As all successful sales people know, some of the most important conversations happen in informal settings. Connecting these moments to the sales cycle is a discipline, but one that's become increasingly possible with the evolution of web engagement tools, as they bridge between web content management and customer relationship management.

Take away Mad Men’s expensive three-piece suits, the workplace inappropriateness, and the three-martini lunch and what do you have aside from naked, politically correct and sober white guys? I’d make the argument that you have a fairly accurate depiction of one of the key elements of the B2B sales process for both the Mad Men era and for today.

I love the “pitch” scenes of Mad Men, where Don Draper and company present their concepts to a potential advertiser. The pitch usually begins in the Sterling Cooper Draper Price offices, and just as often winds up in a bar or restaurant, where the real selling begins. As the television series demonstrates and as all successful salespeople know, some of the most open, intimate customer conversations happen over dinner, at a ballgame, or on the golf course.

At its core, effective marketing is all about the data. The data quality issue has long plagued marketing; inaccurate and incomplete data limits your ability to target marketing campaigns to the right buyer personas at the right time in the sales process to influence the buying decision. While Don Draper probably wouldn’t agree with me, marketing and data accumulation in the Mad Men era was easier, as customer interactions came through a limited number of channels. Now we have the web, email and social media in addition to traditional sales channels like the phone and face-to-face customer interactions.

Today most B2B marketers are savvy enough to track customer behavior across digital channels, but those digital channels aren’t connected to customers’ offline behavior in any meaningful way. The connection point between online and offline customer relations is the CRM system.

Getting salespeople to consistently use their CRM is a topic for another day, but assuming the Sales team accurately captures offline customer interactions in the CRM, marketing can target campaigns and use automation to provide the right content in the right context for each buyer.

The key business capability to drive targeted B2B marketing is a connection between the website and the CRM. The CRM acts as a hub for all interaction data, and the website is used to query the CRM to determine what content to show each visitor.

For example, Many Web CMS systems provide an integrated GeoIP database, which maps IP addresses to specific companies. Once you have the company name, you can query the CRM to determine the right messaging to display to visitors from that company. Imagine being able to turn a dinner conversation you had the night before into a personalized web experience for the prospect when he visits your website!

Or perhaps a salesperson spoke with a customer who expressed interest in a particular product. By querying the CRM, you can dynamically feature a promotion on the website for that product by setting a field value (in this example “Cross Sell Promotion”) in the CRM:

Web Engagement -- Defining a Cross-sell Promotion

Thinking like a Mad Man means that you recognize that selling also occurs outside of channels that you can’t easily control. By empowering Sales to connect offline customer intelligence to the website, marketers can provide each visitor with a unique web experience tailored to the specific needs of the buyer.

More relevancy means more revenue…and acquiring more revenue is a sentiment Don Draper and his team of Mad Men would heartily endorse.