The Product Marketing Community’s Rowan Noronha sat down with Seismic CMO Michael Londgren and VP, Product Marketing Jam Khan to talk about how technology like interactive content can help you resonate with buyers in a personalized way amidst the “new normal.”
Rowan: Let’s level-set; what’s your definition of enablement? Should it be geared towards sales only? Or the entire revenue engine? What about the buyer?
Michael: Enablement is about bringing go-to-market teams together to provide better buyer experiences. Customers are interacting with your organization in more ways than ever, including through social media and your website as well as via your sales and customer success teams. A good enablement engine ensures that every one of these teams is providing the buyers with the best possible experience.
Rowan: What role does your product marketing team play towards ensuring the success of sales enablement?
Jam: Well, I love the term the PMC is rallying around, which is that product marketers are the “Marchitects” of growth. At Seismic, our product marketing team embraces the role of the Marchitect, and we work in lockstep with our enablement team ensuring that all the GTM teams are equipped with all the best content to make them successful. And, in addition to the content, we offer the necessary context and framing to make sure the messages are delivered with impact.
Rowan: As our audience looks to rebound and accelerate past 2020, what advice would you give them to sustain their competitive advantage and thrive during these disruptive times?
Michael: Great question, and very topical considering we felt we were turning the corner but are now seeing another COVID-19 surge. We’ve all heard the cautionary tales of companies that failed to adapt as the business climate around them was changing – Blackberry, Yahoo!, Kodak – but the hard part is avoiding making those same mistakes again.
One thing that seems almost certain is that whenever we do turn the corner on this pandemic, there will be a new normal. Few people expect businesses to go back to working exactly like they did before. Remote work will clearly be far more prevalent. CFOs everywhere are assessing the cost/benefit of work-related travel, now that an accelerated digital transformation has been forced upon most of us. At Seismic, we have seen large spikes in use of many of our capabilities that are geared towards enabling remote sellers. Organizations that plan for an adjusted new normal, rather than those that expect things to revert back post-vaccine would appear to be in a stronger position to thrive.
However, fully embracing a digital transformation and the need for physical distancing does not negate the need for social interaction and relationship building as a cornerstone of the sales process. The key will be figuring out how to unite the power of technology with the power of human connection to find a middle ground where these two things are not mutually exclusive.
Rowan: Building on the concept of uniting technology’s power with the power of human connection, how can our audience help their sales teams break through the content clutter in a personal way with their buyers?
Jam: Ultimately, it’s all about that human connection. What I mean by that is actually making a personal connection. Messages that are personalized and tailored to an audience will perform better. But it’s hard to do that at scale. In fact, Seismic was built on the idea of allowing personalization at scale. It’s a foundational element, and at the heart of everything we do.
Technology serves a purpose in aiding the human connection, and I’d say there is no better example of that this year than the meteoric rise of Zoom. To me, what really stood out was how Zoom allowed us to maintain a human connection in both our business and personal lives as we were all facing varying degrees of quarantine. For sales teams, the way to break through the noise is to stay to true your message and connect to your buyer with stories that are personalized and more meaningful.
Rowan: Utilizing personalization to engage our buyers to tell meaningful stories that captivate enterprise buyers is a must in today’s noisy marketplace. However, it doesn’t seem enough. Successful content must stand out keep the buyer engaged. How can CMOs and product marketers better enable their buyers?
Michael: Technology is advancing so rapidly these days that consumer expectations of content are so much higher. Platforms like TikTok, the power of 5G, and the ease with which anyone can create videos have all altered our expectations for how we receive communications. When you see all this happening in the B2C world, suddenly the B2B world feels like it’s really falling far behind. Authoring tools simply aren’t built for engagement. And PDF and PowerPoint weren’t designed with engagement in mind, but we’ve settled for them because we haven’t had better alternatives. So, marketers everywhere are thinking about how to create better engagement.
For us, Interactive Content has been a game changer. We don’t think about telling our story in a linear way, we think about how the buyer wants to engage and design our content with that in mind. Technologies like Interactive Content allow marketers to be far more creative in how they tell their stories.
Rowan: Regarding enabling the buyer with interactive content, engaging the seller has never been more challenging as it is in our distributed remote environment. How can product marketers and/or their peers in a dedicated enablement function enable sales in a delightful and engaging manner?
Jam: Echoing what Michael said, for product marketers it’s important to think of sales as a customer. The same energy that is put into creating immersive and engaging experiences for buyers should be applied when enabling sales teams. There’s a lot of energy put into sales readiness, and learning systems, but if the messages being delivered are still static and linear, you’re not going to engage your audience. We’re putting energy into creating the same kind of immersive experience to train and delight our sellers.
Rowan: Throughout our chat, we’ve discussed enabling the sales reps in addition to the buyer. To deliver an outstanding buyer experience, please share your thoughts on the rise of revenue enablement as CMOs look to empower customer-facing teams, not just sales.
Michael: It’s becoming quite fashionable for companies to center their story around revenue, but I’d contend successful organizations have always done this. In a subscription economy there are multiple teams that drive revenue. Customer retention and renewals are as important as new business. Marketers are increasingly and rightfully being held accountable for revenue. So enablement, going back to what we started with when we defined it, is all about making GTM teams effective. If one places customer value over revenue, they’ll gain more clarity what the right thing to do is for their business.
Rowan: In closing, what’s each of your parting advice for CMOs and product marketing executives as they plan to rebound and accelerate past 2020?
Michael: Adapt and adjust for a new normal where digital transformation plans have drastically accelerated and stay focused on delivering exceptional buyer experiences as a true north.
Jam: It’s not just what you say, it’s also how you say it. Tell your company’s story in the most immersive and engaging way possible. The lines between B2C and B2B aren’t just blurry, they are disappearing. Don’t get left behind.
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