If you’re a modern marketer who’s using the demand waterfall, lead scoring or lead nurturing, then you’ve probably heard of Sirius Decisions. What you may not know is that every year SiriusDecisions brings together some of the best and brightest minds in sales, marketing and product, from Fortune 500 companies to small and medium sized enterprises at their annual SiriusDecisions Summit. The goal of the summit is to provide a forum for sharing the latest insights, data, models and frameworks as well as the technology and services powering B2B sales and marketing.
This year’s summit was in Nashville, TN and marked the 10-year milestone for the conference. Boy has it grown in that time…from 130 attendees and 9 presentations to a whopping 2300 and 47 presentations! Over the course of the 4-day conference we heard tons of great speakers, case studies and keynotes…and even found some time to enjoy Music City.
Here’s a quick recap of some of the key themes:
Change is all around us.
One theme we heard lots about during Summit 2015 was that of change. The opening keynote delivered by Tony Jaros, SVP and Chief Research Officer at SiriusDecisions highlighted the enormous changes we’ve seen as sales, marketing and product leaders; changes that we couldn’t have foreseen 10 years ago.
The first area of change that Tony points is around best practices, like the demand waterfall and sales funnel, the B2B buying cycle, lead scoring and nurturing and mobile marketing strategies. It’s hard to believe, but 10 years ago we weren’t employing these methodologies that today comprise the backbone of our demand generation campaigns!
Another area of change is around the organization. In the last 10 years we’ve seen the introduction of new functions like sales enablement, marketing ops, and the demand centre. The growth in these functions was apparent as I talked to tons of people around the conference and those who came to visit the Vidyard booth!
On top of the introduction of new functions, we’ve also seen re-alignment of other functions like sales operations from being backward-looking to forward-looking with data that can help organizations make better decisions. A case study presented by Holly Rollo, VP Corporate Marketing from FireEye provided a great example of re-alignment in action. She talked about a dramatic re-organization of FireEye’s marketing organization to improve visibility into lead flow, pipeline as well as infrastructure and process. Her mission with this re-org was to create a world-class marketing engine that could scale for growth. The old FireEye marketing organization was siloed with distinct marketing operations, corporate marketing and regional marketing functions.
Their solution was to incorporate both product marketing and account development into the marketing organization. By making product marketing a function of marketing, FireEye was able to better align sales enablement and core materials to programs being run by the demand center. And by adding account development to regional marketing they were able to boost the service level of lead qualification!
Understanding is key!
The second key theme was that of ‘understanding’…better understanding your customers and better understanding your business metrics.
On the topic of better understanding your customers, the legendary Earvin “Magic” Johnson gave a captivating keynote talking about lessons learned from his career on the court and in the boardroom. As he roamed the packed room taking selfies with dozens of delegates, he talked about how a deep understanding of the urban consumer has been a key differentiator for him as an entrepreneur. He told stories about how, through an understanding of the tastes of the urban consumer, he was able to influence the selection of concessions, music and menu items in two of his ventures – a theater chain developed through a partnership with AMX Cinemas and Starbucks locations in urban centres across the US.
Later in the week, Erin Provey, Sr. Director of Strategic Communications at Sirius Decisions, talked about understanding the true cost of content. Erin broke down how important it is for B2B marketers to understand the investment in content creation and provided a framework for calculating annual investment in content. Erin also covered how to analyze content spend and determine how much is productive (activated by internal audiences and consumed by external resources) and how much is wasted. Based on a survey of 400 enterprises of different sizes, SiriusDecisions found that 65% of content was unproductive! Interestingly, the two main reasons why content was unproductive was because it was either unusable (such as hard to read) or not easily found.
Alignment, alignment, alignment!
The third and perhaps most prevalent theme of SiriusDecision Summit ’15 was alignment. As SiriusDecisions co-founder John Neesen put it, “The alignment between sales, marketing, and product is the hallmark of a high performing organization”. In his day two keynote, Neesen talked about the impacts of alignment on both top line and bottom line growth. He pointed to a survey of 400 organizations finding that companies could grow for four reasons.
- Market Growth – such as the growth in the industry
- Competitiveness – like pricing, positioning, or first mover advantage
- Efficiency – around sales and marketing, for example
- Alignment – interlocking processes, measurement systems, service level agreements
The study found that while market growth could represent 48-79% of growth and competitiveness and efficiency could represent 12-34% of growth, alignment could represent 5-36% of growth! Their research found that companies that are more aligned have a significant strategic advantage over their peers. In fact, alignment can result in faster revenue growth (19%) and more profit (15%).
Another area where companies should aim to be aligned is between the promise and delivery of solutions. Jeff Lash, Service Director at Sirius Decisions gave a great keynote talking about different types of solution offerings that may be appropriate to solve different buyer and user needs. He spoke about four different solution types that organizations could employ:
How does this relate to alignment? Lash suggests that companies need to be mindful about what kind of solution they are promising and what kind of solution they are actually delivering. Companies under-delivering against their solution promise introduce a delivery gap where customers are expecting something more integrated than what they receive. But what if the delivery exceeds the surplus? Isn’t under-promising and over-delivering a good thing? Well it can be, but Lash would suggest that a delivery surplus can also have negative repercussions and customers might feel like they’re paying for unneeded features.
This year’s conference was a huge success and the team is already looking ahead to SiriusDecisions Summit ‘16.