#C2C16 in a (sassy) nutshell

This was my first time at Demand Gen Report’s annual B2B marketing conference – Content2Conversion – and it probably will not be my last. I’ve never written a post-event blog post because I’ve never felt I had enough good things to say. In true form, I naturally have a bit of sass to bestow upon them, but for the most part it’s good stuff. Here we go:

Interactive sessions are a great way to benchmark where you stand in the marketing evolution hierarchy (i.e. who sucks worse than you).

Day 1 of the conference consisted of workshops presented by DemandGen Report’s partners (vendors). Because Demand Gem Report makes a business out of publishing content of interest, they were well in-tune with their audience and succeeded in giving us a variety of sessions which all seemed topically relevant. In fact, I had trouble selecting a session, but in the end I settled for Televerde’s session on integrating digital, nurture and human touch. Nothing they said was earth-shattering or new. In fact, the most earth-shattering part of the session for me was that when the room was shown a slide of very basic and standard funnel benchmark metrics and asked who measures each stage of the funnel against those benchmarks today – I was the ONLY person who raised my hand! (#wtfmoment)

Though perhaps not intended, the speakers managed to incite enough interest and questions that the audience became actively engaged and we all were not only asking questions, but we were answering each others. This interaction made the session more rich and beneficial to all. It also reminded me that there are many many marketers still looking in the window or barely crossing the threshold of what I would consider to be the most fundamental of demand gen marketing practices, such as funnel definition, management & measurement; persona segmentation, integrated automated multi-touch campaigns, lead nurture, and lead scoring (so many blog topics!!) If you have a good handle on these things, well done! You may not be as behind as you think you are.

Marketers are both the puppets and puppeteers of buzz words (#ABM)

This is the part of my post where I say #ABM. Any presenter who didn’t at least mention ‘Account-Based Marketing’ missed the memo that this is a mysterious concept you must embrace (or pretend to). During my networking adventures I took every opportunity to throw out this buzz word and see how people responded and ask them what it means. Interestingly (and surprisingly) I found myself identifying most closely with the sales folks at this event. Why? Because to them our recent obsession with ABM is irritatingly laughable. ACCOUNT-BASED MARKETING IS NOT NEW. It’s what sales has been doing for years and what any marketer worth their salt and properly aligned to sales should have been doing, too.

Marketers, you’ve all been puppet-mastered into salivating at any vendor who uses this term. Don’t you know when you’re being marketed to? Whoever started this bandwagon in motion was brilliant because now any vendor willing to sacrifice a little dignity to exploit this buzz word  is making bank on essentially re-branding what all marketers should already be doing.

Killer keynotes make a conference – David Meerman Scott and Tim Riesterer KILLED it.

I won’t lie, one reason I was very much motivated to come to this conference was to hear David Meerman Scott speak. I was sure he’d be as dynamic a speaker as he is a writer, and he did not disappoint. He taught us:

  • Content is not its own thing that is created just because. It should be designed for both marketing and for sales, and more importantly, should be so timely and relevant that it is REAL TIME. In fact, he says companies that do this well hire journalists to create content (it was at this point in the program Donald Trump was mentioned – we can’t deny he does real-time marketing very very well).
  • Make your information free. There’s been a lot of talk about whether or not to gate content. Mr. Scott says no…or at least, not right away. He actually poses an interesting suggestion, which I’d like to see play out in practice: Don’t gate your content that you publish online – offer a link to something else within your content, and gate that. I like this idea, but to pull it off marketers will have to exercise some discipline and resist the temptation to post all their content online, which also has implications for SEO.
  • Be human. B2B does not equal boring. Every B2B company I have ever worked for would disagree. They put great effort into being boring. I 100% agree that B2B marketing is about marketing and selling to people, and more and more people are buying for business like they buy for themselves. The influencers may not be kids and the co-decider may not be a spouse, but the same rules apply. If you don’t think people’s personal preferences and emotions play a role in the B2B buying process you haven’t been a B2B buyer. It’s harder to choose a data vendor that makes everyone in your business family happy than it is to buy a family car. I think in our hearts we all know this, but somehow we still suck at wiping out the corporate bullshit speak and talking like a human.

