SE pros, this blog post highlights a Q&A I did recently with two of the analysts on my Marketing team who will be delivering our track on Lead Management at our upcoming Sales Enablement Forum in Arizona on March 4th and 5th, 2013.

Brad Holmes: Hi Lori and Peter, thanks for taking the time to chat with me today. You’re leading the track “Modernizing Demand Management For New Business And Markets” at the upcoming Forum For Sales Enablement Professionals in Scottsdale, Arizona, on March 4th and 5th. Can you talk a little about what you will be discussing during that track?

PON: What we’re going to be talking about is the new role of marketing in the challenge of enabling sales and accelerating revenue. Customer behavior has changed quite dramatically. Customers now spend much more of their time researching and discussing with their peers about how to solve business problems before they involve a vendor or salesperson. So marketing now has the responsibility to step up and help that customer doing their research or at least be found when the customer is doing their research. Lori?

Lori Wizdo: Playing off your comment, Peter, buyers are taking a more active role:  researching in both digital and social channels: exploring their problems, and identifying solutions, calibrating with peers. What that means is the conversation with the buyer, in those early stages of the buying cycle, is actually enabled by marketing. This fundamentally changes marketing’s role in the end-to-end lead-to-revenue process. It expands marketing’s remit from lead management — generating leads, qualifying leads and giving salespeople more qualified leads — which was really the first generation of lead-to-revenue management. Now, marketing is really tasked to engage with the customer during the first part of the buying cycle. Marketing has a much more proactive role in the customer’s buying process and, therefore, the company’s selling process, than it did five years ago. And that means the marketing organization needs to rethink their role as an active part of this end-to-end process, not just as a supplier of qualified leads to the backend of the process.

BH: Can you elaborate on the structure of your track and its individual sessions?

PON: What we’ve got at the forum is a nice tight track of three presentations for demand management marketers, all in one afternoon. The track itself has a grand title of “Modernizing Demand Management For New Business And Markets.” The first track session is with Lori and myself. I will give an opening introduction to the track and then the main body of the first presentation is about rebuilding your lead-to-revenue process around buyer journeys. Lori will talk about understanding buyer journeys and orienting your marketing activities accordingly; and re-thinking your lead process as a result. We will talk about one specific action item within the whole lead-to-revenue management process, which is content management, and about that particular challenge. That’s my specific track in the middle. And then of course the last track is a guest speaker from Perceptive Software, who will say they’ve been through the process, they’ve learned these lessons, and they had these challenges along the way. It will give attendees a good idea what it is like to initiate that transformation and that there’s a proof of concept in front of them.

BH: What do you hope attendees will take away from attending the Demand Management track? If they were going to walk away with one key takeaway, what would it be?

PON: The major theme they will take away from this is ‘We need to transform our processes and some of the activities we have in marketing. Forrester has given me a lot of advice on how to do it and I need to go back and address it.’ What we try to do with the agenda is to talk about the big picture of understanding and putting together the lead-to-revenue management process, which has lots of implications on organization, on tooling, on automation, and interactions with other departments.

BH: For someone who has never attended a Forrester forum, how would you explain the value of attending over simply reading reports? This can be for the forum in general or your track in particular.

PON: Forums are exciting for attendees because in addition to their usual interaction with Forrester, which is often reading text, they will get to meet the analysts one-on-one, they get to see them presenting, and they get to engage in the dialogue. And of course in addition to that, they are also among their peers and get a chance to exchange information in the network as well as with Forrester people.

LW: I would say, in addition to that, all of which is good, that reading reports is essentially reading an exercise in theory. When you start having specific conversations with an analyst, or discuss new ideas in the reports with your peers, you begin to really see how that theory can be applied in practice. So the forum is really an enabler, a jump-start, as you take the theory and apply it in practice in your environment.

PON: And of course there are the enhancements we make to the Sales Enablement forum happening in Scottsdale where we are adding extra material there for people to take home with them, such as “fast start” sheets, workshops, and workbooks delivered at the close of the forum, which isn’t just a copy of the slides, it’s what you need to share up, across, and with your team to make progress. 

BH: So they will take home unique material to help them implement the strategic advice they get at the forum.

PON: They may need to pack an empty suitcase!  Yes.

BH: There will be different tracks, themes, and speakers outside of your own at the Sales Enablement forum. Are there any that you are particularly excited to see or, in a related sense, is there any track, theme, or speaker which B2B marketers who may be focused in on your track may not expect to get value from, but will in attending the forum?

PON: There will be other tracks around the market research Forrester does, outlining that, and showing how that can be used to improve marketing plans, process plans, and also content plans. That would be of added interest for certain attendees.

LW: One of the biggest challenges that many marketers face in transforming their lead-to-revenue process and implementing this new "guiding buyers along the journey" strategy, is that it changes the relationship with the sales organization. Many of the forum tracks focus on the challenges that the sales operations team has. B2B marketers who understand the challenges of their sales colleagues will take a big step toward establishing empathy and understanding to form a better collaborative relationship.

BH: Are there any specific reports, webinars, or blog posts you recommend attendees to view before the forum? Maybe an upcoming report that readers can check out before the forum?

LW: This is probably a good time to mention the upcoming Lead-to-Revenue Playbook, which is a body of research for the marketing executive who will lead the initiative to optimize the currently fragmented and unsystematic demand management process in use today.  We aim to help our clients apply a more systematic approach, and deploy technology to more fully automate the process of demand management. I think “The State Of Lead-To-Revenue Management” would be a good baseline playbook document to review.

PON: Yes, by the time of the Forum, the Lead-To-Revenue Playbook will be published. For content management, there are several reports they could pull from. The best one is still from January of last year, my report “Content Marketing Is A Key Differentiator For Tech Marketers”.

LW: I think your November report “Assessing Your Content Management Processes And Organization” was good.

PON: Ah, I think they’re all good.

LW: Indeed. 

BH: Indeed! Is there any additional information you would want readers of the blog to know about the forum?

PON: If they’re interested in playing golf the day after or the day before, I’d be very interested.

LW: I want to emphasize the theme, which is accelerating revenue growth. (Obviously, I don’t golf!) The audience Peter and I serve might not identify with the role of sales enablement. Some marketing execs will see “sales enablement” and they’ll go right past this event. At Forrester, the Sales Enablement role is designed for marketing and sales professionals who are focused on driving profitable B2B revenue growth.The whole program is being designed to showcase how sales and marketing can work together to max out profitable revenue growth.

PON: There’s also some added background about that in my blog from the tenth of December.

BH: Thank you guys for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk. We look forward to hearing more about Demand Management at the forum in March.


Thanks for reading. Check back next week for more Sales Enablement Forum Q&A.