B2B Marketing Leader Interviews: Jarther Taylor

In the leadup to the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum APAC 2016, I took the opportunity to speak with Telstra’s GM Marketing, Jarther Taylor about the state of B2B marketing, the challenges that lay ahead, and the surprising ways technology and a focus on customer experience is changing the marketing and sales landscape.

 

Jarther-Taylor-Telstra-Business-speaking-B2B-Marketing-Leaders-Conference-Sydney-Australia-2016Gavin Heaton: We hear a lot of talk about the “marketing funnel” and the “sales funnel”. In your experience are these becoming one and the same?

Jarther Taylor: There are three factors driving convergence and of the marketing and sales funnel. So, yes they are becoming one and the same.

Firstly, as marketing increasingly digitised it can deliver better quality and more progressed leads at scale.  That is in the past, a B2B marketer may have had a bunch of responses from a DM piece or an event, and sales would then have the explore and develop that basic opportunity.  Today marketing can not only capture interest, but also progress that interest to a point of being ready to buy and then pass to sales to close the deal and help nurture and drive advocacy post-purchase.

Secondly, the buying process (which has replaced the selling process) is non-linear.  Gartner as a good model for this fluid approach of buying – Explore, Evaluate, Engage, Experience.  This fluidity and uncertainty is more culturally acceptable in marketing.  That is marketing leaders understand the customers may shift from being close to ready to buy (Engage) , to back to the Explore phase.  Sales management drives for a steady progression through the funnel, and sales teams are not ‘permitted’ to have an opportunity go from 30% certainty to 70% certainty back to 50%.  Marketing can help ensure that sales resources only engage during Engage!

Thirdly, the importance of customer experience across the buying and usage cycle is increasingly seen as a differentiator.  While at one point, sales was at the end of the line and customers were then exposed to usually less resourced service organisations, this has shifted with the introduction of Net Promoter Scores and the consumerization of business products (e.g. “why can’t my experience with you be more like Uber, AWS, Apple, etc.”).  This means than marketing, who has traditionally been responsible for representing the customer in the organisation, has a far great role to play across marketing, sales and service.

Gavin Heaton: Up to 60% of purchase decisions are made before a buyer reaches out to the brand. How is this changing the work of sales people?

Jarther Taylor: Sales used to be the ‘smartest person in the room’ when it came to B2B selling.  That is, the technical expertise on the product was what customers were after and went to the vendor to get that information.  Today most of the studies that support the 60% number show that digital research and speaking to peers is done well before engaging with the vendor.  I had a discussion with IDC just over a year ago, where they gave me multiple examples of customers wanting to now minimise the amount of time they spent with sales.

So sales need to get engaged earlier on in the piece.  That is, they need to be present in the online forums that customers are doing research in.  Marketing can help this through digital strategies like content marketing and social selling. Social Selling has proven extremely successful both at IBM and Telstra in building advocacy, trust and engagement with customers.

So with customers doing more research and having more knowledge before they get to the sales person, the conversations shift.  Sales need to have the capacity and capability to discuss options with a customer, challenge their thinking and add value to the buying process beyond taking an order.  For many sales organisations this is a major shift in culture, capability and structure.

 

Gavin Heaton: As consumers, we have become adept online purchasers. We plan and buy our own travel, research our purchases online before shopping around and so on. How is this self-service approach impacting the B2B vendor?

Jarther Taylor: Self-service in B2B tends to reside the in the Experience phase of the buying process I referenced above.  That is, once a commercial relationship between a customer and vendor has been set up, many of the more mundane actions can be done through a self-service portal.  Let’s say I’m an OfficeMax customer, then my office administrators can order approved stationary via an online portal.  Managing your billing or usage of technology via a self-service portal is also popular for many XaaS solutions.  AWS ,for instance, pretty much has it all online.

As a B2B vendor this can potentially mean a loss of engagement opportunities with a customer, but is also means that the engagement can be a lot richer.  For instance, rather mourning the loss to sell additional items in person, usage data of a product can suggest that the next best product is.  So it drives efficiency and also advocacy because you are offering the customer more useful products and solutions.

