On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the BtoB Summit, BtoB Leaders had the pleasure of discussing with Bertrand Dosseur, CMO of the Explore Group, the changes in marketing practices over the last decade.
Could you come back in a few words on your professional career?
I am a pure literary profile, with a passage in pre-preparatory literature and then the Sorbonne for studies in History... all that to end up in marketing! This didn't stop me from going back to school by taking a Master's degree in Data Strategy two years ago...
I rather like this mix of genres, specific to the marketing professions: ideas, content, analytics and a touch of techno... After a career in a research institute and a marketing-communication agency, I joined EXPLORE as Marketing Director 9 years ago to accompany the growth of this beautiful Nantes-based SME, now EXPLORE Group, with the arrival of 4 new Data-oriented entities: Gestinnov, CODATA, Societeinfo and Wanao-Sendao, i.e. 280 collaborators based from Namur to Marrakech, via Paris and Bidart.
What do you think is the major difference between the CMO of the early 2010s and the CMO of today?
Unfortunately, I only have 9 years of experience... so it would be difficult for me to make a pure and perfect ten-year analysis! All the more so as we must necessarily distinguish between the different marketing "professions" (strategic, product, acquisition...).
In any case, we can talk about a massive digitalization of the business through the multiplication of ad hoc solutions... so much so that we now speak of a "marketing stack" at all stages of the process (targeting, visitor tracking, engagement, closing, proposal management...). A whole range of micro-solutions for marketing and sales productivity and performance are becoming established and converging, at least for the major publishers, and with a lot of connectors for the others.
As the central pivot of this ecosystem, CRM has become the essential interface for the various stakeholders in marketing and sales, but it is also extending to other entities, from Customer Support to the Finance Department, in an increasingly unified vision. After years of trial and error, we can say that we are now reaching a form of maturity through solutions that are more "Business & Marketing friendly" and less "sales administration", covering a wide operational spectrum.
At the same time, an entire organization is being transformed: more efficiency and agility with the empowerment of teams, introducing a small historical break with the very siloed practices in place. In fact, the boundary between sales and marketing is becoming blurred, which is not without consequences for organizations. This is also a question of meeting new challenges for marketing with their sales contacts: ensuring the coherence of actions and the value of the brand, a concept that is sometimes blurred for sales teams who may have a (legitimate) shorter-term vision.
What do you think are the three decisive factors that have changed the practice of Sales in the last 10 years?
Without any bias... I would say in 1, the Data, in 2, the Data and in 3... the Data! Data, whether internal or external, is becoming the essential fuel for any marketing action, both upstream and downstream. At EXPLORE, we have the opportunity to support our B2B customers in integrating third-party data into their acquisition processes. We can see how data-driven companies transform themselves and how their ability to operate is increased. But it is at the cost of significant and sustained efforts, both technical and organizational, to federate this data and activate it through all available channels in an orderly and efficient manner, as close as possible to the uses of the teams.
Has the composition of marketing teams changed over the last 10 years (profiles, expected skills, etc.)?
It's obvious to say that specialization is often linked to the size of the team and the ambitions and means assigned. In particular, I think that some areas of the game now require so much expertise that it is sometimes more interesting to be accompanied by an external service provider, as is the case for SEO/SEA. In all cases, the profiles are necessarily more digital, with a strong analytical sensitivity.
Nevertheless, I would tend to distinguish between profiles oriented towards "orchestration" (campaign programming, realization of automation workflows...) and those who are more dedicated to content creation (editorial, creative, videos...). But there are also people who combine both dimensions with talent. I personally have the chance to collaborate with this kind of profile in my team!
How do you see the profile of the CMO/marketer changing in the next 10 years?
In the continuity of the last 5 or 10 years, I think that we are heading towards the continuation and acceleration of the democratization of Sales Enablement tools in BtoB.
The role of marketing in this context will be to provide sales teams with the operational means to express their expertise, and even their personality, while allowing them to rely on the power and values of the brand, in an increasingly close and personalized relationship with their targets, both in person and remotely. Talent developers, in a way!
And we are not at the end of our surprises. The digital experience is going to become more and more immersive, using more and more visual and emotional levers, more and more impactful, for more and more proximity. And therefore for an ever more Human Centric marketing...