April 6, 2023

Capitalizing B2B BUYING TRENDS

B2B buying trends are changing and the old marketing playbook isn’t working anymore. What does this mean for your marketing strategy? Tune in to today’s episode with the expert marketing execs Jon Miller of Demandbase and Allyson Havener of TrustRadius as we examine the implications of these notable trends and what marketers can do about it.  

The 6 trends we explore:  

  • Buyers want to research anonymously 
  • Buying committees are even larger and more complicated 
  • The buying process is nonlinear and looping 
  • Buyers want to self-serve 
  • Buyers trust 3rd party resources over 1st party resources  
  • Sales has dropped out of the top 5 sources of influence 

What You’ll Learn  

  • How to adapt your marketing strategy to new B2B buying trends 
  • Why self-serve and 3rd party validation are so important now 
  • How to accelerate deal cycles with limited budget 
  • How the Marketing-Sales relationship is changing 

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 339 on YouTube 

Resources Mentioned 


  • [3:59] Jon Miller’s caffeinated writing process  
  • [5:18] The B2B playbook has changed  
  • [8:02] Buyers need to know they have a problem first  
  • [12:10] Marketing & Sales: Not a relay race, but a soccer team  
  • [14:03] Are leads out of date?   
  • [16:38] Anticipating the needs of the entire buying committee  
  • [19:14] Allyson Havener officiated her BFFs wedding   
  • [20:15] TrustRadius’ B2B Buying Disconnect report  
  • [22:48] The self-serve motion  
  • [27:54] Third-party validation  
  • [29:56] The role of sales is changing  
  • [33:37] Jon & Allyson on CMO Huddles   
  • [35:39] Accelerating B2B deal cycles  
  • [38:49] Attribution = running multiple plays at once  
  • [43:15] Must-have vs. nice-to-have  
  • [48:03] Tips to stay ahead of B2B buying trends 

Highlighted Quotes  

“Buyers have gotten indifferent. They don't want another e-book or email. They know they're gonna get unwanted phone calls if they download things.” —@jonmiller @Demandbase Click To Tweet

“Finding these magic moments—the marketing qualified account that's showing intent and buying signals—and reaching out at the right time is a key part of the playbook.” —@jonmiller @Demandbase Click To Tweet 

“The old playbook is so focused on pipeline creation that we're missing out on other opportunities like pipeline acceleration. Once the opportunity is created, marketing shouldn't stop.” —@jonmiller @Demandbase Click To Tweet 

“Always be learning. The world is moving fast and changing. The old playbook isn't working anymore, and we need a new playbook.” —@jonmiller @Demandbase Click To Tweet 

“When we surveyed buyers, the top 3 resources they wanted to find upfront and easily were: pricing, demos, or free trials. Then customer stories, reviews, any kind of validation.” —Allyson Havener @trustradius Click To Tweet 

“If you actually give buyers all the information upfront, you're accelerating that deal cycle and getting more qualified buyers in the pipeline.” —Allyson Havener @trustradius Click To Tweet “Over 70% of buyers said that cold calling makes them less likely to buy from you.” —Allyson Havener @trustradius Click To Tweet

“The role of sales is no longer the gatekeeper of product information. They have to be much more consultative, and they have to sell value.” —Allyson Havener @trustradius Click To Tweet 

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Jon Miller & Allyson Havener


Drew Neisser: Hey, it’s Drew. And I’m guessing that as a podcast listener, you will also enjoy audiobooks. Well in that case, did you know the audio version of Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands, was recently ranked the number one new B2B audio book by Book Authority. Kind of cool, right? Anyway, you can find my book on Audible or your favorite audio book platform.

And speaking of audio before we get into today’s show, I do want to do a shout out to the professionals that Share Your Genius. We started working with them several months ago to make this show even better, and have been blown away by their strategic and executional prowess. If you’re thinking about starting a podcast or want to turbocharge your current show, be sure to talk to Rachel Downey at shareyourgenius.com and tell her Drew sent you.

Okay, let’s get on with today’s episode.

Narrator: Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, possibly the best weekly podcast for CMOs and everyone else looking for innovative ways to transform their brand, drive demand, and just plain cut through. Proving that B2B does not mean boring to business. Here’s your host and Chief Marketing Renegade Drew Neisser.

Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Marketers! Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite the top rated podcast for B2B CMOs and other marketing-obsessed individuals.

You’re about to listen to a recording of CMO Huddle Studio, our live show featuring the CMOS of CMO Huddles, a community that sharing caring and daring each other to greatness every day of the week.

This time we’ve got a fascinating conversation all about B2B Buying trends with Jon Miller of Demandbase and Allyson Havener of TrustRadius. Let’s dive in.

I’m your host Drew Neisser live from NYC. Would you all mind if I got something off my chest? About once a week I see an agency person or a B2C CMO pronounce on social media some variation of, “there is no B2B or B2C, only B2H” as in Business to Human. This is supposed to be a revelation, a clarion call if you will, for B2B marketers to wake up and start acting more like B2C marketers. It’s not a revelation. It’s in fact, pure speculation. It simply doesn’t reflect the reality of buying committees, lengthy sales cycles and months-long proof of concepts implementations.  I’d like just one of these B2C CMOs to step into a B2B role using the exact same playbook and prove me wrong. Until then, let’s embrace the differences and better yet, focus on the trends that are effecting B2B marketers right now. To help us do that, we have two amazing CMOs.

