Approximately 400 sales and marketing executives are expected to turn out next month for the fourth-annual SiriusDecisions Summit (May 13-15 in Scottsdale, AZ). The event, which features speakers including Buell Duncan, VP of marketing, IBM Software Group, Deborah Nelson, SVP of marketing, Technology Solutions Group, Hewlett-Packard, and Gail Ennis, SVP of marketing, Omniture, spotlights best practices for aligning revenue-generating functions around common goals of reputation building, demand creation and sales optimization.
DemandGen Report recently connected with Tony Jaros, VP of Research at SiriusDecisions, for a preview of the key trends and topics which will be presented during the Summit, including the growing emphasis on lead nurturing and strategies to capitalize on social media.
DGR: One of the keynote topics at this year’s Summit is “The Marketing Organization in 2015." Can you give our readers a preview of some of the trends you will be addressing with that presentation or a glimpse of what BtoB marketers are steering towards once we emerge from the current downturn?
Jaros: Field marketing has evolved significantly over the past several years as organizations have swung the lion’s share of marketing budgets toward demand creation. Now, other important marketing functions such as marketing communications, product marketing, channel marketing and market intelligence are trying to understand how they fit into this new world order, and how they can weave themselves into what is becoming a highly measurable area of marketing.
DGR: As you head into this year’s Summit, are you seeing any specific changes in focus among attendees given the ongoing challenges with economy?
Jaros: We certainly see greater priority being put on pipeline acceleration from the marketing side and increasing/maintaining rep competency on the sales side as a growing number of deals stall. In addition, organizations are trying to take advantage of some of the lower-cost, (potentially) higher-impact social media vehicles now becoming ubiquitous. Strategies, frameworks and specific deployment examples concerning all of these topics will be shared in detail at the Summit.
DGR: SiriusDecisions has been making the case for tighter integration between sales and marketing for several years and it now seems like the market is catching up in terms of process and strategy. Is there any new data or client success you have seen that exemplify the benefits of stronger alignment between the two?
Jaros: The demand waterfall data we have been gathering over the past several years now indicates that organizations that have tightly integrated marketing and sales around the shared task of demand creation close between two and seven times the number of deals of those that do not.
DGR: This year’s speakers include top executives from IBM, HP and Omniture. How do you anticipate the focus of the content changing this year given the current business climate?
Jaros: During Summit 2008, the Dow was roughly at the 13,000 mark; it sits under 8,000 as we speak. Each of the leaders – as has our team of highly seasoned analysts – has been profoundly changed, and challenged in ways none of us would have dreamed just 12 months ago. One of the lessons that all of these leaders has learned is that taking the right steps in integrating sales and marketing when times are good prepares an organization as best as can be expected for times like now.
DGR: One of the sessions at the Summit is focused on lead nurturing strategies. Do you see the nurturing process becoming more of a competitive differentiator as the buying cycle stretches?
Jaros: Lead nurturing has grown in importance over the last 12 months, as organizations try to squeeze every penny they can out of their demand creation efforts. The ability to gate, guard and evolve prospects within the demand waterfall is absolutely critical, especially as we look to an improving economy down the road where more of these prospects will pull the buying trigger.