What You Missed At The B2B Marketing Forum — If You Weren't There

Wow! It may have taken place seven days ago, but I am still exhausted — and exhilarated — from our inaugural B2B Marketing Forumin Miami last week. Here is a short recap of what we covered during the two days.

Day 1: Obsess On Customers; Orchestrate A Relationship; Conduct An Engagement

The opening main session began with Forrester’s James McQuivey, who inspired us all to understand both how to understand customer obsession and how to drive the necessary organizational, process, and even cultural change. Molly Murphy, from Eaton Industries, presented a best practice example of doing exactly that in her marketing organization. Forrester’s own Laura Ramos then explained how an account-based marketing strategy enables a full commitment to customer obsession in both marketing and sales. Amanda Kahlow, CEO and founder of analytics vendor 6Sense, rounded off this topic by telling her very personal story.

Then we broke out into the first of three repeated track agendas (so that all could attend each session of interest and not make sacrifices because sessions were competing):

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Account-Based Marketing (ABM): Let’s Move From Cacophony To Euphony

In the spring of 2015, we began to hear a curious cacophony around ABM. ABM stands for “account-based marketing,” a marketing concept that’s been around for decades. All of a sudden, it was being used in reams of promotional copy distributed by marketing consultancies, data service providers, and software automation vendors alike.

Marketing-led prophesies can sometimes be self-fulfilling. So now, B2B marketers everywhere are busy researching, launching, and conducting ABM initiatives — ostensibly to engage prospects at target accounts with personalized messaging, content, and offers. And as a growing number of product vendors, service providers, and event organizers enter this gold rush, B2B marketers are in danger of falling for the “fool’s gold” of unrealistic revenue windfalls and investment returns.

It is time to take stock and sieve this topic more effectively. The musicians among us would prefer to hear more harmony than discord. But the truth is that ABM means different things to different people; our recent survey of 120 B2B marketers on their strategies and tactics shows that:

“73% agreed that ABM is a term that lacks specific meaning and is used inconsistently today.”

The same survey showed that four out of five found ABM effectiveness falls short of their expectations.  So much for 18 months of marketing spend by all those vendors! 

Forrester’s research, in comparison, can be somewhat boring: We have long been talking about the age of the customer, the need for customer obsession, and post-digital marketing — and, of course, we tell our B2B marketing clients that customer obsession should be account-based if that aligns with their business strategy.

We do not make markets; we observe and provide insights about them, so we have been quiet on ABM in that respect.  

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Forrester’s First B2B Marketing Forum Is Also Our Sixth Sales Enablement Forum

We are getting ever-closer to our first Forrester Forum for B2B marketing professionals. It is great to see so many of you registered for the event, and I look forward to seeing you in Miami. While Forrester does have another Forum for marketers, which is held in New York each spring and in which we cover some B2B topics, Miami is the one where we focus only on your needs. Why? Because B2B marketing is different!

Of course, as the research director for the role that meets your needs, I get asked that question a lot — both within Forrester and by clients (especially the ones who want to sell to you). “How is it different?” Well, here’s some key data to illustrate that difference.

Take a look at the go-to-market spending of consumer companies: They have a rough ratio of 10:1 – 10 times as much is spent on marketing as on their sales force. Let’s compare that to the numbers we collected in a recent survey of B2B marketers (see below).  Statistically, another way of saying this is that, on average, B2B firms spend eight times (7.9 to be exact) as much on sales as on marketing. That is why, for the past five years, this event was called the Sales Enablement Forum.

Sales enablement is a fundamental part of all things that B2B marketers do: collecting customer insights; doing content management; managing leads. Where would account-based marketing be without sales enablement processes? As such, this Forum is full of sales enablement topics:

  • Most of the presentations at the Forum will include sales enablement elements.
  • Day 2’s keynote sessions focus on transforming the B2B sales force.
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The Weather Company VP Global Marketing: ".. help everyone in the company tell stories that compel action & serve our customers"

I was talking last week with Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek, VP, Global Marketing at The Weather Company as we continue to prepare for the B2B Marketing Forum in October where Michelle is one of the industry guest speakers. The business solutions (B2B) division of The Weather Company, an IBM Business, provides weather and related data-driven products and services to more than 5,000 clients in industries including media, aviation, energy and utilities, retail, insurance, and government.  

Peter: What two or three B2B marketing improvements over the past year are you most proud of? Why?

