The 6 Barriers to Success for BtoB Marketers

After creating a number of BtoB lead generation and marketing programs for BtoB marketers, it is clear to me that we face sometimes overwhelming barriers to success. 

In mid 2011, Marketingsherpa performed research to uncover the barriers that exist for more than 1,700 BtoB marketers.

The research graphs 13 barriers. But this post addresses 6 of the top barriers that reflect what my clients have confirmed many times.

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1. Starving marketing team of staffing, marketing talent, budgets and time resources (62%)

The research shows this as the most critical problem faced by BtoB marketers. In this digital age, more new ideas are coming down the pike than marketers know how to deal with. It's as if marketing has become more about doing the next new thing instead of implementing programs that work.

I think that many of the other issues listed below contribute to under funding the marketing area such as a lack of results information, poor or non-existent marketing databases, low IT priority and general misinformation of the importance of marketing to the future of the business.

Time, talent and money in proper proportions will make or break marketing success.

More than ever, marketers -- and their companies' leaders -- must drive their businesses based on data rather than anecdotal evidence or their companies' firmly ingrained corporate marketing practices.

More than ever, accurate and useful information separates the winners from the losers. 

2. Executing instead of thinking strategically (39%)

Does it surprise anyone that the second most common barrier to success shows execution as the priority rather than strategic focus?

With inadequate resources, things happen in a flurry of activity. New ideas and past marketing practice go unchallenged. The lack of time, talent or money forces activity even though it contributes little, if anything to achieving the company's marketing goals.

In the end, inefficient sales models solidify after years of use rather than actual results.

3. Limited ability to develop content (35%)

I think this problem comes from primarily two sources:

- Underdeveloped or absence of points of differentiation with competitors

- An unclear value proposition supported by benefits

It also reflects poor product management that holds the key to matching target market needs with the company's product or service.

4. Lack of insight into target audience (32%)

This problem comes up with almost every client. Either the company perceives it knows the market when it really doesn't. Or suffers knowing the need is there, but marketing is unable to fund the needed research or the skill the pull out much of this information from the company's relational database.

Either way, plans are made, creative developed and spending occurs based on incomplete or even erroneous information. 

5. Lack of alignment between sales and marketing (32%)

Corporate silos often create unhealthy barriers. Compound that with the belief that marketing equates sales, or sales are separate from the marketing function.

The reality is that marketing encompasses sales and multiple other corporate initiatives if it is expected to drive the organization's growth.

Sales management directs sales, sets sales goals, assigns territories, establishes training programs, mentors sales people, achieves sales goals and meets quotas. But sales management also MUST collaborate with marketing in building a clear definition of leads and how they will be scored. They should also share with marketing what customers and prospects are saying about their needs and objections.

6. Lack of reliable data to drive decisions (31%)

Direct marketers have long understood the need for a relational database as a basic requirement for accountable advertising. Such things as Cost Per lead, Cost Per Sale, Lifetime Value, channel sales attribution, database segmentation, lead to sale conversion rates and so forth allow continual marketing results improvement. 

In fact, my consulting practice will not work with any client that does not have a database of their customers with the needed information to evaluate and prepare marketing plans.

Here is what some of my clients have said regarding this issue.

- "We have no clear definition of success"

- "Our financial projections are not founded on market realities"

- "We have a low risk tolerance due to lack of tracking and data driven information systems"

- "We base decisions on what was done in the past instead of data driven information that often leads to more efficient and effective sales models"

- "We have no CRM capability"

- "We do not save leads to our database"

These are frightening comments in an environment where best practices are essential to growth. I contend that these are requirements for survival, much less growth.

I would appreciate your comments on this issue. What other challenges have you faced that are not listed here? Do any of these hit home for you?

Posted on November 7, 2012 and filed under Lead Generation, B2B.