Tim Riesterer, from Corporate Visions, applied scientific and academic structure to messaging concepts which really are common sense, and he did so in a most entertaining way. I am admittedly a psychology geek and according to Tim, so are 85% of marketers. But I think even the unenlightened 15% of marketers in the room would agree that Tim’s insights were on-point to both excite and incite. His main message: Your biggest competitor in a deal is not the other company, but the status quo – the choice to do nothing. This takes a little extra thought and creativity in your approach to messaging, but it’s nothing off-the-handle. Demand Gen report sums it up beautifully, so you can read more here.

This nutshell is getting long, so I’ll wrap up with this:

Almost everything we know about marketing is common sense. That’s why you frequently hear the joke ‘everyone is a marketer.’ What makes a marketer great is the ability to ACT on common sense in an effective and efficient way, MEASURE the results, and ADJUST. Sounds obvious and maybe a little boring, right? It a skill. And not an easy one.

Some marketing teams have it down, but following this conference I sense that many of you do not. That’s okay, it means you have a good reason to have a job. I hope you’re making a sincere effort to put into practice the things you’ve learned. The trick is to take one leg of the journey at a time. You know point A (where you are) and you know point B (where everyone says you should be going). If you can’t find your way without a map, there are plenty experts that can help get you from A to B, but my advise to you is don’t close your eyes and just let someone drive you there. To be a good marketer you have to learn how to navigate new routes, so let the experts guide and teach you, because point B will never stop changing. The good news is you will never stop learning, which means more conferences (hopefully with as much sun and booze as #C2c16).

 

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1950’s Housewife Rules for Marketers

Let me ask you something that I ask every company I consider working with:

What role does your marketing department play in your organization?  Are they considered an organization that exists to serve sales? Or do they serve the business as an equal partner, in conjunction with sales and all other business functions?

Put another way:

Who is marketing’s client? Sales? Or the business’ customer?

A lot of companies think of marketing as an organization that exists to serve and enable sales, who ultimately is the bread-winner for the business. This, in my opinion, is a sad, shortsighted, and antiquated view of marketing’s role. I apologize in advance for this very American approach to this topic, but I can think of no better parallel than the quintessential 1950’s American Housewife. If you’re not up on your mid-twentieth century domestic American history, you can brush up here.

In this scenario sales is the husband, marketing is the wife, and the business is their family. Here we go:

1950’s Housewife Rules for Marketers

  1. Have everything ready. Plan ahead. When sales wants leads they should be ready and waiting, warm and ready for conversion. But sales may decide not to work the leads you prepared that day, or he may be dissatisfied with your leads and ignore them. He may even get mad at you for not giving him the leads he wanted that day, but do not talk back or let this upset you. You should always have a backup of other leads ready and waiting.
  2. Prepare yourself. Sales works hard to provide for you and the business, and he doesn’t want to look at ugly marketing materials. Keep your offerings pretty and fresh. Stay up to date with the latest styles and know what he likes and give it to him (even if it’s not what the customer wants), because at the end of the day you exist to serve sales first and the customer second.
  3. Listen to him. You may have done tons of market research and have a lot to say, but always let sales talk first. If you don’t think his ideas will work, try them anyway and be prepared to take the blame. If you have a really good idea, gently work it into conversation and let him think it was his idea. And of course, let sales take the credit. He works hard to provide for you and your family, and has earned it.
  4. Let the day be his. Never complain or be upset if he doesn’t show up to meetings or follow-up on all of your leads. Try to understand that he works hard, and even though you do too, at the end of the day his works contributes directly to revenue and your contributions are one-step removed.
  5. Arrange his lead queue and monitor his opportunities. Speak in low soothing tones and if necessary, administer his CRM for him so he doesn’t get bogged down in silly things like learning how to do his job in the modern world.
  6. Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgement or integrity. So what if he’s ignoring customer requests and spamming the prospects you’ve been so gently nurturing? Remember, he is the master of the house and brings home the bacon so you have no right to question him.
  7. A good marketer always knows her place.

Ok, so this is an over-dramatization of most sales/marketing relationships. But I am personally aware of companies that both consciously and unconsciously operate their businesses with this mentality. Just as the mentality toward marriage has evolved in our society to be one of equality – where husband and wife are equal contributors – so too should the view of the role of marketing and sales evolve. Equal does not mean the same. Marketing and sales are very different, and bring a unique and equally important value to every business.

By the way, this post is not meant to be interpreted as a plug toward social or feminist views on modern domestic issues. If you have a different idea of what modern-day marriage means, and you’re still pro-patriarchal in your beliefs, that’s fine. There are many cultures and many beliefs, which are all perfectly valid as long as that works in your relationship. I will not judge you for the decisions you make in your personal lives.

