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November 14, 2014
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What skills and capabilities do B2B marketing teams need to deliver business results? What does it take to be a successful marketer?

Whether you are searching for answers or already have them, respond to ITSMA’s 2014 Marketing Talent survey and find out what the industry says.

Featured Articles

Five Key Take-Aways from ITSMA’s Annual Conference

By Dave Munn

Dave MunnWith all of the uncertainties that come with change, there is one sure way for marketing organizations to be successful: focus on driving more value. At this year’s conference, we examined three aspects of marketing value: value to the business, value to customers, and individual value. From the variety of discussions that took place during conference, this subject clearly struck a nerve.

Delivering business value seems to be a challenge that is top of everyone’s list. If it isn’t already at the top of yours, it should be. By way of some conference highlights, here’s why.

1. To demonstrate marketing’s value to the business, we need to measure results, not effort. And to measure results, we need to change the way we report. As Mani Dasgupta, CMO of Capgemini North America, said in one of the Marketing Leaders Panel, there is no such thing as a bluebird. If marketing laid the groundwork, then it is up to us to prove it.

In one of her sessions, Julie Schwartz, ITSMA’s SVP of Research and Thought Leadership, shared how best-in-class marketers set quantifiable performance targets that link marketing activities to the business outcomes that senior executives care most about. Amdocs’s CMO, Chris Williams, exhorted us to measure business results, not marketing effort, by aligning metrics to the buying cycle.

Nick Panayi, director of Global Brand and Digital Marketing at CSC, discussed measurement at length. His first step was to make the CSC content management system the center of the marketing universe. If it wasn’t in the system, it didn’t exist. This allowed Panayi and his team to develop an accurate dashboard to report marketing results to the executive team. Among their most important reporting metrics are the lead handoffs from marketing to sales. If sales-accepted leads drop below 80%, there was a problem. Dashboards provide a critically important rearview mirror; but for Panayi, predictive analysis is the true power.

2. The prevalence of data, largely in the form of digital footprints, is dramatically changing our ability to measure and predict behavior. As Malcolm Frank, EVP of Strategy and Marketing at Cognizant Technology Solutions, made clear in his compelling talk, this is not just the next chapter of corporate IT but a fundamental shift in the way we do marketing. Frank shared some great examples from his new book, Code Halos, of just how detailed and surprising the information from our virtual selves can be: Facebook knows that you’re falling in love before you do. And if you listen to Garth Brooks but don’t vote Republican, you’re in a very small minority.

This is just as important in the B2B space. Companies that are able to understand and engage their buyers by interpreting code halos will create a competitive advantage. Marketing must develop a robust analytics capability to do so—and to keep our companies on the right side of the coming industry rift.

3. Understanding buyers and personalizing their experience are critical to engaging them. Adele Revella, CEO of the Buyer Persona Institute, reiterated common wisdom: buyers purchase from providers they trust. To build that trust, we must understand how, when, and why buyers make a purchase decision. With these insights, marketers are able to create value propositions that are more persuasive and able to engage buyers.

Once we can anticipate the needs of buyers on their journey, we can personalize their experience both offline and online. Meagen Eisenberg, VP of Customer Marketing at DocuSign, talked us through some impressive results of using 15 marketing tools to create a personalized digital experience for target buyer segments. For Eisenberg, success is the ability to attract, engage, convert, and measure. In two years DocuSign’s sales pipeline grew 22%, the average time visitors spent on the website increased over eight minutes, pageviews increased over 300%, and click-through rates tripled. Even better, she and her team now have extensive data for predictive analysis to further refine and target their messaging.

4. We must refocus what we do to be meaningful and relevant to our chosen audiences. As Frank put it, “I don’t care if my next-door neighbor knows who Cognizant is, but I do care if my 10,000 potential customers know.” This isn’t just about understanding their motivations and predicting their behavior. It’s about having something relevant and meaningful to say to them. When Chris Goodman took on the role of CMO at KPMG, one of his priorities was to make sure there was meaningful and relevant thought in all of the thought leadership.

ITSMA’s Schwartz told attendees thought leadership really does matter during the buying process. In our recent survey of how buyers consume information, more than 75% of respondents indicated that thought leadership was critical or important in both considering providers and short-listing them. In fact, the most highly rated source of information on industry trends and solutions was provider subject matter experts (SMEs). When information is meaningful and relevant to buyers, they listen. This, surely, is what helps us to distinguish ourselves in what HCL CMO Matt Preschern called “the sea of sameness.”

Two great ways to connect with our audiences in a compelling way are storytelling and Account Based Marketing, as Bev Burgess, SVP, ITSMA Europe, and Jeff Sands, VP, ITSMA, respectively, demonstrated in their workshops.

5. It’s time for marketing to rethink the model. Expectations of what marketing can deliver are high, but gone are the days when we could just ask for more budget and headcount to fulfill those expectations. As John Lenzen, CMO of TCS, said, “The role of marketing hasn’t changed, but the tools have.”

