By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

Late in 2015 we started producing a radio program called Sales Pipeline Radio, which currently runs every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Pacific.  It’s just 30 minutes long, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.

We’ve already featured some great guests and have a line up of awesome content and special guests coming up. Our very first guest was Funnelholic author and Topo co-founder Craig Rosenberg.  Next we had Mike Weinberg, incredible writer, speaker, author, followed by Conrad Bayer, CEO & Founder of Tellwise.  Recent Guests: Jim KeenanJoanne BlackAaron RossJosiane FeigonMeagen Eisenberg, and Trish Bertuzzi.

We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities heading into and throughout the year. We’ll publish similar highlights here for upcoming episodes.  You can listen to full recordings of past shows at SalesPipelineRadio.com and subscribe on iTunes.

About our guest:  Kevin Akeroyd oversees the Cision executive management team across operations globally.

He has more than 25 years of experience in reshaping modern digital, social and mobile marketing globally. Prior to Cision he was general manager and senior vice president at Oracle Marketing Cloud. Akeroyd and Oracle created the Enterprise Marketing Platform category and led it from the onset. Prior to Oracle, he held senior leadership positions at several companies, including Data.com, Salesforce.com, RR Donnelley, and Jigsaw.

 

Paul:  Welcome everybody! It’s time for another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. So grab your board, we are going to catch the latest wave and ride it along here with Matt Heinz from Heinz Marketing. Hey Matt!

Matt:  Hey Paul, how are we doing?

Paul:  Okay. Where are you at in the world today?

Matt:  We are downtown Seattle today amidst meetings; a nice busy day beginning of March, last month of Q1, can’t believe we are already there and we are going to jump right in Paul. We will talk about the weather later; we will talk about how to get additional copies of past episodes of Sales Pipeline Radio.

We need to talk about moving quickly today. I am really excited for our guest, he’s got part of the show business because he is fast-moving; one of the most influential people in B2B marketing over the last several years, Kevin Akeroyd who is the former Executive Vice President, general manager, the Oracle Marketing Cloud was the chief operating officer at Jigsaw manufacturer if you are familiar with www.data.com from Salesforce, that was originally Jigsaw back in the day and he has been in this space for very long time.

He’s now the CEO of Cision which is leading the way in communication, communication as a service and the communication cloud. Kevin thanks for joining us today.

Kevin:  Really glad to be here Matt thanks for having me.

Matt:  Well I know not only are you crazy busy and have tons of stuff going on but you were able to sort of last-minute, fill in for another guest that couldn’t make it so really, really appreciate that. And I would definitely want to talk about what you guys are doing with the communication. This show is all about sales pipeline and sales and marketing technology and you have been in that space for a long time. Talk a little bit about what you’ve seen in terms of the evolution of B2B sales and marketing from when you started to where you are at today.

Kevin:  That’s a great question Matt. I think it’s funny; it’s a two-sided answer there. On the one hand a lot has changed and most of that is kind of technology driven. Either the technology that we have at our disposal as sales leader to try to go drive enablement and productivity and effectiveness of our sales organizations whether they are small, medium or big and probably more poignantly, the customers that we sell to in a B2B environment, their world has changed right there. They are social now, they never used to be.

They are self educating themselves. You read the stats and I having been in sales for 25 years I believe them. They’ve taken a lot of the power out of the sales cycle right away from us. In B2B, they educate themselves. They are digital, they are educated, they go to their research. A lot of times they will decide if you even get the chance to put the opportunity in the pipeline because they are doing all the homework ahead of whether you ever get invited to the dance. So how we set to think about incorporating sales and all the supporting functions with the technology side both for ourselves and more importantly how customers actually evaluate pre-sales cycle, through sales cycle and make decisions – tactics pretty radically shifted there.

So on the one hand you’ve got all of this new stuff, you’ve got to constantly keep your team. On the other hand, Matt, you know my opinion because you and I have known each other for a decade now, some of the fundamentals, right have never been more true, right? And I think the tech challenges and the digitization and people talking about consumerization. So while focusing on the new, it makes it more important to focus on the fundamentals, the right process fundamentals, the right do it by the metrics; the science, not just the art and kind of trained the exact same way we’ve done.

So it’s one of those really interesting things where nailing the fundamentals have never been more important by the fundamentals of got to be inclusive of all of this channel and digital and technology change that the buyers living these days. That’s what I think is the most interesting challenge right now why we need to invest so heavily in staying current.

