This blog is a roll-up of all the posts from analysts who serve Sales Enablement Professionals. Individual analyst blogs are listed below. Visit Forrester.com to learn how we make Sales Enablement Professionals successful every day.
My colleagues and I (Peter O’Neill here) have been busy here at Forrester putting together the agenda for our next Forum which is in Scottsdale, Arizona, on March 4, 2013 under the title “Accelerating Revenue In A Changed Economy.” Now, achieving that objective requires contributions from many different parts of a B2B enterprise – it is more than a sales enablement topic. So we have gathered together a strong team of analysts from across Forrester to work on content and invite leading practitioners who they work with to provide insights and to advise members on these three B2B functions:
· The sales and marketing teams that support the direct sales organization that must be empowered and enabled to grow their assigned accounts
· The marketers in the demand-generation group who must power up their revenue management processes, find new logos and generate new business (see previous blog)
· The channel management team which needs to orchestrate and manage the partner community to win their loyalty and business.
I’ve seen too many lead-to-revenue initiatives underperform because insufficient attention was devoted to process. And, I’ve seen an equal number stall because the attempt to document the current state and define the future state leads to analysis-paralysis. It’s not fair to say that marketing organizations run their demand management completely without process. What most marketing organizations don’t have, however, is a consistent, end-to-end process to manage a single customer from lead origination to purchase, which is the heart of lead-to-revenue management. And for that, I blame the funnel.
The “lead funnel” (the universal model for demand management) gets well-deserved celebrity for giving B2B marketers a metaphor to communicate the relevance of marketing activities to revenue production. The funnel’s clearly defined stage gates (MQL, SQL, SAL, etc.) give marketing the basis to collaborate with sales on lead management. The funnel makes it easy to snapshot the health of the end-to-end pipeline. But, as a construct for thinking about the lead-to-revenue process, the funnel fails spectacularly. In this blog, I'll introduce an alternative metaphor, the Lead-to-Advocate Escalator. But, first, here’s what wrong with the funnel (and funnel derivatives like the waterfall).
Now that the confetti has been swept off the floor of our eBusiness Forum in Chicago, its time to offer a behind the scenes look at who won our 2012 B2BGroundswell Awards and why. Mark you calendar and register today for our upcoming Webinar on November 8th in which the judges will dish on the companies and social strategies that knocked their socks off. Who knows, you might get an inside track on winning next year, or better yet, knocking out a winning social strategy of your own. Register here to save your space on this one time reveal on the best of the best in B2B social.
There continues to be a cacophony of marketing noise from technology vendors about their cloud strategies; while the announcements sometimes include messaging for their channel, many partners are still unsure of their future role in the industry. Nearly two years ago, Tim Harmon and I (Peter O'Neill here) published two reports on this, and earlier this year the Cloud and Technology Transformation Alliance (CCTA) reported that its survey of 229 channel partners in North America revealed that 13% of the partners still lack a cloud strategy altogether and 42% describe their strategy as “nascent” or “evolving.” CCTA also collected the alarming statistic that 65% of channel partners know that they’re losing business because of their cloud shortcomings; that is, the partners know that their customers are asking for cloud services but cannot react.
Peter O'Neill here. I hope that most of you would agree that mastering customer experience is just as valuable for B2B firms as it is in B2C. And yet, there isn’t much information around on B2B customer experience, let alone case studies providing practical advice on how to get B2B customer experience right. Well, at Forrester’s upcoming EMEA Forum dedicated to Customer Experience (London, November 6-7), I am hosting a “virtual track” of four sessions that debunks myths about customer experience for B2B companies. In one of the presentations, Jesper Thomsen, VP Sales & Customer Experience, Maersk Line, one of the largest shipping companies in the world, will discuss how his company improved its Net Promoter score from -10 to +30 over 30 months – an improvement program that involved staff throughout the enterprise. I recently caught up with Jesper in preparation for his session – for a sneak peak on how Maersk mastered B2B customer experience, check out our conversation below. I hope to see you in London where Jesper will share the full story!
Today’s buyers control their journey through the buying cycle much more than today’s vendors control the selling cycle. Although it varies greatly with product complexity and market maturity, today’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they reach out to the vendor. For many product categories, buyers now put off talking with salespeople until they are ready for price quotes.
This buyer dynamic changes the role of B2B marketing in a fundamental way. Marketing now owns a much bigger piece of the lead-to-revenue cycle. And B2B marketers must take responsibility for engaging with the customer through most of the buying cycle.
Forrester research shows that today’s B2B buyer will find three pieces of content about a vendor for every one piece that marketing can publish or sales can deliver. They are finding this content in an ever-expanding number and variety of channels. And they are accessing these channels from an increasingly diverse array of devices. Without debate, the business from business buyer is already much more multichannel than the business-to-business sellers are. Buyers of business products and services are online, in social channels, on YouTube, going to events, and evaluating options on their iPads and smartphones. The buyer’s journey looks a lot more like this than the linear models (e.g., the funnel) that we usually use as a graphical representation.
The University of Massachusetts released its annual survey of social media usage at Fortune 500 companies. The report revealed that in the past year, these business giants have increased their adoption of blogging by 5%, their use of Twitter for corporate communications by 11%, and their use of Facebook pages by 8%. Sixty-two percent of the 2012 F500 have corporate YouTube accounts, and 2% (11 companies) are posting on Pinterest. Sixty-six percent of the F500 are now on Facebook. Seventy-three percent of the F500 have active corporate Twitter accounts.
However, what caught my attention was another recent survey that the University was also promoting on the same web page. This survey examined how universities use social media to attract students to their MBA programs. The study showed the same sort of increases that the F500 survey revealed. However, the headliner take-away from this research was “The Missing Link in Social Media Use Among Top MBA Programs: Tracking Prospects.” The report concluded that “the missing link appears to be tracking those who first become interested in the program through one of the program’s social media sites. Being able to measure whether these prospects actually apply to the program is something schools may be looking to do, but have not yet mastered. Without this piece of information it is difficult to really assess the effectiveness of the social media plan and to know where future investments should be made.”
As I talk to companies in large and small companies about their lead-to-revenue processes, the most frequent topic over the past six months has been about leveraging social media in demand management programs. I’ve compiled a list of the most common questions and my perspective: