How to Effectively Balance Long and Short Term Marketing Metrics

[Video] An InsideUp Marketing Study  For B2B marketers, it can be challenging to create a strategy that balances the need for both immediate and long term results.   To gain – and share – insights on what is working for marketers today, I’m interviewing executives at top technology companies as part of InsideUp’s ongoing thought leadership series.   I talked with Heather Moses, Senior VP of Marketing at Nexthink, a global software provider empowering IT teams to create better digital work experiences for employees.   Heather shares strategies that she’s found successful in creating demand, dealing with the changing buyer journey – and even measuring awareness.  She talks about the need to work closely with revenue operations to ensure they're reaching the high-level growth metrics like ARR. She also does a deep dive into the organization’s pipeline metrics to see, for instance, how many MQLs are turning into meetings and then into closed business.   To fulfill the company’s long term goals, Heather and her team have developed a community that not only educates Nexthink’s target audience but also provides valuable insights regarding what is most important to their prospects.   Watch the video for more details on the metrics she finds most useful. 

Integrated Funnel “Smarketing” at SYSPRO, interview with Kelly Kucera Vice President Marketing

The next interview conducted in this thought leadership series on sales and marketing alignment is with Kelly Kucera, VP Marketing at SYSPRO. SYSPRO is a leading global Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software provider targeting key manufacturing and distribution industries.  KEY TAKEAWAYS  1. Demand generation succeeds due to an “integrated funnel” marketing approach  2. Content connects the journey of prospects through top, middle and bottom of funnel  3. Fully integrated sales & marketing plans ensure that silos do not form and shared goals are achieved  4. Industry verticalization facilitates the ability to speak the customer’s language  US Marketing Team  While the US marketing team’s focus is predominantly demand generation for the regional sales and channel partners, SYSPRO USA also manages regional social media, case studies, brand compliance and corporate campaigns in collaboration with their corporate offices and global channel partners.   Kelly’s approach to marketing programs is to marry top of funnel content (brand awareness) with middle of funnel (value proposition) and bottom of funnel conversion tactics (e.g. solution messaging).  Kelly summarized the approach as funnel marketing and managing the intersection of earned and paid media content. Kelly expanded on this point to state that the goal is to implement an integrated sales & marketing plan eliminating silos and developing shared priorities and goals.  Digital Marketing Emphasis  Kelly said that, due to COVID, last year’s in-person events had to be replaced with effective digital efforts. This is driven mostly with brand amplification efforts via paid digital, webinars and strategic content. They deliver thought leadership and other content through a PR agency but also largely through their own channels like blogs, webinars and co-marketing programs.  Industry verticalization is important in order to be able to speak in the customers’ language. Kelly said “… when positioning value proposition, we are talking about pain points and solutions to those pain points. We will always want them tailored so that customers feel the message is speaking to them.”  Kelly also discussed how buyer intent behavior is a key aspect of a demand generation plan. Her teams invest effort in capturing and understanding what competitive advantages and vulnerabilities may exist in their competition. With this information, and in combination with intent signals, they then aggressively pursue competitive…

Dual Funnels and a Team-Based Approach to Sales and Marketing Alignment at ServiceMax

The next interview in this thought leadership series on sales and marketing alignment was with Pat Oldenburg, VP Demand Generation for ServiceMax. ServiceMax provides industry leading asset-centric field service management software that helps their customers optimize their field service operations.  TAKEAWAYS 1. Sales and marketing alignment is optimized with team-based planning and programs. 2. Orchestrated campaigns coordinate sales and marketing teams around key accounts. 3. Constant monitoring of shared metrics is one part of the success formula at ServiceMax; consistent execution is the other. 4. Dual funnels are employed to measure and assess success at the macro and micro level of campaigns, territories, industries and accounts. 5. Former industry practitioners provide thought leadership to drive differentiation and foster customer interactions in a rapidly changing environment. Demand Generation Team The ServiceMax marketing organization has 30 people, with 13 dedicated to demand generation.  Eight of those 13 positions are pursuing projects in digital marketing and field marketing.  The other five folks are on the operations team.  The demand generation team concerns itself with building the sales pipeline and working with the enterprise and teams devoted to sales development strategies to source additional opportunities. Pat explained that “whether marketing sources it (as pipeline) or sales sources – it doesn’t matter to us as long as we get it in the (opportunity) funnel. Then we influence it through digital, orchestrated efforts and in-person activities”. Sales Development Internal Sales Development Representative (SDR) teams prequalify accounts and opportunities. The sales development team is split into three geographic (North America, Europe and Asia Pacific) regions. There are 15 people assigned to perform this task across a hybrid of inbound / outbound efforts. Dual Funnel Reporting Pat shared that they maintain a “dual funnel” model for reporting performance across marketing and sales.  “There’s the traditional funnel which starts…

Fueled by Sales & Marketing Alignment, Go From Zero to IPO in Record Time, Interview with CMO of Axonius.

I recently spoke with Nathan Burke, CMO of Axonius. Axonius is a cybersecurity asset management platform that gives organizations a comprehensive asset inventory, uncovers security solution coverage gaps, and automatically validates and enforces security policies. They recently raised $100M on a valuation of $1.2B. Management’s goal is to set a new record for the fastest elapsed time “from zero to IPO” for a cyber security company. Strap on a rocket pack as we look at their plan to achieve this. Category Creation Nathan declared early on in our interview that Axonius had created its own product category. This, of course, makes differentiation more effective by allowing his company to first state the unmet needs of their customers and then show the impact their platform has when meeting those needs. Nathan was making a relatively unique claim in the cyber security market and I was intrigued to understand more. Challenge for CISOs I asked Nathan to explain the problem they solve. Nathan explained that if you ask a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) how many devices are attached to their network; they typically have one of two possible answers. Those answers are either “I don’t know” or “somewhere between 10,000 and 40,000”. With realities like cloud computing, IoT and constant change, CISOs… “just don’t have a handle on what they have, let alone if they are protected. We collect data associated with any asset and tell customers exactly what devices, cloud instances, and users they have and whether they are covered by security tools and controls”. Regardless of whether the holes in a company’s security position are large or small, they are still holes.  Once the holes are all identified, Axonius then helps companies automate whatever enforcement action is required. Sales Nirvana is No Distractions Nathan shared that they have nine folks on…

Executing High Performance Demand Generation, Interview with Jeremy Collins, EVP Marketing, Azuga

I virtually sat down with Jeremy Collins, EVP Marketing at Azuga, as part of a continuing thought leadership initiative sponsored by InsideUp. Our discussion was focused on sales & marketing alignment and, coincidentally, Jeremy spent 11 years as a sales leader before he moved over to the marketing function 6 years ago. We discussed his philosophy regarding the alignment of sales and marketing and its real-world implementation at Azuga. Background Jeremy spent the first 11 years of his professional career in sales.  He then transitioned to a demand generation marketing role at Act-On Software and was named to a position in demand generation and marketing operations about six years ago. As we walk through Jeremy’s vision of sales and marketing alignment, you will see the influence of his sales experience and perspectives on his subsequent work as a marketer. Integrated vs Aligned Jeremy started our discussion by saying, “I think every marketer should spend some time in a sales role and every salesperson should spend some time in marketing”.  His view is that sales and marketing should be structured as an integrated function within the organization. “You can't just talk about it”, Jeremy informed me. “Communication and collaboration are great, but that's all just alignment. Integration,” he continued, “means that you have the same goals, and you're going after the same end result. I really think about sales and marketing as an integrated work function within the organization.” That common end result is revenue attainment.  Jeremy brands his team not as “marketing”, but “revenue marketing”. If the primary metric for sales is revenue, then that should also become the primary metric to measure marketing.  Jeremy continued by explaining that it is not just about measuring “new” business revenue.  Jeremy sees revenue contributions coming from capturing new business, reducing churn, expanding the customer base…