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EO + 6: The B2B Marketing Playbook Has Launched!

At Forrester, “EO + 6” is code for the publication status of a playbook. It stands for Executive Overview plus six reports – at which point, we formally launch the playbook with its special links and landing page on Forrester.com. Playbooks are designed to help clients succeed with complex programs, such as organizational transformation.

Get Ready For The B2B Marketing Renaissance

The next wave of competitive advantage for B2B companies will come from deepening customer knowledge and taking action based on an obsessive desire to deliver what their customers want before their competitors do. This fundamentally changes the role of B2B marketers; they need to evolve from brand stewards, lead generation machines, and sales supporters to architects of customer engagement across the customer life cycle. The B2B marketing playbook provides practical guidance for B2B professionals who are leading and living that transformation. 

The Playbook Report Titles Tell The Story

Executive. Overview:  Turn B2B Marketing Into A Customer-Obsessed Organization

Landscape:  Get Ready For The B2B Marketing Renaissance

Tools And Technology: TechRadar™: B2B Marketing Technologies, Q3 2016

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Get Ready For The B2B Marketing Forum In October

"At my mid-year marketing summit, when I was pontificating on our transformation to customer obsession, I looked out at the sea of nodding heads and spotted my direct reports each mentally stepping up to the challenge of getting customer-obsessed in their product, industry, channel, and geographic silos. And I realized the problem was not vision, but strategy."

(CMO, global technology vendor)


We know you B2B marketing execs are not in denial. You get that 74% of business buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase — and that 59% of those same business buyers prefer not to interact with a sales rep as their primary source of information. You need to transform from an inside-out (company, product service) perspective to an outside-in (customer, outcome, context) view. Like all transformations, this is brilliant in theory but daunting in practice.

Well, come to the Forrester B2B Marketing Forum on October 18 and 19 in Miami, Florida to learn how to do this.

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Has L2RM Now Become A CMO Imperative?

Last week, my colleague Lori Wizdo and I were discussing our most recent advisory engagements on the topic of lead-to-revenue management (L2RM). Lori is kicking off the latest research for her next Forrester Wave™ evaluation of L2RM automation, and we were considering how we should modify the evaluation criteria from the previous Forrester Wave published in 2014.

As we wrote three years ago in the Forrester playbook on this topic, L2RM is not “demand gen on steroids”. It is marketing's chance to catch up with an already evolved buyer. Lori noted that we are observing the transformation of B2B marketing from a

"supplier of leads to the load-bearing sales force to the architect of customer engagement across the life cycle”.

Initially, we discussed L2RM, our playbook, and the associated Forrester Wave with marketing ops staff and with the marketing executives responsible for demand generation. But in recent months, we have noted a step change in our engagements. We are currently working with three chief marketing officers (CMOs) on this topic. They are using L2RM to transform their organization and culture.  

And our L2RM playbook is not just high-level strategy advice (I remember a B2B marketer telling me at a conference this year “We see you analysts at Forrester as the high priests of B2B marketing”). Heh! We do details as well - here is one of the graphs from the playbook, where we leverage the concept of that business school classic, the results chains. 

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Marketing Automation Can Be Made In Europe

Many new marketing automation solutions are now available to help B2C marketers manage customer engagement, B2B marketers manage leads, and marketers of all ilk manage other marketing processes, such as campaigns and digital asset management.

European marketers are traditionally more hesitant about investing in technology projects, leading to a perception that they are late adopters. But in 2014, we observed a new European propensity to invest, and this trend continues with an increasing sense of urgency. In Forrester's Global Business Technographics® Marketing Survey, 2015, 50% of 248 European markers even named "don't have the right technology" as their most important organizational concern related to achieving their marketing priorities — and European firms now have stronger investment plans than their North American peers in almost every marketing category.  

As well as having to deal with a more complex regulatory environment, marketing and sales disciplines are also markedly different in Europe. The survey showed that European businesses tend to:

  • Have federated marketing organizations.The fragmentation of the target markets that European firms sell to means they need to use many more channels, languages, and messages to be effective.
  • Rely more on channel partners.Nearly one-third of the European marketers we surveyed stated that their channel partners were their primary sales channel, compared with 11% in North America. The result? Marketing and sales enablement projects are quite different, with a stronger need for through-channel marketing in Europe.
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Confronting The Stigma Surrounding Sales

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.

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

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.”

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