This week we had the privilege of participating in two significant conferences taking place in San Francisco. I was on a CMO panel at the B2B Digital Edge Live conference (#DELiveSF), while my colleague Daniel West presented at the Forrester Annual Enablement Forum (#tse12). I found it intriguing how both conferences focused on the same end-result … the “Customer”.
In some respects this is quite surprising given one normally associates Enablement with the process of training sales on how to sell, while marketing always talks about promoting thought leadership into the social network or generating leads from prospects. So why the change?
I think the answer here relates to how both disciplines are moving forward in this modern era driven by social networking. No longer is it just a one-way dialog between vendor and customer – you know, where the vendor promotes products & services via a web-site, or advertises in a magazine. It is now imperative that there is a two-way dialog. Customers are no longer silent! They talk, and they discuss - both good and bad. Vendors need to focus on ensuring their customers are successful. This means focusing on “listening” to their customers and understanding what total customer success means to them – whether it is online, in user groups, at events or in one-to-one meetings. Interestingly, this is one of the fundamental tenents of cloud computing through which service is paramount in order to drive repeatable subscription revenues.
Hence the focus of enablement must shift from simply training sales, and move to enabling sales to foster relationships with customers in order to deliver solutions that really deliver on key business imperatives. The entire value delivery chain (from first contact through to sale, implementation and ongoing success) must be aligned and working for customer success - because vendors are now visibly under the microscope and increasingly being compared and discussed in public. Several comments jumped out at me from the live conference twitter stream (#tse12):
- Certify sales people on talking to buyers, not talking about products.
- 86% of business buyers engage in web research independent of sales cycle.
- 8 months ago, enablement was nice to have, now it is recognized as a must have
- Sales Enablement = Make your customer a hero. That’s why I use “future advocate” and NOT “prospect”.
Strong words indeed which then align with the role of modern marketing teams – Engaging with customers through their chosen social networks to discuss their needs and help position solutions for their success. The role of marketing then becomes increasingly focused on finding the early stage researchers as they engage on social networks and leverage online assets. The role of marketing has now moved to that of engaging online, embracing customers and engaging in ongoing dialog. Again, several topics jumped out from the live conference twitter stream (#DELiveSF):
- Enable B2B salespeople to do what they do best, with digital at the core: data, content, mobile, social, CRM.
- B2B marketing: Start with audience design. Target the influencers of the influencers & create content in places they seek it.
- Marketing direction for digital: brands need to become publishers. Content is king!
- Digital Edge Live: Control social mess before it controls you.
That last point is key - a significant problem is that this modern world of online proactive marketing has become complicated. At the B2B Digital marketing conference, we were asked by the moderator, Kate Maddox, on what our greatest challenges were in digital marketing. Three topics that interested me:
- Joining the dots between out-bound email marketing with social media to nurture customers and prospects efficiently.
- The cultural change associated with evolving from an old-fashioned traditional organization to a leading social enterprise.
- Understanding where user groups now exist – on traditional web-sites – or beyond in the social network of linkedIn, Facebook and other networks.
Marketing and Enablement are evolving rapidly into adjacent displines linked with a common goal of embracing the customer and ensuring that the entire value delivery chain is focused on their success – because without their success we are simply fooling ourselves into believing we are building a sustainable and successful business model.
What do you think?