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The do’s and don’ts of B2B marketing measurement

One of my favorite quotes on marketing effectiveness comes from Pricing on Purpose: Creating and Capturing Value by Ron Baker. 

“Effectiveness understands that imprecise measurements of the right things are infinitely more valuable than precise measurements of the wrong things.” 

The lack of perfect measurement methods often deters B2B marketers from measuring altogether. If we don’t have a precise formula, we give up and move on. 

In fact, we recently conducted a survey of 200 marketing firms with an emphasis on B2B sales and discovered that 34% of companies surveyed do not set measurable marketing goals or objectives. 

Even I used to resist the imperfect. I held the opinion that if we can’t (perfectly) measure an initiative, we shouldn’t be recommending it in the first place. But that assumption is riddled with problems. Sometimes the most important factors are difficult to qualify exactly. 

I’ve come to embrace the imperfect. If there’s no perfect measurement method, develop the next best way to measure. In some instances, it’s about figuring out any way to measure. 

Sales Team Feedback: The Mother of All Imperfect KPIs 

Perhaps the most common KPI of imperfect measurement is sales team feedback and adoption. We probably take one of these two approaches: 

Approach 1: Try to Perfect the Imperfect

In our attempt to measure this KPI perfectly, we might design a survey for the sales team. We write and program the survey. We send the link. 

Then we get two survey completions from the same two salespeople who always complete our surveys. 

We send a reminder email. We wait. 

Approach 2: Ask Around

Instead of developing a survey, we don’t do anything formal. We simply hear occasional anecdotal feedback from the sales team without capturing it in any way. 

A Better Way

Consider meeting in the middle. Ask the sales team leader within your B2B organization to solicit this feedback around these two questions relating to marketing initiatives or sales programs. The solicitation can be via email, but why not ask for 10 minutes at next month’s sales team meeting? 

Question #1:

Does this initiative or project allow you to sell more effectively? Please explain. 

Most of the time, you don’t need to ask any more questions. This is it. You’ll get all the insight you need around this question. 

Question #2:

Does this initiative or project provide something of unique value to your end customer? 

If you want meaningful feedback, ask this question. Just be ready for the answer. 

Capture the Feedback

Now capture the feedback in one place. If a spreadsheet works best, use a spreadsheet. If you use a research or analytics platform, then great. Use that. The key is to have it available and to learn from it. 

Apply Learnings

For anecdotal feedback like this, don’t overthink it. Let’s assume for Initiative A, about 80% of the sales team said it allowed them to sell more effectively. Then ask “why?” Answer that final question and you have all the insight you need for a more effective approach. 

Does this seem too simple? Yes. Is it imperfect? Certainly.

But remember, we’re looking for insight around the right measurements for your B2B brand.

As a final note, looking back to our survey findings, more companies that established measurable goals reported that their marketing efforts were effective. Just sayin’.


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