Our Points Of View On Sales & Marketing

Thought Leadership

by B2B Fusion B2B Fusion No Comments

Digital Selling – 2017 MarTech Integration Challenges

In Morgan Stanley’s recent ‘Software Eats the CMO Suite’ survey, the number one business to business challenge for Chief Marketing Officers with their technology purchases is the inability to successfully integrate disparate technologies into a unified platform. This integration issue is also a consistent one we see across our enterprise client base and through informal polling of my professional network – the end result is a disjointed customer experience and an incomplete way to identify what marketing tactics are driving true sales/business results.

As a root cause of the issue, in larger enterprises, these platforms run cross organization – for example, internal IT ‘owns’ the data warehouse, whereas Marketing owns Marketing Automation. This ownership rift exacerbates the challenge of bringing disparate systems together with no one organization owning the integration aspect of systems like these.

There are at least two symptoms of the root cause of not being able to integrate platforms:

  • The inability to have a seamless customer journey so that the journey is one experience, not several disjointed automated experiences. We find this to be the fundamental driver of customer success.
  • Non-reportable, non-actionable data. Can’t correctly answer the question ‘what demand generation / online sales techniques are most effective with disparate islands of data?’  This situation is a sharp pain point for ANY CMO trying to attribute their performance to revenue.

So how does a CMO solve this complex integration situation in 2017? The integrated technology strategy CMOs should involve the following factors:

  1. Start with the end in mind – determine ‘what are you hoping to accomplish with an integrated strategy that drives the right customer experience?’ Get others in the organization to buy into that approach and assign a business owner to the process. This step is sometimes referred to as a ‘needs assessment’.
  2. Select the initial automation platform wisely and not hastily. A specific marketing automation choice dictates a significant part of your go to market strategy and your ability to integrate with partners to drive a seamless customer experience. Switching costs out of platforms are expensive and time consuming. Invest time in really understanding the partner ecosystem and/or hire someone who has that understanding, else risk wasting valuable time.
  3. Understand API capabilities on your chosen marketing automation platform – leveraging APIs is the ‘mortar between the data bricks’. There is a radical difference across each REST API of automation platforms. Some platforms will charge extra for use of the APIs. Be mindful or find a trusted partner who has done these kinds of integrations before as API work is often times non-core to the business.

As a B2B enterprise, what issues are you experiencing in cross platform integration?  What platforms do you most effective to automate your customer experience?   Would love to hear your comments!

Today’s blog contribution comes from Jon Russo, founder of B2B Fusion, a sales and marketing performance firm focused on connecting marketing investment to new revenue.  Enterprise clients include Anthem, Ricoh, Thomson Reuters, and Level 3 among others.  Jon currently serves on the Board of Directors for MOCCA, the leading enterprise association for operational excellence in Digital Marketing.  Prior to founding B2B Fusion, Jon held global CMO roles for 10 years in private and public technology companies in Silicon Valley, NYC, and Luxembourg.

by B2B Fusion B2B Fusion No Comments

2016: Where should an organization invest an incremental dollar in marketing?

At a recent New York City gathering of forty senior B2B marketing executives of the Marketing Operations Cross Company Alliance (MOCCA), the hottest 2016 marketing planning topics were people and investing an incremental dollar in data.

People:  Kathleen Schaub, VP of IDC’s Chief Marketing Officer Advisory practice, illustrated new industry research indicating 59% of technology firms having CMOs with tenure of two or fewer years; in addition, 25% of marketing roles today did not exist ten years ago.  With this amount of change on people, it becomes very challenging to find the right skillsets, thus the war on talent.

Yet given the critical importance of marketing tech and the sheer amount of hype that is in the market, IDC found it surprising in its research of nearly 100 technology firms that fewer than 2% of marketing staff are in dedicated technology roles.  IDC also finds that companies’ information technology teams still provide marketing with very little support. As marketing technology becomes a bigger part of marketing operations, some roles become “blurred” or ‘mixed’. In advanced organizations, the use of technology may be greater than strictly found in dedicated roles. IDC believes that the greater part of the growth in marketing technology and corresponding support roles is still in the future – compounding the need for these skills.

As customers move their buying process away from direct and inside sales representatives and towards digital buying patterns, organizations are also making that same shift to cut costs. This trend toward virtual sales is seen as model that blends 75% digital (web properties, digital assets, cognitive computing, analytics, and other automation support), and 25% person vs. what might have been a 100% human-based role ten years ago.

