This week I’m publishing a four-part blog series — based on research I’m doing as part of the updated focus for my marketing book project. This series takes a look at B2B demand generation today. The first post provided an introduction to the series. Parts two through four examine the three major challenges facing B2B demand generation. Today’s post looks at the first challenge — identifying why technology, alone, is not enough to improve B2B demand generation. ~ABN
So what does that average B2B marketing organization look like today? And what are the challenges that organizations must overcome to get to best-in-class?
Challenge #1: We implement technology to solve our B2B demand generation problems, but we fail to substantially update our underlying processes and roles; thus, we find technology by itself has not really solved our problems.
SiriusDecisions reported at their 2010 summit that the penetration rate for marketing automation platforms among B2B marketing organizations in the US currently is at roughly 7-10%, but they project this will rise to as much as 30% by 2015. A recent CRM Magazine article further noted, “The percentage of firms that have implemented CRM [has] increased, according to industry research firm CSO Insights, from 53% in 2003 to 75% in 2010 … .”
Clearly the adoption of technology – particularly marketing automation and CRM – among B2B marketing organizations is on the rise. Yet within organizations that have adopted the technology, we too often see a consistent pattern of doing what it takes to initially implement the technology – creating minimal definitions and scoring models to get going – but falling far short of a complete overhaul of our core processes and roles. So we never fully leverage this technology.
“Today many B2B marketers are buying into [this] idea: If they acquire a marketing automation solution, then they will wind up with a lead management process,” comments Carlos Hidalgo of The Annuitas Group in a recent post on Silverpop’s Demand Generation blog. “Nothing could be further from the truth. Technology adoption must occur hand-in-hand with process evolution.”
We see validation of this in data from The Executive Benchmark Assessment, published by Bulldog Solutions and Frost & Sullivan earlier this year – an assessment that sampled a group of 250 B2B marketers. (Graphics below used with permission.) On the surface, a majority of more-advanced B2B marketing organizations claim that they share common objectives and goals with sales and that they have common lead-stage definitions. Yet I’d note this is the minimum level of what is required to get up and running with marketing automation technology and CRM. Stated differently, on the surface – i.e., just enough to work together and to implement the technology – B2B marketing organizations are evolving, but that evolution stops early into the adoption of the technology, and as we’ll see below, the results significantly limit the outcome.
As I hinted at above, this story changes when the questions look at the outcomes of B2B demand generation programs from these same high performers, many of whom did adopt marketing automation technology but didn’t necessarily overhaul their legacy views of demand generation processes and integration. We see results that are nearly the inverse of what we saw above and that point to dissatisfaction and poor outcomes.
The synthesis? These organizations started to get aligned – enough to adopt the technology – and they created definitions. But their initial definitions were not on target and/or were not refined, and they did not carry through with improvements and fundamental process/role change. The result is that less than a quarter of B2B marketing organizations believe their efforts are keeping the pipeline filled.
This synthesis is further supported by a data point from SiriusDecisions, which also noted at its 2010 summit, “Less than 25% of organizations that have implemented a [marketing automation platform] fully currently utilize its potential.”
Why is this? The Bulldog Solutions and Frost & Sullivan research helps complete this picture, reporting that the major roadblocks B2B marketing organizations face in maximizing their marketing automation platform are people, processes and content. (See graphic below; used with permission.)
And so we find that updating definitions and adopting technology is not sufficient. Success with modern B2B demand generation – and getting to best-in-class – also requires substantial updates to processes and roles. It requires sophisticated lead management processes, a content marketing strategy and a new B2B marketing skill set that blends marketing operations with holistic, buyer-driven nurturing.
Parts three and four of this series continue to examine the three major challenges facing B2B demand generation today. [update] Part three looks at the disconnect between our marketing tactics and revenue outcomes. Stay tuned …