Scott Brinker writes today that marketers believe data to be their most underutilized asset. 78% of the marketers surveyed feel pressure to become more data-driven.
What is stopping them from using the data they have?
Well, some don’t actually have the data. And others don’t have the skills on their team. Or they lack funding and technology to use their data.
Marketers recognize the need for more process
But the biggest group (42%) believes the obstacle to using their most underutilized asset is “lack of process to bring insights into decision-making.”
Twenty years ago, even ten years ago, you would not see “process” as the primary concern of marketers. In fact, many marketers saw process as the enemy of their most cherished attributes, creativity and innovation.
Of course, creativity and process were never enemies. It’s just that marketing didn’t need much process when sellers had information power, when marketing was primarily responsible for big ideas and product promotion, when Sales needed support but little else.
Those days long gone.
Other functions in the organization developed and refined their processes long ago
Accounting has the budgeting and reporting cycles.
Manufacturing has inventory management and a variety of processes for casting, molding, forming, machining and joining.
Development has its waterfall, spiral and agile models to manage the planning, implementation, testing, and documentation of software.
It’s not surprising that marketing does not have much in the way of process. Most of its activities have been episodic. They revolved around campaigns, events, and product announcements. Each activity had a beginning and an end.
What does marketing need to overcome its lack of process?
It must press for something around which to organize. It needs to fundamentally align its communication (aka “content”) and demand generation programs.
That something fundamental is the buying process.
Sales organizations have been organized this way for decades. As Adam Needles says in his book Balancing the Demand Equation:
These approaches are built around educating sales professionals about the B2B buying cycle. They teach sales professionals how to leverage insight into where a buyer is in his/her stage of the buying cycle and how to deliver up the next piece of critical information that will move the process forward. They teach how you can then convince the buyer your company is the right partner to choose.
Needles points to XEROX sales trainer Robert Jolles (Customer Centered Selling) “You can learn persuasion tactics until you are blue in the face, but if you are not aware of the decisions your customer has to make, or for that matter, where the person is in his own decision cycle, your chances of making a successful sale are diminished.”
Alignment with the buying cycle, a crucial shift for marketers
Needles says that this realization represents a “crucial shift in the mindset of marketers, who tend to be grounded in techniques for garnering attention and for ‘promoting’ products and services but not really for influencing the decision cycle.”
But with more of the decision process of today’s buyers “occurring upstream and online—more within the domain of marketing’s ability to influence than sales’—it’s critical that B2B marketers makes this shift and align their programs and content in this fashion.”
Marketers want to develop processes that give them decision-making insights from their data. They will succeed if they build processes that align their activities with the decision cycle the buyer experiences.