Leads, Big Data and Trust

May 31, 2013

(Published in the April Argyle CMO online publication targeting 4000 CMOs globally.)

70 percent or more of marketing business to business leads aren’t being followed up by sales. And the reason is trust. Establishing trust — the moment that you believe the salesperson understands your problem and the solution they are pitching makes sense — is normally associated with customer relationships. Instead, what I’m talking about are the leads marketing “sells” to sales.

According to a commissioned study by Dunn & Bradstreet, three quarters of sales reps and sales operations managers say that they need deep, accurate information to be more successful in their job. However, most salespeople assess marketing qualified leads with cynicism. The lead data, everything needed to understand the company and decision maker, is perceived to be incomplete, out-of-date or inaccurate — often rightly so.

When the quality of the lead data is questioned, marketing efforts are undermined and CRM and sales force automation systems go underutilized. One part of the problem is that there often are several data sources, such as legacy CRM systems, procured third-party profiles, and digital behavior gleaned by tracking responses to digital marketing programs. Each of these sources provides differing customer information, but no single source delivers a complete, insightful profile.

Enter Big Data and the thickening bond between CIOs and CMOs. CIOs are tasked with integrating Big Data, in its different structured and unstructured forms, and churning out actionable information. CMOs can then apply data analytics to paint a true 360-degree picture of a prospect to feed into enterprise CRM systems, with knowledge bases continuously updated using technologies developed to manage Big Data.

It can be done, and in fact recently has been done by Level 3 Communications. SVP of Marketing Maggie Chan Jones and her team drove an initiative in which more than 90 million records from multiple sources were combined. And by partnering with Mark Martinet (CIO of Level 3) on the project roadmap, the solution ensures that same dataset will flow across multiple systems and platforms. Consequently, everyone sees the market and customers through the same lens. Sales has the key segment attributes and in-depth customer insight they need to reach out with the right information at the right time, and marketing can execute more carefully, with on-target messaging that creates better return on their investments into automated tools and content.

What can’t be lost sight of is how customers and prospects benefit. In light of the changing nature of sales cycles, it’s more important than ever for sales to know what makes sense to offer and when, so that everyone’s time is put to best use.

Success instills trust — between sales and marketing, and between your company and your customers. Big Data can help make it happen, you just need to turn the data into information.

 

BIO:

Jon Russo is a three time B2B Chief Marketing Officer in global companies ranging from former divisions of General Electric to successful Silicon Valley start-ups.  He currently runs B2B Fusion Group, a vendor neutral business helping business-to-business sales and marketing leaders accelerate revenue growth by connecting marketing investment to new revenue opportunities. His clients include Level 3, SAP and IEEE, among others. He can be found on Twitter @b2bcmo. 


MOCCA DC – Marketing Operations

July 18, 2012

Marketing Operations as a B2B discipline is rapidly growing.  As one data point that supports its growth, we had our largest attendance to date for today’s MOCCA meeting in Washington DC with Andrew Gaffney and Amanda Batista of Demand Gen covering recent readership survey results on trends in marketing measurement, changes in b2b buyers, and shifts in content preferences.  Rather than rehash the survey results which are available on DemandGen’s website, here are 4 key takeaways from our hour long question and answer session that followed the presentation:

  • Content:  this area was the theme and background of DemandGen, so it was not a surprise to hear this topic come up.  We spent considerable time discussing the pros and cons of webinars, both live and recorded, and came to the conclusion they are a worthy, cost effective tactic to consider as part of the overall marketing mix.  With today’s integration in marketing automation platforms, there are more benefits reporting wise to use webinars versus in years past.  Video is also a tactic that can be repurposed toward mobile devices and non-mobile devices.  There were a few audience members who suggested that having  4 videos of 5 minutes each were more powerful than one 20 minute video and easier for a buyer to digest.

 

  •        Data Warehouse:  this is an emerging area for enterprise companies that are trying to do data manipulation and more sophisticated reporting.  B2B companies are realizing a shortcoming of their CRM systems and marketing automation systems in terms of lack of data reporting flexibility.  Thus, they are looking to front end load their systems with a data warehouse that interoperates with disparate data sets and can do sophisticated reporting through easier manipulation of data.

