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91 | B2B purchasing is being revolutionised. Marketing is front and centre.

37 min listen

B2B sales will never be the same again.

Today’s buyers (a whopping 22 per account) are younger and, thanks to COVID, accustomed to conducting their own research and buying journeys online. This has decimated traditional sales approaches and made marketing more important than ever. 

 In this episode, we’re joined by Bill Zengel, the man with a front-row seat to the very best B2B marketing around the world, as he marks the trajectory of marketing’s future leaders. 

Ready to discover more? Tune in to the rest of the Masters of B2B Marketing here!



View the full transcript here

91 | B2B purchasing is being revolutionised. Marketing is front and centre.

Jon Busby: Hello, and welcome to the very first spinoff from the Tech Marketing Podcast. In collaboration with the Association of National Advertisers, we are thrilled to bring you the masters of B2B marketing. Get ready now as we spin through some fantastic episodes covering the latest and B2B, thinking from AI to advertising analytics, to attribution alignment, and so much more.

Today's B2B buyers. Which whopping the account for 22% per account are younger. And thanks to Covid accustomed to conducting their own research and buyer journeys online, this has completely destroyed the traditional sales approach and has made marketing more important than ever. In this episode, we're joined by Bill Engel, the man with a front row seat to the very best of B2B marketing around the world as he marks the trajectory of marketing's future leaders.

Alex Norbury: So in terms of highlights, so many crazy good Sure speakers, lots of amazing insights. What are some of the highlights for you?

Bill Zengel: So I think the biggest highlight for me is I'm friends with our CEOand five years ago he asked me to help him elevate B2B, and I think there was a foundation there, but I was, I don't wanna say surprised, but the breadth and scope of the work.

That I saw through the B2 awards told me that there's a transformation in the industry. Mm-hmm. We, what we've seen since covid is so much growth in B2B and the bar keeps getting higher. Mm-hmm. And it wasn't like one great campaign, but there were people who got a bronze yesterday who in my mind, should have gotten a platinum if we had that award.

The work was that good. And it was so much of it. And I think it reflects the community, which is great.

Alex Norbury: Yeah. The bars are changing, aren't they? The leather grade is the competition's getting. Getting fierce

Bill Zengel: For sure. It, it, it really is at the end, the ANA’s a B2B company, like any marketing solution provider, like any agency.

So I sit there and take notes, right? It's 18 month life to make a sale. 22 people involved. It's not too different, right? Yeah,

Alex Norbury: yeah. Completely, completely. It is interesting though, we, from an agency perspective, you get to see the best of the best award ceremonies like this. And there are other award ceremonies.

You have some in New York. But there is still a part of me. You think about the number of brands out there, you think about the number of the companies. We just work in tech, and then there's every everywhere else. You boil it down to essentially a handful of examples that are award worthy and go on to win.

I still feel, and I dunno how you'd love to answer, ask you the question here, I still feel like there's a huge opportunity. We are still scratching the surface. Really, if you really think about it, 99.9% of the stuff that comes out from every brand that we work with, it's pretty safe. It's pretty product led.

It's, we've got the stars of the show that we've just been seeing for the last two days, but I still think there's so much more.

Bill Zengel: I don't wanna mess up your microphone. So just reflecting what you just said, I have about 200 scraps of paper and it was me taking notes during a presentation and we debrief with the team.

We always do that at the end of the event, and what I said to them is, I. I just feel like the sky's the limit. I don't even feel like we've started, like we're at the beginning of the beginning.

Alex Norbury: Mm-hmm. We're at the beginning. Yeah. I really, I saw the, I saw the work from ndl. Yeah. And of course Workday and Juniper, and I know there were more, and they were fantastic campaigns.

So again, all the work you did yesterday as, but as I say, that was one campaign from one brand. That's, that's the big stuff. But yeah, it's how do we get all of the learning to transcend into, not just not, maybe not every day, but certainly how do we get it into, let's go for 20% of the campaigns or the work that we do has to push the boundaries in certain areas.

