Podcast: Why IT Businesses Are Taking Marketing Seriously

Shahin Hoda 25  mins read Updated: January 9th, 2024

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Why the Fastest Growing IT Businesses Are Now Taking Their Marketing Very Seriously

Episode’s topic: Why the Fastest Growing IT Businesses Are Now Taking Their Marketing Very Seriously

In this episode, host Shahin Hoda chats with Malcolm Hamilton, Global Marketing Director at SAP, on why IT businesses worldwide are now taking marketing seriously. Malcolm talks about the importance of having marketing at the leadership table, guiding decisions about what accounts and prospects to target. 

He also highlights the importance of having a strong understanding of the overall buyer’s journey and encourages IT leaders to be patient while expecting ROI from marketing initiatives.

This episode’s guest:

Why the Fastest Growing IT Businesses Are Now Taking Their Marketing Very Seriously

Malcolm Hamilton, Global Marketing Director at SAP

Malcolm is Global Marketing Director of the SAP Digital Academy, a division of the SAP Global Partner Ecosystem & SME Marketing Team. He is the Architect and Global Lead for the highly acclaimed, award-winning SAP Partner Marketing Excellence Workshop Portfolio, attended by over 5,000 SAP Partners around the Globe. 

Malcolm joined SAP in 2005 and is regarded as one of SAP’s top Subject Matter Experts and Thought Leaders on International Channel Marketing Best Practices.

Connect with him on LinkedIn

Conversation segments on this episode:

  • [01:48] Right-Brain versus Left-Brain kind of people.
  • [02:36] Technical leaders need to partner with the “right-brain” marketing discipline.
  • [08:05] Speaking to the buyer’s journey is the science behind Marketing
  • [09:53] Ignoring the customer’s buying drivers can make a business irrelevant.
  • [12:53] How should a left-brain technical founder start focusing on marketing?
  • [18:51] Marketing strategies can take up to a year to realise good ROI.
  • [22:05] Marketing should have a say at the leadership table.
  • [26:02] The role of marketing in the buyer’s journey.
  • [33:11] What causes marketing efforts to be unsuccessful?
  • [39:33] Advice to B2B Leaders – know your buyer and know who influences them.
  • [43:32] Exciting thing about B2B Marketing – the opportunity to shape your market.

Resources mentioned on this episode:

About the Growth Colony Podcast

On this podcast, you'll be hearing from B2B founders, CMOs, marketing & sales leaders about their successes, failures, what is working for them today in the B2B marketing world and everything in between.

Hosted by Shahin Hoda & Alexander Hipwell, from xGrowth

Get in touch!

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Episode Full Transcript:

[00:16] Shahin Hoda Hello everyone, welcome to another episode of the pod. I'm Shahin Hoda with xGrowth and today I'm talking to Malcolm Hamilton, Global Marketing Director at SAP about how can companies with a strong technical background produce marketing in their organisation, and create an environment for it to thrive? Malcolm, thanks for joining us.

[00:35] Malcolm Hamilton My great pleasure, thanks for inviting me 

[00:38] Shahin Hoda No, it's great to have you. You know, this topic hits home for me on many different angles. My background is electrical engineering, I mean by education is electrical engineering. And I know there is a shift that needs to happen for engineers to start to think in marketing language, right? And that's sometimes challenging to do so especially if it's a company that is founded by a technical founder or technical owner, and they got to make that shift. First of all, how would you describe the initial approach that technical leaders take? You know, someone with an engineering background and technical background they take towards marketing? What do you see? 

[01:24] Malcolm Hamilton Interesting, actually, interestingly enough, some of the topnotch marketeers that I know personally have an engineering background, both mechanical engineering and electronic engineering. So I'm not quite sure what that means. But I guess, I often reference this when I'm talking to my business partners and my colleagues, that there's this dynamic that marketing is regarded as a right-brained creative skill, okay. And technical, analytical skills are left brain. So typically, a lot of leaders of businesses in IT come from a technical background and often come from that left-brain space. 

[02:11] Malcolm Hamilton So they are challenged by marketing, candidly, they find it difficult to understand the dynamics of what effective marketing is. Whereas those folks that come from a right-brained environment, thrive in the marketing space. But what is happening really quickly is that both those dynamics are emerging. So the tech that the left-brain folks that are in leadership positions are having to adapt, having to change, and move really quickly, given the massive paradigm shifts we're all experiencing in B2B and B2C commerce today. So that's a very real dynamic where I'm meeting with senior leaders from our partners around the world. And very often they have a left-brain discipline, and they're on this journey. Because they have to be.

