In 2014, eConsultancy published the results of a marketing effectiveness study. When they asked marketers the number one soft skill that was needed in order to be effective, the overwhelming majority of respondents (75%) stated change management.
This was seven years ago, which in B2B marketing may as well be a lifetime, but my guess is that if this study were published again today, change management would still be at or near the top. Why? We as marketers live in a state of constant change that is driven primarily by a complex and digitally savvy buyer.
However, despite the rapid pace of change, many marketing organizations are challenged with keeping pace for a number of reasons — and this is never truer than when it comes to developing and implementing an always-on demand generation engine.
In my many conversations with CMOs and other marketing leaders, I believe there are two big threats to embracing a change management mindset in organizations: fear and an unrealistic mindset.
I am reminded of the global CMO I spoke to a number of years ago who was frustrated that after 60 days their Marketo instance was not deployed globally. With a raised voice he asked me, “How hard is it? You upload our database, assign logins to our team, and we are ready to go!” Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.
The reality is that any organization that chooses to embark on developing a revenue engine via demand generation must think beyond a strategy and enabling technologies. They have to think about the entirety of the journey (setting realistic expectations) and the impact this change will have on their people (where fear comes into play).
Like my CMO friend that I referenced earlier, I rarely speak to a marketer who tells me they have an ample amount of time to develop and implement an end-to-end demand generation discipline. Most often, the discussion is about agility (a word often used instead of speed even though the two are fundamentally different) and the pressure to roll something out within the quarter.
While there may be times where something needs to get out quickly, rarely is it ever beneficial. As demonstrated in our D3 MethodologyTM, building a demand generation engine requires so many interconnected components. Speed can often be the enemy, whereas adopting a realistic mindset will go a long way to ensuring success.
This is why I stress to marketing leaders that in order to be successful there has to be a) a commitment to the journey and b) a recognition that this is a change management initiative. If these two things do not occur, the chances for success will drop exponentially.
In addition to speed, the other component that is often the enemy of change is fear. In a world where most brands are looking at digital transformation as a competitive advantage, it is easy to forget the impact on your people. As with any change management initiative, the culture of your organization will change as you advance in your demand generation maturity and your people need to understand that. One of the best ways to mitigate the negative outcome of fear is to be transparent and let your people know the impact these changes will have on them, their roles, and their day to day. At the same time, let them know the incredible opportunity that this change affords them as marketing will now be positioned as a strategic growth mechanism within the organization. Indeed, an enviable position!
The most progressive marketing leaders know that change is a constant and that the road to demand generation maturity is not a progressive climb. There are often plateaus and even times you have to take a step down in order to go up. I often use the metaphor of climbing a tall mountain. The trails are never a straight path to the top; there are many switchbacks and descents along the way, which are all part of reaching the peak. The same is true with any organizational change initiative.
This approach is represented in our D3 Maturity Model, shown below. As you can see, there are many steps that are included in moving from one stage of maturity to the next, but the process in getting there will take time and be an experience of peaks and valleys. There is also a potential risk of loss if change is derailed.
As you embark on your demand generation transformation, remember that as important as strategy, data, and technology will be to success, the ability to manage and implement change may just be the one thing that actually gets you there.
If you want to discuss this in more detail or walk through any of our other D3 Maturity Models, feel free to book some time with me here.
As Chief Strategy Officer, Carlos Hidalgo guides DemandGen’s enterprise clients on developing their strategy and initiatives for digital transformation, helping to make the complex world of digital marketing simple while driving revenue and achieving operational excellence. Carlos is widely recognized for his expertise in B2B change management strategies, marketing, sales, content development and demand generation, and has spent the past two decades helping enterprise marketing and sales leaders optimize their approach to demand generation for maximizing revenue growth.