5 Hot Topics for Top B2B Enterprise Marketers

June 23, 2015

Chutes & Ladders (1)

Remember this wonderful Milton Bradley Chutes and Ladders game board from your childhood? The illustrations on the board show good deeds and their rewards as well as bad deeds and their consequences. By spinning a wheel, you either advance up a ladder or descend down a chute. I used to love Chutes and Ladders but have always considered it simply a beloved childhood game, nothing more.

However, the game took on a whole new meaning for me when I participated in a round-table exercise with key B2B marketing executives from companies like Adobe, Microsoft, Tata Consultancy and Cisco (thanks to facilitator Julie Schwartz, SVP of Research & Thought Leadership at the ITSMA).

The game framework was a perfect analogy for discussing key organizational “ladders” that must be in place for B2B marketers to soar and “chutes” to demonstrate the pitfalls that must be avoided.

There are five “chutes” and “ladders” that I consider “big ones” – because of the reaction I witnessed during this round table from many of the best and brightest B2B marketers and from the prevalence I see of these topics through my client work with leading B2B organizations. Each of these topics can be either “ladders” or “chutes” depending on how well your organization has mastered them. Strengthening each of these aspects will help organizations climb the “ladder” of success, but neglecting any of them could result in falling down a “chute.”

  1. Organizational Change Management: This complex challenge is worthy of a post of it’s own. Two repeating themes here include:
    • Who Owns the Customer? Is it Sales? Marketing? Product Marketing? Someone else…? The reality is that EVERYONE owns the customer. However, in order for this to work, there needs to be a perfect alignment across the organization. Many of the points below are actually further proof that this is the #1 challenge for organizations looking to “win” and succeed with their customers! It’s not just alignment with Sales and Marketing – its organization-wide (although Sales and Marketing Alignment is a good starting point).
    • Changing Internal Perceptions: Historically, marketing has been viewed as a support function – but the tides are changing as data-driven CMO’s are using fact-based storytelling to show their value as strategic marketers.
  2. Defined and Aligned Success Metrics: One way to support the first point from above (organizational alignment) is to ensure that the entire organization is focused around success metrics. These metrics should include a 360-degree view ranging from revenue to customer satisfaction.
  3. Creating a Symphony of Systems: While cultural and structural change is critical to success, so are the systems that enable a true customer-centric experience. We’ve all had a glimpse of Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape (if you haven’t, it’s a MUST). Successful organizations need a roadmap to weave these critical pieces together to create the experience and to understand the data/insights needed in order to optimize the experience.
  4. Culture of Thirst and Experimentation: On the contrary, those organizations that loath failure will fail. Modern marketing is about taking risks, measuring outcomes and optimizing opportunities. It’s about using data to give insights about a next move.
  5. Data is KING! Having an eye for data is incredibly important, but also having the scientists who can capture, analyze and optimize it completes the recipe for success.

Which of these topics are “chutes” for your organization and which ones are the “ladders” to your success?  Are there other key “chutes” and “ladders” that you’re experiencing?

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Top 3 Playground Rules for Sales and Marketing Teams

July 31, 2012

Sales and marketing teams are often at odds, blaming each other for a loss of revenue or lack of success. In the Playground Rules for Sales and Marketing Teams event presented by the Marketing Automation Institute (MAI), I was on a panel of industry leaders including Brian Hansford, Account Director—Marketing Automation, Heinz Marketing and Alex Shootman, Chief Revenue Officer, Eloqua that was moderated by Jay Hidalgo, President of The Annuitas Group. Together, we explored what it takes to get sales and marketing aligned to work (and play) well together—and what to expect along the way.

All of us on the panel agreed that in today’s market, the focus should be on buyers—what they need and how they want to buy. With 70% of the buyer’s journey now happening before sales is even engaged, sales and marketing alignment is not an option; it’s a requirement. It is not surprising that top performing organizations where sales and marketing effectively collaborate are seeing improved performance and increased revenue. How do they accomplish this? Following are the top three insights for businesses striving to align sales and marketing efforts:

1.  Employ these 5 practices that companies with great alignment share

  • Establish a common understanding of knowledge, vocabulary and goals.
  • Understand that buyers go through a journey and that sales and marketing both need to work with them through the journey.
  • Ensure that sales and marketing each know their role—as if in a partner dance; each should know who is leading and who is following at each stage in the buyer’s journey.
  • Commit to clean data.
  • Employ a common set of metrics and joint reporting.

That’s the big-picture overview. Following are a few of the finer points that can help you be successful as you put these practices into play.

2.  If you meet resistance, start small

When you are first aligning sales and marketing, you don’t have to bite off the whole organization at once. If you are meeting resistance, try piloting with a specific region. Once there’s proof that marketing’s efforts are advantageous to the sales process, the rest of your organization will get on board quickly.

3.   Softer metrics can help you gain traction

When you hear anecdotes about sales enablement tools that help close the deal, make sure to capture and share the enthusiastic feedback. (I gave an example of how my agency helped CenturyLink analyze target audience needs to inform a custom demand gen solution. When one prospect immediately agreed to a meeting and actually brought the tool we created to the meeting, it was evident that marketing helped sales gain both access and credibility. This went a long way toward speeding adoption.)

The good news is that alignment is within reach for your organization! The practices outlined here are very achievable when you start small and remain committed to the process. Our panel suggested that you keep in mind the Steven Covey quote “Light is the greatest disinfectant in nature and business” as you investigate opportunities to maximize the impact of sales and marketing collaboration.

Want the full download? You can listen to the entire Playground Rules for Sales and Marketing Teams conversation any time.


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