A long time ago, a savvy marketing consultant told me, “The role of the sales person is to teach the customer how to buy”.  That is still true, but the wisdom has morphed a bit with the times – as wisdom is wont to do.  Today’s B2B buyers control their own journey through the buying cycle much more than today’s sales person controls the selling cycle. Although it varies with product complexity and market maturity, today’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they reach out for a sales person.  For many product categories, buyers now put off talking with sales people until they are ready for price quotes.  This new dynamic changes the role of B2B marketing in a fundamental way.  “Lead Generation” was generation 1.0 of “Lead-to-Revenue Management”.  It’s no longer enough to provide qualified leads to sales.  It’s still necessary, but it is no longer sufficient.  In 2013, it’s the role of marketing to guide the customer through the early stages of the buying journey.  Today, marketing owns a much bigger piece of the lead-to-revenue cycle.  B2B marketers must take responsibility for engaging with the customer through most of the buying cycle.  This new remit is not without its challenges: vision, resources, organization, skills, process to name a few. That’s why I am getting more and more excited as my colleague Peter O’Neill and I toil on creating the “just for marketers” track at the upcoming Forum for Sales Enablement Professionals in Scottsdale, Arizona on March 4th and 5th

The marketing track might carry the unwieldy moniker of “Modernizing Demand Management For New Business And Markets”, but it’s a nice tight session of three presentations, all in one afternoon.

In the first session we’ll talk about a new vision for lead to revenue management.  An effective L2RM strategy is designed to transform marketing’s approach to customer engagement.  When L2RM is adopted as the basis for marketing planning and management model, your go-to-market strategy is built around your target customers and their specific needs.  With L2RM, marketing guides customers along their buying journey with a process that is engineered to generate the optimal revenue event for your company.  The benefits are manifest: more revenue, at higher margins, via shorter sales cycles, with a higher win rate, with more predictability.  In the first session, we’ll lay out this vision and give you the communication tools you can use to socialize this vision with your team, management and peers.

In the second session we’ll do a deep dive into one of the most vexing problems facing marketers who have caught the fever of the new vision – content.   Content is the currency that drives customer engagement.  We’ll deliver strategic insight and pragmatic advice about how to design, build and manage a compelling content management strategy.

I am very excited about the last session.  It’s called, “Pulling It Together and Pulling It Off”.  In this session, we’ll welcome guest speaker Kristen Wagner Steinmetz, of Perceptive Software, who will share her story of going through an L2RM transformation, and emerging successfully with sanity and integrity intact.  Kristen will give us a vision of success and share some lessons learned as well.

I am also pleased that this marketing session will be held as part of the Forum for Sales Enablement Professionals.  One of the biggest challenges many marketers face in transforming their lead-to-revenue process, and implementing this new ‘guiding the buyer to the journey’ strategy, is that the process changes marketing’s relationship with the sales organization.  Many of the Forum tracks focus on the challenges of the sales operations team.  B2B marketers who understand and empathize with the challenges of their sales colleagues will be better equipped to forge the true collaborative relationship needed for a successful transformation of the lead-to-revenue process.

Many of the Forum tracks focus on the challenges of the sales operations team.  If you are able to join us at this event, you can find a registration form here.

Do let me know if you’ll be attending.  I’ll be available for 1-1 meetings and I’d love to hear about your visions, aspirations, setbacks and successes in your own lead to revenue initiatives.