July 31, 2012
Bigger deals that close faster!
We’re still not yet hitting the full promise of what marketing 2.0 could be delivering on. In an informal poll of 3 CMOs of B2B companies with revenues from $50M to $5B, I asked about their progress with new revenue acquisition effectiveness around gaining bigger deal sizes with decreased sales cycle time by leveraging effective marketing automation deployments and other inbound techniques of marketing. The findings mirror what MOCCA (Marketing Operations Community) reported in January 2012 in a webinar survey of over 200 companies – on balance, companies that invested in marketing automation platforms experienced better (and more) leads at a lower cost per lead, not yet bigger deals that closed or a faster close time.
How do you get better conversion and more effective utilization out of your technology investments, specifically around your marketing automation platform? Here are 3 suggestions:
- Data – I use the ‘sight on the rifle’ analogy with data. If your rifle sight is off by the slightest, you’ll miss your target by a mile when you go to shoot at it. The single biggest area which is most often misunderstood by executives is the integrity of your company data. Without complete data (contact names, phone numbers, email addresses), sales teams invest an inordinate amount of research time to get the right information. (see previous post on the cost of this). There have been tools that have improved ascertaining some of this information (LinkedIn plugin to salesforce.com, Data.com, InsideView, RainKing, etc.) to start down this path. However, even the tools in and of themselves do not solve for data integrity issues of appending, cleansing, and preventing duplications at the contact or account level. With the right up front planning, sales effectiveness can be increased.
- Buyer cycle knowledge – a surprising number of organizations way underestimate the need to build out content around their buying cycle. First, organizations miss on understanding the ‘moments of truth’ of how their buyers actually buy and when buyers leverage digital technology to buy. How they can get a better understanding here is through surveys, customer forums, and unpacking previously won deals to piece together successful elements. The second area they miss out on is targeting the right content at the right time in the cycle. As an example, Rackspace does an exceptional job of targeting end of funnel conversion by leveraging LinkedIn recommendations by clients such that other potential clients can see what their friends purchased.
- Metrics/Reporting – probably the trickiest area of all and at the nexus of data, process, and content. Without the other pieces in place, marketing ROI is a myth. The vendors in the space are happy to sell you their capabilities which are either set up leveraging very specific use cases or require a fair amount of care and feeding to get operating correctly. It will take people energy and an excel template to get the right data reported out on but without doing this, you won’t know what areas to improve in. Veracity always comes into question when data is formatted outside of CRM systems, so be prepared to identify all assumptions in data gathering and use those assumptions consistently.
How have you improved your processes in getting bigger deals with shorter sales cycles?
April 30, 2012
Last week, I facilitated a lively marketing leader panel discussion for Andrew Gaffney’s Content2Conversion event which was an audience of 300 B2B marketers cross industry. The event was focused on understanding what types of content buyers were interested in viewing at varying stages of the buyers funnel. Leslie Hurst from American Express Open, Heather Teicher from click to chat leader Liveperson.com, Candyce Edelen, CEO of propelgrowth.com, and Amanda Maksymiw from OpenView Labs participated on my panel. Click here for the webcast to our panel .
While there were several key takeaways around measuring content, mobility, social, and privacy, there were 5 key areas that were surfaced during our discussion that motivated me to capture them in my blog.
- LinkedIn has increasing relevance and value in the B2B community. Two of four panelists mentioned how sharing content on LinkedIn was more reliable for information sourcing than that of Twitter as the information from a connected contact has a relationship and ‘feels’ more relevant than a stranger. One audience member from Rackspace who has 15,000 followers on LinkedIn is leveraging LinkedIn’s APIs to its web product pages, so when recommendations are published, prospective buyers can check to see if other buyers of Rackspace services are in their network.
- Content measuring – successful companies measured how often a piece of content was shared (shared with a friend, shared on links, shared with a blog, etc.) AND tied it to sales ready opportunities; at that point a piece of content was seen as a very valuable contributor to the sales and revenue processes.
- On segmentation and reaching end customers – across the panel, there was a relentless focus on understanding the customer and their respective pain points as a precursor to segmentation; what was less of overall focus for each panelist was reaching these customers via a specific technology (mobile vs. desktop) as well as the medium for reaching the end users (twitter, facebook, linkedin). Two panelists mentioned that mobile was ‘built into’ the development process rather than thought of as a separate initiative. Facebook was universally seen as adding a human touch to a B2B organization but was not seen in converting meaningful leads.
- On influencers in the buying process – quite a bit of emphasis was placed on identifying both customers and influencers that would help in the buying process by marketing to them, with them, and through them through co-developing content. This was also referenced by one of the marketing automation vendors as an approach.
- On Automation – one panelist summed it up best by saying, “Marketing automation has made some of our job much easier and much harder at the same time. SFDC is not built for marketers which is where marketing automation helps us but marketing automation is causing us to think differently than before and thus creating more work for us.” This seems to be the conundrum many organizations face – how to implement change with limited resource.
It was a terrific experience moderating this panel. What are you seeing in these areas?
September 7, 2011
Your prospect database is like a sight and scope on a rifle. If the sight is set on your rifle correctly, you’ll hit your revenue target easily when you squeeze the trigger to execute on your inside sales and marketing efforts. If the site is off by the slightest amount, as you shoot your weapon (ie try to get revenue), you’ll miss your target.
Several issues contribute to poor data quality – technology, executives, segmentation, and processes. Let’s dive into each.
- Today’s technology enables an end user to enter in multiple variations of a company name or contact affiliation. Salesforce.com fields for a company name may include variations on company names such as I.B.M., IBM, and International Business Machines. Consequently, data duplication issues may exist as a result.
- Executives often overlook the importance of database health. The technology is new, inbound marketing and inbound selling is also an emerging area in terms of importance, so as these two areas collide, it sometimes can be counterproductive. Prospect databases are typically owned by marketing – yet when marketing struggles to measure its own value via metrics, this metric is not always considered enough or relevant to make it a key performance indicator. What gets measured gets improved upon so no measurement means high risk.
- Segmentation is often overlooked by marketers relative to database size and quality. If a sales and marketing element agree on what a ‘perfect prospect profile’ looks like, how many of the prospect database actually fit the description of the target? How wide is the overall contact or total available market for contacts? Dun and Bradstreet 360 can help solve this type of concern primarily for North America market segments; globally, data is much more challenging to segment.
- Processes are also missing at the tactical level. People often change companies within the prospect database. Is there a strategy to ‘retire’ dead prospects, or does the company keep marketing to those prospects until the point where the company renders its email campaigns ineffective? Is there a process to monitor the database quality at the tactical marketing level to ensure the site of the rifle is constantly fine tuned?
This element of marketing is one of the least ‘sexy’ or glorified for those that are non-analytical or are big into branding. Yet the branding, the marketing campaigns, and the PR can be rendered ineffective efforts if the database is not healthy.
What have you found to work effectively for your database?