Matt:  Well I agree with that. I think that when you look across what’s happened across the pipeline you know the people say well is this dead? Is cold calling dead? Is direct mailing dead? Are tradeshows dead? And I don’t know that any of them are dead. I mean we have the same toolbox but how you approach that, the authenticity you bring to those channels, the expectation of authenticity and interactivity is different. With Cision you guys are getting pretty deep into the communications deal, the corporate communications and even things like PR for example have changed for good.

I mean gone are the days when you know PR people kind of hold close to the vest the news and just put out press releases and thing their jobs. So you can talk a little bit about how all this now relates to the communications field in B2B and how that started to shift as well.

Kevin:  Yeah, I think it’s never been more relevant, same thing; the fundamentals are the same but what it used to be an influencer maybe just was an analyst or maybe was just a reporter that covered the specific B2B tech space that I was in. Now you’ve got communities, you’ve got blogs, you’ve got LinkedIn, you’ve got a lot of social, you’ve got a very broader definition of influencer now so that’s changed. And the ability to have to co-manage that complex influencer network and media landscape has changed in B2B pretty dramatically because it’s not just 10 reporters that controlled everything like it was 20 years ago.

But again on the flipside, the core notion of PR and broader turn to media has never been more important. Because boy, tech buyers or B2B buyers in general, it’s less about what the company does in its advertising or its promotional campaigns or its fancy events, all of those are important. But if I am a tech buyer or a manufacturing buyer or a B2B financial services buyer or any kind of B2B buyer, I am influenced more and more and more by trusted credible third parties, right? B2A communities or B2A analysts or B2A reporters or B2A strong tech Twitter following.

So the importance of actually brands reaching and influencing their end-user buyers through third-party trusted credible sources, that’s PR, that’s earned media. And I don’t know a single head of revenue or single head of marketing at the B2B customers I work with that doesn’t recognize that this whole shift in the earned to be more important; trusted third parties being even more important and therefore the management of this being more important than it ever has. So we find ourselves in one of those places where – hey, PR used to be king, it went away for a little bit. Now we are recognizing – boy, it’s probably more important than it’s ever been.

Matt:  You are right, it is. I mean I think the power of PR, the power of that earned media has become more important that the rules have changed. And I think whereas a lot of CMO’s have historically looked at what they can do, like direct marketing and pipeline activities have been really sort of the workhorse in terms of revenue attribution, you really don’t know… there has been a bit of a black hole in a communities communication and in the corporate communications.

And I think a lot of folks doing corporate communications have really been given a pass because it really hasn’t been as measurable and it’s hard to sort of understand how does it fit into the buying journey, how do we actually attribute revenue or some kind of business value to all of that. But I think that’s changing as well. Talk a little bit about what you guys are doing and what the communication cloud means and how you guys are really help leading the charge changing that decision.

Kevin:  This is going to sound like a shameless plug for Cision so forgive me, it’s not but it is part of the answer. A lot of people ask me, boy why did you leave what you were doing there to work with the marketing cloud? You were making a really big impact. And very true, right? Marketing cloud, be it the Adobe version, the IBM version, the Salesforce version, the Oracle version, seeing billions of dollars on the vendor side shift from buying independent point solutions to these marketing cloud platforms because the line of business, that revenue line of business, that cone of activity between marketing and sales to go drive higher revenue productivity has become very technology dependent. And when I was at Oracle and those of my competitors at Adobe and Salesforce, we delivered these data technology and measurement platforms that allowed those lines of business to kind of modernize and transform themselves.

And why I came to Cision is we are doing the exact same thing right? We are introducing the data measurement and technology platform to allow marcom, right? Earned media and even classic PR, to go through the same business transformation that Adobe, Salesforce and Oracle have enabled the paid the media, owned media and e-commerce folks. And that’s really it in a nutshell.

It works so incredibly well in the rest of marketing, B2B and B2C it’s time for that to happen at our end and just like I’ve thought, huge collection of the world’s best assets and integrated them into a marketing cloud where you could use a reference stack in one vendor versus having to work with 10 or 11 different point solutions or 10 or 11 different vendors, we are doing the exact same thing here at Cision. So that’s exciting to giving the communications officer of one tool to use instead of 10 as a big deal. More importantly, introducing kind of this sense of measurability. I was at Oracle, I couldn’t go to Larry Ellison and Mark Hurd and say hey, look at my share of voice and get a pat on the back, right? I’d get kicked out of their office. They would go no, no, no. Show me how all of those communications and PR spend can drive leads.

