We recently attended (and covered) the 2016 SiriusDecisions Summit, right here in our backyard — Nashville, TN. During four days of best practices, research, and new innovations, I interviewed seven different leaders in demand generation and marketing and asked every one of them the same question.
How does the idea of “intelligent growth” frame your demand generation and marketing strategy?
Listen below to an audio review of the conference, featuring prominent presenters, attendees, and sponsors from SiriusDecisions. Read on for a compilation of the best answers we received.
Meagen Eisenberg, CMO of MongoDB
Framing Demand Generation with Intelligent Growth
“We’re trying to get smarter about knowing what we’re going to sell you, or who you’re going to be talking to, or if we should even be talking to you. Part of intelligent growth is understanding who’s coming in, getting the right information, and learning as much about you as we can to better engage you. We’ve found most of that information with our 23 nurture programs, based on your title, role, industry, revenue size, and things you’ve done on our web properties. We’ve definitely seen an increase in our pipeline and a decrease in our sales cycle by getting leads warmed up before they even talk to sales.
“People are always nervous about nurture programs, but if they hand off information to sales, isn’t sales going to email them all the same? That looks dramatically different than being educated by a company. Teaching you about analyst reports and case studies from Gartner and Forrester is very different than reaching out and saying ‘Hey, I’d like to meet with you.’ That’s more of an aggressive scheduling email. I find they’re very different and serve very different purposes. As a buyer myself, I love to get content from companies, and I know it’s very different than someone reaching out to pitch to me.”
Biggest Takeaway from the Summit
“The first day, they had an executive half-day with a lot of CMOs and VPs of marketing. Brian Kardon, who was at Forrester, Eloqua, and now Fuze, talked about something they did as Fuze went for funding (they got a big round in February). He actually did precision-targeted on the VCs. He did email marketing, social media, ads, you name it. When the VCs came in, they already knew the business and even had an impression the business was much larger than it actually was.
“Of course you need to market these people, educate them, and get them through their buying cycle to invest in your company. Another discussion was on sales productivity for reps, a very good indicator of how successful you are in the market. Kardon was using the SiriusDecisions model with the quadrant, looking at the four areas of time your reps are spending. When they aren’t selling, that’s a waste of time. So he looked at what you can do to minimize overhead and stay on top. He had some cool models I shared with my CRO.”
Vanessa Porter, Director of Marketing at SnapApp
“Intelligent growth is about picking the right leads and getting the right content in front of the right people. We often talk about ‘don’t blast your leads,’ but I think it’s still happening. For me, it’s really about collecting all the information we get, making better business decisions, and making sure you create partnership and alignment throughout the business. As marketers, we’ve been saying not to silo and companies are still struggling with that. We have to get better and move up. We know what the road map looks like. Now it’s time to really get it done.”
Julia Stead, Director of Demand Gen at Invoca
Keeping the big picture in mind
“Intelligent growth is a great term, because it’s not about fast growth or cheap growth. How we approach it is twofold — first with scalability in mind. We make sure we have the resources and aren’t overextending ourselves. It’s important to not waste our time with bright, new, shiny objects. It’s also important to go back to the big goal: revenue and pipeline. What are the programs and channels that can help us hit those targets?
“The counterpart to that is having the data and being smarter about making decisions. It’s really about getting granular level attribution across prospect and customer touch points, whether online or in-person, and using all that data to make smart decisions and invest in channels that deliver ROI.
“There are so many different technology vendors out there. It’s easy to get caught up and think you need everything. Part of intelligent growth is focusing on the marketing problems you absolutely need to solve and how they will further your business goals using those technologies to their fullest extent? It’s important to focus on that subset and only seek out new technology if there’s a problem you want to solve or new strategy you want to approach.”
Why B2B Has Lagged Behind B2C
“B2B marketing has lagged a little bit in embracing omnichannel marketing. There are a few different reasons: one is that it’s taken marketers a while to really understand omnichannel in today’s world.
“Traditionally, we took the view that when you go to work, you do your business research, and when you clock out, that’s where your job ends. Over the past couple of years, those lines have blurred, and now B2B buyers are still being influenced by advertising and doing professional research in the evenings, on social, on their mobile devices across a variety of channels.
