SiriusDecisions: SAP's Becher urges marketers to look beyond the 'fire drill'

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Scottsdale, Ariz.—Growth and innovation are terms not often associated with marketing departments, “because we're stuck in the details,” said Jonathan Becher, CMO at software company SAP, delivering the keynote address here Wednesday at SiriusDecisions' annual sales and marketing summit. “We're struggling to keep up with the fire drill every day. This may be why CMOs have the shortest tenure of anybody in the C-suite,” he said. Becher urged marketers to think like businesses and focus on growth and innovation. Becher, named SAP's top marketing chief last year after serving four years as exec VP-marketing, detailed a “new mindset” he brought to the position: First, focus on people prospects, not company prospects, he said. “Big glass buildings don't buy software; people do,” he said. “We've spent the last 10 years arguing about the differences between b-to-b and b-to-c marketing, but those differences are much less than we think they are. So we are using b-to-c marketing techniques by putting the consumer at the center.” Becher also urged marketers to measure the ultimate impact (pipeline, sales, etc.) of their activities instead of the activities (impressions, clicks, etc.) themselves. He also recommended that company messages reflect market sentiments, not company views. “Look at your website and analyze what percentage of its content comes from people who aren't employees,” he said. “You want to be the voice of the market. And recognize the importance of the culture in your business. When problems happen, be hard on the issues but easy on the people. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” he said. Stressing the need to run marketing as a business, Becher recommended quarterly business reviews and marketer compensation plans tied to results. “Pay, more than anything else, changes people's behavior,” he said. SAP was one of four winners this year of SiriusDecisions' Return on Innovation Award for achievement in sales and marketing alignment. Becher set the stage for discussions at the conference on the future of marketing. SiriusDecisions executives proposed a new definition of “campaign” that focuses on buyer need instead of products, driving corporate growth and combining branding with sales enablement. Sales support was a continuous theme at the SiriusDecisions summit. This week, the company rolled out a major revision to its Demand Waterfall marketing effectiveness model, with new benchmarks for leads generated by sales and teleprospecters. “Sales and marketing want to move from products to solutions, to be more efficient with resources and to drive sales productivity,” said Craig Moore, senior director-marketing operations strategies at SiriusDecisions. A more efficient idea of campaigns, he said, will “bring together corporate, sales, business units and finance in support of just a few campaigns a year.” “And of course, work with sales to make sure they're comfortable with it,” he said.
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