Author: Jon Russo

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

B2B Teleprospecting, one case study @DemandCon

This week at the first @DemandCon conference which featured sales and marketing best practices, an impressive number of presenters discussed B2B buying cycle attributes and techniques to reach enterprise buyers.  (Full disclosure – I was one of the speakers).  One company that presented was Coupa, a growing SaaS company based in Silicon Valley.  One of my passions is really understanding how different sales leaders and teams operate in the face of today’s challenging customer buying process (see this related post), so it was terrific that the recent head of sales and current marketing leader presented together on the role of as non-quota bearing inside sales representatives (ISRs) or teleprospectors.  Here are four topics that were highlights:

  •  Centralized Structure:  although there was little debate between the two leaders on this, it was clear that there were advantages (training as one unit more junior members, farm league to an eventual sales career) to having a centralized structure of ISRs versus decentralized role.  I violently agree with this point – the risk in decentralizing the role is one of effectiveness, particularly if the representative is more junior and inexperienced which could lead to unintended distractions in the field and poor training.  The only exception to this would be regional calling (ie EMEA might have its own call center depending on company size)
  • Cold call vs. non cold calling – if one knows there is more revenue closing from inbound leads than outbound cold calling, is there a need to continue to cold call?  The head of sales felt the skillset and need to cold call was definitely needed.   Now this could be in the face of not enough inbound leads to keep the ISRs busy, but sounded more like a need to develop the skillset from her view.  My own experience mirrors this head of sales where a compromise has value to the company overall – the cold call skillset is definitely needed if the person migrates over into the company in a selling capacity.  However, there is a significant time investment and discipline needed to cold call which should be part of a CSO/CMO agreement.
  • Phone time:  Getting others in the organization to spend time on the phone as an inside sales representative– getting in the shoes of the inside sales representative.  I am 100% supportive of this approach, there is nothing but upside here for others in the organization to learn what the message is or how it feels to hit constant rejection.
  • Experimenting with packaging offers (ie targeted, relevant content) – using freemiums/trials to generate leads and test what pricing or approaches are most effective.  This also had a direct impact on inbound leads (ie freemium posted on the website which generated interest.)  The team was able to A/B test on effective offers and promotions which is a highly effective way to iterate.

The inside sales organization in this case was initially built around a business case to the board of directors;  it sounded as if there was more value from controlling the message and brand at point of impact to the market moreso an economic case to convince the board to make the investment.  It sounded like the economics of having this function did not sway the board;  that said, in similar SaaS models, I do believe the economics for a small, qualifying inside sales organization more than pays for itself and may be more of the model we see going forward as more selling efforts and content is pushed to the web.  Enterprise buyers are more comfortable than ever in buying SaaS based products over the web and phone.

What have you found effective for your inside sales role?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Executive Marketing Dashboards – 5 Lessons Learned

Here are 5 lessons to consider when creating an executive level marketing dashboard to measure marketing impact and ROI.  This topic is something I’ll be leading a discussion on at DemandCon next week and I look forward to hearing how others are looking at this situation.

1.       Know where you are
2.       Know where you want to head
3.       Speak the same internal language
4.       Measure KPIs, not metrics
5.       Leverage a 3rd party


Know where you are: 

There are so many variables to consider when planning a dashboard, and it starts with cultural situational awareness as the project you are about to embark on can be perceived as very healthy from some parties (CEO, GM, CFO), yet to some parties may feel like an audit or measuring things that have never been measured before  (Sales, Marketing, Inside Sales) – so anticipate some organizational discomfort.  Understand your company’s culture, it’s appetite for embarking on this kind of project, the importance of sales and marketing in the overall company strategy – some companies may be product focused, or they may have a focus other than the customer.  At the same time, it’s important as a marketing leader to understand the revenue and profitability model – where do the revenues come from geographically, from what products or solutions, and what is the dynamic of the sales cycle.  See this blog post to learn more on sales cycles.

Know where you want to head

This is an ambitious project to launch, so it is wise to show the outcome – the destination first vs. getting caught in the weeds.  This is the opportunity for sales and marketing to align (see post) on an outcome rather than focus on details – because if you get caught in the details, you’ll never hit the end target.  It’s best to approach the objective with executive alignment around the outcome (CEO, GM, CSO/CMO), then work through the rest of the company.  I refer to a ‘referee’ later in the post which is pivotal in this discussion.