First up is Jon Miller, CMO of Demandbase and star of episode 25 of the predecessor of this show, Renegade Marketers Live. Hello, Jon, how are you?

Jon Miller: Hello, hello! Live from Burlingame, California.

Drew Neisser: Awesome. And I don’t mean to diss on B2C, I love B2C. And I do think there are things that perhaps that B2B marketers can learn, but can we just get over that and acknowledge the differences and how profound they are.

Jon Miller: I agree, 100%. Something I don’t talk about a ton, my wife has a B2C business. And  I tried to help her with the marketing and honestly, like, sometimes I’m at a loss. My B2B skills don’t necessarily apply to her world and vice versa. So I agree 100%.

Drew Neisser: All right. Okay. Well, you’ve written several ebooks. And it’s known that some famous writers have some weird practices to get in the writing mood. Agatha Christie ate apples in the bathtub. Dan Brown has been known to hang upside down. Is there a certain tradition or routine that you go through to get into the writing process?

Jon Miller: Gosh, I wish I had a story quite as interesting as one of those. I’ll tell you my process. It starts with research. I’ll create a document and dump notes into it from anything that I can find. And that’s a pretty lengthy process. You know, I really end up with a lot of research.

And then I apply synthesis. If somebody asked me, What is my number one superpower? I would say it’s synthesis. I started to take all this information and synthesize it down into something. And then caffeine kicks in. I actually don’t normally drink very much caffeine. And if you see me sipping coffee today I’m drinking decaf. When I’m sitting down and writing, that little injection of caffeine is where the magic happens.

Drew Neisser: Amazing. Okay. All right, you can definitely catch Jon’s appearance on episode 25. We’re going to share the links in the show notes.

So we did this demo Huddle back in October, 2022 and you identified these three buying trends all pointing to a more complicated buying process. Buyers want to research anonymously, buying committees are larger and more complicated, and the buying process is nonlinear and looping. First of all, are these relevant trends that you’re advising clients to focus on? And/or have things changed?

Jon Miller: I think they’re still really relevant. I mean, I think what’s really going on—I mean, you talk to CMOs, I talked to go-to-market executives all the time. I think the fundamental trend feels like it’s hard out there today. And it feels like no matter what I do, it just isn’t working as well as it used to work. There’s almost a B2B playbook I think that companies are following. And in some ways, I think I helped write that playbook back in my days at Marketo.

And what I’m seeing in my business and our customers businesses—and I talked to CMOs—is that that playbook just doesn’t work as well as it used to. I think buyers have gotten indifferent. They just don’t want another ebook to be honest. They don’t want that other email. They know they’re gonna get unwanted phone calls if they download things. They’re scrambling and looking for that new playbook.

Drew Neisser: It’s a real question. This is like a pivotal moment, because is it a question of a playbook per se? And maybe it is. Or is it a question of they’re just putting off purchase decisions. Because unless you can prove that you are either going to have a quick ROI or that it’s going to change someone’s life overnight, then they’re just saying, “You know, this is nice to have, but not need to have.” And so it’s less about a playbook and more about the reality of buyers pockets booked.

Jon Miller: I’m not gonna say the economy doesn’t matter here. I mean, you know, it does. But I think that this feeling of… Gosh, it’s just not working as well anymore. I actually think that predated the budget cuts that we’re seeing now. And the other part is, budgets are down 15-20%, that still means there’s a lot of purchasing happening. And so I don’t want to blame that this, gosh, it’s hard, on just the economy. I really do think it’s a more fundamental change in buying that requires a change in how we market and sell.

Drew Neisser: Okay, so let’s go through these 3 big trends and go through them one at a time with the lens of thinking about it differently on what might be broken. So buyers want to research anonymously. And let’s talk about that journey that those folks are going and do we have to look at that journey differently and how you interact with them?

Jon Miller: I think what we fundamentally need, as we start to think about the highlight of this new, smarter playbook that ties to this anonymous buying trend is something that that… Let’s break it down by the buyers journey, right? Some of those are simple: awareness, consideration, decision, right?

So in that awareness stage, these are the buyers who don’t even know they have a problem yet, right? If you start emailing those people or calling them, you’re gonna hit a stone wall. These people don’t know to even come to your website to download your ebook, right? So we have to start with, how do we try to help these anonymous buyers who aren’t even aware they have a problem to become aware that their problem exists. And ideally aware of who our company. So that way, there’s some trust built as they start to move to the next phase.

Drew Neisser: I think some of that depends on where you are from a market share standpoint. Are you having to sell the problem or can you just sell the solution to the problem that people are doing. And I suspect it’s the maturity of the category and also where you are.

But understanding the problem is a whole different communication mechanism than say, “Buy us because we’re the best at solving this problem.”

Jon Miller: Totally. And I think this is where the old playbook/my Marketo playbook falls down, right? We’ve gotten so good at demand capture with the traditional playbook that we sort of lost the art of actual true demand creation. And fundamentally, we’re talking about emotion versus logic here. The traditional playbook is really about trying to connect to somebody with their brain and all that. And what we need is more of that stuff that’s hitting the reptilian brain. You know, creating some fear or some want to help people say, “Hey, maybe I do have a problem and something needs to change. And here’s maybe a company that I should trust.” And so it’s something we marketers have not been very good at in last few years and I think it needs to change.