 

  • Mobile:  this area remains an enigma for b2b marketers (my data points extend beyond this session with the CMOs of both Cisco and Xerox confirming this same data).  Contrary to what is happening in the market, marketers are just not yet ready to think about rendering b2b campaigns in mobile, either through their marketing automation platform or through companies like Litmus Technologies.  One company mentioned it was beginning to source 15% of its lead flow (not web traffic) from mobile devices yet the majority were not optimizing campaigns or content specifically toward mobile devices.  There are likely too many other competing priorities for marketers to be focused on, thus crowding out mobile for the moment.  Everyone knows they should be doing it (like working out at a gym), but few actually do it.

 

  •        Reporting:  the majority of companies were at the early stages of connecting marketing investment to new revenue struggling with both systems as well as cultural – cultural meaning does marketing ‘source’ revenue or do they ‘influence’ revenue.  The theory models would suggest marketing does both, but not every culture absorbs that methodology.

We didn’t have time to cover it, but data and its accuracy seems to be the next hot topic for MOCCA to talk about.  What areas in marketing operations are you seeing that is hot?


Next Gen Marketing Automation Platforms: Revenue Impacting

June 7, 2012

It’s time for the next generation of marketing automation – a revenue generating marketing automation system that focuses across new areas of predictability, effectiveness, and a wholistic view of a prospect/customer situation with the right analytics.  As a former high tech CMO that understands SaaS companies and platforms, I’ve implemented multiple instances of marketing automation platforms and more recently started a business digging deep at the marketing automation/CRM ecosystem to get more revenue, quicker.

Here are 4 areas that I think the next generation of marketing automation will solve for:

Predictive:  while the lead scoring models of yester-year are a good start to sorting out the needles from the hay, people are starting to realize that companies cannot ‘set and forget’ to hope the scoring methodology works long term.  Buying behaviors change and a buying committee in B2B is complex.  A predictive element with newer analytic capabilities is emerging in the B2B world, leveraging similar technologies that B2C marketers use (i.e. Amazon and best picks).  A company can then determine what products or solutions are most likely to be purchased based on similar demographic or segmentation sets.

Raise Sales/Marketing Effectiveness:  as I’ve previously posted on my blog, the data element is the single most important area for companies to understand and harvest, yet at the executive level it is often the leastunderstood.  Bad data is like a rifle with its sight off;  if your sight is off by a ¼ inch, you’ll miss your end target by a mile.  If the data is bad, you’ll never reach your target or lose valuable time trying to reach the target.  Newer marketing automation systems that leverage the right SaaS integration will be more sophisticated to go beyond the deduplication at the account, contact, and lead level (like they do today or with other 3rd party tools like CRM Fusion, Dupe Blocker, etc.) by providing real time feedback on phone numbers and contact information to increase the effectiveness of the inside sales organization.  Outsourced data cleansing strategies will become less prevalent as time goes on.

Assist with 360 view of a prospect:  with SaaS environments leveraging CRM (Salesforce.com) and new integration technologies (Dell Boomi, etc), there is a newer way to get intimate understanding of your customer prior to sales reaching out real time.  Billing information, trouble tickets, and other service questions can theoretically be displayed to a sales person so they are not ‘surprised’ calling into a new or existing account trying to up-sell.  With a 360 view, coupled with the predictive element, there will be new ways to get more revenue for companies that are savvy. Customer marketing (up-sell, cross-sell) is the hardest type of marketing to do and measure, this 360 view will help complete that circle. The single most important aspect is to make it easy for sales rep to get access to it from their current system.

Analytics that are meaningful:  the first generation SaaS marketing automation vendors have made an attempt at analytics, either licensing 3rd party software (Micromuse, Good) or attempting to build on their own.  The next generation analytic dashboards will be visible by anyone that has CRM access, not just marketing users with marketing data.  These analytics will show the areas above – marketing influenced revenue, 360 viewpoint, and data quality.  While some of this can be reported in systems today, it’s challenging at best.

What do you think, what are you seeing for future marketing automation environments to get more revenue, quicker?  Where are the pain points and shortcomings in your environment?



New SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall – My Views

May 24, 2012

Yesterday in the 106 degree Arizona weather, we received a needed waterfall – SiriusDecisions unveiled their upgraded view of the latest demand waterfall model at their annual conference.  With an array of color codes and arrows, the new direction is spot as it accounts for revenue sourcing across all elements of the business rather than taking a more myopic view of just what marketing does for the business for net new revenue.  It is no longer the ‘marketing waterfall’ but the ‘business waterfall’ in the 2.0 approach.

Here are my views of the new structure and why it is positive:

  • At an executive level, one should be measuring the velocity and cost of the source of leads converting to new revenue, regardless of the source (inbound, outbound, teleprospecting, sales).  According to Adobe’s 2012 CMO report, fewer than 20% measure their ROI on marketing, this framework will help contribute to defining the ROI element.
  •  At a more tactical inquiry level, a senior marketer needs to make a more intentional decision around resource allocation across inbound and outbound marketing mix and tactics.  When the demand creation model was created 10 years ago, social media (LinkedIn as an example) was less prevalent than that of today).
  • The model highlights the importance of the teleprospecting function in accepting, qualifying leads, and generating leads – this function’s importance is often underestimated or routinely outsourced without thinking through strategic revenue implications.  (See previous post here).  It’s the toughest job in the business in my opinion.  By explicitly calling out outbound teleprospecting accountability, a key skillset for account executives, sales leaders should welcome this new framework as it also spells out a clearer career path for teleprospectors.
  • Within the marketing qualification step, by putting more accountability within teleprospecting to ‘accept’ the leads rather than work all leads by marketing, the chances of marketing dumping several unqualified leads onto sales is further reduced.

There are nuances depending on the type of business that the model may need to be tweaked for – specifically around channel partners or other 3rd party mechanisms that generate revenue though the idea and flow should largely be the same.   Also, what’s not discussed is how to implement this kind of waterfall depending on the current stage of current processes – it will take an organization a committed period of time, so phasing and testing should be key to implementation. Lastly, I’ve surprisingly found a number of organizations, particularly larger ones, dancing around the conversation of ‘sourced’ vs. ‘influenced’ revenue, with some larger companies driving in one direction or the other rather than looking at both.   As SAP CMO @jbecher tweeted from the audience yesterday, ‘culture eats strategy’.  Specifically, one needs to be aware of the rigor and thoroughness this model represents and the willingness of the company to absorb the model.

It is critical for companies to do this kind of measuring to improve performance.  It is the right thing to do.

What are your views of the model?


Wow, what a Year!

January 4, 2012

Wow, what a year!  As 2012 revs back up, I want to take a moment to reflect and share some brief accomplishments of my company that started the second half of last year.  It was an exhilarating ride that only gets better each day!  Here are a subset of the highlights.

  • My B2B client base expanded to 6 different companies – helping them predict their revenue by tying their marketing investments to new revenue activities at an executive level.  These companies were global in nature with headquarters throughout the US with revenues ranging from $50M to $15B+ spanning a range of industries.  I am very grateful for the opportunity for my company to help them!

 

  • Forrester Research cited my company in their first report on best practices for business to business key performance marketing indices (KPIs).  This was very exciting for me!

 

  • I spoke at a number of engagements including presenting with one with one of my customers showcasing how we established KPIs for her business by working through key process elements.  We also spoke at the leading demand generation conference on this same topic.

Interesting observation across my 2H11 experiences – each of my clients had a different set of sales and marketing technology choices around marketing automation (as an example Eloqua, Marketo, Manticore, Leadformix) and CRM/data sourcing (Zoominfo, Jigsaw, Data.com, Dun and Bradstreet) leading to very different outcomes in segmentation, data quality, campaign effectiveness, and overall marketing ROI.  There was a strong correlation to those first working on their business strategy, then selecting their technology to support the strategy, in terms of sales and marketing ROI effectiveness.

2012 looks very promising so far – there is an underserved need at an executive level of connecting marketing to new revenue – in large part because there are so many technological combinations and a varying skillset of people.

Thank you again to my clients!  Good luck to all in 2012!


