B2B marketing

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 2 Comments

Content – how buyers consume

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 .

Owly Images

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?

 

 

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Executive Marketing Dashboards – 5 Lessons Learned

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?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 2 Comments

Summary of Iron Mountain Keynote at SiriusDecisions

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?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 2 Comments

Revenue through Teleprospecting – a changing world!

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?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

2 Critical Questions for CMOs, CSOs, and CEOs, from CMO viewpoint.

This post is aimed toward heads of marketing, heads of sales, general/division managers or CEOs.  It’s specifically toward a head of marketing who is considering what measurable impact her/his team has on the business and is in a situation of implementing a marketing automation platform (which many companies are these days)…


Here’s a newsflash – your CEO does not care about your marketing automation platform, the technology, it’s capability, and all the mumbo jumbo “Star Trek speak” or the latest in social media!  She cares about the answer to 2 critical questions (and these questions are likely shared by your head of sales:)

1.      What revenue are you consistently contributing to our bottom line?  (i.e. what can we count on from you?)

2.     Can you accelerate revenue recognition faster or more cost effectively than our next best (manual) alternative?

It’s tempting to think that the marketing ‘Star Trek speak’ of marketing automation and it’s associated pipeline acronyms are readily understood by your CEO, head of sales, and board of directors.  However, many of these other functional leaders readily understand the two questions above, not the ‘Star Trek’ speak.  Your job as head of marketing is to translate and answer the questions.

It’s also tempting to think technology is the panacea and the ‘ANSWER’ to both of the questions – companies get themselves into trouble buying a platform and not really think through objectives clearly.    The marketing technology platform itself is a means to an end.  It first starts out with outlining a process with CEO and head of sales buy in – what does the roadmap look like to answer these two questions, how can you impact these two questions and how soon can that happen?  There are a variety of tactics that complete the thought process – what marketing automation platform are you likely to buy and why, what is the lead flow process, have you thought through content and nurturing strategies.  To me, these are all tactics.  Answering the two key questions are critical to a head of marketing’s survival.

If you are a head of marketing or know a head of marketing in this situation, what questions do you think are critical to answer?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

4 Steps to help Sales work Marketing Leads to DRIVE REVENUE!

I recently met with a Field Marketing leader for a successful B2B company recently and she had echoed a similar concern that is common in our industry  –  her concern was as follows:

“The marketing leads we give to sales aren’t being worked by sales, so it’s difficult to justify the marketing investment when the marketing leads aren’t closing or being worked.”

Here are 4 points to consider when trying to address the situation she faces – to net it out, it’s ACCOUNTABILITY:

1.       Inspect the lead definitions in the company by segment, by region, and by channel to make sure a qualified marketing lead is indeed qualified from a salesperson’s viewpoint.  It’s imperative marketing understands how sales qualifies and defines their own leads (not inquiries) as a starting point – what definitions they use, how they establish a need – with that definition in hand, it should MATCH what the marketing inside sales team has as a definition.  An outside, independent audit is helpful as it removes any sales/marketing tension with a disinterested 3rd party;  if that is not feasible, doing it directly from marketing to sales is the next best alternative.

2.       Establish a service level agreement with the head of sales on sales ACCEPTED leads (not sales qualified) AND  incent the inside sales team on sales ACCEPTED leads.   This is tricky – most heads of sales would want to know what to expect or count on from marketing as it makes their job easier.  The tricky part is that not all heads of sales understand the need or what an SLA is – particularly sales 1.0 executives.  So there may be significant internal selling on this point not to overlook!

3.       Establish metrics on a per rep basis –  THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP – specifically measure  on a per sales rep basis the quantity of leads that marketing sources, the quantity of leads that sales sources, the close rates and close TIMING for each sourcing category.  With this quantitative information in hand, a more mature discussion can be held with the sales leadership as to what is actually happening with marketing qualified leads.  Your marketing automation platform or Salesforce.com should help with this measuring.  One intangible point here – this data will force conversations, so treat the discussions with the heads of sales respectfully, not as a hammer.  The objective is to improve or close gaps on business challenge areas, not to hammer reps for how you might think of their performance!

4.       Benchmark similar sized company performance so expectations are set at the executive level.  At a tactical level, there is a great alignment opportunity between the head of sales and head of marketing in this scenario that she poses.  In other SaaS environments, according to SiriusDecisions and Marketo, I’ve seen upward to 60% of closed revenue sourced by marketing (note a more typical average for B2B SaaS is in the 18% to 33% range with Marketo pushing the envelope at 60%+).   The head of sales should want to know what marketing’s funnel is as it is less the head of sales team needs to do revenue wise at days end.  The board of directors will also want to know what marketing’s contribution is to revenue.

