What happens when you get more than 200 great pan-EMEA marketing and sales professionals together in one place? At last week’s third annual SiriusDecisions Europe Summit in London, with so much energy and experience in the room, there couldn’t help but be some valuable takeaways. Many thanks to those who attended in person and those who shared their experience in real time via Twitter, as well as those who followed the action and gave the event a wider audience. Here are my thoughts on highlights from the Summit:

  • We’re all working hard to get the “market” back in marketing. From campaign execution to personas to buyer-focused sales and channel enablement and customer marketing, it’s not about us marketers and sellers anymore. Moving buyer and customer needs to the center of planning and execution took center stage in questions and comments at this year’s Summit.
  • There is great power in authenticity. Whether describing a company’s challenging journey to change its business model, or sharing a funny video about the (frankly, sometimes inane) ways we try to defend marketing’s contribution, being real is what this crowd enjoyed. It’s not always showmanship that wins over hearts and minds. Sometimes the power of a message comes from simply sharing compelling truth in an honest way.
  • The white paper is dead. Long live the white paper. When talking about the seemingly endless variations on the meaning of the word “campaign,” a favorite for worst use was the dreaded but all-too-common “white-paper campaign.” Nearly all agreed it isn’t a good idea to call anything a “white-paper campaign,” but what was up for spirited discussion was the general value of white papers, and I think there were more in favor of them than not.
  • Sales and marketing still have work to do, but are getting better all the time. As the rearchitected SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall is shared with more and more audiences, the general sense is it’s the right change at the right time. Sales and marketing have come a long way in their expectations of one another and in their own ability to execute. A model that literally aligns, measures and evaluates their respective contributions may seem complex at first, but with even limited reflection resonates with those who want to continue to evolve. Next on the list for many at the event was updating the role of tele-based marketing and sales functions.
  • Local differences matter, internally and externally. The audience at any European event is by definition diverse but also interconnected. If the U.S. and U.K. are “two countries separated by a common language,” then make that exponentially more difficult when it’s tens of languages that have even less in common. Respect for the differences in buyers and customers from country to country, and also for the internal teams that work with them, must be a focus of global marketing and sales leaders. In our drive to centralize and standardize, it’s easy to become irrelevant if local requirements are not addressed.
  • Prescriptions work for headaches, including marketing execution. Content that met with the most positive response had a common sensibility: It was highly prescriptive. While it’s helpful to share concepts, attendees appreciated specifics about what to do, when to do it and how to do it better. Audience feedback favored the practical, including a template for persona development, a map for driving demand in the channel, and frameworks for delivering buyer-focused sales enablement and campaigns. Specifics around the use of the updated waterfall and how to incorporate the role of tele-functions and contributions from sales were also well met. By the end of the day, after a lot of detailed information sharing, perhaps the most welcome prescription was also one of the oldest: A drink, and some conversation, to begin the process of absorbing it all.