“Success is not a terribly good teacher.”
At least that’s what Jeremy Langley says.
We don’t often sit back and reflect on our successes.
But do we take the chance to look at our mistakes and learn from them?
That’s why Jeremy recently wrote an article sharing the six biggest lessons he’s learned as a B2B marketer. He recently came on the B2B Revenue Acceleration podcast to talk about those mistakes, and how to avoid some of them.
Jeremy is currently the Portfolio Chief Marketing Officer at The Marketing Centre, where he works with small-mid size tech business, to help accelerate their growth through strategy development and marketing. He has 20 years of experience in SaaS technology, mainly in commercial leadership roles, ranging from Managing Director to Chief Commercial Officer to CMO.
Here’s what he had to say about common mistakes we make in B2B marketing.
Success is not a terribly good teacher.
The 6 Mistakes We Make as B2B Marketers
#1: Asking your non-marketing boss, typically your CEO, to define your role.
We’re so grateful for the job sometimes, that when somebody says, “this is what I expect of you,” we just ask “how high?” That’s typically where the issue starts.
#2: Taking every penny of budget you can get.
Typically, as a marketing director, you feel happier when you have a larger budget than when you have a smaller one. But this isn’t always the right approach.
#3: Not bringing your CFO or Finance Director on board.
Don’t look at them as your enemy.
#4: Thinking other people care about your MQLs.
(We’ll dig a little deeper into this one below.)
#5: Having a “I’ll hand it off to sales” mentality.
This happens more frequently with markets focused on demand gen. (We’ll talk more about this one below as well.)
#6: Marketing for the organization you think you should have.
The Challenges of Relying on MQLs, & How to Avoid Them
If you’re only focused on MQL’s and handoffs, you’re missing a massive opportunity for growth.
Chief execs have a fairly dim view of their marketing organization and leader. If you look at the satisfaction rates of marketing leaders, marketing leaders are often at the bottom of their exec’s satisfaction ratings. Of course, there are some really awesome CEOs who are exceptions to this. But for most, marketing is viewed as sort of necessary evil.
Adding to that, new marketing tools and channels have opened up the possibility of really in-depth, detailed analytics coupled with a greater transparency around what marketing does. Those two things form a desperate geek. In other words, we’re so desperate to prove our value, and there are so many different analytics available to us now, that we throw all of the metrics out on the board room table, thinking that will prove our worth.
The MQL is the ultimate representation of that futile effort.
We’re not saying MQLs aren’t important. They are important and they represent a critical stage of pipeline development.
But an MQL is a predictive indicator of future sales success. So, until you are able to reliably demonstrate the correlation between your MQLs and booked revenue, why bother with it?
If you can’t demonstrate a correlation between an MQL and how sales is going to do, then why bother?
Well, when you take on a new role, talk to the CEO and board members, if that’s relevant. Ask them what metrics they think matter. Maybe it’s opportunities, pipeline growth, or maybe they care about meetings. But determine what they think most closely correlates future sales success and what marketing does. Then focus on that.
You could also try educating your fellow board members or execs on what you think an expected correlation between an MQL and close/won revenue. Just make sure it’s based on a benchmark formula.
You Shouldn’t Be ‘Handing Off’ Anything to Sales
At the end of the day, you can’t sit in front of execs and say, “I did my MQLs, but sales didn’t win it. Oh well.”
Thinking of passing opportunities to sales in a sort of handoff, implies a narrow role in marketing: generate qualified opportunities which sales then closes. But that’s not the purpose of marketing leadership.
Let’s step back and talk about the bigger purpose of marketing:
The purpose of marketing is essentially to build the product customer wants to buy. Let’s assume the product is the combination of the good (or service) and the experience of buying it. Then, the role of marketing is to ensure that the organization delivers, in its entirety, what the customers want in a way that they want to buy it.
That means the role of marketing is systemic. You need to bring together your knowledge of the customer, the market, your product, your competitor’s product, and the customer experience to produce something valuable.
By Handing Off to Sales, You’re Missing a Golden Opportunity
By handing off opportunities to sales, you’re missing a golden opportunity to understand how your business creates the customer experience, a crucial component of achieving your marketing purpose.
Additionally, the handoff idea and it’s narrow role of marketing causes some leaders to focus solely on filling the top of the funnel. But that’s the hardest lever to drive growth. A good way of driving growth is to improve conversion of opportunities already in the funnel. But if you’re only focused on MQLs and handoffs, you’re missing a massive opportunity for growth by optimizing the transit of opportunities through the entire funnel.
Lastly, “handing off to sales” can lead to the age-old battle between marketing and sales. Instead, work with sales.
The sales director needs to know that you’re on their side, and you won’t throw them under the bus. They need to know part of your role is to ensure he or she is as wealthy and successful as possible. The way you accomplish this is by understanding the entire sales process and looking for marginal gains throughout the funnel.
You can read Jeremy’s original article on the 6 Mistakes here.
This post is based on an interview with Jeremy Langley from The Marketing Centre.
To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast.
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