Last week I took a voyage across the Atlantic on a (insert shameless Delta plug here) flight to the United Kingdom for the SiriusDecisions Summit UK. As many of my peers and followers know, I’m a huge fan of SiriusDecisions for many reasons, so my excitement has been difficult to contain, but I’ll do my best.

SiriusDecisions is the golden standard for marketing best practices, tested and proven by only the most expert of analysts. So, for me to be attending such an event to learn and grow as a marketer is exhilarating to say the least. The other perk is that I market to an audience of sophisticated marketers (lucky me, I know) many of whom attend SD shows. There I was in London, pumped to learn more for my own marketing betterment, but also thrilled that my perfect audience was concentrated in the ballrooms and conference areas of the Hilton London Metropole. What a time to be alive, eh?

The content at these shows is simply superb, and you and I would both be remiss if I didn’t share a quick recap of what I learned. So allow me to get straight to the biggest takeaways of the summit:

We all continue to suffer from data problems: It’s true, marketers in the US aren’t the only ones who suffer from the pains of marketing data and how to best acquire, maintain, and leverage it. The good news is there are ways to manage this internally, and even better means to manage it in an ongoing fashion via great data partners. John Donlon of SD (who heroically swam the English Channel the same week of the summit) lead a session around marketing data and how marketers can best identify data points that they can live without and how to unify and best leverage the ones that they really do need. It’s all about timing, budget, resources, and goals. Marketers are as data hungry as they’ve ever been, so they have various programs constantly running to gather as much data as possible. Here’s the problem: they’ve got piles of data from different sources in different formats and not only can they not effectively unify that data, they in turn cannot use that data. Furthermore, some of the data they capture isn’t necessarily the most useful and can even hinder your efforts in segmenting and modeling. He gives the example of Social123’s partner Colin Day, of FIS, and how he underwent the largest acquisition in the financial industry including MAP and CRM merges. He walked us through step by step how Colin executed parts of the merge on his own by creating a SQL database, but also how he used a third party (us) to ensure all of the data was clean and enriched.

Account Based Marketing (ABM) isn’t going away: I’m sure you all could have guessed that ABM is here to stay and is just as popular in the UK as it is in the US. Most of us marketers are somewhere in the arduous (let’s admit it, it isn’t the easiest concept to adopt and implement) process of running an organization-wide ABM program, and of course, we all would appreciate some wisdom and insights. Luckily for the attendees, there were several sessions dedicated to ABM. One of them, led by Bob Peterson and Julian Acher of SD, was all about how a marketer has several options for ABM deployment, but one that is often overlooked is one that is based on industry. They discussed everything from how to design this approach so that it is aligned with sales, to how to produce the right content, to effectively incorporate product…and everything in between. There was another session specific to running an ABM program in the channel, led by Matt Senatore and Maria Chien of SD. Oh, the channel and how it is sadly overlooked too often! If you think about it though, they’ve got it pretty rough: they are selling a product and using resources all provided by a 3rd party relationship. Chien and Senatore taught us about their new framework that can be used to identify which ABM approach makes most sense given their particular route to market.

Sales needs content more than ever: In the ever so wise words of Scooby Doo, “Ruh-Roh” – the 67% myth has been DEBUNKED. The 67% stat refers to the past study that 67% of the buyer journey is completed without ever having spoken to a sales rep; but according to SD, that stat is no longer accurate. Erin Provey, SD analyst, explains that the buyer journey isn’t linear, it’s all over the place and really depends on the buyer and their situation and circumstances. But one thing is true, content is immensely powerful in the buyer’s journey. Buyers may be talking to sales reps on and off or here and there, but what remains constant is that they are always consuming content from the bidding vendor. But what content proves to be the most important? According to Provey and SD, it’s the sales presentation deck. Not too surprising, but it turns out thought leadership content is pretty impactful too, along with informative/educational content. What I found most interesting is that these varieties of content are most effective when used at specific points of the buyer journey. For example, thought leadership content isn’t especially useful at the end of the journey, and Provey provided results that show that losing vendors and losing sales reps consistently use this kind of content at the end of the journey. There was much more around each piece of content and when to use it, but you’ll just have to wait until the slides come out!

Social Sells: Harte Hanks and IBM teamed up in a session around how as we become fully immersed in the digital age, selling tactics MUST reflect the preferences of the audience members. It’s important to be personalized in marketing, but it’s even more so in sales. To address this, they came up with the concept of personalized rep webpages. These pages give the buyer the option to carry out the journey the way that they please by offering a variety of means to contact the seller – skype, email, twitter, text, phone call, online chat, etc. This helps the rep create a personal brand as well as a way to listen and engage with their buyer exactly how the buyer prefers… which ultimately ends in higher engagement. Letting the buyer choose their social communication and decision making preferences kind of blew my mind, and I love the idea.

Once again, I’ve proven that I have serious issues with expansive writing. This was meant to be a quick write up of my favorite takeaways, but nonetheless, I’ve covered some great things and I hope you’ve enjoyed the explanations and teasers. Did you attend the conference too – what did you think?