[03:08] Shahin Hoda What do you think and I want to get into the nitty-gritty of people getting on this journey. But you know, what, what are some of the challenges that you see people having when they have that technical, that left-brain approach to, and then they also try to introduce marketing?

[03:27] Malcolm Hamilton Yeah, it's just having that innate ability to be creative. from a marketing perspective. Marketing is a creative exercise. I'm not saying that left brain, people are not creative, that they're just creative in a different way. And I know it's really dangerous to over generalise, but if I'm in a room of strangers, in a meeting new partners in the room, I can almost pick after they've introduced themselves, just their names, I can almost tell you within minutes, which are the left-brain, which are the right-brain, or the way they communicate, the way they dress, the way they talk generally. 

[04:06] Malcolm Hamilton But all I can say to you is anecdotally with a few exceptions, those left-brain individuals, and candidly in the channel, in the IT channel, very large percentage of proprietors, leaders in the IT channel come from a left-brain technical background. They've either worked for a large vendor in the technical space and decided to launch a business of their own for all the right reasons. And they usually launch it and open it with peers, colleagues, friends that are also left-brain. 

[04:38] Malcolm Hamilton So you often need business partners that are predominantly left-brained in the way they think. So one of the things that we are always saying to partners is really must think about bringing a market here with market right-brain marketing disciplines into your business and allow that individual a seat at the leadership table to help you reconsider your go-to market strategy, your value prop, all those things that marketers can do very readily that often technical people find difficult.

[05:13] Shahin Hoda It's like deja vu talking to you about this right now. You know, one of the other things that I feel, and I have this challenge with was, you know, coming from an engineering background, there is a, you work with a certain level of certainty, right? And there is the that inputs of A, B, and C that goes in and it gives you, it gives you D. When marketing is not as black and white is that and that was something for me, that was always a bit of a challenge to get used to that, hey, it's not as black and white, you're dealing with people now, you're dealing with that level of uncertainty from people in the marketing space. And, and that level of uncertainty was something that I was not fully comfortable with. Is that something that you see as well,

[06:00] Malcolm Hamilton A lot. And in fact, you know, I won't resist using cliches and buzz terms, but there was this really important dynamic, which successful businesses right now are adapting to. And it's a term called customer-centricity. And historically, marketing and sales have been targeting companies, company identities, right, without necessarily doing any research in terms of the human beings that reside within that business, what we call a line of business leaders. So if you're attempting to sell to any business, large, medium, or small, if you're pitching a message to the CFO, Chief Financial Officer, they have very different buying drivers to a CMO, or to the CEO. This isn't rocket science. 

[06:52] Malcolm Hamilton And it's not new to a lot of people that will be listening to your podcast. But what is fundamentally true today is you'd better understand who your customer is, in terms of their buying drivers, and what makes them tick, what makes them want to respond to anything that you are saying to them. Because what happens all too often is marketers and sales pitch the wrong message to the wrong person. And guess what, they then get surprised that there's no, there's no worse result. And that there are things like account-based marketing. Another term is called the ideal customer profile, what does your ideal customer look like? And of course, that to some extent is the size of the company, geography, industry, all those things. 

[07:40] Malcolm Hamilton But today, it's especially critical to bringing that fact that you're dealing with human beings that right now have very, very different buying drivers than they did even six months ago, nine months ago. They're selecting vendors, predominantly 80% of that buyer's journey is done independently without the vendor or the salesperson engaging. So the science of marketing today is making sure that any kind of messaging speaks to the light language of that ideal customer profile. That's the science right now is speaking to those roles. But not only speaking to those roles by buying drivers but also speaking to them aligned to what we called the buyers' journey. So it's always been a science, but no, more so than now.

[08:31] Shahin Hoda Again, before we get into there, tell me a little bit about some of the consequences of not being customer-centric, not thinking about the customer as a human being and looking at the account, and not only at the account but also at the personas within that account. What are some of the consequences that you see in the market when organisations don't do that? And they kind of follow that same trajectory of, hey, we only work with technical people, we only work with left minded people, we rely on our network of people that we know. And that's the path that they have taken forward. What are some of the consequences that an organisation facing that situation?