Marketing ROI through automation

November 11, 2011

There are 3 system components to getting effective marketing ROI leveraging marketing automation:  Content, Process, and Data.  Think of ROI as a 3 legged stool – the automation (seat) is supported by 3 legs of Content, Process, and Data.  The stool falls over if any one element is missing.  Let’s dive in.

 

Content:  Must be relevant for the segment of audience we are going after, and built to keep the segment engaged over a period of time.  Lead nurturing, or the art of keeping in front of a prospective buyer with their permission is the key stage leveraged here.  The example I use in presentations is think about the JetBlue or other airline emails you receive at home – the content is relevant as the emails focus on your local airport and they keep in front of you on a regular basis even when you are not considering an airline purchase.

Process:  Can vary depending on organization size and structure and is most acutely needed when handing off sales ready leads to the sales organization from the marketing organization.  Processes need to be built for the ‘not now, maybe later’ buyer where sales has a clear disposition path of these inquiries.  Processes need to be considered a ‘system’, not a ‘handoff’ – the prospect to customer conversion experience must be seen as one whole, not as two parts with a handoff.

Data:  Quality makes the difference between good conversions and so-so conversions.  This area is often overlooked, particularly around field integrity and processes that eliminate duplication in entries.  In some clients, I’ve seen up to 60% bad data in their database.  Marketing campaign effectiveness is directly proportional to database quality.

When these three areas are tackled, marketing ROI can be measured and improved upon.  Focusing on just one of these elements risks not getting the right return – leads that are hung up in bad processes can not be fixed with good content or good data.  Think of ROI as a system and not as individual pieces and you’ll be on the right road of success.


Who owns the contact data?

November 3, 2011

“3 out of every 4 commercial businesses believe that they are losing as much as 73% of revenue due to poor data quality”…Experian – QAS. U.S. Business Losing Revenue Through Poorly Managed Customer Data


A common issue I see in enterprise companies is the ‘perceived’ ownership around ‘data’ amongst sales and marketing – specifically I see marketing underestimating the value of clean contact data and overestimating sales ownership of contact information.  CRM systems like Salesforce.com and others have been around for 10+ years and many larger enterprises have a Salesforce admininstrator, reporting into sales, responsible for the policies and procedures within their company’s CRM System.   So naturally, marketers tend to say ‘contact data is a sales problem.’  I disagree.  Data Integrity is a business issue.  Marketing needs to take a more active role in data ownership and data quality around the contact level – and the need is acute if all contact level data is housed in the CRM system as it is likely the marketing organization is not digging in their CRM system as often as they should be.

With more B2B companies leveraging the capabilities of marketing automation vendors to do batch and blast email among other tactics, suddenly, the contact information has become very relevant to marketers – clean contact data means more conversions which means more revenue. 

A variety of issues cause the data to be bad or incorrect.  With this in mind, marketing can take a business leadership  position by inspecting data samples or sets– to then present to the heads of marketing and sales on what the quality is. As an example, either sales or marketing should reports to analyze the following areas:

  • Complete a Country Code analysis – think global
  • Look at Duplicates (even Leads that duplicate Contacts or Accounts)
  • Verify and enrich address data (data appending)
  • Compare external data to CRM data for accuracy
  • Run Reports on fields, test to see how often fields are used
  • Analyze all or a subset of your records for verification

With this information in hand, a leader will have a more precise understanding of the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.  Better data = better campaigns = better conversion which makes for the right business mix.

What have you found successful in your data analysis?


Executive Marketing Dashboards – 5 Lessons Learned

May 13, 2011

Here are 5 lessons to consider when creating an executive level marketing dashboard to measure marketing impact and ROI.  This topic is something I’ll be leading a discussion on at DemandCon next week and I look forward to hearing how others are looking at this situation.