And with the assets that we’ve put together, the fact that we can now close the loop and it doesn’t stop with the reporter or the analyst anymore, it actually says well how many buying people did he reach and how, what kind of engagements, right? Did it get to those people? And where are those people from a physiographic or demographic, the type of B2B profiles after did we reach some completely different audience? And then how many of those eyeballs actually turned into a web conversion or turned into a lead form on my marketing automation and ultimately converted into opportunities down to closed one?

And the fact that we are now closing that attribution loop and tying the, what did the reporter say about me in the QC world all the way to how many leads did that put in the pipeline, we are handing the communications office the same kind of measurability and attribution that the paid media, commerce and the owned media folks have had for the last decade.

And in doing that, it’s kind of that final step of modernization and measurement that is going to allow the pact that we know PR earned has to be measurable in the eyes of the CEO and the CFO and one that’s a big deal until we quite frankly think that is going to have a big effect on where our budgets end because there is a big imbalance, right? Paid is not that effective it gets all the budget because it’s measurable. As soon as you can actually start showing the measurement of earned, we think a lot of money is going to go into earned overall. We think quite frankly a lot of money is going to flow out of paid and into earned and probably quickly into B2B then into B2C.

Matt:  Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Kevin Akeroyd who is the CEO of Cision, a leading enterprise communication cloud provider. And you may very well be a Cision customer and not know it. PR Newswire which a lot of people use for their press releases is part of the Cision platform.

And I think what you are saying in terms of finally being able to bridge the attribution gap with the corporate communication and earned communication is an important advance for the CMO, important for the CFO. And equally important as the ability to bring these earned media channels together. I think press releases have existed in silos, analysts relations; influencer relations have been part of corporate communications but have really been treated separately and not even really managed together let alone measured together. Why is it important that we change that? Why is it important that these different efforts are managed together, measured and evaluated together?

Kevin:  Yeah, I think we learned on the other side of the house, we had to bring this quartet together. I couldn’t have marketing automation separate from the of funnel demand gen. I couldn’t have that separate from CRM and opportunity management and have that could be separate from CPQ.

We’ve all learned as modern sellers to the lines of businesses that I had to bring that together. I did do better integration around the top of funnel pipe consideration through to close and then to upsell, cross sell and loyalty. And then we really had to focus hard on a lot of the channels, right? That B2B buyer is the same buyer whether he’s on Twitter or whether he’s on LinkedIn or whether he’s on a webinar or whether he is in a face-to-face sales call. I’ve got to bring all of these customer touch points together to actually drive purchase behavior.

And exact same thing here, right? In this world social and broadcast and radio and TV and web, I’ve got actually consolidate all the channels, it’s one big deal. I’ve got to consolidate all the functions from targeting which influencers matter. Then I’ve got to do on my campaign management and all execution and distribution out to those people, right?

I’ve then got to monitor, pick up who said what, who reported what, who published what, where. And finally, I’ve got to do all of my efficacy monitoring and measurement; who covered? What was the sentiment? How effective was the campaign? Did it induce public perception as I wanted to? Etc. Now that we have this final net layer, did actually turn into lead form opportunities or conversion opportunities are close one.

The fact that I can have one reference system to do all that and manage it with one toolkit, workflow and across the very beginning target all the way to the end, measure out the efficacy and optimize based on the attribution. Just like the other marketing clouds that have allowed the line of business to have less technology better integrated that can do far more for me so I can actually drive the business, instead of constantly be syncing disparate systems, that had the massive impact in B2B marketing I think right again in paid and owned things like marketing automation or VMT to more effectively drive leads. We are going to begin to see the exact same benefits over here in the communications and inside because now people will be using that data stack and measurement stack to drive these results rather than syncing to 11 or 12 different systems across all the channels and across that whole lifecycle.

Matt:  This is a great story, right? I mean great advancement; we haven’t had this technology in the past. I think we are now able to sort of build technology to bridge that attribution gap. What do you see as some of the barriers to entry for people? I mean this sounds like a great story but I know that you very recently, fairly recently joined Cision, actually put this together in the cloud format I think is a great way to go to market but as much as we’ve seen research that demonstrates that earned media, influencer marketing is vastly more efficient than even paid media, it is harder to track and it doesn’t… It doesn’t always have immediate ROI. Are those kind of the couple reasons why people have been reticent to invest in this? And how do we help those CMO’s and marketing leaders kind of get over the hump?

