|Newsletter Archive | Articles|
Highlights from ITSMA’s 20th Annual ConferenceBy Dave Munn
The theme of this year’s Conference was “The New Face of Marketing.” That face emerged in talks from ITSMA experts and member companies including Cisco, CSC, Dell, EMC, HCL, IBM, and others. Marketing used to be the creative center of the organization. It’s still creative, but informed by the budding stereotype of the customer-focused, data-driven startup nerd, feeling the way forward in an emergent field. The air is rich with possibility—and each speaker had a unique vision for how to make that possibility real.
Here are some of the key takeaways of the conference.
The path to power. Two quotes from conference speakers highlight different routes to influence. CSC Global Brand & Digital Marketing Director Nick Panayi: “Activity brings data, data brings knowledge, and knowledge is power.” And Cisco’s Karen Walker, on how to prove marketing’s value: “Find an area where sales has no presence. Create a campaign. Anything that happens subsequently is due to marketing’s influence. Proof that marketing works.”
It’s all about the revenue. Marketing, in close collaboration with sales, is becoming accountable for revenue generation. It’s a function of increased focus on structure, discipline, and collaboration: the adoption of a value chain model (structure), an embrace of measurement (discipline), and lots of upfront time working with sales (collaboration).
Walker explained how Cisco marketing has signed up for a specific annual revenue goal and has gone “where sales has not gone before”—new market segments (e.g., mid-market) and new countries. Planning is done in close alignment with sales, and marketing leaders sit in on the calls in which sales lays out its forecasts. Even with events, which she called “our cocaine,” marketing has moved from measuring customer experience to measuring contribution to revenues. Shifting from “marketing-influenced opportunity” to “marketing-generated opportunity,” Cisco marketing measures marketing’s contribution to revenue with the same level of discipline and scrutiny as sales.
From B2B to B2I. Personal relationships with prospects and customers used to be the sole responsibility of sales. Now it’s a big part of business marketing’s job. According to Cisco’s Walker, the business buying process is now self-initiated and starts online. And according to ITSMA’s How Buyers Consume Information study, 85% of B2B buyers use social media during the purchase process. The result, she said, is that geographic, platform, and organizational boundaries have disappeared. So has the old distinction between B2B and B2C, both of which have given way to a new acronym, B2I—business to individual. To master B2I, says Panayi, “first, study the digital body language. When they raise their hand, you must already know everything about them.”
How to satisfy buyers’ hunger for knowledge. According to recent ITSMA data, buyers are driven by a relentless imperative for knowledge and a hunger for credible, trustworthy, human contact. Half of buyers spend an average of nine hours per week researching technology trends. And the bigger the company, the more time they spend. That translates into a need for subject matter experts (SMEs) at the start, at the end, and all through the sales cycle. Organizations are working to increase the number of SMEs. And they’re trying to extend the reach of the ones they already have.
Salespeople are the new thought leaders. Only 21% of companies think that they’re very or extremely effective at using thought leadership in the selling process, according to ITSMA’s Thought Leadership Selling study. In my Conference opening address, I exhorted the audience to enable thought leadership selling, observing that we are producing fantastic thought leadership and engaging stories, but we are not helping sales understand how to use it and how to customize it.
One way to overcome this challenge is to find ways to make sales reps SMEs. Buyer behavior is “driven by relentless need for knowledge,” said ITSMA’s Julie Schwartz, “and buyers can’t learn everything digitally—they need to interact with people, especially subject matter experts.” When asked what salespeople should be doing during the purchase process, buyers ranked “Put buyer in touch with SMEs” as their #2 priority (after “Provide product or service information”). Marketers ranked it #7, showing that they often miss the need to provide greater access to SMEs.
Scale your SMEs. “You need to find ways to scale your SMEs,” said Schwartz, either by making SMEs more accessible or helping sales become more like SMEs. An example was given by EMC’s Barbara Rubidoux. EMC has been offering its customers a free half-day workshop on IT Transformation, where “EMC IT rock stars” share their expertise and their experiences helping other customers change their IT delivery models. The workshop helps EMC customers clarify their needs, understand how they stand relative to other companies, and decide on the next steps they should take. It also helps EMC better understand the customer’s key IT and business issues, serving as a conduit for thought leadership selling.
The new collaborative relationship: CMO and CHRO. There’s been a lot of talk about CMO-CIO collaboration. But CIOs are increasingly focusing on system support and infrastructure management, while CMOs are bypassing CIOs by harnessing user-friendly applications in the cloud. The next collaborative relationship is likely to join the CMO and the chief human resources officer (CHRO). The right people will enable marketers to transform their organizations. The CHRO can find them. (As well as help train the people who aren’t yet singing from the customer-centric songbook.)
Get on the delivery truck. The “Undercover Boss” TV show is popular in part because it shows how little senior executives know about their own companies. The CEO joins low-level workers and is frequently humbled by their knowledge, dedication, and ability to work well under difficult conditions.
