Real life buzz returns as S2W explores the Future of Lead Generation

"How long has it been? Two years? Two weeks? Who remembers anymore."

Acquaintances old and new came together at S2W's special live event at Sydney's Doltone House at Pyrmont. As the La Niña weather pattern decided to give everyone a reprieve and deliver some gorgeous late Autumn balcony weather, S2W brought clients and colleagues together for a fun afternoon of art, insights and delicious treats and beverages.

After arrivals and a chance to catch up, query the nature of time, and remember what people looked like in the real 3D Actual-verse, an excellent panel discussion kicked off to explore some big questions around the future of lead generation with a particular emphasis on the need to get sales and marketing on the same page for best results for your organisation.

Moderator Moheb Moses got a great discussion flow started between three excellent panelists:

* Tania Mushtaq, Marketing Director, Rimini Street

* Michael Demery, Managing Director, Seccom Global

* Abbie White, CEO, Sales Redefined

The audience enjoyed an intriguing flow of ideas between the three guests, each from different angles across sales and marketing that gave great perspectives on how lead generation requires great communication across sales and marketing teams.

Demery sees how much lead generation has changed in recent years, moving on from "sending faxes" in the old days to using data to drill into more specific leads.

"We can't do blanket approaches anymore," said Demery. "What frustrates me more than anything is when people say they're doing it for 'brand awareness'. To me that says you've got no idea. As an owner, you need lead generation to bring money in the door."

Mushtaq and White dug deep into the need for sales and marketing alignment to run effective campaigns that achieve real revenue returns for businesses and to end the 'punching bag' era where sales blames marketing for failed targets.

"Marketers have to step forward from just delivering to the top of the funnel, beyond MQL and SQL, and all the way through pipeline and into revenue," said Mushtaq. "That's how you get taken seriously. If marketing is delivering leads against a KPI but the leads aren't giving sales what they need then they're just creating pretty brochures."

"Only 8% of businesses have strong alignment between sales and marketing," said White. "We have the same conversations again and again where we need to bring them together. How can sales step up and help in lead generation too? If they personally share something on LinkedIn it might go further than on the brand page. We talk about 'Smarketing' as the real alignment more businesses need."

Demery said he has also heard sales try to blame marketing when sales aren't going well.

"Marketing is an enabler and will give some value, but marketing is not going to hand you your sales targets," he said.

Mushtaq's relay race analogy offered a helpful perspective, where everyone needs to remember they're part of the same race that is all about achieving revenue. If anyone falls over we all lose.

"Sometimes the baton isn't even passed," added White."50% of marketing generated leads don't get followed up by sales. That's a communication failure. You can have the best campaign on the planet, but if no one follows up, nurtures and converts? And just dumping leads on sales at the last minute won't help either."

The panellists agreed that the sweeping changes to the industry brought on by the pandemic can't be seen as good or bad, just 'different'. We might have less time for 'dating' a client over lunches or drinks, and we have much tighter windows of opportunity for capturing someone's attention. But the opening up of more data and more measurable touchpoints has enabled a better understanding of what is really working and what isn't.

"You cannot take away the human touch," said Mushtaq. "But marketing has become a complex science. That's exciting! We can work with sales to forecast against a sales plan, assess capacity and budget to achieve these goals and visualise the whole plan so we all understand the process."

White agreed that getting the sales team buy in on a campaign helps to create a mindset shift, saying they always run sales enablement sessions on every campaign so they understand their role in the overall process.

As everyone agreed the need for a whole of team approached was more important than ever, Demery also flagged that this should also include the technical delivery team. Without their input, you might be selling things to customers that you simply can't deliver.

On the question of data, the panel saw the need to get granular with what you have and what you're collecting. The power of data is in knowing what is working and what is not, and tweaking constantly is essential to use it well.

Mushtaq emphasised the need to refine "over and over and over" to hit the right audience and ensure they take the action you wanted.

For White, it's an obsession with split testing to put data to best use, arguing that too many campaigns are treated as 'set and forget'.

Demery also argued for sales to have a deeper product understanding than ever before, and that offering knowledge and expert value to potential customers can play a big role in lead gen into the future.

"We're starting to generate leads when they see you as an expert in your field," said Demery. "When they've got a problem they ask for help, and when they think there might be an opportunity for work they come and ask us what we can do."

After the cut and thrust of the panel a surprise activity saw attendees questioning their choice of outfit as they picked up a champagne flute in one hand and a paint brush in the other to explored their artistic side.

From sailboats to abstract expressionism, new bonds were forged and stories shared while brushes whooshed delicately across the canvas. Any initial reluctance to get creative was soon replaced by demands for 'just a few more minutes' as masterpieces were given their finishing touches.

Painting smocks removed, an enticing spread of sushi, whiskey and cocktails was offered up to give those gathered more time to relax and flex those real life networking skills a little more and get ready to put those Smarketing ideas into action.

Nick Dechnicz, S2W's APAC Managing Director, thanked everyone for coming together for the evening, with a promise of more S2W events in the months ahead. He also shared that S2W has a new office opening in Sydney which will act as a contact centre for telemarketing and be the local APAC home for calling and campaign management efforts. The investment gives S2W a full "local sales, local operations and local delivery" footprint to deliver on the next stage of investment in the region.

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