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The Last Mile Opportunity Whitepaper

What Uber Teaches Us About Great Sales and Buyer Enablement

The “last mile” of revenue generation (getting a qualified lead to close) is always the biggest hurdle. Whether B2B or B2C, this ultimately requires some level of personal relationship development and product customization. Yet many times, businesses don’t realize the costs associated in qualifying a lead in the first place – despite whether or not they close!

Consider a real-life scenario:

I recently flew from DC to Atlanta. I needed to get from Point A (DC) to Point B (Atlanta). The total trip cost was about $470 or 74 cents per mile:

Miles Cost Cost/Mile
Airfare DCA to ATL 600 $380  $    0.63
Uber to DCA 12 $40  $    3.33
Uber from ATL 20 $50  $    2.50
TOTAL 632 $470  $    0.74

Notice that the “last mile(s)” – getting me from my specific location in DC to my specific destination in Atlanta cost me 5X more per mile than “bulk” airfare.  Yes, we all intuitively know this – but do we realize the same economics apply to sales? After all, prospects need to go from point A (unqualified, unknown) to point B (closed deal) as well. Bulk demand generation is always measured in “cost per qualified lead”– same as cost per mile above. So say that’s $100 per lead on a $10,000 potential transaction (1%). If you only close 1 in 7 leads that’s $700 (7%) in lead gen cost per deal closed. And that doesn’t even include the cost to-sell (sales rep salary, benefits, commission, and supporting infrastructure).  This math is simple – I want to get to Atlanta at the lowest cost per mile and your business wants to get to close at the lowest cost per lead. But, generate as many leads as you want at whatever cost per lead… if your sales team can’t close the last mile, total cost-to-sell goes through the roof!

What Uber Can Teach Us About Sales Enablement and Buyer Enablement

For the sales rep (the Uber driver), the Uber platform provides pretty effective sales enablement.

Uber’s Driver Experience

  1. Finds the buyer
  2. Ensures the buyer’s ability to pay (credit card or check)
  3. Qualifies the buyer’s integrity (passenger rating)
  4. Maps the route to complete the sale
  5. Completes a friction-less payment process (set price, optional tip)
  6. Rinse, repeat….

Not only has Uber created as a seamless experience for the driver (i.e. sales rep), but for the buyer. Consider what the Uber app does for buyer enablement:

Uber’s Rider Experience

  1. Matches the buyer (rider) with the most convenient seller (driver)  – without worrying about “sales territories!”
  2. Ensures minimum product standards (car quality, safety)
  3. Qualifies seller integrity (driver rating)
  4. Provides transparent pricing before purchase
  5. Offers value-added services (custom music, driver background info)
  6. Completes frictionless payment
  7. Allows immediate vendor rating
  8. Cross-sells other products/services (Uber Eats, Uber credit card)

It’s also important to point out buyers are NOT be forced into negotiations with sellers like traditional taxi drivers. When you pull the pieces together one thing is for sure –

Key Takeaway

While lead generation boasts a hefty budget, with costs at every intersection, the  “last mile” is where you can expect to throw in the extra dollars. When you think about it, Uber did not invent the ride share (i.e. taxing) experience, instead, they reinvented the way in which buyers and sellers interact in the “last mile.” Without investing in technology, process, and a “frictionless” buying experience, well, consider that taxi meter still running!

P.S. I love talking to Uber drivers – very interesting entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds – but Uber’s buyer enablement is what really sets it apart from traditional last mile transportation services.

How good is your buyer enablement?


FinServ: A Look Back at the Top 5 of 2018

Looking back at the top 5 blogs of 2018 validates our observation that there is still a significant amount of friction in the Go-to-Market models in the Financial Services industry today.  Incumbent FI’s must become much more agile at identifying those friction points, and leveraging a combination of data and insight, analytics, content and technology to help eradicate that friction as new entrants look to gain footholds in the market.   Here’s our take:

  1. Six Early Go-to-Market Trends and Tips for 2019

    The top trends that came up again and again in conversations with Chief Revenue Officers and Chief Marketing Officers on how to outperform the competition in 2019. They’re still valid – and all about reducing friction in your 2019 Go-to-Market!

  2. How to Cross-Sell at Scale – Part 1

    Achieving greater scale in your Cross-Sell execution is one sure way to help reduce Go-to-Market friction.  Marketers need to focus on enabling their sales channels – inside, agents and brokers, direct – to be more effective cross-sellers by providing the prescriptive targeting, content and messaging they need to be successful.  This “last mile” of the buyer’s journey is where much of the GTM friction is still concentrated in the customer experience.

