Customer-Centric Messaging JIT for Sales Kick-Off

It’s three weeks before annual Sales Kick Off event and there’s grumbling in the hallways about marketing’s messaging. It just doesn’t seem to work and wouldn’t it be nice if more effective messaging could be shared with the sales team at Kick Off. It doesn’t really matter if the conclusion that the current messaging is wrong was reached by sales, marketing or management. L ikewise, arguing that the messaging is correct is both fruitless and a political blunder... Read the full article on Forbes.

14 Articles Every CMO Should Read

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post “The Myth that Marketing Automation Reveals Buyers’ Journeys” that explained there was increasing consensus among analysts, academics and consultants about changes in the buyer’s journey and the mandate for vendors to adapt to those changes in order to grow. Consolidating the research in one place demonstrates the flood of voices urging vendors to align with the customer, break down silos and bridge marketing and sales departments. Below is a collection of reading materials every marketing executive should sift through. Customer Centricity • A study by Booz & Company found that companies that offered valuable customization in a cost-effective way outperformed their peers in revenue growth two-to-one and had profit margins 5 to 10 percent higher than competitors. • A Forrester report on content marketing emphasized that the right content “requires a deep understanding of the buyers, their information needs, and their content sourcing preferences.” • An article in the International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management recommends an approach where “all business processes and all individuals are focused on identifying and meeting the needs of the customer.“ • Forrester has published a wealth of research aligned with the recommendations we give at New Business Strategies, including reports like “Transform To An Experience-Driven Organization” and “Become Customer-Centric, Service-Focused, And Automated.” • Forrester analyst Ronald Rogowski wrote a post urging readers to improve the digital customer experience. Forrester has also written reports about webinars, social media and other aspects of marketing and how to align them with the buyer’s journey. Marketing & sales alignmentHubSpot wrote a good post about overcoming the blame game between marketing and sales with open communication and more accountability. • One of my own blogs last year offers three metrics to measure the degree of sales and marketing alignment within your organization. • A report by Oracle says the friction between marketing and sales has gotten “cliché” and found that a lack of communication was at its heart. • Research by CSO Insights and IDC have identified four problems with a lack of marketing and sales alignment: longer sales cycles, missed quotas, lower productivity and less sales efficiency. (source) • A study by The Red Herring found that sales and marketing alignment was ranked a nine or ten on an importance scale of 10. (source) Breaking down silos • According to an article in HBR, executives identify silos as the top inhibitor of innovation, but silos can only be overcome if executives can embrace change. • Businessweek provided an overview of silos and some common approaches to overcoming them. • Forrester’s 2012 Tech Marketing Planning Guidance noted that marketing hasn’t made the drastic changes that are needed, because each year’s plan is based on last year’s marketing strategy. • IBM’s 2012 State of Marketing Survey called upon marketers to expand our role in the customer experience and break down silos.

Chief Revenue Officer: A Failed Experiment or an Evolutionary Step?

The clash between marketing and sales departments has fostered the growing popularity of a new position – the Chief Revenue Officer – to bring the finger-pointing under wraps and align the two functions under shared revenue goals.   In theory, the CRO role makes sense. It allows the CEO to delegate marketing and sales alignment to someone with experience under both functions to optimize the teams and manage differing charters, personalities and performance metrics. Many Chief Executive Officers have risen through the sales ranks. They may not fully understand the charter of marketing and are prone to take sales’ side in arguments, instead of creating an environment for collaboration.   In the best of cases, Chief Revenue Officers have gotten sales and marketing to stop blaming each other for lost revenue opportunities and created a customer-focused attitude, aligning both departments with customers rather than lead numbers and superficial metrics.   But in most cases CROs have made matters worse. Instead of leading both functions to a shared, common-sense vision of serving the customer, they inevitably play mediator between two warring sides. Like the CEOs before them, the favor of the CRO is won by sales, who has a more direct way of measuring their influence on revenues. The CRO role has developed into giving sales a seat at the C-suite – almost like a Chief Sales Officer.   The CRO is not dead however, it is an experiment and an intermediary step to the Chief Customer Officer position. As progressive companies realize that it’s more effective to focus on the customer experience, relationship, satisfaction and loyalty that drives revenues than on the numbers themselves, Chief Revenue Officers will inevitably become Chief Customer Officers.   Most Fortune 100 companies are at some stage of the transformation to a customer-centric organization. From strategic planning to job description and performance metrics, enterprises are retooling themselves to align with customer expectations. In this transformation, it’s natural for CROs to move into the position of a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) that manages the lifecycle of the customer experience from marketing, to sales and support.   Only by stitching together these functions into a cohesive fabric can companies consistently deliver experiences and nimbly change in lock step with their customers.

Buyer 3.0 (a.k.a. What Social Tells You About Buyers)

The klaxons are ringing in corporate halls. To use an old praise, someone “moved the cheese”.  Marketing programs are struggling to consistently produce qualified leads that convert; prospect conversations are more challenging; customer co-creation expectations are wreaking havoc on product roadmaps; and customer service has lost control as customers turn to social media and peer-groups for help.   What’s happening?  The adoption of social technologies moved the “cheese” and heralded in the arrival of Buyer 3.0.  

How CMOs can use Social Tactics to Outsell Sales

I'm presenting a session about embracing Buyers’ Journey during DemandCon, taking place in San Francisco during March 5-7, 2012. Click through to see more details...  

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.  

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”.  

On a Quest at DreamForce 2011

Salesforce's DreamForce event is being held in San Francisco this week and I'm going.  Equipped with a much sought after Press Pass, I'm attending, for the first time, as a blogger for Forbes.  I'm on a Quest. The Quest is to understand how IT vendors help companies discover and align to their Buyers Journey. Do vendors understand this transformation and what products support sales and marketing in understanding their target markets' Buyers Journeys?