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 The lead data, everything needed to understand the company and decision maker, is perceived to be incomplete, out-of-date or inaccurate — often rightly so.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?


CMO Changes & Challenges: Cisco, Xerox, GE

May 17, 2012

The Chief Marketing Officers from Cisco and from Xerox presented at today’s Philadelphia America Marketing Association (AMA) on “Changes and Challenges CMOs face” and I attended with about 100 others.

Much of what they said reinforced recent observations I’ve had with client and prospect companies in terms of what are executive marketing priorities.  The theme was ‘measure and be accountable but don’t be afraid to go with the gut’.  There are 3 specific areas that were covered today that are worth delving into:

  • Segmentation – There are several key questions to be asking which will later inform the content creation and/or marketing automation strategy to reach prospective customers.  Usually this step is surprisingly overlooked in prospect companies of mine where they have not done enough recent diligence to understand how their buyer buys today (not how they bought 3 years ago) and Cisco reaffirmed this position by offering up some basic questions to review such as – who is our customer?  Do we really understand what is happening in our buying cycle?  Do we understand what message resonates and why?
  • CRM/Marketing Automation – Cisco invested billions in new company acquisitions but the back end infrastructure has not kept pace.  Consequently, the nirvana of a ‘closed loop’ lead system is not yet in place where one can track inquiry to close, likely because of several instances of CRM and/or marketing automation.   A strategy in place to not only identify how to consolidate these instances but how to measure the impact is needed.
  • Experimenting – Xerox emphasized the importance of keeping 5% of their annual budget as an ‘experiment’ budget that gets used with CMO approval.  So often, prospect companies that I work with have hamstrung themselves so much, that the ‘experiment’ promise sounds really good, but executing to that is really challenging.  A good experiment bet to make right now is LinkedIn (see my prior posts here.)

GE Healthcare’s CMO who was an audience member asked how both aligned with emerging market sales efforts.  There seemed to be universal agreement that China and Russia were growth markets.  However, Cisco (and I later discovered in GE) really do not have the marketing resource today to invest in branding and campaigns in these regions, so much of the marketing is event driven marketing.  This is where the puck is headed for marketing and in business – to understand how to get to these new markets by leveraging cost effective technology that has been proven in mature markets.  This runs under the assumption that in region, campaigns are accepted in a digital format (in China for example, YouTube is not allowed/utilized in the buying process.)  This is probably an emerging opportunity for marketing to consider as they plan their campaigns to reach new prospects globally.

What have you found as your burning priorities?


Improving Conversion through Win/Loss

May 1, 2012

Most organizations have a quantifiable goal toward improving KPIs and analytics on more closed marketing sourced revenue.   A method to accomplish this is to do a ‘win/loss’ analysis on specific areas of the buying process.  One really important element here is to make sure sales and marketing understands and buys into what you are trying to accomplish – the goal is not to audit company losses to fingerpoint, the goal is to improve on conversion rates once armed with data/information on what is and is not working in the buyers cycle.

The key process flow areas to measure are within the CRM system on closed lost opportunity, closed lost leads, and open leads. Try to keep to a maximum of ten questions with an incentive to fill out the survey (though I’ve not found a correlation to an incentive and survey responses.)  You’ll need a big enough pool to get a statistically valid sample size to work, a recent example is we had about a 2% response rate.  There is some validity in having an outside party do these surveys vs. inside party, though depending on budgets and timing, inside may need to suffice.   Externally, firms charge approximately $1250 for each completed survey.

There are two approaches we typically use – ongoing and retroactive.  Most organizations fall into the retroactive category because it’s the best way to get aggregate data quickly, though there are substantial benefits to establishing an ongoing approach.

1.  For an ongoing approach, you’ll get real time feedback as to how you are performing.  How to do this is to create process flow survey questions and structures via CRM/SFDC workflows within key trigger points of buying cycle, thus providing REAL TIME feedback to marketing.  SFDC has a number of surveying tools that are free and can be utilized via the app exchange (note for some SFDC editions, there are a limit of the number of apps that can be deployed.)

2.  Rear view mirror looking – Best used by deploying a survey to a pre-determined pool of closed lost opportunities and closed lost leads for interpretation of data.  While CRM systems allow this batch communication to occur, it’s likely a prospect or existing customer will need to remember what their buying cycle experience was like at the time of purchase.  Looking rear view mirror also allows you to use other tools (SurveyMonkey) for a pulling in of results.

Ideally, the information should be captured in your CRM and/or Marketing Automation instance such that an ongoing analysis can take place on the data.  If it is captured, the prospect will have to reveal their identity (required for the incentive), otherwise they may prefer the SurveyMonkey or anonymous route.  Lastly, if doing this on your own, there may be some survey bias versus having an external firm or company do this.

What have you found that works for you?


B2B LinkedIn – Take 2

March 15, 2012

For years, I’ve been raving publicly about LinkedIn and was one of the very early adopters in Silicon Valley of this technology.  LinkedIn has some compelling newer offers to consider in the B2B segment.

Many B2B Marketers have felt a bit burnt by prior years performance of text based LinkedIn ads – investing quite a bit of money at a high CPM rate with little to no conversion, so LinkedIn has some work to do to earn trust back.  However, B2B Marketers that may not have taken a recent look at their advertising capabilities and may be missing out on highly targeted new offers.  As I talk with my global clients particularly with those that are sales oriented are consistently using LinkedIn to get account, opportunity and lead intelligence information – it is by far the global standard for information relative to other comparables (Data.com, Hoovers, D&B, etc.) that are either largely North American centric or English country centric.

