Despite rapid advances in technology like Big Data, behavior based marketing automation, customer engagement platforms and intent data through content consumption marketing; the lament of CEOs and Boards of Directors on the ineffectiveness of marketing is growing. Their beef with marketing is over a disconnect between budget, priorities, and revenue ROI. For CEOs the only thing that matters is revenue – driving quality leads, getting sales in front of the prospect, and helping them to close the deal. While every CEO likes to see his or herself on TV and mentioned in print, in the end their own jobs depend on meeting revenue numbers. The vagaries of marketing’s metrics around visitors, conversions, likes, etc. and the black art of attribution doesn’t create a sense of formulaic predictability CEOs are looking for. While much of the conversation is focused on marketing’s challenges, Sales is not immune from the same complaints. In the era of the customer and social selling, CEOs are baffled by less sales productivity where more is expected. The battle over lead follow up, forecast accuracy, opportunity aging and understanding the customer’s needs should be won already rather than becoming harder. Sales methodologies have been changed, predictive technology that helps Sales to respond more effectively to customers based on behavior patterns has been implemented, and coaches employed to work mano-a-mano with sales teams. No one is claiming that the world of B2B marketing and sales has gotten easier and that technology makes these jobs a cake-walk. Nor is the claim that CEOs and Boards are, more or less, unreasonable or forgiving than in years gone by. But it does beg the question why Sales and Marketing keep struggling. One reason is training – or the lack thereof. According to ANA and McKinsey’s 2014 Marketing Disruption study, 77% of marketers recognize that they need to deeply understand customer journeys and how to align their programs to them. Yet only 13% “have reached a point where they’re taking action and achieving measurable impact.” What’s holding marketers back from stepping up is a dogged addition for outdated best practices and marketing models but also an alarming reticence to invest in learning new skills and methods. According to ANA/McKinsey, 89% of marketers admit that training and skills development is critical to being successful in the future. Yet training investment are anemic and often the first line item to be cut when funds get tight. No wonder a third of marketers are unable to make data-driven decisions and don’t know what tools to use or how to use them. Sales believes in training but has not evolved their content to meet the needs of front-line sales staff. Brainshark’s recent State of Sales Training study highlights a startling discrepancy between what needs to get done and what’s actually getting done. For example, 38% of sales training professionals say their organization’s training content needs quarterly updates. However, 42% say that, in reality, their organization’s training content gets updated once a year at best – leaving them open to inconsistent, incorrect and/or outdated messaging, and even potential compliance violations. “Engaging, timely content that is accessible when needed is vital to sales training and overall sales success,” said Brainshark Inc. CEO Joe Gustafson. “The survey results highlight a great opportunity for organizations to meet this need – with stimulating sales content that’s both easy to access and consume. For organizations, this often means taking advantage of rapid content authoring and updating capabilities and ensuring just-in-time training delivery – to make sure that training works and sticks, and help reps be better prepared to close more deals.” Part of the problem is that the most prevalent methods of sales training for organizations today include: Live classroom training (80%), live Web conferencing (65%), on-demand training (67%), video (49%) and social learning (28%). Struggles related to live training include:
- Difficulties aligning schedules (61%)
- Reps easily distracted (45%)
- Lack of coaching and reinforcement (35% and 36% respectively)
- Lack of rep engagement (36%)
B2B companies are realizing that the real rockbed of building enduring customer relationships lies in the perception customers hold of value. Value is increasingly not in the product but in the services – paid and free – that sellers provide. While still a controversial concept, this realization is prompting many B2B companies to revisit their customer journey maps… Read the full Forbes post here.
Two discussions are occurring in the marketplace around customer experience, one is focused on how to interact, inspire and influence buyers to trust and prefer your brand. The other conversation is focused on what to do with customers post purchase. Logically, these two are part of the same conversation; one a continuation of the other... To read the entire Forbes article, click here.
The term “omnichannel experience” burst on the scene last year as the next step in the evolution of customer engagement. Borrowing a concept from advertising, it isn’t enough for sales and marketers to deliver the purchase experience customers will pay a premium for... Read the entire article on Forbes, click here.
Whether it’s an expensive piece of medical equipment, software or a consumer gadget, the job of selling has turned into a complicated game of hide and seek. Buyers hide from sales people with all sorts of creative forms of avoidance. Sales teams, in turn, are constantly inventing new ways of seeking out buyers. The problem is particularly vexing when sales teams try to engage the C-Suite…