As expectations for B2B CMOs continue to expand and grow, companies are turning to new ways to drive demand that supports the entire sales funnel and positions reps for success. This requires a strong understanding of customer needs to support the growth, retention and advocacy of clients.
This is something that is well known to Michelle Cirocco, who was recently appointed as the new CMO of Televerde. Cirocco sat down with Demand Gen Report to discuss her new role at the company, how she’s seen demand generation evolve over the past several years and how she plans to bring a customer-centric approach to the position that will help Televerde’s clients continue to grow.
Demand Gen Report: You've been climbing up the corporate ladder at Televerde since 1999. What has Televerde's transformation looked like from your perspective as the B2B marketplace evolved over the years?
Michelle Cirocco: When I think about what Televerde was in 1999 versus what we are today — while thinking about the market at the same time — Televerde has essentially evolved with the market. When we first started, we were doing lead generation, backing qualified leads for sales reps in the software space. We also were having conversations about integrated marketing programs and beginning to combine the idea of email and phone calls together at the same time.
I can vaguely remember writing a pitch for an integrated demand generation program, back probably in 2000-2001, that was just a combination of emails and phone calls. Now, when you think about what demand generation encompasses today, those areas are where Televerde has evolved. We have continued to add our own knowledge, expertise and services to support the full spectrum of what constitutes a world-class demand generation engine — so all the pieces and parts that make up a complete program are coming together.
DGR: When it comes specifically to demand generation as a B2B practice, how has its evolution throughout the years impacted your growth within Televerde?
Cirocco: I think to some extent, it got me to where I’m sitting today. It sounds kind of glib, but if you look at the trajectory of my career, I started in account management and sales. Through that, I was learning the concept of what B2B companies want and need in demand generation and starting to develop programs that I could sell to customers. From there, I went into Sales Operations and Sales Management. Again, it was about how we build out what customers need from there demand generation efforts. How are we providing the services that resonate with our clients and evolve with the changes in the market? This led to my role as VP of Client Success, which was very much about the design, implementation and execution of B2B demand gen programs for our clients.
I was constantly being exposed to what was happening in the market, and I had to learn about all the changes to keep up with the pace of the customers and the market demands. I’m continuing to expand my own knowledge, experience and exposure to everything related to B2B demand generation to the point that now, I can say, “Okay, let me go do this for Televerde.” Because my number-one priority in this role is to build and execute on a world-class demand generation engine that is the perfect model of what we would recommend to our clients.
DGR: It's clear from your past experience that you bring a customer-centric approach to the table, how is this experience going to impact future initiatives at Televerde?
I think one of my other priorities — my number-two priority — is customer marketing. That’s how our marketing team supports the growth, retention and advocacy of our customers. We must continue to focus always on what the customer wants, what the customer need and how the market is changing to support them.
DGR: We recently covered research you published on the relationship between marketing and sales, what stood out to you the most and why?
Cirocco: It said that organizations have focused more on this alignment between sales and marketing, which is what’s driving this [evolution]. Marketing must support deeper into the funnel. When you are supporting deeper into the funnel, then sales teams are actually feeling like they get value out of marketing. This creates that sense of alignment, because marketing must be communicating with sales in order to deliver programs that actually drive revenue. I think that’s where they come together. As marketing has evolved to be more revenue-driven and customer-centric, the natural byproduct of that has got to be greater alignment with sales.
DGR: We've noticed Televerde also has had a lot of global expansion, recently announcing an office in APAC. What are some of the changing global needs you're seeing within your client base in these regions?
Cirocco: Our approach to our global expansion has been just like everything else at our organization; we want to evolve in the ways that our customers are asking us to. That’s been our approach to our expansion: where do our customers want us, where do they need us and then how do we support them in that environment?
What we’ve learned is that what we do for the client here in the U.S. may not translate perfectly to the EMEA or APAC regions. I think that, with any kind of global approach, what you consider your standard operating procedures must be customized at the regional level to ensure that you’re meeting the requirements, goals or expectations of that theater.
DGR: Are there any specific trends that you’re seeing in what is needed from your customer base — any that have threw up the flag signaling that this is something that Televerde needs to start focusing on?
Cirocco: Of course, when you think about marketing, the foundation of any good marketing campaign is always the data. This continues to be one of the primary focuses: helping clients identify and acquire their total addressable market and then, of course, helping them prioritize targets. What’s the intent; who should we be calling on and when? This is particularly relevant since everyone wants to do account-based marketing. When you go down the path of ABM, what is the criteria you’re going to use to select the account to go after?
That is combined with the increasing complexity of the ever-looming GDPR regulations that are coming. We’ve got to focus on how we help our clients navigate the GDPR space and what services should we be providing to assist them with that.
Then there’s all your digital outreach that requires content to fuel it. Content is, and will continue to be, one of the biggest animals that we must feed. There’s the human touch aspect of it; there’s the dialog piece. In that space, I think more and more people are looking for, or they’re really demanding, measurable value. They want to know that the area where they’re spending their money is delivering results. We’re seeing our clients looking for a lot of support a lot further into the funnel.
Gone are the days of marketing just providing stuff at the top of the funnel. You’ve got to be able to deliver deeper and deeper into the funnel.