Sales Owns CX, Say B2B Marketers

Marketers at midsize B2B companies get no respect—or at least not the level of respect they feel could help them lift their companies to new levels of performance. A Gleanster survey of 750 senior marketers at businesses ranging from 50 to 1,000 employees had 85% of them admitting that sales and sales support departments were in control of customer experience. Meanwhile, a majority of marketers surveyed, 62%, thought they should be the ones holding the reins.

“In dealing with our customers, we came across this situation a lot anecdotally, so we decided to undertake a study to see how widespread it truly was,” said Atri Chatterjee, CMO of Act-On Software, which sponsored the survey. “What we found had us asking whether we need to rethink the way we do marketing. Marketers were telling us they felt that they were the only ones in their organizations who had a view into all the different parts of the selling cycle.”

Gleanster broke out results of top performers in the sample to illustrate how different results could be if companies gave marketers greater control over CX. The breakout group—just 2% of the sample—considered themselves effective at managing the end-to-end customer lifecycle, had exceeded their 2013 revenue plans, and claimed that 90% of their customers were happy. Marketing processes at their companies appeared markedly different from the rest of the survey.

While marketers at “average firms” spent two thirds of their time on top-of-the-funnel efforts, elite practitioners spread their efforts evenly across customer awareness, acquisition, retention, and expansion. Top performers, clinging more closely to the “bird in hand” philosophy, spent more than half their budgets coaxing more business out of current customers.

“I’ve been in marketing over 20 years now, and I know it’s temping to focus on the quick hit and filling up the pipeline, not realizing that over time that it’s cheaper to increase revenue with existing customers,” said Chatterjee, who, like most of the founders of Act-On, previously worked for Responsys. “In some cases top performers were twice as likely to be incented on the behavior of existing customers than were other marketers in the survey.”

According to the study, average firms spent 54% of their budgets on acquiring new customers, compared to 46% of high-results companies. In addition, top performers spent 41% more time on customer communication, used personalization techniques 75% more than the average, and were 30% more likely to use segmentation and behavioral marketing in communicating with customers.

All in all, top performers were bigger sticklers for excellence than the norm—hardly a surprising development. Nine out of 10 of them thought attracting top talent was a challenge, versus only half of the rest of the pool. And while the majority of run-of-the-mill marketers threw their hands up and allowed that no one in their organizations had accountability for process improvement, only about a quarter of high achievers felt that was the case. As a result, only 30% of top performers said process improvement was lacking at their companies, versus 70% of average marketers.

“They have to be re-engineering the processes. They need to be questioning what different players should be involved in it and what kinds of activities they should be involved in to be front-runners in this space,” Chatterjee said. “You don’t have to get the CEO involved. In our experience, if just the marketing and sales organizations can come into alignment, it can be a huge step forward.”

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