Top Three Tips for Fall

Top Three Tips for Fall

by Katie Weisz
Estimated read time: Less than 1 minute

In September, CEO Scott Gillum sat down with VP at Gartner, Brent Adamson, to discuss the question of “do we really need outbound sales anymore?”

During this interview, Scott and Brent dove into the top three things sales and marketers should be thinking about for Fall and their 2020 budget.

Listen in as Brent dives into what he believes are the most important things to be focusing on when it comes to sales, marketing, and the customer experience in the buying process right now.

https://vimeo.com/372495331
Surviving and Thriving in the Sales Culture as a B2B Marketer

Surviving and Thriving in the Sales Culture as a B2B Marketer

by Katie Weisz
Estimated reading time: 1 minute 

Scott sat down with an old friend and senior tech executive, Stephanie Anderson, to discuss how to survive and thrive in the sales culture as a B2B marketer. With Stephanie’s substantial background in sales, service, marketing, and now as the chairman of the board of a healthcare software company, she brings a vast amount of knowledge and expertise to the conversation.

In the interview clip, Stephanie and Scott talk about sales misperceptions of marketing and what marketers can do to strengthen the relationship.

Along with the discussion on sales and marketing culture, Scott and Stephanie also dive into a conversation on CMOs, what is on their minds, advice for those new to the role, and what should be top of mind when “selling” to a CMO.

Watch the Full Interview here.

https://vimeo.com/368034169

Highlights from the Full Interview:

  • 2:31- The advantage of having a sales background
  • 10:20- The Sales versus Marketing divide
  • 20:03- What is on the minds of CMOs
  • 25:20- What advice would you give new CMOs.

To hear the conversation with Stephanie, listen or download here.


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10 Tips for Recession Proofing Your 2020 Marketing Budget

10 Tips for Recession Proofing Your 2020 Marketing Budget

by Scott Gillum
Estimated read time: 4 minutes

Over the last few months, I have had the opportunity to attend industry events, review new research on buyers and sellers, work with clients on very difficult challenges and observe the behavior of sales and marketing teams working together… and I’m worried.

I’m worried because of the following. Albeit a small sample size, I am seeing the issues below across organizations of various industries, big and small.  

– Confusing Activity for Performance, Again 

Despite our ability to measure more than ever I have observed organizations rushing campaigns out the door without proper performance metrics defined and/or proper mechanisms in place to capture performance data. And when flagged, the client took a pass on putting them into place because it would take “too much time.” The behavior of go, go, go is pervasive.

– Overreaching Procurement and IT 

This observation is unique. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen the procurement and IT group change the requirements on making a purchase decision. The group changed the client sponsor’s key decision criteria to bring in their preferred vendor costing more than $100,000 above the next highest bid. The owner of the work did not get what they wanted and the organization ended up paying more for it. Someone has too much budget.

– Basic Building Blocks are Missing or Skipped

Database quality is owned by everyone, and no one, customer profiles lacking basic information (like emails), performance metrics are missing or not being tracked, process metrics are in place but not used, call list are not being bounced up against do not call list, agencies lacking knowledge on their clients customers and products, and on and on and on.    

– Lack of Accountability

Large chunks of money being dropped on media without accountability on the performance of the spend, and sales comp not aligned to organizational revenue objectives and goals. Also see bullet above.

– Silver Bullet 

Related to bullet #3, over reliance on the MarTech stack to fix basic problems that they were not intended to fix. The ramping up of Data Science departments to run sophisticated analysis on data that they may, or may not, realize is compromised. Marketing investment decisions being made using outdated marketing optimization models that only output “spend more” recommendations.

– Status Quo

Lack of courage or motivation to make difficult decisions that would impact performance for fear of being disruptive. Control issues that prevent real change from being made by team members who see opportunities to improve performance but may be perceived as threatening to others. “Things are good, don’t rock the boat.”

