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SiriusDecisions 2010 Summit: How B2B Marketing Organizations Can Better "Measure, Align, Transform" Their Demand Generation for "High Performance"

by: Adam Needles (@IBMforMarketing)
20 May 2010

Recently I have had the opportunity to attend the annual conferences of some of the leading analyst firms covering strategic and technological innovation in marketing and sales.  I wrote several weeks ago about what I learned at the Forrester Marketing Forum 2010 (Twitter: #FMF10) in Los Angeles, California, and this past week I had the opportunity to attend the SiriusDecisions 2010 Summit (Twitter: #SDS10) in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Silverpop was a Platinum sponsor of SiriusDecisions and exhibited at the summit, but a major part of my agenda was not only connecting with marketers but also being (for lack of a better descriptor) a 'humongous sponge' for all of the great research insights and analyst perspectives offered up.  So it should come as no surprise that I was taking countless notes and Tweeting up a storm.

[caption id="attachment_767" align="alignright" width="438" caption="Source: Silverpop"]Source:  Silverpop[/caption]

How much did I soak up?  A lot.  SiriusDecisions had hands-down some of the best B2B marketing and sales content I've seen anywhere, and I had lots of takeaways. 

The theme at SiriusDecisions was "Measure, Align, Transform:  The Roadmap for High-Performance B2B Sales and Marketing," and all of the sessions mapped back to this core theme.  They did a great job of integrating perspectives on how people, process and technology are all evolving within best-in-class B2B marketing and sales organizations.  And one of the aspects of SiriusDecisions I appreciated the most was that all of their sessions, data points and models built on each other and aligned back to the firm's core point-of-view. 

So what is their point of view, and what did I learn? 

Here's a summary of some of the major insights I got out of the three days I spent at the SiriusDecisions 2010 Summit.

Managing Demand Generation as a Dynamic and Holistic System

SiriusDecisions believes the key to successful B2B marketing and sales in the modern era lies in understanding and managing demand generation activities as a dynamic and holistic system -- versus the legacy of disconnected activities and siloed marketing and sales organizations that predominates.  To the smart folks at SiriusDecisions, demand generation is a process, (which should be) centered around the buyer, and within which marketing and sales teams have complementary and symbiotic roles to play.  They also believe that smart processes and approaches within B2B marketing and sales organizations must be supported by shared information flows and systems.  Theirs is an integrated approach to demand generation that fuses operations theory and analytics with traditional marketing/sales disciplines and closed-loop data systems.

"How do we teach marketers to not do 'one and done' marketing?" challenged analyst Tony Jaros in the closing panel on day three.  And I found this statement was a good summation of a key point Jaros first made on day one of the conference.  He opened with a session, titled "The Second Sea Change: Sales and Marketing for 2010 and Beyond," that both dug into the disconnected state of marketing and sales that exists within too many organizations and also explored why this leads to under-performance.

He commented that only one in three B2B marketing and sales organizations today have crafted their go-to-market strategies specifically based on their target market, and that traditional marketing communications and product marketing organizations are 'out of the loop' in the drive for holistic demand generation.  He also urged sales organizations to nurture relationships in an integrative fashion, rather than merely "calling every six months saying, 'So, budget freed up, yet?'"  The upside, per Jaros, of adopting a more integrative approach lies in its ability to improve the cost effectiveness and efficiency of B2B marketing and sales activities.  "There's a ton of leads sitting in lead purgatory," and Jaros believes that alignment around a holistic demand generation process is the solution.

So how can organizations turn the corner?  Jaros believes B2B marketing and sales organizations must break down the "Five Roadblocks Impeding Performance" if they are going to find success.  He explained that these roadblocks are:

  • The Miscast Role:  Broad-based demand creation isn’t – and shouldn’t be – the driving force behind every sales and marketing relationship
  • The Nurturing Debate:  Can sales and marketing come to grips with which function is best equipped to care for certain types of prospects?
  • The Lack of a Blueprint:  It’s time to bring all critical functions into the planning loop
  • The Fiefdoms:  Trying to do business a new way with old structures doesn’t work
  • The Forgotten Function:  Teleprospecting is a key pivot point that is often overlooked and misunderstood

Jaros further argued that B2B marketing has a unique opportunity to provide leadership in breaking down these roadblocks and improving marketing and sales alignment.  "We have witnessed the charter of marketing – and thus its relationship with sales – change twice in a decade," noted Jaros on one of his slides.  And the current change is the drive for B2B marketing to be more accountable to and responsible for tracking and optimizing the entire demand generation process. 

