February 20, 2021

Three Myths about Post-Pandemic B2B Marketing – Busted!

By Matt Heinz

This post is brought to you by Heinz Marketing founder Matt Heinz.

We assume that others are far ahead of us. Or that we ourselves are so far behind. Possibly both.

And most often, we are wrong on both counts.

The past 12 months have been a doozy and have seen some significant changes in how B2B sales and marketing is performed due to limitations around in-person meetings, events and more.

These changes are happening inside organizations as well, as go to market teams increasingly integrate their strategies, tactics and technology to increase efficiency and market velocity.

And yes, these changes are happening at a more rapid pace due to COVID-19. But your opportunity to innovate, integrate and lead your organization is still right in front of you.

Last month we asked B2B sales and marketing leaders to honestly evaluate their progress in three key areas:

  1. Sales and marketing operations
  2. Marketing channel mix
  3. Sales and marketing alignment

And in each scenario, the data showed a far more diverse spread of innovation (or lack thereof) than many might expect.

For example:

Marketing, Sales and Revenue Operations

We asked respondents to rate how their organization is managing marketing and sales operations. The idea of a single revenue operations team is discussed extensively in B2B circles, so the assumption might be that most organizations have gone that direction already.

The data shows otherwise:

Only 20 percent – one in five respondents – have a single revenue operations team. While this state has many advantages over working separately, it’s sobering (and hopefully encouraging to many reading this) that the majority of respondents are still working through it.

Marketing Channel Mix – Digital vs Offline

Perhaps more surprising is what marketers are doing with their channel mix in 2021. All we heard during 2020 was how marketers had gone 100% digital, that field marketing and offline marketing efforts were passe.

Apparently, most marketers didn’t get that message:

Two out of three respondents are still leveraging at least some offline channels. And while field events and in-person gatherings might still be off the table (perhaps for the majority of 2021), most marketers are leaning in on direct mail, strategic gifting and other means of literally reaching their customers and prospects in some physical form.

Prospects have proven to be largely open to sharing a “work from home” address in order to receive something physical, even from companies they don’t know well. Getting mail at the office was often seen as a nuisance, while having something delivered at home can be a highlight of your “shelter in place” day.

Sales and Marketing Alignment (Or Not)

Finally we asked sales and marketing leaders to honestly grade the state of their working relationships with one another. There’s often a wide gap between strategic alignment (i.e. what we agree to and speak about at sales kick-off) and operational alignment (how the teams integrate on Tuesday).

The data shows little movement over the past 12 months:

Aspirational predictions about deep alignment have not converted to reality for most organizations, despite in many cases an honest, mutual and significant attempt to do so. This will continue to be an area of opportunity and growth for organizations in 2021, especially those operating an account-based model where traditional marketing and sales roles are increasingly blended.

Turning Busted Myths Into Opportunity And Action

Each of the above functional areas and questions reflect massive opportunities for B2B organizations to accelerate in-market impact, sales acceleration and operational efficiency in 2021 and beyond.

For example:

Sales and Marketing Operations

  • Audit your cross-operations tech stack. Where do you have overlapping tools or features? Where are there gaps that could address constraints internally or externally?
  • Create opportunities for marketing and sales operations teams to get to know each other better outside of work. The more they talk and interact with each other, the more likely they are to integrate their efforts.
  • Create incentives for both teams to work together. Offer a reward for finding XX% cost savings or YY% improvement on pipeline velocity due to integrated efforts.

Marketing Channel Mix

  • Rather than cut the field marketing expense out of your budget, divert it to other channels that can drive impact and response (such as direct mail, gifting, interactive virtual events and more)
  • Rather than commit to a mass direct mail send all at once, create programs that put the right direct mail and/or package in front of the right prospect at the right time. Spreading them out, and doing so integrated with other sales/marketing campaigns, can increase impact.
  • Deepen your understanding of key buying committee personas, and re-balance online/offline channel mix based on their preferences and media consumption habits.

Sales and Marketing Alignment

  • Words matter! Ensure both teams are using the same language (marketing, find out what the sales team uses and mirror that as a starting point)
  • Ask the hard questions about what it will take to translate alignment on objectives into alignment on tactical lead, intent signal and information flow on a typical workday
  • Create incentives for middle managers and front-line employees to recognize and reward each other for their contributions to mutual revenue-producing goals and leading indicator actions.

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