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.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Strategies For Staying Relevant During The Sales & Marketing Revolution

By Lisa Arthur, CMO, Aprimo
The sales and marketing disciplines are both in the midst of extraordinary change. So, as marketers, we now face a major dilemma:  drive change or become irrelevant. Old practices and processes just aren’t enough anymore.

Pressure to generate more qualified leads, deliver ROI and, at the same time, integrate our departments, our data and our channels — all in the face of shrinking budgets and a lagging economy — are forcing sales and marketing to reinvent the way we do our jobs. And the way we work together.

For example, sales and marketing departments today are forced to do more with less, necessitating better partnerships with each other to ensure joint goals are met. Sales and marketing both sign up for a revenue goal and both are tasked with generating demand — lead generation isn’t just a responsibility for marketing and revenue isn’t just a responsibility for sales. As our teams become more integrated, we are each taking on greater responsibility and challenging traditional ways of thinking. We need to innovate together. We need to be accountable to the bottom line. And, as always, we need to raise awareness, communicate with the buyer and generate leads as well.

New approaches to generating leads and driving business growth make us directly responsible for the success of our companies, and marketing today is about more than supporting the sales effort, just as sales is about more than  selling a product or service. Our roles are to facilitate the buying process and influence buying decisions, and in today’s multi-channel environment that means we must equip our buyers and consumers with information and empower them to take control of the brand. It’s about engaging the consumer in two-way conversational campaigns.  And, it’s about whether sales and marketing departments are engaging via these new channels or watching from the sidelines.

Even the way we undertake our most fundamental objectives has expanded.  For example, go to market can no longer be about mass targeting and one size fits all.  We need to segment markets — something both marketing and sales have traditionally resisted. We need to leverage segmentation to create an integrated marketing and sales approach that aligns relevant messages and value props and creates offers and sales follow-ups accordingly. Relevance is in. Siloed demand generation is out.

In addition to improving integration and facilitating the customer experience, sales and marketing must also be more accountable. We can no longer afford to waste money, people and time pouring over spreadsheets and disparate data in an attempt to prove ROI. Yet, we can’t ignore ROI, either. In today’s business climate, proving ROI is essential, and to do so, we have to automate the science of proving marketing ROI and integrating measurements across all channels, not just the easy ones. Times have changed, and marketers no longer need to run from crunching numbers, just as sales teams aren’t meeting every customer by traveling door-to-door. Today’s heads of sales and marketing often have seats in the boardroom and are just as responsible for results as the CEO and the CFO.

At Aprimo, we’re embracing all that’s changing in marketing and sales. And what’s more, we’re working with CMOs and marketers around the globe to actually drive the change.  Last summer, we worked with a market research firm to survey hundreds of marketers about what is important to them in the field of marketing.  We then continued this work at a customer event we hosted earlier this year in Texas, where we gathered together some truly revolutionary marketing leaders to discuss what’s happening in the field today. Over the course of this research, two things became clear: First, we realized that the marketing function must change or risk becoming irrelevant. And second, we realized that in order for marketers to evolve towards that new function, certain guiding principles are vital.

From these discussions, our customers helped us identify “The Imperatives of the Marketing Revolution,” 10 bold steps to help marketers navigate the changing role of marketing while providing a holistic view of best practices from the marketers themselves who are leading this revolution.

The first Imperative, “Marketing Must Be Accountable,” discusses how marketers can lead the revolution within their own organizations. It is our responsibility to take control of our brands to modernize, simplify, integrate and engage.  In this first Imperative, industry leaders, including Harvard Business School marketing professor John Quelch and others at leading BtoC and BtoB brands, offer their advice on how to foster better marketing practices within your organization.

Future topics will cover a variety of today’s hot-button topics, such as the impact of the CMO, consumers’ ability to take control of brands, customer engagement and balancing and managing multichannel approaches to marketing.

Ultimately, the goal of “The Imperatives of the Marketing Revolution” series is to provide advice and commentary from marketers, to marketers. In order to ensure that Aprimo is addressing every aspect of the marketing landscape and making sure that real-world marketers’ voices are heard, I invite marketers from every industry, at every level and from every marketing medium to share their opinions and take part in the conversation.

I want to hear your thoughts on how the sales and marketing industries are changing. What do you think marketers must do to adapt and succeed? To join the discussion and help lead the marketing revolution, please visit:

As Aprimo’s Chief Marketing Officer, Lisa Arthur drives global market and brand strategy, demand generation and customer-centric initiatives. Arthur has served as CMO for Internet leader Akamai Technologies and B2B2C application provider Mindjet. Arthur spent nearly 7 years at Oracle where she managed the market entry and growth for Oracle CRM. Most recently, as the founder for Cinterim, Arthur applied her market-centric processes and insight to provide strategic counsel for Silicon Valley start-ups and Fortune 50 technology companies. Arthur is a seasoned keynote speaker addressing diverse topics at Web 2.0, Office 2.0, American Marketing Association (AMA) Strategy Confer­ence, Stanford University and MIT Sloan CMO Summit.