Years ago, I helped construct a playground fort at a summer camp. I remember one particularly hot day we were putting on the finishing touches which included cutting the railings for the top decking. A co-worker and I were calling out measurements from the deck to the saw operator who was on the ground cutting the rails. For the first railing, my co-worker called down, “36 and three-eighths.”
When the saw operator finished cutting, he handed us one rail measuring 3 feet, plus three rails each measuring 8 inches. What he heard was a measurement that called for “36 and three 8’s.” After a good 5 minutes of laughter, we submitted a requisition to have the saw operator reassigned to something else besides carpentry. He obviously did not have the right skill set. Many B2B organizations are facing the same thing today: a lack of skill sets.
- In a recent study performed by Accenture 13% of respondents stated that a lack of skill set is keeping their company from success.
- Another study conducted by Frost & Sullivan and recently highlighted on the Propelling Brands Blog showed that of 250 respondents, 109 (44%) said that not having the right people was a roadblock (in this case it was not overall business success but success with marketing automation).
A significant number of organizations are struggling to find the right people to ensure the success of their marketing efforts. If you fall into this category, here are a few characteristics you should look for in future marketing employees to fill the potential skills gap:
1. An Understanding and Willingness to Work With Sales Over the years, I’ve reviewed planning and strategy with hundreds of marketers. When I ask the question “What does sales think?”, I usually get the roll of the eyes and comments about sales people being “just ‘coin-operated’.” The truth is we are all coin-operated. I have never encountered anyone in a company that puts in his or her weekly hours on a volunteer basis. Everyone works for the money, so don’t blame sales for being the same way. Instead, marketers would do well to understand the sales person’s perspective. A marketer who understands and values the unique viewpoint and input of sales can be invaluable to your marketing team. Sales people are the ones who spend the most time with the customers and are “in” the market on a daily basis. To not listen to them is to reject a unique perspective and in many cases, the voice of the customer. The best marketers are often those who have been in a sales role at sometime in their career. They use that experience to connect with a sales team and to create programs that sales can embrace. Finding a marketer who appreciates sales to the point of engaging them can be hard to find, but it is certainly worth the search effort.
2. A Process-Based Approach to Lead Management One of the keys to making marketing work is developing the right business processes. To do so requires thinking at an operational level. This is most important in the area of lead management. A marketer who views their role as simply filling the top of the funnel (i.e.. demand generation) will not be of as much benefit to an organization as one who develops a process to manage a lead through every step or phase of the of the funnel (i.e, the buyer’s journey). By performing the latter, the marketer’s goal is now focused on lead quality not quantity. This in turn increases the likelihood of producing more revenue because sales spends more time on higher-quality leads. A process-minded marketer will quickly stand out from the rest. When you find them, make them an offer they cannot refuse.
3. Knowledgeable About Direct Marketing Too many B2B marketers have been raised at the foot of the branding tree and believe it is their job to make communications look good or to enhance the corporate brand. While these areas are certainly important, it is no longer the sole duty of marketing. Good B2B marketers know there is more to their role. Marketers who have a demonstrated proficiency in direct marketing (online, offline, inbound and outbound) know that it takes more than just a pretty design or catchy subject line to engage a buyer. They know that listening to a prospect is just as important, if not more important, then speaking to one. This kind of marketer has experience in mapping content to each stage of the buyer’s journey, and they understand the value of engaging the customer in meaningful dialogue to further the relationship. They understand that if this engagement with the customer is done well, it automatically enhance the corporate brand, thus achieving two objectives at once.
4. Understanding of Role of Technology If you listen to most of the marketing technology vendors that are crowding into the B2B marketing space, you would think that technology is the answer to all of your problems. Though technology can certainly help enable some of your current processes and automate a repeatable communication to your buyer, it is not the savior to your marketing challenges. A good marketer will understand the role that technology can and should play in an organization and how, when integrated with CRM and other key technologies, it can help enhance the overall communication to the customer.
5. Market by Numbers The practice of marketing is not a gut feel kind of discipline. Good marketers are driven by metrics. They use numbers to show their ROI on campaigns, track the marketing contribution to revenue, measure conversions along the sales funnel and use the business intelligence in their metrics to help plan for the future. The next time you are looking to fill a role for your marketing group, list “Metrics Driven” as one of the criteria for the role. then ask each candidate to show you specific examples of how they have measured marketing effectiveness in the past. As the B2B market place continues to change, it will be imperative to get the right people in the right roles in order to ensure you’re engaging with your buyer, aligning with sales and having a positive impact on revenue. Those organizations who understand the people part of the B2B marketing equation will certainly be a step ahead of their competition.