While President Obama was across town in Tempe, Arizona giving a commencement speech emphasizing how to keep studying beyond school, I attended the annual SiriusDecisons Best Practices Summit for Sales & Marketing leaders (see Twitter) in sunny Scottsdale, Arizona. My objective in attending this year’s conference was to study and gain a more complete understanding of how to best drive new revenue in a challenging economic environment–by either driving existing prospecting opportunities or net new opportunities–and then listen to what marketing programs make a visible impact in accelerating revenue in these areas. In attendance with me were sales and marketing leaders fromOmniture, Cisco, Symantec, Ilumina, PerkinElmer, Pitney Bowes, IBM, HP, BlueCoat, Cox, Ariba, McAfee, SAP, Aspect, and Juniper among others.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been a Sirius customer for nearly 6 years and have attended a number of their annual conferences. In this time, I’ve worked with them to help drive my revenue stream at iPass where as head of marketing, we nearly quadrupled revenue to $200M – Sirius helped benchmark other company performance and helped my team embark on an aggressive field marketing strategy to support the growth.
Here are 10 key takeaways from the Summit of LEADING SALES AND MARKETING ORGANIZATIONS…these organizations are:
1. innovating around marketing structure to leverage assets and impact sales productivity (function of company size and channel strategy)
2. leveraging technologies focused on sales enablement and pipeline transparency/analysis (function of investment in sales + marketing automation)
3. applying marketing resources across the entire opportunity life cycle, driving close collaboration between sales and marketing (marketing operations plays a key role here)
4. mandating marketing ROI, which sharpens measurement and drives greater alignment with sales (seems obvious in this economic environment, surprising # of companies work in progress here).
5. leveraging new marketing technologies to increase reach and quality, decrease costs and measure results (social media helps in this regard)
6. blazing a trail with social media, and linking reputation and demand creation activities (see my prior posts here on this topic)
7. enabling sales via a progressive approach to building sales playbooks (start in increments, prove that it works, then grow it)
8. architecting their channel programs using three lenses: supplier-to-partner, partner-to-customer, and supplier-to-customer
9. optimizing the entire demand life cycle (nurturing leads becomes more important-every lead counts)
10.closing the enormous marketing skills gap created by new marketing technologies and requirements (new technologies creates new opportunties)
Statistics prove that organizations that have embraced an integrated sales and marketing approach vastly outperform (revenue and profit) than those that have not. To get this synergy, Marketing needs to drive a closed loop lead system that has a specific hand off and visibility to sales with the right measurement mechanisms in place. Both Sales and Marketing should have joint visibility to the sales pipeline (ie prospects at various stages of the sales funnel). The benefit to sales in sharing pipeline visibility is becoming one of those firms that wildly succeed versus a marginally performing organization.
In addition to the presentations, I found value in Alinean, one of the many participating vendors given their ability to help provide prospects with a clear TCO/ROI proposition (more on this later.)
This event was well worth the time and money investment for any attendee; if you are debating about attending or sending a sales or marketing leader next year, do not hesitate. The ROI is proven based on money saved on not making mistakes and money gained by being a ‘student of the game’ –by studying the best practices of how to best accelerate revenue NOW in a challenging economic climate.