Another efficiency gain is the post-sales service can be scaled.  That is a contact centre can manage a much larger number of customers in a much more personalised manner.  Customers get better and more relevant marketing, sales and service engagement.  And as a vendor I am keeping my costs down.

Uncertain? You’re Not Alone at Vibewire’s #fastBREAK

fastbreak-uncertain

If there is one thing that we can all agree upon, it’s that we all feel UNCERTAIN.

It could be about work. Our partners. Our future.

Do you have a calling or a mission? Do you feel out of touch? Let down? Discombobulated?

Chances are, you’re not alone.

In fact, Vibewire’s upcoming fastBREAK breakfast on 27 May at 8am, is your chance to find out just how un-alone you really are. And you can do it by being with others who feel the same uncertainty.

Join me and five great, young leaders as they share their insights into uncertainty at the first fastBREAK event for the year.

It’s FIVE speakers with FIVE minutes to tell their story. You get to meet and mingle with the speakers and audiences, drink coffee and eat breakfast and still be back at work in time for your WIP meeting. Just a couple of the speakers you will see include:

BRITTANY LEE WALLER
“I like to think of myself as a storyteller, less bad dad jokes more witty, life of the party sort of raconteur. A girl can dream, right?”

Brittany Lee Waller is a freelance writer, editor and content producer. She has spent 8 years working across Gourmet Traveller, Peats Ridge Music Festival, Drinks World Asia, Rare Birds and Nine Network Australia. Brittany founded storytelling site Meet the People because she has always believed that people should be at the essence of everything we do. She likes short walks to the bar and prefers everything to come with a pop culture reference.

OSMAN FARUQI

Osman Faruqi is the co-founder of MetaPoll. He has worked closely with a number of research firms in Australia as a campaign strategist and political adviser for the Australian Greens. He also has an in-depth understanding of Australia’s media and political landscape as a result of his work as a political journalist, broadcaster and commentator. He likes politics, ice cream, Gossip Girl and nationalising things.

Get your tickets here.

Demand Generation and the New Marketing Order with Carlos Hidalgo

IMG_4215Despite numerous attempts to live stream a discussion on demand generation with author Carlos Hidalgo, I was forced to revert to Plan B. And Plan B involved a cup of coffee, a quiet room and a Skype video call with CEO of the B2B demand strategy firm, Annuitas, and upcoming keynote speaker at the B2B Marketing Leadership Forum in Sydney, Australia. Having read his book – and been heavily involved in B2B marketing most of my career – I was keen to learn some of the insights and approaches that have transformed B2B marketing in the last decade.

Gavin Heaton: In your book, you call out the challenge of B2B marketing training. In my experience we are seeing students graduate from marketing degrees with no clear understanding of B2B. Do you see this too?

Carlos Hidalgo: We are not seeing B2B taught at university. At a recent speech at a local university, a junior asked “what does B2B stand for?”. We are starting to see alternatives. eLearning has become a very useful way of educating people about B2B marketing – with places like eCornell doing a great job.

Gavin Heaton: You also talk about “marketing enablement”. What does that look like? What does it mean?

Carlos Hidalgo: What do we have to invest to make our marketing people succeed? Sales have had enablement and skills training for years. Companies have become very good at sales enablement. But on average, most marketers are self taught. There’s no true marketing enablement within firms. We need to fix that, and there are a few key areas:

  • Truly uncover and diagnose who our buyers are and how they buy
  • Qualitative research – we need to understand this and do it better
  • How to speak to customers about their buying behaviours to uncover insights
  • What are the conditions that push or lead people into a buying path
  • What does and should reporting look like
  • Doing qualitative analysis on reports – after all, the rest of the business runs according to financials, KPIs and metrics
  • Putting together training curriculum – let’s support our marketers
  • We need to document and understand marketing KPIs

We also need a better understanding of our buyers, their behaviour and the way that this impacts our marketing programs.

Remember, marketing is being asked to do things that it’s never done before.