The impact of these new tools is so significant that it is changing processes, and even people, along the way. Larry Weber, author of The Digital Marketer: Ten New Skills You Must Learn to Stay Relevant and Customer-Centric, told attendees that the CMO’s new job is to improve digital engagement. Between DocuSign’s 15 automation, lead-nurturing, reporting, and analysis tools and CSC’s 47, it’s clear that digital marketing tools and data analysis skills are not just hot, they are critical.

Pegasystems CMO Robert Tas said the biggest part of a marketing leader’s job is change management. That’s especially important as he, like many of us, helps his company transition from focusing on products to focusing on customers. In his three-year journey to building a world-class marketing team at KPMG, Goodman focused a lot of energy on his marketing team, making sure team members were both students of the firm and students of the industry.

Perhaps Weber summed up best where we are: “We’ve finally recognized that marketing is a verb, not a noun, and that it’s never done.”

8 Important Facts about Complex, High-Consideration B2B Solutions Purchases

By Julie Schwartz

Julie Schwartz
There is a lot of great research on the Internet about the buyer journey and how buyers consume information. But have you noticed that sometimes the research doesn’t match your experience and sometimes even conflicts? The source of the confusion can often be narrowed down to these two factors:

  • Unintentional bias. For example: “Research unequivocally shows that tech publishing websites are the number-one source of information.” However, the methodology shows that the research sample came from a list of subscribers to a tech publishing website. Duh!
  • Sample selection. In one example, the sample consists of small to medium-sized companies buying discreet products, yet the findings are extrapolated to apply to large enterprises purchasing multimillion-dollar solutions.

If you want to know how enterprise buyers in senior decision-making positions make purchase decisions for large, complex consulting and technology solutions purchases, then those are the people you have to ask. And that is exactly what ITSMA does. Every year for more than 20 years, ITSMA has been researching the purchase decisions of buyers who fit these criteria:

  • Decision makers for large contracts. Decision maker, evaluator, or influencer for technology solutions for individual contracts over $500,000
  • Senior executives. Director level or above
  • Large enterprises. Company’s annual revenue (or operating budget if public sector) US$250 million or greater (60% of the sample has revenue greater than or equal to US$1 billion)

Based on the latest round of 436 interviews in seven countries, here are the facts:

  • Buyers spend nearly as much time offline as they do online.
  • Social media, although gaining traction, is not yet mainstream.
  • Solution providers, especially their subject matter experts, are a more credible source of information than the buyer’s peers.
  • Buyers want to engage with sales reps early on in the purchase process.
  • Thought leadership is both an effective door opener and a short-list determinant.
  • Buyers are more likely to consider solution providers that personalize their marketing to address their specific business issues.
  • Industry knowledge and knowledge of the buyer’s unique business issues top the solution provider selection criteria list.
  • Buyers favor providers with whom they have previously done business.

To learn more, join Julie Schwartz, ITSMA senior vice president, Research and Thought Leadership, when she presents the key findings from ITSMA’s latest How Buyers Consume Information study on November 18, 2014.

Rethink Customer Retention: Your Bottom Line Will Thank You

By Nicole France

Nicole FranceIt’s common knowledge in the services industry—in any industry, really—that keeping an existing customer costs far less than finding a new one does. This is true whether your business is focused on discrete projects or long-term contracts. New cloud-based business models draw the direct link between financial success and maintaining your customer base even more sharply into focus.

For Salesforce, the unique pressures of a subscription software model posed a serious challenge: how to increase client retention rates. The company’s novel solution involves a healthy dose of analytics, out-of-the-box marketing, and a complete reinvention of its services division. The results have been happier customers and an impressive reduction in attrition.

By abandoning traditional notions of technical support and maintenance services in favor of delivering customer success, the software provider defined a new type of solution offering. In doing so, it also united an essential trifecta—sales, services, and marketing—within a coordinated team with a common goal and incentive: ensuring customers get measurable value and return on their investment in Salesforce.

While there are comparatively few technical implementation requirements for Salesforce customers, they do need support in the business and change-management aspects of rollout, adoption, and effective use. These services, along with proactive client engagement, form the backbone of the new services division, called Customer Success Group (CSG).

CSG marketing’s role has been communicating the value of what are typically optional services in helping to achieve business outcomes. This is more than just a name change, so conveying that message effectively within Salesforce and to customers has been critical to CSG’s impressive results.

Equally important are the powerful analytical tools the company has developed based on years of historical metadata. By analyzing these patterns, the team has built predictive models that can identify accounts at higher risk of attrition. These early warnings allow account teams to take corrective action and greatly improve the chances that clients get value from their contract and want to renew. More broadly, the tool can help the team proactively support clients throughout their experience with Salesforce, from implementation through ongoing use.

To learn more about the journey and results of Salesforce’s Customer Success Group, read the ITSMA Case Study From Support to Success: Salesforce’s Radical Approach to Customer Retention.

