‘BtoB’ survey reveals marketer skills, challenges

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The conventional wisdom that marketers struggle with a broken, dysfunctional relationship with their counterparts in sales may not be entirely accurate, according to the results of a just-completed survey by BtoB and SaaS solution provider

The “B2B Marketer Skills Snapshot Survey,” conducted in March and April, asked marketers to rate their skills, favorite success metrics, challenges, technology adoption and use of social media.

Asked about job difficulties, 39% of respondents put “working with the sales team” toward the “not difficult at all” side of a 1-to-5 scale. Many more respondents (73%) said “doing more with less resources” was “difficult” or “very difficult.”

Contacted after the survey, a number of respondents agreed the marketing-sales relationship had improved in the past few years.

“If anything, I would identify it as a strategic change,” said Tracey Fanelli, senior VP-marketing and communications at Wells Fargo. “Over the last five or so years, I think b-to-b marketers are realizing that they can’t be successful without creating better alignment with their sales partners.”

Ernest Thompson, director-corporate marketing and branding for Guardian Industries, a global manufacturer of glass, automotive and building products, said the recession made it “prudent to get along and build something together.” But he added there were other trends, too, helping push sales and marketing together: “Technology makes it easier to communicate in real time, and that enhances the relationship. Organizationally, there’s a trend toward compensation schemes that apply to both sales and marketing.”

While the survey found more than half (56%) of respondents do not have their compensation tied to sales goals, 22% said that between 1% and 25% of their compensation was tied to such goals.

In other companies, the breakthrough was technical. That was the case at ADP Canada, said Heidi Schwende, online marketing manager. “Eloqua now feeds our customer relationship management system [from],” she said.

The survey did uncover a seeming inequity in information sharing between marketing and sales organizations. Asked how much data are shared with sales, 17% of respondents said “10% or less.” But when asked how much data they received from sales, 31% said “10% or less.”

“The survey demonstrates that a majority of marketers are struggling to connect all of the pieces necessary for building and maintaining a successful, sustainable and scalable marketing program,” said Scott Mersy, VP-marketing and products at “By stepping up to new channels, technologies and processes, like social media, marketing automation and lead nurturing, marketers hold the key to effectively reaching their goals and proving marketing’s impact on the top line.”

The survey found more than half of respondents (55%) ranked their skills in being “sales-driven” (able to map revenue back to marketing tactics) as “strong” or “strongest.” On the other hand, this axis had the highest percentage of “weak” or “weakest” self-ratings, at 17%.

Interestingly, regarding their two top strengths, marketers ranked their “strategic” capabilities (defined as the ability to “see market trends and leverage them”) slightly above “creativity” (defined as the ability to “constantly come up with fresh approaches”), 71% to 69%.

Asked what would most help to alleviate their challenges, “increased budget” was the clear winner, followed by “bigger team/staff.” This result was consistent regardless of the size of the organization.

Among other findings of the survey:

  • Asked to rank in importance the metrics they use to judge the success of an online campaign, revenue (87%) beat out gross measures such as click-through rate (53%) and Web site traffic (48%), seeming to indicate that, online at least, marketers have come to align their metrics with bottom-line business objectives.
  • When asked about the goal and mission of the marketing department, the largest percentage of respondents picked “to drive qualified leads,” with more than half (52%) saying this was marketing’s “most important” mission.

    Conducted between March 19 and April 5, the e-mail “B2B Marketer Skills Snapshot Survey” collected 544 responses, 68% from primarily b-to-b marketing organizations.

    On June 3, BtoB will hold a free webcast on the survey data. Register at

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