Accountability & Visibility Drive Sales & Marketing Alignment at Okta

I interviewed Corey Rawdon, Director, Lifecycle Marketing at Okta, for my latest article on Sales & Marketing Alignment as part of the thought leadership series sponsored by InsideUp. Background Corey’s role gives him responsibility over Lifecycle Marketing.  His teams own the entire marketing and sales lifecycle from "engaged" forward. “My teams build out nurture streams, buyers’ journeys, and renewal journeys that move contacts from engaged through qualification, the entirety of the sales funnel, and the customer lifecycle funnel.” Lifecycle Marketing within Okta is organized into four functional areas: 1) Buyer Journeys (Qualified Lead to Sales), 2) Sales Journeys (Sales to Customer), 3) Customer Journeys (Customer to Renewal/Upsell/Adoption), and 4) Self-Service Journeys (Free Trials for Okta’s IT and Developer products). About Okta Okta is the leading independent identity provider. The Okta Identity Cloud enables organizations to securely connect the right people to the right technologies at the right time. With more than 7,000 pre-built integrations to applications and infrastructure providers, Okta provides simple and secure access for people and organizations everywhere, giving employees the confidence to reach their full potential. KEY TAKEAWAYS1. Sales & Marketing alignment begins with mapping the customer journey2. Touch points and opportunities for alignment are identified early 3. Alignment occurs via accountability and transparency around shared metrics4. Okta’s planning process is market driven5. Content and offers are localized by field marketers who work closely with sales development reps with geos and market segments 6. ABM becomes an important approach when moving up-market and it influences the types of tools that are required Sales & Marketing Alignment as a Strategic Imperative Sales & marketing alignment, in Corey’s view, is best achieved via shared visibility on outcomes.  Okta embraces a market driven approach to demand generation planning. Joint planning with sales leadership occurs annually, quarterly, monthly and weekly. Annual…

Ways to Elevate Marketing Beyond the Building Blocks of Maturity

In order to move past simple building blocks and into more advanced marketing practices, vendors should be able to address differentiation and messaging in terms of business outcomes, not product features. The ability to speak in terms of the business outcomes a client might be pursuing is what allows cloud technology vendors to break through the noise level in today’s market. By moving messaging from a source within the vendor’s four walls to a place where it can generate an industry-wide dialogue, a vendor can be seen as relevant to an ongoing conversation amongst users and pundits. At an “expert” level of marketing maturity and lead generation services, a vendor’s sales teams are able to sell in a consultative manner to senior management and influence the processes established for evaluations. This approach is in contrast to their competitors that are seen to sell at the technical level and address solely the technical needs of the client. By utilizing community platforms, vendors at this highest level of maturity can capture unique information that can subsequently be used by the sales team to engage prospective buyers with commercial insight, defined by Gartner as “… a compelling, defensible perspective from a supplier that materially impacts a customer’s performance and directly leads back to the vendor’s unique capabilities.” In an effort to capture the voice of today’s market, InsideUp conducted a study regarding the operation of buying committees in selecting new cloud-based technology. To distill some insights from those study results (that can be turned into action by technology marketers), InsideUp recently published a whitepaper, entitled “Beyond the Hype: How Mature Demand Generation Teams Build Reliable Revenue Streams.” In order to present some implications of the study findings, this whitepaper used a three-stage continuum of marketing maturity as a framework for the discussion. The second and third stages refer…

Business Outcomes Drive Differentiation Says Andrew Baird, VP Marketing, TierPoint

My latest interview, as part of an ongoing study series sponsored by InsideUp on the impact of buying committees, is with Andrew Baird, VP Marketing at TierPoint. TierPoint is a Data Center and managed services company that specializes in helping the IT groups of medium to larger sized firms successfully manage their data infrastructure. TierPoint serves a wide array of customers, including the areas of healthcare, financial, software, legal and government. KEY TAKEAWAYS Differentiation and messaging based on business outcomes desired by clients More than a dozen variables provide significant ROI opportunities (e.g. Migrating CapEx to OpEx) Channels and intent signals drive outbound Thought Leadership achieved via industry event “BraveIT” ABM and ICP are important guardrails to maintain focus Differentiation The key to TierPoint’s differentiation in the crowded data center hosting space appears to be a customized combination of data center and transformation services. Offering highly customized services that focus on the business outcomes their clients are seeking is the key element. Most data centers serve customers by either running instances of application software from popular vendors or enabling them to outsource a portion of their digital transformation to the cloud. Andrew emphasized that they have a wide range of personas to which they need to message. The process they go through involves segmenting their buyers and then targeting their respective “watering holes” with content that addresses desired business outcomes. That ability to emphasize terminology around the business outcomes a client might be pursuing is what allows TierPoint to break through the noise level. Typically, the personas they pursue are senior and mid-level IT but also CFO and other C-suite executives. They also target the industry analyst community (represented by firms such as Gartner and Forrester).  Once they have successfully utilized their customer acquisition strategy, TierPoint begins working with them to make sure the…

Developing Marketing Maturity Starts with These Building Blocks

Demand generation for B2B is problematic. Those specifically tasked with this role in most enterprises face tremendous pressure from both sales & marketing leadership while simultaneously dealing with significant budget constraints. As much as the marketing automation software vendor community might have you believe otherwise, there is no silver bullet; there are no easy answers. Developing a predictable, consistent and scalable revenue stream is a complex and difficult challenge. In an effort to capture the voice of today’s market, InsideUp conducted a study regarding the operation of buying committees in selecting new cloud-based technology. To distill some insights from those study results that can be turned into action by technology marketers, InsideUp recently published a whitepaper, entitled “Beyond the Hype: How Mature Demand Generation Teams Build Reliable Revenue Streams. In order to present some implications of the study findings, this whitepaper used a three-stage continuum of marketing maturity as a framework for the discussion. The first of these stages is the so-called “Building Blocks” of present-day marketing methods.  Based on the interviews that were conducted with marketing leaders as part of this study, companies who aspire to reach the advanced and expert stages of marketing maturity, must first lay the foundation with these Building Blocks. The basis of sales enablement and empowerment (in the later stages of maturity) is the result of gaining “commercial insight.” Gartner defines “commercial insight” as “… a compelling, defensible perspective from a supplier that materially impacts a customer’s performance and directly leads back to the vendor’s unique capabilities.”  What kind of pivotal elements are needed for vendors to attain this kind of competitive advantage? Basic components include 1) ABM adoption, 2) sales and marketing alignment, 3) knowing your customer and being able to define personas and 4) mapping the buyer journey.  Regardless of the average deal size (for SaaS…