There is a point where the buyer is going to move into the awareness stage. From awareness into the consideration stage, which is now where they understand they have a problem, and they’re going to start thinking about solutions, right? This is where our job is to identify that moment, right? Because that’s actually now where there’s an openness to us potentially reaching out to moving from that emotion to logic. Ideally, we created some foundation of trust in our brands so they’re a little more receptive to when we reach out. But finding these magic moments—what I call the marketing qualified account, that’s showing intent and buying signals. And then reaching out at the right time, is the next key part of the playbook.

And then the last part of the playbook, which we’ll talk about in a minute, I think, is a different relationship between marketing and sales as you enter into that decision phase, where they’re now actually choosing and evaluating solutions.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, and it’s funny, I’m now going back to our conversation 11 years ago, or so, when you were at Marketo. And it was so much about, in some ways, at that time, we were just talking about you were serving up people that were so ready to buy to sales, you could actually pay sales less was all about at that moment, it was a demand creation through content, demand capture through through the visit.

Okay, and let’s just stay on that topic of thinking about the challenge of marketing and sales. What are we trending here? Because sales guys are frustrated, because they’re not closing as many deals. And they’re looking at marketing and saying, What the deals aren’t very good?

Jon Miller: All in the old playbook, right? That handoff between marketing and sales is the leads, right? And it’s kind of like a baton pass and a relay race. And classically what sales is going to do, right? They’re going to say, “Hey, the leads aren’t good enough.” Usually you get there not good enough more than you get there’s not enough. Because if there’s not enough marketing, we’ll just start sending over more bad stuff.

And again, what’s going on? Why are the leads, quote unquote, not good enough? I think it has a lot to do with following the old traditional playbook, right? Where you’re just trying to quote unquote, capture that demand, using the ebook and all that kind of thing. And those aren’t buying signals, right? Just because someone downloaded your book or attended your webinar doesn’t mean they’re buying signals. So don’t pass that over to sales and say, “Hey, here’s an MQL.”

What needs to happen is a fundamental change in how marketing and sales work and work together, right? I’ve written about this a bunch online, it’s not a relay race, it’s a soccer team or a football team. Where you’re all on the field at the same time. Sure, you’re playing different positions, but you’re on the field at the same time, and you’re passing that ball back and forth in a very orchestrated way. And to make that work, you need really good communication, you need good teamwork. And what enables really good communication is sharing account intelligence. Making sure that the sales team knows when something is happening at the account, when those buying signals are happening, when intent is being shown, and so on. And, frankly, sales tellling marketing what’s happening at the account.

Drew Neisser: We have a question from Eric Choi, is the concept of SQL basically out of date?

Jon Miller: A lot of people would say yes. The traditional SQL or whatever is kind of out of date. Now, some nuances to that, for a lot of companies, the SQL means a meeting. And a meeting is still a really relevant metric. And particularly because the meeting happens with a buying group at an account, typically not kind of that one single person.

So more generally, I think what you’re asking is are leads out of date? And I would argue if you are a high velocity, low value business or a low ACV business leads still work. And they worked for me in the early days of Marketo with a relatively low price point. But if you start selling something that’s more than $50,000 a year, yeah, you need to be thinking about buying committees and accounts and you need to be thinking about sales and marketing working together much more like a soccer team or a football team than a relay race.

Drew Neisser: So here’s the question—I’m thinking about the soccer team metaphor—is the distinction between sales and marketing, just so old school and artificial. Because we’ve talked about this in Huddles where marketing’s role never stops, right? You get the meeting, you have the buying committee, now those buying committee are continuing to do research, you’re monitoring that researcher—oh, there may be another thing, you may actually think of something from a marketing standpoint that you could put in front of them that could really help, right? So if marketing’s job never stops, what is sales doing that marketing isn’t doing?  (other than going to a meeting.)

Jon Miller: No. And sales should also be involved before. If you’re trying to get an executive to show up at a dinner, right, they’re not going to show up because they got an HTML email for marketing, they’re gonna show up because the human invites them. So my point is marketing and sales are working together at every stage. But there are still different roles and positions.

Let’s talk about American football, right? You have your linemen and you have your wide receivers. They’re all on the same team and they’re working together. But they’re still doing very different things. And to make the team work, you need all the people doing their very unique special things, but in an orchestrated way. So I’m not saying sales or marketing goes away any more than I would say you don’t need all these different players on a team, right? What I’m saying is they have to work together with more teamwork.

Drew Neisser: Okay, so a trend that we skipped a little bit. We talked about buying committees, and to me this is probably the biggest difference between a B2B and B2C play is that there are, you know, Gartner has been estimating 14 people, but even if it’s only 8, there are a lot of people and I think it tends when there’s a recession, there’s more people on the committee, because frankly, nobody wants to be the guy who made the decision to buy the $100,000 software. So lots of people are involved. How do you then anticipate the needs? Is that part of the solution is anticipating the needs? But how do you make sure when you’re just dealing with buying committees that we’re addressing those?

