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Almost two-thirds of B2B companies are experiencing either profound (20%) or significant (44%) changes in their market conditions and customer behaviors. So how are organizations adapting? A new study [download page] from Econsultancy and Sojourn Solutions examines how marketers and marketing operations, in particular, are managing and adjusting for these changes.

On the strategic and leadership side of things, a significant proportion of respondents feel their organizations are not suited for the changes that are occurring. About one-third of the senior executives surveyed reported that they either disagree (22% share) or strongly disagree (9% share) that their marketing is aligned to key business outcomes such as total revenue contribution, market share or customer lifetime value.

An even greater percentage (45%) of respondents say that their sales and marketing processes are only somewhat or not at all aligned on financial objectives, organizational structure or customer success. Lack of alignment between sales and marketing is hardly new. Earlier research found that more than half (56%) of sales and marketing professional say their departments are siloed with other research reporting that some of the challenges to alignment were communication and broken processes.

Perhaps most worrying is that only half of respondents report that their marketing leadership team is either fully (21% share) or mostly (29% share) effective in implementing new initiatives, influencing others and managing change.

Customer Knowledge Processes Are Lagging

Unfortunately, when it comes to the customer knowledge process and buying journey process, things do not get much better. About 3 in 10 (29% share) of respondents report that their customer knowledge process only ‘somewhat’ helps them to identify and share insight from market and customer information, with another 15% share saying it doesn’t help them at all.

However, the report breaks down respondents into top performers (i.e those who exceeded their business goals) and mainstream (all others). The top performers are the “one-third of organizations that reported having exceeded their top 2018 marketing goal.” While this sample size is rather small, it is worth noting that a 51% share of top performers said their customer knowledge process ‘fully’ helps them identify and share insights – indicating a relationship between functional processes and business outcomes.

Separate research has highlighted the importance of engaging buyers early in their buying journey, as well as providing buyers with relevant content which addresses their needs. Despite this, the survey revealed that half of the respondents say that their buying journey process aligns activities either only somewhat (33% share) or not at all (17% share) with buyers at all stages throughout the buying lifecycle.’

ABM Processes Have More Positive Outlook

A Spiceworks report from the beginning of the year found that half of the tech marketers feel that account-based marketing (ABM) a trend likely to make a big impact in 2019. Other research also found that about 7 in 10 of B2B marketers are using ABM for at least one-quarter of their marketing.

So, while this most recent report shows that other processes appear to have room for improvement, ABM processes are faring somewhat better. Some a 56% share of respondents say have either have a fully (28% share) or mostly (27% share) ABM process and are purposely marketing to key accounts. By comparison, more than three-quarters of the top performers are either fully (47% share) or mostly (31% share) using an ABM approach to target key accounts.

About the Data: Findings are based on results from an online survey fielded in Q1 of 2019 to select third-party and Econsultancy lists which garnered 171 qualified respondents from companies in North America and the United Kingdom which conduct B2B marketing with revenues more than $250 million in 2018. One-third (34%) of respondents were at the SVP level or above and 93% at a Director level or above.

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