1.       Know where you are
2.       Know where you want to head
3.       Speak the same internal language
4.       Measure KPIs, not metrics
5.       Leverage a 3rd party


Know where you are: 

There are so many variables to consider when planning a dashboard, and it starts with cultural situational awareness as the project you are about to embark on can be perceived as very healthy from some parties (CEO, GM, CFO), yet to some parties may feel like an audit or measuring things that have never been measured before  (Sales, Marketing, Inside Sales) – so anticipate some organizational discomfort.  Understand your company’s culture, it’s appetite for embarking on this kind of project, the importance of sales and marketing in the overall company strategy – some companies may be product focused, or they may have a focus other than the customer.  At the same time, it’s important as a marketing leader to understand the revenue and profitability model – where do the revenues come from geographically, from what products or solutions, and what is the dynamic of the sales cycle.  See this blog post to learn more on sales cycles.

Know where you want to head

This is an ambitious project to launch, so it is wise to show the outcome – the destination first vs. getting caught in the weeds.  This is the opportunity for sales and marketing to align (see post) on an outcome rather than focus on details – because if you get caught in the details, you’ll never hit the end target.  It’s best to approach the objective with executive alignment around the outcome (CEO, GM, CSO/CMO), then work through the rest of the company.  I refer to a ‘referee’ later in the post which is pivotal in this discussion.

Translate:  Speak the same internal language

In the world of marketing, we have our own ‘proprietary’ Star Trek language  – the language of inquiries, marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads, a marketing funnel, sales enablement, etc.  It’s easy for a marketer to talk in their own language without being situationally aware – understand that non-marketers think in other terms – revenue, speed to acquire new revenue, retention, pipeline, investment, payoff, etc.  As a leader of this process, it’s important to speak the same language – and where there is ambiguity, try to align on an understanding of a definition.

Measure KPIs, not metrics

Leaders measure for impact, followers measure activity.  Facebook followers, LinkedIn Group members, Twitter follower activity- – while important to integrate into an overall mix, are less important to measure activity unless it can be tied to business impact.  At it’s simplest terms, impact means what revenue marketing has sourced and/or influenced and at what overall cost for each.  You’ll soon see my presentation here on this topic on a follow on post.

Leverage a 3rd party

I’m going to eventually write a separate post on this, but as I think back of my own experience, having an unbiased 3rd party ‘referee’ or negotiate across stakeholders could be very valuable speed and cultural wise.  First, having a 3rd party changes the internal social dynamic completely – so the consultant is on the hook for raw accountability and can make raw observations without ramifications – and parties like sales and marketing can work toward a unified theme and objective rather than feeling like one is auditing the other.  Here is a successful case study of a 3rd party leveraged effectively.  The investment will pay off in spades down the road!

These are tips and tactics that work for me, I’m curious, what has worked for you?


Summary of Iron Mountain Keynote at SiriusDecisions

May 5, 2011

At the SiriusDecisions’ (#SDS11) sold out conference featuring over 750 people, this year’s keynote featured both the head of sales Jerry Rulli and Colleen Langevin who heads marketing in a dialogue around historic performance, current activity, and a single go forward goal highlighting the tight sales/marketing relationship and the impact a relationship has on business results.  This is a summary of that keynote discussion along with a few of my previous blog posts and experiences on alignment.

Although they are early in proving the model out, the first key was it appeared there is/was a tight relationship between sales and marketing.  The relationship requires both parties to compromise, yet it’s proven when that cooperation happens, a better end result (i.e. more revenue conversions) happen.  One step to success was involving sale extensively in a marketing plan – which went back and forth in a series of negotiations to arrive at the final plan tailored by segment.  It probably helped the relationship and the overall marketing plan that they focused on a single goal – revenue production, instead of sales which typically focuses exclusively on revenue production without the help of marketing and marketing on just creating more MQLs.  A very interesting compromise approach was not using the MQL language at all, likely music to a sales person’s ears as the concern is driving revenue, not driving more MQLs that never close.

A major key to success in their overall approach was the agreement to leverage an outside 3rd party (i.e. a referee) to uncover the real problem, steer the overall stakeholder and change management process to implement.  The advantage of leveraging a 3rd party is it removes the emotion and ownership from either party and can uncover true issues – a brilliant decision on their part.

The approach at an executive level toward the team was ‘here’s the problem, now own solving it’.  Structurally, marketing aligned toward their ‘buyer personas’ and the actual sales segment.   One point that was not clear was how Iron Mountain gets it’s majority of new revenue which could be from existing customer base (in account selling) vs. net new customer acquisition – as a head of marketing it’s important to understand how and where the revenue is coming from as that will dictate the overall marketing strategy (ie focus on demand creation of MQLs vs. Sales enablement from SAL to close).

