B2B CMOs Under-invest in Technology That Will Get Them Closer to Customers

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B2B marketers are clueless about early prospect engagement.
B2B marketers are clueless about early prospect engagement.

An overwhelming majority of senior B2B marketing executives, 79%, admit that they fail to deliver updated news and insights about accounts and prospects to their sales organizations. That may be one of the reasons that only 14% of these decision-makers say they're satisfied with the size of their pipelines and amount of business closed.

A survey of some 230 marketing executives released today by the CMO Council turned into a pan-industry confession fest.  Nearly half of respondents owned up to the fact that their chief sources of prospect and customer insights were internal company databases, trade shows, and their own sales reps—essentially the same sources corporate marketers have relied on since the invention of the Rolodex.

Meanwhile, they admit that no one in their organizations has taken the reins of technologies that would allow them to engage customers earlier in their buying cycles with methods such as behavioral targeting or social listening. Only 21% say their systems are able to automatically notify the front line to developments within customer accounts or markets, and at the same time only 3% say they trust their sales teams to develop insights on their own. It's a situation of everyone being asleep at the switch.

“We've been so focused on how many people we can cram into the top of the funnel that we're failing when it comes to mining the right data or connecting the data streams to create those moments of sales opportunities,” says Liz Miller, VP of marketing programs and operations at the CMO Council. “Sirius Decisions says that, on average, B2B buyers are 68% of the way into their buying cycles before they ever contact a supplier. The reality here is that we are not selling proactively to opportunities, we're selling reactively.”

CMOs don't appear to be arguing. Only 12% of those surveyed said they had a real-time, well-integrated view of customer interactions across their enterprises, and 45% said they felt they had under-invested in information and intelligence systems. As a result, only 16% said they trusted the accuracy, depth, and reliability of their customer data.

“One of the key things we're missing is all the data that can come from scary sources like customer service and frontline tech support. These are the people in the organization who spend the most time with customers, but they are shut out of the circle,” Miller says. “Wouldn't it be nice if a sales rep got an alert from tech support that they've been spending most of the week dealing with a serious problem with one of her key accounts?”

But Miller says she fears that things haven't changed much in the five years since the CMO Council, in another study of frontline resources, found that only 17% of CMOs said they intended on investing in data systems—including CRM solutions—that would incorporate input from frontline employees.

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