Kevin:  Yeah, I think there is two things there. It really does come with it all ends up being the B2B buyer adoption, right? And Maggie knows this intimately. I acquired Eloqua as the marketing automation just to use an analogy. And Eloqua standalone is still quite an incredible marketing automation.

And even though I could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt to a thousand buyers, hey if you both on the DMP and, all of a sudden, you are feeding more high quality leads faster in the top end of marketing automation so, that makes Eloqua more effective. And then hey, what about Maximizer, hey, what if the website wasn’t just a storefront but it actually was an extension of that lead conversion, lead nurturing process not just emails coming out of Marketo or Eloqua but the actual website itself? So that’s why we went and bolted it on Maximizer despite the fact it was almost a no-brainer drawn from a value props standpoint.

The customers have been doing the same thing for decades, right? So if you tend to realize the change management in the adoption curve, it’s always lower than it should be given how big the value is and that’s going to be no different here on B2B communications just like it was in B2B lead gen or B2B ad spend to drive leads top of funnel or B2B web and mobile personalization so that those owned media attributes can turn into lead conversion machines rather than digital brochures. So we are going to see all that, that’s the first part of it.

And in the second part of it is, that this is a muscle they’ve never used. I have never been able to actually walk in to the CFO and the CMO and say my communication drove not just sheer voice and reach, they drove X amount of actual impressions, it drove Y amounts of engagement, I know exactly who might these B2B buyers and prospects are and I want to show you how many, right? Not just call this reach; I’m going to show you how many of them actually came back to www.B2B.com. I’m going to show you how many of them actually jumped into a marketer or and Eloqua lead funnel.

And ultimately I want to be able to map that PR down to how many optees got opened up this month or this quarter in Salesforce.com or Microsoft dynamics CRM. And while that sounds like the Holy Grail we have been waiting for, for 30, 40 years, it’s one thing to know it’s there. It’s another thing to actually retool your reporting, your analytics. You’ve got another sales and marketing kind of agreement on nomenclature and measurement, you’ve got the CFO to use it in another light so that too is kind of change of management because they want it but they have the change relatively fundamentally how they plug it inside the rest of their B2B marketing and demand generation architecture and they’ve got to go evangelize measurements just like we’ve had to do with all the other technology and innovation.

So I really think it’s just coming down to how fast is the industry going to be willing to adopt these things and then reap the benefits. But there is no other real fundamental flaws because we are solving the big fundamental flaw which is the integrated tech stack and the lack of measurement.

Matt:  I know you’ve got to run, I really, really appreciate your joining us Kevin. We have been talking with Kevin Akeroyd, the CEO of Cision on corporate communication in the modern world and earned media, lots of great stuff. I know you’ve got to run, thanks very much Kevin for joining us. We’re going to take a quick break, pay a couple bills. We are going to be back to talk about earned media, what you can expect coming up in Sales Pipeline Radio and lots more. We will be right back with Sales Pipeline Radio.

Kevin:  Matt, thanks a lot.

[Break]

Paul:  All right, back to Matt to wrap up the show here. I thought that was fascinating and what a guest for your show! I don’t know if people realize how big Cision is. I was a PR person for 20 years, entertainment PR mostly and wow, I mean they took over and they put up not just PR news forums and places like that but they provide handbooks are they… what would you call them? I guess you subscribed to these media lists, that’s how you find out who the technology reporter for the Dallas morning news Herald is.

Matt:  Yeah, no. I mean Cision has been a very big player in the market, I could see a lot more from them. I think they are doing a nice job. I mean this is what Kevin did at Oracle for the Oracle marketing cloud as you had a lot of these disparate technology tools that did good things on their own but together they were more powerful and integrating those into a way that makes it easier to manage and then drive results, did it with sort of marketing automation space, doing it again now in communication and yeah. Definitely loved having him on the show, he’s been a good friend for a long time.

And I mean the idea of earned media has been around for a while.

