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Leading B2B Tech Storytelling Transformation

Within the highly competitive business technology marketing and sales arena, the unique skill of a superior commercial storyteller is essential. Those leaders who can quickly weave together a customer-centered narrative are in high demand.

In fact, 83 percent of chief communication officers (CCOs) have reported that their C-Suite influence is growing, according to the latest comprehensive market study by Gartner.

Their survey of Business Communication leaders in the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, and UK markets found corporate communication team influence has grown as organizations become more interdependent.

Leading Internal and External Communications

CCOs also largely reported that their influence is greater than other function heads’ at their organizations, with 75 percent saying they have slightly or much more influence than their non-communications counterparts. Only 5 percent said they have less influence. 

“Companies are placing a larger emphasis on stakeholder communications and cross-functional collaboration," said Jennifer Sigler, a director analyst at Gartner.

Given communicators’ unique talents in stakeholder relationship management, it would make sense that CCOs and their teams are being asked to play a central role in efforts to improve collaboration and other employee-related outcomes across the organization.

With workers experiencing the fallout from COVID-19 and then the Great Resignation back-to-back, the emphasis on employee communications has grown dramatically. According to the Gartner assessment, getting that communication right is more critical than ever.

Seventy-two percent of communications leaders said that their teams are either significantly or slightly larger than they were 12 months ago. But, despite growing teams, the median staff resignation rate was 20 percent, which is twice as high as the typical product marketing team. 

"One objective indicator of growing influence is team size. If those managing the budget feel communications efforts are valuable, they’ll provide more money and staff to CCOs," said Sigler.

Communications leaders appear to have received both. However, it is still concerning that despite this vote of confidence from organizations, teams are having a tough time retaining their most qualified talent.

Analysis of the survey data suggests that limited 'flex-work' options on communications teams may be one reason the most talented staff are leaving. Communications teams that are offering neither flexibility in work location nor in workdays reported 54 percent more turnover than teams that offered both.

Proven B2B Storyteller Retention Strategies

Gartner recommends that to grow their teams’ potential as relationship builders across the organization and further increase their enterprise influence, savvy communications leaders should:

  • Identify and address the root causes of low staff engagement and high staff turnover on their teams.
  • Redesign teams and roles to eliminate overlapping responsibilities, ensure workflow compatibility, and encourage collaboration between true specialists.
  • Work closely with functions with whom communications shares activity responsibility to create a clear, efficient division of work and smooth collaboration across team boundaries.
That said, I believe we're at yet another inflection point where the global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the prior status quo in business. Few commercial communicators have the skills and experience to become influential B2B storytellers. This is particularly true within business technology companies that are historically product-centered.

Due to the growing global market demand, and the limited available talent pool, two key things will likely happen next. Salaries and benefits for the most skilled communication employees will rise exponentially. Plus, communication consultants with experience as a B2B executive ghostwriter will provide interim or supplemental assistance where companies are unable to find or retain practitioners.

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