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Demand for Hybrid Sales and Marketing Skills

 “How do we sell our complex solutions to increasingly demanding customers in order to meet rising organizational growth goals?” -- That's the question that Gartner considered in its recent market study that explored the key challenges they hear most often from chief sales officer (CSO) clients.

Gartner's latest research demonstrates the IT industry buying reality. As business-to-business (B2B) buying behavior continues to change, the traditional IT vendor go-to-market approach will fail to meet expectations.

Therefore, Garner analysts now believe that for CSOs to deliver constant revenue growth, they can’t simply improve their traditional selling skills from a bygone era. They have to evolve and adapt into multiskilled generalists that demonstrate their business and technology acumen.

Deep Analysis of The B2B Buyer's Journey

Meanwhile, as IT vendor content marketing capabilities grow, they produce more information resources than ever before. Yet, buyers are overwhelmed by the high volume of low-quality general-purpose collateral material. It's an unwelcome distraction during the buyer's quest for new ideas and actionable insight.

Gartner research shows that sales reps are most likely to win when they're helping customers find meaningful and substantive thought leadership content -- acting as an 'information connector' to provide the frameworks and tools customers need to efficiently organize and align their thinking.

The reason 'knowledge curation' is essential is due to its positive impact on improving ease-of-purchase. To better understand how to advance through a typical complex buying cycle, Gartner's research identified six B2B buying 'jobs' that customers must complete to their satisfaction.

However, they discovered that the major purchase B2B buying journey was not performed in a step-by-step linear flow. Instead, buyers navigate unpredictably across a typical B2B purchasing landscape, revisiting each of those buying jobs at least once.

Every one of these procurement moments is a potential driver of what Gartner calls the 'looping' process of revisiting important tasks. As a result, customers can repeat each job over-and-over until all are completed to their satisfaction. The following chart (click to enlarge) demonstrates the apparent complexity of the enterprise B2B buyer's journey.

According to the Gartner assessment, helping B2B buyers procure complex products and services isn’t a sales enablement problem, it’s an information delivery problem -- that's a buyer enablement challenge.

Savvy vendors will solve the information quality challenge first, then realign their organizational structure and functional activity to more closely map to actual buying behavior -- essentially creating a parallel (sales + marketing integration) organization rather than a serial one.

B2B Sales and Marketing Co-Creation Teams

Many vendor organizations structure their activity around a somewhat rigid sales progression pipeline, seeking to move opportunities from one stage to the next in a logical, linear order.

Gartner says that this misalignment between the typical vendor go-to-market design process and the underlying customer purchase reality can easily lead to costly misdiagnoses of both salesperson shortcomings and the most effective executive leader interventions.

Confusing the buyer's decision-maker tasks with legacy vendor marketing campaign 'opportunity progression' tactics could easily lead the sales and marketing organizations to reach an erroneous conclusion. There's a better approach.

I can see the significant upside potential to recast the roles and responsibilities of IT vendor sales and marketing talent. Rather than focus on skills development in isolation, substantial benefits can be gained from the integration of sales plus marketing mastery. The broader the combination of the skills, the better the resulting outcomes.

Demand for Hybrid Growth Hacking Talent

Furthermore, I foresee the need to incorporate design thinking and growth hacking coding skills into the talent development mix. I'm an example of this multifaceted model in action. I have the benefit of applied lessons learned from my prior front-line sales experience, progressive digital marketing expertise and the recent addition of practical design thinking techniques.

Will the notion of a 'Hybrid Growth Hacker' become the foundation for a new training curriculum? Today, I don't know the answer.  Regardless, I do see a benefit from raising the bar of expectations for talent development.

We need more people who aspire to learn and apply the skills required to become a useful resource for today's most demanding enterprise customers. Plus, it's increasingly important to have an appreciation for C-suite narrative segmentation, to meet the demands of different executive personas and their industry-specific requirements.

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