Thursday, August 12, 2010

Customer Roadshow 2.0 – Top 13 BtoB Content Marketing Tips

By Owen McDonald, VP of Client Strategy, Demand Creation Specialists

Having just attended the very first stop in the multi-city Customer 2.0 Roadshow – held right in the heart of Manhattan’s Theater District – I couldn’t help but think, “If they can make it here, they can make it anywhere.” And make it they did.

The event, co-sponsored by sales intelligence firm InsideView, marketing automation provider Marketo, and hosted by the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals, was three hours of fairly solid ideas and a decent buffet. My thanks to InsideView, Marketo, Scott Albro, Bob Perkins, and all of the speakers. In the spirit of everything I heard there, I offer the following Top 13 nuggets about communicating with BtoB prospects of today:
  1. Make lists (like this one….people love lists…Top 10…Best Five…whatever)
  2. Vendors have not adapted well to a customer-driven marketplace
  3. Vendors had better adapt to #2 (so said Sales 2.0 CEO, Nigel Edelshain)
  4. Stop thinking in terms of the “Sales Cycle.” Now we’re in the “Buyer’s Cycle.”
  5. 3 Phases of the Buyer’s Cycle are 1) Awareness; 2) Consideration; 3) Purchase
  6. There is a battle raging between sellers and buyers over information. For many decades sellers were in charge; now buyers are in charge. Deal with it.
  7. Over 50% of Buyers think Peers are the best source of information. Conversely, sellers are the least trusted information source. How can vendors deal with this?
  8. Always Be Helping (I loved Glengarry Glen Ross, but “always be closing” died).
  9. Always be helping with relevant, contextual information.
  10. Create value with remarkable content
  11. Reach customers with long-term nurturing campaigns.
  12. The biggest challenge today is attention scarcity. What can you do? (see 8 – 11).
    Sales and marketing need to help each other.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Is Confusion Blocking Sales Progression For Cloud Computing?

By Scott Gillum, SVP GyroHSR

The Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary defines a cloud as a “visible mass of particles of condensed vapor.”  According to CIOs interviewed for an article in the June edition of the Harvard Business Review magazine, cloud computing might as well be defined as “vaporware.”

The article includes research by Gartner Group VP, Mark McDonald, who found that CIOs interest in the cloud has grown from 5% in 2009 to 37% earlier this year.  However, three out of four respondents who said they were interested, reported little interest in the three key technologies it entails: server virtualization, service-oriented architecture and SaaS (software as a service).

These figures may entice you to conclude that this is a great opportunity for a salesforce to provide value in explaining the Cloud and define a company’s solution; a rare situation where the salesforce can be “solution sellers”. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case, according to Forrester’s Technology Buyer Insight Study: Are Salespeople Prepared for Executive Conservations?

Of the IT executives interviewed for the April 2010 study, only 15% of executives believe that their meetings with salespeople are valuable and live up to their expectations.
Reasons given according to the report:
  • Business leaders (24%) don’t believe salespeople are knowledgeable about their specific business.
  • Only 34% of buying executives said salespeople understand their roles and responsibilities.
  • And across the board, only 38% feel that reps are prepared to answer their questions.

Could this be a case of the blind leading the blind?  Confusion around cloud computing even occurs at the highest levels of leading Information technology conglomerates. One story accounts for the CEO of a large information technology firm asking his senior executives to explain cloud computing to him. When no one could convey a clear answer, the CEO fired back that if they can’t sell it to him, then their company cannot sell it to customers.

There is no doubt that the Cloud is making as much noise as any good thunderstorm. Companies are reallocating resources and investments to the Cloud.  Countless marketing dollars are being spent to get companies in the consideration set.  As with any good technology trend the hype exceeds the reality.

The real challenge seems not to be marketing the Cloud, but rather selling it.   Those companies who best enable their sales people to break through the noise will reap the greatest benefit.

As the head of the Washington, DC office and leader of channel marketing practice, Scott focuses on using proprietary knowledge and experience with complex BtoB and BtoC business models to help clients improve sales and marketing performance. Scott has been named Top 50 B2B Blogger by several groups  and his project work on building integrated sales and marketing pipelines at Avaya was made into a Harvard Business School case study. Scott was also named "Innovator of the Year" while at MarketBridge.