[09:15] Malcolm Hamilton Think about the way right now that all of us are all constantly on digital platforms. Whether it's a mobile phone, whether it's a laptop, whether it's a TV, whatever it is, we are being bombarded with thousands of messages a day, and we have this innate ability to disregard 99% of them. And the reason we disregard 99% of them is because our instincts and our brain tell us irrelevant, irrelevant, relevant, click, close, swipe, those decisions that are made in milliseconds. So going back to your question, the danger with not delivering the right kind of content constructed to the buyers' journey and the bias drivers means you are instantly irrelevant. Instantly. 

[10:06] Malcolm Hamilton You can, to a certain extent, trade-off the brand that you represent as a marketer to some extent, but frankly, most buyers today, decision-makers are making decisions in seconds as to whether you're relevant or not. So if you pitch anything to a decision-maker, regardless of role, it needs to be highly relevant to their buying drivers. They need to perceive the value to what you are pitching to them, what you're presenting to them, and fundamentally, it must not be salesy. Anything that's too salesy, right now, is disregarded. 

[10:44] Malcolm Hamilton And again, I keep saying to our business partners around the world, and it's, again, it's going to sound cliche, but it's a skill, and that is put yourself in the mind and body of the individual that you are targeting right now. What age group are they? So for instance, there's research that was recently published that said, by global, respected analysts that said, over 50%, of decision-makers in a buying cycle in IT now are millennials. Now that's okay, whether you believe it or not. That's there's a high percentage that is millennials. Millennials buy and select vendors fundamentally differently from someone like me, for instance, a baby boomer. Their buying drivers are fundamentally different. 

[11:34] Malcolm Hamilton They want to receive messaging that empathises with their values, and if you don't empathise with their values, they disregard you in a second. So that's the impact of a left-brain leader, or left brain anything in a business, not being willing or prepared to address that dynamic. Because right now, they'll be missing a huge opportunity to address that dynamic. And as a result, if you do address that dynamic send messaging to prospects aligned to their buying drivers, you're going to get cut through, they're not going to disregard you, and they'll engage, and you will embed, you'll engage in sell cycles that the competition doesn't even know exists. 

[12:18] Shahin Hoda Interesting, 

[12:19] Malcolm Hamilton Very long answer to your question, but 

[12:21] Shahin Hoda No, no, it's good. It's good. I think you raise a few very interesting points, which kind of dovetails really nicely into my next question about, okay, we get it, we have to be customer-focused, we have to align ourselves to the customer, we have to understand our customer. And that sounds like the first step that IT organisations need to take in order to be able to create a successful marketing or demand engine for their organisation. Where do they go from there?

[12:55] Shahin Hoda You know, let's say I'm an IT company. And, you know, I've made the decision that, okay, we need to put a more strategic focus on marketing. I'm a technical founder, and I brought in maybe a head of marketing now. And, and you're trying to understand who our customer is. Where do I go from there? What's the, you know, kind of how does my trajectory of progress going to look like?

[13:20] Malcolm Hamilton Yeah, that's the million-dollar question. Because so often, to be able to pull that information, all of the information you've just referenced is actually quite a challenging task, right? And it's the secret sauce. If you're able to identify who your ideal customer profile is, and ask yourself some simple questions like, regardless of whether you're technical or not. A leader, where are we consistently going into opportunities, potential deals and losing? What's our win-loss rate, when we target that particular business or that particular industry with this particular solution? Well, common sense and logic would say, if our loss rate is high, we should stop targeting it. 

[14:08] Malcolm Hamilton But there's this tendency for businesses to say this is the market we really should be owning. And we should be targeting because we just want to without having all that analysis on the back end as to whether or not what you're offering to that target market really is a relevant solution. The secret sauce is to understand where you consistently win by industry, by role, by company size, with the type of solution. And the extension of that is, once you've done that research, well, we consistently win in discrete manufacturing companies that turn over 500 million and below with an HR solution. 

[14:49] Malcolm Hamilton Well, blind Freddy would then say when that case is about finding more like that, in other words, taking a laser beam approach to marketing rather than the tendency to do something we call spray and pray, which is just targeting anyone, right? Because often, frankly, leadership for any business, I've seen it and heard it many, many times, where leadership will say to marketing, we've just gone through our sales pipeline is looking a bit thin, we need more leads, more leads, just send out 10,000 emails, get a database from a database vendor and just send out 10,000 emails and plan to get at least three or four leads from that will end up probably closing one with and that conversation happens all the time. 

