6 Laws of Social Transformation

As uncertainty continues in the economy, winning new revenue is increasingly challenging. How B2B companies purchase their direct and indirect goods and services has changed. For vendors selling to B2B companies, their sales cycles are changing and gaining the attention of new prospects is becoming increasingly harder and more expensive. Recent polls have found that over fifty percent of vendors are seeing their sales cycles lengthen or change and they are not sure why. The B2B buying process is now social, trust-based, transparent and self-directed with the buyer in full control. If companies want to grow in 2012 and beyond, they have will have to redefine how they engage, enable and build enduring relationships with their target markets.  

Big Thinkers, Wine, Lithium and the Perils of Social Change

The catalyst was a book launch of Lithium's  chief scientist Dr. Michael Wu.   The location was the Prospect Restaurant in San Francisco's trendy south of Market.  Invited was a veritable 'whos who' of social media bloggers and big thinkers. Walking to dinner after flying in from Austin, TX and being up since 2am, I thought this could be a great experience or one very long night if the room was full of people talking about social marketing tactics. I was hoping for the former as I wanted to share my experiences around the Buyers' Journey with others.  

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

The Buyers' Journey methodology we developed and help companies implement was born from my days as a serial CMO.   There just had to be a better way to drive Marketing ROI and pipeline.  The principles of customer centric marketing, integrated marketing and so on do little to dramatically 'move the needle' on understanding how B2B buyers purchase in the social era. These marketing principles are much like sales training, another artifact of yesteryear.  Do more of what 'appears' to work without really understanding the 'whys' and 'hows'.  The Buyers' Journey came out of trying to understand, from the prospects' and customers' perspective, how their approach to buying a piece of software, equipment or technology service had changed and why.  

Solving the Riddle of Demand Generation

Driving demand that results in customers is Marketing’s primary mission. Yet Chief Marketing Officers (CMO) struggle to deliver predictable pipelines which has hurt its credibility in the Board room.  Every year, they embark on a quest to solve the same riddle with programs based on what industry analysts/experts say are effective; past experience of what yielded quality results; and a dose of new ideas to try.  In other words, there is a good amount of educated guessing going on.   

Extreme Make-Over Tips to Be a Social Business

Becoming a Social Business, or Social Enterprise as some call it, is a multi-faceted transformation. We’re talking big “T” versus little “t” transformation and it starts with people, their attitudes, and how they work. No part of the company and its ecosystem goes untouched and that amount of change can scare people. Frankly, who has the time or the appetite to take this on when everyone is scrambling for revenue? If you want to survive this economic cycle, you do... Read the complete post on Forbes.

Speaking about Buyers Journey at NAWBO Silicon Valley

Come join me on November 15th for dinner and a talk at 6pm to the NAWBO Expo about the Buyers Journey. Location is at the Biltmore Hotel & Suites, 2151 Laurelwood Road, Santa Clara, CA 95054. Growth in this economic rebound has a different set of rules: Markets are transparent, buying is social, products and services must be sticky, buyers place more importance on the lifetime experience than on the purchase, and they expect to realize value long before they purchase your solution. To grow in this new economy demands that companies adjust not only how they market and sell but drive faster revenue cycles.  

How to Start Your Own “Arab Spring” ;)

The need for change is in the air; it comes up in every conversation.  Marc Benioff, Salesforce’sChairman and CEO passionately espoused change at Dreamforce.  His call to the world was that companies need to change or be left behind.   He went one step further and gave a dire warning to CEOs – change thyself or fall from grace. His rallying cry was for enterprises to start their own business “Arab Spring”.  

The ROI of Booth Babes?

Last week’s Dreamforce conference was one of those ‘must be there’ events.  Boasting a recording breaking audience, it was a who’s who of speakers, celebrities, attendees, and exhibitors.  The thrill of seeing MC Hammer and Will.i.am up close and personal was only trumpeted by Neil Young's live interview about how his new company is using Saleforce.com’s software to bring innovative new music products to market. The Cloud Expo exhibit floor housed over 375 exhibitors ranging from innovative start-ups like Optify to behemoths like Accenture and IBM.   With an attendee to exhibitor ratio of 120 to 1, exhibitors varied in their creativity to get you to stop and hear their pitch.  IBM offered sparkly balls and nifty Watson t-shirts, someone was giving out lighted red-rimmed “sunglasses”, chocolate (my primary food group) abounded, and enough pens where handed out to ensure there will be no shortage of writing instruments for the next millennium.  All was for the taking if you agreed to have your badge scanned.  Based on the constant crowd in the exhibit hall, the takers abound.  

Salesforce.com CEO Calls for a Business ‘Arab Spring’

Salesforce.com’s DreamForce conference lived up to its reputation. It was bigger, better, and the place to be this week. This wasn’t a conference, it was a cult convention. The atmosphere in the convention center before each morning’s keynote reminds me of the energy you feel before a rock concert or a San Francisco Giants game. Pre-show entertainment included roving interviews with customers like Autodesk, Nissan, NBC Universal, and celebrities like Neil Young against a backdrop of heavy bass music from a DJ mix. You know the music; the kind you hear at a baseball or football game. Folks lined up hours early to get a seat in front to be that much closer to Marc Benioff, Salesforce’s CEO and Chairman. The pre-game tailgate party was donuts and coffee in the brisk fog of San Francisco. The energy was palpable. Bloggers in the ‘Pound’ flexed their fingers warming up in order to tweet and blog as fast as they could in order to be the first one with the quote, announcement or insight.  

DreamForce 11: Discovering Cloud Extend

Arriving at DreamForce the check-in was smooth either because most of the 42,000 attendees hadn't arrived yet or were off doing something cool. Based on the Twitter feed for #DF11, my guess is that the sessions are excellent.  I grabbed my badge and the obligatory logoed backpack (which actually is pretty cool) before racing off to meet Mark Taber, CEO of Active Endpoints. Mark and I spent a lot of time talking about the Buyers Journey. His experience in aligning to the Buyer proved that the methodology not only demonstrable accelerates revenue cycles but also reduces Cost of Sales. But that is a topic for a different post. What initially interested me in talking with Mark was their new Cloud Extend product.