  3. It’s Time to Redefine Go-to-Market Strategy

    In today’s digital world, traditional push marketing and sales activities are no longer effective.  Prospects and customers are self-educating and down-selecting potential  vendors online. If you can’t differentiate and solve their needs through compelling “digital channels”, you have very little chance of being in the consideration set, let alone winning a deal.  Again, it’s all about reducing friction across the customer experience.

  4. 10 Step Checklist for Creating Actionable Segmentations and Personas

    So, what does a successful, actionable segmentation look like? One that is adopted – thereby helping to reduce friction in your marketing efforts by accurately anticipating customer needs and wants. Fortunately, there is a checklist that marketers and market researchers can follow to protect against the risk of a six-month segmentation effort ending with a thud (literally, the 100-page PowerPoint hitting the bottom of the shredder bin).

  5. What About Small Data? Part 1

    Big data remains all the rage – and a source of considerable GTM friction within many organizations still struggling to build their capabilities! Learn how small data can help improve speed to market and short-term results! Many of the best problems out there today—the ones that will yield the most incremental fruit, in terms of leads, opportunities, loyal customers, dollars, etc.—have to deal with small data.

We’re excited about 2019 as a year of implementing innovative ways to activate new go-to-market programs at the ground level with our FinServ clients.  Where are your GTM friction points as you head into 2019?


Tech: A Look Back at the Top 5 of 2018

Change seems to be afoot for 2019 already!  Whether it’s the start of a new fiscal or just the time of year that prompts creative, out-of-the-box thinking on meeting strategic objectives, most of our Tech clients are showing a strong appetite to do something different to meet this year’s performance objectives.

Sales and marketing decision makers are talking to us more and more about ground-level tactics and options to optimize their go-to-market performance.  For our Tech clients, that includes marketing and sales programs to accelerate customer migration to their Cloud solutions, drive adoption of Big Data and AI solutions, and outmaneuver the growing competition in IoT.

And that’s doesn’t seem to just be a January phenomenon, our data suggest a growing pattern over the past year.  One way we validate this interest, in addition to the daily conversations we have with our valued customers and other Tech leaders, is to look back on what 2018 blog posts drove the greatest level of engagement.

We were able to see one common theme across our Top 5 posts:

A passion from our audience to find innovative ways to activate new go-to-market programs at the ground level…something we call “the last mile.”


Below are the Top 5 MarketBridge blogs from the past year and how each relates to getting the best incremental revenue performance from sales and marketing “last mile” programs:

  1. Six Early Go-to-Market Trends and Tips for 2019

    The top trends that came up again and again in conversations with Chief Revenue Officers and Chief Marketing Officers on how to outperform the competition in 2019. All are critical for Tech leaders, but #6 may be most critical.

  1. How to Cross-Sell at Scale (Parts 1 & 2)

    As also outlined in our Tech CMO survey finding blog, cross-sell is king! But it’s hard…we offer Part 1 and Part 2 of cross-sell how-to’s to enable share-of-wallet expansion that can benefit SaaS, hardware, and services P&L owners.

  1. It’s Time to Redefine Go-to-Market Strategy

    “Strategy” is now incomplete without the tactics to affect front-line change (think marketers and sellers) and at the customer engagement moment of truth. The new GTM strategy for tech leaders must focus on creating a systematic engine for bringing data and content together to reach, engage, convert, and expand new customers.

  1. 10 Step Checklist for Creating Actionable Segmentations and Personas

    Too many customer segmentation efforts still fail way too often because they’re not actionable. This detailed how-to blog is a solid primer on making Enterprise, Mid-Market, and SMB buyer targeting actionable for solution and product marketers, channel partners, and direct sales teams.

  1. What About Small Data?

    Sure Big Data is all the rage, but many opportunities that can yield the most incremental leads, opportunities, and dollars have to deal with Small Data. Understand best practices to prioritize channel and direct sales’ activities, and how to execute small-cell, “artisanal” insights-driven analytical marketing.

We’re excited about 2019 as a year of implementing innovative ways to activate new go-to-market programs at the ground level with our clients.  Are your “last mile” go-to-market programs where you need them to be to make the most of the new year?


2019: Eliminating Go-to-Market Friction in FinServ

I had the opportunity over the Holidays to reflect a bit on our Financial Services client experience over the past year, and to think ahead to some of the key industry Go-to-Market challenges we see for 2019.