[15:36] Malcolm Hamilton Whereas the most successful vendors that we deal with the successful partners understand that the other dynamic, which is laser beam marketing, so going back to your question, it's a tough discussion to have with a non-market leader that doesn't understand marketing. A good conversation to have is when a leader who has a technical background knows, he or she knows that they don't know. 

[16:03] Malcolm Hamilton And they need to bring that skill set into the business. And once that happens, providing they recruit well, that marketer they bring into the business becomes a strategic advisor to the business to guide them, guide the business on that go to market strategy, not always an easy conversation to have. It's changed management. But this is why increasingly, businesses around the world are becoming marketing lead, not sales lead,

[16:28] Shahin Hoda I want to come back to that point being marketing lead, but not sales lead. But the other thing that I want to point out that you just talked about is that they bring somebody on board. And it's hard to adapt to the process because it needs change management. And one of the things I've seen is patience runs out with marketing. And it's 

[16:54] Malcolm Hamilton Absolutely. 

[16:55] Shahin Hoda Yeah. And it's like it's not working. Kill it. Have you seen anything similar to that? What is your experience with patients running thin?

[17:04] Malcolm Hamilton Well, SAP who I work for, we have over 23,000 partners in our ecosystem, and they range from transnationals many names we'd all know, right down to the, you know, small businesses with maybe six to eight staff. And I hear this in companies large, medium and small. And that is to your point, patience wears thin really quickly. And that's one of the biggest challenges because sales are hungry for leads, more leads, leads, leads. That's the cut you know, we need marketing needs to generate more leads no, marketing needs to generate better leads is the discussion. Leads that are we are more likely to close. 

[17:46] Malcolm Hamilton And if you have that spray and pray approach and you do end up with you know, your target 10,000 individuals or companies and you generate those five leads, the chances of you closing any of those five leads are significantly reduced because they've just moved into a marketing phase or a sales phase and they just don't buy. So, again, back to your question, change management is where leadership has faith and trust in marketing's guidance. So marketing's role should be at the leadership table talking about and contributing to the discussion around where our best-fit target markets, by company size, by role, by industry, by geo. And let's build a strategy to dominate those target markets, not own a piece of it but dominated. 

[18:37] Malcolm Hamilton A marketing, good marketing, good marketeers, are eminently qualified to be able to have those conversations with leadership. But to your point in terms of patience, what happens leadership, many marketing strategies can take up to a year before you see ROI, if not longer. A case in point, for instance, is let's say it's anything relating to social media. Social media historically was not seen as a viable mechanism with which to generate business. candidly, today without it, many businesses wouldn't be around for very long, it's fundamentally key. But a social media strategy or a digital marketing strategy takes time to build, takes time to execute. And often somewhat depending on what the initiative is, it can take six-nine-twelve months before you start seeing ROI. 

[19:36] Malcolm Hamilton And that's when leadership starts to lose patience, though, were the leads, when are the leads coming? When do the leads come in? You've been running this LinkedIn campaign now for six months, we're not seeing enough leads. So marketing straightaway or in this defensive position being forced to move into a tactical role rather than strategic and successful businesses are those where in my unequivocal experience meeting thousands of partners a year around the globe, it's when leadership has faith and trust in marketing as a thought leader within their business. 

[20:12] Malcolm Hamilton And they have the patience to realise that it's not rapid, okay, you might get you might be lucky and get short term ROI depending on what it is. But historically, if it's done well, it takes patience, until you start to get a run rate. But once it's well-tuned, well-structured and you're targeting the right market, your cost of acquisition significantly drops. So, you know, leads coming into the business of high-quality sales are happy because they've got good opportunities to work on, the CEOs very happy because the win rate is much higher. And net higher revenues, higher margins.

[20:55] Shahin Hoda Everybody's happy. Everybody's on their good side. 

[20:59] Malcolm Hamilton Yeah.

[21:54] Shahin Hoda Malcolm, earlier you mentioned organisations, especially IT companies are becoming more marketing lead than sales lead. What do you mean by that?

[22:03] Malcolm Hamilton I guess it goes back to that topic where I say that marketing needs to be at the leadership table to have the discussion around what market we should be targeting at all. Because historically, sales have been leading those discussions sales have been saying we should be targeting this industry. And often those, historically those recommendations from sales have been based on where they've won the occasional deal. The relationship salespeople already have with decision-makers. But candidly, the elephant in the room is salespeople typically tend to work where they feel comfortable, right? And that's human nature. And it's tough to move out of that space and say, target a different type of customer. 