Research Highlight: For ABM to Deliver on Its Promise, It’s Time to Get Serious

By Bev Burgess

Beverley BurgessA decade into Account Based Marketing (ABM), it’s time to approach it as a strategic business initiative if it’s going to deliver on its promise. Results from ITSMA’s 2014 ABM Benchmarking study suggests that ABM remains too tactical and marketing-centric, lacking the gravitas and momentum of a true business change initiative.

ABM a Marketing-led Initiative

A few highlights from the study:

  • 75% of respondents say that ABM is predominantly a marketing-led rather than a business-led initiative.
  • Two-thirds of respondents say they have multiple, uncoordinated ABM initiatives in different geographies, business units, or both.
  • Most ABM practitioners are doing ABM without a governing council or program management office.
  • ABM initiatives are being funded primarily by field marketing, which results in ABM remaining a localized, tactical activity.

ABM is an approach that consistently delivers significantly higher return on investment than other marketing investments. And yet, 10 years after widespread adoption, ABM hasn’t been scaled across the business to deliver the big results that we know it can. As 2015 approaches, marketers must work to educate their business leaders, sales leaders, account management communities, and HR talent specialists on what ABM is, how it can drive business growth, and how to establish it properly as a business—not just marketing—initiative.


By Julie Schwartz

Each month, ITSMA receives a number of queries through Ask ITSMA, a resource designed to give members a quick and easy way to get insight on important services and solutions marketing questions they face. In this column, we will publish some of our favorite questions, along with excerpts from our replies.

Q: We in marketing are trying work more closely with our sales team to help them sell more effectively—without spending a lot of money. Do you have any examples of where this has been done well?

A: Yes, indeed we do. Infosys has a great story about how marketing, sales, and SMEs are working together.

Here was the problem: according to sourcing advisors, Infrastructure Management Services (IMS) accounted for 20%–25% of the market and offered attractive growth potential. But this wasn’t the case for Infosys; the company needed to sell more managed services. The question was how.

Infosys could have attacked the problem by spending more money on marketing to potential clients to stimulate demand. Instead, the team did some analysis. This revealed that the real problem wasn’t market awareness but the ability of the sales team to sell IMS. There were a few big roadblocks for sales:

  • They knew less about IMS than other offerings and weren’t that excited about it.
  • They didn’t understand how to spot opportunities.
  • They considered IMS to be too technical to sell without the assistance of subject matter experts (SMEs).

The marketing team concluded that existing sales kits and collateral designed for prospective buyers were not enough.

Marketing took a new approach: sell IMS to the sales team first. Working with SMEs and IMS champions within sales, the marketing team:

  • Packaged solution information and tips for identifying IMS opportunities that the sales team could get excited about
  • Conducted training, usually with the help of champions from sales
  • Created new sales kits that used business language salespeople were comfortable with, rather technical collateral
  • Made it easy to identify relevant SMEs and get help when they needed it

The initiative has been a great success, resulting in several large IMS wins and an expanded pipeline. The company’s IMS revenue is now tracking closely to the market rate—and all for very little external budget. It’s a great example of what happens when marketing, sales, and SMEs join forces.

Do you have a sales or marketing question? Visit Ask ITSMA to access our experience, insight, and research results.

Services Marketing News

For up-to-the-minute services marketing news, follow ITSMA on Twitter: @itsma_b2b.

Upcoming ITSMA Events

Persuading Buyers to Choose You
Web Briefing
November 18, 2014
8:00 am Pacific – 11:00 am Eastern – 16:00 London (Duration: One hour)

The New Architecture of Marketing Talent
Web Briefing
December 9, 2014
8:00 am Pacific – 11:00 am Eastern – 16:00 London (Duration: One hour)

Account Based Marketing Certification Program
December 11–12, 2014
Program day one: 8:00 am–5:00 pm
Program day two: 8:00 am–5:00 pm
The Charles Hotel, Cambridge, MA

To view all events, please see our online events calendar.

Recent ITSMA Thought Leadership

Increasing Engagement and Expansion with Current Accounts

In this web briefing, we explore how marketers are engaging executives within their current accounts to build advocacy and increase business. Drawing on ITSMA research and the experience of leading marketing organizations, we’ll share the breadth of engagement programs currently in practice, along with new thinking on how to deepen current relationships, establish and expand new ones, and ultimately win more business in your current accounts.

ITSMA Online Survey: Marketing to Existing Customers: Engagement, Expansion, and Advocacy

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents say customer engagement is important to business strategy. Although nearly one-third of marketing budgets go toward this goal, 70% of respondents are not satisfied with the results they are achieving. While marketers face a number of obstacles as they improve their customer engagement programs, the success of the high-achievers among survey respondents shows these challenges can be overcome. In this survey report we examine common practice in customer engagement programs, best practice, and the results of both. This report offers recommendations for improving and expanding customer engagement programs to deliver maximum results.

ITSMA’s Framework for Effective Customer Engagement Programs

ITSMA’s Customer Engagement Framework helps you to assess the current performance of your existing customer engagement activities and highlights areas for improvement and further development. With this tool in hand, you can take steps to measurably increase the return on investment of customer engagement—and do so in far less time than relying on trial and error alone.

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