Saturday, August 19, 2023

What is marketing strategy?

In my career, 'marketing strategy' has come up from time to time. However, often it has been confused with operational effectiveness. 

Operational effectiveness Is Not Strategy.

The root of the problem in answering the question of 'what is marketing strategy?'; is the need for more clarity to distinguish between operational effectiveness and strategy.

Of course, companies must be flexible to respond rapidly to competitive and market changes. They must benchmark continuously to achieve best practices.

Marketing has more platforms, ways to measure and analytics benchmarks than ever. Although the resulting operational improvements have often been dramatic, many companies have been frustrated by their inability to translate those gains into sustainable marketing profitability. Key metrics like cost per click, cost per impression, cost per lead and opportunity continue to rise despite these improvements in all aspects of marketing technology. 

‘A rising tide lifts all boats’

When everyone benefits from these incremental operational improvements – anything from better buyer intent data, to a clearer understanding of which marketing channels, campaigns, and ads drive the best results (Marketing ROI or ROAS), by the same logic, no one benefits.

That is too stark an option since, yes, some companies are in the top 5% of utilizing the latest marketing technology the most effectively and naturally, they will benefit relative to the competition. But the problem is that those methods can be duplicated.

In my 20 years in Marketing, I have heard much more about marketing operational effectiveness than marketing strategy. At some companies I've worked at, no one, even in the marketing department, had a clear idea of the marketing strategy, nor could they articulate it.

Occasionally this topic comes up profoundly. For example, a few years ago, the CMO of a fast-growing and successful software company I worked for wanted to move away from marketing focused on lead generation, to branding. Eventually, the will of the CEO prevailed; the CMO left, and the company abandoned branding entirely to focus 100% on lead generation. However, these conversations are far from the most common in marketing.

For a B2B Startup, what's more important - Branding or Demand Generation (Activation)? Turns out the CMO and the CEO were both right.

Operational effectiveness and strategy are both essential to superior performance, which, after all, is the primary goal of a marketing team. But a company can only outperform its rivals sustainably in the long term if it has a superior marketing strategy.

Operational effectiveness means performing similar activities better than rivals. Another reason that improved operational effectiveness is insufficient—competitive convergence—is more subtle and insidious. The more benchmarking companies do, the more they look alike.

So what exactly is a Marketing Strategy for a Business to Business company?

A business-to-business (B2B) marketing strategy is a comprehensive plan designed to promote and sell products or services from one business to another. This strategy is tailored to the unique dynamics of B2B interactions, where the customer base consists of other businesses, rather than individual consumers.

The first key aspect of a B2B marketing strategy is a deep understanding of the target market. This involves conducting thorough research to identify the specific industries, companies, and decision-makers most likely to benefit from the products or services offered. 

Once the target audience is defined, the strategy creates a value proposition that addresses these businesses' specific challenges and needs. This might involve showcasing how the product or service improves efficiency, reduces costs, enhances productivity, or provides a competitive advantage.

The second component is communication. Effective B2B marketing strategies utilize various channels to reach decision-makers within the target businesses. These could include industry conferences, trade shows, professional networks, email campaigns, and content marketing. 

Content is crucial in B2B marketing, as it demonstrates expertise and thought leadership. Case studies, whitepapers, webinars, and informative blog posts can help showcase the company's knowledge and ability to solve complex business problems. 

However, You should not indiscriminately and blindly churn out vast quantities of information. An over-arching marketing content strategy should drive all marketing campaigns - from webinars to white papers, from blog posts to case studies (in video form or traditional, written).

Lastly, a successful B2B marketing strategy involves building and maintaining relationships. B2B transactions often involve longer sales cycles and higher-value contracts, so establishing trust and credibility is essential. Relationship-building efforts could include personalized follow-ups, exceptional customer support, and nurturing leads through the sales funnel. 

Regular engagement through networking events, webinars, roundtables (virtual and/or real) and workshops can reinforce the company's position as a reliable partner, encouraging repeat business and fostering long-term collaborations.

And let's remember the Sales Team (& Sales Development team!): In B2B marketing, typically, sales are made by the sales team, not directly on the website. So good sales and marketing alignment is critical

Saturday, April 22, 2023

What 'Dr Bob' taught me about Marketing for startups

One of my closest friends is a Doctor, someone I often visit for advice. He also has a medical PhD from one of the world's pre-eminent medical schools.

