Half of us are below average
Statistically it's inescapable. That means half of companies; half of marketing departments and half of business performance.
Now one might argue that well managed companies which are above average, are above average by every measure. There's probably some merit to that argument, but again statistically, it's unlikely that companies are equally extraordinary across all business functions. And one might plausibly conjecture the opposite. After all how can a company with great products and a company with mediocre products occupy the same space and have the same relative market share? The company that's great at making products can't realistically be as great at selling them - but the company that's great at selling them, just as realistically, can't be as great at designing and making them.
So before we run too far off into the fields of wonky theory, let's refocus. What's the point?
- Just because you are awesome at making what you make, that doesn't necessarily mean you are equally awesome at selling it - and your B2B marketing plan might be atrocious
- You and every other manufacturer think they are above average at marketing and selling - and half of you are wrong. The other half aren't as good as they can be.
Trapped in a time warp
There are two common reasons why manufacturers' marketing and sales are below average. The first, and most common, is that they used to be quite strong - well above average in fact. But the market has evolved while their static approach hasn't.
We often cite here two critical statistics. First, >93% of all B2B purchasing starts with an internet search. Second, buyers are typically >70% of the way through their buying process before they're willing to speak to a rep. And yet, the traditional manufacturer's B2B marketing plan is built around a static website, some pay-per-click ads and a couple trade shows. The sales plan is built around cold calls and quotes.
The model used to work in a different world. But the world's changed, and if the model hasn't been radically overhauled, it's destined for below average performance. In fact it will soon fall below the threshold of a standard deviation!
Misled by customer questions
The second reason is particularly insidious - because it feels intuitive and correct.
Manufacturers are accustomed to answering very product related questions - they are accustomed to speaking to the minority of prospects who have navigated the 70% on their own, and now reach out to gather information to compare competitive solutions.
So in a sense, they're correct. Their B2B marketing plan and sales approach is built around prospect questions. The problem is that they're basing that on a sample which isn't representative of the folks they really need to attract, convert and nurture. And therefore it's inadequately representative of what's required.
Kristin Zhivago's book Roadmap to Revenue provides a solid framework for actually researching the questions you need to answer,
It's not you or your company...it's just your B2B business development
So let's be clear. The point isn't that you're below average or that you company is. In fact if you're rock stars in designing and making stuff it's probably impossible for you to be a rock star selling it.
But you've got to be willing to reject the cognitive bias that convinces you that you've got the revenue growth nailed too, and you have to move beyond the two most common causes for false confidence.
And then you'll position yourself to see the opportunity, engage the right resources, and bring your business development up to the same level as the rest of your operation.