Translate:  Speak the same internal language

In the world of marketing, we have our own ‘proprietary’ Star Trek language  – the language of inquiries, marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads, a marketing funnel, sales enablement, etc.  It’s easy for a marketer to talk in their own language without being situationally aware – understand that non-marketers think in other terms – revenue, speed to acquire new revenue, retention, pipeline, investment, payoff, etc.  As a leader of this process, it’s important to speak the same language – and where there is ambiguity, try to align on an understanding of a definition.

Measure KPIs, not metrics

Leaders measure for impact, followers measure activity.  Facebook followers, LinkedIn Group members, Twitter follower activity- – while important to integrate into an overall mix, are less important to measure activity unless it can be tied to business impact.  At it’s simplest terms, impact means what revenue marketing has sourced and/or influenced and at what overall cost for each.  You’ll soon see my presentation here on this topic on a follow on post.

Leverage a 3rd party

I’m going to eventually write a separate post on this, but as I think back of my own experience, having an unbiased 3rd party ‘referee’ or negotiate across stakeholders could be very valuable speed and cultural wise.  First, having a 3rd party changes the internal social dynamic completely – so the consultant is on the hook for raw accountability and can make raw observations without ramifications – and parties like sales and marketing can work toward a unified theme and objective rather than feeling like one is auditing the other.  Here is a successful case study of a 3rd party leveraged effectively.  The investment will pay off in spades down the road!

These are tips and tactics that work for me, I’m curious, what has worked for you?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 2 Comments

Summary of Iron Mountain Keynote at SiriusDecisions

At the SiriusDecisions’ (#SDS11) sold out conference featuring over 750 people, this year’s keynote featured both the head of sales Jerry Rulli and Colleen Langevin who heads marketing in a dialogue around historic performance, current activity, and a single go forward goal highlighting the tight sales/marketing relationship and the impact a relationship has on business results.  This is a summary of that keynote discussion along with a few of my previous blog posts and experiences on alignment.

Although they are early in proving the model out, the first key was it appeared there is/was a tight relationship between sales and marketing.  The relationship requires both parties to compromise, yet it’s proven when that cooperation happens, a better end result (i.e. more revenue conversions) happen.  One step to success was involving sale extensively in a marketing plan – which went back and forth in a series of negotiations to arrive at the final plan tailored by segment.  It probably helped the relationship and the overall marketing plan that they focused on a single goal – revenue production, instead of sales which typically focuses exclusively on revenue production without the help of marketing and marketing on just creating more MQLs.  A very interesting compromise approach was not using the MQL language at all, likely music to a sales person’s ears as the concern is driving revenue, not driving more MQLs that never close.

A major key to success in their overall approach was the agreement to leverage an outside 3rd party (i.e. a referee) to uncover the real problem, steer the overall stakeholder and change management process to implement.  The advantage of leveraging a 3rd party is it removes the emotion and ownership from either party and can uncover true issues – a brilliant decision on their part.

The approach at an executive level toward the team was ‘here’s the problem, now own solving it’.  Structurally, marketing aligned toward their ‘buyer personas’ and the actual sales segment.   One point that was not clear was how Iron Mountain gets it’s majority of new revenue which could be from existing customer base (in account selling) vs. net new customer acquisition – as a head of marketing it’s important to understand how and where the revenue is coming from as that will dictate the overall marketing strategy (ie focus on demand creation of MQLs vs. Sales enablement from SAL to close).

The relationship, referee, and team members agreed on common language within the waterfall beyond the common objective.  Their teams trained on this element – in  my own experience, implementing this kind of language on a global basis takes several iterations and can be a very time intensive activity as different people have different views of definitions.  However, just like implementing a new sales stage funnel in a company, with consistency in definition up front means better performance down the road.

The relationship between sales and marketing was cemented in a ‘prenuptial’ Service Level Agreement.  The SLA went one step further requiring all team members to sign off on the overall gameplan, thus eliminating any potential ‘whining’ from either sales (we need more leads) or marketing (you should close more leads).  This too in my experience is an easier said than done activity, particularly if a head of sales doesn’t clearly understand the objective (more revenue production) or is ‘older’ school (ie doesn’t understand the impact marketing waterfall can have or what a waterfall is, so why have an SLA!) – yet absolutely essential for total transparency.   So as a head of marketing looking to introduce the SLA concept, you may need to sell the concept before just pushing it forward.

