Sales and Marketing Alignment Begins With Your Customer

50 percent of B2B sales staff keep missing their quotas. It’s a problem as old as business itself.  The culprit, according to sales, is the quality and volume of leads from marketing. The marketing department may be quick to snap back that sales is ignoring their leads or not trying hard enough to close them.  When the squabbling causes the revenue pipeline to become even more unpredictable, that gets the CEO’s attention..... Read the full article on Forbes.

Customer Experience: Is It the Chicken or Egg?

Companies are starting to see the light. They are embracing the principles that Apple, Google, and Philips Electronics have been advocating for a long time – differentiate yourself based on the experience you deliver to customers; not on the products you sell. According to a CEI Survey, 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. But only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations. These statistics highlight the magnitude of the growth opportunity before us. What if you just increased the percentage of consistently happy customers by 5%?.... 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.

Is Your 2013 Planning a Budget Battle? Try Something New – Preference Marketing

It’s budget season for most companies and a key part of the process is balancing revenue targets with investment levels. We all know how the story plays out; it’s always a fight leaving all involved bruised and sore with a good amount of lost trust. Oddly, people wonder why Sales and Marketing don’t get along? The irony is that both Sales and Marketing are wrong..... Read the complete post on Forbes.

Four Things Fortune 100 Buyers Wished You’d Do

Most sellers are product-feature obsessed while their Fortune 100 buyers are relationship focused. In a recent study conducted on how companies purchase technology we found that Fortune 100 organizations place more importance on the quality of their vendor relationships than how well the product or service performs. Fortune 100 buyers are frustrated with the state of their vendor relationships ..... Read the complete post on Forbes.

Social ROI Is Not A Myth, Just Ask TD Bank Group

Early social businesses will tell you that the place to start is NOT with your customers. Instead start by replacing inefficient internal processes with social-based practices supported by technology. TD Bank Group is a good example of how to drive ROI. The Bank realized that to effectively compete it needed to evolve beyond social media. It had to become a social business and the place to start was ..... Read the complete post on Forbes.

Dump Your Social Media Strategy. It’s Not Customer Service

Social media is not a destination; it is an enabler of business strategy. In and of itself, social media will not drive customer satisfaction, robust collaboration, or revenue. It’s like putting a toy sailboat in a pond and huffing and puffing into the sail to make it go. It will go but randomly for it lacks a rudder..... Read the complete post on Forbes.

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.  

What Does Trust Have To Do With Anything?

Ever been in a meeting where everyone seems to get along swimmingly? But the longer you sit there you start to get a sense that a play act is going on. The friendly banter is contrived, double entrendres abound, the proselytizers are taking turns, and the conversation doesn’t hit on the core reason for the meeting. It doesn’t matter if you’re in an uptight ‘suits’ or ‘jeans and t-shirt’ environment, company cultures these days suffer from a serious malaise. The lack of trust at all levels is at epidemic portions. I venture that few of you really trust your boss or cube farm neighbors.... Read the complete post on Forbes.