PHOTO: Matt Bero
2020 changed the B2B purchasing landscape. As a result, the value we place on certain marketer traits is changing.
Every B2B marketer understands that a buying committee consists of six to ten decision makers, each with more than four individually collected, often conflicting content. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, this made the buying process complicated at best. Research from Gartner shows that “77% of B2B buyers say their last purchase was very complex or difficult.”
The Impact of the Pandemic on Group Purchasing
COVID-19 only exacerbated the problem.
Buyers are less centralized as they work from home, which makes collaboration difficult. According to Buffer’s 2019 Remote Work Status Report, “collaboration and / or communication” is the third biggest battle in remote work. Each decision maker on a purchasing committee researches more independently than usual, which creates more disagreement across the committee.
In addition to the difficulties, the needs and budgets of buyers are constantly changing. The markets are volatile and tied to economies that flow in and out in reverse to the spread of the coronavirus. Making purchasing decisions now depends as much on accurately forecasting market fluctuations as it does on the solutions and vendors being evaluated.
Put simply, B2B buying is harder than ever. To win a business, B2B marketers need to help their potential customers navigate an increasingly complex buying process. But here too the pandemic is causing major problems.
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The Impact of the Pandemic on B2B Marketers and Their Efforts
The same problems that affect shopping groups hamper marketing efforts. As with their target buyers, collaborators are far more difficult for marketers than it was a few months ago. It’s harder to hand off parts of a project than we’re working on a production line. This undermines the value of specialization as any handover is more cumbersome these days – it takes longer and is more prone to misunderstandings and execution errors.
Here, too, economic uncertainty is a problem. A few weeks mean a V-shaped boom is imminent, leading marketing directors to consider expanding programs to drive demand. Other weeks look grimmer, and layoffs will be next.
None of this is likely to change anytime soon. What is the impact on the development of marketing skills and marketer characteristics?
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4 Essential B2B Marketing Skills And Characteristics For Today
Today’s circumstances require different skills and personality strengths than six months ago. In my opinion, more emphasis should be placed on people who have the following characteristics:
Cross-channel multi-role skills
New collaboration difficulties are making utilities more valuable to marketing organizations as they can develop and deploy cross-channel tactics that align with the complex buyer’s journey.
In addition, the market volatility requires greater agility on the part of the marketing team. And marketers with multi-role skills can direct their efforts much faster and more effectively. Scott Vaughan, Integrate’s chief growth officer, said, “If you can’t work across buyer channels and marketing roles, you’re hosed. You need to connect the dots that feed your buyers’ journeys. B2B marketers who just stay on their swim lanes will drown. “
A quick learning ability
Not every marketer will have the skills required during these times. However, the ability to learn new skills is just as important.
Many marketers simply have not received an incentive to learn skills that will be used in related roles. This is especially true in recent years. B2B marketing is increasingly focused on technology, causing the marketing technology (martech) industry to evolve into more specialized point solutions that ultimately belong to specific power users. Unfortunately, this has resulted in process silos and limited expertise.
Those marketers who have the enthusiasm and ability to expand their skills quickly are highly valued. Of course, it is not always easy to prove these skills, which leads us to the next characteristic. …
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Confident and self-motivated
When you work remotely and have to wear multiple hats, marketers who take the initiative become more valuable to businesses. Initiative participants will quickly demonstrate their ability to face market fluctuations by learning new skills.
Being a team player has always been important in marketing as it should be. But some marketers go too far. Kate Athmer, Senior Director of Growth Marketing at Bombora, said, “There is no place for dispersed teams for marketers who solicit input from everyone they can think of, iterate to death and only take meaningful action when there is consensus.” With market conditions and budgets changing rapidly, we need marketers who can make decisions based on data and their own qualifications and move forward. “
In addition, “loneliness” is the second biggest struggle in remote work, according to the aforementioned Buffer Remote Work report. I tend to interpret this as a feeling of discomfort while working independently. Self-launching marketers who can independently develop and execute plans when needed are becoming a coveted commodity.
This is pretty much a subset of “cross-channel, multi-role capabilities”. However, I believe it is important enough to be listed separately.
Nothing slows down a marketing campaign like separating the people who have ideas from those who are supposed to get them across in writing. With today’s focus on agility, it’s becoming increasingly important to hire people who can do both.
The marketing skills and abilities required will certainly vary from organization to organization. And startups will obviously need these traits listed above more than companies. The economic and social uncertainty, however, has brought the buying and selling of B2B into constant change and brought agility to the fore. And marketing organizations simply can’t be as agile or efficient without self-launching, versatile marketers who can quickly learn to respond to changing buyer needs.
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David Crane is Vice President of Marketing at Intentsify, a leading provider of intent data solutions. With a decade of B2B marketing experience in the tech industry, David leads Intentsify’s go-to-market and messaging strategy.