[22:52] Malcolm Hamilton So marketing's role is to do a number of things that leadership table, but from a strategic guidance perspective, the CEO when he or she are having pipeline, review, discussions with sales. Marketing needs to be set at the table as well, or on the zoom or on their teams. Because if there's a Delta if there's not sufficient pipeline velocity, new pipeline velocity, historically, sales have said, well, let's go here, here, here and here. And they do and you can't do that anymore. You need marketing needs to be at the table to say, we've done some research using digital platforms. 

[23:33] Malcolm Hamilton We see an opportunity here, here, here and here. And the way they determine those opportunities, marketing this is, is leveraging digital platforms. What we call social listening, from a marketing perspective. It's marketing's job to do that, and marketing's in a position then to provide leadership with guidance where to aim the limited gunpowder as opposed to spray and pray. So any CEO of any business right now needs to have marketing involved in those strategic discussions. And marketing has to have the courage to say you know what, we shouldn't go there. We shouldn't target that market. 

[24:16] Malcolm Hamilton Why? Because we've done some analysis, and will be spinning cycles and our win-loss or loss rate will be very high. Let's think about another market. The other reason marketing, successful businesses are becoming marketing leads is back to that other terms, customer centricity, and whether it's B2C or B2B, marketing is influencing everything we are doing right now. Everything we are doing. We just often don't know it in terms of what we buy, where we go to restaurants, what movie we see what you know what clothes we buy. 

[24:54] Malcolm Hamilton  And you might say, well, marketing has always done that. Yes, but differently. This has been done using platforms like artificial intelligence, machine learning, where successful marketeers are leveraging leading-edge digital platforms to get inside our heads to influence our decision-making processes, and an industry that got this five years ago retail, retail have been doing this for at least five years. Successful retailers today leverage marketing and technology supremely well. IT is a little bit of a catch up, but it's happening. 

[25:30] Shahin Hoda Yeah, it is. It is fascinating to see the changes that are happening in the marketing space and what is going on. And I feel like the retail with the recent changes and some of the tracking capabilities, they're having an interesting time as well with Facebook and Google, but I think we will sit and watch what unfolds in that space. 

[25:55] Malcolm Hamilton For sure. 

[25:56] Shahin Hoda Malcolm, are there any other challenges that you've come across or anything that, you know, maybe I haven't touched on this topic that you think it's worth covering here?

[26:06] Malcolm Hamilton Yeah, it goes back to this many actually. But it goes back to that term, which was actually first coined by an Australian, a guy called Hugh MacFarlane way back in 2003. I know Hugh very well, it's called the "buyer's journey", alright. It's a term now that's, you know, ubiquitous everywhere. You hear the buyer's journey? Well, what does a buyer's journey mean? And what it essentially means is that all of us, we're all biased. We go through some kind of journey, in terms of buying anything, whether it's, you know, piece of furniture, a TV, a car, selecting a vendor, whatever. 

[26:47] Malcolm Hamilton We subconsciously, unconsciously go through some kind of journey, from the very beginning, where we've never we don't think we need this thing. Somebody has done a really good job of getting inside our heads to say, you know, what you actually do. You do need this thing that you didn't think you needed, right? That's what brilliant marketing does, it gets inside our heads and conditions our thought process. Firstly, subconsciously, and then consciously, and the science of effective marketing with that customer sent at the centre is to ensure that you, that the business is communicating with those humans, those individuals providing information, both either push or pull that's relevant to the buyer, in their journey. 

[27:36] Malcolm Hamilton So what does that mean? It means certain types of content can be made available to a potential customer, while they're exploring, right? They're just looking, they're invisible to you potentially, but they're on Google or other platforms. And they're looking, you don't know they're looking. And they might work. If you're doing a good job with your SEO, your search engine optimization, they might well stumble upon your brand, and they might well have a look at you, you may not necessarily know it. So then you move the prospect moves into an into a kind of a vendor selection press shortlist, if you will, historically, sales have been driving these right sales have been driving this, you know, driving the prospects forward. 

