Tuesday, December 16, 2014

IDC's 10 Predictions for CMOs for 2015

What does IDC predict for tech CMOs and their teams in 2015 and beyond?
Our recent report IDC FutureScape: Worldwide CMO / Customer Experience 2015 Predictions highlights insight and perspective on long-term industry trends along with new themes that may be on the horizon. Here's a summary.

1: 25% of High-Tech CMOs Will Be Replaced Every Year Through 2018
There are two dominant drivers behind the increased CMO turnover over the past two years. One driver centers on the cycle of new product innovations, new companies, and new CMO jobs. The second (but equal) driver centers around the required "fit" for a new CMO in the today's tumultuous environment and the short supply of CMOs with transformational skill sets.

Guidance: Everyone in the C-Suite needs to "get" modern marketing to make the CMO successful.

2: By 2017, 25% of Marketing Organizations Will Solve Critical Skill Gaps by Deploying Centers of Excellence
The speed of marketing transformation and the increased expectations on marketing have left every marketing organization in need of updating its skill sets. In the coming years, CMOs will not only have to recruit and train talent but also create organizational structures that amplify and share best practices. Leading marketing organizations will become masters of the centers of excellence (CoE).

Guidance: Get out of your traditional silos and collaborate.

3: By 2017, 15% of B2B Companies Will Use More Than 20 Data Sources to Personalize a High-Value Customer Journey
Personalization requires a lot of data. CMOs do not suffer from a lack of data — quite the contrary. Today's marketer has dozens, if not hundreds, of sources available. However, companies lack the time, expertise, and financial and technical resources to collect data, secure it, integrate it, deliver it, and dig through it to create actionable insights. This situation is poised for dramatic change.

Guidance: One of your new mantras must be – "do it for the data".

4: By 2018, One in Three Marketing Organizations Will Deliver Compelling Content to All Stages of the Buyer's Journey
CMOs reported to IDC that "building out content marketing as an organizational competency" was their #2 priority (ROI was #1). Content marketing is what companies must do when self-sufficient buyers won't talk to sales people. While it's easy to do content marketing; it's hard to do content marketing well. The most progressive marketing organizations leverage marketing technology and data to develop a buyer-centric content strategy.

Guidance: Remember that it’s the buyer's journey – not your journey for the buyer.

5: In 2015, Only One in Five Companies Will Retool to Reach LOB Buyers and Outperform Those Selling Exclusively to IT
IDC research shows that line-of-business (LOB) buyers control an average of 61% of the total IT spend. LOB buyers are harder to market to and are even more self-sufficient than technical buyers. To succeed with this new buyer, tech CMOs must move more quickly to digital, incorporate social, broaden the types of content, and enable the sales team to maximize their limited time in front of the customer.

Guidance: Worry less about how much video is in your plan and worry more about your message.

6: By 2016, 50% of Large High-Tech Marketing Organizations Will Create In-House Agencies
Advertising agencies have been slow to recognize the pervasive nature of digital. While many digital agencies exist and many have been acquired by the global holding companies, these interactive services typically managed as just another part of the portfolio of services the agency offers. Modern marketing practitioners realize that digital is now in the DNA of everything they do and are ahead of their agencies.

Guidance: Don't wait. Take the lead.

7: By 2018, 20% of B2B Sales Teams Will Go "Virtual," Resulting in Improved Pipeline Conversion Rates
Buyers won't talk to sales until late in the game. But for B2B companies, a completely digital solution may not be answer either. Some solutions are so new, so complex, or customized that a human concierge must intervene. Enter the "virtual" sales rep. This emerging hybrid of marketing, sales and tech service is a far cry from the historical "me and my quota" sales rep. Think of them as a B2B Genius Bar. CMOs must equip the virtual sales rep with success tools.

Guidance: Find the fledgling "virtual" reps in your company and make them heroes – and make yourself one in the process.

8: By 2017, 70% of B2B Mobile Customer Apps Will Fail to Achieve ROI Because they Lack Customer Value-Add
Apps are maturing rapidly into utilities that can greatly enhance customers' personal and professional lives. Brand value is being redefined by value-added services such as monitoring, reporting, best practices, communities, and guidance. Nearly every brand has an app today. But not all apps are created equal. Some apps provide tremendous value, and others will end up on the island of mobile misfits. 

