B2B marketing and sales are constantly evolving. As new tools and technology enter the space, new challenges and innovations come to fruition. Buzzwords and new (but not-so-new) terms such as account-based marketing and revenue operations have shaken up the industry in positive ways. But at the end of the day, true success all comes down to organizational alignment — especially around sales and marketing teams, including marketing ops, sales ops, etc. Ultimately, teams work better together.
Sangram Vajre, Chief Evangelist for Terminus, kicked off the event with a keynote titled: ABM Is B2B: Why B2B Marketing And Sales Is Broken And How To Fix It. Vajre argued that ABM is essentially B2B marketing.
"It’s simply just better marketing," he said, highlighting the TEAM Framework (Target, Engage, Activate, Measure) as a simple, powerful, connected capability that drives account-based success.
“ABM is not a tool or tactic,” said Vajre. “It’s a way to build a strategy for your organization where you can win … It’s not just about marketing. It’s marketing and sales working together.”
The following sessions at #B2BSMX kept the same mentality of marketing and sales organizations working together to align on top priorities for B2B revenue teams and drive success.
Overcoming Buyer Group Blindness New Reality For Revenue Operations
Kerry Cunningham, Senior Research Director for Marketing Operations and Demand Management at Forrester Research, shared during his keynote session that today’s revenue operations process is much like the evolution of the Massachusetts Turnpike.
“With the help of tools like EZ-Pass, the Mass Pike has a much more seamless customer journey,” Cunningham said. “The role of revenue operations is to transform the B2B opportunity transportation system.”
However, today’s marketing automation and CRM systems are specifically designed to work on the individual level — not necessarily the buying group. Cunningham highlighted how 78% of B2B businesses have three or more people involved in a purchase decision. Therefore, many are not able to see the buying interest within a buying group.
“We call this ‘Buying Group Blindness,’” Cunningham added. “In other words, your systems and processes can't see that there's a buying group on your website consuming your content and paying attention. This is a big problem.”
Cunningham went on to explain that while many businesses suffer from “Second-Lead Syndrome” and ignore additional leads that come from a specific account when an MQL is created, lead activity from multiple stakeholders is a clear sign of a buying opportunity. This should ultimately be considered a signal of intent and pursued further.
While today’s marketing automation and CRM systems are not specifically designed to look at opportunities in such a way, Cunningham suggested that attendees formulate specific revenue operations processes to ensure these signals do not go unnoticed.
“What we're seeing a lot of our clients do is change when an opportunity is created, which is not a technically difficult thing to do,” Cunningham said. “Instead of qualifying the lead and sending the lead to sales, you can have the SDR open an opportunity and go find the other members of the buying group that are probably in your data already. You're going to see a tremendous improvement in productivity and much better online sales.”
This requires pristine alignment within the revenue engine to get this right, according to Cunningham. He went on to highlight the main functions of the revenue engine that businesses should focus on aligning:
- Strategic: Overall company vision and goals;
- Operational: Business strategy, planning, infrastructure, personnel, data and measurement; and
- Organizational: The business functions and the people behind them.
“The removal of Buying Group Blindness, and the shift to one revenue engine vehicle, has multiple benefits on organizations,” Cunningham said. “We’re seeing companies are driving 19% faster revenue growth and 15% higher profitability when they are aligned across the entire revenue engine.”
Executives Address Concerns In Martech Evolution, Strong Need For Quality Data
The day concluded with a thought-provoking conversation among a variety of seasoned B2B marketing practitioners discussing the topics and trends covered throughout the event. Moderated by Evan Liang, CEO of LeanData, the panel included:
- Joe Chernov, VP of Marketing, Pendo;
- Robin Ritenour, Global Head of Business Development, Partnerships and Channels, People.AI; and
- Jaime Punishill, CMO, Lionbridge.
When it came to Vajre's argument that "ABM is B2B," the panelists politely disagreed, saying that ABM is merely a strategy in marketing. However, Punishill stated that he doesn't believe ABM or B2B mean the same to any two people in a room. So, the opinion really depends on each person's definition of the two terms.
The evolution of martech was also a key topic discussed among the panelists. According to Ritenour, it all comes down to good data because, eventually, all the tools in the martech landscape are going to mimic one another.
"I think there will be a consolidation in the martech landscape," said Ritenour. "They're going to lose oxygen. The value they are going to have won't be their capability, but the data that they are generating. That will be the value in the next two years. It's not just the capability, but what is the data that you're getting from the technology."
The integration of tools is also a challenge, and marketers are focusing on how to get the most out of tech with as little as possible.
"The only thing most companies do worse than building stuff is integrating it," said Punishill. "[At Lionbridge], we are going to lean into as few partners as possible. When we're trying to get a sales org, board and CEO to believe in a new model, I can't throw 28 tools at them. All these tools are great, but the salespeople’s heads are spinning." Punishill concluded by saying it's important to ingest and execute one technology well.
Chernov added that another key challenge when it comes to martech is the pricing.
"On one hand, there are too many companies," he said. "On the other hand, the reconciliation is talked about, but it hasn't happened. But something is fundamentally wrong when we are using Marketo and our lead scoring tool costs more than Marketo. Whatever is next, there are people that are more plugged in to working on what's next, and they just replace whoever was shed from the previous layer. There is a lot to reconcile here."
Even with innovations like AI and intent coming into the technology space, success is not promised unless the data is there.
"The whole AI discussion is a moot point if you have [horrible] data," said Punishill. "Don’t underestimate how many philosophies and emotions are happening right now. There is no AI universe — no universe at all if you have crappy data. Trying to do anything with intent isn't going to do anything if you have crappy data."