From SiriusDecisions Summit 2014…

After my first full day at the #SDSummit, I’m more excited than I’ve ever been at such an event. This is an incredibly exciting time in marketing. While marketers have been saying that for the past 4-5 years, in my opinion we’re finally truly poised for success — with the technology, data, and processes to enable transformation. The key remaining element is the “how”.

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Malcolm Gladwell kicked off the conference as the keynote speaker yesterday (without powerpoint slides….a delightful change in this day and age, I might add).  He set the tone for the rest of the day’s theme being all about transformation. Citing historical examples of people whose names we didn’t necessarily recognize yet could clearly see their impact on our modern world. He said that “change” is all about how we reframe something. It’s about seeing the bigger picture and how all the pieces fit together.

Tony Jaros then perfectly translated Malcolm’s message for marketers, painting the very optimistic picture of B2B growth expectations with 90% of companies surveyed in the Intelligent Growth Study saying they expect to grow. But the question is HOW to achieve this growth and transform organizations? Sirius unveiled their five pillars for growth that companies rely on today in order to see growth:

  • Markets
  • Buyers
  • Offerings
  • Acquisitions
  • Productivity

There were points the research study made which validate what ANNUITAS sees in all our client engagements. The first is that marketing and product management are not on the same page in terms of how they’ll grow. Marketing looks to grow business by expanding the buyer base while sales and product management leads with new offerings. The most compelling point of that is that neither effort will work without both camps working in tandem. And much of the research, including the real-time audience polling, shows that there’s still much work to be done in terms of sales and marketing alignment.

Another key validating point was that most companies are looking to new skills or technology to achieve growth before tackling alignment and change management. I see this constantly – marketers who think acquiring a marketing automation system will solve their pipeline deficit or process issues. Skills and technology alone will not solve problems or achieve growth unless sales, marketing and product management are in alignment and all parties are willing to endure change. Period.

But again….HOW can we drive this transformation? We know we need transformative change but how do we accomplish it? Tony defined a transformative initiative as:

  • Outward focused
  • Organizational/BU/Geo-based
  • Requires significant alignment
  • Timeframe to accomplish: months to quarters

He went on to say that in order to achieve it, we need three things:

  • Sufficiency – the perceived viability of the initiative according to functional leadership; is it doable?
  • Commitment – the willingness and ability of functions to act to increase the likelihood of a successful initiative
  • Functional distance – current state of initiative alignment between an organization’s revenue-producing functions (sales, marketing, product)

There’s no doubt that growth and transformation is difficult. Now that most of us have the tools and technology, it’s all about how we can achieve the alignment to truly transform.

Author: Jennifer Harmel @JenniferHarmel2 Vice President, Strategy for ANNUITAS

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