Jon Miller: Well, first off, I don’t want to say it’s easy. You know, it’s another fundamental problem with the old playbook, right? Which was we didn’t really think about buying committees first and foremost.

Alright, how do we make this hard thing a little bit easier? First step is just you got to be able to identify who are the members of the buying committee. And you need to be able to, frankly, if you don’t have the right people in your database, you got to build that out over time.

I will say intent data can be a pretty useful tool here. Because different members of the buying committee tend to use different kinds of keywords and tend to research different kinds of articles based upon their unique needs. That helps you even in your advertising message to different members of the buying committee appropriately based upon the types of intent that they show. So it’s a little more complicated than one size fits all message. You’ve got to do a little more segmentation.

Drew Neisser: More segmentation and more insight, right? Because if you’re communicating with the CFO, or a CIO or CSO or whatever, they’re really coming from different places.

So anyway, we can get into this. Keep going, but I want to welcome Allyson Havener, the VP of marketing of TrustRadius, and star of episode 27 and 42 of Renegade Marketers Live. Hello, Allyson. Wonderful to see you again.

Allyson Havener: Hi, Drew. How’s it going?

Drew Neisser: Fine. Thank you. So how are you and where are you?

Allyson Havener: I’m doing well. I’m in Austin, Texas. We just had our field kickoff this week. So I’m coming to you live from a hotel lobby.

Drew Neisser: Very cool. Well, that’s funny, the sales kickoff. That’s sort of what Jon and I were talking about bringing together a collaboration.

But before we get into the trends, we learned from previous live shows that you once taught dance in Abu Dhabi, and were a master ice cream maker in your youth. I have to ask, what’s a fun fact that may surprise us about you now we already know those two.

Allyson Havener: I know. I think that’s the only interesting things I do. Actually one funny thing I was thinking about it, I just officiated my best friend’s wedding. That was really fun. And just a really great experience. Officiating a wedding is much more difficult than actually being in the wedding. So it was a great experience and really excited for my friend. And I actually introduced her to her husband so it all came full circle.

Drew Neisser: Oh, that’s amazing. It’s such a great story. It’s funny because our daughter got married. Last summer, and the gentleman who was the efficient was the guy who introduced my son in law to my daughter. So it was great. It was fun. It’s such a personal thing when that happens. So that’s very, very cool.

So all right. On the demo, Huddle, your CEO, Vinay identified these 3 B2B Buying trends: buyers want to self serve—I want to go into a little bit more—buyers trust third party resources over first party resources—makes sense—and sales has dropped out of the top 5 sources of influence. Which Jon and I were talking about it and I was wondering, so what’s sales really doing? First of all, are those 3 trends still relevant? It’s only a few months later, but is anything changed with those?

Allyson Havener: They’re still very, very relevant. And I think what you and Jon were just talking about is, like, this playbook is changing. And so we do this research report every year called “The B2B Buying Disconnect.” And essentially, what it does is we survey over 3000 buyers that come to TrustRadius, that are doing research. And we want to understand, what do they want? And what is the disconnect between what they want and how they want to interact with a brand or seller or vendor,?>and the way a vendor goes to market.

And I think those 3 trends are super, super relevant. And they’re only becoming not a trend, but it’s really the reality that we’re living in. However, what we’re seeing is that the go-to-market team is not necessarily adapting to that—or maybe not adapting fast enough. And so I think what you’re seeing also is okay, that that disconnect is happening. And what you and Jon, were talking about the old tactics, or the old playbook isn’t working. And because buyers intrinsically want to buy differently. And what you’re also saying, you know, you were kind of talking about this B2C versus B2B, but they’re consumers at the end of the day, right? And so there’s buying committees, there’s definitely nuances, and there’s differences to that. But what you’re seeing is that as a consumer, you want information upfront, easy to find, you want to do it on your own, you don’t want to have to deal with sales to get pricing to get a demo, right? They’re not the gatekeepers anymore of information. And people you know, especially as more millennials and Gen Z’s come into the buying committee and places of leadership, they’re digital natives, right? And so they’re used to finding all this information easily, right? They’re talking to their friends as part of their buying habits that are only transcending into B2B now.

Drew Neisser: Okay, let’s talk a little bit about the self serve motion. Because I totally agree that we as humans, have become very good at intermediating, anywhere we can, if we can go to website and buy our ticket, or whatever it is, we will do it. It’s still, I think, a very different process than—because if I go and say, “Hey, I’m gonna make a quick trip to California.” I could just do that. I don’t have to ask anybody. That’s the difference. As a consumer, I can just get out my credit card. That’s not the way it works with most business to business, right? I could do my homework, but I still gotta get the CFO and the CEO. And that’s all sorts of other folks. And that’s, to me, where it breaks off.

But focus on the self serve for a moment. Given—and I want to add the complexity layer of self serve plus buying committee and how does that play out?

Allyson Havener: Right, so when we talk about self serve, it goes back to being able to find information that you need when you’re making that shortlist, right? And so when we surveyed buyers, the top 3 resources that they wanted to find up front and easily is pricing, demos, or free trials—or signing up for a free trial easily—and then customer stories, reviews, anything that’s kind of like that, that validation. Because I think in a market today technology—especially in software—markets are oversaturated, it’s really hard to differentiate, everyone’s messaging are sounding the same. And buyers are skeptical. So they’re not going to just go to your website and believe everything that’s on there. They’re going to be validating that.

