Leadership In The Age Of The Customer

Victor Milligan

Leading through change requires that right mix of imagination, inspiration, and gritty execution. And we are in a world of change. Empowered customers and the constant and rapid wave of digital innovation are changing market fundamentals. Leaders are now challenged to respond.

I had the pleasure of hosting a discussion with James McQuivey, Carl Doty, and Sam Stern to talk leadership in the age of the customer. Our conversation covered a range of topics from having the wisdom to see the market for what it is versus how we would like the market to act to putting in motion strategic and operational change that is necessary, new, and risky. Here are the five takeaways:

  1. The customer is in motion. Customers rapidly adopt — and rapidly abandon — technologies, services, and brands. That is wonderful and scary thing. It creates new possibilities. But it also redefines the norms for churn where a decision to shift spend is made by a single experience — good or bad. This dynamic can represent a major threat to growth if companies need to absorb 10%+ churn. 
Read more

Confronting The Stigma Surrounding Sales

Peter O'Neill

Never having been an analyst that thinks he knows it all, I periodically attend external conferences as a mere delegate (no speech) to learn something new and network. I was at last week’s conference of the Association of Professional Sales (APS) in London with over 400 other marketers, sales enablement professionals, sales training companies and even sales executives to discuss

“The New Era Of Differentiation”.  

What you sell is not enough but how you sell it is everything: What you say, what you do, what you offer and who you hire into sales.

The APS was formed two years ago by enterprise sales executives at EMC, EY, SAP, Wipro, WorldPay, and Royal Mail, and now has well over 1000 members. Its objective is to raise awareness of sales as a profession (one speaker opined that hairdressers and butchers are more appreciated than salespeople) – by providing accreditations, training, certifications and codes of conduct.  The word “profession” is usually attributed to occupations like lawyers or doctors in the English language so these aspirations are high.

One of the sponsoring partners for this initiative is Corporate Visions Inc. – kudos to Tim Riesterer, their Chief Strategy Officer in recognizing the potential of the Association. Tim was a keynote speaker and, as usual, he presented eloquently about effective sales conversations.  Neil Rackham, most famous for the now 30-year old book “Spin Selling” is also involved in the APS and he spoke too; as did leaders from Royal Mail, IBM, EY, CPM, Wipro, SAP, EMC, Clarify, F5 Networks, and Ciena. The other sponsor of the event was LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

Read more

Will Microsoft’s Big Bet On B2B Social Pay Off?

Carlton Doty

Okay, you’ve read countless opinion pieces on the blockbuster deal where Microsoft paid a notable (nearly 9x) premium for LinkedIn.  One could argue that it’s about time someone snatched up LinkedIn…that was my initial reaction, and perhaps yours too.  But why Microsoft, and why now?  Well, it should be obvious that this is a B2B play.  In fact, our own Melissa Parrish eloquently outlined the minimal relevance to B2C firms in her blog post yesterday.

However, this morning, Melissa and several other colleagues here at Forrester published our quick take on what this deal really means. It breaks down to 3 fundamental things:

  • Data. As today's marketing tech goes, Microsoft lags significantly in two areas: customer identity management and proprietary data assets. LinkedIn solves that problem by integrating 433 million LinkedIn profiles. Microsoft will get its hands on data about how those individuals use products like Office 365, email, and Skype.
     
  • CRM. Microsoft is clearly firing a shot across the bow of Salesforce. In the CRM space, Dynamics has some traction in the enterprise, but it has traditionally been an alternative for small and medium-size businesses requiring more accessible price points than Salesforce commands.
     
Read more

Microsoft + LinkedIn = Everything But An Advertising Play

Melissa Parrish

The second the story broke about Microsoft’s $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn, everybody you can think of who has any kind of an opinion about either company, social media, business productivity, enterprise software, the stock market, data and mergers & acquisitions in general has weighed in on the deal’s implications for their areas of expertise. Ordinarily this would inspire some serious eye-rolling in me, but in this case it’s warranted because Microsoft has its hands in so many businesses and enterprise applications, and LinkedIn has so much consumer activity and data that many people-- talking heads or otherwise-- have a relevant take. Speaking of which, Forrester clients should keep an eye on our website tomorrow morning for first-take analysis from all sides of our research org. Spoiler alert: The implication for social selling and business productivity are potentially massive.

 

Read more

Hedgehogs, Foxes, And Third-Party Data: What Sellers Need From Marketers

Steven Wright

In Isaiah Berlin's most popular essay, “The Hedgehog and the Fox,” the famous Latvian-British social and political theorist quoted a fragment of ancient Greek: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Since its publication in 1953, this concept has become an intellectual parlor game (something Berlin said himself) that those with a binary view of the universe have used to divide writers, politicians (Kennedy: fox; Nixon: hedgehog), and executives into two neat categories.

What’s forgotten is that Berlin used this ancient aphorism as a way to evaluate Leo Tolstoy. His conclusion? Tolstoy was actually a fox, despite many declarations that would indicate Tolstoy wanted to be a hedgehog. In short, Tolstoy was both — a fox by inclination, but a hedgehog by choice.

B2B marketers want sellers to know lots of things, and they use third-party data providers as part of that desire. At a recent Forrester event, I asked a marketer from a large financial services firm how may data providers they used; she casually replied: “77.” Seventy-seven separate data providers! If only a fraction of this data is provided to sellers, they must feel overwhelmed.

The consultative seller needs both the characteristics of the fox – knowing many things about the buyers, their companies, competition, and industry – and the hedgehog – knowing the one big thing (or maybe a few) that will lead to a sale.

