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Here are findings from our 2021 virtual Executive Forum. Best practice companies have five distinct hallmarks.

  1. Well-articulated tactical marketing motions targeted at specific customer segments
  2. Sales resources that are digitally enabled and use virtual technology to deploy generalists and specialist resources before, during and after the sale
  3. Redefined service functions as success engines and have populated these success engines with customer-centric resources
  4. Highly capable revenue operations function that binds the marketing, sales and success motions together with common data links, metrics and digital platforms
  5. New understanding of what it takes to attract, retain and leverage talent

Listen to what we learned at the forum about each of these hallmarks.

Join us at one of our upcoming Alexander Group Leadership Events.

Full Transcript:

Hello, Gary Tubridy, Senior Vice President for the Alexander Group with topline findings from our 2021 virtual executive forum. What we saw in the forum where best practice companies that have five distinct hallmarks. First, they have well articulated tactical marketing motions targeted at specific customer segments in which they are accountable for revenue growth. Second, they have sales resources that are digitally enabled that use virtual technology to deploy generalists and specialist resources before, during and after the sale, making them more flexible and more productive, particularly because the digital tools they have at their disposal are so powerful. Third, they have redefined service functions as success engines and have populated the success engines with customer centric resources that carry some form of revenue responsibility. Fourth, they have a highly capable revenue operations function that binds the marketing, sales and success motions together with common data links, metrics and digital platforms. And last, they have a new understanding of what it takes to attract, retain and leverage talent in an era when delivering great customer experience is the difference between winning and losing. Let’s take a look at what we learned at the forum about each of these hallmarks.

Not too long ago, the principal connection between marketing and sales was the marketing qualified lead or MQL. Marketing, through events in advertising, push the product centric messages at customers who, if interested, responded with a phone call or an email. This done marketing would alert sales to hot leads, and sales would leap into the fray to further qualify and attempt to close. And this led to border wars, with sales never satisfied with the number or quality of the leads and marketing, never satisfied with the sales department’s efforts to close them. Amidst all the noise, the customer was almost taken for granted. Flash forward to the present day post digitization and pandemic.

The panel of executives on connecting marketing to revenue responsibility explored how marketing is more targeted and more engaged. They confirmed how the 24/7 customer is at the center of all activity and how such customers engage with marketing pre-purchase to acquire information, insight and explore options. Companies that offer relevant solutions are rewarded with a dialogue and only then with the opportunity to get sales more deeply engaged in the discussion. Here’s how one panelist put it. We used to think about this as a linear process, but today we see it as an ongoing model. We think about the marketing function and how it plays with sales and service. The buyer may decide to engage at any point in time along this continuum. We have built many different ways to do that now via digital channels. This is a whole new way of thinking about marketing, with a far deeper partnership with sales and increased emphasis on the tactical side of the marketing function.

Indeed, this change could be described as a revolution characterized by a rapid shift in emphasis away from pushing perceived product strengths, and toward partnering with sales to demonstrate understanding of the customer’s business challenges and to deliver the package of products and services that can comprise workable solutions. This includes evolving from mass reach messaging via advertising and events to opening a dialogue with much tighter segments about what will be attractive to them. As Glen Tinevez, VP of marketing at Ortho Clinical Diagnostics put it, our customers are more engaged with the message content over the last little while, despite all the distractions. We need to really capitalize on that virtual dialogue because it is critical. That means organizationally thinking about the customer first.

And it also means transforming the marketing mission from creating awareness of a company and a product across a broad target base to helping much narrower segments make informed decisions about how to solve business problems. Amazingly, one panelist shared that if yours is not the best choice, then you sometimes have to concede to the superior option. Losing the battle today, but winning the war for credibility. Part of that means knowing, really knowing, that marketing is not just cost, that it is part of the revenue equation. As Shane Elliot, VP of Global Lab Solutions at Agilent Technologies put it, understand that success means more than just eyeballs and impressions or people that show up at your events. Sometimes it’s pursuing and driving conversations through the entire cycle. It may even mean forming a marketing and sales team that shares metrics and targets. It certainly means moving from being occasional adversaries to being consistent partners in growing revenue or serving customers better than the competition.

Many of the companies cited in this video have a long history of success. I hope you’ll join us in our Forum series in 2022, where we’ll explore the characteristics of companies that delivered such enduring success, companies that survive and thrive consistently over time without regard to economic tailwinds or turbulence. Alexander Group has identified a short list of organizations that have led the pack in growth over the past 20 years, despite recessions, political turmoil and pandemics. In 2022, we’ll explore what makes such enduring leaders tick. Join us in the Leadership Series to learn more about the management principles that these companies follow. There will be three major events, Women Revenue Leaders Forum, April 18th and 19th at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago, the Operations Forum on August 15th and 16th, also at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago and the Executive Forum November 16, 17 and 18 at the Waldorf-Astoria Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, California. I look forward to seeing you there.

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