If marketing is as important to the B2B pipeline as sales, why aren’t we formalizing training for marketing teams?

In the not too distant past, B2B marketers were responsible for branding and communication. They created advertisements, brochures and publications and set up stands at events.

The skills required didn’t change too often. But it was incredibly difficult to track ROI, and marketing was seen as a function that “had to be done”. Whenever a company’s finances became tight, marketing was the number one priority for layoffs.

Then the web was born … and everything changed.

Today’s marketers are responsible for technology, demand generation, branding, communication, PR, AR, content generation, thought leadership, sales enablement, and more. Business leaders expect marketers to track the impact their efforts have on pipeline sales.

Marketing teams are responsible for proving that they are driving huge pipeline numbers into the business; But these teams are fighting more than ever.

According to a survey published on MarketingWeek.com, more than half of marketers (53.8%) say they have no marketing-related academic or professional qualifications. Additionally, only 32.2% of those who said they had a degree in Marketing found it very useful.

No wonder: Marketing changes at lightning speed. Not only do marketers need to determine whether the new strategies and platforms that pop up on a regular basis are a strategic fit for the business (think TikTok and Clubhouse), but also whether the resources and budget are available to implement them.

No other department in your company needs such regular, defined and measurable training as marketing.

The implications of not strategically training your marketing team

By looking at the broader business challenges, companies can spot the cracks in their marketing teams and how those cracks affect their business as a whole.

Marketing teams have the highest turnover rate of any role in a company, and the tenure of CMOs is shockingly low compared to their C-suite counterparts.

Other challenges include the inability of companies to differentiate themselves from the competition, inferior leads, extended close times, sales closings that translate into discounts, poor customer loyalty, misalignment between sales and marketing, and the inability to measure the effectiveness of marketing.

Knowing all of this, companies seem unwilling to put the same concerted effort and investment into training their marketing teams as they do in training their sales teams.

Both are part of an organization’s revenue generation engine. Marketing also sets the story – the external narrative – for your entire company.

Here is a brief breakdown of the aforementioned challenges:

  • Fluctuation in the marketing team It costs your company a lot of money to re-hire and retrain, not to mention the loss of knowledge when someone leaves.
  • Don’t differentiate is a positioning, messaging, and branding issue; The marketing team usually leads the differentiation strategy.
  • Bad lead quality is a direct result of the efforts of your demand generation team.
  • Extended closing time means your prospects see no value in making your solution a priority. It takes a marketing-sales effort to fix this – but guess who is supplying the stories for sales?
  • Price wars indicate that you have not positioned your products correctly or have not found the right market segment.
  • Bad customer loyalty is usually a customer experience issue; Marketing is often asked to lead CX.
  • Misalignment between sales and marketing can ruin your B2B pipeline and business.
  • Inability to measure marketing effectiveness (or measure the right things) leads to layoffs, budget cuts and chaos within the marketing team, which can create a vicious circle that drives profitability down.

Of course, each of these issues involves several factors and could be discussed at length, but hopefully it is obvious that marketing teams …

  • Are asked a lot
  • Direct impact on a company’s sales and growth
  • Are under more pressure than other teams in your company to learn new things and quickly determine if those things fit into the overall strategy
  • Are the part of your company that is most visible in the market

So why don’t we give marketers the tools and training they need to be successful?

Even if you think you’re training your marketing team …

In most organizations, training your marketing team works something like this: Marketing directors receive a small budget for employee development, and they divide that budget among the individual team members, each free to choose how it is spent. Team members can go to an event or take a course … and that’s the scope of their training.

Do you see the problems in this scenario?

  • First, this type of learning is not strategically aligned with the goals and objectives of the company (or maybe even the goals of the marketing team); it focuses more on personal growth than team growth.
  • Second, there is no way of knowing whether the time and money spent, no matter how small, has an impact on marketing efforts.
  • Third, since it is a bottom-up approach to education, there is no way to know if your team members are learning the same methodology. You might return from training with conflicting approaches.

Another common scenario is that a leader brings the team together to learn something new in a workshop. While this is a more strategic solution, it doesn’t solve the need for sustained learning over time. It also does nothing to help team members grow in areas where they are weak, nor does it measure how they are advancing in their knowledge.

These scenarios can have many variations, but the overarching theme is that you are likely spending a tremendous amount of time and energy formally training your sales teams and wondering why you are not getting the results you want.

The answer to this “why” is that the same dedicated and rigorous training for your sales team must apply to your marketing team.

Assessments, learning paths, modern learning modalities in a variety of media and a careful measurement of this training and its business impact are critical to solving the biggest business challenges in today’s B2B.

I would argue that marketing has a bigger impact on your business than sales. Your marketing team members are the first voices your prospects will hear. The customer experience marketers provide and the stories they tell form the foundation on which your sales team sells.

Please train your marketing team to become the rock stars we know can be.

Additional resources to train your marketing team

How to choose the right training program for your marketing staff

Continuing Education: How Professional Development Can Improve Company Performance and Employee Retention

Four tips for effectively training your marketing team

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