Contributors: Nicky Briggs, Christina Schmitt, Paul Ferron, Cristina De Martini, Meta Karagianni, Vicki Brown, and Laura Cross
In our recent LinkedIn Live B2B marketing leaders panel discussion, myself and fellow Forrester analysts Meta Karagianni, Nicky Briggs, Christina Schmitt, and Paul Ferron highlighted some of the key guidance from our recently released 2023 Planning Guides.
At the heart of what we said was the need for marketing leaders to remain focused and adaptable while deepening buyer and customer understanding. This means continuing to invest in digital approaches, data and insights, technology, and customer experience, all while rebalancing and strengthening cross-sell and upsell programs rather than just concentrating on customer acquisition. At the same time, we recommended that CMOs leverage internal and external insights to tighten go-to-market strategies and ensure that resources are committed only to markets that are intentionally targeted. In the current environment, marketers must focus all their efforts and spending exclusively on strategic goals. We also encouraged marketers to experiment with buyer intent signals, more sustainable event strategies, and adopting an opportunity-centric, rather than lead-centric, revenue waterfall.
The full recording is still available to watch, and while we were speaking, a number of insightful questions were posed in the chat taking place alongside our discussion. We didn’t have the chance to answer them at the time, so we thought we would cover them here instead.
What Is The Best Way To Get Finance On Board With An Updated Marketing Strategy, Especially Involving Events?
When it comes to events, it’s important to take a considered approach to making attendance and sponsorship decisions. As budgets tighten and costs escalate, this has never been more the case. Chief finance officers and other budget stakeholders want to see concrete evidence that being at an event is worthwhile. Begin by considering the alignment of events with the buyer journey: Are events happening where your prospects will actually be found, and will they be attending them as part of an evaluation of your offering?
Next, undertake an assessment with a formal definition of event types and their characteristics, evaluating each possible option against selected, agreed-upon categories of value and cost. This will ensure prudent event selection and the avoidance of a scattergun approach resulting in a random selection of events being attended. Existing Forrester clients can make use of the Forrester Event Selection Model to help with this process.
Finally, ensure a clear set of metrics for any event attended that can be communicated to marketing leadership and more widely. At the same time, avoid attempting to “over-attribute” an individual event with a revenue-generating outcome by itself, as, inevitably, a range of tactics will be required, of which this is just one.
And in terms of determining overall marketing ROI, make sure that you’re asking the right questions, as we outline in another blog post. This way, you can ensure that the answer is what is actually expected and provides value to those in the business who need it.
Is It Worth Hosting Dinners And Events And Inviting Potential Customers?
Sticking with the event theme and the topic of perhaps smaller or more specific meetings with customers came up. The advice here is to avoid excessive focus on the tactic at the expense of the wider outcome that is being sought. First, understand the question that buyers need to resolve to move forward to meet their objectives or deepen their relationship with you. Develop an approach to customer engagement on that basis, rather than automatically turning to events, then, if the most effective tactic for an individual buyer or buying group is likely to be an in-person interaction — and the content lends itself to an (intimate) dinner — then that can be the way to deploy it. But first, focus on how you will help the potential customer resolve their needs and develop their relationship with you.
What Are Good Ways To Handle Nonlinear Buyer Journeys And Prioritise Contacts That Are Most Likely To Convert?
Buyer journeys and prioritisation should be addressed through well-coordinated programs and appropriate scoring models, at contact- and buying-group level. Devising and deploying programs incorporating lifecycle-appropriate content and messaging, the buyer journey can be optimised while also enhancing revenue management practices, tracking, and measurement. This is where the Forrester B2B Revenue Waterfall, mentioned above and on the LinkedIn Live discussion, can play a part by aligning revenue engine leaders to better manage all opportunity types and holistically optimise revenue generation efforts. Prospects that don’t flow perfectly from top to bottom, or take a detour, can be more readily tracked and receive the appropriate experience for the stage they are in. That could comprise marketing messaging or outreach from a revenue development rep for later-stage prospects. Read more about this in our separate blog post on recycling opportunities. Prioritisation for this outreach, particularly when it involves more expensive resources, should be achieved through prospect scoring. Again, the revenue waterfall and its incorporation of buying groups means that this prioritisation can be achieved by assessing not just individuals but rather everyone involved in a purchase decision. This means that a much more accurate view is derived based on more intent signals from your prospects.
How Does A CRM System Improve Alignment Between Marketing And Sales So That Inbound Enquiries Are Promptly Followed Up On?
Alignment between marketing and sales is certainly improved by using a common CRM or sales force automation system. As is so often the case, though, technology is not the entire solution, and alignment within the revenue engine needs to be considered much earlier in the strategy and go-to-market development process. Marketing and sales must agree and prioritise the audiences and segments that represent the top of the revenue waterfall so that all subsequent efforts are aligned and pulling in the same direction. This way, as demand generation takes place and inbound enquiries are received, the buying groups that start to be identified within the CRM pass to sales, which can readily assess and follow up on each opportunity. Take a look at our post on moving buying group members through the waterfall for more guidance on how to avoid thinking about merely acquiring and qualifying individual leads.
This isn’t the whole answer, though, and a seamless waterfall must be augmented with well-defined service-level agreements between the revenue engine teams. Buying-group-based service-level agreements clearly document every team handoff that moves opportunities downstream toward close, ensuring clarity, accountability, and alignment. They also describe how and when to pass opportunities that are not progressing back up the waterfall for further early-stage development where appropriate. This ensures that nothing is lost, even if a particular opportunity is not ready to progress right away. Forrester clients can read more about this in our Buying Group Service-Level Agreements 101: Defining What To Pass Between Revenue Engine Teams report.
We very much enjoyed sharing our thoughts on 2023 planning during the LinkedIn Live panel discussion, and it’s always extremely valuable to hear from you on the issues you’re facing. Thanks again to everyone who joined us and contributed the questions here. Join us again for our next discussion on Tuesday, 29 November, when we will be looking at our B2B marketing predictions for 2023 and what to expect next year!