Taking the learnings from today and how we, and it comes back to the being better marketers too. 'cause fundamentally, I think there's still a, there's still some. There's not enough risk being taken in B2B across, across the board. There's, you say glimpses of it, but yeah, that's why I agree. Beginning we are at the beginning of the beginning.

How can we facilitate people taking much bolder risks in every brief that they, that they put on the table for themselves or through the agencies?

Jon Busby: I'm gonna, the. Where do I start with this view? Some of this has just solidified the confidence in our direction with B2B. Great point. The, the best way I would phrase this, like if you look at how Jeff Lowe, he's probably been one of the most talked about people at this conference.

Yep. And he probably was last year as well, but yeah, he, that. If we look at the trajectory he's been on, if we look at the things like re parks, who, you know, from Google who talked about this, three to four short lists that people come into a buying decision only with the day one list. The, the day one list, day one list.

Now that was, that's been mentioned multiple times. It's at this table talking to our guests. If we talk about how the B2B journey is now much more digital, my, we went up this view last year. It's marketing's day to rule the roost. Sales sales days are numbered, and it's B2B market. It's now the time for the B2B marketeer.

Someone like Jeff, who is from a marketing background, he's now in charge of marketing and sales, and so I'm gonna keep pushing that. The CROs, the CCOs that we're gonna start seeing are going to be marketing led. Not sales led and we're just at the start of that journey in three to five years time. The B2B buyer experience, how people buy technology especially, which is the industry we are in, will be completely changed, revolutionized from today.

Yeah, and I think this just the journey we're on, listening to a lot of, the lot of the speakers, I've not had a chance to attend as many of the sessions 'cause we've been having fantastic one-on-one sessions with them. Ourselves. Just, I think really solidifies that's the direction it's going.

Bill Zengel: Definitely I, if I could elaborate, I, I would just, so Jeff Lowe, I think you sometimes you see the logos up on stage and use ge Yeah.

And MasterCard, American Express one last night. Mm-hmm. And you, you might have the perception that the ANA is just for the biggest of the big. And what I will tell you that we hear from those companies is they want to think like startups. Mm-hmm. They want to be lean and interesting. Uh, Jeff Lowe, we met him last year.

And you asked me before about, I'll say a favorite. And when you have children, they're all your favorites. Uh, so everybody's unique and different in a certain way. And not that any of the CMOs are my children, but I love them all. Yeah. Yeah. And what I think is interesting about membership in the ANA is smart technologies.

Jeff Lowe, he was with a woman named Jenna Pekk last year, that case study. Got, there's so much information out there. There's just so much information. And you can just see the poor analyst googling everything going where? Where's the right answer? And Jeff came to us before he was in the Harvard Business Review, if I remember correctly.

Wow. And our members saw his case study, and if it's all about growth, he delivered 40% growth. By Recentering around a customer. And then they did single budgeting, I forget the term he used. Mm-hmm. And he delivered 40% growth the following year. Yeah. And he's such a gentleman. He asked us if he could come back and update people.

Mm-hmm. And he told me, I had dinner with him the other night, and he. He called it out of market demand generation. Yeah. Rather than branding. So it would resonate. And you mentioned sales and marketing. And I have to say, I'm a former salesperson, so I see it from both sides. And my approach to sales was always I could look you in the eye and you were considering buying.

You would buy from me That, and I think there are a lot of salespeople who feel the same way. That model has been decimated by covid, and the customer now is digital first. Mm-hmm. And I learned this from Jeff. They're digital first. They want to do the discovery on their own. Yeah. And you get somebody who's old school who says, oh, can we just get on a phone call?

What do you like? You got five minutes for a call. Yeah. You're out of the running. There's no relationship, right? Mm-hmm. So that's where marketing has a chance to step forward. Couldn't agree more and not be the people who just make sure the business card is right. Make sure the golf banner at the tournament is right.

