As you can see, this blog is focused on B2B marketing best practices — the techniques and tactics that have been tested and proven to generate greater business marketing results and success.
There are, however, barriers between the marketing department and its ability to use these best practices — and they are all human.
Barrier #1: CEO
The vital job of the head of the B2B company — regardless of size — is to think strategically, have a vision for the future and help guide the company toward it. They are to advise on and support the strategies of the company’s divisions and departments and promote decision-making that enhances growth and the bottom line.
It is NOT to rewrite marketing copy, choose what is to be offered, dictate channels, or command that the marketing team copy the approach taken by a competitor because a colleague on the golf course liked it.
Barrier #2: Product Manager
The B2B company product manager is the driver behind what the company sells. They ensure that every product and every product enhancement supports the needs and demands of customers and prospective customers. This manager makes sure that the product has strong competitive advantages, is reliable and cost-effective for the customer and is profitable for the company. It’s a big and important job.
It is NOT the product manager’s job to insist that B2B marketing messages be jammed with a list of features in the mistaken belief that doing so is all it takes to generate sales.
Barrier #3: Sales Manager
As nicely defined by Rob Halvorsen, a contributing writer for Sales Careers Online, “Typically, sales managers direct a company’s sales program. They assign sales territories, set goals, and establish training programs for their sales representatives. Sales managers may also advise their sales representatives on ways to improve their sales performance, achieve goals and obtain expected quotas.”
You see that nowhere in his definition does it say ANYTHING about marketing.
It’s important for sales to collaborate with marketing in building a clear definition of how leads are to be scored so they can be turned over to sales when the time is right. It’s also advantageous for sales to share with marketing what prospects and customers are saying about their needs and their buying objections.
It is not part of a sales manager’s job to insist that the content offered in B2B marketing campaigns be product brochures or data sheets rather than educational content — the kind of content that nurtures qualified leads through the buying process until they are ready to talk with sales.
How does a B2B marketing pro overcome these barriers? Unfortunately, it takes work and time. But here are some tactics that have been successful for a few marketers:
- Prepare and schedule a presentation designed to educate the specific human barrier on why these best practices are “best” and support the argument, if possible, with quantitative numbers.
- Bring in a respected consultant or specialist to prepare and make this type of educational presentation. It’s regrettable, but humans often put more faith in the recommendations of outsiders than in recommendations from those inside the company.
- Test one approach against the other. In a direct A/B split, send the “best practices” approach to 50% or more of the target market and the other option to 50% or less of the target. The results will speak for themselves.
The last option for B2B marketers is to just tear out their hair and give in. Unfortunately, a lot of B2B marketers are rapidly going bald.