During the last few years, substantial changes have taken place that are transforming the ways B2B buyers engage with potential suppliers. Now more than ever, B2B buyers want to research on their own before reaching out to a company to engage a sales rep. According to the 2011 Marketing Leadership Council Customer Purchase Research Survey, a customer’s first serious engagement with a supplier’s sales reps occurs when customers are already 57 percent through the purchase process.
This shift in prospects wanting to engage with sales later has led to a change in ownership regarding who owns a lead and is responsible for customer education and awareness. These tasks, which used to be the domain of sales, now lie solely in the hands of marketing. In order to accommodate this new responsibility, companies need to be aware that new marketing investments and organizational shifts are necessary.
To meet this shift, many organizations are beginning to invest in building stronger, more integrated marketing departments, including the development of a Marketing Operations group. Marketing Operations can play the primary role of enabling the organization to scale using tools such as marketing automation to accommodate more educated consumers in the early part of the sales funnel. Marketing Operations provides analysis and insights using marketing data from websites, CRM systems, marketing automation systems, surveys and more, while also acting as a bridge between the sales and marketing departments. Executive leadership should consider adding this important headcount to their organizations.
Demand Generation is also undergoing a shift as digital marketing enables both top-of-funnel lead identification and mid-funnel nurture or sales acceleration programs. This department must have a charter to generate incremental revenues for the company and drive increasingly larger shares of the entire sales and marketing pipeline. Existing email marketers, direct marketers and campaign managers should make both the mindset and organizational transition to demand generation specialists, including a focus on both inbound and outbound demand generation.
Product Marketing plays a big role in making sure that sound marketing and sales strategies are developed to allow the company to continue to win in the marketplace. Product Marketing’s role in sales enablement and sales support varies widely from company to company, but having a strong product marketing and sales alignment is becoming increasingly more popular, as this department can be a strong asset as a second-level sales resource, especially for large opportunities or when a prospect’s requirements are unique.
The Marketing Communications organization acts as a central hub for written, printed and digital communications. While this organization may not write every piece of content for the company, the staff creates a consistent voice and tone in all company communications. If you employ outside resources to help you with content creation, be sure to invest the time and effort to bring them up to speed on your solutions and standards. As well, given today’s more social buyer, it’s imperative that the Marketing Communications group become more social, crafting a strategy that connects the company/brand message with critical social channels and influencers to build its social audience.
After discussing some of the new and important types of marketing groups listed above, what are the steps you can take to go about building these types of successful marketing groups? It’s a challenge facing companies worldwide, and one that will not go away. According to Sirius Decisions, there’s “a widening gap between the skills of b-to-b marketers and the processes and technologies they are now being expected to employ.” Yet Sirius reports that 81 percent of organizations spend less than $1,000 per year on marketing training and 36 percent spend nothing at all. For companies trying to build a marketing dream team, this clearly won’t work. Hire people who already have the skills you're looking for or invest in training for your existing employees. Rely on your technology vendors to provide training and encourage your employees to attend user group meetings and other regional educational events as often as possible.
Regardless of your strategy, it's imperative that you make an investment of time and budget toward building your company’s marketing dream team in this new era of marketing. It will be well worth the investment.
For more detailed tips and insights on building a strong, well-integrated marketing department, download our latest white paper, “Building the Dream Team: Staffing Strategies and Organizational Considerations for the Modern B2B Marketing Department.”