Unfortunately, What B2B Marketing Can Expect in 2014

crystal_ball_creepyWelcome to the beginning of a new year, the time when the B2B marketing pundits and prognosticators offer you their predictions on what we can all expect to see over the next 12 months.  As in years past, we’ll see some of these things come true, and we’ll see some conjecture remain just that…conjecture.

When reading the “what to expect in 2014” articles and posts, it’s hard not to come away with positive expectations for what’s on the horizon.  However, if history is our teacher (and I believe it is), there are also some not-so-positive trends that we can expect.  A review of the researched trends from the last few years indicates that we can expect to see the following in 2014…

Lead Generation Will Continue To Be A Struggle
I’ve been in B2B marketing and sales for more than 20 years, and undoubtedly, this challenge annually tops them all.  Although we have the tools, resources, thought leadership, etc.,  generating the right number of quality leads is a practice that continues to be lost on marketers. Evidence points to this trend continuing.

Proper Follow-up on Qualified Leads Will Not Improve
Year, after year, I read the same statistic: 70-80% of leads are not properly followed up by sales.  I hate to be “Johnny Rain Cloud”, but I see no evidence of this improving.  Yes, some companies are making strides in this area, but collectively, the marketing community will continue with the “same ole same ole”.

Sales And Marketing Will Continue To Be At Odds With Each Other

If the first two predictions come true, then this one will follow as well.  Sure, there will be individual instances where the two come together to improve overall effectiveness.  But this by-product of poor demand generation strategy and bad lead management will continue to hamper overall business results.

“Silver Bullet” Syndrome Will Continue

We (marketers) love shiny things.  It’s researched fact.  And we can expect that new, shiny things in the form of new tools and technology will be introduced this year.  I predict that those new tools will be purchased with the belief that they are the solutions to the challenges faced by marketers. And, as is in the past, I also predict that those who purchase those tools will soon after be wondering why the tools are not working as hoped.

I think my list of predictions has a good shot at coming to fruition.  Yes, I know…pretty gloomy.  Gloomy, that is, if there was no hope of turning these things around. But there is hope.  It starts with building a demand generation strategy and lead management process that includes the following…

  • Deep insight into understanding your target buyer
  • A defined road map on how your buyer(s) makes buying decisions
  • A content blueprint that is developed from the buyers’ perspective, aligning content with the buyer and their stage in the buying process
  • An operational process that manages and tracks sales leads from the point they’re obtained through post purchase
  • A lead nurturing strategy that dictates how “not yet ready for sales” leads are handled
  • A process for measuring all of the above
  • Technology that supports the strategy and process

So don’t look at my predictions as doom and gloom.  Instead, look at the next 12 months as the year that we eliminate status quo.  2014 can be your best year. Make it happen!