From Reactive Analytics to Proactive Growth: What B2B Martech Needs
Marketing, Sales, and Operations teams today have no shortage of tech solutions at their disposal. Ask any team – even those at startups and SMBs – and they’ll likely tell you their tech stack looks more like a tech skyscraper, built with a litany of tools for demand gen, analytics, and lead attribution.
The problems? Few if any of these tools provide the kind of forward-looking insights that B2B startup leaders actually need today to drive growth quickly and thrive.
Times are changing, and many C-level leaders are no longer looking to legacy martech solutions to carry them into the future. Even the well-known martech pundit Scott Brinker notes in a recent blog that “90% — that’s 9 out of 10 CMOs — are implicitly, if not explicitly, looking for better martech solutions” (scroll to his second graphic).
Keep reading as we explore the chasm between tomorrow’s C-level needs and today’s solutions and illustrate how this chasm should be driving the evolution of martech.
The Challenges: Too much marketing analytics, not enough “Growth Architecting”
- An underserved market in martech
One commonality among the vast majority of existing martech solutions is that they’re designed to serve operations specialists or mid-level marketing and sales managers. These professionals often have backward-facing goals: They aim to use marketing analytics to show how their specific activities were producing results. As such, their tech stack might help them attribute a certain source of leads retroactively or show where web traffic came from over the past X months.That’s all well and good – if you’re not tasked with creating an integrated, cross-company engine for growth. But if you’re a C-level leader, you’ll find that what these stacks don’t do is facilitate the kind of forward-looking, cross-functional “growth architecting” you’re looking for. C-level leaders don’t need software showing where the specific groups of leads came from last quarter – they need to figure out what they can promise the board in terms of pipeline and bookings for next quarter. That means precise and accurate growth forecasting, which implies an increased focus on top-down, forward-looking goal setting instead of bottom-up, backwards-looking analytics. Unfortunately, however, these issues are today hard to avoid in a martech landscape focused more on trying to measure growth than actually driving growth.
- Performance woes
To make matters worse, to the extent that C-level leaders do rely on existing martech, the results are underwhelming. Ask any C-level leader how long it currently takes their Ops tech stacks to, for example, tell them the impact of Marketing lead sources on their bookings, and they’ll often tell you they’ve given up waiting and don’t trust the data. Never mind the costs associated with standing up a tech stack or a scalable ABM implementation.
- Current realities raise the stakes
The C-suite has always been on the hook for growth commitments to the board, but current conditions have conspired to put even more pressure on leaders. For one thing, B2B companies today are increasingly questioning conventions pertaining to the org chart, resulting in marketing teams increasingly coming under the command of Chief Revenue Officers and other C-level acronyms that conspicuously lack a middle M. These leaders are new to the marketing game – and often lack experience in marketing operations and insight into historical lead performance. This makes it harder for them to know what to expect from the newly acquired marketing team under their command, which in turn makes it almost impossible for them to make accurate growth forecasts, amid multiplying variables, with nothing more than a spreadsheet and, in a startup’s case, limited staff. Hanging over all of this, meanwhile, is the ongoing COVID pandemic. For a year and a half, now, the virus has changed the business landscape, suddenly and repeatedly, in ways that are hard to foresee. Accurately forecasting B2B growth metrics amid all this uncertainty, as well as other volatile macro-economic conditions, requires the ability to quickly model and optimize different growth scenarios without having to wait for the analytics team to come back with their next forecast.
Looking ahead: The needed sea change in martech
The B2B martech world in 2021 is due for a pivot. C-level leaders need to be able to develop robust and dynamic forecasts that account for multiple growth scenarios; course-correct faster, when necessary; execute on target; and lead with clarity. As these leaders face ever more pressure to deliver accurate growth forecasts, and ever more challenges in doing so, it’s time for those leaders to demand a tech stack that facilitates their needs and goals, and that helps them navigate a business landscape in which variables change everywhere and visibility is low.
Growth architecting from here on out will require an unprecedented level of sophistication, including:
- Understanding how much pipeline you need, when you’ll need it, and which sources you’ll get it from
- Optimally allocating budgets between and across those lead sources and across different growth scenarios
- Having a clear and measurable line of sight from raw leads all the way to closed deals
- Leveraging scenario modeling to plan for variations in sales velocity and other contingencies
- Creating forward-looking KPIs that can serve as an early warning system, to keep pipeline creation on track
This is what the martech of the future should look like, and what C-level leaders should be demanding of their martech partners in 2021. Anything less, simply put, will fail to meet the moment – and continue to leave the needs of C-level leaders in the lurch.