Through these special blog postings, our goal is to offer advice and insights from top B2B marketers. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Malcolm Friedberg, principal at Left Brain Marketing. He has more than 20 years of marketing, sales and business development experience in a broad range of B2B industries.
Malcolm has built several national brands and staffed marketing departments from the ground up. His marketing consulting firm specializes in designing and implementing customized marketing automation solutions for B2B companies. We thank Malcolm for taking time out of his busy schedule to respond to our questions. From his responses, you'll learn what he thinks is the best strategy for connecting sales and marketing plus much more. Enjoy!
1.) Are you a left or right brainer?
We have a test on our website that allows people to get a sense of which brain hemisphere dominates. According to the test, I lean to the left, which means that I am more analytical than intuitive. This view accords with my wife's perspective that my male intuition, or lack thereof, makes me horrible at understanding what makes her happy.
And do you determine which your client is before working with them?
No, we don't have a litmus test for clients. I was a CMO before I became a consultant, and I know that most of us marketers are right-brained. Branding, events, traditional advertising tend to be more creative and right-brain focused. A big reason why I got into marketing automation is that I know most marketers need assistance in this area.
And how does it affect the way you build a campaign?
The way in which my analytical skills manifest in our client engagements is in building business processes. Marketing generally doesn't have a lot of business processes, and so the exercise of creating a well-conceived process is new. However, marketing automation requires that you map out steps to various workflows. As an example, the ability to route leads to sales and then get the untouched ones back for nurturing forces you to think through a variety of issues: what's the criteria for moving leads, how long should they sit, what triggers a transfer, which technology you use, etc. If you've never worked through these issues, creating an effective business process can be challenging.
2.) What strategy have you seen work the best for connecting sales and marketing teams?
There are both historical and structural reasons for the disconnect that exists between marketing and sales organizations. The historical component largely has to do with quality of leads and sales' perception that it could do as well if not better (a broad generalization, but one that I believe is accurate). The structural element is that they often exist in different business silos, independently reporting to a CEO. These are significant hurdles to overcome. One of the things I particularly like about marketing automation is that it provides a legitimate opportunity for marketing to reach out to sales and begin a dialogue about how it can better support sales. The "I'm here to help, but I need your involvement" approach seems to be the best way to make headway.
3.) What metrics have you seen work best for tracking and measuring the ROI of lead-management programs?
In my mind, this is another way of asking, "How does a CMO/VP Marketing sell his or her CEO on the investment?" The simplest way to do this is to calculate your cost per lead (e.g. acquisition through sale) and then illustrate how marketing automation can improve on that by reducing costs (e.g. less spend on traditional advertising, better conversion based on targeting, etc.). At the beginning of the process, you're going to be making assumptions, so your best bet is to grab some industry metrics. Once you're up and running you'll be able to focus more specifically on the metrics that you either have or that are most meaningful in the context of your specific business.
4.) If you were going to do only one thing, what part of a B2B lead-management program would you implement (demand generation, lead scoring, lead nurturing, ROI measurement)?
I don't think that you can focus on just one area, because you need all the parts to build a quality marketing program. It would be like fielding a baseball team with only a good pitcher, but lousy fielders. But assuming we're not all the Yankees (for you non-baseball fans, they have the biggest payroll in baseball), the biggest bang for the buck is nurturing. Chances are that you have a good number of leads coming to your site (if not, obviously demand gen would be your focus), and a few good nurturing programs will drastically help your conversion efforts.
5.) Which business practices are working best in B2B lead generation today, and which would you like to disappear?
One B2B practice that is critical to success is segmentation, because that's the foundation to relevant communication with your audience. The days of sending the same message to everyone without taking into account a buyer's product interest, role, knowledge, etc. are gone. If you're still doing that, it's time to evolve because that's the one practice that, in my humble opinion, should disappear.
6.) What's your advice to marketers working with execs who view marketing as a discretionary budget item during a recession?
Get a new job was my first thought, but that's usually not an option. The question describes a very challenging situation that is a reality for a huge number of marketers. I think that, as a whole, marketing is in transition. The need for marketing to be accountable is more real now than ever. Consequently, I think that marketers need to demonstrate their contribution to revenue (e.g. tracking the closed deals that originated with marketing). Using data to support additional investment in marketing is the way to go.