I had the privilege to attend the SiriusDecisions Summit 2013 in San Diego last week. With 1600 attendees in one place, things were moving and shaking. I met some really great people, and as I discovered, many of us are in the same boat. We are all striving toward getting better results from our marketing and sales efforts, and there was some honest sharing among attendees which is always refreshing. I also ran into a few old friends, which was a nice bonus!
As with any analyst conference, the volume of content was large, and the folks at Sirius presented some new models that I want to begin experiment with – specifically the rearchitected demand generation waterfall and the content architecture model. Since one size does not fit all, our company is not an exact target for some of the Sirius models, but it’s always worth the effort to work a process through to see where we land in the spectrum of averages.
Here is what I took in last week:
Keynote: General Stanley McChrystal
I was excited to hear General McChrystal to understand his parallels between leading military teams and business. Some of my tweets are below (with explanation):
Leading in harms way – is what we all do everyday – McChrystal
The General was referring to business leaders. In our business, we all take risks every day. Our decisions impact the lives of others for the better or worse. We need to recognize that. We may not be carrying heavy weapons but the reality is, the risks we take and decisions we make do have an impact.
Lack of understanding is the difference between winning or losing – McChrystal
You may have understood at some point from exp but you still may not fully understand – Leaders need to learn this -McChrystal
I found this part of his discussion fascinating. He was sharing an experience he learned when in Iraq and that helped Chyrstal-lize (couldn’t resist) what was needed to achieve our objectives. He witnessed a child hanging over his father who was just shot by our military, and he suddenly realized that he didn’t have a full understanding. If the US did not stop and take time to understand the Iraqi people, we would never win. Even if we won via military standards, we would lose. The point was around our ability to truly understand a situation. Up to that point in planning his strategy, he thought he “clearly understood”. All of a sudden, he had a new level of understanding through this ground experience. He cautioned our group, as leaders in business, that while we THINK we may understand a situation at one level, we really may not (because of what we do not know yet). Leaders must strive to continually understand a situation. It shifts and is not a static end state.
Align your biz around an objective thru shared consciousness and purpose – everyone gets as much info as possible no stovepipes
One of the success factors in his Iraq plan was the ability to share information quickly. The military is known for its filtered hierarchy and higher ranks do not meet or speak with lower ranks. In this case, McChrystal broke down those stovepipes and held large video conferences with all levels to increase the pace of decision making and action taking. It created a viral nature of information and the team exhibited a new level of agility and sharing that had never been accomplished before. Everyone was empowered, and more got done quickly.
No matter how good a leader u are, you’ll be on rough seas. How you handle it is what matters.
Good leaders have a sacred two way relationship with those they serve and care deeply about that -McChrystal final words
General McChrystal viewed his leadership as a privileged opportunity – he got to work some of the smartest and best people across fields of expertise. As much as it is a privilege, leadership is also unpredictable as a rough sea. He was most humble, and did not value his role any more than any one else. He cares, and stressed that to get the best out of any situation, it starts with caring about the people you work with and those who you are serving ultimately.
Other Summit takeaways:
Sales Enablement is Hot
From onboarding new sales reps to developing tools and driving sales productivity, there was a wide range of discussions happening around this topic. Further, I spoke with several people who have this type of job. In many cases, it was a brand new role in the organization. I heard one story where a person was assigned to the job and the expectations were “Just knock my socks off” by their manager. While vague, the impetus is on getting more throughput, shortening sales cycles where possible and increasing the win rate through their efforts. That is no small order.
CDW Sales Enablement Case Study
Joe Levin from CDW gave an excellent presentation about how they dramatically improved their sales-facing portal. They reduced 20,000 pieces of content across four sales portals by 93% and got down to one completely redesigned sales portal. It delivered a big sales productivity increase as well as sales portal utilization. The right content could be found at the right time, saving the sales team hours of frustration searching for something they could not find. Can anyone relate?? Bueller?
Sales Productivity Measurement Model
Sirius’ James Ninivaggi laid out sales productivity model that made my brain cramp a bit on late Thursday morning called “50 Hours: the Aligned Way to Drive B2B Sales Productivity“. While I like math, I think I needed more coffee. He challenged the audience to try implementing the model to experiment with numbers to understand the delicate balance of a sales person’s “yield per hour” metric. As he shared, sales productivity typically breaks down as such:
- 29% selling
- 39% research
- The rest in administrative tasks
So, we are not getting 50 hours of sales productivity a week…not even close. The goal is to minimize the low yield activities such as travel-expense management and other admin tasks, and get marketing and sales to work better together to improve yield across the other sales activities. It does sound worthwhile…imagine if we could increase productivity just by 10-15% on the right things? Now that would have impact.
B2B Buying Climate Today
John Neeson presented a state-of-the-state for B2B Buying Trends. He shared his research from interviewing a number of CXO’s and shared their answers. I related as many others did who I spoke with after the session. No major surprises, but does affirm that B2B buying is as complex as ever, and internet driven. Takeaways:
- Content rules = but only the right content
- Buyers manage the education part of the buy cycle on their own, sales people are engaged later
- CXO buyers rely heavily on colleagues, personal networks and third-party experts in forming their opinions
- Sales people need to learn marketing skills or rely more on marketing to engage with buyers earlier in the sales cycle
The Content Revolution
It’s almost impossible to have a marketing conversation without mentioning content. Erin Estep and Marisa Kopec laid out a new model for defining and creating high value content to support marketing and sales. By mapping both the buy and sales cycles to what buyers and sellers need to succeed, they offered a new way to approach content planning. I’ve used buying models before to map content, but what I liked about this was the simplicity of it. It’s something I’m working on this week with our sales team to begin implementing. We all need a new way to approach content. The same old isn’t going to work. And the noise level keeps getting higher as we compete for mind share in the B2B market. The last thing any one of us wants is to develop something that no one will consume. It’s a waste of time and resources.
I’ll be talking more about the content model we will be deploying here at eCoast, so stay tuned.
Overall the Summit was well worth the time and investment to attend. Here is an interesting blog post that summarizes the Sirius event in a series of tweets. A shorter recap by Sirius is the B-to-B Sales and Marketing Haikus.
Well done. And thanks SiriusDecisions.
Other SiriusDecisions Summit 2013 Posts:
4 Tactical Takeaways from Case Studies Presented at SiriusDecisions Summit 2013
Seven Quick Takewaways from the SiriusDecisions Summit 2013