At the heart of any marketing strategy, one objective always rings clear; pipeline generation. Build a bigger pipeline and make it faster to close and greatness beckons (as well as the admiration and advocacy of those in Sales leadership positions!). In a world where the shift to data driven marketing techniques and new forms of engagement is only accelerating, choosing the right strategy and tactics to build pipeline is becoming ever more complex. McKinsey has continuously declared that digital and data driven marketing and sales drives the greatest impact.
This was the theme of dinner we hosted alongside, Julie Woods Moss, the 16th most influential CMO in the world by Forbes in 2017 and advisor to Agent3, and long term friend of Agent3, Chris Boorman, VP of Marketing and demand generation for EMEA and the Global Head of Marketing for Automation, CA. We looked to explore and understand what practical steps our guests had taken to drive transformation and what works in the real world and what does not.
I would like to share five themes that came from the dinner:
- Customer centricity is key. This is not new news, but the difference now is the amount of technology and resources we have to achieve real customer centricity. It is not just about customer sat surveys or feedback. The CMOs round the table said you need to know the customers’ business inside out; the market, their goals, strategy and ambitions. It goes further – understand the stakeholders, their career, their pressures and challenges and use these insights throughout the marketing journey – from content to storytelling to engagement. This is where data and insight come into play; having the right information you can actually use to inform your campaigns and gain knowledge about your key stakeholders.
- Be multi-skilled at multi-channel. While we still hear of requests for events and ads from those in sales that see marketing as the ‘colouring in department’, there has been a genuine shift towards an integrated, multi-channel world. The challenge is having access to the right, actionable insight to understand what combination of channels, online and offline, works best for each message and stakeholder.
We also talked about the rise of certain channels and approaches. Social selling, for example, was touted by several of the diners as the way to engage audiences contextually and with the human touch. But getting the content right is essential. It is not just about written word or video, but infographics, animations – useful, informative or entertaining content that tells a story. The question was raised – is social replacing email or does it complement it? What do you think? We would love to hear from you on this.
- ABM is here, but approach with caution. For key and named accounts, ABM is now the mainstream strategy and one firmly in the CMO’s armoury. But some of our guests said they had found it challenging to choose the right ABM strategy and invest wisely. Two pieces of advice were given. Firstly, for those starting out, do not necessarily try and boil the ocean and target an entire organisation, such as a bank or retailer. Instead pick a sales focus area and test that you can make it work to achieve the reputation, relationships and revenue ABM can deliver. Secondly, once you have piloted ABM and found a model that works for your organisation, look to scale ABM but be careful how you approach this and avoid losing the magic of ABM and just marketing to accounts. Ensure that ABM stays true to its name and look to cluster ABM focused on a small groups of accounts, typically in the same industry sector and with common issues or challenges.
- Insight empowers you to challenge. One guest used the theme of ‘The Giant is Bleeding’ when visiting one of his customers – a market leading service provider with millions of customers. Using deep insight into the customer and the customer’s customers, he changed the previous sales approach from a product-centric conversation in a foreign language, to a strategic conversation in the customer’s native tongue. The ‘Bleeding Giant’, he explained to the customer, was that their market dominance was being challenged from two fronts; established and start-up brands. Following the Challenger methodology (something we talked about O2 adopting) the insight our guest used gave him confidence to challenge his customer on their own customer strategy and offer consultancy for an alternative plan, backed by fact. The result? The meeting led to a series of further engagements and eventually a major deal.
- Trust is the ultimate goal. Underlying most marketing is the aim of building relationships and winning the trust of customers and prospects. Our guests thought this trust is harder to earn than ever with ever more empowered customers, and trust only comes from adding value and delivering on expectations set in the earlier stages of the buyer journey. One guest said that the customer centric discipline delivered by true ABM and the interlock of sales and marketing had been proved to help customer relationships and foster meaningful conversations.
Overall, it was a fascinating debate held at the wonderful Walbrook Club and if you’re interested in attending future dinners, register your interest here. Alternatively, we are a sponsor at this year’s B2B Marketing Conference 2018: ABM Getting it right and making it happen where we will be talking about how to successfully scale ABM. Register now to find out more.