Q&A: Liz Miller, VP Marketing Programs and Operations, CMO Council

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Q&A: Liz Miller, VP Marketing Programs and Operations, CMO Council
Q&A: Liz Miller, VP Marketing Programs and Operations, CMO Council

The CMO Council recently asked 230 senior B2B marketing executives to rate themselves on improving their pipelines using modern technology. They flunked themselves, owning up to poor data quality, shoddy customer intelligence, poor customer information integration, and lack of a real-time sales orientation. Liz Miller directed the study, so we went to her for the post-mortem.

CMOs responding to your survey said their top three sources of customer insights were their own databases, trade shows, and their sales reps. Outdated approach, no?

Quote-unquote data comes in from event attendance or a download. [Marketers] take that information and shove it into a CRM system. A sales rep takes it and adds something to it and that becomes the Holy Grail. But what happens when your best sales rep takes another job? When it comes to customer data, the insight that enables sales to grow, we're failing miserably because we're simply not mining the right data or connecting data streams to create those moments of sales opportunity.

That's particularly troubling when you consider that only 3% of your respondents said their sales reps were adept at sourcing customer data on their own. What to do?

What we're missing is all the data that can come from scary sources like customer service, frontline tech support, social media, third-party data resources. Wouldn't it be nice for a sales rep to receive a social media alert saying, ‘Hey, your best customer, Bob, just posted a note on LinkedIn saying he's moving to a new job, and his former assistant just updated his status to Bob's old position?'

What's keeping B2B companies from getting to this level?

We've been so focused on content marketing and how many people we can cram into the top of the funnel that we're failing on the Big Data side. There are systems and tools out there that can pipe all of that data into your CRM system and make marketers sales enablers—which is what B2B marketers have to be—but it's still not happening. Think about how fast business moves today. Engagements and transactions happen daily if not hourly. Yet only 17% of marketers we surveyed are updating data in real time. Most B2B companies aren't using technology to proactively seek out opportunities. They're selling reactively.

Things do move fast today. Will B2B marketers right the ship in rapid fashion?

Some aspects will improve quickly. Like, if you're a Salesforce.com customer, you can plug in Data.com or Dun & Bradstreet right now to create account alert solutions for your sales force. That's the easy part. The slower part is going to be shifting the barge. How do we make it critical [to empower] front line? I don't think we'll see this happen quickly. We did a study four years ago about improving front-line resources and not much has changed.

So data transparency within the organization is the key obstacle?

It's going to be a slow shift; there's going to be a lot of resistance. The moment you tell IT you need to have sales and service and marketing all connected, they go into anaphylactic shock. The happy by-product of this is that, once you get IT to do it, they realize it makes their jobs easier. They'll find third-party services that will carry most of the burden of getting the right data to the right people. Nobody needs to know everything, that's why silos were erected in the first place.


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