Guidance: Allow your competitor's app to be the "go to" resource and you are essentially locked out of that consumer's life.

9: By 2018, 25% of CMOs and CIOs Will Have a Shared Road Map for Marketing Technology
The CMO and CIO relationship will shape the future of both roles. CMOs must accept that their infrastructure is more effective when it is integral to enterprise IT. CIOs must reinvent their missions to support unprecedented innovation in line-of-business IT.  CMOs and CIOs must work together for vendor selection, data governance, backup and recovery, security, and a host of other issues.

Guidance: CMO and CIO should jointly lobby the CEO to overinvest in marketing technology.

10: By 2018, 20% of B2B CMOs Will Drive Budget Increases by Attributing Campaign Results to Revenue Performance
With the sharp lessons of the Great Recession still fresh in their minds, CEOs and CFOs want to make sure every dollar leads to results. If marketing can achieve full revenue attribution promise, this will not only to satisfy demands for accountability but will result in budget increases. But marketing's path to full attribution requires a complex orchestration of technology, data, and marketing skills and can't be accomplished without partnerships with IT, sales, and finance.

Guidance: Start with attribution of individual campaigns and tactics and eventually you'll build this Holy Grail.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Meet the Virtual Sales Rep

Robert sits in an office near Provo, Utah at what looks like the console of an air traffic
controller. But instead of directing jets through the airspace, he's using Twitter to guide a software company's buyer through her decision-journey. Part marketer, part sales, part tech service, Robert is one of an emerging breed of "virtual" sales reps. Could this be the dream team that B2B has been waiting for?

The B2B "Genius Bar"® as a Role Model

The "virtual" sales rep role in its ideal form provides the personalized, anticipatory, service of a five-star hotel. Think of it as the B2B version of an Apple Genius Bar – using virtual tools. The Apple executive team modeled the Genius Bar after Ritz-Carlton's customer service. Hallmarks of this exemplary concierge service include a personal touch; a warm, friendly, attitude; and attention to satisfying customer needs at every step. Sales expert Anneke Seley says the "virtual" sales rep culture is a far-cry from the historical "me and my quota" rep.

Sales teams are finally coming to grips with digital age facts. The culture shift recognizes that engagement must be sensitive to the appropriate stage of the buyer's decision-journey. "Buyers aren't ready to buy until they are ready to buy". Marketers all know by now that buyers prefer self-sufficiency and they avoid talking to sales people until the decision-journey is substantially complete.  IDC research shows that for tech products averages this distance averages about 50%. Now sales is also starting to appreciate that buyers are alienated when by placed prematurely into the arena. At the same time sales leaders don't want to waste an expensive sales resource on someone who isn't ready to buy.

Digital May Not be Enough

Content marketing is what companies must do to fill the gap when buyers won't talk to traditional sales people.  Content marketing is a hugely important communication strategy and companies will not be successful without mastering it.

Yet, for B2B companies, a completely digital engagement solution may not ever be the right answer. For one thing, content marketing capabilities in most companies is still ramping. Even when content marketing becomes excellent, digital may never be personal enough. Some B2B solutions are so complex, customized, or require so much trust that a human must intervene for the buyer to be truly served.  It may also be in the vendor's best interest to involve a good sales person early. One tech CMO told me that although the company could offer eCommerce, a human touch tripled the size of the deal.

The End of One-to-One

Sales must abandon the image of the lone hero acting alone. A distinguishing feature between traditional sales and marketing has been that sales covered one-to-one interactions and marketing covered the one-to-many. The evolving "virtual" sales model is somewhere in-between. Maybe we can call it some-to-one.

Because the Apple's Genius Bar is not just a person. It's a chain of orchestrated interactions constructed not only with people but also with data, technology, knowledge, content, training, and culture. It takes a village to offer five-star concierge service.

This shift means new responsibilities for marketing. To engage in a buyer-sensitive way, marketing must provision "virtual" sales reps, train them, and merge them into new types of campaigns. These new reps will be power users of CRM and marketing automation. They will be adept at social selling. They will depend on behavioral data and pitch-perfect content. Depending on the company business model they may generate leads, qualify them, develop business, close sales, or offer technical buying assistance.

IDC believes that the challenge of aligning with sales and instituting sales enablement will seem like baby steps compared to the full-on role integration of this new function. CMO's should jump on this trend now.

Genius Bar is a registered trademark of Apple, Inc.