The way we optimise our entire sales funnel in close cross-competence collaboration with Columbia Road has led to significant business results and new ways of working not just for the online sales team but also for other teams in the organisation. Jussi-Pekka Erkkola, Director, eCommerce & Digital Services, Elisa

Selling better at Elisa

Together with Elisa, we have been on a growth journey since January 2018. What started out as the optimisation of one team and its results has evolved into a strategic and holistic collaboration encompassing the entire commercial customer journey at Elisa. 
The key objectives, since day one, have been to increase sales revenue, make buying easy, and grow the customer value of Elisa’s customers. With hands-on work and a strategic approach, we have been able to help Elisa succeed and surpass growth targets, introduce new ways of working that have been incorporated widely in the organisation, and help them become self-sufficient in running and growing their digital business. 
With a growth team approach, we have helped Elisa bridge the gap between sales and IT, and bring experts from different parts of the organisation together: marketers, developers, designers and business people, to work in a lean, data-driven way with shared business objectives. 

"We have learned so much from Columbia Road and our own mindset of growth has evolved tremendously. They have had an integral part in creating growth and positive results in online sales. The strategic partnership has been tight-knit – we are one team working together, and that has been the key to our success."Olli Pohjanlehto, Online Sales Growth Manager, Elisa 


From a webshop to running online sales 

Elisa had a well-established ecommerce store when we joined their online sales team. They had high ambitions for the webshop and had recognised the growth team approach as something they wanted to try out for boosting sales. Columbia Road’s marketers, designers, developers and a growth owner joined Elisa’s online sales team as full-fledged team members from day one and formed together Elisa’s growth team, which started out as a large cross-functional, cross-collaborational team and has stayed that way. 
The collaboration has been seamless, with Elisa’s and Columbia Road’s ecommerce specialists working closely together on improving the online sales numbers and operations on a day-to-day basis. The growth team operates Elisa’s online business holistically and hands-on, optimising the entire sales funnel, and functions as an adhesive between different teams enabling a comprehensive strategic collaboration. 
The growth team is a catalyst for business development on a wider scale and brings continuity to all business-driven technical initiatives and projects. The team has been a trailblazer in Elisa’s organisation and its operational model has later been adopted wider in the company. As a pathfinder, the growth team has been at the front line, on the receiving end of doubt and hesitations from the rest of the organisation, but succeeded in changing the mindset and has focused on educating other teams as well. 
With time, the growth team has matured in thinking and actions, but the goals, culture of experimentation and data and sales driven approach have remained as the foundational elements. 

"What really stands out from the collaboration with Columbia Road is that they are genuinely sales & revenue-focused in everything they do. It has been amazing to work with people with varied knowledge areas and continuously evolve, on a personal and organisational level. We’ve been on a learning journey together, as one team where the line between companies has blurred. The learning curve for the whole growth team has been steep and profound.”Minna Siekkinen, Head of Online Sales, Elisa 

Building a modern sales organisation

Elisa’s digital sales and marketing capabilities have been first class for years, and we have had the honour to support and grow their online business even further since 2018. As a strategic digital commerce partner, our focus has been on helping Elisa to improve their online sales operations from bottom to top. Establishing a new way of selling has been one of the great successes of our collaboration. 
Not only have we helped Elisa to increase sales in online channels and find a new model for operating sales, but we have actively helped them to develop the competence internally by helping with recruiting new members to the growth team and growing it internally. Our interest has always been to first and foremost help the people at Elisa get better at selling online. 
As a partner, our responsibility has been to add value and expand the digital sales organization. We have, together with Elisa, built the current online sales function where we guide from a strategic perspective but also continue to work hands-on growing Elisa’s digital sales revenue. Columbia Road has responsibility widely within the organisation and our job is to keep the sales pipeline on an agreed level. 
One of the bigger themes throughout our collaboration has been to build a bridge between business, marketing, and IT – enabling better functioning, better performing digital sales. In addition, we’re working extensively with digital marketing hands-on, optimising the full sales funnel.

"Working in this team has been momentous: Getting firsthand experience on actually being business-centric and growth-oriented – and seeing and feeling the buzz in real-time is captivating. We’ve had the mandate to do whatever it takes when dealing with the “engine” of Elisa. Our work has been directed by tests and data rather than assumptions. Witnessing the impact of our contribution is truly motivating"Ilkka Rämö, Growth Consultant, Columbia Road  

Omnichannel sales and with superb customer experience

In order to support and optimise digital sales holistically, our approach is to look at the entire commercial customer journey. Recognising the customer at different stages of the journey and offering the right offering at the right time has been a key success factor. The experimentation approach has been brought into all channels in order to get better and higher conversion rates.

Columbia Road has worked with an omnichannel approach in all channels where Elisa’s customers are in order to design and implement a holistic approach to digital sales. These channels include digital and physical stores, service portals and marketing, such as social media, mobile, telesales and partner campaigns.


Data-driven ways of working

Continuous learning & experimentation permit for decision-making based on real data

The basis for a growth team is three-fold: 
  1. Do a lot of experimentations
  2. Analyse and learn from the data 
  3. Make decisions based on the data
When operating an ecommerce store as large as Elisa’s, a growth-driven approach of continuous testing requires hundreds of tests, some small, some bigger. Experimentation lays the foundation for day-to-day operations. We have been working on Elisa’s entire customer journey, continuously optimising and experimenting with different stages in a very data-driven way. 
At Elisa, the culture of experimentation has taken huge leaps since we started working with the growth team approach. Instead of a waterfall approach, we’ve been working in a lean way, testing a lot and fast. Data is now driving all actions in online sales: experimentation, work, and decision-making. The culture of experimentation has become the operational model.

"Not only does Columbia Road have unparalleled technology, growth hacking, and digital sales experience, but they also combine that with a strong business focus and data-driven ways of working. They challenge us and spar with us, making us learn and become better together. The partnership has felt meaningful and having Roadies there for us mentally and physically is very rewarding. With their ever-present growth mindset, they are always pushing for more, not just settling for existing solutions but going above and beyond to solve problems and create impact"Jani Veihtola, Software Developer, Elisa 

A/B tests as a source for success

A/B testing, a user experience research methodology consisting of randomized experiments with two variants A and B, has been a pivotal part of leading sales with data. Since the start of the collaboration, the growth team has completed over 500 A/B tests, which have had a significant effect on Elisa’s online sales growth. 


Let's look at some examples of real A/B tests that were run by the growth team:


Checkout copy changes


Indicate expiration date to create a sense of urgency


The growth team has executed 500+ A/B tests that have improved the conversion rate significantly.
Elisa’s internal competence to run digital sales independently has been elevated to new standards
The strategic partnership has helped Elisa build bridges between functions internally and start running digital sales with a data-driven approach
The growth team way-of-working has paved the way within the company and has been taken into practice widely in the company. 

About Elisa

Elisa is a Finnish market leader in telecommunications and digital services. With digitalisation, they are providing solutions for things that are important to people and for sustainable development. During their 140-year history, they have always been enthusiastic about utilising new technologies and ways of working. Today Elisa serves over 2.8 million customers in Finland, Estonia and internationally.

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