What Distinguishes Top-Performing Marketing Organizations

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A recent survey by B2B Marketing and The Mx Group identified several differences between top-performing and poorly-performing B2B marketers. Not surprisingly, the research revealed that the best-performing marketing organizations excel at maintaining accurate data and integrating data systems, fully leveraging technology, and closely aligning with sales.

This survey included respondents working in a range of industries, with technology (27%), professional services (16%), and industrial/manufacturing/engineering (13%) being the largest segments represented. Eighty-eight percent of the respondents were located in the U.S. or the U.K., and 83% were CEOs, CMOs/VPs of marketing, directors of marketing, marketing managers, or marketing executives.



To identify the distinguishing attributes and behaviors of top-performing marketers, B2B Marketing and The Mx Group polled survey participants about ten factors that affect marketing performance. Top performers (17% of all survey participants) were respondents who rated themselves as successful or very successful across all survey questions. Poor performers (14% of all survey participants) were respondents who rated themselves as unsuccessful across all survey questions.

The following table lists the ten marketing performance factors that this research addressed. The table also shows the percentages of top performers and poor performers for each factor and the percentage point difference between top-performing and poorly-performing respondents. As the table shows, there is a gap of more than thirty percentage points between top performers and poor performers for seven of the ten marketing performance factors.

The data from this survey is interesting, but with a few exceptions, the reported findings leave a significant “hole in the middle.” As noted earlier, top performers included only those respondents who rated themselves as successful or very successful on all ten performance factors, while poor performers were respondents who rated themselves as unsuccessful on all of the factors. Together, the top performers and the poor performers account for only 31% of the total survey respondents. So, 69% of the respondents fell somewhere in the middle, and the survey report provides little data about the attributes of those respondents.

It does, however, include overall response data regarding two important issues. First, only 31% of all survey respondents said they have fully deployed their marketing automation system. I would have expected this percentage to be higher by now, given that B2B marketing automation is a relatively mature technology category.

But other recent research has produced similar results. For example, in the 2019 Data-Driven Marketing & Advertising Outlook study conducted by Adweek Branded on behalf of Dun & Bradstreet, only 26% of surveyed B2B marketers said they use the “advanced functions” of their marketing automation platform. Another 31% of the survey respondents said they only use the “basic functions” of their marketing automation system.



The other somewhat surprising finding in the B2B Marketing/Mx Group survey relates to marketing-sales alignment. The survey report states that most of the surveyed marketers claim success at aligning with sales. However, specific survey findings raise some doubt about the accuracy of this perception.

Only 25% of all survey respondents said they and their sales counterparts share a “full definition” of who constitutes a qualified lead. Another 56% of the respondents said they and sales have agreed on a “limited definition” of a qualified lead, but they have no formal documentation of that definition in place.

This finding is particularly concerning, given the undeniable need to have sales and marketing teams work collaboratively to maximize profitable growth. Obviously, effective marketing-sales alignment requires much more than a shared definition of a qualified lead, but that is one of the essential building blocks.

It’s increasingly difficult to understand why marketing-sales alignment is still such a seemingly difficult challenge for many B2B companies. The need for better alignment and closer collaboration between the two functions is clear and unambiguous. And one thing is certain. In today’s B2B demand generation environment, the lack of effective alignment and meaningful collaboration between marketing and sales is both intolerable and inexcusable.



Top image courtesy of Ron Cogswell via Flickr CC.

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