But if you’re a business, and you still exalt your sales organization as the patriarch and view your marketing department as a subservient entity, which exists to support sales, I do judge you. Because you’re wrong. A well staffed, funded, and run marketing department can be a valuable contributor and equal partner with a lot more to bring to the table than a hot meal.

Why sales should give a crap about what marketing is doing

Let’s keep going on the theme of marketing and sales alignment. Last week someone told me that sales doesn’t care what marketing is doing, and expecting them to take time to look at marketing activities on a lead record is ridiculous, because they won’t do it. I call B.S. on that, and refuse to accept it. While that may be true in some sales organizations, it’s not right. In fact, it’s madness. Utter madness!

First, I want to establish 2 baseline assumptions. For the sake of the following post assume that:

  1. Marketing has done its job and has implemented a Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) that thoroughly integrates with you CRM and is publishing marketing interaction information to the lead records in the CRM
  2. Sales people are sane, rational and logical

Now, I’d like to set the stage with some interesting numbers:

~ 4 ~

The average number of marketing campaigns B2B companies report a lead responds to before a deal closes (Insight Squared)

~ 7 ~

The minimum number of interactions the average B2B lead has with a brand before they are ready to talk to a sales person (Online Marketing Institute)

~ 38 ~

The win rate increase reported by organizations that have focused on tightly aligning their sales and marketing teams (SAP)

~ 50 ~

The percent of time B2B sales people waste on unproductive prospecting (SAP) AND the percent of B2B sales people that miss their quota (Marketo)

~ 70 ~

The percent of the purchase cycle that’s complete before a lead is ready to talk to sales (Forbes)

~ 95 ~

The percent of B2B buyers that downloaded a piece of thought-leadership content from the vendor they ultimately chose (SAP)

Because you’re a smart, well-read person of business, most of these insights should be familiar to you. After all, I haven’t exactly chosen an original topic. But I’m going to belabor the point because it’s an important one. Armed with all of this info, I hope it is clear to you that for sales to ignore the insights into what leads are doing before they get them on the phone would be utter insanity.

Did you not immediately jump to that obvious and rational conclusion? If not <<face palm>> read on…

cooper-gosling-web
You’re welcome.

Once upon a time there were 2 (beautiful) leads: Joe Blow and Jon Doe

Joe Blow is the kind of lead we dream of. He heard great things about your business from a friend and it just so happened he was in the market for exactly your solution and he needed it fast.  So Joe went to your website and submitted a ‘contact sales’ form. In that form, he submitted comments that outlined who referred him, what he wanted, and his timeline to buy.

Awesome, right? Totally! When sales calls Joe, would they want to say “Hi Joe, I understand you wanted to talk to a sales person, how can I help?” or would they want to be ready with a quote and proposal for how they can help address his specific need immediately? The latter, I would hope. Arming sales with even that small nugget of info can help them have an informed conversation that will get them off on the right foot and both Joe and sales would live happily ever after.

Jon Doe, on the other hand, is not so sure what he wants. He finds your company as he’s doing some research on possible solutions to his widget challenge. He has 7 magical interactions with your company: 1) Visits your website; 2) Downloads a white paper; 3) Receives an email; 4) Opens an email; 5) Clicks through the email; 6) Visits your website again; 7) Downloads an infographic.

Jon is an attractive lead, too but he’s harder to get. He looks exactly like the kind of guy you want to sell to (and by that I mean he meets the profile of your company’s standard buyer), and based on everything he’s doing, marketing thinks he’s qualified enough for sales to have a go at him (lucky ducks!) But Jon didn’t actually ask to speak to sales, so when sales calls him, what do they say?

Hi – my marketing team says you have a high lead score so I’m calling you – what’s up? Anything I can sell you?” Hm…probably not. How about “Hi Jon – I saw that you downloaded our white paper on 10 Tips for Improving your Widget ROI and our infographic on the Lifecycle of a Widget. Was that helpful for you? Are there any widget initiatives I can help you with or can I connect you with a widget expert?

Call me crazy (you wouldn’t be the first person), but I think that second talk track might get more traction. The key to enabling that conversation is insight. All sales has to do is take an extra moment to look at the behavioral history and marketing interactions of that lead and BOOM! that conversations is much more informed and much more likely to land a sale.