November 25, 2015 | By Amanda Jensen
I once attended a microfinance workshop in outer Mongolia designed to teach women in remote regions how to start a business using a small loan. There were 22 women seated outside a gathering of ghers – also known as yurts – those round, wool-covered tents that nomadic communities have used for centuries. The women’s business ideas ranged from tanning to weaving, machine repair to abstract art.
The trainers were there to show these women how to turn their ideas into a source of revenue. I had watched these workshops in other locations before – Indonesia, East Timor – and was curious to see how this one played out. Sure enough, despite major differences in culture, language and economic experience, the sticking point was always the same: distribution. These women easily transitioned their years of teamwork, savvy financial management and attention to detail into scalable business ideas and processes. However, when it came to distribution activities, partnerships with resellers, negotiations for commission, secure transport and viable export partners, they had no experience. The expectation that the women could “transition” to these skills and activities – presumed there was something to build upon. However, there was not.
In many areas of business today, and certainly in b-to-b marketing, we face a similar dilemma: We can transition some skills to a digital world, to cloud-based solutions, and to mobile technologies. But we can’t transition what has never existed. We cannot transition our graphic design skills to regression analysis on large data sets. We cannot transition vendor and RFP management to persona-based content mapping. We can certainly acquire these skills and/or develop them, but to pretend that they will magically evolve on the job not only is illogical, but it also puts marketing’s potential contribution to the bottom line in jeopardy.
However, accepting these skill gap realities and finding the budget to fix them are two very different things. That is why we took a step back and decided to start asking the questions that have not been asked about b-to-b marketing skills and enablement needs. What training works, and for what kind of skills? What are the real pain points? What is your experience with effective skills transition vs. effective skills creation? What skills most impact your marketing department's ROI contribution to the company?
To get to the heart of these issues, and to the validation of a strong financial argument for fixing them, we are asking that you to take a 2/10 approach with us: Please spend two minutes sharing this B-to-B Marketing Enablement survey with your social networks, your colleagues and your team members. Please then spend 10 minutes on the survey itself.
Well, back on the steppes of Mongolia, those trainers who had exhausted their playbook after 10 minutes of discussion on microfinance came back a few months later with a fresh effort at organizing and teaching distribution. It was rough going at first, and those workshops did not conclude neatly and happily, all wrapped up in a pretty bow of success. It was hard. Some people didn’t succeed. However, some of the women now source fibers for some of the largest fashion houses in the world, or sell their amazing paintings direct to clients through online art houses – all from businesses run out of wool tents in the remote desert. It’s completely possible to make the leap, if we ask the right questions: What do you really need to succeed? Take the survey!
Download an overview of the SiriusDecisions Marketing Competency Framework to learn about a structured approach to determine the areas where your team needs to focus in order to crush functional and organizational goals.