Scottsdale, Ariz.—Sales must be “pulled into the fold” by marketing, to better understand alignment and sales enablement. That was the overriding theme delivered throughout last week's SiriusDecisions Summit 2011 and reiterated on its final day.
“It's not a question of adding systems to fix sales and marketing alignment, but rather a challenge of leadership,” said John Neeson, SiriusDecisions' managing director, at a wrapup session Friday. “It's about two leaders—the heads of marketing and sales—fixing things together.”
Megan Heuer, service director at the company, also stressed that “People fix marketing and sales problems.”
“It's not about just adding technology,” Heuer said. “Sales and marketing have to believe that change is really important, to understand what's not working and to be patient with the solutions.”
Audience members were eager to better understand the evolving role of mobile, social and content marketing, and posed questions on those topics to a panel of SiriusDecisions executives.
“There is a lot of experimentation going on with mobile, but no clear marketing movement yet,” said Service Director Jay Gaines. “But more and more, customers will interact with content you're sending them via handheld mobile devices. So you have to think about that in the content-creation process, how to make this information accessible to them.”
As a practical matter, Gaines said that smartphone and tablet use is becoming common among field sales reps, which directly addresses content creation and formatting. “Think about your sales portal information and its accessibility via these devices on the road,” he said.
While the advisability of sales using social media was generally debunked, there may be a limited role for sales to play here, the panel said.
“Social media needs to be ubiquitous within the sales and marketing tool kits,”" said Jonathan Block, VP-service director at the company, and its resident social expert. “It was only a few years ago that data was the "black box' that nobody understood. Now it's social, but that too will soon be understood better and used naturally as a mainstream marketing channel.”
Another common thread at this year's summit was the need to gain C-suite buy-in for these evolving sales-marketing initiatives. Several case studies presented during the week detailed resistance to proactive sales-marketing alignment.
“One major theme here is how CFOs must begin to think about marketing, not so much as an expense but rather as an investment,” Neeson said.
With about 800 attendees and 36 exhibitors, SiriusDecisions has outgrown the venue it's used for three years, Fairmont's Scottsdale Princess resort, and next year will move its summit to the nearby Phoenician resort.