I went through our blogs for 2018 to see which were the most popular and looked for themes across those which resonated most with our readers. I revisited industry and analyst reports on data, AI and analytics, fintech, martech, digital disruption and transformation, etc. to look for consistent themes. I compared these to our work with multiple clients last year across multiple segments of the industry.  I also reviewed my own experiences as a “consumer” of financial services products almost every day.

A lightbulb went on for me while trying to complete my fourth Christmas present return and exchange for one of my kids – there is still a lot of friction in the system today.  My first return was easy (Amazon).  I clicked on the order in my order history, printed the pre-paid return label and dropped the package at the UPS store.  My bank account was refunded as soon as the tracking order was assigned.  Nearly frictionless.

Had a completely different experience on my fourth attempt when I tried to exchange my daughter’s coat (wrong size!) with another vendor.  I actually had to search through the trash to find the receipt from the original shipment as the order was not available online.  No option to print a label, so I had to take the box to the UPS store, fill out the paper form, have them generate a label, and pay the shipping fees.   The vendor said I should expect to wait 7-10 days after the goods were received for a refund to hit my bank account.  Lots of friction. Guess who I will be ordering next year’s jacket from?

This got me thinking about “Go-to-Market Friction” – the amount of resistance that still occurs today between companies and customers as they progress through the buyer’s journey.  The good news is that rapidly advancing technologies in today’s digital world provide significant opportunity to remove friction in FinServ Go-to-Market processes.  The downside is that it also creates great expectations for ever-better customer experiences and provides opportunities for new market entrants to come in and disrupt traditional “high-friction” FI’s with “low-friction” alternatives.

Arguably, the vast majority of investments that FinServ companies are making today in data, analytics, content, and technology are focused on reducing the friction that exists between customers and an organization as they move through their journey.  Firms that reduce or remove friction have to exert less “force” (think reduced marketing and sales investment and resource) to move customers through each journey and encounter less customer resistance (think improved acquisition, cross-sell, retention, customer satisfaction, etc.)

And with nearly $100B in investment in FinTech globally in 2018, there is still a lot of friction in Financial Services business models that FinTech firms and their investors are racing to address with point solutions across the FinServ spectrum.

With Marketing increasingly responsible for leadership in both customer experience and revenue growth in 2019, CMO’s must be able to identify, prioritize and help reduce or eliminate these areas of friction in their Go-to-Market activities.

Technology changes very rapidly.  Customer buying behavior evolves more slowly.  Existing GTM systems are the last to change.  Legacy FinServ firms must become much more agile at identifying and addressing friction in their current Go-to-Market, or risk being disintermediated by more nimble competitors or startups.

So what are your Go-to-Market friction hot spots?

Based on our experience, here are five key leverage points for your consideration to help eliminate Go-to-Market Friction in 2019.

1) Single View of the Customer

Having a single view of the customer that is available to all channels is a key requirement for creating a frictionless Go-to-Market model.  Gathering, managing and maintaining that data from across multiple business units and numerous touchpoints is still a daunting challenge for many financial services organizations today.

According to Dun & Bradstreet’s 6th Annual B2B Marketing Data Report, 56% of the firms surveyed say that aligning sales and marketing data about companies and contacts is very or extremely difficult today.  49% are NOT confident in the current quality of their sales and marketing data.

Integrating this data into a Customer Data Platform, leveraging it and a Marketing Data Platform to support increasing AI and analytics efforts, and making this insight accessible to other GTM applications, processes and channels will be critical for identifying and mitigating GTM friction in today’s multi-channel world.

Small wonder that IBM predicts that Director of Marketing Data becomes the hottest new marketing role in their 2019 Marketing Trends.  Among other responsibilities, this role will “create processes, rules, and procedure to ensure that critical data is collected and integrated into a customer data platform (CDP).”

For more information on the Customer Data Platform, visit the Customer Data Platform Institute here.

For more information on the Promise of the Marketing Data Platform, see here.

2) Marketing Responsibility for the Customer Experience

Removing friction from the customer journey will continue to be a challenge for those organizations that do not have a group responsible for defining, monitoring and improving that experience end-to-end over time.   Increasingly, customer experience is a role for which marketing is assuming leadership –  though interestingly, this area of responsibility for marketing wasn’t even added to the CMO Survey until February 2018.

According to the August 2018 CMO Survey, Financial Services firms already trail all other industries in terms of marketing leadership of the customer experience (33% vs 45% cross-industry average).  The most recent Salesforce State of Marketing report is more optimistic, with 44% of FinServ firms indicating marketing leads CX initiatives.