This requires B2B marketing to be cognizant of and engaged with five 'critical task families,' according to Jaros, and to move beyond a traditional focus on merely filling the top of the funnel.  The complete set of task families for B2B marketing include:

  • Accelerating
  • Creating
  • Enabling
  • Nurturing
  • Seeding

This introductory presentation by Jaros -- along with the overall summit theme -- made for a powerful statement both of the evolution and new charter for B2B marketing, and it was echoed by the rest of the SiriusDecisions team throughout the three days of the summit.

Measuring This System

The major takeaway when it comes to B2B marketing measurement is that you can't improve what you can't see.  "Your data and your dashboards lay out a map for you for what you should do to improve marketing," noted Megan Heuer in her day-three presentation, "Improving the Sales and Marketing Foundation through Data Dashboarding." 

Stated differently, if you aren't tracking B2B marketing activity and syncing it to your sales transactional register in a closed-loop fashion -- ideally via marketing automation synchronized to your CRM platform -- it's tough to identify inefficiencies.

> Accurate data is critical to successful marketing, and accurate data is clean data, yet much of our data is not accurate or clean:  Analyst Megan Heuer commented on day three that "better measurement and better data is the foundation for better marketing success."  And yet, a consistent theme throughout the conference was the challenges remaining for marketers in addressing this.  John Neeson commented in his day-one presentation, "Under Construction:  The Sales and Marketing Organization of the Future," that the number one issue in marketing operations today is data.  "Data is a challenge." 

Heuer explained on day three that on average, one-quarter of all marketing data is 'bad' or incomplete.  But she also pointed out that as much as 70% of the errors made in data collection happen in initial collection and that it is significantly less expensive to fix data errors at the collection stage versus later in the process.  So a key call-out was the importance of improving the accuracy of initial data collection -- refining those initial stages of engagement and the information extracted at these stages -- and using progressive profiling to keep data accurate and fresh.

BTW -- Independent analyst and author David Raab ironically just posted an interesting take on why it is that marketers are not better at measurement and data.  Good timing for this dialogue, and it's worth checking out.  Okay, back to SiriusDecisions ...

> Good marketing metrics balance views of 'results' with in-process checkpoints:  Another key theme both of comments and presentations by Megan Heuer and Tony Jaros was the importance of having a balanced score card.  Jaros commented in one of his presentations, "We need to diversify away from a pure focus on 'create' metrics." 

Heuer echoed this in her 'Dashboarding' presentation, arguing that we should focus on measuring 'a receipt for marketing' alongside monitoring of key in-process diagnostic indictors.  And Heuer cited the following key metrics under each of these two buckets:

Receipt for marketing

  • Investment to pipeline
  • Investment to revenue
  • Marketing influenced pipeline
  • Marketing sourced pipeline


  • Database (% incomplete/bad)
  • Inquiries raw
  • Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs)
  • Sales-accepted leads (SALs)
  • Sales-qualified leads (SQLs)
  • SQL-to-close

SiriusDecisions brings many these metrics and their core marketing operational insights together in their 'Demand Waterfall' model -- a view of the demand generation process they developed and have refined over the last decade.  It is a model I frequently see referenced as a way to rationalize marketing/sales activities/dynamics against the buying cycle.  This is a model that they heavily referenced throughout the three days of their summit.

Aligning This System

The SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall model also is a powerful way to think about aligning the activities and flow of leads between marketing and sales.  The SiriusDecisions team added additional color at their summit on how to best understand and leverage their model, providing thoughts on operational refinements.

