PowerViews with Craig Rosenberg: Growth Hacks & Consumerized B2B Software

Posted by Dan McDade

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on Aug 30, 2012 9:05:00 AM

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My guest today is Craig Rosenberg, Vice President, Sales and Marketing and Co-Founder at Focus. He is also author of a popular sales and marketing blog, Funnelholic, where he shares B2B content with an edge. Craig specializes in lead generation, lead qualification, and B2B marketing and sales.

Below, you can read highlights from our discussion or use the links to start the video from different parts of the conversation.

2012 Trends: Social Marketing Gaining Real Traction & Growth Hacks

Click to start video at this pointAsked about what has or hasn’t surprised him in marketing and sales this year, Craig says he’s seen some great developments. He cites the work of Nick Panayi, Director of Global Brand and Digital Marketing at the large consulting firm, CSC, and how he has created a culture of content marketing: sharing, lead nurturing, and a highly interactive site that’s hugely social and building content on a by-the-second basis. He adds, “That kind of stuff is pretty exciting, because for years it was like, ‘Well, what are we not doing? There are all these things we’ve got to do.’ But actually now a lot of really interesting things are starting to sink in that I think are pretty amazing.”

He also is impressed with the proliferation among start-ups in theSilicon Valleyof growth hacks: “You could define it as this sort of hack or feature that you do from a marketing perspective or from a sales perspective—whatever it is that drives growth. A simple example is a lot of the sites are these consumerized IT products that are being built in the Valley today. You go to their website, and there is a button that says, ‘Download this now.’” He notes Zendesk got 6,000 customers without a sales guy.

Craig adds this is fascinating “because in my experience, we figure out our targets, we go out, we have to get on the phone, and go talk to them. And I still prescribe that 100%. I’m not sure if some of these companies that have grown their user base without sales are real or not.” Craig is researching this and will be posting content on his blog as he wants to understand how these companies in the Valley are building their install base without sales teams.

Social Media: Table Stakes and the Challenges Linking to ROI

Click to start video at this pointRegarding social media, Craig says we should probably be looking at the downside of not doing it instead of looking for ROI right now, and he adds, “It’s table stakes.”

He references a recent meeting at a social media tracking company where his contact discussed the types of companies they target: “We have to find companies where when they run the data to figure out what their ROI on social media, they don’t get bad news.” In this context, the solution works best for ecommerce companies where social media can be directly linked to transactions and revenue positions, a more straightforward ROI scenario than in the B2B complex sale.

Outbound vs. Inbound and the Need for Immediate Proactive Contact

Click to start video at this pointCraig talks about how the outbound marketing vs. inbound marketing debate can be confusing and says the best companies have a mixture of both.

Commenting on strengths and limitations of inbound, he says, “HubSpot and a lot the inbound marketing—we can’t keep up with them. Their ideology is pervasive. I go in and meet with a marketing company, and they say, ‘Well, my boss told me, why can’t you be more like HubSpot?’ You know I love those guys. They’re generating tons of leads. I just don’t know that I could do that. I don’t have time to wait.”

He adds that inbound marketing “takes time, and it takes a lot of effort. Frankly, the results will really be powerful, but they will rarely fill your complete funnel. When you’re building a company, the most important thing is to identify who the target persona is and go out and go talk to them—as many of them as you possibly can.”

Craig talks about the critical role of the phone in connecting with the right prospects as quickly as possible: “I was just reading Aaron Ross’s blog post the other day. He helped build Salesforce.com with an outbound marketing perspective into the mid-market. If you look at all the great companies, there was some function that included the phone—that included the ability to go out and reach the people you had to go talk to. And that’s the big thing for me. It’s like, ‘If you’ve got to go talk to this type of person, are you seriously just going to build content until they come in your store?’ Because you’ll be fired, or you’ll be out of business by the time that these guys come and do that. So for me, it’s let’s figure out who we want to talk to, let’s go talk to them, and let’s create an inbound marketing and content strategy that allows them to continue to interact with us. And that’s the mix that I prescribe today, but, boy, if you’re going to start your business by just doing content and inbound marketing, you’re going to fail.”

He cites the example of a marketing automation company to illustrate how important outbound initiatives are: “Jon Miller from Marketo is one of my favorite writers on lead development. He wrote this manifesto a while back. I use it all the time. I send it to people all the time. He’s definitely got that down to a T. If you asked him, obviously he’s built this inbound marketing machine, but they have targets that they’ve got to go get, and he’s built infrastructure to reach out and go get them. So I think that’s a really good example. It’s funny. When people come and ask me inbound/outbound, I go, ‘Well, look…do you need to go drive revenue? Yes. Do you know who you need to go talk to? Yes. Well, then let’s go talk to them. We’ll figure out the rest later.’ How do you even build content for them until you start talking to them?”

Marketing & Sales Alignment: Encouraging Signs & Continuing Challenges

Click to start video at this pointCraig sees a positive sign of marketing and sales alignment in the presence of inside sales teams: “Most of the times, the bridge is typically facilitated by the fact that you have the phone-based resource that can either reach out to the right person or can go through the leads that come in and make sure that sales is talking to the right person.”