I've learned much from 'Dr Bob' (let's call my friend 'Bob') about being ethical, patient, rational, objective, and compassionate. 

Bob and I have a dark sense of humour which serves us well in dealing with life's difficulties. The more I've gotten to know Bob, the more I've learned to respect his outlook on life. 

What is his life philosophy? He is a stoic. He once told me that he didn't like the word 'happiness' and preferred the Greek term eudaimonia.

In the works of Aristotle, eudaimonia was the term for the highest human good in the older Greek tradition. It is a central concept in Aristotelian ethics.

I've worked for many tech startups in my marketing career, spanning 15 years. My role often feels like being a doctor. Of course, the stakes are lower; money may be lost, but no one will die if I fail. 

But I have been lucky to have worked at companies where the patients have thrived and become world-record-beating athletes! – when you've seen those 'patients' struggling, on their knees at times, it's wonderful to be part of that transformation!

Despite my education and training, I've made mistakes earlier in my career; Once, I was involved in a mismanaged website rebrand.

Our leadership had not realised that changing the website would crash all our search and SEO traffic. 

Another time, I made some errors with our database and email campaigns that got our Marketing automation software shut down. I was forced into negotiations to get it back up and running (luckily, it only went down for two days).

No talent, intelligence or education will help you entirely avoid mistakes – only experience will. Fortunately, it's been many years since I made such professional blunders. Over time you build up the wisdom to make the right judgment calls.

Co-workers at Startups, like patients, can be rude, disrespectful, and dismissive of your experience and training at times. But when this happens to me now, I act like a doctor.

– Why is this or that person at that company so rude? Is it because they are bad people? No, of course not - In my experience, at least not in nine times out of ten cases. Often they are stressed out and not thinking straight. 

I'm human, and using my valuable skills to help when they are not appreciated sometimes feels bad. But I've become much more empathetic over the years. 

The VC-backed startup world can be tough. Your targets - from lead numbers to sales revenue - can vary from aggressively ambitious to almost impossible. So that even if you have growth rates that would be considered stellar in the regular business world, more is often needed!

Sometimes it feels like no amount of effort or results will satisfy your PE investors. But they risk their money, so fair enough!

I'm lucky to love my work, which helps me to stay calm and reasonable in most tough situations. I know how lucky I am to do what I enjoy  - many people don't have that luxury!

One part of the job I absolutely adore is working with data. I enjoy discussing data science and analytics with Dr 'Bob'; Our outlooks are rational, ethical and scientific.

If your business-to-business technology startup is struggling with its Sales and Marketing, why not take a look at some of my work and see what you think?

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Reproductive healthcare for productive employees


Why your company must implement fertility and menopause policies now.

Or how to get your 40-65-year-old male CEO to care about menopause and fertility in the workplace.      

There’s plenty of research to show that happy employees are more productive and that objectively ranked happy companies (via Glassdoor and other review sites) outperform other publicly listed companies on the stock exchange.

As a senior executive said to me recently, 'Happiness is not a KPI' - and I get it; businesses care about revenue, profits, and productivity, not employee happiness! 

But listening to your employees and responding to their needs is crucial if you want your company to succeed. Only more so today than ever, where employees are in short supply generally and where there’s an even greater scarcity of top talent in areas as diverse as Sales, engineering, software programming, data science, and more.

What should you do to attract and retain talent and ensure that your employees are not quiet quitting (or even rage quitting)?

One key step is to start implementing reproductive healthcare policies at your company. For example, menopause support is a hot topic and will only grow in importance in the workplace. 

Menopausal women are not only some of your best-performing and most productive employees but also tired of being ignored. According to the latest research, 42% of women consider leaving their jobs because of menopause.

If you don’t have a policy, why not check out a typical menopause policy template? Many companies, such as the BBC, Astra Zeneca, Diageo, and Santander, already have these policies.

Ultimately, these productivity losses can cost more than $150 billion a year, according to research company Frost & Sullivan. They show that other healthcare costs could rise to $810 billion.