Keyfactor Drives Revenue Growth with Sales & Marketing Alignment

I recently spoke with Jamie Walker, VP Marketing Keyfactor, as part of a continuing thought leadership initiative sponsored by InsideUp.  Our previous series focused on #buyingcommittees. This interview with Jamie is the first in a new series where we are looking to better understand sales & marketing alignment. Even though Keyfactor provides a complex offering to a highly technical market, their business environment is very much sales-driven (in fact, CEO Jordan Rackie has a background in that particular business function).  Because Keyfactor sales and marketing teams have been directed to share key performance indicators, Keyfactor is able to initiate marketing campaigns (ABM-related or otherwise) that keep sales needs top of mind. Takeaways • Sales and Marketing alignment starts at the executive level of management • Shared metrics need to be based on key performance indicators • Promote transparency and systemic feedback – both internal within marketing and with sales • Integrate teams with the needs of sales teams at the core Volume-Velocity: Lead-Based Model Keyfactor provides Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) as-a-Service and crypto-agility solutions. Based in Independence, Ohio, they have approximately 150 employees and operate primarily in the US and UK. Their audience is primarily global enterprise with technical and executive personas. Sales teams (each led by a sales director) are geographically dispersed into what Jamie called “pods”, each with a supporting team of business development executives and solution engineers. Target accounts are segmented into enterprise and mid-market and then grouped into tiers A through D.  When responding to opportunities, field marketing works closely with sales “pods” on both content and cadence. A campaign manager works closely with a team of SDRs on lead development.  The point at which marketing transitions a lead to sales (or does a “hand-off” at that stage in the business development “workflow”) is when a…

Getting Through to Buying Committees Requires More “Prescriptive,” Less “Descriptive" Content

Content marketing has come a long way since the days of overly stuffy whitepapers loaded onto supermarket-like websites offering a little bit of everything to everyone. We have witnessed the blossoming of entirely new content vehicles, such as short video infomercials, folksy video livestreams, and self-published books from celebrity CMOs on technology and business innovation. Through it all, marketers are still saddled with the nagging concern that higher conversion rates may not be attained just because prospects now know what their spokespeople look like from the waist up. In an effort to capture the voice of today’s market, InsideUp conducted a study regarding the operation of buying committees in selecting new cloud-based technology. To distill some insights from those study results (that can be turned into action by technology marketers), InsideUp recently published a whitepaper, entitled “Beyond the Hype: How Mature Demand Generation Teams Build Reliable Revenue Streams. It contains some implications of the study findings that are worth reviewing here. In particular, while email and social media posts are still favored mechanisms for customers and prospects to obtain news and information on innovative technology, their patience appears to be wearing thin for so-called “descriptive” content.  Customer personas that were once marketed to have profoundly changed and are continuing to change. Audience demands for “prescriptive” engagement rather than “descriptive” engagement have become both pervasive and deafening. Prospects and customers are bringing behaviors learned from their own B2C interactions into B2B engagements and insisting on greater degrees of personalization and prescriptive content for B2B marketing solutions. What then, is meant by “prescriptive” content? Referral marketing, regardless of the communication form it takes, carries a lot of weight in the deliberations of buying committees because members don’t want to appear foolish or ill-informed in front of their peers when it comes to the implementation of new technology. Information,…

At the Speed of Digital - A New Normal for Collaboration with Saranya Babu, SVP Marketing at Wrike

Introduction In my final interview for the InsideUp study on buying committees, I talked to Saranya Babu, SVP Marketing at Wrike. We had an interesting conversation about Wrike’s marketing strategy and how it is helping enterprises emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever. Wrike is a work management platform for enterprise teams of all types. The flexibility of the platform allows it to be used as a combination of a work management system for team leaders and a collaboration facilitator for team members. The underlying economic pressures of digital transformation and the pandemic have conspired to accelerate the demand for enterprise workflow applications to support the boost of demand generation for b2b, so to help employees, regardless of their physical location, to seamlessly collaborate. Wrike is intended to eliminate that old adage of corporate life, “apparently I didn’t get the memo” by engaging all teams members in a productive, transparent work management system. Saranya joined Wrike when it was going through “a transition just like all the other vendors in this space”. The SaaS industry was increasingly moving from a self-served “land and expand” approach (using limited pilots and free trials to gain followers inside companies) to targeting the entire enterprise at their front door. Given Saranya’s background with SaaS vendors targeting the enterprise – it was an opportune time for her. “…instead of working around the (office) water cooler, people now have to rely on tools like Wrike in order to be able to perform their jobs and coordinate across (a more) diverse and remote workforce…”. Differentiation When I asked Saranya about differentiating Wrike in a crowded market, she led with a credibility statement: “Forrester, for the third straight time, ranked Wrike at the top in the Workforce Collaboration Tools market”. She then took me through a discussion of…

Bill Hurley, CMO, Drives Growth By Aligning with Customer Lifecycle

My latest interview, as part of an ongoing study series sponsored by InsideUp on the impact of buying committees, was with Bill Hurley. Bill was most recently the Chief Marketing & Product Officer at Syniverse where he led their move into the enterprise space by creating and implementing new brand, product & go-to-market strategies.  Bill is a global marketing leader who has focused on driving revenue growth throughout his career. This revenue growth has typically been created from an emphasis on digital transformation and improving the customer experience through customer lifecycle marketing. The advent of the COVID situation in 2020, however, has accelerated this transformation and generated new pressures on IT. Customer Journey Bill credits his experiences at Peppers & Rogers as being foundational in his professional development as a marketer. At the agency, he learned the importance of identifying customers, knowing who they are individually, and differentiating them based on the perceived value they receive from you. With that understanding, marketers can begin to develop specific interaction strategies and craft experiences across the entire customer lifecycle. From that lifecycle, you are able to define a customer journey and identify the most important touch points for each segmented group of customer needs. You then manage the message and orchestrate the experience. Content is customized based on the type of interaction required and the value it holds for the customer. This is fundamental to influence and drive revenue growth. Scaling impactful customer experiences, and thereby driving growth, requires digital competency which naturally leads us to digital transformation. KEY TAKEAWAYS 1. Revenue growth comes from focusing on digital transformation and improving the customer experience 2. Digital transformation can be viewed through two lenses i. Enterprise self-assessmentii. A mixture of operational efficiency, CX, product agility and risk management 3. IT departments face new and…

“Think Like the Customer”
Unit4 CMO Shares Her Perspective

I had the opportunity to speak with Julie Knight-Ludvigson, CMO of Unit4, as part of a study series sponsored by InsideUp on the impact of buying committees in acquiring cloud technology solutions. Julie has an impressive background both as a CMO as well as in previous senior marketing positions with SAP and Zendesk. Her career features a long list of awards and achievements.  Unit4 is in the people business. While they are in the business to provide cloud-based enterprise ERP, HCM, and FP&A solutions, they take a unique approach to how they position themselves. The value they provide is to give management the means to help employees focus on what matters, so that the people they lead will benefit. Target Markets & Differentiation Unit4 has taken a strategic approach to differentiation and it presents itself on two levels. The first is the concept of being in business to enhance the people experience. The second is a focus on the mid-market. They are not seeking to fight it out with SAP or Oracle in the enterprise market.  Unit4 also doesn’t see itself as a horizontal player within their content marketing strategy initiatives. In defining their ICP, they specifically seek out people-based services businesses. These are sectors such as professional services (PSO), nonprofits, public sector and higher education. Within public sector, for example, they stay focused by not targeting federal departments at the national level but rather engage public sector organizations at the local level. They tailor their business to the needs of those companies and institutions and how they seek to serve their own customers. In summary, Julie continued, Unit4 targets industries where the economic unit of value is the human being. Employee engagement is directly tied to customer engagement and customer experience. Unit4 tailors their products and their implementation & support services to reflect this reality. Between…

