Note: This is part of our on-going coverage of the Sirius Decisions conference in Nashville, Tenn. The conference attracts the best and the brightest in B2B sales, marketing and products from Fortune 500 companies and major small to medium-sized enterprises.
According to Act-On‘s Director of Communications, Paige Musto, The SiriusDecisions Summit is the event for marketers. Attendees have the opportunity to learn “the new frameworks we should be implementing and how the demand waterfall is expanding/evolving.” Collectively the attendees made up over $20 billion in buying power. As Musto put it, “if you’re trying to sell a solution or network it’s a great way to evangelize your business and your product as well as build lasting relationships with people that can help further your career and that of your company.”
Below are a few excerpts from various conversations we had with attendees:
Chris Bucholtz, Content Manager at CallidusCloud
TA: How did you get involved and what are you looking forward to?
Bucholtz: We’ve been working with SiriusDecisions for a long time. The Lead to Money Suite means we can’t really focus on any one thing in isolation from other things. Luckily SiriusDecisions has a lot of research on a variety of different sales and marketing functionality. It’s important to get some visibility into what’s going on from a bunch of different angles.
What’s exciting to me is talking to the analysts about training because we’ve got this important training component to The Lead to Money Suite and it’s not usually considered a core sales/marketing application. The research was showing that not only does training help salespeople sell better, it makes sense when customers are demanding more from salespeople than just regurgitation of what’s in the brochure. They want real understanding. It also works really well in terms of sales retention.
What’s going on is people come on as a salesperson, they aren’t productive for a long time (on average it takes 10 months to become productive). Then when they get past that early stage, most companies stop training them. They figure this guy’s trained, let’s turn him loose. Then what happens is after about 2-3 years, when a salesperson becomes most productive, they start looking around for new opportunities because they don’t feel invested in by the company. The cost of replacing salespeople, especially productive ones, is enormous. It’s a huge opportunity cost.
The idea of continuing to train employees on the sales side is important–keeping them up to date on your products, the complementive environment on selling techniques, and selling technology. Doing that keeps them engaged, sends a message to the staff that the company values them. They’re not being replaceable cogs and it builds loyalty with the sales team. We talk a lot about building customer loyalty, ultimately the sales staff is going to be the customer of your training operation. Doing that right will save you a lot of money in terms of better sales team performance.
Paige Musto, Director of Communications at Act-On Software
TA: Did you learn anything surprising or anything you didn’t expect?
Musto: What I found interesting as I was attending was one of the keynote sessions. They were talking about the future of personalized ads. We’re obviously seeing those online and on your mobile device where they’re targeting you based on a page you’ve hit before or some demographic data they have on you. What’s going to happen next is it’s going to expand into commercials so you’re going to see more targeted/personalized commercials when you have your Roku plugged in or Apple TV or XBox or Netflix.
They’re going to start following buyers like they do online. You’re going to start seeing this in your commercials and on TV. I thought this was interesting. In the session one of the analysts mentioned how there are a couple companies looking to do this who have already secured solid funding. The evolution of more targeted ads will be exciting.
TA: Could you take in data from something someone has done online and target content to them with email marketing or is that relegated to advertising?
Musto: I think there’s a convergence of marketing technology and ad technology. We’re already seeing it with social media/ad tech side and integration into marketing automation systems. I see in the future these systems will all be tied and talking together. At the end of the day your marketing automation is an engagement portal and is collecting all the data from the many touchpoints you’re marketing across.
Its capturing this information on your buyers/customers which then can be used for further customization/targeting across different channels. As the industries mature and grow we’ll start seeing a convergence of all this. Maybe marketing automation is the conduit platform that’s helping to orchestrate these massive advertising and marketing campaigns.