The studies show year after year that indeed, the B2B landscape has changed. The buying process has undergone a radical shift with the common knowledge of (insert your desired percentage here) of how far the buyer is through their buying process before engaging with a vendor. This change has caused a major disruption in B2B marketing and there is no going back.
Despite the prevalence of technologies, guides and conferences that are available to help create better connections with our buyers, studies show that marketing organizations are still struggling with adapting to the new normal:
It is clear that something is still missing, otherwise why the dissatisfaction and misalignment? While the buyer becomes more sophisticated and our environment becomes more complex, many in B2B Marketing fall further behind. However, some are starting to understand this. In a study by eConsultancy 75% of respondents ranked change management as the most important “soft skill” needed today.
Change management is the missing element in B2B marketing organizations. However, it is much more than just acquiring employees with the right skill sets, this is about changing the culture of the marketing organization to do things differently (strategic) versus just doing different things (tactical). How?
1. Change the DNA of the Organization. If driving organizational change was easy, every company would be doing it and doing it well. The statement “It’s long and difficult” speaks volumes about the culture that exists in their organizations – take the path of least resistance. This is why change management first starts in the mind of the leadership.
Marketers need to know their organizations need them more than ever. There must be a positive outlook and a vision for what can be done. If some within the leadership of the organization are afraid of difficulty, you have the wrong people on the team and consideration needs to be given to replacing them.
2. Have a Documented Plan to Change. Too many organizations go through multiple change cycles with little result. They approach change management as a test and hope that the next one will work. Not only does this approach not work, it does little to inspire, and often makes those in the organization cynical of improving outcomes.
Organizations need to plan or blueprint their change path. A builder spends time with architects laying out blueprints with painstaking detail. Marketing leaders need to do the same with their transformation strategy. Without this the plan will go off the rails, quickly.
3. Set Milestones and Be Realistic. Change management is not a quick endeavor. Organizations need to define milestones to be achieved and work towards them. There needs to be realism infused into the organization that fully aligning people, process, content and technology around that of the buyer. Having realistic expectations assures a dedication to the task and an understanding of future results.
4. Educate. Ensuring marketing personnel has the right skill set is key to success for any organization and this may call for ongoing education. Many companies simply do not invest enough in development of their team and if they do, they often do not invest enough. Marketing leaders need to make educating their staff one of the highest priorities and use this education as a catalyst for change.
In addition to training, leaders also need to educate the rest of the organization (and their peers in leadership) on the changes that have and will occur and the impact they will have on the organization. Keeping the organization informed on the business impact will help align the organization as a whole and enable leadership support.
While many organizations struggle to adapt to the modern marketing environment, the need for change management has never been more apparent. Without this, marketing departments will do little to match the sophistication and advancements of their buyers and will continue to under-perform and be misaligned with executive expectations.
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