Genefa Murphy, CMO, Talks About How to Influence Buying Committees with Thought Leadership

Introduction In a continuation of my interview (part of a study series sponsored by InsideUp on B2B IT buyers) with Genefa Murphy, CMO of Five9 and former CMO of Micro Focus, we discuss how thought leadership strategies can be fashioned into compelling content destined to be consumed by members of buying committees in their target accounts. KEY TAKEAWAYS Value selling has both marketing and sales components Prescriptive content includes verticalization and benchmarks Consider creating stakeholder maps of a buying committee before all the names are known To assist sales, marketing activities can target gaps in the stakeholder map with engaging content IT is playing a greater role in technology related decisions and it’s not unusual for the C suite to be involved Translating Thought Leadership into Sales-Delivered Commercial Insights Micro Focus takes value-based selling to a new level.  They have established a “Value Management Office” which is responsible for constructing ROI models and sales tools. The process of building an ROI narrative and creating commercial insights have two delivery components: 1) a marketing component that delivers content to demonstrate TCO and ROI,  and 2) a sales component that delivers training to address behavioral aspects within the sales organization. Genefa continued “…as we were building out that type of content and thought leadership, we also started to re-engineer the behaviors and muscle memory within our sales organization to be able to take advantage of it. About a year ago, we rolled out (to over 3,000 sellers) a new sales methodology, which we call “S3”. S3 is based on a combination of multiple different methodologies including ‘The Challenger Sale’ so that our sales team could be receptive to the commercial insights that we were providing to them.”    Micro Focus has also ramped up their survey efforts and built ‘maturity models’ so that customers…

Genefa Murphy, CMO, Maps the Customer Journey as a Continuous Loop

As part of the InsideUp study series on B2B IT buyers, we sat down for a talk with Genefa Murphy, current CMO at Five9 and former SVP & CMO at Micro Focus. Introduction Genefa described what Micro Focus does as taken from the definition of “digitalization” stipulated by Dr. Scott Brennen, Senior Policy Associate at the Center on Science and Technology Policy at Duke University: “a transformation to the digital economy”. This is a nuanced definition of “digital transformation”. Genefa explains this definition as helping customers optimize their business operations and solve the business problems of today. This is achieved by being mindful that enterprises also have to achieve short term goals (such as optimizing their business operations and) while seeking to transform their business for the needs of the future. These may include the need to transform enterprises in order to better adapt to the realities imposed by the Internet, mobile devices, IoT, and 5G networks. Genefa continued that Micro Focus’ portfolio, while extensive, can be encapsulated in four key outcomes they help their IT customers deliver. These outcomes (and their respective product categories) are: 1. Accelerate new application delivery (Dev Ops)2. Simplify the transformation of IT (IT Service Management)3. Strengthen the cyber resilience of the enterprise (Cyber Security)4. Analyze data to reduce “time to act” (Data Analytics and Visualization) KEY TAKEAWAYS Focus on targets that need your breadth of offerings A compelling value proposition can be as much about enabling the transition to a goal as the goal itself Post COVID, prescriptive is better than descriptive content The customer journey is continuous, not linear, and the most impactful thought leadership material recognizes that fact Services verticalization requires partnerships with ecosystem players that each industry trusts Cutting Through the Noise Takes “Focus” Transformation initiatives are now starting to be driven…

Talking with Steve Arentzoff About Aligning Martech Stack with Business Strategy

I recently interviewed Steve Arentzoff as part of a study series sponsored by InsideUp on the impact of buying committees on the acquisition of cloud technology solutions. Steve is a seasoned marketing executive and is most recently the Vice President of Demand Generation at Medallia. Steve has extensive experience in everything from marketing operations to customer engagement. Given the size of the organizations Steve has worked with (Medallia, for example, is approaching a half billion dollars in revenue), I found his perspectives and insights quite strategic. KEY TAKEAWAYS 1. Demand Marketing is a tactical concept, but marketing teams require strategic realignment to deliver consistent and tangible business results 2. Buyer journey must define content 3. MarTech stack must align with business strategy 4. Visibility in customer behaviors across disparate channels and systems is necessary to obtain actionable insights and to align sales with marketing 5. Complex solutions require sophisticated marketing orchestration Steve began our discussion with the statement that the term “demand marketing” is a tactical concept. “What we're trying to accomplish as a marketing organization is operate a demand engine that repeatably and predictably delivers tangible business outcomes, which are often measured by pipeline creation and sales bookings. Let the Buyer Journey Drive Content Campaign plans need to work backwards to better understand content needs. Depending on the campaign type, there could be a wide variance in market expectations. An ABM campaign, for example, might need to drive engagement from a broad group of influencers and decision makers in specific accounts. Often the hardest part of the content is not the creation of the actual thematic story you want to tell but the finalizing of that story into a customer-facing document. Traditional content teams and conventional content engines may not be able to create the specific type of content needed.…

How Channel Partners Complicate Demand Generation

This is the second in a series of articles based on interviews with IT executives conducted as part of a study that looks at the evaluation and acquisition of cloud-based technologies in today’s market. We have been examining formal and informal buying processes with a specific focus on how often purchases are “fast tracked” in mid-sized companies (100-1000 employees).  This article focuses on the influence channel partners (such as resellers/VARs) exert on technology buyers’ short list of vendors. There are similarities, and some interesting differences, in how IT executives (I recently interviewed the CIO of a third-party logistics supplier, an IT Director at a law firm, and SVPs of IT for three manufacturing companies) make decisions at mid-size companies (100-1000 employees) when compared to larger enterprises (1000+ employees). First off, the buyer journey is broadly similar in demand generation marketing.  Enterprises of all sizes tend to follow the same series of steps in a very logical process.  For example, the initial stage of problem identification pursued by a mid-size company mirrors a similar stage identified at larger firms. A member of the firm’s C suite becomes aware of a potential opportunity or potential problem and presses IT to initiate a research project.  A “buying” committee is formed, and research begun. Problem Identification Stage Ransomware protection and storage rationalization were the two most common examples of technology purchases that I came across in my recent discussions. In both cases, members of the IT organization, assigned responsibility for the initiative, began to explore the marketplace for relevant content.  Industry publications and vendor websites were a couple of the most utilized resources.  It is at this critical stage that a list of vendors (to be further evaluated) is developed.  As to which vendors should be included in an evaluation as part of the…

According to SVP of Marketing at Five9, Contact Center Technology Transition to the Cloud Driven by Digital Transformation and the Pandemic