Identifying areas of friction and providing the personalized and targeted communications that customers expect at each point along the way will require an end-to-end view of that journey. According to Salesforce, 54% of High Performers leverage Marketing as the “Cross-Functional Glue of Customer Experiences.”

Marketing must assume responsibility for the creation of an integrated customer and seller journey framework that aligns each stage of the buying process and the sales process into a unified strategy that identifies and aligns corresponding content and resources – website, customer service, live sales reps, events, etc. – across all channels.  It is also a vital framework for identifying areas of misalignment or friction between the two!

Again, small wonder that IBM predicts customer centricity will drive constant transformation and that companies must develop a cohesive strategic vision for CX “rather than two distinct customer and marketing strategies as independent playbooks.”

For more information on Creating a Consistent Customer Experience, see here.

3) Leverage Digital Listening to Identify Friction Points

Digital listening is a valuable resource for leveraging the “voice of the customer” to identify Go-to-Market friction points in a near real-time way. Many firms still rely on social media primarily for brand tracking and sentiment analysis, and not for the kind of actionable insight that can be garnered about competitors, partner, products and customers.

Today’s digital listening platforms have evolved considerably from the “old days” of social media sentiment tracking.  The depth of insight that digital listening can now deliver is immense. And in the hands of experts, those insights can be translated into near real-time, actionable intelligence that will help identify GTM friction points.

But GTM friction is not just internal or customer-related, so any digital listening exercise must also include visibility into the actions of other industry players, including your distribution partners and your competitors.  Implementing a highly-structured, action-oriented digital listening program will help organizations make continuous improvements in their Go-ot-Market.

For more information on how companies can better leverage digital listening to identify and remove GTM friction, see here.

4) Agile Analytics at Scale

FinServ tends to invest more in analytics than many other industries today.  That said, according to the most recent CMO Survey, the FinServ industry plans to more than double their investments in analytics over the next three years.  To maximize return on these investments, firms will have to become much more agile with their analytics, and more importantly, the incorporation of those insights into their Go-to-Market execution to help reduce friction.

Developing and deploying an agile analytics capability requires developing the right balance between a corporate COE and individual BU teams, and implementing agile methodologies that enable marketers to execute at scale while retaining the ability to shift gears quickly.  Prioritizing activity based on business impact will be crucial. And aligning your analytics teams closely with your marketing teams will be crucial to ensuring a tighter a business alignment and faster time to market.

To learn more about building an agile, results-driven Analytics Organization, see here and here.

To learn more about the Marketing Analytics Family tree, see here.

5) Focus on Enabling the Personal Relationship

Building trusting relationships is one of the highest priorities in Financial Services, and a key differentiator in driving customer acquisition and retention.  For most Financial Services firms, these relationships are personal in nature, and in many instances exist between third-parties and end customers – agents in the insurance industry, or financial advisors in the Asset Management industry for instance.

This can be an area of significant Go-to-Market friction if insufficient investments are made in enabling these relationships.  This “last mile” relationship is where process breakdowns often occur, and customers, channels, and companies are “out-of-sync.”

Eliminating friction in digital channels is much easier given the one-to-many nature of those channels.  In the “emotion” economy, the many-to-many nature of personal relationships is crucial – especially for Financial Services – and ensuring a consistent customer experience across these resources is key to delivering the value proposition.

To learn more about Enabling the Last Mile, see here.

Where will the biggest friction points be in your 2019 Go-to-Market?


AWS Goes After Data Center Providers. How to Fight Back

At the AWS re:Invent conference a few weeks ago, AWS CEO Andrew Jassy made a major announcement outside the norm for the public cloud behemoth.  Jassy said AWS would begin taking on traditional data center hardware vendors with its on-premises service AWS Outposts.  One response called this AWS’s “boldest effort yet” to challenge legacy data center vendors — like Cisco, Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Microsoft, and NetApp — who make billions building and maintaining traditional on-premises data centers.

Despite the rapid growth in spending on public cloud – growth that has consistently fueled 40%+ YoY growth for quite some time for the now $23.4B cloud giant – the on-prem market has remained elusive to AWS.  Many companies maintain regulatory concerns or privacy issues that limit their ability to use public cloud, while other businesses just aren’t ready to abandon investments made in their own equipment and facilities.

But according to Jassy, customers didn’t want a private cloud experience that attempted to “recreate a stunted version of a cloud”, only on-premises.  So AWS reimagined a solution and, along with a partnership with VMware, AWS Outputs was born.  The service will allow customers to provision physical racks of AWS servers and have them shipped to their own data centers, allowing customers to run compute and storage on-premises, while seamlessly connecting to the rest of AWS’s broad array of services in the cloud.  There’s a lot more to how robust the offering will be…but that’s a BIG deal.