Gavin Heaton: When I speak with CMOs and CIOs, they think the answer is already in place. Technology. Has technology solved the sales-marketing alignment challenge?

Carlos Hidalgo: Technology has made the marketing-sales alignment worse. Often a CMO will say, “We just need to get our martech stack in order.”. But technology is an enabler to a strategy.

We need to retrain sales as they’re not as front and centre as they were 101-5 years ago when information was hard to come by. They don’t need to sell in the same way, but be educators to help their customers think through their problems. The buyer probably already knows more about your products.

Sales need to “unteach the buyer” – so that we can open the conversation and position ourselves as the expert on the challenges that the business is facing.

When it comes to marketing and sales alignment, the problem isn’t alignment at all. They’re not aligned around a “common sense of the customer”. As marketers, we have been taught to think that “sales is your customer”. This is only true when marketing is producing content. Marketing needs to lead sales and help develop a “continuity of conversation” – and that conversation these days is largely digital. The two need to work together to provide that continuity.

Gavin Heaton: You write about demand process transformation. What does that look like?

Carlos Hidalgo: This is about aligning people, process, technology and strategy around the customer. Aligning content by the buyers journey. For those organisations that do this well, we are seeing benchmarks being blown away.

Gavin Heaton: So who decides this kind of transformation is important?

Carlos Hidalgo: Who thinks this is important? Say a VP or CMO. I am seeing more people with the title of VP of Demand Generation. Typically they have marketing automation and up to 15 technologies in place. But no one is closer to the customer. We are not seeing the breakthroughs.

Typically we need someone open to the idea that what is happening now is not good enough. And then they start to look for marketing automation strategy or demand generation strategy. New ways are required to deliver the breakthroughs. It’s about true change management.

Gavin Heaton: What is the role of an external change agent? How useful and when should they be used?

Carlos Hidalgo: When I went out on my own, I consulted back to my old firm. My client presented back the same presentation that I created. What they needed was what I was advocating. External change agents can be the people you can invest in beyond the reach of your firm. They bring important experience across many organisations.

From an internal perspective, you need someone who can be objective and not worry about politics and sacred cows. External change agents are not in the “day to day” so they have a perspective that we can easily miss from the inside. As an employee we are too close.

External change agents are also vital in getting things done. Most clients who say “we’ll do it ourselves” find that 12 months later nothing has happened. .

See Carlos Hidalgo live in Sydney

Remember, you can see Carlos live in Sydney at the B2B Marketing Leadership Forum, and he is running a limited capacity workshop on demand generation on Day 3. Be sure to book in early.

Join Me and Carlos Hidalgo and Meet the Modern Buyer

Marketers are doing more, spending more and creating more – yet only seeing marginal results. These days, B2B marketers need to transform the way they do the work of marketing. It’s about changing culture, thinking about demand generation in a new way and thinking from the outside-in to focus not on what and when we want to sell to customers but to understand how they want to buy.

One of the keynotes at the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum APAC, Carlos Hidalgo and I will be discussing that it takes to be a successful B2B marketer now and in the future. Carlos will also be running a demand generation workshop to help you understand how to integrate strategy and tactics into your ways of working. He shares some of this thinking in this clip below.

Carlos Hidalgo on Driving Demand

Carlos Hidalgo speaks with CEB about many of the key business, marketing and change management issues addressed in his new book, “Driving Demand.” Driving Demand is a book for leaders who want to transform their demand generation & align their people, process, content & technology to their buyers.

In preparation for the forum next month, Carlos will join me for a discussion on demand generation and the modern buyer. You can watch – and maybe even join our discussion live – this Wednesday morning, Sydney time at 7am. Watch the stream live on Blab – or here on my website.

And remember, book-in to the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum. It’s Asia Pacific’s only dedicated B2B marketing conference.

Five Mistakes that Derail Your New Business Efforts

New business development will make or break your business. And agency owners often find themselves suffering a famine or a feast of new business. But there are some common mistakes that can be relatively easily overcome. The Agency Management Institute has a great presentation on this topic, with FIVE clear tips that will help you avoid new business mistakes. And if you want to go into more detail, listen in to their fantastic podcast with Lee McKnight on the subject of new business development.