Understanding Customer Needs – A Perspective from Five9 I recently had the opportunity to interview Scott Kolman, SVP of Marketing at Five9, as part of an ongoing study series, sponsored by InsideUp, on the impact of buying committees. Scott is an industry veteran and shared his insights about the contact center industry in general, and Five9’s marketing strategies in particular. Five9, Inc. (NASDAQ: FIVN), is a leading provider of the intelligent cloud-based contact center. Scott reinforced the notion, supported by results we are seeing in the study to-date, that the influence of IT Managers, when they participate in buying committees sponsored by different Lines-of-Business (LoB), appears to be growing. This could be a consequence of the need to deal with security and data management issues that enterprises face when moving to cloud-based applications. Market Situation Contact Center automation is a $24B industry worldwide with 85% of businesses hosting contact center platforms on premises. Initiatives to transition this technology to the cloud are being driven by digital transformation pressures within enterprise accounts and, more recently, turbo-charged by the pandemic. Five9 has seen remarkable growth in the past few years, and, in particular, very strong financial results in the past couple of quarters. Preferred methods of customer engagement have shifted in many industries and an increasing number of companies are responding to meet that change with the help of Five9. One of the examples Scott highlighted was in the area of telemedicine where demand for contact center technology has spiked dramatically due to COVID-19. As healthcare organizations begin to see improved efficiencies, Scott maintains, and consumers become more comfortable with this approach, this industry is not likely to look back after the pandemic has faded. Differentiation In this hyper-growth environment, a crowded marketplace like Contact Center has only become more competitive and noisier. How is Five9 differentiating…

The Next Normal in Technology Demand Generation

I interviewed Samantha Foley, CMO of Turvo, as part of the InsideUp study series, “How Technology Buying Committees Make Faster Decisions”, which is focused on how IT Executives participate in buying committees, how they want to be engaged by vendors and the type of content they are seeking during this process.  As part of that study, we are looking to hear from select technology vendors about how they interact with buying committees. COMPANY OVERVIEWTurvo is the first multi-enterprise collaborative platform specifically designed for the global supply chain. Turvo connects people and organizations allowing shippers, logistics providers and carriers to digitally transform their workflows with cloud-based software and mobile applications for a better customer experience and brand differentiation, and creating an environment surrounding technology demand generation. Turvo customers include some of the world’s largest, Fortune 500 logistics service providers, fast growth shippers and many brokers large and small. The biggest take away from my discussion with Samantha is how she is leading the company’s digital transformation while simultaneously supporting the many different instances, and types, of touches required to acquire new customers. According to her, Turvo has moved beyond the “new normal” and is transitioning to the “next normal”.   In the next normal, an enterprise must adapt to a more robust digital environment – an environment supported by sales teams who, instead of engaging later in a sales process, are now engaging earlier in the customer buying cycle through the use of tools such as LinkedIn, while being involved in digital transformation management. Samantha stated that one of her biggest challenges in thriving in the “next normal” is developing the right content for the right persona in each stage of their buying journey. Turvo supplements their MarTech stack with significant content enhancements to their website, advanced analytics and attribution capabilities…

You Can’t Judge an Email by Its Subject Line – But What’s Offered Still Matters

A lot of time and energy is spent by cloud technology marketers creating catchy subject lines for emails. Some may even cross the line and send out-and-out teasers. You would think members of corporate buying committees, who have been tempted to open up thousands of these kinds of promotional emails by this point in their careers, would have just gotten over the tendency to click.  But, according to a new study (sponsored by InsideUp), entitled “Cloud Technology Buying Committees: New Decision-Making Dynamics”, hope for insightful content springs eternal.  Most study respondents report email, as well as social media posts, are still strong communications channels if the content offered is considered valuable and relevant to their use case. Helping companies make prudent evaluations of new technology has proven to be an increasingly daunting task for IT professionals and, as the pace of innovation accelerates, they truly believe the answers are still out there. With a shortfall of in-person events in 2020 (and continuing into the current year), email has become even more important as a mechanism for staying in touch with what’s going on in the industry and how peers are responding to new pressures for digital transformation. So, email is one of the very effective ways to increase sales.  In this study, senior IT executives in US based, mid-sized companies were surveyed about how and why buying committees are formed and function. A total of 226 completed surveys were returned and 14 follow up interviews were granted by respondents to the survey. To complement this buyer side research, B2B Buyer Insights also conducted interviews with senior marketing executives in cloud-based technology companies. The IT survey and all subsequent interviews were conducted between September 2020 and December 2020. When respondents were asked if emails from vendors (with links to informative and educational content)…

How Technology Buying Committees Make Faster Decisions

How a Buying Committee is Formed For this, the first of many articles, I have been interviewing IT Executives (e.g. CIO, CISO, SVP/IT) as part of a study program I am conducting for InsideUp around how cloud-based technologies are evaluated and acquired. We are examining formal and informal buying processes with a specific focus on how often purchases are "fast tracked".  Our initial findings indicate that in up to one third of all buying committee (blended and core) evaluations, the committee’s recommendations are not accepted by C-level executives spearheading the sales and marketing management services.  We have noted a variety of methods utilized by C suite executives to influence and at times change, the recommendation outcomes.  This “informal” effort to shape the buying committee’s decisions, or to simply ignore it, is not a new phenomenon. An important part of the formal committee process is that the “roadmap” approach to managing IT tends to limit the available list of vendors.  For example, if an enterprise considers itself an “Oracle” shop or a “Salesforce” shop within their roadmap, then that tends to determine which vendors can be included or excluded.  In those situations where buying committee recommendations are not accepted, the C-level executive may have determined from early in the process which vendor (or vendors) are acceptable and which may not be.  This is a difficult (but extremely interesting) area that will be explored further in this series as we seek to uncover the how’s and why’s of this.  Even in those cases where the C-level executives accept the committees’ recommendations, it would appear that a “trusted lieutenant” is placed in charge of the committee and reports regularly to the C suite executive responsible.  It is clear that an informal and ongoing engagement is occurring between the C suite, respected industry analysts…

SaaS Vendors Would Do Well to Recognize the Growing Influence of IT in Buying Committees

Based on the results of a new study (sponsored by InsideUp), entitled “Cloud Technology Buying Committees: New Decision-Making Dynamics”, the operation of buying committees appears to have significantly changed in recent years. One of the study findings uncovered the growing influence of IT in the technology acquisition process managed by lines of business (e.g., finance, marketing, HR and operations). Another key insight from the study was that acquisitions of foundational technology (such as servers, storage, networking and security protection) involved an average of ten committee members, whereas the selection of enterprise software (both on-premises and SaaS-based) involved the solicitation of the perspectives of twice as many individuals.  Typically, the composition of committees considering foundational technology was 80/20 in favor of IT professionals, whereas the composition of committees considering enterprise line of business applications was 20/80 in favor of users and business management. The objective of this study was to study the impact of buying committees in acquiring cloud technology solutions. In this study, senior IT executives in US based, mid-sized companies were surveyed about how and why buying committees are formed and function. To complement this buyer side research, B2B Buyer Insights also conducted interviews with senior marketing executives in cloud-based technology companies working on b2b online marketing. Survey respondents indicated that, over the past two years, IT executives are being asked, with increasing frequency, to participate in line of business technology evaluations.  Subsequent one-on-one interviews pointed to a growing awareness by enterprises of the importance of security (amid other enterprise-wide concerns) when selecting SaaS-based applications requested by line of business user groups.   Whether or not this trend has been initiated either through more invites from line of business management, or based on edicts from the C-Suite, the increasing influence of IT is recognized within many organizations.    The days of…