For traditional data center hardware and software providers, it’s time to double-down on developing and delivering new, differentiated go-to-market programs and messaging to the most at risk buyers in their customer base to counter this AWS move – and make that the new normal.  Not doing so now risks additional billions in spending shifting away from Cisco, Dell EMC, HPE, Microsoft (and others) to AWS.

The Clock is Ticking

The good news for competitors? AWS Outposts isn’t scheduled to become available until the second half of 2019.  Additionally, on premises infrastructure providers have deep channel relationships and competitive advantages in the data center.

The bad news, the clock is ticking to identify your most at-risk customers (today and in the future) and engage and then re-engage them from now on with new, refreshed go-to-market programs, value props and messaging unique to competing against AWS Outposts.

If you are one of AWS’s many competitors in the data center space you can capitalize on several challenges that lie ahead for them: First, the same risk-averse companies that previously were resistant to migrating to a public cloud solution are sure to hold skepticism that the largest public cloud solution provider is now a perfect fit for them, even if they were to hold a price advantage.  The positioning and branding that made AWS a rocket ship of growth for public cloud may work against them for highly regulated and/or ultra-privacy sensitive enterprise buyers.  But that messaging will need to be consistently brought to the forefront of communications though marketing tactics and sales channels.

Speaking of sales channels, that’s their second challenge.  The rich network of channel partners that competitors have developed and invested in, and who really own the customer relationship, is a strong barrier to entrance against AWS Outposts.  But developing the content, messaging, and playbooks to enable partners to remain loyal and successfully articulate competitive advantages vis-à-vis AWS will be paramount.

What Now? A 3 Part Recipe for Success

Given AWS’s track record, this is a threat requiring immediate and substantial attention from traditional data center vendors including Cisco, Juniper, Dell EMC, HPE, Lenovo, Microsoft, and many, many, many more.  Andrew Jassy makes an effective case for change when he says “we have hundreds of data centers in lots of places that require all kinds of maintenance and real-time work.  We have a little bit of an idea of how to do it.”  They do indeed.

For the competition in need of upgrading their go-to-market against AWS here are three suggestions to engage the right customer with the right message at the right time:

  1. Market Intelligence: Keep a finger on the pulse of what buyers, partners, AWS themselves, and even your own competitors are doing in response to this. Do customers care? If so (which is likely), what entices them the most?  What are the obstacles that exist that AWS is and is not successfully overcoming?  What do partners need to reinforce their trusted relationship position?  What competitors are delivering messaging that’s best received by private cloud/on-premises buyers?This intelligence can be sourced through a combination of agile digital listening to uncover important micro-trends on an ongoing basis, qualitative customer/partner insights to determine relevant market movements, and even quantitative research to determine where to shift go-to-market program investments.

    For more on Using ‘Digital Intelligence’ to Source Vertical Opportunities, read here >

  1. At-Risk Customer Analytics: Delve into existing and prospective customer data on infrastructure purchase patterns, installed base of data center hardware and software, network usage and utilization patterns, storage and compute demands, “look alike” account behaviors, recent pricing concessions, content consumptions triggers related to public/hybrid cloud vs. on-prem solutions, etc.Your existing customer data is certain to hold clues on which current buyers represent the greatest at-risk of defection to an AWS Outposts solution…and which definitely do not.  Finding and regularly updating those customer sub-segments and customizing corresponding messaging to them allows for nimble, effective customer retention.

    For more on Three Questions to Ensure Your 2019 Go-to-Market Strategy is a Success, read here >

  1. Refreshed Go-to-Market Programs: Without question, marketing messaging, sales enablement content, and the “last mile” communications that deliver effective and differentiated value propositions to buyers will need to change. Direct-to-buyer positioning delivered via web, social, email, events, etc. will require a refresh and the channel partner content needed to equip and enable partners to engage, convert, deliver, and service on-premise data center customers will too.  Just as new content supports new product launches, new playbooks will be needed to arm sales and marketing teams to effectively compete against AWS Outposts.

    For more on The Last Mile Problem: 7 Steps to Closing the Insights-to-Outcomes Gap, read here >

If AWS can continue to grow revenues at its over 40% annual pace, it will double in two years – adding another $20+ billion in revenues.  Will some of your revenue become theirs?  Given the billions in incremental data center revenue at stake here, it pays to respond with go-to-market innovation…and fast.


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