– Doing the Dirty Work 

This is the most disappointing of all of the things I’ve observed. Good marketing is hard work. It requires research to understand buyers, products and competitors. And guess what, it takes time. Recently, I was in a meeting about a new positioning for the organization. Everyone was excited by the idea but the marketing team lost it’s enthusiasm when they heard the amount of work needed to take to bring the idea to life in a campaign. Breakthrough work requires ergs of effort to make it great. It’s the price you pay…get over it.



Much of what I have observed are symptoms of good economic times. Organizations flush with budgets, high demand for products and services, and growing profits are causing organizations to operate inefficiently. The reason this is so concerning is because we’ve seen this movie before, most recently in 2008.

Things are in motion. The trade war, the presidential election, candidates promising to come after industries and corporate profits, big tech getting squeezed by governments over their size and privacy issues.

For the past five years we’ve been able to get away with average efforts. Strong economies and demand bring about waste. “Doing” became more rewarding than “thinking.” Put more in the top and even more comes out the bottom. But those days are numbered. 

Being smart about what you do and why, will become a necessity again. Doing more with less will become the reality. So as you do you 2020 planning, have a mindset that a recession is coming. Try taking an approach that assumes you have 20% less budget than last year. Here are 10 things to consider.  

  1. What would you cut to reach a 20% reduction, and why? Lay out 3-4 different scenarios. 
  2. What would you invest in in Q4 2019 to set you up to be more efficient in 2020?
  3. If you had to turn off 2-3 tools what would they be, and why?
  4. If you had to shut something down to reinvest to get a better return what would it be and where would you put the money?
  5. Could you move something off of your budget line and onto someone else? 
  6. Are you paying for something that you shouldn’t or it benefits some other group? 
  7. Could you centralize something and get greater efficiencies?
  8. Could you consolidate vendors to be more efficient? 
  9. Could you do less and produce better results by sticking to a limited set of priorities?
  10. Could you have one centralized campaign and tie it to several products/markets or goals?

The goal is to become 20% more efficient. Even if the recession doesn’t come next year you’ll be able to clean up some of the sloppiness that comes with good economic times. 


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Artificial Empathy, Part Two

Artificial Empathy, Part Two

by Glen Drummond
Estimated read time: 6 minutes

Part Two in a two part series

Recently, I published an article with a provocative observation.  While much attention has been devoted to the need for organizations to adopt Artificial Intelligence as a core capability, we should consider an even-more-pressing need for “artificial empathy.”

If you did not read part-one, I’ll retrace some footsteps here. The corporation is a creature of human invention. But the creature has grown so enormously in its size, capabilities ,and power, that we the people now encounter a diminishing sense of agency for ourselves and an increasing sense of agency for corporations to shape our future on issues including privacy, equality, safety, the environment, and the behavior of public institutions that once governed these things. Not to mention the stuff of everyday experience: stupid IVRs, impenetrable clam-shell packaging, and infuriating password implementations, just to name a few.  

The ramifications of this observation extend beyond marketing strategy. But still, people who think deeply about the relationship between people and brands will play a role in how this narrative unfolds.  

And here’s why: In our fast-thinking minds, we perceive the brands that stand for corporations as if they were other people.  

Now, people – except for sociopaths – are naturally empathetic. And moreover, we expect them to be so.  When we sense a sociopath, the hair on our neck springs, and adrenalin shocks our bloodstream.  

As social creatures, we are born pre-wired with miraculously-adapted endocrine and neurological systems that reinforce our empathy in a positive feedback system known as friends and family, community and kin. But corporations are not born with anything of the sort.

Do you see the problem?   

At least in our hearts, we have an expectation for brands to behave in a way that they are poorly equipped to fulfill.  Expectations disappointed are brands diminished. 

Organizational scale amplifies this problem. (We all know what “faceless corporation” means.)   So does the doctrine of maximizing shareholder profits. Are there signs that both society and corporate leaders are beginning to discern that the corporation has gained such power, that the power needs to be matched with greater empathy? The recent “statement of social purpose” by 181 corporate leaders suggest this might be so.       

The question is how?  Some people who read my first post may have been under the impression that I had a plan for  how “artificial empathy” could be created. Rest assured this was far from the case. I’m sympathetic to the aspirations of the customer experience movement, but I’m skeptical those aspirations are advanced by continuing to ask socially clueless questions that amount to: “How do you like me now?”    

