CMO Council survey stresses need to recalibrate sales and marketing processes

by Editor 6/10/2008 2:00:00 PM

The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council today released the findings of its "Driving the Bottom Line from the Front Line" study, a major global research initiative that delivers an alarming message: the majority of global companies surveyed acknowledge significant deficiencies in their go-to-market capabilities and marketing and sales processes.

More than 1,000 senior marketing and sales executives from enterprises across multiple industries responded to the CMO Council survey. This research initiative was conducted in partnership with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which contributed perspectives on building global marketing and sales capabilities and developing successful go-to-market processes.

The report can be downloaded from the CMO Council web site (www.cmocouncil.org).

The CMO Council and The Boston Consulting Group define the "go-to-market" process as comprising the strategic and tactical aspects of delivering and supporting a product or service offering in the marketplace. This includes product specification, pricing, distribution, marketing communications, sales, after-market support and customer experience management.

The survey examines a broad range of marketing and sales variables tied to companies' go-to-market processes -- including their strategies, functional competencies, operational processes, customer knowledge, relationship management practices, budgeting and level of innovation.

The survey revealed that a surprising number of marketing and sales executives at some of the world's largest and most respected corporations acknowledge a major disconnect between what they know they should be doing and what they are actually doing in terms of enhancing their go-to-market processes. What's more, respondents gave themselves decidedly low marks when assessing their existing processes. Specifically, marketing and sales executives were highly negative when it came to rating their go-to-market effectiveness. Only 6 percent of senior marketing executives rated their go-to-market capabilities as extremely good and only 6 percent of senior sales executives placed themselves in the top category.

Among large-company respondents -- those with more than $1 billion in annual revenues -- the numbers are only slightly better, with roughly one in 10 executives rating their go-to-market capabilities as extremely good.

"To the extent that they are striving to enhance their go-to-market skills, many companies seem to be focusing largely on small and near-term problems instead of tackling larger strategic, operational and organizational issues," notes Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director of the CMO Council. "This shortsightedness can have broad and negative ramifications for enhanced efficiencies, revenue generation and profitability. What's more, while effective marketing and sales strategies should be derived from proven techniques and processes, they must also encompass innovative new approaches -- something that many companies are not currently doing."

"Continuous changes in the global marketplace require that companies have a strong and ongoing developmental focus on improving their go-to-market capabilities," says Miki Tsusaka, a Senior Partner and Global Leader for the Marketing and Sales practice of The Boston Consulting Group. "To succeed, companies need all marketing and sales functions working together holistically. Moreover, these functions must be closely aligned with an enterprise's corporate growth plan and strike the right balance of getting internal and external (i.e., consumer/customer/competitor) inputs."

"It's time for marketing and sales chiefs to aggressively enhance their go-to-market capabilities, which will help them to drive the bottom line from the front line and impact overall business performance," Neale-May adds.

Other key findings from the survey include:

-- Slow Transition from Vision to Action: While the vast majority of executives view marketing and selling capabilities as the most critical contributor to commercial success, many have not made the effort to take action by engaging in major or sustainable capability-building initiatives in the last five years. Two-thirds (66 percent) have undertaken fewer than four high-profile initiatives to improve their marketing and sales capabilities over the last five years.

-- Short-Term over Long-Term: When it comes to strengthening their business, many high-ranking executives seem more focused on near-term operational challenges than on building advantage over a longer time horizon. Most of the executives surveyed said they were focused on selling effectiveness and account management (43 percent), while placing less importance on longer-term capabilities such as customer data capture, integration, mining and warehousing (15 percent). Improvements in channel management (14 percent) or multifunctional selling teams (11 percent) also ranked relatively lower.

-- Insufficient Training Relative to Other Talent Investments: A majority of respondents (56 percent) said that investments in people (talent and performance management) will be key to enhancing go-to-market performance over the next three years. Yet relatively few (24 percent) are planning to improve their existing teams' skills and capabilities via increased training and development.

-- Attention Focused Inward vs. Outward: While most marketing and sales professionals (58 percent) strive to be considered best-in-class, few are prioritizing analysis of competitors' strengths and best practices. Less than 8 percent ranked looking at best practices externally or internally as a top priority.

-- Resting on the "Tried and True": Companies appear to be relying on traditional metrics such as revenue growth (85 percent), acquisition and retention (53 percent), market share (49 percent), and margin improvement (47 percent) for evaluating go-to-market performance. Input and insight from consumers, as well as the channel, are lower on the list of priorities. As technology advances and evolving markets demand fresh and innovative thinking, marketing and sales have to keep pace.

About the CMO Council

The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council is dedicated to high-level knowledge exchange, thought leadership and personal relationship building among senior corporate marketing leaders and brand decision-makers across a wide-range of global industries. The CMO Council's 3,500 members control more than $90 billion in aggregated annual marketing expenditures and run complex, distributed marketing and sales operations worldwide. In total, the CMO Council and its strategic interest communities include over 6,000 global executives across 57 countries in multiple industries, segments and markets. Regional chapters and advisory boards are active in the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa. The Council's strategic interest groups include the Coalition to Leverage and Optimize Sales Effectiveness (CLOSE), the Individualized Relationship Marketing (IRM) Center, Brand Management Institute, and the Forum to Advance the Mobile Experience (FAME). More information on the CMO Council is available at www.cmocouncil.org.

About The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy. It partners with clients in all sectors and regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their businesses. A customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that the firm's clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 66 offices in 38 countries. For more information, please visit www.bcg.com.

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