And so I think with self service, the brands that are giving that information up front, they’re actually building trust with the buyer, because they’re not gatekeeping important information. I think that the engagement with cells is so super, super important. That role is evolving as well. And again, I think they’re not that gatekeeper of information.

The other thing that we’re seeing with self service is like I said, that validation. And so we see at TrustRadius people are still buying software, people are still researching, we see that. But what we’ve also seen is that when vendors added pricing, their click through rates increase quite a bit, because the buyers are getting the information, they’re building that trust, and then they want to get in touch with them. So the more information that they’re actually putting on their product profile, the higher click through rates that they’re seeing that they actually want to get in touch with sales. And so I think that’s the validation that, again, buyers want this self serve, and they want this information upfront.

Drew Neisser: And so, to clarify, this is someone going to TrustRadius, evaluating, reading a a write up about a piece of software, and at that moment, the pricing information is right there. And when it is there, you get more clicks than when it is not.

Allyson Havener: Exactly.

Drew Neisser: You know, what’s wonderful about what you have is there’s got to be a laboratory for almost everything. In a sense, if you add it, like I’m imagining, you can add a demo click. By the way, there is no category for B2B CMO communities on TrustRadius. If there was, CMO Huddles would be there tomorrow. And we would put pricing—demos are a little tricky, but maybe we could put free trial, and we certainly could put reviews—but I’m curious, this gives you a chance to test and advise, right?

Allyson Havener: Right.

Drew Neisser: So other than pricing, is it links to demos? Is that another thing to add?

Allyson Havener: So we actually just added this partner that does interactive demos. So you can have all your interactive demos on your actual product page, they can start to see more of the product. And it’s that hands on experience that they’re trying to understand. And so that’s super important.

We also just partnered with somebody that does security documentation. So that’s another—if you think about security documentation and legal—and anybody in sales, is like cringing right now. Because there’s nothing that can stop a deal faster than security information and a legal team. If you can provide that legal documentation and your posture up front, that also helps, right?

And it’s all about accelerating the deal cycle. You and Jon were talking about buying cycles are getting longer and more arduous. But, again, if you give all this information upfront, you’re gonna get more qualified buyers that are thinking:

Okay, great. This is fitting in my budget.

Great, there’s people that are like me at a same size company, same role that are buying this and they love it.

Oh, great. All their security documentation.

Oh, I did a demo.

If you think about it, you’re accelerating that deal cycle and you’re making it easier for them. And so I think that that’s really important when you’re thinking about your strategy, as a marketer, as a sales team, is that if you actually give buyers all that information up front, you’re accelerating that deal cycle and getting more qualified buyers in the pipeline.

Drew Neisser: Well, what’s interesting is about the stage—so Jon and I were talking about one of the big challenges is that first stage before they even get to TrustRadius they have to have an inspiration. They have to identify a problem and then go start to look at the solution, which is where you come in. I would imagine—and this is a guess—that your business should be really healthy in the sense that because it’s so hard to find people who are in the buying mode right now that these folks are probably more likely to buy than folks that don’t check out 3rd party sites, right? Because they’re serious.

Allyson Havener: Right, exactly. They’re ready to make that purchase decision. And they’re creating that shortlist. And so you need to be—And this is for wherever your buyers are, right? TrustRadius is just one destination. They’re in forums, they’re on social, it’s wherever those eyeballs are, and you want to be capturing that. And I totally agree with you, I think that a balance is creating demand and setting that problem. And I think even with like our marketing. And one thing that I’ve always done is when you think about creating demand is like you want to find either like these macro trends that are happening in the market that you can tie yourself to.

At my previous company, I was at a company called LiveRamp. And we worked in kind of the data onboarding digital advertising space. And a big concern was privacy. GDPR, CCPA, and all this was coming out and we were like, “We need to be a thought leader. Because there’s this problem that’s happening. And we want to be associated with it. We want to be a thought leader so when people think of like, okay, how am I going to solve for GDPR? Or how am I going to solve for CCPA? Our brand comes to mind.”

So you’re creating this demand, you’re associating yourself with this problem, this macro trend that’s happening in the market, and then you couple that with being able to capture that demand. That’s super, super powerful. So I totally agree with like that balance. Like you can’t just be thinking about how I’m capturing it. If you’re not creating it in the first place and you’re not associating your brand with that problem.

Drew Neisser: Okay, we’ve got the recognition that 3rd party resources, buyers trust these sites. And they’re really in the moment that says like, this is a good time.

I’m curious about this last fact about sales has dropped out of the top 5 sources of influence. And look, I gotta tell you, I’m getting hounded by lots of salespeople who are calling me, “Hey, we want to help you with your hiring.” Some of them are current companies that we work with that, like purchase a payroll company, and they just don’t stop calling. And it’s annoying. I don’t want to talk to them. So what are the implications of this? Because if buyers like me and you don’t want to talk to salespeople, what’s the solution here?

Allyson Havener: So what we’ve seen over time, right, so we’ve done this report for 6 years now. When sales drops out, you understand this, because then the other trend that we saw is that over 70% of buyers said cold calling makes them less likely to buy from you.

Drew Neisser: It’s a negative, it’s not just, “Don’t call me.” It’s, “I’m never going to buy from you.”

