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"You Had Me At Revenue": 5 Lessons From The SiriusDecisions Summit

I just returned from three packed days at the Sirius Decisions Summit in Scottsdale.  Once again, the Sirius Summit proved to be the event for sophisticated, ambitious organizations.  The Sirius analysts always have fresh, often counterintuitive approaches to tough problems. When they start speaking, the audience is nodding in agreement and taking notes as fast as they can.

We heard from five organizations that have taken the lead management journey: Iron Mountain, Kronos, F5, American Express and Hexaware.  In most cases, the presentations were made jointly by both the head of sales and head of marketing.  The learning and results of those journeys were spectacular.

Here are the highlights for me:

“You had me at revenue” – finding the common language between the Sales and Marketing teams

From the stage, Colleen Langevin, Iron Mountain’s Senior VP of Marketing, described marketing’s role in terms of “revenue growth”, not building the database or higher open rates for campaigns.  Jerry Rulli, her Sales counterpart responded, to laughs all around, “you had me at revenue.”You had me at revenue

The observation is important: marketers who use the vernacular of marketing’s performance (e.g., click thru rates, unsubscribes, names scanned at a trade show) are not speaking the right language.  Marketers need to understand their contribution to closed business – revenue. This cartoon got a knowing laugh from the audience, illustrating the challenge of a common language between Marketing and Sales. “I’m a huge metal fan.”

This is a big undertaking.  Don’t undersell it.

Some marketing organizations try to go it alone. You know, “under the radar” … shhhh.    For some obvious reasons, they’re not comfortable bringing in Sales, the CIO or the CFO.  This is a big mistake!  The most successful organizations employ a highly inclusive process.  In fact, the CFO often proved to be one of the most enthusiastic supporters of efforts to “demystify the black box of sales and marketing expense.”   Go big or go home.

The results can be stunning.

F5 reported that marketing inquiries went from 1.7% of pipeline to 13.2% of pipeline.  And Kirby Wadsworth, their SVP Marketing reported: “for every $1 in marketing spend, we generate $38.70 in new pipeline.”  In the case of Iron Mountain, they said that “last year Marketing only sourced 4% of closed business.  This year – about 22%!”   These are not incremental improvements. These results are game-changers.

It’s not about the technology.

I sell technology for a living … so, I would love to tell ya “it’s all about the technology.”  But it’s not.  You need alignment on definitions (e.g., what’s a sales-ready lead?) and goals, processes (e.g., lead scoring, lead routing, nurturing), team accountability, and organizational buy-in.  At some point, you also need marketing automation and CRM to make it all work.  But don’t start there.

Trying to figure out social, mobile and content.

Despite the sophisticated audience, it was obvious that even advanced organizations have new challenges. Surprisingly, 41% of attendees said that they “have no content strategy.”   Discussions about social media revealed that there are a wide range of beliefs about the value of social media to demand gen and, to be sure, the best ways to incorporate social media into demand generation programs.  Marketers are also struggling (translation: they are late to the game) of making sure they have a mobile strategy, or, at least can ensure that their messages can be read and tracked on smartphones and tablets.

A big thank you to Sirius Decisions for hosting and producing such an amazing event.  And to all my fellow attendees – thank you for all the great ideas.  See you next year!

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