Read more

Hit Restart With Your Media Agency

Sarah Sikowitz

In collaboration with Susan Bidel, Richard Joyce and Jim Nail

Yesterday, the ANA released the findings from an eight month research study into the issue of transparency within the media agency industry.  The findings are damning, but not surprising for those who have been following this issue. The phrase in the report that caught my eye was this: “evidence of a fundamental disconnect in the advertising industry regarding the basic nature of the advertiser-agency relationship.” 

In other words, it’s the advertising-agency relationship that stinks.

Look past the rebates, the free cash disguised as “research and consulting” and the media mark ups and what you’ll see is the advertiser-agency relationship that has been under strain for years has finally completely collapsed.  Three factors have driven the industry to this point:

  • Agency success metrics tied to an outdated approach. Clients expect high impression levels, high click volume – all at a low cost. This doesn’t allow a lot of room for media agencies to show additional value beyond scale and efficiency. The result is that agencies continue to look for opportunities to drive more impressions and lower CPMs without any accountability for real business and revenue impact.
Read more

Marketo Goes Private: A New Epoch in Marketing Software May Have Just Begun

Peter O'Neill

Lead-to-revenue management automation player Marketo has certainly been in the news recently. First, in May, it held its annual Marketing Nation Summit in Las Vegas and announced plans to provide a marketing automation system, powered by a new architecture, which will enable marketers to engineer a great customer experience across the entire customer life cycle. 

Clearly, this was a financially ambitious plan, reviving age-old speculation about a potential acquisition of the vendor. Candidate Marketo suitors included SAP, which has a glaring marketing automation hole in its portfolio as enterprises increasingly compete on customer experience, not operational excellence; Microsoft, which has a large base of CRM customers ready for the "prequel" of marketing automation; and even Google, which could boost its reach with midmarket business customers and enhance its overall cloud software and infrastructure business.

But Principal Analyst Lori Wizdo provided another point of view, saying: “Executing on that ambitious vision would take some investment. A private equity investment could provide the equity and the sight screen to enable that steep investment.”

Read more

Salesforce Bets Big On Commerce, At The Expense Of Demandware

Adam Silverman

Salesforce announced on June 1st its intent to acquire eCommerce software provider Demandware for $2.8 billion, augmenting its CRM platform with a capable and industry leading commerce solution. This move positions Salesforce as a direct competitor to enterprise software companies like Oracle, SAP, and IBM - all of which have formidable commerce software offerings. This acquisition has serious implications for both companies and the industry as a whole.

Salesforce and its clients get the lion’s share of benefits, but at a high price

With the premium price that Salesforce is paying for Demandware (12x annual revenue - likely due to another company bidding aggressively for the assets), the acquisition will:

  • Fill a major hole in the Salesforce offering. Until now, Salesforce customers had to use third party software tools to manage the buy phase of the customer lifecycle - arguably the most critical phase of the customer journey. With the addition of Demandware, Salesforce clients will be able to manage all customer interactions - including transactional interactions - from a single platform. All customer interaction data will live in one repository, allowing clients easy access to a more complete picture of customer data.
  • Provide greater access to the B2C market. In acquiring a leading B2C commerce suite, Salesforce gains access to nearly 350 clients and over $230 million in incremental revenue.
Read more

The Customer Insights Center of Excellence: Know Your Options!

Cinny Little

“Excellence always sells.”  --Earl Nightingale

The questions below may sound familiar to you.  I hear them from leaders of business insights teams of all kinds, from quant to qual, digital analytics to database marketing, customer analytics to voice of customer, market research to competitive intelligence, campaigns to customer service, behaviorial to predictive, B2C to B2B, CPG to pharma – you name it:

  • "I lead our [name the insights area[s] here] team.  We’re struggling to get our business and operational areas to take action on insights – heck, sometimes we don’t even know what happens to the insights we provide.  How do we change this?"
  • "Our insights teams work in silos that have built up over the years.  The teams are good at what they do.  But how do we pull together and combine our different flavors of insights to get more customer understanding?  How should we organize?"
  • "I've been asked to re-organize [or, I'm new and I've taken over] our insights areas.  I need to give a presentation to the C-team about what I'll propose.  Any ideas on a framework I should use?"
Read more

The Importance of Creating a Marketing and Technology Lingua Franca

Melissa Parrish

As the IT agenda gives way to the Business Technology agenda, marketers and technologists are working together more closely and more often than ever before, but many of them don’t feel like those collaborations are going smoothly yet. In fact, lack of communication is the No. 1 reason cited for a very poor relationship between developers and other parts of the company, according to our data.  

One of the reasons for this miscommunication is that marketers and technologists often use very common words differently. We experienced this ourselves a few months ago at a large gathering of analysts at Forrester HQ, with both marketing and business technology analysts represented. First, there was plenty of acronym and abbreviation confusion: Did DR mean direct response or disaster recovery?  Was CRM customer relationship management or change request management?

But there was also confusion around very common terms that both marketers and technologists use, but which mean slightly different things for each. This is the kind of misunderstanding that you might not even know in happening because you have no reason to think you mean different things until some brave soul raises her hand and admits she doesn’t understand something. (Think the meaning of “database” is obvious? Think again!)

A few weeks ago, we published a report that looks into this further and our research revealed that these conversational mishaps are having huge repercussions on projects and business results. For example, one brand we spoke with had a half-million dollar project go nearly totally off the rails over a misunderstanding of the word “strategy.”

Read more