Allyson Havener: I’m less likely to buy from you, right? And again, I think that goes back to kind of like the creating of a demand, where if I don’t even know, I have a problem, and you’re reaching out to me, and you’re saying, “Hey, I can solve this.” You know, that’s not relevant to me. And that’s not what I’m in the market for. And that’s why that that balance is so important from a marketing standpoint, and just like, overall, your go to market team is that you’re creating that problem, you’re associating your brand with that. So you’re intrinsically creating that association.

So with sales, I think a couple things are happening. And you guys touched upon it, like intent data, right? And that orchestration, and knowing more about the account, and reaching out with them. And I think the right message, right time, totally makes sense. But it’s also a trusted message. I think that if you’re getting—you know—I dodged calls all day, I get emails all day, sometimes I just, I feel like I come back from vacation one time and I just put all my email on open. I was like, “If people really need to get a hold of me, they’ll get a hold of me.” But most of these are just sales emails anyways.

I think when you’re reaching out, there’s actually some kind of buyer intent. And then you’re using your customer voice or these proof points, to actually validate your claims that you’re making. Because nobody likes to get sold to, right? And so I think the other piece of it is has to be coupled with value selling. When you think about budgets are tighter, you’re not just selling to whoever your target buyer is you’re selling to the CFO, right? So I think about the role of sales is no longer the gatekeeper of product information. They have to be much more consultative and kind of experts. And they have to sell value. They have to sell that ROI. Because otherwise, that CFO is going to see—especially when you guys are talking about enterprise software, we’re getting up into that, like 100,000 or more, that CFO is looking at it and being like, “Okay, what’s the ROI on this?”

Drew Neisser: Yeah, I want to just put a pin on one thing. You mentioned that you did your survey, this is the 6th year in the row. And for all of you out there who are thinking about doing market research, consider that fact and look at your research studies. And how many have you done 6 years in a row? The value is compounding. And every year it gets more. You don’t get less PR you get more PR. Your salespeople can use it more because you’ve tracked trends. So kudos to you 6 years running. Nicely done.

Okay. It’s time for me to talk about CMO Huddles.

Launched in 2020, CMO Huddles is an exclusive community of over 100 highly effective B2B CMOs who share, care, and dare each other to greatness.  One CMO described huddles as a cross between an executive workshop and therapy session. And given how hard things are getting out there, who doesn’t need a little reassurance they’re not alone. Everything about CMO Huddles is designed to be a force multiplier, helping you to make faster, better, and more informed decisions.  Since no CMO can outwork this crazy  job, CMO Huddles is here to help you outsmart it.

Alright, let’s bring Jon and Allyson back. So my question for you both is, are you on the therapy side or the executive workshop side?

Jon Miller: I would say, for me, more of the workshop side. I love connecting with and sharing ideas with other CMOs. I think for me, specifically, the most valuable thing has been really helping me to keep my pulse on what CMOs are thinking and talking about, which helps me write better blog posts and things like that.

Drew Neisser: That’s amazing. I love that. Allyson?

Allyson Havener: I think I’m on the therapy side, I—maybe both, it kind of depends on the week. But I really like collaborating with other people. And like Jon said, hearing what other people are doing. But also sometimes it’s lonely on the marketing side of the house. And especially TrustRadius we’re fully remote. So it’s great to talk to other marketers, talk shop with them. And yeah, it’s been such an enjoyable experience.

Drew Neisser: I love it and appreciate both of your comments. And I appreciate both of your participation so much. CMO Huddles is better because you’re part of it.

Okay. So if you’re a B2B CMO can share, care, and dare with the best of them, do me a favor and check out cmohuddles.com.

All right, we are back. Let’s talk about the buying cycles are getting longer. And what are we doing? I mean, I’ve talked about and written a lot about this notion of a couple of things. One, an idea called speed to hero. And the idea of not being speed of return on ROI. But how quickly can you make me the primary buyer look good in the company? What are we going to do, because if if the buying cycles are getting longer, is there anything we can do to accelerate and help the folks that are listening, think about or try to accelerate their deal cycle? Let’s start with Jon.

Jon Miller: I think this is another problem with the old playbook, right? The old playbook is so focused only on pipeline creation, that, you know, we’re missing out on these other opportunities to do things like pipeline acceleration. And it’s exactly like we said, even once the opportunity is created, marketing shouldn’t stop. Just like for the wide receivers still put blocks out to help the person who’s carrying the ball. Advertising can be a really effective way to make sure you’re speaking to every member of the buying community, even the ones that the sales rep isn’t speaking to, at any given point in time.

We’ve seen increases in deal velocity and win rates with campaigns that marketers run, you know, even to open opportunities in the buying cycle. The other quick strategy, you know, I’ve always been a big fan of what I call stand ups, where you get a sales rep and a marketer just talking about their accounts on a regular basis. You can do that for your open opportunities and find all sorts of amazing creative ways to unstick deals and connect to new members of the buying community. And it just involves getting marketing sales talking together about accounts.

Drew Neisser: And I’m curious because I can imagine those meetings, but both of you have a number of people on your team. And you got one salesperson who’s assigned to this particular account, who’s the marketing person that does that? I mean, is there a new title that we’re going to call deal acceleration marketer?

