Sunday, May 29, 2016

3 Big Takeaways from SiriusDecisions’ Summit 2016

Chock full of research reveals and best practices sharing, the annual “Woodstock” for sales and marketers, SiriusDecisions’ Summit just wrapped up in Nashville last week.

Here are our three big takeaways:

1)  One size Doesn’t Fit All
The need for sales and marketing personalization has never been higher, according to SiriusDecisions analysts, and this personalization is not isolated to just early marketing or sales engagements, but critical through all stages of the buyer’s journey.

Your prospects are now receiving 32% more vendor communications than just 2 years ago, and as a result, drowning in a sea of look-alike content.  Sending out more white papers (the crack cocaine of marketing) or relying on canned PowerPoints won’t provide the differentiation needed to effectively engage today’s “short attention span” customer.

What can you do to stand out from the crowd, and most importantly, be more effective?

Our advice: Migrate beyond static white papers, to Interactive Content, personalized based on a quick discovery of prospects’ unique industry, size, role, needs and challenges.

Tools can include Interactive white papers and dynamic infographics – personalizing content dynamically for each prospect and delivering the content on-line and in completely customized downloads.

Customization pivot points include providing industry specific insights, personalized storytelling, “do nothing” cost calculations, specific solution recommendations, specific TCO advantages and business value estimates.

2)  What a buyer wants, What a buyer needs
According to the latest SiriusDecisions survey results, 80% say understanding customer needs is critical to success, yet over 2/3rds of solution providers struggle to understand those needs.

This gap comes at a critical time, when the analysts reveal message resonance increasing substantially with insights focused on customer needs.

According to analyst Marissa Kopec, it’s not about pitching the latest products, but giving the buyer a competitive edge, by helping uncover and prioritize needs. She went so far as to call this important shift the “Age of Enlightenment” in B2B, an evolution from a classic inside-out product-centric approach, to buyer-focused needs and outcomes.

So what’s the best way to connect with buyer needs?

To be perceived most strategic and valuable, you can help prospects uncover hidden issues, often called unrecognized needs, the challenges that your buyers should be focusing on, but haven’t realized are a real challenge yet. Here, you act as advisor and teacher.

More tactical, you can help illuminate and clarify the issues your prospects already know about, but were having trouble prioritizing with other stakeholders and executives. With this approach, you are perceived as a partner, earning the right to provide valuable advice on how to best solve their most pressing challenges (which you helped prioritize).

So how do you best fuel your marketing and sales with needs?

Our advice: Leverage two important tools to help your prospects, sales team and channel partners uncover, illuminate and prioritize needs:
  • Benchmarking Tools – helping your prospects understand how their current financial, business, IT and other key performance indicators stack up against leader / laggard and average benchmarks. 
  • Diagnostic Assessments – helping your prospect measure, score and compare their capability and maturity to help advance their practices across a set of key categories to achieve competitive advantage.

The best, both of these tools build up more unique and proprietary insights the more they are used.

3)  Why Renew?
With more solution providers moving more business to on-going subscriptions, and relying less on new accounts, instead up-selling / cross-selling to existing accounts in order to grow more cost effectively, it is no surprise that customer experience and success were big topics.

More organizations are realizing that the selling doesn’t stop post sale. As a result, more emphasis and investment are being put towards improving customer experience, as well as measuring and documenting customer success.

Your customers won’t just blindly renew, or buy more without measurement and proof of key success metrics.  With today’s more frugal buyer focused on outcome metrics, that renewal or add-on sale isn’t so much about relationship and emotion,. For many, it’s all about the Benjamin’s.

Assuring customer experience and success needs to include proving the value and ROI you actually delivered. But you have to instrument your customer success team with the equipment to reliably and consistently measure progress and success.

So how do you best prove the value you delivered? 

Our advice:  Invest in a Realized Value / ROI Tool – structuring the discovery of key performance metrics, how they are improving over time, and quantifying the business value derived and ROI.

The Bottom-Line

Each year we learn much from the SiriusDecision conference, and this year was no exception, providing a roadmap for sales and marketing success: 
  1. Personalize content throughout the buyer’s journey, moving beyond one-size-fits all to interactive content
  2. Empower sales reps to evolve from product-pitch to needs / outcomes, helping to better uncover and prioritize customer needs.
  3. Assuring customer success by proving and quantifying value realization post-sale.

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