Saturday, March 26, 2011

 

Seven sales & marketing insights from recent events

Guest post by Anneke Seley, CEO of Phone Works and author of Sales 2.0.

It’s conference season! If you’ve been unable to leave the office and the demands of your day-to-day job, not to worry. Here’s a summary of seven things I thought worth sharing from five superb events I’ve attended recently:

1. Sales Enablement groups are increasing sales productivity.

Sometimes called Sales Productivity or Sales Effectiveness, this is a critical, dedicated function that is emerging in many Sales 2.0 companies. Though groups are defined, structured and staffed differently from company to company, there is across-the-board agreement that making the sales force more productive is a must-have, not a nice-to-have. Ken Powell, who presented at the Corporate Visions Sales & Marketing Alignment Forum, runs a large sales enablement group at ADP, supporting more than 5,000 sales reps. It has responsibility for developing sales tools, messaging, content/knowledge, lead generation and competitive analysis. Does your sales team need enablement?

2. Our biggest competition is the status quo.

Tim Riesterer, CMO at Corporate Visions, thinks customer conversations that help prospects question the status quo are your new strategic asset. In order to have these conversations, develop customer-focused messages, tools and skills. Brent Adamson of the the Corporate Executive Board presented data showing, in B2B companies selling complex products, “challenger” sales reps close more business than “relationship builders.” When the No. 1 thing your customers want to do is nothing, are you challenging their assumptions, making them think and teaching them something?

3. Re-thinking your website content improves results.

At Marketing Sherpa’s B2B Marketing Summit, Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, manager director of MECLABS, said, “People don’t buy from websites; they buy from people.” He showed examples of redesigned, “optimized” sites that significantly increased conversions and form submissions. Long paragraphs, vague and unsubstantiated claims, competing calls to action, and using “marketing speak” rather than plain English are some of the enemies of good results. Is your website failing to engage your prospects? Follow Dr. Flint’s three basic rules: Increase specificity, continuity and relevance.

4. Turn your events into networking opportunities for your customers.

Greg Sherry, VP of marketing and business development at Verint, shared 12 tactics to maximize ROI on a limited budget. One of my favorites is the idea to capture their customers’ areas of knowledge and expertise, as well as topics of interest, on the registration form for their annual customer conference. They then printed this information on the name badges, which facilitated valuable connections among attendees at the opening happy hour and throughout the event.

5. Be creative when selecting event venues.

InsideView and Marketo invited me to speak on a panel at their Customer 2.0 Roadshow event in San Francisco, which took place in a bar called the Harlot Lounge. It worked! Non-standard venues draw diverse (Sales 2.0–minded) people and set the stage for interesting conversations about how we need to change the way we sell to reach “social,” online and productivity-focused customers.

6. Measure the results of your new media marketing programs in terms sales people care about.

With a sales audience, metrics such as page views, open rates and click rates don’t have the same impact as increases in leads and sales. Presenting at Marketo’s User Summit, Todd Foresythe, a member of salesforce.com’s marketing team, revealed that decreasing traditional marketing spend 69% and increasing investments in social media and video yielded 33% more leads.

7. At executive events, mix up the content.

At the Oracle OpenWorld Sales Executive Summit, it was a little intimidating to speak before the America’s Cup sailing team and after Sean Tucker, the acrobatic pilot who flies at elite air shows along with the Blue Angels. But it was fun for the attendees (and me) to get a break from the business content, watch some thrilling sailboat and airplane videos, and have their photos taken with buff guys and the world’s oldest trophy. :-)

These insights came from the Oracle OpenWorld Executive Sales Summit, InsideView and Marketo’s Customer 2.0 Roadshow, Marketing Sherpa’s B2B Marketing Summit, the Marketo User Summit and the Corporate Visions Sales and Marketing Alignment Executive Summit.

What events have you attended recently? What did you learn?

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