The last key step was transparency and accountability:  on going transparency on key business levers – from Conversion metrics to SQL to pipeline metrics, the marketing lead funnel, and KPI reports of volume and days accepted vs actual, this was key to success.  As I listened to it, having ‘one view of the truth’ meaning one single report to operate from both sales and marketing was also a major key to success.  This one view also eliminated the dialogue of ‘here’s the marketing dashboard and here’s the sale’s dashboard,’ which is another important lesson learned.

It’s all about the journey when implementing this process and your own experience may vary widely depending on the size and scope of your company.  What have you found effective?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 2 Comments

Revenue through Teleprospecting – a changing world!

Teleprospecting teams pursue inbound and/or outbound leads via a telephone, are owned 50% of the time by sales and 50% of the time by marketing in a B2B company with the trend heading toward marketing according to a Sales 2.0 recent conference.  The nature of the role has changed dramatically over the last few years with more ability to ‘intelligently prospect’ rather than pure cold call.  This function is often overlooked given its mundane, routine tactical calling strategy yet is pivotal in revenue acceleration.   It’s where the rubber meets the road for revenue recognition!

Beyond lead generation quantity, there are metrics to consider measuring – by tracking and trending deals that actually close from teleprospecting efforts, to the time it takes to close those efforts, to the cost per effort as one can not afford to hire an infinite number of teleprospectors!  It’s important to establish metrics early and often for this function.

There are many different models of teleprospecting from an organizational viewpoint – from centralized to decentralized, to one region vs many regions.  I’ve found the most effective is regional centralization – meaning, keep the resources as close together as possible so they can learn scripts and effective best practices from one another.  However, when looking at this globally, it’s best to have in region expertise that understands the culture and nuances of selling within that region.  Trying to centralize all teleprospecting for a global company is ineffective.

A teleprospector has an infinite number of tools to choose from today that didn’t exist 5 or 10 years ago – from ZoomInfo, to LinkedIn, to InsideView, to Dun&Bradstreet’s 360, each of these tools or when used in combination, can really hone in on information about organization, contact information, and report structure.  Note that these tools are very regional centric (in this case many are North American heavily used tools).  DemandBase is an effective tool to extract IP address, though mapping an IP address of someone who surfs on your web to an actual contact name can be challenging if that user does not have some relationship with you, either registered, in the form of a cookie, or other trackable means.  Getting a prospect ‘warmed up’ through lead nurturing marketing automation platforms which I’ve mentioned in previous posts is also helpful and increases the chance of a successful close.

Depending on the size of your company, your team might consider using a tool called LookAcross.  LookAcross gives the teleprospecter the ability to scan social media profiles to optimize when the best time is to connect with that person telephonically and also provides much of the data of a prospects’ professional presence online.  It graphically shows a teleprospector the times and days that they are most active online, and what time and day of the week the prospect is likely to be reached.

Revenue recognition is critical and this function is where the rubber meets the roads.   How have you maximized the impact of your teleprospector function?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

2 Critical Questions for CMOs, CSOs, and CEOs, from CMO viewpoint.

This post is aimed toward heads of marketing, heads of sales, general/division managers or CEOs.  It’s specifically toward a head of marketing who is considering what measurable impact her/his team has on the business and is in a situation of implementing a marketing automation platform (which many companies are these days)…


Here’s a newsflash – your CEO does not care about your marketing automation platform, the technology, it’s capability, and all the mumbo jumbo “Star Trek speak” or the latest in social media!  She cares about the answer to 2 critical questions (and these questions are likely shared by your head of sales:)

1.      What revenue are you consistently contributing to our bottom line?  (i.e. what can we count on from you?)

2.     Can you accelerate revenue recognition faster or more cost effectively than our next best (manual) alternative?

It’s tempting to think that the marketing ‘Star Trek speak’ of marketing automation and it’s associated pipeline acronyms are readily understood by your CEO, head of sales, and board of directors.  However, many of these other functional leaders readily understand the two questions above, not the ‘Star Trek’ speak.  Your job as head of marketing is to translate and answer the questions.