Research by Bupa and CIPD in 2019 also found that almost a million women in the UK left their job in the last year because of menopausal symptoms.

To avoid losing significant numbers of some of your most valuable employees, the female workforce aged 35-65 (which could be up to 100 million employees in Europe & 50 million in the US.), you must offer rigorous menopause support.

Your employee brand is also likely to be labeled sexist and ageist if you don’t start responding to this critical demographic of your workforce. Here are some of the best menopause websites if you want to explore more about this issue:

European Menopause and Andropause Society

International Menopause Society

Menopause and me

Then there’s the rising problem of infertility. One in Six of your employees will struggle with fertility problems. According to the latest research, more than half of those employees with fertility problems are not getting support at work.

Did you know that 77% of Gen z’s and millennials said they would stay at a company if it offered fertility benefits, and a large majority said they would even consider changing jobs for better benefits?

Fertility is no longer solely a women’s issue. All family-forming benefits policies must be developed to meet the needs of LGBTQ employees and men because up to 50 percent of fertility issues sit with them.

We know that IVF is still a luxury service for most people. This financial burden is an additional tax for women of colour, LGBTQ+, and single people. That is why employers create health policies for people regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or marital status; it promotes economic equity in the workplace.

Some of your company’s most productive and valuable employees could be struggling with a range of issues, such as:

  • Finding the best egg-freezing clinic
  • Finding the best IVF clinic
  • What are the best ovulation apps?
  • Fertility Support

And the outcomes can be brutal for an employee, from having to take time out of their busy schedules to arrange doctors’ appointments, to experiencing depression if their latest round of IFV has failed. The impact on your business, too, could be severe.

How can you better support your employees going through fertility struggles at work? Read the Manager’s guide to fertility challenges for more details on how you can help.

Encourage your employees to be open about their problems. This sounds easy but can be one of the hardest challenges. HR is often seen as ‘the enemy’ in this environment, with little company or employee loyalty. 

Research shows that in many organisations, employees would rather talk to anyone about their problems than to Human Resources. Indeed, the same goes for sharing the most personal and vulnerable information about your fertility journey.

1. Will HR use this information against me at any time?

2. Will my colleagues be supportive? Or will they be judgemental and even unkind?

When we inquired about employees’ reluctance to turn to HR, a recent survey found that 37% of respondents believe HR is more interested in advocating for their company than they are for them.

Don't you want to be an organisation where your employees do not feel such negative emotions and feel they can open up and be vulnerable about challenges such as menopause or fertility?

But if your company is a healthy place to share, supports its employees, and enables them to share their challenges and problems, you can breed many success stories, and increase happiness, loyalty, retention, and productivity at your company.

The goal has been to turn yesteryear's reactive and compliance-focused HR model into one where leaders are seen as trusted executive partners and employee advocates. In this approach, HR leaders sit at the leadership table to advise executives on culture and speak up for employees and their needs.

So far, many employees’ fertility needs have been ignored by their employers. However, companies like Centrica, NatWest, Clifford Chance, and Twilio offer fertility support, ranging from help finding egg-freezing providers to IVF. To find out more about menopause support and fertility support at work, go here.

Friday, March 10, 2023

How to be happy - countries, companies, employees & people

One in six employees is suffering from mental health problems.
I have been interested in health and wellbeing, both at an academic & personal level, for quite a few years now. This event was centred around Professor Lord Richard Layard of the LSE and Jan-Emmanuel de neve of Oxford University's new book 'Wellbeing: Science & Policy'.

Professor Layard began with Thomas Jefferson's quote that 'The care of human life and happiness is the only legitimate object of good government' - Professor Layard also said that the UK's opposition (Labour) leader has committed to making wellbeing, not GDP alone, one of his key drivers of policy. 

How do Professors De Neve and Layard measure happiness? It's simple yet brilliant. The survey-takers just ask this:

It's a powerful question - more predictive of your longevity than running a battery of medical tests with your doctor (the famous 'medical'). I urge you to ask that about your own life, your work, your relationships and your home. 

Professor Layard said he could think of no more important question for the government. I can think of no more important question to ask yourself. 

Professor De Neve has researched tracking companies' share price performance that rated happiest versus a range of other key indices. As you can see from the chart above, happier companies outperformed all other indices and were exceptionally resilient during downturns. 