[28:19] Malcolm Hamilton But the unanimous consensus from experts around the world is 80% of the buyers' journey is self-empowered today, especially now with you know, we're not able to get about, we're not able to go to events, not able to shop as much as we used to. So that means if 80% of the buyers' journey is self-empowered, as individuals, businesses better make sure that they're highly visible during that 80% of the journey, that they're providing relevant information timely, but critically aligned to the phase that the buyer is in their journey. Now, that's a long answer to your question. 

[29:01] Malcolm Hamilton And once again, but that's the science that's using technology, understanding where the buyer is the individual human being in that process. Now there are tools that help businesses address that dynamic, like marketing automation tools, but they're not a set and forget and then not failsafe, you know, you really need to do some science and research around your ideal customer profile. What makes them tick? What kind of information is relevant to them? What's valuable, but when do you deliver it to them? When do you make it available? Is it a blog? Is it a podcast? Is it a white paper? Is it just a small Hi, hello, my name is on LinkedIn? 

[29:45] Malcolm Hamilton And an analogy I use is this. If you, for instance, have received a piece of information from somebody trying to say hi, I this is our company, this is what we do and you ignore it, right? Because you think about more information. They send it to you again in another way you ignore it. It doesn't mean you're not interested, but you just ignore it for now. And then it comes to you from another platform maybe. And then you go, Okay, I'm going to tick, you know, I'll click and I have a look, right? So that's what we call the explore phase of the buyers' journey. 

[30:24] Malcolm Hamilton And buyers are moving in and out of that dynamic all the time. That, you know, it's not that they're not interested, it's just that they're saying not right now. So the science, and then when they move into the evaluation phase, that actually shortlisting vendors, without actually interacting with anyone, it's all done themselves. And that is both super scary, and super opportunity. Because it means that your competitors don't know that this buyer is researching if you know, you can be the one that shapes that buyer's understanding of what they think they need. That's the science for companies today when marketing is so important. They, marketeers, smart, good marketeers do that in their sleep. That's what they do.

[31:12] Shahin Hoda Smart, good marketeers. Okay, I want to actually come back to this point. You talked about a few things you talked about, you know. You have to understand where your customer is, because hey, you might, you might get that LinkedIn message that we all get about, hey, we offer software development, you need any help, and you ignore it. And then you get it on another channel or another in another format, and you respond. You talked about, you know, the kind of push and pull processes and methodologies. And you also talked about, you also mentioned that these are not failsafe. We, you know, in our agency, we work with quite a lot of TSPs, we call it technology service providers. And almost there is no instance that we talk to somebody, and they turn and say, oh, you know what, I don't want to talk to marketing people or marketing agencies. 

[32:10] Shahin Hoda You know, we did Facebook and LinkedIn ads with somebody or SEO when they promised us the world and it didn't work. I want to, I'd love to hear what your thoughts are. And you might have heard this as well. I'm not sure if you've come across this that hey, we, yes, Malcolm, we did some marketing. We did some SEO, and we did some ads. It didn't work. And I feel like part of that is to hey, you need to give it time. But there might be other elements as well. What are your thoughts on that? What are your thoughts on the fact that I mean, you mentioned where it is important, but also you also mentioned that it's not failsafe, what would you say to a, you know, it company that brings that up?

[32:55] Malcolm Hamilton One of our partners, you mean? Well, so often when we've looked at that, and we do all the time, I mean, we work with agencies, small, medium, and very large around the world, of course. What does success look like? Right, from the client perspective, success is leads. Success is net new revenue, right? But that what often happens is, candidly, the brief is wrong. Right at the beginning, the brief is not really what the customer needs, right. And either there's a disconnect between the brief in terms of what the customer feels they need, and what the agency actually delivering, right? There needs to be very clear, crystal clear, brief in terms of what the customer wants, and is expecting from you, the vendor, the agency, and in terms of what does success look like? So often, there's a disconnect because the output from the agency, from the agency's perspective, we've exceeded what we said we would deliver.

[34:03] Shahin Hoda We've given you a lot of MQLs, right?

[34:07] Malcolm Hamilton Yeah, but there's a very good point. What's an MQL, marketing qualified lead? What is it? You know, and candidly, we're, we've heard from agencies that say, well, a lead is when somebody fills out a landing page from an email campaign. It's not. A lead is you know, sometimes leads get passed when they've determined that somebody has a pulse. A lead shouldn't be passed until such time as that lead has been qualified. Because there's a number of things that happen there. Number one, it perpetuates the perception from sales that marketing is not adding value, because all that happens is, leads to being passed to them which when sales ring the prospect, the prospect says who are you? I don't why are you calling me. All I did was fill out a questionnaire on your website.

