My Three Biggest “Aha” Moments (So Far)

Here are the most memorable personal insights I’ve had as an analyst (so far) and the most impactful lessons I’ve learned during my last four years as a SiriusDecisions analyst. I shared these recently during Microsoft Dynamics’ take on a TED talk on marketing leadership at Convergence 2014 in Atlanta.

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The Correct Way to Define a Lead

Too often, when marketing leaders sit down with their counterparts in sales to discuss lead definitions, the only factor considered is what sales wants. While this discussion is relevant and valuable, the result is typically one of two scenarios:

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The SiriusDecisions Startup Naming Process

With nearly ubiquitous high-speed broadband and fiber optics saturating every corner of the known world, creating a tech startup has never been any easier. But coming up with a witty name for a new company continues to be the thorn in every entrepreneur’s side. Fortunately, SiriusDecisions has the answer. After studying hundreds of best-in-class startup names, then running them through proprietary linguistic algorithms, we came up with a simple, seven-step process to guide budding entrepreneurs, marketers and salespeople in creating the best company name possible. By adhering to most, some or even just one of these steps, you can take advantage of our foolproof process to name the startup of your dreams – even if you don’t have a product, service or dream quite yet.

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B-to-B Transformation: A New Take on an Old Theme

On May 21, my good friend and colleague Tony Jaros will present a new model on transformation at our upcoming Summit. It won’t be the first time our delegates have pondered this idea; after all, we’ve been talking about sales and marketing alignment for nearly a decade now. Business transformation, in general, is not really a new concept. Those of us over 40 have likely lived through a business transformation or two. Many members of our Summit audience have seen both sides of a transformation, as providers of software and services that enable enterprises to modernize and transform various functions (e.g. HR, finance, supply chain). So with all of this experience and hard data to rationalize the effort, why does broad-based transformation of b-to-b sales, marketing and product still elude us? We can’t answer that question in a single blog post – or a single conference, for that matter. We can and will, however, share some of the perspectives we’ve gained from witnessing hundreds of organizations attempt to transform their sales, marketing and product functions. In his talk, Tony will share a few stories of success – and a few of the “crash and burn” variety, as well. But more importantly, he’ll introduce a new framework that’s purpose-built to transform sales, marketing and product functions in a sustainable way.

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Why Content Marketers Should Be Certified in Your Sales Process

When you think about whether to certify sales reps on the sales process, the answer is obvious – of course you should! Reps use the sales process every day and need to understand how the sales stages relate to the buyer’s journey. Reps also use the sales process as an activity checklist to drive intended outcomes. Reps are coached on the sales process, which is reinforced by first-line managers, and success is confirmed by buyers’ actions. However, one group that often is forgotten in the certification process is marketing, especially marketing roles who create content for reps. Unless they have gone through sales training, they may be unaware of how reps and buyers actually engage with one another, and how reps use and present content during those meetings. Yup, classic misalignment.

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The Persona Vortex

The first two months of 2014 brought long stretches of extreme cold to many regions in the United States due to a persistent polar vortex. As I sympathized with my cross-country colleagues while looking over the stack of persona research data from the relative warmth of California, I thought about a different kind of vortex – the persona vortex. A vortex is a twisting, spiraling journey down an abyss – hardly an enticing path for b-to-b marketers to take when it comes to connecting with buyer personas. But it happens. For example, when marketers overanalyze buyer personas and define characteristics not useful in the b-to-b buying process, they might gather a lot of information, but not the right knowledge that is critical input into three key go-to-market deliverables: the market requirements document, the messaging and the campaign.

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The Case for Marketing Enablement

B-to-b marketers are very familiar with the concept of sales enablement. As external ambassadors to prospects and customers, salespeople need to speak knowledgeably about an organization’s products to different buyers, and be able to match solutions to their needs. The benefit of a well-trained sales force is pretty obvious – it means a quicker path to closed deals and greater revenue. Because this is so important, organizations put significant time and effort into sales enablement (e.g. new hire orientation, sales methodology training, sales portals stuffed with content, annual kickoff events). But what about marketing?

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Big Data and Analytics: Five Foundational Elements

In my previous post, I explained what b-to-b marketers can gain from using advanced analytics. But because many marketers lack the foundation for planning, implementing and using big data, adoption of advanced analytics remains low. Without putting in place the required elements for an analytics foundation, marketers will continue to find that fulfilling the promise of big data’s benefits is out of reach. To get the most leverage from their analytics efforts, organizations must first ensure the following five elements are in place:

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