Data:  Schaub and Maggie Chan Jones, SAP Chief Marketing Officer, agreed that data is the number one area where a marketer should be making incremental discretionary investment.  Jones says that becoming a data-driven organization is one of her top priorities for her team.  “The great thing about big data is, it allows marketers to make smarter decisions in real time. Look at our events strategy. After a multi-year journey to elevate the strategy of our events with analytics and insight, our work was recognized by the ANA.” SAP won the Genius Award in the “Excellence in Analytics Driven Strategy” category, awarded to the brand applying the most advanced approach to allocating investments across marketing.”

The work of the SAP team has evolved to include survey insights and understanding attendee areas of interest through a process called “behavioral fingerprinting”, which uses sensors to understand audience traffic flow and areas of interest going into and out of the event. It also takes into account on-site focus groups and deep social media analysis to add the customer’s voice to the numbers and patterns emerging. The team is now in a position to react to heat mapping at the event – in real time – and redirect the flow of traffic to other sessions or areas of interest for the audience.

2016 is an exciting time to see the dawning of an accountable Marketing function with newer technology and people to drive this accountability.

B2B Fusion is a sales and marketing performance firm focused on generating higher quality leads through optimized technology, process improvement and marketing/sales alignment.  Led by Jon Russo, former technology/information services CMO, B2B Fusion analyzes funnel dynamics, improves revenue business processes and delivers best practice data and nurture strategies for enterprise clients like Anthem, Level(3) Communications, and Thomson Reuters. Jon currently serves on the Board of Directors for MOCCA, the leading enterprise association for operational excellence in Marketing.

by B2B Fusion B2B Fusion No Comments

3 Enterprise Lessons Learned from MME16

As part of Oracle’s Modern Marketing Experience (#MME16), over 2200 modern marketers listened to CMOs from Clorox, Sears, and Western Union share their data driven transformation journeys.  Eric Reynolds, CMO of Clorox commented on his digital transformation on how ‘it takes courage to start down a road where you don’t know where it will end.’  In this environment of constant technology innovation and the pressure to perform, many of us could relate to that statement.

Throughout the week, several other enterprise peers presented their digital learnings with an emphasis on the MarTech stack that best enabled their data driven decisions.  While there were several other announcements regarding the B2C Oracle Marketing Cloud, here were three other lessons learned from MME16 that B2B enterprise attendees could use as next steps to execute against.

  1. Speed matters. In his keynote address, Oracle CEO Mark Hurd called out the macro economic trends by framing up the pressure he and his peer CEOs are under to perform, correlating that pressure as to why we as marketers need to respond with tangible results.   With S&P 500 top line revenue growth nearly flat over the last five years and IT global spend down by over 5% in the last year, modern marketers need to move quickly, test, and experiment to achieve measurable results.
  2. Account Based Marketing (ABM) is more than just the new black. In her ABM breakout session, Meagen Eisenberg, CMO of MongoDB leveraged Eloqua and Demandbase among fifteen other marketing technologies for a new account based strategy, targeting and nurturing approach.   Meagen displayed her dashboards and revenue conversion rates on her ABM efforts.  Oracle announced an account based score and account nurturing capability that streamlines a manual Eloqua process; each could be valuable for marketers to consider as they plan their ABM strategy.
  3. Bringing order to data chaos through integration: Allen Wagner, head of Marketing Operations for Deltek, echoed a common theme of other enterprise presenters in finding a ton of value in utilizing the Eloqua API to connect islands of information.  Specifically, having the ability to pull and push data to and from disparate sets of data to Eloqua to personalize, segment, and report effectively was of significant importance in getting a complete view of his customer or prospect interaction.

From an informal attendee poll, several attendees felt the breakout sessions on company use cases of technology led by company spokespeople, not vendor or multiple panel members, provided the most valuable insight, more so than in years past.  Many of us left MME16 with a renewed focus, more urgency, and a clearer picture of where an overall Eloqua and Marketing cloud strategy fits as part of a MarTech cloud strategy stack to drive new digital customer acquisition.

Today’s blog contribution comes from Jon Russo, founder of B2B Fusion, a sales and marketing performance firm focused on connecting marketing investment to new revenue.  Enterprise clients include Anthem, Ricoh, Thomson Reuters, and Level(3) among others.  Jon currently serves on the Board of Directors for MOCCA, the leading enterprise association for operational excellence in Digital Marketing.  Prior to founding B2B Fusion, Jon held global CMO roles for 10 years in private and public technology companies in Silicon Valley, NYC, and Luxembourg.