This lady was impressive, she had all the right business instincts identifying the challenge and just needed a bit more push as what to do next.  What do you find works for you?  Would love to hear a sales person’s perspective!

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

SaaS: Customer Retention is EVERYTHING!

SaaS – software as a service is a business model that was pioneered in the early 2000s to eliminate the costly software license model.  There are now a handful of global public company comparables with metrics that are published on the performance of these SaaS companies (Salesforce.com, Successfactors) and emerging fast growing companies (Appsense, Eloqua, Marketo, and Qualys to name a few).

An attribute to the SaaS business model is recurring revenue with shorter duration contracts, with resign upsell opportunities that typically range from 0-20% of the annual value.   With shorter duration contracts than that of a typical software license sale, retention of customers in a SaaS model becomes CRITICAL for the organization to make it’s overall annual revenue number.

Here are 5 techniques that I’ve used to help aid in retaining SaaS based customers:

  • Formal interviews with exited customers:  to be done by an external 3rd party to eliminate any survey bias and to get accurate information, you’ll be amazed at what your former customers will say about the onboarding process, their interactions, and the touchpoints they have with the organization.  This will also give a roadmap to win back their business.  I’ve used Primary Intelligence in the past with success.
  • Implement Net Promoter Score with existing customers:   to test periodically how customers see progress in your service offering or where the pain points lie on your customer service side.  This is typically done with larger, global enterprise B2B SaaS companies.  There are newer, more cost effective companies emerging to help smaller SaaS companies to run similar surveys.
  • Study and understand the compensation scheme for how your sales organization gets compensated on new and retention business.  A compensation model that is effective is how Gartner Group compensates their reps on new business and retention business (NACV model is what they call it – ask your rep, he or she will know all about it!)
  • Bundle and drive new feature/functionality around the resign period.  This bundling is key to drive price increases, I’ve had instances of other SaaS companies approaching me for annual renewal increases ‘just because’.  That line of reasoning is difficult to justify!
  • Involve your customers in global customer advisory boards so they can help shape product direction.  Engage your customers in regular field communication via newsletters AND LinkedIn (and opt-in customer forum), thus keeping them in constant contact with new developments on your product so they are always informed and never surprised.

What do you find that works for your organization’s customer retention efforts?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

4 Reasons why Marketing Automation changes a Marketer’s SaaS Career.

I just read an interesting post from a fellow EMEA CMO/head of marketing @JWATTON with a thought provoking viewpoint that marketing automation for SaaS (software as a service) US headquartered companies would have less need for heads of regional marketing in locations like EMEA as automation replaces local headcount.    My view is slightly different.  As a head of marketing  for 3 software and service companies with 2 successful exits, I’ve hired in region expertise, spent significant time in Europe, and implemented MAP (marketing automation platforms).   He had some really interesting viewpoints that I wanted to elaborate on – some of which I agreed with and some my view differs.

Here’s how I’m seeing things on what changes marketing automation means for a marketer and her/his career:

  • Marketing automation on its own with no marketer senior level supervision is like a train running downhill without tracks.  The potential to do more harm than good exists when investing in these systems without a clearly defined business objective up front.  The caboose is the MAP, the engine is the objective, the trains that link the caboose to the engine are the process.
  • Marketing automation is a means to an end, not the end itself.   A measurable business outcome should be set with sales tying them to the outcome of the process and also involving them on why this benefits y/our selling cycle.  When automation is performing correctly, revenue is accelerated and sales teams are more informed about their prospects prior to actually contacting them.  A marketer now needs to run that dialogue, that is a new dialogue for ‘dated’ skill set sales people as well as ‘dated’ skill set marketers – it can also be ‘dated’ skillsets for board members who do not know how to measure marketing, adding another complex communication vector to the equation.
  • As @JWATTON identifies in his blog post, Marketers who are not proficient in the latest digital tactics are not going to survive in this new world.   Those that are not steeped in the language of Eloqua, Marketo, SilverPop, Pardon, Hubspot, or any other marketing software that integrates with Salesforce.com will become known as the ‘marketers of the 80s’.  Those that are not proficient in social media like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (follow me @b2bcmo) and understand the social media tie to business objectives will also be ‘80s marketers’.   Lastly, those not proficient in SEO techniques an integrating SEO into the MAP platforms for B2B will also be yesterday’s marketers (NOTE:  today’s integration is challenging).
  • In my mind and contrary to his post, there is always a need to be geographically close to both internal customers (sales) and external prospects and/or customers.  It is nearly impossible for a head of marketing in the US to know and understand the marketing nuances of in region challenges.  Marketing within Germany is a challenge in and of itself;  it’s often a NA centric software company *incorrectly thinks* EMEA is one ubiquitous region to market into (just like the US!) without understanding each country has a different market and a different way of receiving information.   Privacy laws differ dramatically in EMEA and in certain countries moreso than that of the US;  this makes a marketers job in both EMEA and US more complex and raises the bar for a marketer to continually learn, as his post correctly points out.  Also note that contact software today (Dun and Bradstreet, InsideView) are largely North American centric databases, thus requiring another level of thought from an in region marketer.

