Editor's Note: Today's guest post comes courtesy of Jon Russo, a three-time B2B Chief Marketing Officer in global high tech companies ranging from former divisions of General Electric to successful Silicon Valley start-ups. He currently runs B2B Fusion, a vendor neutral business helping business-to-business sales and marketing leaders accelerate revenue growth by connecting marketing investment to new revenue opportunities.
More than 1,500 attendees wrapped up another exciting time at the SiriusDecisions Summit 2013 last week in San Diego! The Summit enables participants to step away with a peer leader set of marketing, sales, and partners to think strategically about their business. Of my six previous conference experiences including an EMEA Summit, I noticed that this summit had more emphasis on peer-based selling, sales enablement strategies, content frameworks and a renewed emphasis on business accountability instead of just marketing accountability. Collaboration across the organization and its partners is the one consistent theme I’ve heard across all seven summits.
Several trends of discussion were new this year. Here are some concrete take aways from the Summit:
- Peer based selling and reference selling is the most effective way to accelerate deals through the funnel. This example was spelled out right before the audience members – customers led the early conference sessions by extolling benefits of their vendor capabilities rather than the vendors themselves telling how great they were. One example of this approach was Docusign's Meagen Eisenberg, who described her effective digital execution encompassing more than 70 global nurturing streams enhanced by her DemandBase and Eloqua investments. So rather than either vendor describing their value to the audience, Meagen illustrated the impact first hand.
- Sales Enablement is becoming increasingly relevant with 30% of sales time actually spent selling and 70% of the buyers journey completed before sales is engaged. CDW’s Joe Levin highlighted how CDW reduced their number of unique content pieces by 92% and managed a 4:1 reduction in partner portals to increase sales effectiveness. When the audience was polled during his presentation, more than 50% of the audience did not have a sales enablement strategy in their company.'
- Persona based content - with more than 70% of company content never used by sales, it is important to feed sales and ultimately prospects with relevant content segmented by role, industry, etc. based on what buyers want to buy, not on what you sell. PegaSystems David Donelan highlighted how the company segments global content by industry and then used a Net Promoter Score type ranking on that content, such that the field could rate/rank global sales content and tools. This was one tactic among several at Pega that led to a decrease in sales cycle time by 30 days and an average annual increase in deal size by more than $200k.
- Pivot toward business accountability and insight from not just producing more leads to producing tangible business value. Dell’s Cynthia Gumbert spoke on how she gave critical thought to the right marketing contribution to the business, which grew to $6B in four years; Joe of CDW illustrated how a 1% of time savings redirected toward selling could impact $100M in revenue.
Collaboration across the organization and its vendor/partners is the one consistent theme I’ve heard across all seven summits for case study companies to effectively pull off change. Not one case study has had a ‘go it alone’ approach in seven conferences. This time we heard customer testimonials reinforce the first point with partners like CallidusCloud, Lattice Engines, and DocuSign among others mentioned as effective partners.
I also met with Tony Jaros of SiriusDecisions at the conclusion of the conference and he shared an interesting perspective of involving CFOs in follow on conferences. He believes that now that the marketing function is accountable, marketing leaders can demonstrate business value of the marketing function to non-marketing executives.
With the sea of change that this industry is navigating, we are at an exciting point in B2B sales and marketing!
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