His research at Oxford's Said School of Business also shows that happy employees are 13% more productive. This holds obvious implications for CEOs, CFO's and heads of Human resources.

What causes happiness? Is it income? Education? Physical health? No, actually, the most significant correlation is with Mental health, as you can see by this chart. The only correlation that the speakers did not cover was that of friendship. I'd like to explore friendship since it profoundly affects happiness.

At the end of the talk, we had the opportunity to ask questions. So I asked 'bearing in mind that Sir Keir Starmer has said that he would pursue policies of wellbeing in his next government; assuming that his government wins the next election, and that you have a 'one shot' chance to implement the most impactful 'wellbeing policy', what would it be?'

Unsurprisingly the speakers said they would tackle mental health, which they have already been working on - helping over 700,000 people with their initiatives. However, they said they would focus specifically on addiction (substance abuse, alongside other addictions like eating disorders and gambling).

Later that evening, having dinner with a friend, we discussed that response. My friend told me he was surprised since he thought this would affect a small number of people in society. 

Yet around 8 per cent of the population are addicts; 6 per cent are addicted to alcohol. Less than 10 per cent of them have received any help. Even a well-educated Oxford graduate did not realise the extent of this mental health crisis and the misery it's causing.

Thursday, December 01, 2022

How to drive more quality traffic to your B2B Website

During my career, I've worked with many businesses that have had a variety of marketing challenges:

  • How to drive more traffic to their Website - for example, a new CMOs will rebrand the website, which has the unintended consequence of crashing the SEO traffic.
  • How to reach more of their target accounts (with the highest customer lifetime value).
  • Ensuring their marketing efforts get all the right contacts at those target accounts.
  • How to guarantee that they hit target accounts at the proper stages in the marketing and sales cycle (Awareness, decision, Purchase).

I've faced many hindrances– from poor web design and uninspiring ad copy and creatives; to misunderstood web analytics or siloed marketing teams that don't communicate.

Events are often an essential component of the B2B marketing mix. But they can never replace high-quality multi-channel digital campaigns. 

You may think, 'hey, Events are driving leads. What does it matter if our Website is bad?'

But get this: 80% of a buying decision in B2B Software will soon be made independently of the salesperson. 

If your website sucks, your sales team will lose 80% of their ability to close sales.

I've also worked for startups (and even large companies) with no real demand generation engine to create leads for the sales team. In that scenario, it can be hard to convince a board of directors with little or no knowledge of or interest in marketing to spend $100,000 or more on a CRM and Marketing Automation tool and ad campaigns in Google, Linkedin and other platforms.

But doing so is vital if you want to scale your business.

The Digital Marketing 'Flywheel'

I'm a firm believer in Hubspots inbound marketing methodology to drive sales. I read Brian Halligan's book when it came out in 2009. I also couldn't agree with Brian more that it's time to retire 'the sales funnel', which is so 1990s.

We need a fast-moving, dynamic sales/marketing flywheel in the digital age. In my next post, I will describe how to generate leads through such a flywheel (Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engine Marketing, Email Marketing, Content Marketing and so on)............

Marketing continually tries to define 'success' and find the perfect metrics to measure it. Is it the number of leads? Is it conversion rates? Is it sales meetings, pipeline, or even sales revenue generated by Marketing (Notoriously hard to attribute in b-2-b SaaS businesses)?

Ultimately the best marketing tends to have a flywheel of content that includes every channel - email, paid digital, organic and events (virtual, real, hybrid) - all working in harmony. Account-based marketing tools like Demandbase or 6Sense can help you identify if you are reaching your target accounts at every level. 

And, of course, a powerful paid advertising campaign - on LinkedIn, google, and perhaps Twitter and other platforms too - will 'rocket propel' your B2B Sales and Marketing strategy.

It's also important to remember that accomplishing results is a team effort. I've been lucky to have worked for some amazing sales and marketing teams in my career!

Saturday, October 01, 2022

The Future of Software Innovation: IDC DevOps '22 event in London

IDC DevOps UK 2022 is one of the leading Software testing events in the UK. Digital marketing is still my main area of expertise. However, there has been one unexpected benefit to me from running a series of events as part of my UK, Ireland, and Northern Europe Marketing Manager role at Tricentis; Meeting customers and prospects again!