It’s also tempting to think technology is the panacea and the ‘ANSWER’ to both of the questions – companies get themselves into trouble buying a platform and not really think through objectives clearly.    The marketing technology platform itself is a means to an end.  It first starts out with outlining a process with CEO and head of sales buy in – what does the roadmap look like to answer these two questions, how can you impact these two questions and how soon can that happen?  There are a variety of tactics that complete the thought process – what marketing automation platform are you likely to buy and why, what is the lead flow process, have you thought through content and nurturing strategies.  To me, these are all tactics.  Answering the two key questions are critical to a head of marketing’s survival.

If you are a head of marketing or know a head of marketing in this situation, what questions do you think are critical to answer?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 1 Comment

4 Steps to tie B2B marketing investment to revenue via automation

This is an expansion of an earlier post of the process steps involved in tying marketing investment to revenue and is a viewpoint from someone with real operational experience as head of marketing.

  1. Get CEO/GM and head of sales buy in to your objective which is to tie marketing investment to revenue. While this sounds like a very easy thing to say, the challenge in this implementation is the length of time it will take before you will see a measurable impact that your CEO and head of sales will see.  You need to nip the misperception that buying technology is a panacea for instant connection to new revenue by comparing the length of time it took the company to implement the company’s CRM system to the length of time it will take to integrate a marketing automation platform with that system. The CMO should broker this conversation augmented with 3rd party data (or person) illustrating the time it will take to pull off this new process.  The risk of skipping this step is a perception of fuzzy ROI and slipping into old marketing habits where marketing is seen as a cost center, not a revenue center.
  1. Outline the demand generation process – involve sales and brief CEO on outcome – get help externally with a disinterested 3rd party that can facilitate and thus be removed from any emotion of outcome, own the conversations, and broker potentially tense conversations amongst multiple, global parties.  A helpful process here is a six-sigma workout process for those familiar with the process.  This will involve defining lead steps, defining inboundand outbound inquiry handling by both sales and marketing, and will involve different nuances globally and touchpoints in prospect to customer conversion.  Assigning one owner to this process is key.
  1. Pick a vendor (Eloqua, Marketo, Aprimo, Neolane, Hubspot, Infusionsoft) to implement the process –   there are many articles that exist today on pros/cons of systems so I won’t go into a deep explanation here.  However, like the earlier step, involve the head of sales and CEO on the outcome.  3rd party data can help in this vendor selection or leveraging a disinterested 3rd party can also be helpful to speed the process up.
  1. Aggressively implement and scope out timeline for implementation of your marketing automation platform – this timeline has to be the guideline for the head of sales and CEO to understand and work with.  The phases of implementation are vendor selection (phase 0), vendor integration (phase 1), entering campaigns including SEO keygroups (phase 2), and then PAYOFF, see the marketing impact on revenue.

The key themes to consider in this process is to communicate early and often, iterate once you’ve selected a vendor early and often, re-communicate, and reiterate.  Keep involving your CEO and head of sales and leverage external help – there are others that have lived this battle before, so you should be no different.  Expect the process to be a journey and not a destination and you’ll be on the path to success in tying marketing investment to impact.

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

4 Steps to help Sales work Marketing Leads to DRIVE REVENUE!

I recently met with a Field Marketing leader for a successful B2B company recently and she had echoed a similar concern that is common in our industry  –  her concern was as follows:

“The marketing leads we give to sales aren’t being worked by sales, so it’s difficult to justify the marketing investment when the marketing leads aren’t closing or being worked.”

Here are 4 points to consider when trying to address the situation she faces – to net it out, it’s ACCOUNTABILITY:

1.       Inspect the lead definitions in the company by segment, by region, and by channel to make sure a qualified marketing lead is indeed qualified from a salesperson’s viewpoint.  It’s imperative marketing understands how sales qualifies and defines their own leads (not inquiries) as a starting point – what definitions they use, how they establish a need – with that definition in hand, it should MATCH what the marketing inside sales team has as a definition.  An outside, independent audit is helpful as it removes any sales/marketing tension with a disinterested 3rd party;  if that is not feasible, doing it directly from marketing to sales is the next best alternative.

2.       Establish a service level agreement with the head of sales on sales ACCEPTED leads (not sales qualified) AND  incent the inside sales team on sales ACCEPTED leads.   This is tricky – most heads of sales would want to know what to expect or count on from marketing as it makes their job easier.  The tricky part is that not all heads of sales understand the need or what an SLA is – particularly sales 1.0 executives.  So there may be significant internal selling on this point not to overlook!

