Removing The Barriers

MarketingSherpa recently surveyed 1,700 marketers to ask them, What barriers exist to overcoming your top B2B marketing challenges?  The results ranged from not having sufficient staffing or budget (62%), to lack of time to think strategically (39%), to not being educated in terms of best practices (26%).  The summation of the research indicates that marketers must overcome these challenges before they will be seen as part of the revenue equation at their companies.

This study highlights the disconnect that continues between B2B marketers and the rest of a company’s organizations.  As summed up in his book Balancing the Demand Equation, Adam Needles states, “B2B marketers more than ever are being asked by their senior management and by their sales team to fix it… as B2B marketers, we have never been at a greater disadvantage, nor have we been more incapable of seizing this opportunity.”

So the question is, “How do B2B marketers begin to remove these barriers and meet the demands of their senior management and sales counterparts?”

The simple answer is to stop focusing on the barriers and begin focusing on the solution.  After reviewing the challenges cited in MarketingSherpa’s study, there seemed to be similarities between many of them.  In this post, we have grouped the challenges, and provided suggested remedies for each:

Barrier 1: Lack of Resources (Budget, Knowledge & Time)

  • Lack of Resources & Funding (62%)
  • Lack of Education (26%)
  • Economic Climate (30%)
  • Lack of Ability to Stop Executing & Think Strategically (39%)

Many marketing organizations operate under a “Because Marketing” strategy.  This means they do what they do “because” they have to, or “because” they’ve always done it that way, or “because” that’s what they are paid to do.  There are no goals, no real strategy, no objectives.  This would be similar to driving your car aimlessly with no planned destination simply “because” you own a car.  If you do not have an end goal or objective, then you are marketing aimlessly.  If you find yourself caught in this cycle of aimless marketing, then it’s time to stop.

Instead, take a step back, work to develop a strategy (with goals, objectives and a tactical plan) that speaks to how you will engage with your buyer to drive revenue contribution.  A good first step to develop this strategy is to collaborate with sales.  Together, create a strategy that includes the people, knowledge/training resources, budget, and any other resources needed to meet objectives.  Then once you “plan the work, work the plan.”

Barrier 2:  Lack of Customer Insight & Content

  • Limited Availability to Develop Content (35%)
  • Lack of Sufficient Insight on Target Audience (32%)
  • Lack of Clear Value Proposition (25%)

The study indicates that marketers struggle because they don’t have sufficient marketing content.  Yet our experience is that most organizations have more content then they realize.  Websites, collateral, sales playbooks, etc. are all filled with subject matter that marketers can use.  So when it comes to content, the problem is not its availability.  The problem is that most organizations don’t know how to use content effectively.  Why?  Because they’ve done a poor job of getting to know their buyer.  Without knowing the buyer, they don’t know what kind of content the buyer wants, so they resort to sending promotional communications.  Trust me, that’s NOT what the buyer wants.

The obvious solution to this problem is to seek to know who you’re selling to, what they want to hear, and how they want it delivered. In other words, study your buyer.  This can be done by analyzing marketing, sales, finance and support data you have on the buyer/customer.  Look for trends and commonalities among different buyer segments.  In addition to more obvious demographic data, you should also look at buying triggers, behaviors, problems buyers are trying to solve, what roles they serve, etc.  Don’t limit your research to in-house data. Get information directly from your customers.  The best way to get to know someone is to ask them questions. It’s no different when trying to understand your buyer.

As the knowledge and understanding of your buyer continues to develop, you’ll also begin to have better insight into what content they need and want from you.  And remember, this is not a “one and done” process.  It’s a continual learning dynamic (as is any relationship building process) that will help you refine the value proposition and the content that will foster engagement and life time value.

Barrier 3:  Insufficient Process & Measurements

  • Lack of Alignment Between Sales and Marketing (32%)
  • Lack of Reliable Data to Drive Decisions (31%)
  • Lack of Clarity on Goals and Objectives (31%)
  • Difficulty in Gaining C-Suite Support for New Strategies (17%)

The four areas listed above are certainly barriers to marketers’ success. The reason most never get fixed is they are not the core problem.  They are just symptoms of a greater problem: lack of a fundamental process whereby marketing and sales work together to manage buyer engagement and contribute to revenue.

Marketing and sales should have the same ultimate objective: To contribute to pipeline and generate revenue.  Each has a unique role in meeting those objectives, but the goal should be the same.  If this shared goal is non-existent in your company, then as a marketer, you’re obliged to work with sales to determine who’s going to do what to drive revenue.  This is what we refer to as the Lead Management FrameworkSM.  Your framework should include a clear, data driven description or map on how marketing and sales together will drive revenue, and ROI.  Without this component, don’t even bother seeking C-Suite approval.  Why?  Because they want to see what return they will get for the marketing budget they approved.  To get their buy-in you must show revenue impact.  If you develop the right process,  focus on a revenue based performance and begin managing marketing scientifically through the analysis of data, you will see the alignment issues dissolve, get executive buy-in, and ultimately, see revenue increase.

Barriers to success will always exist.  Successful marketers will overcome those barriers by focusing on the end goal: revenue.  The C-Suite expects it.  Sales wants it (even though they may not say it).  Our buyers need it.  So what are you waiting for… start breaking down the barriers.

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