CMO Spotlight: Alan See, Forbes “Most Influential CMO on Social Media”


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This CMO Spotlight Series features some of the most imminent thought leaders of our time. While some have revolutionary ideas that bring us to the edge of our seats, others make us sink back into our seats and think, “Gosh, we totally forgot about that!” In today’s piece, I’m happy to present these back-to-basics tips for B2B marketers from Alan See. Alan is the Principal and CMO of Alan See CMO Temps, LLC and a Forbes Most Influential CMO on Social Media.

As you read through, you will realize that none of this is new. On the contrary, you have known it for so long that you pushed it back to the deep recesses of your mind. So it’s time for a strong reminder and refresher! Here goes…from Alan See:

  1. On Engagement…

“The cheapest, most effective way to connect with others is to look them in the eye.”

Remember this? Don’t get your head stuck in reports, dashboards and mountains of data like an ostrich in a hole. Of course, we need data, we have to study buyer behaviour, we have to generate and analyze reports—but somewhere, in the midst of doing all that, we need to stick our heads out and look our customers in the eye. B2B lead generation involves dealing with sophisticated buyers and selling complex solutions; there’s no escape from that. Valve Corporation CEO, Gabe Newell is getting a thumbs-up for responding to a customer’s email and resolving a customer support issue himself. His point was, “Everyone at Valve Corporation is Support.” Now that’s really taking “look them in the eye” to the next level. But it can be that simple—if we remember to do it.

  1. On Customer Relationship Management…

“At the end of the day, it’s the customer who will decide if the relationship is optimized…so, what did they decide?”

Our tools, technologies and mechanisms for gathering, analyzing and predicting customer behaviour have evolved to great heights. Only one small problem, though, the customer is and will still remain unpredictable. Alan reminds us of this fact and his advice is to “keep your customer experience first aid kit handy”. You never know when your prediction goes wrong, so there may be scrapes and grazes in the customer experience that will need your immediate attention. Read 6 Characteristics of the New B2B Buyer and How to Manage Expectations

  1. On Adaptability…

“It’s important for organizations to stop putting individuals in permanent boxes.”

As much as we value training and experience, it is important to get a fresh perspective on things from time to time. As Alan says, people do change; whether they change because they have to or want to, change is inevitable. So if you slot individuals into boxes for their lifetime within the organization, you are going to see idea burnout. It’s by taking people out of those boxes and giving them new roles and responsibilities that you allow them to bring fresh ideas and new perspectives to the table.  You have to allow people to change so that your company may experience change for the better. How quickly and how efficiently these individuals will adapt depends on their attitude and aptitude to learn new things.

  1. On Change…

“The “good old days” never really happened, and wishful thinking is a waste of time.”

No matter how often we hear the phrase, there really is no such thing, says Alan, as the “good old days”. No one really thought they were good days back then. There were struggles and challenges which were different from the ones you may be dealing with now; so it never was a cakewalk. Newer members of a team often expect the “lifers” and senior staff to have all the answers in order to just do what needs to be done. It isn’t as simple as that. Grassroots support is perhaps the most critical during a time of change within the organization. Organizational strategy must evolve based on eliminating the mistakes of the past and making rational decisions for positive outcomes into the future. Change Before You Have To… 

  1. On Organizational Vision…

“A shared vision is not just an idea, it is a force in people’s hearts. People will rise to the challenge…when it is their challenge.”

The C-Suite is typically guilty of coming up with lofty Mission and Vision Statements in the confines of a boardroom. Those ideals are then handed out and employees are expected to share in this vision. It doesn’t quite happen like that, does it? Alan See makes an astute observation that you have to get employees to make an organizational challenge their own challenge; that’s when they assume responsibility to meet it head on. That passion to believe in your company’s vision cannot sit on a plaque on the wall. It has to travel deep into the hearts and minds of your employees and become a driving force that channels everyone to work towards a common set of goals.

  1. On Getting the C-Suite Involved with Social Media…

We’ve moved from a time of mass communications to one of masses of communicators; your customers are sharing their experiences through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other platforms at a rate that will continue to accelerate. As a result, social media should become a part of every organization’s risk management and customer engagement strategy.

He says it all in this statement above. Many organizations are still struggling to teach their old dogs new tricks, but it is possible, says Alan. Not only is it possible, it is also absolutely necessary. Your buyers are sharing their positive and negative interactions with your brand and your competitors’ brands on social channels. You have to be there and build engagement with them—you cannot afford not to. Here are 10 Things About Social Media Every C-Suite Executive MUST Know 

  1. On Being An Influential Leader Who Makes A Difference…

“Regardless of how good a decision is, it will never work if employees fail to get behind it or, worse, if they sabotage your efforts.” 

As leaders of organizations, we want staff to believe in our thought leadership. We want them to buy in to our strategies and strive collectively for enhanced customer experience and profitability. It is foolhardy to expect this will happen unless you win the trust and confidence of your staff. And to do that, you have to take their ideas into serious consideration. Then, when you define a corporate strategy, they will see that their ideas have taken shape. Their support and commitment to help the organization implement the new strategy will be more forthcoming and wholehearted. Here Are 24 Essential Tools for the B2B Thought Leader  

Are there other fundamentals we have forgotten or tend to overlook frequently? Feel free to add to the list.

I would love to hear from you on my blog. Leave me a comment. You can also sign up for email updates.

If you enjoy reading this CMO Spotlight series, please share with your friends. You can email or call me, Louis Foong, at (905) 709-3827.   

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Louis Foong
Louis Foong is the founder and CEO of The ALEA Group Inc., one of North America's most innovative B2B demand generation specialists. With more than three decades of experience in the field, Louis is a thought leader on trends, best practices and issues concerning marketing and lead generation. Louis' astute sense of marketing and sales along with a clear vision of the evolving lead generation landscape has proved beneficial to numerous organizations, both small and large.


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