Getting on an Evaluation Shortlist Requires More Than Listening, It Requires Loitering

Over the past few years, the widespread availability of aggregated intent signals has enabled sales teams to obtain notifications when the online activity of various contacts within a target account appears to be “surging” around a topic that is relevant to a particular product category. This has fueled a new generation of ABM orchestration engines that seek contact engagement whenever the timing for a sales discussion appears to be right.  While sales teams may appreciate this kind of intelligence, vendors embarking on an ABM or qualified leads marketing approach severely limit the number of accounts that can be addressed in this real time manner. Without an investment in reaching other prospects within a vendor’s total addressable market, ABM puts a cap on the size of a sales pipeline at any point in time.  Now, a new study (sponsored by InsideUp), entitled “Cloud Technology Buying Committees: New Decision-Making Dynamics”, has uncovered shortening windows of opportunity for vendors to be added to the evaluation shortlist for technology acquisitions by buying committees. Passive listening for intent signals across a wide market makes it extremely difficult to apply enough resources to qualify all potential leads into sales opportunities and qualified leads marketing. What is needed is a process of constant active probing of likely buyers so buying committee members have enough familiarity with a vendor to place them on the shortlist before its closed.  In this study, senior IT executives in US based, mid-sized companies were surveyed about how and why buying committees are formed and function. A total of 226 completed surveys were returned and 14 follow up interviews were granted by respondents to the survey. To complement this buyer side research, B2B Buyer Insights also conducted interviews with senior marketing executives in cloud-based technology companies. The IT survey and all subsequent interviews were conducted between September…

Can Business Data Networks and the Internet Really Handle COVID-19 Related Traffic?

All around the world, people have been quarantining and working from home because of the on-going Covid-19 pandemic. If you are regularly accessing the internet, like many others, you may have noticed some technical glitches here and there. Maybe the video you watched on YouTube seemed grainier than normal, or maybe your co-worker’s face froze during a video meeting over Zoom.  All these online scenarios may seem like tell-tale signs that the collective internet service providers business around the world will struggle to keep up with the sudden surge of internet usage from millions of homebound internet users. By design, however, while the primary public internet working infrastructure, on which most of our digital life depends, has been bending recently - it’s not breaking. Yes, there has been a huge rise in internet traffic over the past few months. Some US carriers are publicly reporting increases of 30% in data transmission volumes per day.  Before the pandemic really hit, internet traffic was still rising, although on a smaller scale. As countries around the globe have embraced a more digital life, the internet backbone expanded to meet those demands.  Now, with imposed lockdowns, people are stuck doing everything from home, and most of it is online. They are playing the latest video games instead of catching a movie at the local cinema, showing up for online classes instead of attending school, conducting video calls instead of visiting friends of holding family celebrations in person, and watching press conferences instead of listening to the radio in their cars. or just simply utilizing the internet all day long. Even though people are surely running or walking outside a part of each day, for the most part, they are simply utilizing the internet all day long.  All that bandwidth consumption eventually has to add up,…

What is SD-WAN and Why Should SMBs Pay Attention to It?

Enterprises are living and working in an era of software-defined everything. From flexible on-demand cloud connectivity right through to agile backup solutions, businesses are re-imagining the way they build out computer networking and cyber security architecture by incorporating virtualization technologies. SD-WAN is arguably the most in-demand network solution right now and it’s only increasing in value as enterprises embark on more complex cloud and network journeys. Businesses are looking to simplify these strategies including the management of their Wide-Area-Network technologies and that’s where the software-defined element comes into play. According to a recent report from CSO by IDG, between 2018 and 2026, the global SD-WAN market is forecasted to grow at a stable compound annual growth rate of around 58%. IDC’s SD-WAN infrastructure forecast suggests that the SD-WAN market is estimated to reach $5.25 billion by 2023. SD-WAN is a Software-defined Wide Area Network that incorporates a virtual WAN architecture. VPN in computer networking establishes a safe and encrypted connection over any network, such as the internet. SD-WAN enables businesses to leverage any combination of transport services. For instance, LTE, MPLS, and broadband internet services connect to the applications using a control function that is centralized to intelligently and securely direct traffic across the network. This enhances the application performance, improves the user experience, increases business productivity, and reduces IT costs. Leased lines networks are usually rented by enterprises to connect branch offices of the organization. It guarantees bandwidth between different locations for network traffic. However, after the rise of SD-WAN solutions, some commercial and institutional users still retain their existing private leased line networks though the competition, which is almost inevitable.  Companies are slowly switching from legacy leased line networks that utilize expensive proprietary hardware and private lines to next-generation SD-WANs that use any low-cost internet connection on a standard…

Rules for Content Marketers to Live By

Regardless of the times or the season (or the crisis at hand), content goals remain largely unchanged; marketers still must provide buyers with messaging tailored to the questions and concerns they are having at that particular point in their buying journey. The numbers bear this out: a key to success for 93% of the most effective marketers in Content Marketing Institute’s “B2B Content Marketing 2020 Report” is delivering relevant content when and where a potential buyer is most likely to see it. Of course, with complex B2B purchases, it’s not just one person but a buying committee with whom you need to communicate. According to Gartner research, the typical buying group for a complex B2B solution involves 6 to 10 decision makers. The most successful marketers craft content based not only on where the company is located along the buying journey, but also on the role and function of each member of the buying committee. What will be the most effective content, for instance, to put in front of your solution’s end user as opposed to a decision maker in the company? Sigmund in sales is not likely to be swayed by the same statistics that piqued the interest of Margo in marketing.  For complex B2B purchases, it’s essential to have very different types of content available for different members of the buying committee to see. Content with an Objective in Mind Digital intent signals can be used as a pad to launch a well-orchestrated multi-channel campaign by a b2b content marketing agency that offers something for everyone on the buying committee. Supported, in turn, by content assets with distinct objectives (e.g., to either attract, educate, engage, or sell) placed where they can be found by buyers at different stages. Education is always a key objective when it comes to your…

How Personalization Gives Each Buying Committee Member Something to Chew On

Remember the last time you sat down and actually hand wrote a note to a good friend? As your hand danced across the page, putting down those words and sentences in cursive script, I bet you didn’t think an extra second about personalizing that message – it just was.  Now, as B2B marketers, we’ve all learned the importance of providing each member of a buying committee with content that is personalized to their role and function in the decision-making process.  The problem, however, remains one of scale.  How can this massive content development process (a list of 5,000 target accounts might represent over 25,000 individual businesspeople) be accomplished effectively? We also know how important it is to deliver the right content at the optimal stage in the buying journey. But, again, let’s face it: we’re not always going to be able to predict that process because it’s not always linear. A qualified account may regress, change their pace, or bounce around a bit as various participants in the decision-making process bring out questions, present solutions from other companies, and deal with budgetary or other organizational changes. If you address a concern, say cloud-based data security, brought up by one member of the buying committee, then will your answer be communicated to the others on the team? You don’t always know. You can, however, gain a measure of control over the prospect’s collective journey, or at least provide some gentle but effective guidance, by means of the content you produce. Start Creative, Stay Creative First, to build out a targeted content marketing campaign, marketing and sales teams need to work very closely with content creatives, divulging any bit of information that could help to personalize the content. It might be easy to just “use your data”, but siloed data is still…