Investing in the Future of Young People

Through Vibewire I have been working with young people for over seven years. It’s a not for profit association whose aim is to be a launchpad for young change makers. In the time that I have been involved, I have been astounded by the way that, given an opportunity and some nurturing, young people can truly accelerate their professional and personal trajectory. We have run hundreds of events – some large scale and some barely more than a meeting. We have provided project experience and internships for hundreds of people who have gone on bigger and better things. And we have seen dozens of social impact and tech startups incubate, grow and scale.

But it is largely a thankless task. Just as soon as we launch one cohort of young people into the world, another comes along. The challenges remain the same:

  • Lack of opportunity for meaningful work
  • Soft skills require substantial work and support
  • Challenging and entrepreneurial roles are few and far between.

And in many ways, Vibewire’s programs of spaces (coworking for young people), skilling (workshops), startups (mentoring and support) and showcasing (amplifying the work of young people through events and online promotion) have been designed to consistently deliver these outcomes. But it’s difficult to maintain. Hard to attract sponsorship and support. After all, Vibewire has always been youth-led and youth-run, and as such, our teams are constantly learning the ropes. Learning what it takes to build corporate relationships. Learning what it takes to deliver on project promises. Learning the business of creativity and business.

I am often asked what keeps me involved.

My involvement in Vibewire is beautifully summed up in this great speech by Eric Thomas. It’s a gift of love. An investment in the next generation. And a mark of respect for the futures of the young people who come through Vibewire’s doors.

When the App is Free, You are the Product. Swipe Buster Brings a New Level of Reality

How often to we blithely click “ACCEPT” on the terms and conditions of a new website or app, hungry to explore the digital domain before us? How often do we happily hand over personal information without a second thought?

In the world of social media, it is claimed that we have come to a grudging acceptance that the utility of platforms like Facebook or Twitter far outweighs the cost to our privacy. But is this true? Is it simply the case that we have not yet experienced the full impact of our decisions? Sure we have advertising. Targeting. Remarketing. Automation and nurturing. And more.

But what happens when our private information is available at a fee. To any buyer?

New app, Swipe Buster now lets you find out if someone is using the dating app Tinder. You could, for example, enter your partner’s details – and for $5 tap the Tinder API to reveal the answer. Of course, you could also use Swipe Buster for more mischievous purposes.

SB-Anim

In this world of ever increasing transparency, privacy and cyber security is becoming a hotter and hotter topic. I have said previously that cyber security is now part of your brand – but it goes further than this. HOW you choose to commercialise “your” data can radically impact the lives of your customers.

There is no doubt that “we” are the product being sold across an infinite web of social connections. In aggregate this may not worry us too much. But as more of these kind of platforms emerge, seeking to monetise the vast data in storage, we may well regret our decision to accept those terms and conditions.

And those businesses that have built their valuations on public trust may find them suddenly friendless.

It’s Time for an #EqualFuture

Facts and figures only tell part of the story. They ignore our sense of justice, the emotional impact of our daily realities and the aspirations parents hold for the next generations.

But there are things that we can do. And should do. Ask yourself:

  • What have you committed to changing today?
  • What did you achieve?
  • What will be different tomorrow?

I love this from ANZ. I hope it catches on across the financial services sector and builds to a blaze that changes all our futures.

Data vs Insight: The Albatross Around the Marketer’s Neck

We have so much data at our fingertips. Every touch, interaction, click, email, webpage view. It all results in data. Even when we walk from one room to the next our phones are counting the steps, movement, changes in latitude and longitude. We are measured to within an inch of our lives.

Some of this data is captured and reported back to cloud based servers scattered across the globe. Some of it isn’t. But do we know? Do we care?

I was speaking with John Dobbin yesterday about the Data Paradox. We have more data than ever before, but less understanding of what to use it for. We spend our time analysing dashboards and combing through spreadsheets in search of that elusive insight. Sometimes as a marketer I feel like Coleridge’s ancient mariner:

Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.

