Key Takeaways from the SiriusDecisions Summit 2018

According to SiriusDecisions’ research, 80 percent of B2B buyers rate customer experience with the brand – either their own or that reported by peers – as the most significant driver of the purchase decision

It was my great pleasure to be part of the SaleScout Data Solutions presence at SiriusDecisions Summit (#SDSummit) this year. It’s really exhilarating to experience 3,000-plus people gathered together with a common goal to learn about current best practices and innovations in B2B sales and marketing. For myself, after spending the past two decades in consumer marketing and sales, I couldn’t help but view the keynotes and sessions through B2C-colored glasses. Along these lines, here are a few observations from the show. 

Brand Experience = Customer Experience

A brief power outage didn’t stop Lisa Nakano and Julie Ogilvie from lighting up the stage with an inspiring keynote that explained why branding, customer engagement, and employee engagement need to be viewed holistically to deliver the best experience for customers – and, yes, customer experience does matter to business buyers.

According to SiriusDecisions’ research, 80 percent of B2B buyers rate customer experience with the brand – either their own or that reported by peers – as the most significant driver of the purchase decision. As Lisa Nakano said, “brand experience and customer experience are two sides of the same coin.  B2C brands have known this for many years, so it’s great to hear that the same realization is taking place in the B2B realm.”

Storytelling Matters

The idea of telling a story to capture consumer interest and create brand loyalty has been part of B2C marketing for a while now. So it was interesting to hear keynote speaker Molly Bloom discuss branding through storytelling for a B2B crowd. Bloom’s story was recently told in the movie “Molly’s Game,” which chronicles how she ended up creating and operating the largest, most exclusive, private poker games in the world.

Bloom’s advice to SD Summit attendees was to avoid direct sales pitches and instead, sell through telling a story. A good product combined with an engaging story will spark interest and lead prospects to your brand – and will set you apart from the competition, as most B2B brands haven’t yet implemented this approach.

From a sales perspective, it’s also important to have a story to tell when speaking with leads. Knowing details about what is happening with a prospect (they’re new to the company) or with the company itself (it just received a round of funding) helps salespeople start a meaningful conversation with the prospect, instead of merely reciting a list of products.

Technology by Itself Is Not Enough

Whether you’re in B2B or B2C, the marketing technology landscape is unbelievably varied and complex – 6,800 solutions from 6,400 providers at last count. It’s not hard to imagine why 85 percent of SD Summit attendees either don’t have a basic tech stack or attended the show to grow their tech stack. There is a huge demand for technology that gives B2B marketing and sales teams an edge.

But, even with the perfect tech stack and a huge spend on Artificial Intelligence to nurture leads through the pipeline, it may not be enough. Even with all that technology, if you’re not responding to the right signals, nurturing the right individuals in the right buying group, and taking the right action, nothing will be effective. Sales intelligence and data quality are still key to sales success.

In their keynote, Erin Bohlin and Laura Cross presented the new SiriusDecisions Buyer Treatment Plan – a three-pronged model for improving lead nurture programs by adapting buyer interactions according to signal, response, and action. Case in point, Snowflake – a cloud-based data-warehousing company – experienced 300 percent net new growth and 72 percent account acceleration by developing a robust tech stack to listen to buying signals at the account, group and individual levels to determine the best response and next best action.

As Peter, one of the visitors to the SaleScout booth, observed, “Everyone in this space is using a fire hose and we’ve got to get more targeted.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.