Are B2B marketers paralysed by decision-makers stuck in the past? And how can we help them get unstuck?
We caught up with Mathew Sweezey, Salesforce Principal of Marketing Insights at Dreamforce 2016 to explore the tension between doers and deciders, and why sometimes it’s best to get out of the way.
What’s the biggest challenge facing B2B marketers today?
Mathew: Support structures for their new world. Organisations still have a historical view of what marketing is, and that’s commonly driven by leadership.
They think what they’ve done for a long time only needs small tweaks. For example, in branding – they think they can still approach branding in the same way, and just push that branding out through different channels, like social media. But it needs an entirely different approach.
It needs to be entirely rethought. B2B buyers are still consumers, and they don’t exist in a vacuum of the changes affecting B2C. If marketers don’t have the highest levels of the organisation buying into that idea, they won’t be able to execute on that.
Read more: What are the traits of a leading CMO?
So why the change paralysis?
Old habits die hard. Because marketing is so pervasive and has been around such a long time – and executives have been running companies for such a long time – people have become ingrained. They think they know what works and when stakes are high they’ll default to the same as yesterday – and that’s a fatal error.
Companies launching now structure themselves very differently. They have different roles, different functions and titles.
Most marketers are creative and open to testing new things. We need more attention to change management and executive advocacy to ‘turn the ship’.
We see the enablement of Sales teams as an emergent and unfulfilled opportunity.
By 2020, only a couple of years away, the Sales team only has a relationship with someone for 10-20% of the selling cycle at most (of the entire lifecycle, it will be minuscule) yet they’re still given the biggest share of revenue and influence.
Executives are slowly understanding that revenue is affected by service, support and marketing, and this will gradually create a redistribution of internal capital.
Sales needs to redefine its role in this new world and work closely aligned with marketing. Companies with too much internal competition will fall by the wayside – no room for politics, sales and marketing have to tell the same story and line up objectives.
Learn more about Sales and Marketing Alignment.
Are we suffering from tool bloat? Could this be why leadership feels exhausted?
The expanse of our toolset from 1995 to now is insane – every year there’s a new tool and new need. That turns into a never-ending game of asking for more money rather than picking the best two or three and getting out of the way to do them.
Decision makers throw on the brake, rather than pick off what’s not working.
Good old email is declared dead at least once a year. What role do you see it playing in B2B marketing in the next few years?
For now, at least, business is done over email. It remains the most personal and primary marketing methodology.
For the foreseeable future, email will be the primary transactional channel and conversational channel. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be marketing on social, or hosting a chat on your website.
But email is king for B2B and marketing automation powers that lifeblood.
Is B2B over-investing in social media?
They tend to invest the wrong way. They broadcast and don’t think about context.
Business people have on average 7.4 social channels on their smartphone, and everyone in business has a smartphone. They’re engaging with them daily in a variety of contexts.
B2B organisations need to establish how that prospective consumer wants to interact with them in that channel – and that needs to drive the role of the channel, the content shared and the conversations that occur.
Here’s how communities can increase B2B profitability.
It will likely be quite different from other channels, and it must be dictated by the end user, not the business doing the selling and the approaching.
B2B leadership needs change management support, value clarity and frameworks to drive transformational thinking.