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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 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 1 Comment

4 Steps to tie B2B marketing investment to revenue via automation

This is an expansion of an earlier post of the process steps involved in tying marketing investment to revenue and is a viewpoint from someone with real operational experience as head of marketing.

  1. Get CEO/GM and head of sales buy in to your objective which is to tie marketing investment to revenue. While this sounds like a very easy thing to say, the challenge in this implementation is the length of time it will take before you will see a measurable impact that your CEO and head of sales will see.  You need to nip the misperception that buying technology is a panacea for instant connection to new revenue by comparing the length of time it took the company to implement the company’s CRM system to the length of time it will take to integrate a marketing automation platform with that system. The CMO should broker this conversation augmented with 3rd party data (or person) illustrating the time it will take to pull off this new process.  The risk of skipping this step is a perception of fuzzy ROI and slipping into old marketing habits where marketing is seen as a cost center, not a revenue center.
  1. Outline the demand generation process – involve sales and brief CEO on outcome – get help externally with a disinterested 3rd party that can facilitate and thus be removed from any emotion of outcome, own the conversations, and broker potentially tense conversations amongst multiple, global parties.  A helpful process here is a six-sigma workout process for those familiar with the process.  This will involve defining lead steps, defining inboundand outbound inquiry handling by both sales and marketing, and will involve different nuances globally and touchpoints in prospect to customer conversion.  Assigning one owner to this process is key.
  1. Pick a vendor (Eloqua, Marketo, Aprimo, Neolane, Hubspot, Infusionsoft) to implement the process –   there are many articles that exist today on pros/cons of systems so I won’t go into a deep explanation here.  However, like the earlier step, involve the head of sales and CEO on the outcome.  3rd party data can help in this vendor selection or leveraging a disinterested 3rd party can also be helpful to speed the process up.
  1. Aggressively implement and scope out timeline for implementation of your marketing automation platform – this timeline has to be the guideline for the head of sales and CEO to understand and work with.  The phases of implementation are vendor selection (phase 0), vendor integration (phase 1), entering campaigns including SEO keygroups (phase 2), and then PAYOFF, see the marketing impact on revenue.

The key themes to consider in this process is to communicate early and often, iterate once you’ve selected a vendor early and often, re-communicate, and reiterate.  Keep involving your CEO and head of sales and leverage external help – there are others that have lived this battle before, so you should be no different.  Expect the process to be a journey and not a destination and you’ll be on the path to success in tying marketing investment to impact.

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 1 Comment

Dashboards – Marketing and Sales – Driving Revenue!

There are several challenges to establish ‘board level’ dashboards that report on marketing activity that tie directly to revenue generation.  Here are 5 tips that I’ve used in creating dashboards for executive level reporting.  (NOTE – LETS TALK REAL TIME IF YOU NEED HELP IN CREATING A DASHBOARD, I HAVE ACTUAL EXAMPLES OF THEM.)

  • With new automation tools like Eloqua and Marketo, from interviews I’ve done with a number of CMOs of B2B companies, a surprising number of teams use Excel to report out on activity despite having capabilities elsewhere. Whether it’s Cognos, Salesforce.com, Eloqua, or Excel, the tool really doesn’t matter as long as the data is consistently measured month over month or quarter over quarter.  The trick is to baseline the activity based on current information, especially as a new leader or CMO.
  • Dashboards (or numbers) can sometimes not paint a complete picture as a stand alone entity on campaign effectiveness.  I augmented my quarterly board dashboards with a ‘green, yellow, red’ status indicator on QUALITATIVE indicators in addition to QUANTITATIVE indicators to help paint a more complete picture of actual marketing activity that impacted revenue.
  • Measure global/regional impact and channel impact that marketing had on sourced revenue – in other words, what did marketing contribute and at what cost point by region.   This analysis can be further filtered on a timeframe to close, no different from a sales funnel, where leads are predicted to close. (predictive analytics).  Also, be aware for you global marketers – activity within region should be compared within region and not across regions.
  • Web traffic is worth measuring as is the impact social media has on web traffic.  Social media in and of itself did not contribute to my dashboard foundation, my experience so far is social media (linkedin, twitter, facebook), more of an enabler than an actual converter of revenue in B2B marketing.  LinkedIn seems to be the most relevant here (I plan to create another post on this later).
  • Tracking contacts to opportunities allowed for better tracking of marketing influence/sourced, this is particularly true for those that leverage the campaign module of Eloqua.  This tracking can be further augmented by the Microsoft Outlook plug in leveraging Eloqua.

Dashboards vary with mileage and will change as your company changes it’s needs and growth patterns.  What dashboards have you found to be effective for you?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Revenue through Marketing Automation

Increasing Productivity through Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs)

My experience in this post comes from implementing MAPs in 3 different companies – in one of those companies, the MAP providers (Eloqua, Marketo, Aprimo) were a channel of distribution for us, so I had unique visibility as to their effectiveness.  When a process is followed, time efficiencies can be gained;  skipping implementation steps risks losing significant time to see effectveness.  When investing in these systems, you have to commit as an organization to move QUICKLY else you risk the ‘Ferrari collecting dust syndrome…’

You’ve heard of the brand new Ferrari collecting dust syndrome – someone buys a new car and it collects dust due to lack of use.   This same analogy has been used in investing in what is perceived as expensive marketing automation software to run routine marketing campaigns to accelerate revenue.  Implementation of these systems is very challenging to say the least in larger enterprises – outlining business process, integrating with sales ready tools, identifying KPIs and metrics, getting buy in, etc.  There are several key considerations when evaluating the need to increase productivity through marketing automation efficiency.

1.        Map out your lead flow process from inquiry to close by studying your Salesforce.com information, your marketing automation information, and interviewing your key sales stakeholders.  I’ve done this in two different companies and have found stunning results in both the process and in the experience that sales expects from marketing.

2.       Implement lead scoring through progressive form input/dialogue.  The progressive lead scoring will allow only the most qualified prospects deemed worthy a real time conversation (which is more costly than an automated touch).  The idea is to pass only the best qualified along to a telequalifying or inside sales entity.

3.       With the MAP platform, synthesize ALL campaigns to maximize effectiveness, to include SEO (search engine optimization).   It’s no good just to have campaigns for the sake of campaigns.   Some of the MAP platform providers are VERY early in on this process themselves which is somewhat shocking but true!

4.       Engage your marketing automation vendor early and often in your process flow (Eloqua, Marketo, soon to be Netsuite).  They do have best practice information as does other companies like SiriusDecisions.  You are better off engaging the MAP platform provider directly.

5.       Engage an outside party to help to move things more quickly.  An outside party can take the pressure off difficult conversations and can have the added insight of having been through other operational deployments.

What have you found that works for 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!

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