[34:58] Shahin Hoda This is in the ebook.

[35:00] Malcolm Hamilton Yeah. And look, there's a lot to be considered when that happens. If any business, whether they're large, medium or small, operate that way just by just driving interest, tacit interest, and regarding them, and then in engaging sales to soon, that actually damaging their brand. So if you think about it in your own world, you may have expressed some kind of interest, loose interest in some way. And then you get a phone call from a salesperson that says, hi, I understand you're very interested in our product, can I arrange a sales call? Can I arrange to meet you? 

[35:40] Shahin Hoda Like, no.

[35:41] Malcolm Hamilton  Excuse me? Who are you? What's this about? And who do you represent? And it's the golden rule. And it's always been a golden rule, but it's especially a golden rule now. Because everyone's on, you know, in terms of outreaches, on digital, we're all being bombarded by messages. And if we get approached with the wrong message at the wrong time, with a message which has no relevance or value, human, well, it's pretty obvious what you think about the brand. And the other thing is you tell other people about that. Because you can. 

[36:18] Malcolm Hamilton You know, you put it on your Facebook don't deal with this organisation, they've done this, or, you know, how often do you get messages from social platforms, that says, you know, be careful with this particular organisation. Now, I'm being simplistic, but today, successful businesses that understand the customer's buying drivers, that understand their journey, and message to them, respecting all of those dynamics will succeed. They will grow. But those that don't know. No, they won't survive. 

[36:54] Shahin Hoda Malcolm, I have this is awesome. But I have a couple of last questions. And they're these rapid questions that I want to ask you. And I asked everybody who comes in our podcast that 

[37:05] Malcolm Hamilton Sure. 

[37:06] Shahin Hoda So let's go through them. The first question that I want to ask is, is what is one resource book blog, podcast talk, whatever it is, that fundamentally change the way you work or live, 

[37:20] Malcolm Hamilton Work or live?

[37:21] Shahin Hoda Work or live, I mean, something that has had a big impact on how you see the world, it could be from a professional standpoint, it could be from even from from from a life standpoint, but it was one piece of content and resource that you went through?

[37:36] Malcolm Hamilton Well, you can probably gather by my profile, I'm over 65. So I'm looking at some living a long life and keeping myself fit and well. So there's a podcast actually called LLAMA. It's an acronym, Live Long, And Master Aging, which is a podcast, which is actually delivered by a BBC journalist, this space in the States, he's English. And his podcasts are incredible because what he does is he interviews global thought leaders and experts and scientists on what you can do as an individual, to ensure that you live a long healthspan, not lifespan, healthspan. So often, we've got people living longer, right, and they get to maybe 75-80, then they get 10 years of terrible health. That's because they were keeping people alive longer, but they're not necessarily enjoying good health. So LLAMA is an incredibly powerful podcast. He's a brilliant interviewer. And he's interviewed global thought leaders on how to live long and master aging.

[38:50] Shahin Hoda That is a cool topic. I'm going to be checking that out, Malcolm. I'll be checking that out. Question 

[38:56] Malcolm Hamilton I don't think you need to, you're a lot younger than me, but still, well, 

[38:59] Shahin Hoda No, you know what, I'm, you know, I think about these things as well, I, you know, whenever, you know, I feel like I've got to the age that things start to hurt from time to time, and I'm like, oh, I didn't have that before. And you know, what's going on with the knee here or what's going on with the shoulder when I do this? And so it is on my mind, and, you know, I get things checked quite quickly. And to centre that it doesn't go along. So I'm going to definitely check this podcast out. Question number two is, if you could give one advice to kind of B2B leaders, IT leaders people that we've been talking about throughout this podcast, what would that advice be? 

[39:41] Malcolm Hamilton Know your buyer, know your customer. Now, sorry, it's, I've wax lyrical about that already. But if you know your customer and you know their customer, well, you will meet their needs or indeed exceed their needs. If you don't know your customer based on their buying drivers. Based on what makes them tick, your competition may well do so without you knowing. And they'll steal them from you. Why? Because they can. And it's all being done digitally. There's a second piece as well as a postscript to that. This is another really, really dynamic space in marketing. And that is this, know who is influencing your customers in terms of their decision-making processes, because we are all being influenced by influences. 