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

LinkedIn Jumps into Marketing Automation

LinkedIn as a company is an innovator jumping into a new marketing automation market, leveraging their recent Bizo acquisition.   This is worthy of study.

linkedin

Here are strengths of the LinkedIn offer relative to that of marketing automation:

  • Their ability to target anonymous users with customized ad content relevant to the end user makes this a compelling offer
  • Their ability to reach these users on the LinkedIn network and off of the network makes this very compelling
  • Their autofill form capability which should in theory improve conversion (though few companies use this well today I find on marketing automation which major platforms have a similar capability)
  • The fact that LinkedIn sits on a treasure trove of accurate user data is helpful for any enterprise struggling with data quality

As for the future, here are some questions that come up:

  • Bizo integrates with marketing automation providers today such as Eloqua and Marketo, it will be interesting to see how LinkedIn develops their APIs on Bizo – will LinkedIn continue the open approach with APIs or like the rest of LinkedIn, will the APIs eventually be limited and those integrations get impacted?
  • How global of an offer this is, will it work best in English speaking countries where IP addresses are more known (US, England, Canada, Australia, Singapore, etc.) vs. globally like all marketing automation has the ability to do?
  • How does the data actually integrate with the CRM system when LinkedIn prides itself on owning its data and not selling it to others?

Pricing for enterprise is at least $25k/quarter.

Facebook is also dabbling in the marketing automation segment, although I’d expect that use case to be more B2C and commerce oriented vs. the enterprise approach LinkedIn is using.

We are in for an interesting new era in reaching prospects with relevant content facilitated by marketing automation!

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

2015 Sales & Marketing Predictions: Data Relevance

Michael Dell, the founder of Dell Computers, recently said, ‘Data is the key competitive differentiator in today’s business environment.’  I believe he is right.  Data is the star of the 2015 sales and marketing show; enterprises will generate new business, optimize their current state of data, and close more deals as a result of the improvement in data quality.

According to Aberdeen, nearly 91% of B2B Enterprises have not properly optimized their lead flow process.  Proper data is a key ingredient in that optimization.  Despite data not being a ‘balance sheet’ item historically was overlooked by non-marketing executives, executives will begin to assign company initiatives to improve data as they realize the direct correlation of the effectiveness of the inquiry to close conversion process to that of the quality of data in their customer relationship management and marketing automation databases.  CMO’s career credibility relies heavily on the data quality when reporting on their impact to the business and they, too, will invest more cycles in improving the current state of their data.

From this point, companies will begin to experiment with data predictability models.   SaaS based enterprises with large volumes of inquiries and with client usage data will continue to be earlier adopters of such predictive data technology.  SaaS companies will sort out the most probable to deal close or most probable to upgrade, with other companies eventually following suit.  The overall predictive market in 2015 for marketers using data will still be very nascent (<$100M for all companies in the sales and marketing use case) but will be the fastest growth as a percentage quarter over quarter of any marketing technology in 2015.

Lastly, the term ‘Big Data’ will become increasingly meaningless in 2015 as the executive question will pivot from ‘what are we doing in Big Data?’ to ‘how can our data be used to increase productivity…increase sales…decrease customer churn…etc.?’

What do you think will happen in 2015?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 1 Comment

Marketing Credibility: 2015 and beyond

credibility

Here is a valuable blog today from what appears to be a US head of sales in how he views marketing in his business in a tech company contrasting to a non-tech company – it can be inferred from the post that marketing’s compensation is getting tied to revenue performance, that’s where we also see the puck headed for all companies and where true marketing credibility comes into play – it isn’t just in the gymnastics or theory of SLAs, scoring, definitions, or dashboards – it’s in the output of where he (and others) can depend on marketing’s annual growth, lead contribution, and bookings for the business overall and where marketing can belly up to the bar with their own revenue contribution.

The most salient excerpt:

We are fanatical about complete sales and marketing team alignment.  In addition to corporate and product marketing, our marketing department is responsible for directly contributing to 50% of our annual pipeline growth and 50% of our new business bookings every year.  Marketing has SLA’s (service level agreements) with sales for qualified lead definitions and we have specific target goals for those numbers as well as the top stages of our single, shared lead/opportunity funnel or pipeline.  We track, measure and report on our performance at each of those stages in terms of both the actual number and the conversion ratios for lead movement from stage to stage.  We also benchmark our performance for all of that against an industry standard for comparably sized SaaS technology companies.

We see these trends in enterprises as well – though sometimes it is easy to lose sight of the forest through the trees when a company needs to embark on transformational change.  They get bogged down in tactics (predictive analytics, scoring, SLAs) – which are all fundamentals – but lose sight of the overall goal.

