Dave Fitzgerald, executive VP, Brainshark
Buckle up. Dave Fitzgerald
, executive VP of Brainshark
, is betting that it’s going to be sooner rather than later that inbound marketing starts to trump traditional sales. “I’ve been in the technology business for 25 years and I am absolutely fascinated by, just over the last four years, how much face-to-face time in the sales process has shrunk,” said Fitzgerald, who oversees all of Brainshark’s marketing and service operations. “We regularly do deals for $50,000, $60,000, $100,000 over the phone and there has never been a face-to-face meeting.” He added: “If you thought the last four of five years were scary, relative to sales-and-marketing processes and technologies being reengineered, redeployed and rethought, it’s going to quadruple in the next few years.” Fitzgerald talked with Follow the Lead
about some of the trends facing sales and marketing execs.
FTL: What are some of the way that companies can strike the right balance between automation and the human component in the sales process?
You need to pick the right technologies, put the right processes in place and then provide the proper level of training so that salespeople truly understand, and therefore believe, that it’s not a question of ‘balance,’ it’s a question of the automation helping and supporting them to sell. If the organization is talking about ‘balancing,’ then something is wrong with their strategy.
FTL: With customers demanding more and more content as part of the sales cycle, is there an increasing onus on b-to-b sales execs to work more closely with marketing execs in creating the content?
When we talk about content – whether it’s written or audio-visual – communication is key and the salespeople are right in the middle of it along with the marketing people. They have to work together to sort out what content the salespeople need to be involved with in creating, and what content needs to be created for them by
marketing to support the top of the funnel and generating pipeline…If you carry it to a more advanced setting, there are companies that are deploying communication tools to their salespeople to create on-demand content communications to send to prospective customers and prospects. On-demand content is becoming more and more critical as people become increasingly busy and that’s just one more reason for the need to integrate sales and marketing.
FTL: Do b-to-b organizations need to start taking steps to fully integrate social media into the system in terms of budget and new skill sets?
Yes, but every business is going to have to make a determination
as to how big that budget should be and any budget that they allocate to [social media] they should be doing it with a focus on the ROI. On average, b-to-b companies are still at the early stages of determining which social-media tools they’re going to standardize around.
They need to create policies that address how employees present the company-related content in the online/Internet/social-media world, where all of this stuff is going to live with us forever. But I would say one in ten b-to-b companies have a policy today. If I pick the tools and the policy, I [also] need to develop an infrastructure to educate and train employees.
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