3.       Establish metrics on a per rep basis –  THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP – specifically measure  on a per sales rep basis the quantity of leads that marketing sources, the quantity of leads that sales sources, the close rates and close TIMING for each sourcing category.  With this quantitative information in hand, a more mature discussion can be held with the sales leadership as to what is actually happening with marketing qualified leads.  Your marketing automation platform or Salesforce.com should help with this measuring.  One intangible point here – this data will force conversations, so treat the discussions with the heads of sales respectfully, not as a hammer.  The objective is to improve or close gaps on business challenge areas, not to hammer reps for how you might think of their performance!

4.       Benchmark similar sized company performance so expectations are set at the executive level.  At a tactical level, there is a great alignment opportunity between the head of sales and head of marketing in this scenario that she poses.  In other SaaS environments, according to SiriusDecisions and Marketo, I’ve seen upward to 60% of closed revenue sourced by marketing (note a more typical average for B2B SaaS is in the 18% to 33% range with Marketo pushing the envelope at 60%+).   The head of sales should want to know what marketing’s funnel is as it is less the head of sales team needs to do revenue wise at days end.  The board of directors will also want to know what marketing’s contribution is to revenue.

This lady was impressive, she had all the right business instincts identifying the challenge and just needed a bit more push as what to do next.  What do you find works for you?  Would love to hear a sales person’s perspective!

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

SaaS: Customer Retention is EVERYTHING!

SaaS – software as a service is a business model that was pioneered in the early 2000s to eliminate the costly software license model.  There are now a handful of global public company comparables with metrics that are published on the performance of these SaaS companies (Salesforce.com, Successfactors) and emerging fast growing companies (Appsense, Eloqua, Marketo, and Qualys to name a few).

An attribute to the SaaS business model is recurring revenue with shorter duration contracts, with resign upsell opportunities that typically range from 0-20% of the annual value.   With shorter duration contracts than that of a typical software license sale, retention of customers in a SaaS model becomes CRITICAL for the organization to make it’s overall annual revenue number.

Here are 5 techniques that I’ve used to help aid in retaining SaaS based customers:

  • Formal interviews with exited customers:  to be done by an external 3rd party to eliminate any survey bias and to get accurate information, you’ll be amazed at what your former customers will say about the onboarding process, their interactions, and the touchpoints they have with the organization.  This will also give a roadmap to win back their business.  I’ve used Primary Intelligence in the past with success.
  • Implement Net Promoter Score with existing customers:   to test periodically how customers see progress in your service offering or where the pain points lie on your customer service side.  This is typically done with larger, global enterprise B2B SaaS companies.  There are newer, more cost effective companies emerging to help smaller SaaS companies to run similar surveys.
  • Study and understand the compensation scheme for how your sales organization gets compensated on new and retention business.  A compensation model that is effective is how Gartner Group compensates their reps on new business and retention business (NACV model is what they call it – ask your rep, he or she will know all about it!)
  • Bundle and drive new feature/functionality around the resign period.  This bundling is key to drive price increases, I’ve had instances of other SaaS companies approaching me for annual renewal increases ‘just because’.  That line of reasoning is difficult to justify!
  • Involve your customers in global customer advisory boards so they can help shape product direction.  Engage your customers in regular field communication via newsletters AND LinkedIn (and opt-in customer forum), thus keeping them in constant contact with new developments on your product so they are always informed and never surprised.

What do you find that works for your organization’s customer retention efforts?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

4 Reasons why Marketing Automation changes a Marketer’s SaaS Career.

I just read an interesting post from a fellow EMEA CMO/head of marketing @JWATTON with a thought provoking viewpoint that marketing automation for SaaS (software as a service) US headquartered companies would have less need for heads of regional marketing in locations like EMEA as automation replaces local headcount.    My view is slightly different.  As a head of marketing  for 3 software and service companies with 2 successful exits, I’ve hired in region expertise, spent significant time in Europe, and implemented MAP (marketing automation platforms).   He had some really interesting viewpoints that I wanted to elaborate on – some of which I agreed with and some my view differs.