Paul:  I was doing this in the 80s. I am dating myself here but I was a PR person in the 80s and 90s and our problem was always we couldn’t prove what it did. We know he did something. You’ve got a story in the Wall Street Journal – hooray! And maybe the phone rang more but it had a major impact but you couldn’t ever quantify it. The fact that he’s trying to drill that down and to say we not only can show you the power of how many people it reached but what they did with it afterwards and that’s unheard of.

Matt:  Yeah, and I think when we put names on things we call these earned media and we call social selling that we have been talking about for a couple of years. We may have more advanced tools but the fact that we sell earlier in the buying process, the fact that we build relationships and stay in touch with folks; my dad didn’t have social media tools but we were selling Caterpillar equipment for 35 years, he was definitely doing social selling without Twitter.

Paul:  Yeah, right. Yeah, we didn’t call it earned media. It was advertising and it was PR, and you had to get somebody like maybe a PR professional to go pitch your story. In the real old days we were press agents. We were your agent to go to a store to get somebody to write about it here.

Matt:  Well one of the disadvantages for earned media in today’s world of attribution and metrics and having more data to see what’s working is sometimes earned media has been sort of difficult to measure, it’s been more difficult to know whether it’s working. We have study after study after study that demonstrates how powerful word-of-mouth is like how much more powerful it is than paid media in terms of getting…

Paul:  Yeah, because you trust it. It’s a third party selling your story, not you. If you put an ad in the paper, I immediately distrusted. What’s wrong with that?

Matt:  It’s intuitive. It all makes sense but I think what we find too often now is because we can so precisely measure what happens with our ads because we can so precisely see what happens when we set something up and execute that in a digital channel, there is a decreasing amount of patience I think for letting earned media marinate, that it mature and make it work.

Paul:  Right. Well fascinating stuff. I would love to find a more about how they are tracking and how they plan to improve the tracking metrics. Because you are right, if people could track in the same way they do and add I think he’s right. I think people would move their money from paid advertising to earned media to what I still call PR because people trust it more than they do your own story.

Matt:  That’s right. And I think improving attribution is key. On some companies the clock is ticking on the money that they have and so they want things that are going to work faster. I think you almost always are going to pay a premium on things you need to work today. Gartner tells us that 3 to 4% of any given market is actively searching for a solution, they are actively buying. And there is 46% of the market according to that same research, 46% of any market is poised, maybe they are the right person at the right company and it’s just a matter of time. Well that 46% is a lot more cost-effective to engage and build relationships with so you are the current vendor when they choose. If you really need to find a certain number of that 3 to 4% right now you can do it, it’s expensive.

Paul:  Yeah, exactly. Fascinating stuff! Well you are always opening my eyes to things. I applaud you. I just wanted to simply tout to people who may not realize, Cision is huge and they are certainly a leader or the leader in this space providing PR people the tools they need to practice their trade.

Matt:  Kevin didn’t have to come on and do the commercial, you just did it for him.

Paul:  I just did it for him. They are great!

Matt:  Awesome! Well definitely excited to have Kevin on here. We moved the format a little bit to accommodate his schedule. He really did kind of save us. We had a guest that couldn’t make it today. We are going to feature her in an episode here I’m thinking in about a month so we will get her back in April but thanks very much to Kevin Akeroyd, CEO of Cision. If you want to check them out, Cision is spelt CISION.com. And check them out. They do a good job of creating content that’s really valuable, kind of teach you how to do earned media as well.

If you want to hear more from Kevin you can check us out. The recording from today’s episode will be available on www.salespipelineradio.com next week. You will be able to find us, Kevin as well as all of our future and past episodes on the Google play feed, just search for Sales Pipeline Radio in your favorite podcast directory. And the transcript of today’s conversation will also be on our blog at www.HeinzMarketing.com in about a week and a half on March 13. We’ve got some great guests coming up on the next couple of weeks we do have Grant Cardone who is the author of 10 X, he is the founder of the 10 X conference, it’s going to be fantastic to hear from him.

I had some additional people who are practitioners in the B2B space as we always do here on Sales Pipeline Radio, we are always featuring leaders in the sales and marketing space to help you build, manage and convert bigger pipelines a business. But for today we are out of time, I want to thank you again Kevin Akeroyd our guest. Thank my great producer Paul. On behalf of everybody working on this show, this is Matt Heinz! Thanks for listening! This is Sales Pipeline Radio.

Paul:  Once again you’ve been riding the sales pipeline with Matt Heinz from Heinz Marketing, part of the funnel radio Channel for at work listeners like you.

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