Thought Leadership Interview #2: Use the Force, Luke: Suaad Sait Helps Marketing Organizations “Reach” Their 2009 Goals

My second interview in this series is with the founder and CEO of ReachForce, Suaad Sait. The company’s B2B blog is one of the better ones in the business, and Sait is one of the smarter guys around. He is one of the marketing visionaries that are helping the industry find ways to benefit from everything 2.0.

Sait has sat in the marketing seat in several notable capacities, including:

  • VP and GM of products and markets at Pervasive Software Inc.
  • CMO and COO of Liaison Technologies Inc. (acquired by Forest Express), a software platform for supplier catalog content management
  • VP of product marketing at Motive Inc.
  • Member of founding team for Ventix Systems Inc. and served as the VP and GM of the enterprise business and VP of marketing.
  • Also held leadership positions at DAZEL Corp. (acquired by Hewlett-Packard Development Co. LP), InConcert Software (acquired by TIBCO Software Inc.), CAP Ventures and Xerox Corp.

As you can see by this interview, he gets it and is worth listening to.

1. What are the three trends you see emerging in 2009?

  • Social media moving to the forefront in B2B: Causing a slow death for traditional PR, social media allows everyone to be involved in PR strategy now.
  • Targeted and segmented lead generation: Gone are the days that marketers can waste over 90 percent of the program dollars on the wrong people.
  • Cost per converted lead: Without impressions, the world of print advertising will never be the same. Marketers will no longer care about impressions alone; they’re now concerned with CPL (cost per lead) and CPR (cost per revenue dollar).

2. What are the biggest challenges for 2009?

The number one challenge is forecasting and planning marketing spend for 2009. Businesses have difficulty forecasting how their organizations will be in this unstable, unknown economy. The effort for marketers will be to alter plans and adapt to the market and economy quickly. Marketers today are challenged to deliver more results with less. This is going to mean stepping out of the box and trying new tools and solutions.

3. What are three metrics that B2B marketers should care about and why?

  • Marketing activity conversion to revenue: Opens, clicks and lead forms don’t get you there alone.
  • Targeting reach to the right audience and then growing that reach: Spending the extra hours and days to analyze the specific markets you are going after will pay off in the end.
  • Your Net Promoter Score: Referrals are key to your success.

4. What are the top oversights marketers are making regarding lead generation?

  • Not planning marketing activities that directly align with sales and their goals.
  • Staying with the status quo, even when you’re getting poor results, or continuing to waste money on tactics that are not working. I have done this in my prior life — mathematically solving the leads problem with more money rather than new thinking.
  • Not carving out dollars with which to experiment new strategies: Don’t forget, marketing has changed more in the last five years than the prior 50, so not all the answers are obvious yet.

5. What will you prescribe to marketers to carry out effective lead generation?

Learn from where you’ve been before deciding what to do next. Look at who you are already attracting on your Web site, analyze sales funnel behavior and what marketing programs are driving the movement, and target all new initiatives based on your findings (successes). Your number one focus needs to be to fuel what’s working (as in the targets that are converting to real revenue) not just campaign responders.

6. What three Web 2.0 applications, cutting-edge technologies or lead generation sources do marketers HAVE to consider to be successful?

There’s not one technology or lead gen source that works for every business. You have to figure out where your customers are and build your presence there. Here are a few easy places to get started:

  • Blogs: Even if you don’t have one, you should still be out there commenting and participating where your peers or audience are. I would take as many dollars I can away from my Web site budget and put it on blog audience development.
  • LinkedIn: Professionally, this is how people are staying in touch and with all of the new applications, LinkedIn is opening many new doors for marketers.
  • Facebook: This doesn’t just mean having a profile. In addition to your profile you should have a page for your business and create and participate in groups.

With all of the 2.0 technologies, the key is being out there and being out there regularly. You can’t just build a profile and never go back. Note: I left out Twitter as I don’t think it’s universal yet.

7. What do you hope for in B2B sales and marketing for the new year?

Better alignment with goals, processes and revenue accountability between marketing and sales — both teams should sign up for the same goals of revenue and customer success. It’s time for marketing to get the respect it deserves; to do so we have to show more direct lead generation impact to top line revenue. Ask yourself this question: How many of the calls sales makes are based on data delivered by marketing (lead generation) activities? If your answer is less than 80 percent, you have work to do in alignment.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

  • Fantastic article.

    I too believe 2009 will be the year of marketing transparency. With shrinking budgets marketing will be forced to be accountable for its contribution to the organization.

    One area of slight disagreement is with this point:”Your number one focus needs to be to fuel what’s working (as in the targets that are converting to real revenue) not just campaign responders.”

    While I agree with focusing on what’s working, I disagree with primarily mapping marketing efforts to “real revenue” (i.e. closed deals). This approach may short change marketing’s contribution. Consider a sales funnel of $100 Million. Using this logic, a marketer would try to allocate a portion of that number to specific marketing events and may only end up with 25% when in fact marketing efforts have generated an order of magnitude greater than that amount ($1 Billion or more). It’s a trap that is easy to fall into and should be considered.

    Maybe in addition to “real revenue” you could also quantify “potential revenue”. If you can take the real revenue events (and their mapped efforts) and extrapolate them over the entire lead pool the number would be more accurate…and impressive.

    Thanks Craig and Suad for a well timed and thoughtful post.