Jon Miller: For us, we just call them our revenue marketers. And we don’t have a separate ABM team or demand gen team, we don’t have a separate field marketing team. What we do is we have marketers that are aligned to our sales groups. So we have an enterprise group, we have a mid market group, and we have an immediate group. And it’s those marketers that are doing their stand ups with their sales counterparts.

Drew Neisser: Got it. So in theory, they’re experts, at least whether it’s a region or it’s a business size. Allyson, what about you?

Allyson Havener: We actually just call it integrated marketing. So I’m constantly just thinking about full funnel marketing. I don’t even break it out in like demand gen. It’s just integrated marketing. And so we’re thinking about the entire lifecycle, and into that opportunity. So it’s not done when pipeline is created, it’s not done when it’s closed one, right, there’s still your customer, you still want to make sure that they see that ROI. They’re retaining them, you’re expanding them, you’re turning them into advocates. So I just really think about it from an integrated marketing standpoint.

Drew Neisser: So one of the things that I’ve seen is that the salesperson doesn’t know my business. They really don’t. They’re getting paid to close the deal. And they haven’t done their homework, and they don’t know the business. It’s one of the reasons that I want to talk to salespeople. So I’m wondering, how that marketer knows that business any better. And then the salesperson and if you have the stand up, Jon, and we have somebody doesn’t know the client very well or the industry very well and you have a salesperson who’s doesn’t know the thing. How are we going to make progress there?

Jon Miller: That would be a problem if nobody knows anything. I’m gonna stick with my football analogy here. Your standup is your Huddle before you run the play. In a perfect world, the sales reps the quarterback, who’s ultimately saying, “Here’s what we’re gonna do, we need to connect with that person and get them to go to this dinner.” Or something… But whatever it is. And I think marketing’s job is to bring the playbook. Say, “Well, here are the things we can do.” And then also to help execute those. And this way you also get into like one to one and one to few, right? This is really a target account and you’ve decided to put extra resources onto it, you probably have done some of that research into the company or the industry. But even if it’s not one of those target accounts, I think the stand up strategy can still work to accelerate deals.

Drew Neisser: And just as funny as I was thinking about this, it’s a perfect example of a great use of chat GPT and AI is that it’s so easy to put a dossier together on individuals or companies these days with quick things that they’re facing,

Jon as you’re talking about playbook, I have this vision of the quarterback who flips up the little thing on us. He’s got 100 plays right there, each with the code, and he’s looking at the defense and making an audible at the last minute because they shifted, and I don’t think marketers have 100 plays in their playbook. That’s part one..

Jon Miller: They probably have five. An executive one to one reach out, a customized direct mail package, an invitation to a dinner, an offer for a trial or a competitive buyout… That was off the top of my head in 10 seconds, right? Give me 10 minutes with my team, we could probably come up with another 10 good ones.

Drew Neisser: But that’s you. You founded two companies, you’re into this thing. Drop it down two levels, are the people on your team able to do that?

Jon Miller: Again, some of this isn’t rocket science, direct mail, executive outreach, a dinner…

Drew Neisser: Okay, so those are right, those are sort of next steps in the process.

Jon Miller: And advertising campaign to the buying committee.

Drew Neisser: Are you able to get smarter about this to, “Hey, we tried 3 dinners with this type of prospect. It didn’t really work.” I mean, how are you getting smarter about those 5 plays on the playbook? I mean, in football, you get real, immediate feedback. That run up the middle did not work.

Jon Miller: Without going down a rabbit hole about my views on attribution. I think you know if it works, right? The rep tells you, “We had that dinner, the deal got unstuck.” Great, let’s do more of that.

Allyson Havener: And it’s never just one thing, right? I think there’s no silver bullet here. And so I think as a marketer, you might run all 5 plays. Like a football team, you can run multiple plays at one time. And I think even backing up before, it’s like, this is why product marketing is so important. Because if you think about it, if you don’t really have that market intelligence, you don’t have that competitive intelligence, that positioning that messaging, then it makes those plays less effective downstream, if you’re not really good at defining your ICP. So all of that initial work that you do at the beginning to actually make sure you’re going after the right accounts that are actually going to convert, and you actually have done that pre work, if you will, that makes when you get down to that actual sales conversation—if you even get to that sales conversation—that much harder. So I think there’s also a lot of work done on the product marketing side, that’s super important. That sets you up for success downstream.

Drew Neisser: It’s funny when you talk about not knowing which one thing we had a very funny conversation in a Huddle where they said, “Well, in the sales meeting where they had the dinner, was it the drink, or the chocolate mousse to close the deal?” So you know, it’s almost laughable. But that’s the kind of attribution challenge.

Jon Miller: Geat analogy, I love that one.

Drew Neisser: Budgets are getting tighter. That’s a reality. Look, my guess is about somewhere between 60% and 75% of the Huddlers are looking at 10-25% cuts in their budget, and that has a ripple effect. So what advice do you have for these folks? And then I want to think in the context of Jon, we’ve got problem creation, we’ve got getting them to—at least—to a qualified lead. And then there’s deal acceleration. What do they need to be thinking about in terms of what is ‘must have’ versus ‘nice to have’ from a marketing standpoint right now? Allyson, you want to start with that one?