[40:30] Malcolm Hamilton I'm not talking of Kim Kardashian. I'm talking of it might be anyone from Gartner to IDC, it might be an individual who - influencer marketing is exploding around the world because of the growth in digital and social platforms. So influencers can kill a deal in an instant you're about to close the deal. The prospect reaches out to an influencer either on LinkedIn or Twitter or email. And they ask a question I'm about to sign with this company and the influencer can say, well hold on a minute, what you should be looking at. So influences, knowing who is influencing your customers, both in the marketing perspective and sales perspective, and post-sales perspective is critical to survival. Because they can shape your market, they can kill your market, but more importantly, they can grow your market by advocating for you.

[41:26] Malcolm Hamilton Shahin Hoda I love that. Okay, know your influencers? Know who are the influencers every customer are? I love it. Which next question is about influencers, Malcolm. And the next question is, what are the influencers that you follow in the marketing space?

[41:42] Malcolm Hamilton No surprise in the marketing space. I actually follow several of my peers within my own company, SAP because we do have world-class marketers in our team around the globe. We're all very actively involved in social media. So we're what we call social advocates for SAP globally. So I am, I'm using platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn, and other platforms to track what they're saying, track what they feel, as well as having conversations with them. 

[42:17] Malcolm Hamilton And the other thing in terms of who influences our customers, there is one particular influencer that I track regularly and constantly because he's prolific in social channels. He's extremely well-read by our customers and our prospects. So I want to make sure he's saying nice things about us. And that's a guy called Dennis Hamlet. I mean, it's a name that might not mean anything to your audience. 

[42:17] Malcolm Hamilton  But I know that if he says something negative about anything we do, I reach out to him and try and persuade him that there's another view, not in an argumentative way. But if he's only got to say something negative, and I know that thousands of our customers may well see it, he doesn't usually but there's an example of where eyes literally track everything he says, so he might do six tweets a day, of which five are non-business related. And then there's this golden nugget, there's one business statement, which typically is somewhat contentious.

[43:21] Shahin Hoda I mean, you're following your own advice, right of know, who's influencing your customers? Okay. Yeah, definitely look at Dennis Hallett. Last one, last question that I have is what is something that excites you today about B2B?

[43:36] Malcolm Hamilton I think it's the opportunity to be able to shape your market, leveraging marketing. And again, that's a big topic that shapes your market mean. In essence, it means you're able to shape the way buyers, potential buyers feel about you and your solution using marketing, right? So an example in retail, for instance, I often reference that the fashion industry does this to perfection, they shape their own market, right. An example is when I was young growing up, if I had the tiniest of holes in my Levis, I throw them away. Nowadays, companies are making millions out of selling jeans with massive holes in them. Why? Because the fashion industry shapes the market. They've shaped demand. 

[44:24] Malcolm Hamilton And though it's a somewhat blunt and crude analogy, that's exactly what it is. You are building demand in a market that might not know it needs you. And it's called shaping. Now, what excites me about that, and it's always been the case. By the way, companies like Apple do this to perfection, so do Microsoft, I think so do we. But the great thing with digital and social platforms is you are able to shape your market, leveraging a multitude of platforms using clever marketing, tactics and strategies. So that's what excites me. 

[44:59] Malcolm Hamilton Artificial Intelligence and I say this with a caveat. But artificial intelligence has massive, absolutely massive potential in terms of shaping markets in terms of messaging and connecting with your target markets. As we all know, there's a lot of governance discussions going on at government levels right now around the world and it needs to have, but AI is going to fundamentally transform everything we do. So from a marketing perspective, any marketeer that doesn't understand the power of AI right now? Better get on the bus pretty quickly, because they're going to get left behind. 

[45:36] Shahin Hoda 45:36

Get on the bus, the AI bus. All right

[45:38] Malcolm Hamilton That's it.

[45:39] Shahin Hoda This is great. This is great. I love it. Malcolm, this has been an amazing conversation. I really do appreciate it. I appreciate your time. And all the insights that he brought to the table. So thank you very much for jumping on the pod. 

[45:53] Malcolm Hamilton My great pleasure. Thank you, Shahin.

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xGrowth brings a very structured approach to ABM. It’s been amazing working with you.

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When I think ABM, I think xGrowth. xGrowth were 100% committed, the whole team was just like our business partner. I would say you are not a business vendor; you are our business partner.
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