Just a few weeks ago, I talked to a CIO at a major insurance company about the challenges of bringing together 17 companies that his company had acquired, each with its legacy systems and ways to run IT and Security teams. I would never have gotten that insight, sitting in a room with a bunch of marketers, working on 'buyer personas'

Jen Thompson is the lead IDC analyst in Europe for 'accelerated app delivery' and an expert on 'The future of software innovation'. She delivered the keynote at around 9.30 am, just after our breakfast and networking session at 9 am. She talked about being fortunate to have so much survey-driven data about her industry, some of which she wanted to share with us. 

One challenge in DevOps is putting rules into place to enable innovation at scale. The demand for new applications is so intense and growing so fast that a competitive company must have an airtight system to deliver quality software quickly.

Jen also talked about how IDC has noticed companies moving from 'Digital transformation' into a digital-first strategy. For 81% of European organizations, digital innovation is the 2023 priority. Jen gave a few examples:

  • Vodafone – putting software development at the center of the business, and they plan to triple their number of software engineers by 2025 (adding 7000 hires).
  • Lego plans to triple its software engineers in the next three years.

Organizations that scale their software development and innovation will win in the next five years. Then Jen mentioned three questions that have come up repeatedly, not only during this event but at another two-day CIO event I attended a few weeks earlier – CIO Connect at Sopwell House:

  • What tools do they have to help them?
  •  Do they have enough skilled technical workers?
  •  Do they have the right culture to meet rapidly growing demands?

There will be a 2x increase in organizations with an innovation-led approach. I couldn't help thinking of how these insights will play out in the UK; We are currently the 'stagnation nation' with flatlining productivity, employee shortages, and a lack of investment (both private and public).

We need to think about how we design for speed and scale since 40% of organizations are telling IDC that they want to deliver more and faster than they have over the last two years.

The market delivers features in 4-5 weeks. However, 'Disruptors' (under 12%) release in 6 days or under – by 2023, it will be 20%. But those are the numbers for Europe. On the one hand, Germany and France are famously 30% more productive than the UK. However, on the other hand, the UK is ahead as a more innovative country. It made me think, how many of these 'disruptors' are operating out of the UK?  It'd be good to get those numbers for the UK.

After Jen's presentation, our very own Bernhard Klemm, Partner Solution Architect EMEA at Tricentis, started with a strong statement: 'The faster you can deliver applications, the more likely you can beat your competition and win retain those valuable customers.'

The majority of applications still take three months or more to be delivered. The reason for such long delays?

Bernhard told us that the top three challenges stated that complicate or delay the delivery of applications are:

• Integration with legacy systems

• Fuzzy and changing requirements

• The time necessary for testing and QA

Organizations have mainly invested in customer-centric practices like Agile Methodologies to overcome those challenges and speed up application delivery.

According to Gartner, by 2025, 70% of applications will be powered by low-code or no-code technologies.

The low-code technology promises to help developers save time by eliminating time-consuming, repetitive codes, freeing them up to ideate and create more intuitive applications.

As the barrier of "code" disappears, the benefits of test automation positively impact their daily life. Developers and Test Automation Engineers are more likely to engage with Low-Code test automation – where they can still use their coding expertise significantly – and retain their core skillset. In contrast, Test and Business analysts will likely be more motivated to use no-code solutions.

The manager's role is to ensure that the team delivers the business value – fast and high quality. He doesn't care how their team accomplishes that goal. Does that seem familiar?

Bernhard explained that with Tricentis Tosca, you could Build No-Code, resilient automated tests through a unique approach that separates the automation model from the underlying application. This approach has reduced the maintenance effort required for adapting test automation to frequent changes. Using Tosca, you can cover your value stream by supporting more than 160+ technologies and enterprise applications.

Bernhard ran through other products companies can use to deliver no code, low code automated, and AI testing. But one that stood out in the presentation for me was Testim. Companies use Testim to automate web applications. Whether you are a manual tester, developer, or automation engineer, all users can use Testim to accomplish their goals. It's SaaS-based, Low-code, and AI-powered to help you create tests fast, minimizing test maintenance to keep releases on time.