Allyson Havener: Yeah, I think this goes back to what we were talking about earlier, when you’re actually in the deal cycle and you’re selling that value. And you have to start with ROI.That has to be essentially your success plan that your customer success team is implementing. And so I think people, like I said, you’re selling to the CFO at this point. And so I think it’s super important when you’re having this conversation—you’re seeing this actually a lot like, “Oh, an ROI calculator, if you put in these inputs, this is how much ROI you can expect.” And I think people are trying to do that more upfront. And then they’re going to validate that with their customer stories, their customer case studies, all of that. And that’s going to be so important because people are super skeptical. They know that they’re still going to buy software. They’re still going to buy whatever, but they want to make sure that they’re going to get the ROI out of that. And then they want to make sure that other people have also seen that ROI, right? They’re not going to just take that at face value.

So I think when you couple that together and then you have a customer success team that’s like, “Okay, great. Here’s what we said we’re going to deliver. These are the things that we’re going to do: we’re going to make you successful, we’re going to realize this ROI.” And that’s kind of like your, like I said, like that success plan. That’s how the sales cycle, I feel like it’s going to work going forward. And they’re just going to want that kind of information upfront.

Drew Neisser: So I’m going to take a conclusion out of that, that may or may not be valid, but there are plenty of it. And I’m thinking about Huddles, of the 100. Companies, they’re very few that actually target CFOs. Specifically, in fact, I can only think of maybe two, which means 90 plus 100 plus of them are targeting some other person who will get value out of whatever the company is selling. But the CFO in this case in time is going to be the ultimate decider. And so if you don’t have an ROI calculator, if you can’t point to business value, you’re kind of dead in the water. And so I guess that would help explain why that. And I think it’s not just ROI. But it’s how long does that take? as well? Because ROI is great, but not if it’s 18 months from now, which is so much. Okay. Jon, you want to add to that?

Jon Miller: Yeah, I’ll make it brief. Two quick things. The first one is at Demandbase, we actually made this very intentional thing. Something called “Project Vital,” where we went to our customers and got in their words in their language, why is this a must have. And then we really tried to synthesize that and distill that down into messaging for our marketing and our go-to-market.

The other thing, quick point I would throw out there is actually from one of my old Marketo and engage investors, tahini Nam from Storm Ventures. He’s been talking a lot about the importance of not just having what he calls the date wow from the marry wow! Yeah, which is the marry wow, is the thing that makes the customer fall in love with this, and you have to have it. But you can’t get to that if you can’t get past the first demo. And that you also need what he calls the date wow. Which is often different. And it’s the thing that’s going to just make that first gatekeeper, so excited that they have to move forward. So encourage people to think about all the pieces of that process.

Drew Neisser: Oh, God, I love that. That metaphor. Yeah, I’ll have to share that with my wife definitely. Date Well, marry well. But yeah, it makes a lot of sense. And again, it speaks to this process that goes along.

Okay, well, as we always do on this show, we just randomly—not completely randomly because I do believe that Ben Franklin was America’s first Chief Marketing Officer. And he had the most difficult marketing challenge ever, which is to sell a revolution to a king. Having said that, what would Ben say? He would say, “Speak not, but what may benefit others or yourself, avoid trifling conversation.” And if there’s one takeaway from this show, it is about making sure that you are delivering value to your customers and prospects through all of your marketing.

Alright, with that, let’s start with Allyson, final words of wisdom for CMOs regarding B2B Buying trends. What advice do you have for them looking to stay ahead of the curve?

Allyson Havener: Yeah, so I think it goes back to what we were talking about earlier, it’s give buyers what they want. If they want product information, make sure that’s readily available. That will help build trust. And partner with your sales team. In terms of making sure that they’re driving value, they’re selling value, and work with your customer success team. Be a partner through that entire lifecycle.

Drew Neisser: I love it. Yeah, there is no handoff anymore. That is a key message. If you have one takeaway, no handoff, your job does not end. It doesn’t even end when the deal is closed, because you’re now getting into customer marketing and we need your testimonials.

Okay, Jon, final words of wisdom.

Jon Miller: Always be learning. I mean, the world is moving fast. It’s changing. As I’ve said, the old playbook isn’t working anymore. And we need a new playbook. So always be learning. And as part of that, you know, anybody here is always learning as part of CMO Huddles, that’s fantastic. I am part and help lead a community called RevCircle, which is another community where go-to-market executives are sharing ideas. If anybody wants an invite to that, just send me a message on LinkedIn and I will get you added to that Slack community.

Drew Neisser: I love it. Thank you for sharing that and also the always be learning portion of it. One of the great joys of my life with CMO Huddles is that I get to sit with CMOs every single week and learn what it is that they’re doing and thinking about and how they’re solving all of these challenges.

Jon, Allyson, you are both great sports. Thank you, audience for staying with us!

To hear more conversations like this one and submit your own questions while we’re live. Join us on the next CMO Huddles Studio. We stream to my LinkedIn profile, that’s Drew Neisser, every other week.

Show Credits

Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Hey, that’s me! This show is produced by Melissa Caffrey, Laura Parkyn, and our B2B podcast partners Share Your Genius. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and the intro Voice Over is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about B2B branding, CMO Huddles, or my CMO coaching service, check out renegade.com. I’m your host, Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those Renegade thinking caps on and strong!