Let’s quickly delve into a couple of the newer advertising capabilities of LinkedIn.

First, it is really important to understand what your company is trying to do – drive more revenue, speak more frequently to customers, gain more market intelligence, etc.  Each tactic could use a different LinkedIn strategy.

  • In the newer partner based advertising models, emails can be targeted on a job title basis with open rates on their emails according to one representative from LinkedIn range from 20% to 40% – with click through rates of 10%.  The more granular one can get with the right industry, title, etc, the better these ads perform.  At a cost of $2.50 per message (approximate estimation), it is costly, but  worth the investment for the response rate if you know exactly who your target sponsor, influencer or end user you want to reach by title.  This information was reverified at a recent Sales 2.0 conference which I attended where an enterprise client claimed a 15x open rate vs. conventional email.
  • LinkedIn Polls provide a dialogue and a light weight market research mechanism.   It allows for more engaging dialogue by a community and gives flexibility to virally share ads.  This is probably not ideal for lead generation purposes.
  • Lastly, LinkedIn company pages allow companies to target followers, who are likely to be existing customers or existing ‘net promoters’ of the product (sans competitors of course).  This approach allows direct communication with the follower base through status updates – and the added benefit that information shared with the follower is also seen by the followers network of people.  This seems to be targeted to either customer retention or upsell capabilities within an existing customer base.

LinkedIn continues to innovate.  I’m test driving some of the above concepts more aggressively with my clients in our search to convert more leads to revenue and will let you know what I find out.  In the mean time, I’m curious what your experience is – particularly around other social media mechanisms that are getting more aggressive in the B2B lead generation segment.


Conversion Improvement – what to measure?

February 29, 2012

Many B2B companies look to improve conversions from lead to revenue and increase the productivity of their direct sales arm.  Here are 4 reports that can be run immediately in your CRM that can impact conversion positively without having to invest more money in new marketing programs.

  • Lead disposition reports –  when this report is run, it gives an overall status of how marketing is doing with handling of leads to and through the inside sales function.  Symptoms of problems in this area are a large pool of ‘open’ leads with no disposition.  What this symptom means is inside sales is not taking action on these leads, which requires a root cause analysis as marketing is producing a great quantity with no quality conversions
  • Opportunity reports – look at the ‘closed opportunity’ status pick list (if there is one).  If there are choices that speak to ‘not qualified’ ask yourself or your team, why is it that they were promoted to an opportunity prior to being not qualified?  Within opportunities, look at aging reports, the number of days on average a deal sits in any one cycle.  Because an arthimetic mean is provided, give careful study to the outliers of deals that have sat in queue for a very long time.
  • Funnel metric reports – do an analysis by either lead and/or opportunity (sales accepted opportunity) to study the entire shape of the ‘funnel’.  Is it indeed a funnel or is it a snowman (heavy bottom) or inverted funnel (due to deals getting clogged up in legal review).  Against the backdrop of aging reports, funnel metric reports can be very helpful for sales and for marketing to determine what sales enablement strategy need to be put in place.

 

  • Duplication reports – do some basic analysis in/around fields within the record structure of your CRM – account duplications, lead duplications, and contact duplications.  Salesforce administrators sometimes overlook plugins that can prevent these duplications from happening – consequently, poor performing outbound campaign performance is symptomatic of the cause of poor data hygiene practices.  Poor campaigns = poor conversion.

 

What reports have you found helpful?


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?


CMO Roundtable @Velocidi

July 20, 2011

Along with 35 others, I participated in a terrific CMO roundtable hosted by digital agency @Velocidi moderated by @MargaretMolloy in NYC.  @JeffreyHayzlett, the recent head of marketing for Kodak and current head of The Hayzlett Group, was our guest speaker for heads of marketing in a variety of B2B and B2C companies.  Velocidi is the next generation digital agency leader in NYC with global offices and definitely a company to keep an eye on what’s happening next in the digital marketing space.

The topic of conversation was CMOs – what are the key issues we face and was based on some research Jeff had completed.  He had several areas that were important to consider as part of his research and he prompted breakout sessions to validate (or not validate) the research based on our own experiences.  In our breakout session, we had 4 takeaways that were mostly business oriented vs. marketing tactic oriented:

  • Be accountable to ROI – this was a reaffirmation of the research findings, though there was some side debate about ‘just because something could be measured, doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to get measured’.   There was also some side debate about the actual connection to some activity to meaningful results as there is not always a 1 for 1 correlation.
  • Be the steward of change and growth – swing for the fence when culturally appropriate.  The visual of ‘swing for the fences’ seemed to resonate well with others.  Although there was some debate about the degree a company could change, there was no debate that the CMO had to be the steward of the process.
  • Have courage in making tough decisions.  Whether it be people that work for the team or with the team, this element seemed to be a really important area for those that were responsible for implementing change in the organization.
  • Plan for a 3 month to 12 month horizon rather than do an extended planning process.  Technology is changing too quickly to plan beyond this time frame.   Be prepared to adapt people and processes for this planning horizon – there was a published article  in Marketing Week that reaffirmed this view.

It was an excellent conversation.   What have you found in your experiences?