Here’s how I’m seeing things on what changes marketing automation means for a marketer and her/his career:

  • Marketing automation on its own with no marketer senior level supervision is like a train running downhill without tracks.  The potential to do more harm than good exists when investing in these systems without a clearly defined business objective up front.  The caboose is the MAP, the engine is the objective, the trains that link the caboose to the engine are the process.
  • Marketing automation is a means to an end, not the end itself.   A measurable business outcome should be set with sales tying them to the outcome of the process and also involving them on why this benefits y/our selling cycle.  When automation is performing correctly, revenue is accelerated and sales teams are more informed about their prospects prior to actually contacting them.  A marketer now needs to run that dialogue, that is a new dialogue for ‘dated’ skill set sales people as well as ‘dated’ skill set marketers – it can also be ‘dated’ skillsets for board members who do not know how to measure marketing, adding another complex communication vector to the equation.
  • As @JWATTON identifies in his blog post, Marketers who are not proficient in the latest digital tactics are not going to survive in this new world.   Those that are not steeped in the language of Eloqua, Marketo, SilverPop, Pardon, Hubspot, or any other marketing software that integrates with Salesforce.com will become known as the ‘marketers of the 80s’.  Those that are not proficient in social media like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (follow me @b2bcmo) and understand the social media tie to business objectives will also be ‘80s marketers’.   Lastly, those not proficient in SEO techniques an integrating SEO into the MAP platforms for B2B will also be yesterday’s marketers (NOTE:  today’s integration is challenging).
  • In my mind and contrary to his post, there is always a need to be geographically close to both internal customers (sales) and external prospects and/or customers.  It is nearly impossible for a head of marketing in the US to know and understand the marketing nuances of in region challenges.  Marketing within Germany is a challenge in and of itself;  it’s often a NA centric software company *incorrectly thinks* EMEA is one ubiquitous region to market into (just like the US!) without understanding each country has a different market and a different way of receiving information.   Privacy laws differ dramatically in EMEA and in certain countries moreso than that of the US;  this makes a marketers job in both EMEA and US more complex and raises the bar for a marketer to continually learn, as his post correctly points out.  Also note that contact software today (Dun and Bradstreet, InsideView) are largely North American centric databases, thus requiring another level of thought from an in region marketer.

It’s a round world and we all see things from different viewpoints – how do you see things if this relates to you?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 1 Comment

The B2B Buyer Cycle – Starting Point

If you are a marketer (or any professional in a company that is non-sales oriented), how do you get informed of your buying cycle in a B2B sale and map your buying process to make sure your tools and messages fit with their needs?

At a recent Sales2.0 conference in San Francisco that I attended, there were a number of interesting trends mentioned in b2b selling cycles:

  • 70% of buyers already have information about your product prior to contacting a sales person
  • The sales profession in 2020 is estimated to be a profession of 3 million, down from 18 million today.
  • Inside sales as a profession is growing at a 20% annual rate while outside sales is stagnant (and likely trending downward).

Here are some suggested approaches on how to best start mapping your buyers process – these are techniques that I’ve used in the past with great success.

1.        Go on face to face calls (after getting permission from sales of course):  If you look at some of these trends, it is becoming more challenging to participate on external sales calls in hopes of learning what a sales professional faces.   I highly recommend going on external sales calls if possible, I’m still amazed at the number of marketing professionals that seldomly or never participate on calls to get sharper at their own knowledge!

2.       Go on calls – internally with inside sales:  With the growth of inside sales occurring, there is a very cost effective way to get smarter about how your buyer sees your value first hand.  Usually there is low cost for a sales person to involve an external entity on a call if one participates quietly.  Listen to the language your buyer uses (and where they are getting their data from).

3.       Run surveys:  either through regular customer advisory boards or SurveyMonkey, figure out how your customers are getting so smart so quickly.  If you have established communities (LinkedIn, Twitter), regular surveying is easy to do.  The survey can be of your existing direct sales channel, your indirect channel, your prospects (if run over your home page website) or of your customers.  Get the data to make informed decisions!

4.       Be active monitoring social media:  in a B2B environment, Quora and Focus.com provide a prospect a forum to learn what others are saying about your product in long form (more than 140 characters).  LinkedIn questions also have a similar structure to Quora and provide visibility to what your customers are saying.  An active monitoring at a minimum augmented with a strategy to be responsive to customer service or product issues within these forums is a must.  The other social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook) are also valuable, though the longer form of LinkedIn and Quora give someone the opportunity to vent at length.  Also, I’m finding very few businesses relying on Facebook for their B2B purchase!

There are other processes to map along the buyers journey including all customer touch points.  We’ll save that for another post!

What do you use to make sure you are understanding how your buyer thinks?