Proudly Wired-In, But Severely Disconnected B2B Marketers

Tony Compton, Managing Partner

For those B2B salespeople whose Q1 ended on March 31st, what was marketing’s measurable contribution to your revenue report card? Did marketing partner with you to hit your numbers? Did your marketers possess the ability to truly partner with you in all facets of the sales game, and did they really know your business?

B2B marketing’s zombie walk into the cozy online world of keywords, social media, product-centric websites, and mind-numbing data dumps is well underway. Ironically, for those marketers who claim that they’re always wired-in, this condition has been creating more and more disconnected marketers. Too many marketers are spending too much time in the online world, and their work is becoming increasingly seen as foreign and irrelevant by the business developers they’re supposed to support.

Shake Up Marketing. Start by Taking Away The Security Blanket!

The days of allowing B2B marketing to be disconnected from sales has been over for years, and no company should suffer from this problem. As a salesperson committed to hitting your numbers, the next time you get a fresh 90 days, do yourself a favor and pull marketing’s collective nose out from behind the security blanket of monitors, keyboards, tablets and smartphones. Online, email and social media efforts help, but it’s not enough. You need a robust marketing team which acts as a true partner to sales, comprehensively fluent in all areas of the business. Don’t just accept a marketing team that’s complacent and limited by electronic channels. You deserve a marketing unit that’s not caught up in an online comfort zone.

The Widening Gap

While business developers are fighting battles, too many marketers sit back in cubes with hot cups of coffee, tinkering away with an indecipherable avalanche of data, focused on material that does little to contribute to sales enablement, the pipeline, and the bottomline. Some marketers feel a sense of self-worth and tangible satisfaction as they post, tweet, and retweet, email, update websites, and run weekly reports which may never see the light of day. All the while oblivious to the critical sales and customer worlds around them. Problem is, this conveys a terrible message: marketing’s wired-in, but disconnected.

Face Off with Marketing, and Start on Offense

Challenge any marketer who is continually buried in a laptop, and they’re likely to sulk or squeal. “Online, Email, and Social Media Marketing are really important!“ is the natural response of the insulated marketer. Yes, we’re all aware of how important everybody says that stuff is. But this quarter, I’m asking you to create an internal exercise to shake things up. Insist that marketers temporarily put down their electronic toys. Ask them to show you what they can do in front of a live internal audience, without electronic assistance. Get marketing out of its online comfort zone, and into the world of real human interaction.

For this exercise, ask your marketers to answer straight-forward questions about your business, and do it in front of a group of stakeholders. It’s a solo performance for the marketer, but one that will help you get a handle on how well your marketing team understands messaging and positioning, customer pain points, value props, the problems you solve, and the measured results your company delivers.

Here’s a sample list of what you can ask your professional marketers:

• What does your company do?
• Who are your target customers? In which industries?
• What value do you provide your customers?
• Why did your company win (or lose) its last competitive bid?
• How would you describe your competitive landscape?
• What separates your company from your competitors?
• Describe a customer case study, and explain its usefulness to sales.
• Demo a product.

Ask your marketers to respond to the above without the use of a computer, a smartphone, or a projector. Don’t allow the use of printouts, sell sheets, or collateral, and certainly no phoning a friend. Do allow the use of a whiteboard, and flip charts. Give them some room for creativity.

“But how can I demo a product without a computer?” a marketer will cry… The bigger question is, “If you were visiting a customer, and your computer fizzled seconds before showtime, what would you do? Fold up and go home, or be a professional and rise to the challenge?”

“But I don’t talk to customers or prospects. That’s a job for sales!” If you hear that, find another marketer.

Requiring marketers to tackle this modest set of questions in front of a live audience should be standard operating procedure. It’s an eye-opening exercise, and a very healthy one. Remember, you deserve a high-performing marketing team, one that is not only connected online, but also intimately connected to daily sales pursuits.

Let’s End Complicit Executive Management

The word is out. It’s no secret that the migration of B2B marketing into a world dominated by online activities is a less expensive corporate route to take. Few, if any, events, no direct customer contact, no travel, no public appearances, no coaching, and no involvement by marketing with external sales activities equals greatly reduced expenses. Got it. But naively rushing into a romantic relationship with marketing technology doesn’t change the fact that marketers must possess the personal ability to stand and tell a company’s story: who you are, what you do, and how and why you do it. Your marketer’s ability to convincingly tell your corporate story – inside and outside of the electronic comfort zone – is precisely what will help drive demand, power sales enablement, generate new business and protect your customer base. That human ability will also strengthen your company presence in online, email and social media channels.

Only then will marketing be wired-in and connected.

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