Key B2B Marketing Takeaways From Coke’s CMO Replacement

What does Coca-Cola replacing its CMO have to do with B2B marketing? Based on just the headline, you could conclude that this news is irrelevant to B2B marketing. However, B2B companies can learn a great deal from the recent marketing changes at Coke.

Marketing and sales feudCoke’s most recent CMO had a longer tenure than most in his position. Additionally, he and his team received awards and compliments for creative marketing campaigns over the past few years. Unfortunately, Coke decided to make a change because of disappointing sales, primarily from its carbonated soft drinks division (Coke Names New Marketing Chief Amid Struggles).

While Coke plans to increase marketing spending to boost sales, some analysts believe that changing consumer tastes are the main cause of sales declines. Time will determine who’s right, but this story has key implications for B2B companies that require marketing and sales alignment to be successful.

Although Coke’s marketing efforts were perceived to be working based on its awards, it’s clear that sales did not support this notion. Why weren’t Coke’s marketers paying attention to changing consumer behavior? Perhaps if they had spent more (money and time) to understand their customers, then they could have marketed more effectively and helped generate more revenue.

As far as B2B companies are concerned, the number one priority for B2B marketing is to serve sales. While it’s up to sales to sell B2B products and services effectively and ultimately close deals, marketing must deliver qualified leads to enable sales to win. To accomplish this, it’s critical that marketing and sales agree on the target buyer persona, ideal company size, the problem that needs to be solved and why your company is best positioned to be the solution.

Small group of business people joining hands

Moreover, marketing and sales must share a common lead definition and determine what criteria makes up qualified leads that will be delivered to sales. Often, qualified leads are authorized buyers and have a clear need for your solution. Depending on your particular market and its maturity, buyers may also have a defined timeline to buy a solution and a budget in mind.

BANT (budget, authority, need and timing) has been a common definition, but it’s important to tailor your particular qualified lead definitions to your market. For example, you may decide that sales should work with qualified leads only when all four of these criteria are met, but if you are introducing a brand new solution to the market, then it’s unlikely that a timeline or budget will be in your prospect’s head. In this case sales should pursue those opportunities with marketing support. As Kyle Porter of Sales Loft indicates, if prospects have the Authority and a defined Need that your product or service can solve, then you can drive Urgency and they’ll find the Money to purchase.

Overall, B2B marketing should direct its activities, including public relations, analyst relations and lead generation efforts, to serve the sales team and measure the impact of these activities on producing qualified leads. If a good sales team has more qualified leads, then it will close more deals. This is the ultimate measure for B2B marketing’s success.

Is your B2B marketing team focused on sales? Do you and your sales team have a common definition for qualified leads?

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