Still, having once stumbled upon the problem of  artificial empathy, it’s tempting to speculate. So, with apologies for pairing a ten dollar question with nickel and dime answers, here are some preliminary thoughts.

Biomimicry    

If you’re familiar with the literature on biomimicry – you will know that many industrial inventions  begin with the observation of patterns in nature. Could we re-conceive the information systems used by corporations through this lens?  

In that case,  the challenge of  “artificial empathy” would cause us to think about a system involving a sensory apparatus, a cortex that integrates the signals from the senses, real-time feedback,  amplifier mechanisms and so on.   

It does not take long to see that analogues for each of these things already exist within the information systems of corporations – but what’s lacking is an architecture marshalled by the imperative of empathy.  

For humans as social creatures – empathy is essential for survival.  Embracing the biomimicry idea in an IT architecture geared to artificial empathy would mean  that the selfish subjectivity of the corporation would need to be subjugated to human experience and dignity.   Do we have engineers this creative and leaders this courageous? 

Philosophy

There is a branch of philosophy, “epistemology,” that deals with the question of how we know what we know.  Historically, for corporations, and indeed any large organization, to operate at scale has required that an internal representation of customers and prospects is shared across the organization. Sometimes this internal representation goes out of date. Sometimes it is simply wrong-headed from the start.  Invariably this internal representation is reductive. 

Done well, the disciplines of customer segmentation and personas offer steps in a journey away from the most reductive internal representations of the corporation’s publics. But too often in practice,  people mistake the map for the territory. In a product-centric world-view with no imperative for empathy, mistaking the customer map for the territory is standard operating procedure – “best practice” even.  In a corporation seeking to attain the capacity of artificial empathy these old habits must die.       

While corporations have raced to hire data scientists and put them to work on the analysis of customer behavior and customer responses to various stimuli, they have not been as quick or adept at hiring and training people in the discipline of keeping separate the map from the territory while the study of people is underway.  

The pairing of these disciplines feels important going forward. Data scientists are in demand now.  Data scientists with a flair for philosophy will be the rarest and most valuable of all.   

Artificial Intelligence

Setting aside the semantic arguments about the existence of AI,  we now can access algorithmic tools that can explore data-sets to find multiple features of interest about people, and discover patterns of difference, similarity and prediction that are more subtle than those derived from averages, demographic co-variates, single-touch attributions, and the other mainstays of traditional customer analytics. 

Indeed, if we are going to operate with less reductive representations for people, and if we are going to simulate the biological mechanisms of empathy within a corporation, artificial intelligence may be the disruptive game-changing technology that finally enables meaningful progress against a problem that has been building for some time.   

Final Thoughts

None of these answers by themselves is a prescription for artificial empathy. The confluence of all three may point in a worthy direction.  Still, some journeys are worth taking, even when the destination is distant and the route uncertain.

This might be one.


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The State of Sales and Marketing with CEO, Scott Gillum, and Special Guest, Brent Adamson

The State of Sales and Marketing with CEO, Scott Gillum, and Special Guest, Brent Adamson

by Katie Weisz
Estimated read time: Less than 1 minute

The conversation of “Do we really need outbound sales anymore?” continued with another lively interview, this time featuring special guest, Brent Adamson. Brent is a distinguished VP at Gartner, and a published author with a lot to say about the case between sales and marketing.

In the interview, CEO, Scott Gillum, and Brent unpack the idea of Challenger, debunking it as a “sales methodology”, and how both sales and marketing should be co-owning the process of the customer and buyer experience.

Brent also shares three very distinctive approaches (giving, telling, and sense-making) that sales reps are adopting towards information in order to connect with potential customers and buyers.

In this clip, Brent dives into the topic of “the world is crowded with good information.” In sales and marketing, the customer is now surrounded by good, quality information, which is having an impact on their decision making and buying process.

Listen here:

https://vimeo.com/359041939
 
To hear the interview with Brent, listen or download here.


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