The Best of the Revenue Summit Conference

March 10, 2017 Mark Emmons

SAN FRANCISCO — The theme of the inaugural Revenue Summit conference was about how the B2B world has been profoundly transformed. And to adjust to that new reality, sales and marketing need to become more . . . wait for it . . . aligned.

But aligned around the what? One speaker after another filled in that blank: the customer.

  • “The buyer has changed,” said Sangram Vajre, the founder of #FlipMyFunnel. “Buyers are expecting different things from sales and marketing. They’re expecting to be targeted in a personalized way on their terms. That’s the key phrase — on their terms.”
  • “The customer is at the center of everything we do,” said Emma Chalwin, vice president of U.S. marketing at Salesforce. “. . . We have to talk in the voice of the customer and understand their pain points. Sales and marketing work especially close at that as we work together to penetrate accounts.”
  • “It’s not about us,” added Tim Clarke, senior director of product marketing at Salesforce. “It’s not about the product. It’s about the buyer.”

And that was the primary take-home message of Revenue Summit, a joint venture of #FlipMyFunnel and Sales Hacker. Sales and marketing teams have to become real partners.

But there were other takeaways as well. Here’s a recap.

Technology Isn’t a Magic Elixir

Tech tools were at the forefront of the conference. That included presenters showing what solutions are in their tech stacks. But there also was an emphasis on the idea that a tool is only as good as the people wielding it.

“If you spend more time with technology than the buyer, you’re missing the point,” Vajre said. “Technology is great. But it’s the focus on the buyer that’s really important.”

In another session that centered on lessons learned in Account-Based Marketing, Bassem Hamdy said too often people become enamored with technology without understanding how it will enable a particular strategy.

“The first thing that I will tell people is have the process down,” said Hamdy, the executive vice president of marketing and enterprise strategy at Procore Technologies. We have 65 people in marketing. So I get a lot of requests for technology. But they first need to have the process.”

Learn From Your Customers

Several speakers emphasized that your current customers not only act as your best advocates but also serve as your greatest wealth of information. Doug Landis, a growth partner at Emergence Capital, explained that they give you credibility with prospects.

“Take what you’ve learned from your customers because that’s going to help you identify problems that your prospects don’t even know they have,” said Landis, formerly the chief storyteller at Box. “That’s how you’re going engage people.”

Nate Hurst, manager of Account-Based Marketing at Domo, took that idea one step further.

“Your customers know your product better than you and probably are using it in ways that you never thought of,” Hurst said.

And a final thought from Lars Nilsson, the vice president of global inside sales at Cloudera, who believes customers are the lynchpin to a successful selling strategy: “You have to provoke thought and inspiration from the stories of your customers.”

Two Acronyms Are Taking Over Business

That would be AI and ABM. Artificial Intelligence and Account-Based Marketing are all the rage. There was hardly a Revenue Summit session that didn’t at least mention them in passing. Peter Isaacson, the chief marketing officer at Demandbase, said there’s good reason to believe that the combination of the two will become primary drivers of B2B success.

Isaacson explained how marketers increasingly have relied on tech tools to increase personalized prospect and customer engagement — with disastrous results.

“We were attracted to technology that was all about volume,” he added. “We replaced intimacy with volume. We took a shotgun approach and spread out our messaging throughout the Internet. We are like the furthest thing away from delivering the right message to the right person at the right time.”

But bringing together AI’s predictive behavior applications and ABM’s one-to-one personalization focus “can deliver intimacy at scale with customers and prospects. Isaacson added: “Technology has a shot at helping us this time.”

Real Sales and Marketing Alignment

So, how do you make alignment happen? For Chalwin, the Salesforce marketing executive, it’s about sharing the weight of responsibility. Both departments should be responsible for hitting sales quotas, she said.

“My objective is to make sure my team has skin in the game,” Chalwin added. “I wake up with the same pains as the sales team. It’s not just about the pipeline. It’s about the health of that pipeline and the deals moving forward.”

Anastasia Pavlova, the senior director of marketing at Marketo, stressed the need for each organization to hold up its end of the alignment bargain.

“What’s important is making sure both sales and marketing are driving their own KPIs,” Pavlova said. “So everyone knows what they’re on the hoof for. But at the end of the day, it’s all about revenue.”

Memorable Slide

This slide capturing the crazy path of a real customer journey came courtesy of Aman Naimat, senior vice president of product at Demandbase. “It’s like a bumblebee,” Naimat said. “There are random things happening and it’s actually shocking that people get together to make a decision at the end.”

Final Quote

“I stop doing things and see if anyone notices. If they notice, it’s important.” — Christine Maxey, director of sales operations and enterprise solutions at LeanData

About the Author

Mark Emmons

Mark Emmons is the staff writer at LeanData. He previously was a reporter at the San Jose Mercury News, Orange County Register and Detroit Free Press. He can be reached at mark@leandatainc.com.

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