He also is encouraged by hearing that “VPs of sales—when they were being interviewed in the Valley—were asking the CEO what his lead generation strategy was. That’s a good start…that the VP of sales cares about what marketing’s doing and makes that part of their decision on whether they want to join a company.”

But he also notes the ongoing gap between the two teams: “I mean it’s crazy. I live in the marketing side, so I talk to these marketers. And they say, ‘Oh, I’m doing a great job, I’ve got Eloqua.’ Then I go meet their sales guys, and they say, ‘I have no idea what marketing’s doing. I’m also worried that places that think they’re aligned really aren’t. It’s hard.”

In Some Cases: Marketing and Sales Relationship Containment Is OK

Click to start video at this pointCraig also notes that, in some cases, alignment in all areas may not be as important if marketing and sales teams are getting their jobs done. He says, “And in some cases—everyone gets so mad at me when I say this—in some cases, as long as there’s a CEO or a COO or someone to facilitate, sometimes the friction’s OK. It just is.”

He suggests as long as the infrastructure is set up, that maybe we should be talking about sales and marketing relationship containment instead of alignment: “It’s funny. The people we always talk about are the HubSpots and the Marketos and the Eloquas of the world who are driving leads. Well, that’s what they do for a living. They’re marketing-centric organizations. It’s not as realistic in other organizations. But as long as they’re feeding sales good leads and sales is hitting their number, you’re typically seeing some kind of OK-ness. If sales doesn’t care about marketing, but marketing understands what their job is—that they’ve got to get this amount of qualified opportunities—I think we can all live with that. That’s a whole lot of words to say as long as we decide what a qualified lead is that we’ll send to sales, I think everyone can live.”

Alignment Best Practice: Top-Level Adjudicator

Click to start video at this pointIn response to a question about resolving lead quality issues and other disagreements, Craig talks about the importance of having one person in an oversight role: “The key is who oversees everything and can manage all the different people because what typically happens is like the Afghan tribal war lords. Everyone’s going to try to figure out what’s the best thing is for them. And it never really equals the right thing, but if you have this person who can adjudicate and follow and watch and look at this thing from the top to the end, that’s really the sort of best practice that I’ve seen.”

Concluding Thoughts: Consumerized B2B Software & the Resurgence of Field Sales

Click to start video at this pointCraig says he is really intrigued by a lot of what’s happening with tech start-ups getting huge VC valuations. He again mentions Box and Zendesk that are creating essentially consumerized enterprise software by first building an install base of individual users, and then bringing in the sales team.

He elaborates on this trend by explaining, “Before Yammer got bought, they were going to hire 50 field sales reps. I heard Box is going to hire 150, and so you’ve seen this really interesting evolution here where these companies are starting out in the early stages with the founders eating Top Ramen. They’re not ‘not selling.’ They’re actually selling things on their website, and it’s in $19-per-month bites. They’re building up an install base. Then they’re bringing in the guys like us after to come in and go sell. Or in some cases—like the Boxes of the world—there are 30 different people in an organization with their product. And then they’re going to the decision maker and saying ‘You already have 30, let’s go do a license deal.’ That’s just really intriguing to me. I mean like I’m sitting here going that feels like a good deal for a sales and marketing team where people are downloading the product and starting to use it. Then we get to sell them. That’s not a bad call.”

Regarding the proliferation and success of growth hacks mentioned earlier, Craig adds, “There’s a really good blog from Neil Patel. I wish I’d brought it to give him more credit, but he’s with KISSmetrics. They do this thing where they go through growth hacks—six or seven growth hacks of some of these high-growth companies. It’s really interesting for B2B people to go look, including the consumer companies, the Groupons, etc. There’s a lot to learn there, and I’ve really enjoyed studying that.”

And Craig is encouraged by the increased hiring in field sales: “We’ve seen a resurgence of sales rep hiring. These companies are figuring out how to go sell. A lot of people are saying, ‘Well it’s the economy. It’s getting better.’ I don’t think anybody’s going to agree with that. I think people are figuring out that you can’t live off inbound. You’re going to have to build the infrastructure that goes out and has conversations with people.” He adds that he is interested in learning more about companies that “got hot and raised their hundred million—and then they’re going out and building massive sales teams and massive marketing functions. It’s really personal—that question for me. I’m looking into a lot of really interesting trends that are happening particularly with technology companies in the area.”

You can connect with Craig and learn more about his work via the following resources:

Craig Rosenberg


Craig on Twitter: @funnelholic

Craig’s Blog: www.funnelholic.com




The next PowerViews will be with Jill Konrath of SNAP Selling. Stay Tuned.

By Dan McDade 

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Topics: Lead Generation, B2B Marketing, Marketing Strategy, B2B Sales, Demand Generation, Inbound Marketing, PowerViews, Outbound Marketing

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