>  Marketing programs should align to the buyer and his/her buying process:  "If you want to be a better marketer you need to know your buyers and your customers" commented analyst Megan Heuer in the closing panel.  The theme that the buyer is now in control was clear.  "It is not about the tactic or source but the buying process," noted one SiriusDecisions analyst.  He further commented that's why "the framework for messaging is more important than the tactic."

Numerous data points supported the reality that viewing B2B marketing from the buyer's point of view changes how you think about B2B campaigning.  One example is the degree to which B2B buyers are overwhelmed by email campaigns today.  Average email pitches per week that B2B buyers get grew from 15.4 in 2006 to 20.3 campaigns in 2010, according to SiriusDecisions research.  Also, SiriusDecisions analysts found that peer recommendations are the most-trusted source of B2B buyers, whereas vendor resources are the least trusted.  The key call-out is that it's more important than ever for B2B marketing to leverage more educational than interruptive tactics, and to operate in a buyer-driven/triggered fashion, while also building trust and community. 

The new reality of connecting with B2B buyers in a Web 2.0 world also requires a new style of dynamic engagement.  John Neeson provided color around this point, noting the importance of nurturing and that it represents a disruptive view of B2B marketing.  The marketing legacy is one that Neeson called that of 'linear' marketing campaigns, yet he noted that nurturing and following a buyer's progression is often nonlinear and iterative.  The SiriusDecisions team helped to connect the dots on this point by presenting their new and evolving campaign model, which identifies how to integrate elements of the demand waterfall, key B2B marketing/sales activities and buyer-cycle alignment into an integrated and buyer-centric go-to-market mindset for demand generation.

> Aligning marketing and sales teams requires aligning expectations and interactions:  "Part of alignment is shared goals, shared rewards and shared responsibilities," commented analyst Joe Galvin at the closing roundtable.  John Neeson also highlighted this point on day one, noting that it's more critical than ever for B2B marketers to be focusing on how their activities support and catalyze the efforts of the sales team.  "Sales enablement is the 'critical lynchpin'" of the overall new B2B marketing portfolio," said Neeson.

Transforming This System

Two elements were cited as critical to transforming B2B marketing and sales to be ready for holistic demand generation -- technology and people -- yet the two were always talked about as being integral components and that it's tough to fix one without the other. 

> Technology is playing  a major role in the current (r)evolution in how B2B marketing and sales is organizing and executing:  Technology was cited as a critical driver of transformation within the B2B marketing and sales arena.  "What has changed about sales and marketing is technology's ability to drive information to everyone," noted Joe Galvin.  And SiriusDecisions argued that having both a CRM platform and marketing automation today are the minimum bar for best-in-class organizations.  "Companies with a closed-loop measurement perform better than companies that don't," noted Megan Heuer, and achieving a closed loop requires both CRM and marketing automation.

Yet John Neeson said SiriusDecisions believe aggregate marketing automation penetration in the US today is only 7-10% (although he noted his firm believes this will grow to 30% by 2015).  He also noted that only about 25% of organizations with marketing automation today are using the platform to its fullest capability.  And that's why process change and training must accompany marketing automation adoption.

> People change is a big part of designing a best-in-class B2B marketing and sales organization and is a critical prerequisite to leveraging technology ... but it's not easy:  "Many marketing and sales functions will be required to work together on this change over the next five years," noted John Neeson in his day-one presentation.

"Marketing technology by itself won't solve problems," commented Jonathan Block in a day-one presentation on technology infrastructure.  He noted, however, that technology is evolving to be more about supporting best-in-class process, versus merely being infrastructure.  "On the horizon is role-based applications," noted Block.

And Jonathan Block had some closing words of wisdom on transforming your people:  "Don't neglect the change management aspects of change" in sales and marketing evolution.  Adopting best-in-class demand generation practices requires hand-on management of individuals and cultures if it is going to be successful.

So all-in-all I certainly soaked up a lot of great insights and appreciate the time and care that went into the SiriusDecisions 2010 Summit.  Kudos to the analysts on some great content.  I learned a lot (and have just barely scratched the surface in this blog post).

Did you attend SiriusDecisions 2010 Summit?  What did you think?  What were your impressions and learnings?  What would you add to some of my observations above?  Would love to see your thoughts.


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