Migration to a Marketing-driven Organization
In the B2B world most companies are either sales-driven or engineering-driven. Despite our familiarity with some well known (primarily B2C) brands, most B2B marketing organizations are not in the driving seat. In one recent poll only 7% of B2B marketers reported working for a marketing-driven organization.
This is not surprising. Senior management must give the pole position to the function that drives revenue. In a great number of organizations Sales clearly performs that role. For technology companies, particularly the more mature ones that produce a range of different products, Engineering is in the driving seat. For those companies, new product innovation and product updates are strongly linked to revenue generation and profitability.
For Marketing to take the reins of the company and become the major driver of revenue, a major sea-change in both approach and ownership is required. For example, the cadence of marketing activities must change. Sales management knows that calls must be made every day, the leads must be followed up every day and that the pipeline must be progressed continually. While each individual prospect’s buying processes must be respected, sales must progress their aggregate pipeline and deliver revenue month-in and month-out. Yet most B2B marketing organizations plan their activities around a marketing calendar focused on activities and events, not on monthly revenue generation.
Taking the reins of organization leadership is not an easy role for marketing but changes in buyer behavior coupled with marketing automation and greater use of the Internet and social media do start to create opportunity. Here are six responsibilities that Marketing must accept in order to lead a marketing-driven organization:
- Lead generation. Leads from trade shows, events and even advertizing suffer from a couple of key issues: a) they are generally not of great initial quality, and b) their arrival rates are hard to deal with - a lot at one time and then a dearth until the next event or the next ad runs. Marketing must be able to smooth the flow of leads and produce a consistent amount of quality leads that sales can support and that contribute directly to the sales pipeline.
- Lead nurturing and pipeline progress. Contacts that are not ready to buy need nurturing, and that must start immediately after the initial engagement. Many organization employ telesales at this point but that’s an expensive approach not always appreciated by today’s online buyers. It’s better to warm-up leads first with a nurturing program that kicks off automatically once the prospect has self-identified. But warming up leads is only the first part of the story, marketing must also take responsibility to help sales convert the leads to revenue by providing prospect intelligence and customized thought leadership.
- Customer relationship. In most sales-driven organizations, the customer relationship is managed by sales. In engineering-driven organizations, many customers have a direct line to engineering management. Yet today’s customers and prospects do want a relationship with marketing, especially early in the buying process. Buyer’s prefer personalized responses to their enquiries that recognize their unique needs. Marketing should not only own the online customer relationship but also help to coordinate the customer’s relationships with other functions such as sales and customer service. Once created the relationships can also help marketing to contribute to product design and innovation.
- Analytics. Ask a sales manager or a product manager about their monthly revenue numbers and they’ll likely be able to provide a status immediately from memory. Ask a marketing manager about monthly leads or conversion rates and many will have no idea. For Marketing to take a stronger leadership role it must be able to demonstrate that it’s contributing to revenue generation processes directly and must also have a way to measure impact so that it can continuously improve the results. For Marketing to take a leadership role, Marketing must lead by example and that means metrics and business understanding.
- Alignment and communication. Whichever function leads within a B2B organization it is also responsible for coordinating activities across the company. How well are orders processed? What about delivery, installation, integration? What are the finance implications? What about customer service? Every customer interaction is a chance to affect customer satisfaction. With technology increasingly viewed as a commodity by buyers, it’s the interaction with company staff that primarily influences the customer experience. Marketing-driven organizations must be customer-centric and Marketing must do its part to align, not only with sales, but with every other function of the company.
- Revenue. Finally, for marketing to take a true leadership responsibility it must be willing to hold revenue responsibility and to be goaled and compensated using revenue related metrics.
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>By Ray Wright
Do you work in a marketing-driven organization? If so, how else do marketing responsibilities and attitudes differ?