A New Research Study Explores How Companies Buy Cloud-based Technology

Demand marketing has always been a noisy pursuit, but a dearth of in-person events has created even more distractions this year. Technology buyers are hearing a lot about “digital transformation” from technology vendors who already spend a majority of their marketing dollars on digital marketing. This has led to a large influx of content being directed at these buyers. In response, InsideUp has launched an ongoing discussion program, “Cleaning a Cloudy Window – How Technology Vendors Can Improve Buyer Engagement”, devoted to helping cloud-based technology vendors gain better customer engagement through an understanding of evolving purchase patterns in their target market.  The program’s first study, “How Technology Buying Committees Make Faster Decisions”, is focused on how IT executives currently participate in buying committees, how they want to be engaged by vendors and the type of content they are seeking.  We will be surveying and interviewing IT executives to secure answers to questions about how and why evaluation committees are formed, how they operate and, ultimately, how they buy.  Additionally, we will be surveying and interviewing demand generation executives to get complementary insights on how they are engaging with buying committees in the new normal. We have engaged with B2B Buyer Insights, an independent market research company, to assist us with this effort.  The results of our research, which involves surveys and in-depth interviews with both technology and marketing executives, will be published as a whitepaper and also discussed in webinars. As a demand generation company with over a decade of experience working with technology buyers in key markets (such as communications, security, cloud computing and data backup and recovery), we engage “in-market” companies every day using multi-channel direct marketing and our proprietary demand generation tools. From our position, we realized this study needed to talk to both IT executives (especially…

5 Ways Artificial Intelligence is Being Utilized in B2B Marketing

In recent years, we have seen a dramatic shift towards the implementation of new technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) in B2B marketing. AI is currently being used to help execute marketing strategies and collect data, and is transforming how we conduct business. Below we uncover five unique ways artificial intelligence is currently being utilized in the B2B marketing industry. Better Lead Generation and Conversion B2B marketers are always looking for ways to generate more leads while improving, or at least maintaining, relatively high conversion rates (northwards of 10% when looking at the number of qualified sales opportunities coming from a basket of “leads”).  AI in b2b has the potential to do just that.  AI systems can actually help generate more leads from the content and messaging work that has already gone into your company website.  For instance, web-based configuration guides and calculators can allow buyers to self-qualify themselves by asking them to enter a few key data elements that enable a draft proposal to be presented as well as case studies that are similar to the prospect’s industry classification and use case. Artificial intelligence in b2b marketing may also be able to play a large role in converting new leads into sales. Unlike a typical sales rep, AI systems can work around the clock to qualify leads captured on your website, prioritize them based on “look alike” modeling and distribute them to the correct team for some one-on-one attention. By opening up a conversation with every qualified lead coming in through your site, chances are you will be converting more inbound visitors into sales opportunities. Chatbots Implementing chatbots can remove friction from your buyer’s journey by cheerfully answering frequently asked questions online and interacting with potential prospects in real time.  They can also be taught to learn what a high-quality…

Intent Data Monitoring – Panacea or Panic?

In DemandGen’s 2020 Demand Generation Benchmark Study, lead quality over lead quantity came in as one of the top two priorities for the year (the other being increased conversion rates and campaign performance). When asked specifically how they were planning to address the quality-over-quantity challenge, marketers pointed to three things: Advancements in ABM,Use of intent and signal data,Better alignment with sales organizations on lead conversion. Marketers are being asked, with occasional support from sales teams, to nurture incoming leads through most of the buyers’ journey.  How, then, do we avoid going back to the simple, but inefficient, days of “spray and pray”?   For many, the answer has been a recent focus on intent monitoring (a shortened version of the more correct phrase “intent data monitoring”) as if, by magic (a “panacea”), it can tell us how to get the right content to the right buyer at the right time. In the demand generation function of many brands, marketers generate leads and nurture them using automated marketing systems. If the leads come from an inbound inquiry and appear to be valuable enough, then marketers will pass those leads over to sales reps. In most cases, it is then up to the sales reps who are tasked to make the first almost-cold call (a “panic”).    If the lead was generated from an inbound inquiry, then the lead has a high likelihood of being qualified but, if marketing is also sourcing raw intent data to boost up the lead volume, then there could be an unnecessarily high opportunity cost because that same sales resource could have been deployed to close better-qualified opportunities. Although tapping into aggregated clearing houses of online behavior can feel empowering, the best way to bring solid intent data into your next demand generation marketing campaign is to find a…

Five Reasons Why Intent Data Can Suck (and how to fix it)

Intent data by itself, and derived solely from online behaviors, is not sufficient to identify and qualify “in-market” decision-makers. Most sales reps have encountered time-wasting “leads” trotted out in the name of “intent data” and will recognize these limitations instantly: 1. An over-abundance With literally millions of US companies able to buy IT-related products and services, marketers are deluged with data. How much coverage are you currently getting from your network of intent data providers?  How much of different intent types (e.g., display, content syndication, search) do you really need?  Maybe less is more. 2. Improper processing Simply ingesting B2Bintent data won’t solve any existing conversion problems. It must be properly integrated into your overall sales funnel. For instance, if an automated message is triggered when a prospect takes a specific action, like completing a form, that’s great.  But, if you botch the message and either confuse or alienate the prospect with that message, then the intent data hasn’t helped you. Also, intent data obtained in a manner that does not comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) could negate any advantage it offers. 3. Outdated intent data This is an especially common problem with intent monitoring or “signal” data. Intent often changes as companies move through their buyer journey (a pathway which can no longer be expressed as simply linear). Even a week’s delay in following up on a prospect’s interest can result in a completely different response. Why should your sales rep be the one who is told “We already purchased a competitive solution and we are no longer evaluating vendors”? 4. Inaccurate or misleading If your sales or marketing team is reaching out to a company that appears to be exhibiting an intent “surge” and that contact no longer works at the company listed, then your…

Want to shorten the buyer journey? Here’s how to do it!