We finished the day with a roundtable in which we asked a selection of senior DevOps professionals and application leaders this question:

Application leaders: Are speed and quality the key to achieving top business goals?

I manned the white screen and started writing out our table's answers. Early on, an application leader at BT said that quality would always be his priority. He said that quality must be guaranteed to ensure the functioning of his company's highly complex network technology. And the group agreed with this point, so we moved on to our table's question. 

-How do you build teams where quality is the entire team's responsibility?

Our table agreed that the solution to this was two-fold:

> Product-based teams

Ensuring that a team is working towards delivering a specific product ensures that each member is fully invested in completing that product, whether an application, a new release, or even a newly developed piece of software.

> Culture

From culture, we talked about the theme of the day – the war for talent, and how all companies need more software developers, testers, DevOps analysts, engineers, and automation engineers. But as many commented, the talent pool did not seem to grow whilst the demand was.

We talked about the possibility of training. But the consensus was that if I trained one of my team to develop the skills needed to become an automation engineer, his skills would become even more marketable. He is even more likely to be poached by a recruiter and leave my company after I've invested much time and money into him.

Tricentis Sales Executive Cillian Golden presenting Airpod Pros to an IT Director at an Enterprise Company.

This conundrum highlighted the issue of trust in the organization. It has broken down. And managers and their teams are often at loggerheads. For example, recently, Microsoft commissioned a survey on working from home. 80% of managers thought their employees worked more effectively in the office. But for employees, it was the exact opposite. 80% of employees said that they worked more productively from home.

Under the question of 'Culture', we also discussed siloed organizations being a blocker to quality. That quality requires cooperation (altruism even), and inter-team coordination. And we agreed that innovation also needs those conditions to thrive. Our table decided on the following as our final point before the end of the afternoon:

>Negative – siloed approach, limited collaboration, low trust, not sharing information or resources

>Positive – Product-led, common goals, end-to-end ownership of app delivery value streams

I had no idea the moderator would ask 'the spokesperson' from each of the eight tables to outline what we'd discussed. I was selected to go through the critical points on the microphone, which gave me a kick of adrenaline at 4 pm – even better than a double espresso!

Saturday, April 02, 2022

What high performing sales & marketing teams do differently (and what you can learn from them)

Running out of ideas on how to create more sales at your company? Do you think you know everything about B2B Sales & Marketing already?

Ever heard of BANT?

Budget Authority Timing Need – OK, fair enough, you got it! it's how your Inside Sales Team will qualify a lead before passing it to the Sales team to continue its journey, hopefully, to close.

But how about MEDDIC?

Focusing on MEDDIC is what turned a million-dollar business into a billion-dollar business, according to Brian Halligan, founder, and CEO of Hubspot.

"From $0 to $100 million, [PTC was] successful because we sold a better widget," HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan said. "From $100 million to $1 billion, we sold a shift in technology. MEDDIC became important because it's not just any old purchase — it's a transformation of the business."

You should consider using MEDDIC as a qualification framework if your company sells a product that requires a transformation in behavior or the average sales price is incredibly high, as understanding exactly how a prospect buys, why they would buy, and who's championing you internally is crucial to maintaining an accurate pipeline.

How about 'Sales & Marketing alignment'? - Did you know that because of the massive changes in how B2B sales work, some companies are no longer separating sales from marketing? Yes,  They work together in the same unit/department. 

Two companies I've worked at that absolutely 'nailed' Sales and marketing were: Zscaler, founded in 2008 and now a $50 Billion company: And Visual IQ, founded in 2006 and was recently bought by Nielsen.

Both companies had a sales team and process that came from bigger organizations.

At Visual IQ, our entire sales team came from Adobe and used Adobe's lead development methodology. We were closing millions of annual subscription deals with companies like Target, Crate & Barrel, Honda, Amex and Bank of America.

At Zscaler, our sales team came from big companies like Fortinet, Paolo Alto, VM Ware and Cisco. Our sales bible, from our CEO Jay Chaudhri, was 'The Challenger Sale'. At Zscaler our team closed deals at Barclays Bank, Wonga and Coats while I was there.

Back in the 00s, everyone said that successful sales were about great relationship management – you' wine and dine' the prospect, make them feel special, and listen to their every whim.