Excellent article.  What are you seeing?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Marketing Automation @BMA

 

Here is my hour presentation that I reviewed with 30 others at the New Jersey BMA on Marketing Automation.

This video slide deck is condensed down to 4 minutes.  Note the emphasis I put on data – data is at the heart of a successful revenue acquisition technology like marketing automation or predictive analytics.

Let me know what you think!

 

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

4 Lessons Learned: Sales Training

Selling is one of the toughest professions in the B2B world today.  I think non-sales people underestimate how challenging selling really is and can be.

keep-calm-and-do-more-sales-2

 

To keep sharp, I recently completed a Dale Carnegie Sales Success course to refresh my own selling practices.  My philosophy in life is ‘student always’ and ‘continuous improvement’;  despite working with sales people my entire professional career and also leading cold to close inside sales organizations, I figured it was time to really dig into the ‘how’ a sales person sells beyond my own experiences.  There were several concepts I picked up to sharpen my sword and refine my own knowledge:

Lesson 1 – Attitude determines altitude.  In the face of frequent rejection, a sales person needs to keep fresh and balanced.  This is something I’ve seen repeatedly of sales people I’ve worked with.  Those with the best attitudes, sold the most.  Some really good additional ideas came from the Carnegie class about listening to podcasts from Brian Tracey to Zig Ziglar among others.  While I’ve heard of both authors, I’ve begun listening to both as part of my day to day gym routine.

Lesson 2 – Giving away value – the largest lesson I learned was how infrequently as a buyer, I’m receiving value add information to help me in MY role in a company.  Too many vendors keep pushing the unilateral ‘here is my widget, are you interested?’ message ineffectively.  Carnegie with a partnership with Jeff Gitomer encourages to build a relationship over time from seller to buyer by the seller offering up consistent value in the relationship pre-sale.  This value could be in the form of industry information that may be relevant for that buyer to succeed in their position independent of the selling process or sales person.

Lesson 3 – Sales is a structured process, it’s up to the seller to walk the buyer(s) through the process.  Too often in my own situation, I’ve held off on walking through an explicit end to end structure.  Listening to the philosophy of taking a step by step approach pays dividends in the end – especially in a consultative sale.  This structure is somewhat proprietary to Carnegie but very logical in terms of a progression of establishing credibility, determining current state vs. future state, then pivoting toward a solution.

Lesson 4 – The power of asking – there is a direct correlation to the success of an individual and how often that person asks – asks for referrals, recommendations, more business, the business, etc.  Although the timing has to be right, frequently the seller lets fear overcome the need to ask for the order or ask for the referral.  Asking sincerely is critical as is the timing of that.  This is no different from marketers (or any other org function) asking for promotions or additional resources.

While none of these struck me as ‘rocket science’, the sharpening of fundamentals was helpful to think through my own selling situations to continuously improve.  I think as a CMO or executive, sales training at a junior marketing level should be a ‘must do’. What have you learned as part of selling your ideas or concepts to others?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 2 Comments

Celebrating the life of Karen Hirschhorn

cathy

Karen (in black) at her recent birthday party with Cathy Hawley

The people IN a company are what makes the competitive difference, it is not technology or product.  People come from different situations, different cultures, and different points of view – the more diverse viewpoints, the richer the quality of decision by teams led by people.  I’ve been blessed working with many individuals working with and for me on a variety of different teams all across the globe – people who today succeed in running marketing for their company, running inside sales globally, running their own PR agency businesses, running marketing for divisions of big companies, and running other businesses like global IT as the acting CIO for a F500 company.   Others have become individual contributor experts in their field in demand generation or in product marketing in a variety of industries, SaaS security in particular.  There is nothing more satisfying reflecting on the success of my team members in their capacity today.  I’ve learned tremendously from each of them.

Last night, I heard some sad news about one of these team members and this is a first for me in my career – that someone that was once on my team has passed away.  This news hit me pretty hard and it caused me to reflect on our brief journey together.

Karen Hirschhorn was referred to me by a colleague and had also been applying to an opening then at the time at ReturnPath, a growing SaaS email deliverability company.  The role Karen was applying for was new, in a location other than our NYC global corporate headquarters, and a role that required a blend of technical finesse as well as strong people skills to deal with a variety of personalities.  The role would have been challenging for anyone given that stage of growth and the expectations around new product capabilities.

Among the half dozen finalists I had interviewed for the position, Karen really stood out above the crowd.  She was coming from a situation where after a successful 10 year career, she had started her own business after overcoming a setback in her health (we couldn’t talk about that in the interview as it is illegal to ask); she felt it was time to transition back into a corporate role with more day to day structure with a team as she got the bug out of her system to work for herself.

