The Uh-Oh Factor: Fundamental Shifts From Social Business and What To Do About It

With social media fundamentally changing the ways in which businesses sell to customers — be they consumers or partners — a pivot point is at hand.

Phil Fernandez, president and CEO at Marketo

A serial entrepreneur — he’s taken two marketing-oriented companies public and is looking to do the same with his current endeavor — Marketo president and CEO Phil Fernandez knows a thing or two about social business. Marketo utilizes social media, data analytics and Web site traffic to help companies find prospects, interact with them and, ultimately, sell to them. His track record to date is impressive. Since Marketo started in 2006, Fernandez and his team have raised $107 million in venture capital (yes, in this economic climate) earned $33 million in subscription revenue in 2011 alone — revenue is expected to double that in 2012 — and signed more than 2,000 customers, including the likes of Intel, LinkedIn, EMC and McKesson.

As a 30-year veteran in Silicon Valley and the author of Revenue Disruption, a book that outlines strategies for companies to transform their sales and marketing organizations to accelerate growth, Fernandez has seen a few shifts in marketing strategies. He believes we’re in the midst of another big one. A shift that has many companies, particularly in the business-to-business sector, caught off guard.

“We see it playing out over and over and over again, where social is everywhere in B2B, but a lot of people are in denial,” says Fernandez. “They’re not quite matching up that all those same themes and trends that are affecting them in their consumer lives, are affecting their businesses, too.”

In a conversation with Renee Boucher Ferguson, a researcher and contributing editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, Fernandez discussed the changing social business landscape and how companies can start to think about — and capitalize — on those changes.

Let’s talk about the fundamental shift in the way buying and selling occurs today and then we can talk about how social has impacted that.

They’re intimately linked. Over the last 15 and 20 years we’ve seen just waves of a fundamental transformation — a shift of, if you will — of power from the seller to the buyer.

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