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Tips for Marketers on Absorbing Predictions and Outside Research

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by: Ellen Valentine (@EllenValentine)
31 July 2015

With the marketing landscape and the role of the department changing so quickly, many marketers find it helpful to find and consider the impact that predictions from analyst and research firms have on their team and overall company.

I’m sure you remember the Gartner statistic from 2012 that stated by 2017, CMOs will spend more on technology investments than CIOs. When Gartner published this prediction, it just about knocked the socks off of marketers everywhere. But at the same time, it made many of us think about instilling a strong technology discipline in the marketing department and get much more serious about building a portfolio of powerful marketing solutions to evolve and enhance the customer experience.

Today, virtually every company is evaluating and purchasing marketing technology to add to their operations. I even know of some companies where the CIO is now reporting to the CMO! So, ultimately this prediction did a good service by stimulating fresh thinking among our teams and in our companies.

Three years have passed since Gartner made that assessment, and new predictions are beginning to emerge. Below I outline a couple of the more notable recent ones and how marketing teams can adapt to them – even when the research might seem to offer opposing opinions.

By 2020, 1 Million U.S. B2B Salespeople Will Lose Their Jobs

In April 2015, Forrester made a stunning prediction: By 2020, 1 million U.S. B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to self-service ecommerce. According to Forrester, this is about 20 percent of the B2B salesforce.

If your company has a B2B selling model, you must take the time to absorb the impact of this prediction. Forrester’s assessment (and supporting research) is that many of today’s buyers prefer self-service buying options as opposed to tracking down and working with a sales rep. Consider your own buying habits – would you rather call, drive to see in person or receive a visit from a sales rep, or do you prefer to research alternatives online, read reviews and place the order on your own? Or some combination of both?

B2B Buyers Interact with Sales Throughout Their Journeys

In contrast, SiriusDecisions announced the results of its 2015 B-to-B Buying Study in May. In the published research, it was determined today’s buyers are interacting with sales representatives throughout their entire purchase journey, challenging “the common industry perspective that B2B sales representatives’ roles and importance are declining due to disintermediation by digital buying behaviors,” according to the press release.

Product price points and the type of decision were key variables in determining how much human interaction is part of the consideration process. 

The Impact of Predictions on the Marketing Team

On the surface, these two analyses seem to point to opposite conclusions, which might give you an “easy out” if you just want to stick with your status quo. I recommend diving deeper into the research. Thoroughly read the details of both firms’ findings and logic, evaluate the reasoning, apply the hypotheses and guidance to your business, and test a number of marketing, sales and call center scenarios.

If your company primarily sells to businesses, you and your company’s executive team must take the time to determine the impact this might have on your bottom line. Ask yourself: How can we optimally be stacking our resources and processes to take advantage of digital commerce, backed up by call center talent? Also, be sure to evaluate your cross-channel effectiveness: If your prospect does X, Y and Z digitally, how can your sales representative build on that to provide a better, more seamless experience for the buyer?

The great thing about predictions is that they should force you to do some big picture collaborative thinking across multiple departments and teams, including sales, marketing and support. Take the time to consider and analyze what these predictions and insights could mean to your business and how you should begin thinking in order to fully support and extend your buying processes to embrace digitally savvy prospects. 

If, after careful consideration, you don’t believe these shifts in thinking will impact your business, you should outline the reasons why these recent findings won’t be applicable to your company and/or market. 

Personally, I love predictions and research findings because they stimulate exactly the kind of dialogue you must have to stay on top of rapidly changing technology and buyer preferences. Please let me know your thoughts on these recent findings @EllenValentine!  

Related Resources:

1) Ebook: “2015 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study

2) Blog: “What’s on Marketers’ Minds? 8 Takeaways from Amplify 2015

3) White Paper: “The New CMO Guide: A Handbook for Marketing Leaders


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