Data visualisation goes a long way towards solving this challenge. Done well, it can bring your data to life – tell a story – and foreground important details. But with almost every visualisation I see, I am always asking myself, “why”. Why is this important? Why did a change occur? Why didn’t a change occur?

Take a look at my recent TwitterCounter graph below. It shows follower/ following counts over the last month. You can see there are a couple of spikes in terms of follower numbers. But you can also see that “following” numbers remain on an even trajectory. Just the simple act of looking at this graph reminded me of the actions that I had and had not taken over the last month. It made me check back to see what I was doing on March 7.

And on March 11, clearly I did something to arrest that growth. But the following week I was growing again. Not as steeply, but strongly.

twittercounter

Correlation vs Causation

Again the question of “why” raises its head. What I am interested in is not the correlation but the causation. At the book launch of Martin Lindstrom’s new book, Small Data, he suggested that it is the small data that drives causation and that big data shows the correlation. So with this in mind, I looked to the small things.

  • Ahead of the first spike in follower growth I started using Meet Edgar to more consistently tweet. Prior to that it was randomised and scheduled or ad hoc. It was not a function of what I was saying, but the fact that I was saying it.
  • The second spike built on the earlier week but benefited from my appearance on DisrupTV with GE’s Ganesh Bell and Constellation Research’s Guy Courtin.

While the big data revealed the trend and the results, it was the small data. The personal data. The insight, that actually revealed the causation. As Martin Lindstrom suggested, and as I have written previously, small data – the known unknowns of the marketing world – tell the story we are waiting to hear. The question is whether we are listening for a story or searching for data.

Lufthansa Takes You on a Virtual Journey

One of the key marketing challenges that we face in the customer journey is moving from awareness to trial. That is, we want potential customers to “try out” our products or services.

This can be particularly challenging when your product or service has a substantial price tag attached.

Think of travel.

There are a whole series of steps that we go through when we are on a travel journey:

  • Ideas and inspiration: We seek out amazing stories, pictures and reviews of places, people and experiences so that we can plan our own adventures
  • Planning and projection: We start to actively curate our activities, destinations and journeys, connecting the dots and figuring out our itineraries and (gasp, horror) budget. In this stage we are not just planning our activities – but actively imagining what it will be like to BE there
  • Lock and load: When we’ve checked, double and triple checked, confirmed our budget and dates, now we wade neck deep into the process of locking dates to a loaded credit card. Yes, it’s commitment time and the pressure is on (so many websites, so many things that can go wrong)
  • See ya, see ya, wouldn’t want to be ya: Wave goodbye to your friends and family and take the leap into the unknown
  • Wish you were here: Well, we say this to be kind, but if the planning and projection phase was well done, you’ll be taking hundreds of selfies all around the world and using them to induce raging envy across your social graph
  • Reflection and longing: Planes aren’t the only things that land with a BUMP. So too does our travel ego. Coming back to “reality” can be a confronting experience. To cope, we return to our #RunningWithTheBulls selfies to remind ourselves just what the travel rush was all about and how we really are #travelheroes.

In amongst each of these steps, there are hardly any that an airline can directly impact. They can inspire us with their media activities, advertising and profile. And they may even help us to plan – albeit in a small way. A good airline will make locking and loading a breeze and but it’s really when you are in the plane that they can make a huge impact.

But experiencing airline travel is expensive, right? And price alone is a barrier.

This virtual travel experience from Lufthansa by 3Spin is a very interesting innovation that I expect will see plenty of others follow.

Lufthansa have touched on many aspects of the travel journey – turning a largely imaginative process into something that is more tangible. More experiential. In fact, it’s not just the destination that is inspirational, it’s the experience of the virtual reality itself. And with a clever mix of digital, analog and old fashioned customer service, they’ve created something far more than just a 360 degree virtual experience. They have created an EVENT – a point in time and space that will create memories. Stories. And hopefully for Lufthansa, bookings.

It makes me think there may be something to this VR lark after all.