It's more than that and, but I would say that I think it needs to be an equal partnership. Okay. And if marketing goes in, like saying, Hey, I'm here to assume the crown. Yeah, they won't. Yeah.

Jon Busby: I think to chat, and I think this is a point that we did talk about. With Jeff, although we've heard Jeff is now referred to as the ANA B2B Masters.

Ryan Reynolds, by the way. Fantastic. Yeah, I was just say we call you earlier because he's Canadian, he's like our friendly, liked right version of Ryan Renold Reynolds. Everybody loves him so that we, we can take that one back home. I think the, I, I can definitely see where you're going. I'm not saying it is just gonna be about marketing, but I think before sales have always had the attribution.

It's, that's been where the money's been earned. Right, because that's where the sale gets closed, and I think we are now seeing a shift where marketing should take some of that spotlight.

Bill Zengel: Yeah. I couldn't agree with you more than I have. Just two quick stories to share with you related to that. I can't tell you the companies, but a professional services company, the marketing person was in a position where sales was like, just make sure the straight and then covid hit and there's no more face-to-face calls.

Mm-hmm. You could use data to track. But you have it at the corporate level on their IP address and they're working from home. From home. Yeah. You're sending direct mail to an office and nobody's there. Yeah. So everything you've done isn't working. And the partner at the firm, which is functionally a revenue generating job, came to this marketing person and said, help me.

And she was like, I've got just what you need, content that you could serve up. Keep,

Jon Busby: keep going. Sorry. Okay, sure. This is

Bill Zengel: just, and then this, I think the second story that was interesting to me, and again, I can't tell you the company, but it was a healthcare system provider. They make radiology machines, and a woman said to me, pre covid, I if you walked in to a C-suite meeting and said, we're gonna sell a $1 million radiology machine online, you would've been laughed out of the room.

Yeah. Completely. Three months after Covid. Everybody was all over digital. Yep. The system design. All the way through order. Mm-hmm. Yep. And that is not going away. Mm-hmm. It's not, we're all going back to face. There's nothing like a handshake and a human smile. I've had enough of avatars, but that buying process is not going away and it's been accelerated and it puts marketing front and center.

Alex Norbury: Yeah. Yeah. I, yeah, I we're obviously saying, and this is obviously insight from Google as well, the buyers are getting younger, so hence it's happening and all happened at the same time. The research. It is more difficult face-to-face. The interaction is more difficult face-to-face, and the buyers are younger who, and they typically don't want to speak to people, let alone salespeople.

So the sort of convergence of those two things. And I think at the same time, obviously we want to inspire those younger generation of marketers. To therefore build better experiences, right? Better brand experiences, better content experiences that are right for their own sort of cohort of buyers on the other side, which is so why?

So for me, a really important, I guess, time for the AANAs to support those younger marketers and give them the confidence to do different things and therefore engage the buyers in different ways too, because those buyers are changing.

Bill Zengel: That's so insightful. I'm actually thinking about what you just said.

We go back to that idea that there are 22 people involved. Mm-hmm. In purchase decision. I think that's the data point that I heard today. Yeah. I know. You could see the next presentation. It could say 18, but it's a lot. I met a young woman today from a member company, and what she said to me was, our c e O has decided that we should have a B2B focus after being traditionally a B two C brand.

Oh, okay. And they shifted. 15 people have traditional brand to do B2B. Wow. Now, I doubt that anybody else here knew that because they probably didn't ask her the question. And it goes exactly to your, I meant you're actually making me think a lot about this. And we all our members, we think of our members as our family.

Yeah. And our friends, and we're just here to help. We're not trying to upsell anybody. We just wanna deliver value for what they were here for. And I looked at her title and she was, I think, a manager. And conversely, there were people here who say, I'd like to do a dinner, but I just want the CMOs. Yeah. So that they're, and the marketing solution providers who are telling the brands they're working with, that there are 22 buyers.

And don't ignore 21 of them yet. They only want to interact one of them when this woman could be so insightful and to your point, that's so true, which is what made me think of it to your point, is I don't think people are saying there's a messaging strategy. Why is she having dinner with me instead of with one of the marketing solution providers?

