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?