The relationship, referee, and team members agreed on common language within the waterfall beyond the common objective.  Their teams trained on this element – in  my own experience, implementing this kind of language on a global basis takes several iterations and can be a very time intensive activity as different people have different views of definitions.  However, just like implementing a new sales stage funnel in a company, with consistency in definition up front means better performance down the road.

The relationship between sales and marketing was cemented in a ‘prenuptial’ Service Level Agreement.  The SLA went one step further requiring all team members to sign off on the overall gameplan, thus eliminating any potential ‘whining’ from either sales (we need more leads) or marketing (you should close more leads).  This too in my experience is an easier said than done activity, particularly if a head of sales doesn’t clearly understand the objective (more revenue production) or is ‘older’ school (ie doesn’t understand the impact marketing waterfall can have or what a waterfall is, so why have an SLA!) – yet absolutely essential for total transparency.   So as a head of marketing looking to introduce the SLA concept, you may need to sell the concept before just pushing it forward.

The last key step was transparency and accountability:  on going transparency on key business levers – from Conversion metrics to SQL to pipeline metrics, the marketing lead funnel, and KPI reports of volume and days accepted vs actual, this was key to success.  As I listened to it, having ‘one view of the truth’ meaning one single report to operate from both sales and marketing was also a major key to success.  This one view also eliminated the dialogue of ‘here’s the marketing dashboard and here’s the sale’s dashboard,’ which is another important lesson learned.

It’s all about the journey when implementing this process and your own experience may vary widely depending on the size and scope of your company.  What have you found effective?


Revenue through Teleprospecting – a changing world!

May 4, 2011

Teleprospecting teams pursue inbound and/or outbound leads via a telephone, are owned 50% of the time by sales and 50% of the time by marketing in a B2B company with the trend heading toward marketing according to a Sales 2.0 recent conference.  The nature of the role has changed dramatically over the last few years with more ability to ‘intelligently prospect’ rather than pure cold call.  This function is often overlooked given its mundane, routine tactical calling strategy yet is pivotal in revenue acceleration.   It’s where the rubber meets the road for revenue recognition!

Beyond lead generation quantity, there are metrics to consider measuring – by tracking and trending deals that actually close from teleprospecting efforts, to the time it takes to close those efforts, to the cost per effort as one can not afford to hire an infinite number of teleprospectors!  It’s important to establish metrics early and often for this function.

There are many different models of teleprospecting from an organizational viewpoint – from centralized to decentralized, to one region vs many regions.  I’ve found the most effective is regional centralization – meaning, keep the resources as close together as possible so they can learn scripts and effective best practices from one another.  However, when looking at this globally, it’s best to have in region expertise that understands the culture and nuances of selling within that region.  Trying to centralize all teleprospecting for a global company is ineffective.

A teleprospector has an infinite number of tools to choose from today that didn’t exist 5 or 10 years ago – from ZoomInfo, to LinkedIn, to InsideView, to Dun&Bradstreet’s 360, each of these tools or when used in combination, can really hone in on information about organization, contact information, and report structure.  Note that these tools are very regional centric (in this case many are North American heavily used tools).  DemandBase is an effective tool to extract IP address, though mapping an IP address of someone who surfs on your web to an actual contact name can be challenging if that user does not have some relationship with you, either registered, in the form of a cookie, or other trackable means.  Getting a prospect ‘warmed up’ through lead nurturing marketing automation platforms which I’ve mentioned in previous posts is also helpful and increases the chance of a successful close.

Depending on the size of your company, your team might consider using a tool called LookAcross.  LookAcross gives the teleprospecter the ability to scan social media profiles to optimize when the best time is to connect with that person telephonically and also provides much of the data of a prospects’ professional presence online.  It graphically shows a teleprospector the times and days that they are most active online, and what time and day of the week the prospect is likely to be reached.

Revenue recognition is critical and this function is where the rubber meets the roads.   How have you maximized the impact of your teleprospector function?