To succeed and lead in a digital-first world, go-to-market (GTM) teams must deliver more revenue and deliver it faster. As a result, digital operational efficiency has become critical to success. A streamlined lead-to-revenue process underpinned by agility, speed, and efficiency is the key.
With that in mind, B2B companies are continually seeking to improve GTM productivity. It’s a crucial lever for increasing revenue, improving AE productivity, and beating the competition. Specifically, it’s pivotal to engaging high-intent accounts and closing deals faster and at higher conversion
Over the years, B2B companies have called upon available tools, technologies, and approaches to achieve incremental improvement. The key is to use the ones that best align with shifts in buying trends.
Buyer Alignment is Essential – Yet Challenging
We hear plenty of talk about the need for marketing and sales alignment. But meaningful alignment starts with the buyer since delivering value is the gateway to company growth.
It’s one thing to understand the importance of a standout buying experience. It’s another to deliver the experiences that enable predictable revenue in the digital age when the GTM motion is so complex.
Not only are empowered buyers in control, they expect potential vendors to engage on their terms and in line with their preferences. Consider these facts:
- According to Forrester’s 2021 B2B Buying Study, the average number of interactions (both human and digital) involved in a purchase decision jumped from 17 in 2019 to 27 in 2021.
- Nearly 60% of the B2B buyer journey occurs online — and that number will rise to 80% by 2025, according to Gartner’s Future of Sales research.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that buying groups have become the norm:
- Over 63% of purchases involve more than four people in various roles and often from multiple departments.
- Yet Gartner finds that sales reps get roughly 5% of a buyer’s time during the buying journey.
These buyers (whether champions, influencers, or decision-makers) jump around during their journey, zeroing in on different activities and moving between stages at will. Yet throughout, they expect the same convenient, personalized, digital-first experiences they enjoy as consumers.
The only way to effectively engage, nurture, and convert these buyers is for marketing and sales to work in concert. That’s why more GTM teams are seeking ways to enable orchestration aligned with buyer expectations for a best-in-class buying experience. When the goal is to optimize every interaction between potential buyers and the company, it’s necessary to break down silos, so cross-functional teams can truly act as one.
Simply put, enabling an engaging and personalized omnichannel digital experience that differentiates the company and delights prospective customers is critical to success. Particularly for B2B companies selling to complex buying groups over a long period, personalization is key to ensuring the right stories, messages, and suggested next steps are conveyed at the right time to the right people.
Digitally Transforming to Ensure Alignment
Success starts with gaining a holistic understanding of the digital journeys that buying groups take from interest to purchase. Such an understanding is pivotal to connecting insights, anticipating behaviors, and enabling a frictionless, personalized buying experience that converts. And the key is a unified data-first approach.
The best GTM organizations have always called upon the latest technologies to enable that understanding along with their best-in-class strategies and processes. However, in recent years, teams have worked hard but not as smart as they could with available tools. For example, producing more marketing campaigns and training reps to use more tools. The priority has shifted to leveraging technology in new ways to solve entrenched problems – the very definition of digital transformation.
More and more B2B organizations are taking advantage of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to elevate their GTM productivity in line with the digital buying journey. Recent advances in AI (and predictive analytics) are making this possible. We can now bridge the silos of people intelligence and account intelligence to deliver a truly powerful digital engine that creates revenue in a high-growth environment. This engine not only delivers high-quality leads and account engagement through a more powerful segmentation that reaches white space, but it also drives significantly higher sales productivity.
Driving GTM Productivity Gains with the Revenue Engine of the Future
In fact, the organization where I served as SVP of Marketing – PTC – realized these results as part of a company-wide initiative to optimize sales and marketing processes.
PTC is a $1.2B global software company where the original MEDDIC sales methodology was created, and our marketing organization had established a solid web, marketing automation, and analytics ecosystem connected to Salesforce.com. But that only made it possible to produce significantly more web visits, emails, and campaigns. In other words, marketing was able to generate high marks when it came to vanity metrics. The challenge was in producing results aligned with the shift in the buyer journey, and that contributed directly to revenues.
At PTC, our three main GTM problems were:
- Casting the net too wide. We weren’t leveraging predictive analytics to proactively target high-intent accounts, let alone target unknown accounts in white spaces.
- Forcing website visitors to fill in a long-form and wait for us to call. We were not thinking about the buyer first. Moreover, we were not gathering first-party data to create and deliver valuable content.
- Lack of account intelligence. We were still talking about leads rather than the demand center. And we needed to understand the path of least resistance to scale and accelerate accounts to pipeline.
We needed to build a data-driven foundation to fine-tune and optimize the existing engine. Many tools can help teams fix independent issues. We required the missing piece to enable a well-oiled engine.
With a goal of implementing a comprehensive account-centric marketing and sales strategy grounded in end-to-end visibility of the digital journey, we called upon AI-powered solutions and platforms provided by Drift, 6sense, and People.ai.
Combined, these technologies enabled us to:
- Automate key tasks, such as updating CRM
- Connect all buyer-related data and make it easily accessible
- Analyze buyer interactions to identify opportunities for better engagement
- Deliver the right messages at the right time to the right people in the buying group
Not only did we win SiriusDecisions’ award for Program of the Year in 2020 for our Revenue Orchestration and Intelligence Engine (RO&I Engine), we enabled orchestration between marketing, and sales. This engine provided an end-to-end view of buyers from the first interaction with an account throughout their entire buying journey and into renewal. As such, it revealed ideal, proven pathways to revenue for our GTM team. It also allowed us to be smarter and more predictable with how we ran our business and drive value in every interaction with our customers and prospects.
In phase one alone, we:
- Delivered more than $20 million in the net-new pipeline for PTC’s Internet of Things and Augmented Reality business.
- Saved nearly 9,200 hours of time by automatically logging 526,000 activities to Salesforce, providing a more accurate picture of buyer coalitions, pipeline health, and progression.
- Added 57,000 net-new contacts to marketing automation and CRM that would not have otherwise been visible to the company.
In future posts, I’ll dive further into the story of our success at PTC and share more about the strategy, best practices, and technologies we harnessed to achieve such outstanding results.