Dell VP of Strategy and Sales Enablement David Lee used a pithy phrase to refer to the same idea: “Get on the truck.” It refers to getting on the delivery truck to visit stores and visit retail customers. B2B services companies don’t deliver products on trucks. But the idea is still powerful: take any opportunity to work with someone who interacts with the customer at a different level or in a different part of the company. Better yet, work directly with the customer yourself. You’ll learn about the customer. You’ll learn empathy. You’ll become a better marketer. And you may become a better person.
Don’t forget in-person relationships. The buyer in B2I, cautioned ITSMA’s Schwartz, is not to be found solely online. She shared recent findings from ITSMA’s surveys of business buyers of large-scale, complex technology-based solutions: only 34% of the buyer’s time is spent online in the process of learning about technology solutions. In contrast, 22% is spent with solution providers or outside experts and 23% with peers. That’s a total of 45% of the buyer’s time that is spent with other people. “In B2B,” said CSC’s Panayi, “buying is [still] a group sport.”
The new marketer is a Poogle. No, it’s not theoffspring of a beagle and a poodle. It’s the marketing savvy of P&G combined with the digital proficiency of Google—the combination of Mad Men and Math Men, according to Cisco’s Walker. But does such a person exist? The consensus seems to be no; the marketing generalist is giving way to a squad of specialists. Walker recently grew her team by about 10%, adding only newly-minted college graduates. Their social media skills are “completely native,” and in a reversal of roles, they are great at “mentoring old fogies.” They also bring a fresh perspective, asking questions like, “If I go to a meeting, does this count as work?” CSC’s Panayi, in contrast, highlighted the diverse skills of digital migrants compared to the younger digital natives.
The identity of B2B marketing is changing. Like other “overhead” functions, it has been pressured to justify its existence by contributing to revenue rather than simply managing costs. Marketing may still have a unique role within the business apart from its contributions to the pipeline. The assembled experts at the ITSMA Conference didn’t reach a consensus. But it’s clear that, at the B2B services and solutions companies that dominated the ranks of Conference goers, marketing has come a long way from being considered as overhead.
ABM as the Key to Career AdvancementBy Jeff Sands
The concept behind Account Based Marketing (ABM) is well-known. Less widely appreciated is the potential impact of an ABM assignment on a marketer’s career. Neil Blakesly, CMO at CSC and former VP of Marketing at BT Global Services, calls a marketer overseeing an ABM account a “mini-CMO.” The ABM lead needs to do everything a CMO does for one extremely prominent account. The gap between a mini-CMO and a CMO isn’t a very big one.
Consider the definition of ABM: the practice of treating individual accounts as markets in their own right. It’s a structured approach to developing and implementing highly customized campaigns to markets of one: accounts, partners, or prospects, typically a company’s largest, most strategic accounts or partners.
But this definition obscures a higher truth: a large organization isn’t like a market in its own right; it is a market in its own right. The bigger the account, the bigger the universe of decision-makers and influencers within the account. Depending on the industry, a company with $10 billion in revenue will have at least 10,000 employees and as many as 100,000. Big companies are like houses with many doors: there may be one main entrance, just as there is one main decision-maker, but there are many other ways to get inside.
And that requires segmentation. It requires the development of personas. It requires personalization. It requires budgeting, data expertise, and predictive analytics. On the soft skills side, the ABM lead needs to influence in the absence of true authority, build alliances across the organization, manage strategic relationships with sales, and deal with lots of internal politics. In short, the ABM lead needs the same skills and processes used to attack a broad, conventionally defined market, but focused on a single large account. It shows you have the ability to bring results, not just technical skills and institutional knowledge.
The talent crunch in marketing is real—and it’s here to stay. Once you’ve become comfortable in a niche, you become hard to replace, and your superiors have an incentive to keep you there. That loving embrace can feel good. But it can also become a death grip that stunts career development. The way out—and up—is to launch yourself out of the nest and fly. Becoming a mini-CMO is the best kind of practice. ABM is your launch pad.
The next ABM program kicks off December 12 and 13 in Cambridge, MA. Learn more about ITSMA’s ABM Certification Program.
Research Highlight: Buyers Want to Talk to People and Stare at ScreensBy Dan Armstrong
We’re enmeshed in a web of connections through email, social media, and the web. But those links could also be seen as walls separating us from genuine relationships. Digital connections are seldom sufficient to move us to action—especially when that action involves a massive purchase decision.
Emotional resonance occurs with our eyes, ears, and skin. Screens and keyboards are barriers to be overcome. Personal connections don’t occur through a search engine. They occur when we look across a table, hear a voice, clasp a hand.
And it’s not just emotions that flow from personal interactions. It’s the precise information that prospects and customers seek. No search algorithm can match the response of a subject matter expert. In quantity of results, certainly; in keyword matches, no doubt. But inquiries from a person contain context that cookies do not know (or know in only a fragmentary and incomplete way).
Psychologist Albert Mehrabian broke communication down into three Vs: visual (55% of the information), tone of voice (38%), and words (7%). The web offers only words. People communicate with words, but also the other 93%—which ensures that their conversational partners have a rich context to interpret their queries.