Understanding the buyer journey and how to manage it is critical to effective demand generation. The buyer journey encompasses every step a prospect takes leading up to a purchase decision—such as learning about the product or service, researching vendors, engaging with marketing content, speaking with salespeople, evaluating competitors’ offerings and price, etc.—and it continues after they become customers as companies strive to maintain high customer retention rates by delivering a stellar customer experience. Purchase decisions, particularly in the B2B space, can take months or even years as many prospect stakeholders are involved in the decision-making process and must come to a consensus. As the current pandemic spreads, the most impacted industries (e.g., travel/hospitality, restaurants, gaming, sporting events, live entertainment) will see their buyer’s journeys lengthen whereas buyers of computer applications that are SaaS-based and support remote workforces will have shorter journeys.  Nevertheless, shortening the buyer’s journey to improve sales performance for every industry-specific situation will in turn improve the acceleration of a brand’s revenue. Traditional approach to managing the buyer journey Some primary traditional tactics used to manage and streamline the buyer journey include developing buyer personas, mapping the buyer journey, aligning content with those journey stages, executing lead nurturing campaigns, leveraging lead scoring, and monitoring the pipeline to identify bottlenecks. These tactics are proving to be increasingly time- and resource-intensive and many businesses are shifting to alternative, emerging tactics. The importance of content in shortening the buyer journey When assessing tactics about how to improve sales, there are a few supporting statistics that illustrate how important content marketing is when streamlining your buyers’ journey: Prospects complete roughly 70 to 90% of their purchase decision before engaging a vendor, which is why it’s so important to share the right content with prospects at the right time. (Source: Forrester) On average,…

Expert advice to increase your sales conversion rate

Many aspects (such as trade show marketing, executive retreats and in-person sales visits) of the B2B sales process have radically changed in 2020 while other things, like data-driven marketing and the importance of process metrics like “conversion rate”, have continued on strongly.  But the term “conversion rate” can mean many things in business. In marketing, it can refer to the number of prospects you qualify and pass to sales. Or the number of prospects that clicked your call-to-action on a particular landing page. However, here we’re talking about sales conversion rates, and specifically, the number of marketing qualified leads (MQLs), which are passed to sales and then converted into paying customers. The higher your sales conversion rate, the faster you’ll grow revenue and your business in general. With new technology that tracks intent data and agencies that specialize in demand generation and lead qualification, more companies are partnering with external agencies. However, sales and marketing leaders still hold a vast spectrum of opinions about the best ways to increase sales and conversion rates. So, we went out and asked experts in the field their opinions on the matter and here is what they told us: Jon Bahl, CEO at Agile Recovery “ We’ve seen great shifts in the sales process and buyer journey over the past few years. The days of solely pounding prospects with sales cold calls are gone. Today’s consumers want to engage with you in a digital way. It’s no longer a one-way conversation. Plus, two-thirds of the buyer’s decision-making process is already complete by the time they engage with a vendor. “Adapting to these new trends was, and still is, painful for many sales organizations as they’ve had to leave behind traditional tactics. Today, it’s all about forming rapport and trusting relationships with prospects. It’s not…

“The Tough Are Still Going”

From coast-to-coast in the US and in the far corners of the world, we are all in a fight to preserve the lifestyle we have known, stay healthy and take care of our loved ones. First, allow me to give my deepest personal condolences to those families who have suffered greatly from this pandemic.  To our clients, employees and partners, I also feel the responsibility to offer a ray of light during a very dark time in our history as a modern society.  With that in mind, I would like to spend a few moments talking about why InsideUp is well positioned to help our clients navigate this next inevitable transformation especially when it comes down to b2b SaaS lead generation. That transition, in our opinion, is not marked by more AI-fueled robots talking to prospects. As business becomes more high-tech, the trust that comes from authentic human interaction (high-touch) becomes even more valuable. When I started InsideUp, it was with the understanding that globalization was not just a future concept but a current reality.  Maybe that attitude was borne out of my work in the Peace Corps or from my work as the CMO of a global B2B online auction company, but it’s how I approach our business every day.  The next progressive approach I embraced early on was the value of a virtual team to deliver game changing b2b lead generation services. It’s not just a question of work-life balance, but more about getting the most from the diversity in people that strengthens the modern business enterprise.  What gets done that benefits our customers, regardless of where it’s done, is what gets rewarded. Lastly, I took a different approach than most competitors by hiring Java programmers so we could automate the entire workflow as a demand generation agency…

Are B2B marketing white papers still effective or obsolete?

There is an ongoing debate about the effectiveness of marketing white papers. Are they becoming obsolete? Do they still deliver significant value? Many marketers claim that white papers have seen their day and are becoming less effective as a content marketing tactic. Others maintain a firm belief that white papers are still very important and effective, particularly in the B2B space. Who is right? Below we unpack the issue to provide insight into these differing opinions and compare the pros and cons of leveraging marketing white papers. Arguments against marketing white papers Marketers who argue that the white paper has become less effective don’t have an inherent distrust or dislike of white papers. Rather, their qualm is that white papers are not being created effectively and that, combined with beliefs in certain myths, has rendered the white paper less effective. Supply and demand: White papers can be quite helpful if done properly. However, many claim that over the last decade the white paper trend has spread to the extent that nearly every company in most industries is creating them. The airwaves are now saturated with mediocre white papers. This makes it difficult to find white papers that deliver value. Decision-makers don’t read white papers: Many marketers draft white papers with the assumption that they will be read by a prospect’s C-suite. Their objective is to write a white paper targeted at top decision-makers. However, some marketers claim this is not true and that a CEO will never read your white paper. This is a logical argument given the time needed to read a white paper and the time constraints of the C-suite. Repetition, repetition, repetition: With so many companies saturating the web with white papers, we’ve reached a point where many of them simply repurpose and paraphrase content from competitor…

How marketing can use conversations to qualify sales leads

Marketers plan and execute demand generation campaigns, using traditional tactics, to identify and qualify sales leads. The same digital marketing tactics have been used for years. But I’d like to challenge the status quo with this question: How many marketers are actually speaking with leads during the qualification process? As times change and consumer preferences evolve, new tactics are needed to generate larger numbers of sales qualified leads. Today, innovative marketers are starting to incorporate a one-on-one conversation with a target lead during the qualification process. Below, we shed light on why these marketing-led conversations are so important to qualifying business sales leads. We also provide a few tips for qualifying more leads through conversations, leading to greater customer acquisition rates. Humanization: Incorporating the human touch Personalization in marketing has been a buzz word for the last few years. When the concept arrived, it was effective and improved lead conversion rates. However, personalization has seen its day in the limelight and is giving way to a new concept: humanization. Personalization involves a one-way dialogue between the company and the lead. On the other hand, humanization brings a two-way, back-and-forth dialogue, creates more trusting human relationships with prospects, and increases their likelihood of converting into customers. Task a marketer with pre-qualification outreach If you task a marketing team member with proactively reaching out to leads in the pipeline to have a humanized conversation, the probability of qualifying them is much higher. These conversations should take place before passing a lead to sales. One-on-one conversations eliminate sales leads’ doubts Once your marketing team identifies a sales lead displaying purchase intent, a dedicated marketer can reach out personally and engage the prospect in a humanized conversation. They can answer any questions the prospect has—without including a hard sales pitch. Prospects trust and respect…

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InCapture Platform Supports ABM Campaign When Others Can't

InsideUp MarketingConnect program quickly expanded the list of buying committee contacts in a set of target accounts using assets that described a new e-signature solution from an established provider of software applications for creative professionals. The number of interested contacts went up by 15%.

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Bottom of Funnel Leads Filling the Pipeline for Data Backup

As the number of cyber-attacks in the healthcare, government, and educational sectors grew during the recent health crisis, an InsideUp SalesConnect campaign (focused on the ability of cloud data systems to mitigate ransomware attacks) was able to keep the vendor's solution in the spotlight. In one year, this cloud-native backup solutions provider saw a pipeline multiplier on their marketing spend with InsideUp of 9x.

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