Three Keys To Getting Bigger Deals – And Closing Them Faster

Published: July 30, 2012

By Jon Russo, Founder & CEO, B2B Fusion 

We’re still not yet hitting the full promise of what Marketing 2.0 could be delivering for our companies. That’s what I learned when I conducted my own, informal poll of three CMOs of B2B companies with revenues from $50M to $5B.

I asked them about their progress with new revenue acquisition effectiveness. Were they winning bigger deal sizes, and shortening their sales cycles, by deploying marketing automation and using other inbound marketing techniques? 

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What I learned mirrors what MOCCA (Marketing Operations Community) reported in January 2012 in a webinar survey of over 200 companies. As a rule, companies that invested in marketing automation platforms got better (and more) leads at a lower cost per lead. But they still aren’t winning bigger deals or cutting the time required to close those deals.

How do you get better conversion rates from, and make better use of, your marketing automation and other technology investments? Here are three suggestions:

Get a grip on your data. I use a “rifle sight” analogy when I talk about data quality. If your rifle sight is off by the slightest fraction of an inch, you’ll miss your target by a mile.

Let’s apply that analogy to an challenge that marketing executives consistently underestimate: the integrity of contact data. Without complete data (especially contact names, phone numbers and email addresses), sales teams invest an inordinate amount of research time to get the right information. (See my previous Demanding Views column for more on this point.) Small data errors create much bigger, and far more costly, problems later.

New tools help companies deal with data quality challenges. (A few of these include the LinkedIn plugin for,, InsideView and RainKing.) However, these still don’t address data integrity issues like appending, cleansing and preventing duplications at the contact or account level. When you plan to address these issues up front, you’ll drastically improve sales effectiveness.

Improve your knowledge of the buying cycle. A surprising number of organizations fail to recognize the need to build out content around their buying cycles. There are actually two issues here. First, organizations fail to recognize the “moments of truth” that reveal how their buyers actually buy and when buyers leverage digital technology to buy. You can solve this problem by looking carefully at your buyer surveys and customer forums, and by unpacking previously won deals to understand why they succeeded.

The second problem involves failing to target the right content at the right time in the buying cycle. As an example, Rackspace does an exceptional job of targeting end-of-funnel conversions by leveraging LinkedIn recommendations by clients — allowing other potential clients to see what their friends purchased.

Step up your use of metrics and reporting. This is the trickiest issue, since metrics and reporting offer such important insights into your data, process and content — and until all of these pieces fall into place, marketing ROI is a myth. Vendors in this space are happy to sell you their capabilities, which are either set up to leverage very specific use cases, or require a fair amount of care and feeding to get them operating correctly.

It will take time, energy and an Excel template to get the right data reporting. But until you do this, you won’t know what other areas require improvement. Accuracy and relevance always come into question when data is formatted outside of CRM systems, so be prepared to identify the underlying assumptions in your data gathering process, and apply those assumptions consistently.

How have you improved your processes in order to win bigger deals with shorter sales cycles? Let us know in the comments section.

Jon Russo has been a three-time B2B Chief Marketing Officer at companies ranging from former divisions of General Electric to Silicon Valley startups.  His global assignments have included Luxembourg, New York City and Silicon Valley where he helped lead a $180M M&A (GlobalCenter acq. by Frontier) and an IPO of SaaS mobility company iPass as a 16b officer. Russo is a recognized speaker at numerous industry events and conferences, including CXO, venture capital, Internet, hosting and software as a service venues. He has appeared on national television news outlets, including Fox News. A former active duty Army officer, Jon Russo earned his MBA in Marketing from the Haas School of Business, University of California at Berkeley, and an undergraduate degree in Finance from the University of Connecticut.

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