There were several attributes that I remember most about Karen as she applied for the role.  She was hungry to make an impact – an impact we’d all later feel.  Unlike the other candidates that interviewed, Karen had an edge about her presence and firmness which was later helpful to pioneer and plow new ground as the first head of product marketing in an evolving growing company with strong day to day personalities.  Karen demonstrated she could make an informed point of view, hold her ground firmly, yet had the knowledge when to back away from that point of view.  Karen was more versatile than most;  at the time of the growth stage of the company, we were pivoting from a North America centric view of sales/marketing to that of a global one – she was the first recruit on the team that was fluent in 3 other languages other than English and had lived in Europe before (we later hired 3 other multi-lingual marketers so I’m not sure what language they all spoke!)  She had global perspectives that others may not have had on the team and with her peers outside the group that could help us take a broader viewpoint.  Karen did great in the role with little day to day guidance as I expected.

One day over lunch a few years ago, we talked about some of the day to day challenges and how she forged through them – she had kind of laughed at one point over lunch and made a gentle reference to me about her fighting cancer successfully and how the real battle had already taken place there and anything else in life was really minor in the big picture.  She had bonded with another team member who had overcome a similar cancer battle and he too had that same perspective – they both struck me as very mentally tough people.  She also had a passion for yoga – and had aspirations to teach yoga to survivors of life threatening illnesses.   Though from New York, she loved the calmness of the Colorado mountains;  on one of her visits to New York City, I recall her being anxious to return to an area that was ‘quieter’ and certainly Colorado was that in contrast to NYC.

So while I’m saddened by her passing, I wanted to celebrate the life qualities I saw in her that made me say ‘yes, this is someone I want on my team.’  Her memories will live on with me and with others that worked with her.  Karen and her family are in my prayers.

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Marketing Tech Investments: Beyond Silicon Valley

This past week, I facilitated another round table discussion with twenty business to business digital leaders as part of the Marketing Operations Cross Company Alliance (MOCCA) group.   Companies represented ranged from large companies like CA Technologies, SAP, and MetLife, to smaller companies like Talkpoint (acq. PGi) and XLGroup.  We also had a technology venture managing partner join our round table discussion.

One topic of conversation was the recent VentureBeat article citing @chiefmartec Scott Brinker’s landscape of marketing technology.  Scott presented this chart to us in our last meeting so we had context.  We asked the question to the group – ‘are 1400 marketing technology vendors sustainable as an overall market?’

Market expansion responses:

  • The marketing technology company quantity will double (to 2800) because the pace of innovation is moving fast
  • Big companies (Oracle, SAP, SFDC) can’t innovate, therefore big companies will acquire so there will be a need for smaller companies continuously
  • To be competitive today, the advantage in the market is that of speed as value propositions blur – and technology enables that speed edge, so the market will continue to expand to get faster
  • It is a game of arbitrage – once all competitors buy a technology (like predictive analytics), they no longer have that advantage so they’ll seek new technology to go faster
  • Salesforce.com has the app exchange with thousands of companies, marketing is no different with Marketo with Launchpoint

Market contraction responses:

  • Technology has changed so fast, it is starting to outstrip the organization’s ability to respond and keep up
  • I spend my day dodging calls and emails from marketing technology vendors unless that vendor has something really unique I should look at
  • My budget is staying relatively flat, there is only so much technology I can invest in credibly and present to my boss
  • My companies priorities shape how I’m able to absorb marketing technology and we can barely get done what we need to get done
  • I check to see how long a vendor has been in business because I want to make sure they are sustainable for the long term

Based on my own experiences as a head of marketing in Silicon Valley and NYC companies for 10 years and recent discussions with my enterprise clients, I bend toward a market contraction.

  • Some companies will fade away completely and be replaced by newer innovations with the overall pool of companies remaining the same at first, slowly contracting with either exits through larger companies or exits because of lack of revenue.
  • While somewhat obvious, Silicon Valley companies are more likely to be industry leading in terms of their investment threshold for new marketing technologies as they are more apt to pilot/test and risk success;
  • East coast companies are a very different beast both in organizational risk appetite as well as the importance of marketing as part of the sales process.  It is likely east coast companies will need to digest what is in front of them now technology wise and prove ROI on existing investments before getting too far ahead on net new investments.

An area of opportunity is for one vendor to bring order to chaos, by simplifying one interface to get multiple tools to work together properly and coherently.

One thing we all agree on, there is no better time to be an enterprise marketer.

How do you see the technology marketing market shaping up?