Alex Norbury: Yeah. Yeah. That's so true. Absolutely. Absolutely. So I dunno whether there's any, again, so much cover the last few days. I dunno whether there's any other highlight. You've done quite, you've had a lot of conversations, you've had some fantastic podcasts over the last few days. I dunno whether there's any, anything.

Jon Busby: You want The one sta the one start. I do. If, I'm trying to think of the other key things. There's a lot of con, lots of discussions around, starting with the outcomes sounds very obvious. Being customer-centric. Yeah. That we are seeing this move towards a customer experience, customer-centric movement in B2B, which i, I kind of struggle with 'cause it just feels obvious.

Yeah. Why we do how to begin with. It's good that it's getting the airtime that it needs. And alongside that though is the, the power of brand. Like we've seen multiple speakers, multiple people sat at this table, talk about how it's important to continue investing in your brand. There was one today on Wednesday, but the, the stat that Google stated was, every dollar that you try and save on your brand, now it's gonna cost you.

$1.85 to get back. That's crazy to me. Which is crazy. You're paying twice, essentially. Yeah, basically. Basically. So I, yeah, I, I can't wait to actually, she was a fountain of stats, which I struggled to keep up with, but really looking forward to, to, to editing that. So there are so many takeaways and I just hope that the lot of the attendees got a chance to, to, to listen to the speakers that, that, that we did.

Fantastic. We are using the same question with everyone that sat here summarize in five words or less. Advice for a CMO to achieve success? What would it be?

Bill Zengel: Yeah, maybe Alex could go first.

Alex Norbury: Yeah. For me it's think longer term. Okay. I, I, from an agency perspective, and I think this is also a quite symptomatic of the tech industry that we are in, rather than broader B2B, effectively, we live in quarter to quarter, and every single presentation today, not just today, every single presentation from this week, from every single individual.

Essentially saying the same thing. Mm-hmm. Which is connected to brand, connected to buyer journeys. Connect the number of people, every brand to demand. Every example was if you are living, if you are running programs, quarter to quarter. You're changing the messages every five minutes, the audiences change, your focus changes.

It's a very long five words. Alex, I'm justifying my five words. I've given you the five words. I've given you the five words, and I'm just buying some time.

Bill Zengel: Okay? Okay. I'm ready now. You've already time.

Jon Busby: Go ahead. Go for it. Go. So what, five words? Five words or less? What advice would you give a CMO to achieve success?

Bill Zengel: Join the ANA. It's the best peer sharing network you could find.

Alex Norbury: No one's counting.

Bill Zengel: I started would join the ANA, but I thought I had a validated, I would say longer. I interviewed the reporter from CNBC. Dominic? Yes. And I asked him, what's the secret to a great interview? And he said, Always to assume you are ignorant about the person you're interviewing and what they do.

Yeah, and I've been in this business a long time. I've worked in almost every capacity, and I have 50 pages of notes from listening to CMOs, so I like to think the a and a is the world's smallest private club. Mm-hmm. Global chief marketing officers. And they learn from each other, not from me. Love it.

Jon Busby: Yeah.

That's great. Yeah. Love that. Yeah, that's awesome.

Alex Norbury: I have to say, that's a great round off, I'd say. Yeah. That is a beautiful summary of the last couple of days. Nicely done. Really

Jon Busby: nicely done. Thank you so much for joining us on the, on the last day here at the ANA, masters of B2B event. It's been fantastic to thank you for inviting us and the Tech marketing podcast to, uh, to host your wonderful speakers and guests and hope to see you again next year or later on now to see you.

Thanks for tuning in for another episode of the Masters of B2B Marketing, an association with the ANAs, looking for more insights. Be sure to explore our other episodes showcasing some brilliant leaders in the B2B world. And of course, don't forget to hit subscribe, the stay up to date with the latest from the Tech Marketing Podcast.

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