It’s a round world and we all see things from different viewpoints – how do you see things if this relates to you?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Connect B2B Marketing to Revenue!

This is the first in a series of posts of tying B2B marketing result to revenue.  This is the framework for the discussion on how marketing drives revenue for their enterprise organization.

A key aspect for business to business marketing to focus on is delivering activity (sales qualified leads or sales ready leads) that close to actual revenue – ‘revenue’ is language the head of sales, CEO, CFO, and board of directors understand.

But what do I measure as someone in a B2B marketing organization?

Too often, marketing teams and leaders measure their internal impact for the sake of measuring and are not making the direct connection from their activities to revenue either by channel type or geographic region.  Some call it ‘activity’ vs. ‘impact’.  Measuring followers on Twitter, Facebook fans, webviews, etc. while impressive to those in marketing really have no true tie to what non-marketers truly understand – the contribution to revenue.  This is what drives business!

Let’s take an explicit example.  The contribution marketing makes can vary widely by the type of company and it’s distribution channels.  I’ve been involved with companies that marketing has sourced 16% of annual contract value and have seen other companies, particularly SaaS companies sourcing beyond 50% of revenue through their marketing activity.  Benchmark companies like Forrester and SiriusDecisions also have similar percentage contributions for enterprise companies – your percentage will vary on company type, geography, and buying cycle characteristics.

Look for this trend to continue of more revenue getting sourced through marketing – prospects today are spending more time in online communities or researching online their needs before engaging with sales organizations.

To do this kind of measuring, automation fundamentals need to be in place (Eloqua, Marketo, Aprimo), processes need to be installed, and an executive agreement needs to be discussed on outcome.  Our next posting will dig into key steps on how we will tie revenue to results in these areas!

http://www.alphainventions.com/

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 2 Comments

Revenue Traction = Sales+Marketing Alignment

alignment_one_per_customer_med

To maximize a company’s revenue result and customer experience, B2B Sales and Marketing teams need to align around similar objectives.  Recent trends point to both sales and marketing are getting increased scrutiny for the following reasons:

  1. Suspect to prospect to deal close time has increased significantly these last two quarters compared to quarters past due to the economy.
  2. ROI is demanded in all investments – Marketing is an investment (typically 5-7% of revenues of B2B companies >$500M  – or expenditure if you are a CFO  )

In most B2B companies that are $50M+ in revenue size, there are typically separate heads of marketing and sales, thus leading to an increased chance that marketing is disconnected from the sales process, sales people, or customers.   Consequently, marketing could celebrate their own ‘lead quantity’ which is handed off to sales versus the actual impact marketing makes on actual revenue.  So what approach could sales and marketing better work with one another in this economic environment?

  • A pipeline commitment: Marketing needs to take a more active role getting involved with the traditional sales pipeline.  With better sales pipeline visibility (ala Salesforce.com), marketing needs to create the right programs to accelerate deals in the later stages of the pipeline.  Specifically, competitive positioning talking points to best arm the sales organization, references of positive customers, or business case tools (Alinean, Mindseye Analytics) that help meet net new objections in the latter part of the selling cycles.
  • A Marketing SLA (service level agreement) between the head of sales who is the primary internal customer and her marketing counterpart, initiated by the marketing leader:  Sales should demand lead quality SLA—how many leads and under what conditions are a lead considered a keeper by a sales organization?
  • Deal autopsy—figure out how deals become deals (both wins and the rare losses companies experience).  What programs are impacting the selling cycles, what messages, what ROI tools?  Once this feedback is gained, test drive what are the winning concepts with a prospect to calibrate feedback.  The resulting information becomes the genesys of a deal play book to help calibrate new sales efforts.

It’s all about sales and marketing effectiveness in our new economy!  What have you found effective to push your revenue cycles and why is that effective for you?

http://www.alphainventions.com/