Top picks from Forrester’s B2B Summit

Forrester’s long-awaited, in-person, B2B Summit for North America took place just a couple of weeks ago, and the energy was palpable.  A must-attend event, 2,000+ B2B marketing, sales and product leaders gathered in Austin, TX, looking for the latest thinking, technology and research and we at Agent3 were proud to be sponsors. 

In addition to sharing some of our experience and client successes it was great to hear from other presenters over the course of three days.

Our top picks for the most innovative and thought-provoking sessions at the Summit this year were:

1) Goodbye MQLs, Hello Opportunities: A Phased Approach To Transformation

Terry Flaherty and Amy Hawthorne kicked off their session by referencing The Beatles, and their famous song about hellos and goodbyes.   Their presentation focused on the Marketing Qualified Lead–typically the activity of a single individual within a target account–and made a great argument about the need to let go of MQLs as the central marketing measure of success. After all, the true buyer within a target account is actually a group of people – the buying group – who work together to solve a business problem.   

Goodbye to MQLs – hello opportunities!  Flaherty and Hawthorne articulated the importance of an opportunity-centric focus, whereby the marketing and the sales functions are aligned to a common view of the revenue process, with full context delivered. They described a “crawl, walk, run” migration path, which leverages existing infrastructure to support the migration to buying groups and opportunities. They provided guidance on some key actions needed to get started–such as the creation of the opportunity object in marketing and salesforce automation systems as early as possible in the sales cycle.  For many of our clients at Agent3, this may mean something as simple as enabling xDRs (telesales representatives) to effectively engage all of the key buyers in a sales cycle–economic decision-makers, champions, influencers and even ratifiers.  Agent3 shares this view about the importance of engaging an entire buying group associated with an opportunity, as we support our clients in building the right insights, messaging and content to do so effectively.

2) Smarter Demand, Scalable ABM: B2B Marketing’s Next EvolutionBob Peterson and Laura Cross presented on the growing convergence of demand generation and ABM.  They began with a rather startling data point from a recent Forrester research study.  When asked about the relationship between  targeted ABM and broad-based demand efforts, 82% of survey respondents noted a desired future state where demand and ABM are broadly or fully aligned.  That figure was up from 54% just two years ago.  The most common reasons cited were the significant synergies by bringing these functions together, as well as the need to have agile teams to support marketing needs.  The big, bold idea in this presentation: convergence will lead marketing organisations to reconsider the need for distinct functional teams, and move to consolidated organisations focused on opportunity marketing.  This convergence trend will drive the application of ABM principles to more traditional demand programs.   The presenters covered how resources, planning, and capabilities must be positioned to embrace this unified future of demand and ABM marketing.  

One example:  The ability to manage and effectively use technology will be pivotal to smarter demand and ABM at scale.  Agent3 has recognized this trend for quite some time, and has invested in a range of technology, service and partner offerings that enable clients to do more.  Agent3 supports clients to deliver bespoke and tailored 1:1 programs, while also using technology to broadly reach key markets.   

Another example is ABM measurement, which needs to be fit-for-purpose based on the demand generation or ABM motion being undertaken.  We address some of these issues in our blog series on ABM measurement, so if some of the topics covered here are familiar to you, we’d encourage you to take a read.

In addition to these thought provoking sessions, it was great to see Liam Jacklin sharing case studies of account-centric growth strategies, in addition to co-hosting a breakfast with one of our technology partners, Folloze, about the use of technology to scale ABM programs while retaining a level of personalization more characteristic of a 1:1 program.  

As I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, it was great to finally be in the same room as our partners and customers – the energy was real!

If you’d like any further information about anything I’ve covered here, please reach out at hello@agent3.com, we’d love to hear your views!

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