This week we invited a group of senior salespeople and marketers to warm their (sometimes frosty) relationship with big thinking from hot B2B brands. The premise was that, with marketing under pressure to show more commercial impact, and traditional ways of selling becoming less effective, sales and marketing teams need to share the love.
Like any good matchmaker, we brought together a group of expert panellists from White & Case, Polycom, Deloitte and (of course) Man Bites Dog to discuss the burning issues affecting sales and marketing teams.
We've summarised the key takeaways in this blog and will be sharing more detail over the coming weeks.
Our quick-fire introductory Pecha Kucha talk (20 slides, 20 seconds each) on the mega trends that are changing our industry can also be viewed below.
Our experts are all using the latest tech to improve their marketing outreach but they don’t believe it’s the be-all and end-all. Much like awkward first date conversation, content is key.
Bernard O’Brien, Director, Marketing Operations, Consulting at Deloitte: “Technology is really important in helping people connect but it’s a challenge for a services firm. We have to nurture relationships very carefully and let our prospects ‘eat something that they want to eat’ - i.e. content from us. We only serve them up what they’re interested in and we just use our tech to enable that."
Julie Parsons, Global Marketing Communications Director at White & Case: “Fundamentally what we do as marketers has not changed. We need an unrelenting focus on understanding our clients' needs and to deliver products and services that meet those needs.”
Claire Mason, Founder and CEO at Man Bites Dog: “A lot of organisations have built the machine but not the content to fuel it. At the moment, we’re seeing quite a lot of friction when it comes to marketing automation in particular because the tool is new and is being seen as everything. It’s like CGI in the film industry leading to some terrible films!”
Our panellists were asked, ‘how can we foster some love between sales and marketing teams?'. The short answer: compromise and co-creation.
Tim Stone, VP Marketing EMEA at Polycom: “Have joint meetings with marketing and sales to set targets (metrics and ROI) and create partnership. It’s not rocket science but you need to put that discipline in place.”
Julie: “If we see ourselves as different teams, we’ve failed already. The competition is on the outside, it should never be on the inside. We find champions and kick off an initiative with a passionate BD on side. We then make a rip-roaring success of it and share it around the business. We show how it can be done when marketing and sales people work together as one team. We call it rolling in, not rolling out!”
Bernard: “Imagine you’ve got naysayers in the group – invite the noisiest and ask for their input. By asking their opinion, you’ll get their buy-in.”
For more tips on pushing ideas through an organisation, flick through our slidedeck.
Our panellists believe that face-to-face meetings and relationship building are still crucial for B2B selling. However, you need good content and lead gen tools to make them effective.
Bernard: “We need to take inspiration from consumer brands and create an experience and touch on prospects’ aspirations. For example, Deloitte runs transition labs for new CFOs – we interview people at all levels in the firm and map out their business life with them across several days. Once you’ve offered that support, you’ve got a friend for life. It’s about creating an emotional bond.”
Claire: “Marketing teams often don’t think all the way through to a sales meeting. If you create incredible content, you need to create a call to action for a service as well as reason for an interaction. For example, an element of gamification or a tool for a meeting. You need to plan the whole journey together with the sales approach in mind.”
Our panellists discussed the importance of data, analytics and personalisation in understanding buyers and encouraging them to a sale.
Bernard: “We’ve developed personas - working out the demographic for a style of person based on background, financial, emotional factors. What we’re trying to create is one campaign with two different journeys - a cheap one and an expensive one with content assets to match. As people change their buying behaviour or seniority, they get invited to the more expensive bit of a campaign such as a big event.”
Tim: “We have a Google Analytics guru on the team and have plotted out the buyer journey. Often the journey starts very high up in the organisation and during the evaluation stage ends up quite low. The ‘evaluator’ is often in their 30s, social network savvy and loves video content. We’ve angled our marketing to educate those people who are doing the discovery for their bosses as they heavily influence decision-making.”
Claire: “A commercially-effective idea is about making people think, feel and do but without the ‘feel’ it’s not effective. We often think personalisation is about giving data for your country, job role, sector but we need to connect to the human being. That emotional connection is really important.”
See more on creating campaigns that make people ‘think, feel and do’ in Alex’s blog.
Our panellists feel that marketing teams need to adapt for a digital age. That means upskilling existing teams and hiring in.
Bernard: “Before marketing automation, the marketing people could manage the customer journey themselves. Now we need more technically minded and analytics focused people - so we hired them. The extra challenge on the creative side is reducing weighty content into digestible content for a mobile audience.”
Tim: “We’ve brought the expertise in-house and have coding skills within our team. With two experts we can now support all of the regions with any event or campaign they want to run. We also have creative people in the team and they work off each other.”
Julie: “Our partners tend to be considerably older than some of these prospects coming through who are digital natives that want bite-sized information, not our traditional brochures and print materials. We need to work out how to make this shift from the old ways that our partners are comfortable with to selling in the future.”
Julie Parsons is the Global Marketing Communications Director at White & Case, the international law firm. Julie works closely with the CMO, global marketing and BD teams and partners and has developed her own ways of getting people more engaged with marketing.
Bernard O’Brien has over 30 years of B2B marketing and sales experience, beginning his career as a sales rep for Rank Xerox and IBM in Australia. He is now in a leadership role as Director, Marketing Operations, Consulting at Deloitte.
Tim Stone (@stonecollab) is VP Marketing EMEA for Polycom and former Marketing Director for Collaboration at Cisco Systems. Tim thinks successful companies are those where sales and marketing work closely together and he’s led Polycom to do just that.
Claire Mason (@womanbitesdog) is Founder and CEO at Man Bites Dog and has spent the last decade making it her mission to make B2B extraordinary. She is passionate about the power of big ideas to create commercial impact and the need to converge marketing, PR and sales to move from content to conversation.