“It took a while for B2B to accept, embrace, and properly invest. Social is a good example. Most marketers are using it today, but three years ago, it was a risky and untested area. It’s taken awhile to wrap their head around the job being defined 9-5 during the week. As we’ve come to realize that, technology has caught up to better serve B2B. Now is the big race for B2B marketers to tie all the different pieces together like B2C have been doing effectively for the past few years.
Aaron Dun, SVP of Marketing at SnapApp
Why Companies Should Grow Aggressively
“The idea of intelligent growth is an interesting one. For me, I’m challenged by the notion of incremental change. I think incremental change is a little too safe. Intelligent growth feels a little too safe.
“As a business, you’re trying to drive growth at whatever scale you are. If you’re a billion dollar company, you’re trying to get to two billion. All those things, to me, require that you change the scope and scale of how you think about the problem. If we think about incremental growth, we think extremely narrowly about the problem. If I had 1,000 subscribers, someone could build a plan to get us to 2,000, but 10,000 is substantially more interesting. How do we get to 10,0000 blog subscribers? That’s when you can do really cool stuff — nurture marketing, cool engagement — that’s an order of magnitude above what you can do with just 1,000 or 2,000.”
Why the Martech Explosion is Hurting Us
“I was at the martech conference a few weeks ago and learned there are now over 3,800 martech companies. It’s overwhelming. People are buying for the sake of buying without thinking about the process.
“There are a few hot areas around ABM and dynamic content, segmentation, and personalization. Those are really key areas people should focus in on — anything that gives you insight into where people are going and where you want to interact with them. There’s also a level of maturity you have to consider. Can you really take advantage of that solution today? How long will it take to deploy, develop processes, etc.?
“You also have to consider if it aligns with a strategic business initiative and make sure it does, otherwise you end up with a bloated tech stack.”
Christine Ladd, Account Executive at SalesLoft
How Customer Success Impacts Intelligent Growth
“We really believe in having a customer who can grow with our company. As a salesperson, you want to book that revenue and see it on the number board; however, if you aren’t a good fit for them, or if their model doesn’t align with your processes, and they go tell people you weren’t a good fit, that can be a difficult speed bump to overcome.
“You also then are going to see oscillation in terms of the total revenue you have. For us, we think intelligent growth is centered around getting a customer who is going to grow with your product, give you intelligent feedback about how they want to grow, differentiate, and better run their process. Then it becomes a feedback loop with happy customers where we can engineer around their needs and continue to attract customers that look exactly like the ones we have today.”
Seth Lieberman, CEO at SnapApp
Marketing Taking the Reigns
“We think marketers will own the customer lifecycle in the long run. Today, that means top of the funnel and demand gen. They certainly own that. Increasingly marketing is providing solutions, assets, and tools for sales enablement. How can we help them sell better and tell better stories? Then, there’s customer marketing and advocacy. How is marketing helping sales or accounts expand/up-sell/re-sell, all that kind of stuff? Marketing has a role in all of that.
“Sales and marketing alignment is pretty rough in most big companies today. Marketers need to go first. They need to put the Q back in the MQL and earn the trust of sales by ensuring the leads they deliver are vetted and qualified. When you do that, sales starts to embrace everything else making has to offer. Even though it isn’t marketing’s fault, it’s marketing’s problem to solve that for sales.”
James Thomas, CMO of Allocadia
Measuring Marketing Results
“So much of what we discussed a few years ago was about generating awareness. It was all about the creative and artistic side. We didn’t’ have to justify spend. Everything has changed, from a business perspective. If you don’t manage your budget effectively and know where you’re spending money, you aren’t going to have a job in a couple of years.
“From a technology perspective, people have been doing this for a while on spreadsheets and disconnected tools. With the advent of cloud technology and data visualization, some of the data-science that goes into this has evolved over the past 4-5 years to the point where, now, we can quickly spin up a dashboards that changes the way we think about marketing spend. This is creating a new category called marketing performance management.”
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