But then came 'The Challenger Sale

It revolutionized the way we look at sales 

– A book based on hundreds of thousands of data points from hundreds of companies. The Team over at Corporate Executive Board made a breakthrough – 'Relationship managers' did not close the most sales. In fact, it was 'Sales Challengers.' What do Sales challengers do that's so effective and different?

As a Challenger, you offer a new perspective to your prospect and don't shy away from conversations about money. You understand what brings them value and leverage that information to deliver an irresistible pitch — and to pressure them tactfully. Remember the three T's: You teach them something valuable, tailor the sales pitch, and take control of the conversation.

Here are the stats

  • 40% of high sales performers primarily used a Challenger style.
  • High performers were more than 2x likely to use a Challenger approach than any other approach.
  • More than 50% of all-star performers fit the challenger profile in complex sales.
  • Only 7% of top performers took a relationship-building approach — the worst-performing profile.

Another book that profoundly influenced me was 'Inbound Marketing' by Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan, founders of Hubspot. I first read it in 2008, when I lived three blocks from the HubSpot HQ in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and I'd see Brian and his team in our local bar!

The first key point in the book is the importance of creating a marketing flywheel of resources that not only hit every channel but also hit each sales stage, as well as utilize every type of content out there, from ebooks to videos.

My second key point is the importance of almost zen-like communication between the marketing and sales teams.

You can do all the lead scoring, ABM campaigning, and predictive analytics you like but if your Sales & Marketing teams need to communicate more effectively, these strategies will have limited effects.

By 'communicating' I suggest having real conversations about how you work together - the pros and cons; Don't be afraid to get down & dirty about what's going wrong! Equally or even more importantly, make sure to celebrates what's going right!

These exchanges require trust, honesty, and sharing vulnerabilities and mistakes. This requires psychological safety across the company. Even more importantly, this trust is built up over time. So if you have a bad culture and/or high turnover, that could be a problem.

At High-performance enterprise B2B companies I worked at, like Zscaler, Hansen Technologies, CloudSense and Tricentis, I met with our sales team & each salesperson once a week. We reviewed their target accounts and devised approaches and campaigns based on those conversations.

At Visual IQ, not a week went past that I did not talk to at least three VPs of Sales at some length about their targets and how to accomplish them.

Why is it important to hold Your Teams Accountable With a Service-Level Agreement?

The Sales and Marketing SLA

An SLA agreement between a service provider and its customer guarantees a specific output. When it comes to sales and marketing, this is a two-way agreement, with marketing promising a certain number of leads to sales and sales promising to contact those leads within a defined timeframe. 

In this activity, you'll need your sales data for an entire year divided into quarters. You'll need to know the following:

● How many qualified leads did you generate? 

● How many of them became sales opportunities? 

● How many of those opportunities are closed to create new customers? 

● What was the value of each sale? 

A typical SLA: 

Every month, marketing will deliver ______ qualified leads to sales, and sales will contact each lead within _____ hours of receiving it. 

An SLA like that puts you in the top 5% of companies. But you can be even better than that.

The Judicial Branch

Sales and Marketing often jostle on almost every issue that crosses both functions. A typical conversation may sound something like this:

Salesperson: the leads this quarter were weak. That's why I missed my target

Marketer: What are you talking about? The leads this quarter are better than ever!

Now, this is a very simplistic way of demonstrating the problem. It may be similar to what I experienced at an Enterprise software company a few years ago.

Marketing had generated a lead through an event, which we then marketed to, mainly through email and some Google ad retargeting. Finally, about nine months after this event, the lead broke through and eventually became a sale – one of almost $5 million (annual license). 

While attributing the lead, the salesperson claimed that this was a contact he had been networking with during this time; the lead was, in fact, a friend of his of over five years standing. This situation can be quite commonplace in industries like Telecommunications, or Insurance, which are amazingly incestuous; everyone seems to know everyone.

How did we solve this conflict? The Chief Commercial Officer split the lead source between sales and marketing generated. 

However, I recommend having someone outside sales and marketing make these decisions (as recommended by Hubspot). For the judicial branch to be effective, it's paramount that its members are unbiased and focused on what's best for the company.

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