Why it’s time to bring advocate marketing upstairs, and re-ignite the old flame with sales
In many ways, it will be a reunion for Mark. As a co-founder of Eloqua, he can take a lot of the credit for the marketing automation industry as well as the profound changes it brought to B2B marketing and sales.
Looking back from the vantage of 2014, it’s amazing to review marketing’s evolution from a ‘brand and brochures’ backwater to its pre-eminent position in the modern enterprise.
B2B marketers today, including those who will be in the audience at REVTalks today, are not only talking revenue – they are leading the discussion.
The impact of marketing decisions and actions ripple farther down the funnel than ever before, encroaching more and more on the traditional domain of sales.
A decade ago, however, many of them were making budgeting decisions based on intuition. They signed up for advertising space in media that no longer exists and plunked down huge sponsorship dollars on events because their brand ‘couldn’t afford to not be there.’
Then they adopted a cool new technology called marketing automation, which connected email to website analytics to CRM. It wasn’t ‘lead generation’ any longer. It was ‘demand generation’ – scientific, measureable, automated. And it was downright sexy.
The arrival of marketing automation brought enormous transformations, the most fundamental of which was marketing’s relationship with sales. Marketing automation kindled a new passion forged in a common, binding agreement on the definition of a sales lead.
At the 10-year mark, it would seem that all is well on the surface of sales and marketing alignment. But is it?
Look closer and you can see that, like many long-term relationships, there are some cracks in the foundation. These two partners speak the same language and work more closely together than ever before, but is the passion still there?
In his TED Talks style presentation at REVTalks, Mark will postulate that sales and marketing may have lost that loving feeling. Everything’s fine in the kitchen, but not so in the bedroom.
The reason is straightforward: the foundation of that relationship – the sales lead definition – is outdated. Many purchase decisions today are made long before (or without) interactions with marketing and sales, so the very idea of an “engaged lead” is passé.
B2B buyers now make decisions at work as they do at home, based on the recommendations and referrals of trusted peers, friends and colleagues. They don’t trust marketing messages, and avoid sales whenever possible.
Think about it: When was the last time you bought anything for yourself without seeking feedback from another buyer? Those same habits have followed us into the office; the “Yelpification of B2B” is well underway.
Marketing and sales need to recognize that ‘leads’ aren’t the only game in town. Most of those leads are dependent on new, socially-connected third party actors long before they blossom into active sales opportunities. Those actors are advocates – passionate, vocal fans, evangelists and brand ambassadors that willingly share their experiences with potential buyers.
These advocates are the new currency by which to measure sales and marketing alignment. Marketing needs advocates to refer leads, validate marketing claims, influence influencers, promote products and tell stories. Sales needs advocates to overcome buyer fear, uncertainty and doubt. Both are equally dependent on this rapidly emerging X-factor.
If you’re in a marketing and sales leadership role, it’s time recognize the new buying process, exploit it with an advocate marketing program and, most importantly, invite customer success into the relationship for a very modern ménage à trois. Instead of focusing on just generating leads and closing customers, together the three of you can create an army of advocates.
That customer who did a reference call for you last week, and agreed to be featured in a case study or briefed an analyst? He or she is an advocate, waiting to be called to action. And there are dozens – possibly hundreds – more of them out there.
You have the beginnings of this army right in front of you, but it’s disorganized, undisciplined and distracted. Mobilize it with a formalized program, and reignite that marketing and sales love affair that has been such a big part of your business success for the last 10 years.