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Seven Important Takeaways from the 2011 MarketingSherpa B2B Summit

Last week, I attended  the MarketingSherpa B2B Summit in Boston. The line-up of speakers was fabulous including Jay Baer, Kristin Zhivago and numerous experts from MECLABS; all of them providing fascinating information on how to optimize the B2B lead generation funnel.  Here are a few things that resonated with me:

The biggest challenges for B2B marketers are 1) generating high-quality sales leads, 2) providing a sufficient volume of leads to sales, and 3) accommodating lengthening sales cycles. No real surprise there. I’m sure all of us experience these challenges.

What is surprising is that B2B marketers don’t appear to be adapting new marketing practices that can help to address these challenges. According to research from MarketingSherpa, 61% of marketers send all leads directly to sales but only 27% of these leads are actually qualified.  68% of marketers have not identified a sales funnel, 79% are not scoring their leads and 65% have no nurturing campaigns in place.  Clearly, there is an opportunity for us to address  the premature handoff of leads to sales,  identify and articulate a lead funnel  that we can support with marketing , and begin to develop lead scoring and nurturing processes. 

The value proposition is the essence of marketing.  Your value proposition should address two key questions: What does your company do? and Why should a buyer that meets your ideal customer profile buy from you and not one of your competitors?  It’s important to include at least one key differentiator in your value proposition that identifies what makes your solution or service unique and better than your competition.

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Cisco London 2012 Sponsorship – More Than Choirboy Hair

There was a period in our house when Roger Black could do no wrong.  The young, tall, handsome runner with the choirboy hairstyle from Portsmouth had won medals at both the 1992 and 1996 Olympics and in my wife and her friend’s eyes had an effect akin to that which Achilles must have had on all the Greek women while they waited to hear of his success at Troy. So it was with some curiosity that I met Roger for the first time in his capacity as one of our London 2012 Olympic Ambassadors. Would he still have the athlete’s demeanour, a taught spring ready to tear out of the starting blocks or pounce on an  unsuspecting Trojan? Would the choirboy hair deny his 45 years?

I joined the Cisco UK & Ireland team fairly late into our London 2012 journey in August 2011 following four years in Cisco’s Services business in California and Europe.  I had been lucky enough in my earlier career while working for a consumer brand to sponsor the British Bobsleigh team across a period of two winter Olympics, culminating in a medal at Nagano. I knew the excitement that comes from involvement in world-class sport and while I had not been involved in the early decisions around Cisco’s sponsorship, I was very much looking forward to being involved in probably the only Olympics and Paralympics that will take place during my lifetime in Britain.

For Cisco, London 2012 is all about leveraging network technology to create a better Britain, a brilliant future as we see it. London 2012 is the starting gun for us, not the finishing tape as so many other sponsors see it. The legacy is what it’s all about, not just 5 weeks of incredible sporting challenge. So when we look at our 2012 marketing strategy, we always keep the end goal in mind. It is a tall order; we want to focus on the future beyond 2012 and at the same time benefit from the excitement and opportunity before and during the Games.

So how have we approached our marketing strategy for London 2012?

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