Buyers spend almost half their time talking to people
The 2013 How Buyers Consume Information Survey backs up this truth. Despite the rich information available online, buyers spend almost half their time getting information from people. This doesn’t mean that solution providers need to meet all of the buyers in person, but it does mean that customers engage when they link to a named person with a point of view and a reputation. Digital alone won’t make the sale. As the chart shows, buyers spend only a third of their time online during the earliest stages of the buying process. Person-to-person is still where ideas hatch and relationships form.
Download an Abbreviated Summary (PDF 657KB)
By Julie Schwartz, Senior Vice President, Research and Thought Leadership
Each month, ITSMA receives a number of queries through Ask ITSMA, a resource designed to give members a quick and easy way to get insight on important services and solutions marketing questions they face. In this column, we will publish some of our favorite questions, along with excerpts from our replies.
Q: Account Based Marketing is geared towards existing accounts. But is there a way to leverage an ABM approach for prospects?
A: When we look at where ABM succeeds best, it is with current clients with whom a company has done business before—where there are established relationships and a history of successful project delivery.
Although companies have applied the principles of ABM to new clients with some success, what we find is that success takes much longer. Since the company is starting with no relationships and possibly a very limited understanding of who the prospect is and the full value it can bring to them, the company needs to conduct lots of thought leadership marketing to begin creating awareness and perception. Given this, I seldom recommend that an initial launch of an ABM program target prospects. By proving the success with an existing account, you can then apply your learnings to new accounts.
Services Marketing News
Upcoming ITSMA Events
ITSMA ABM Certification Program
We have developed a three-month comprehensive Account Based Marketing Certificate Program that we have been conducting for individual members. We are now offering a public version of the program to help you bring key account marketing into your organization more effectively. ITSMA’s ABM Certification Program kicks off with a two-day workshop and is followed by three months of mentoring and coaching on the actual implementation of the ABM methodology on one key account you and your sales management will select during the program.
Recent ITSMA Thought Leadership
Over the last few years, ITSMA’s How Buyers Consume Information research has uncovered important buyer trends that have changed the face of marketing. Today, buyer behavior is being driven by a relentless need for knowledge given disruptive technology change. Despite the conventional wisdom, ITSMA’s research shows that buyers can’t learn everything digitally; they need to interact with people. And the people they most want to interact with are subject matter experts. ITSMA, in partnership with CFO, conducted the 2013 version of its acclaimed How Customers Choose research with 438 buyers of large, complex IT solutions across seven countries.
We sought to answer the question: how well do B2B services and solutions companies use thought leadership to help sales engage customers? We surveyed 280 large organizations and conducted over a dozen interviews with senior marketers and salespeople. Survey and interview participants came from both pure services firms and products and services companies.
In ITSMA’s 2013 marketing technology survey, we discovered a small group of high-performing marketers who have extracted significant business value from investments in marketing technology. Their marketers may have sizable budgets, but that’s not what makes them excel. They excel because of the steps they’ve taken to plan, communicate, collaborate, and embrace new behaviors.
If your thought leadership isn’t stimulating sales conversations, you’re leaving revenue on the table. The problem is getting salespeople to use your thought leadership as a platform to provoke, engage, and shift the perspectives of customers. In this briefing, we shared the results of ITSMA’s 2013 member survey on this topic and interviews with marketing and sales professionals. We also heard from Jim Gaynor, Global Verbal Identity Leader at Ernst & Young, for a first-hand look at how a company tied thought leadership to revenue goals.
Marketers have a hard time making simple predictive statements because their activities do not directly result in sales. They depend on others for “the last mile.” This difference in circumstances between sales and marketing is all the more reason that clear, accurate dashboards are essential in order to get the attention of executives and highlight the links between marketing activities and business results.
ITSMA Marketing Strategist is a monthly email newsletter that provides highlights of new ITSMA research, analysis, ideas, tools, and events relating to marketing and selling technology services and solutions. ITSMA Marketing Strategist is available without charge and is sent only to opt-in subscribers.
Subscriptions are available in text and HTML versions. To SUBSCRIBE or to change the format of your subscription, visit http://www.itsma.com/aspfiles/press/ezine.asp.
To UNSUBSCRIBE from the Marketing Strategist, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail us at ITSMA Subscriptions, 91 Hartwell Avenue, Lexington, MA 02421, USA.
Back issues of ITSMA Marketing Strategist are available at http://www.itsma.com/ezine/archive/
(c) Copyright 2013, ITSMA.
Please forward this newsletter, but only in its entirety.
Public citation or publication of any information herein is encouraged but subject to U.S. and international copyright law and conventions. Any citation must include full attribution to ITSMA. Individual graphics or paragraphs can be published without permission as long as attribution to ITSMA is included. Publication of longer selections or complete articles requires ITSMA permission. For permission or more information, contact email@example.com.
|HOME | Insight | Research | Consulting | Training | Events | Members | About Us | Site Map | Site Search|
|Phone: 1-888-ITSMA92 (Outside the U.S. +1-781-862-8500)|