ABM Insights:

Averting the skills gap

How marketing enablement can upskill your ABM team to power your growth agenda.

There is a skills gap in marketing – a big one. And this is being felt particularly acutely in the enterprise space.

LinkedIn data shows that there were 381,000 marketing jobs posted on the site in the 12 months to June 2021 and in the first six months of 2021 alone there was a 63% increase in job postings for marketing positions. 

This can partly be explained by the COVID-19 pandemic. As LinkedIn’s senior insights analyst Connie Chen points out: “Demand for marketing jobs has grown over the last six months because of the increased importance of marketing during the pandemic. Digital marketing gives organisations the ability to accurately target audiences, measure impact and get in front of consumers during a time where the average adult is online more than ever. As the majority of the country’s workforce was sent to work from home, customers’ desire for digital experiences skyrocketed. This, in turn, has provided marketers with more heightened visibility in their companies and stronger positions to provide strategic direction as new opportunities crop up.”

The rush to digital is certainly part of the explanation in the enterprise space too, but there is also the fact that customer buying behaviour in the enterprise space has become more complex. 

Data from the Momentum Customer Buying Index® shows that 42% of enterprise buyers believe it is “now much harder to make IT purchases in a virtual-first world” and 37% say the virtual-first world has left buying teams more disconnected from each other and their vendors than ever before.

Failing to keep up

It seems, then, that the world has been changing and enterprise marketing teams have just failed to keep pace with it. But if recognition of the problem is the first step to solving it, then there does at least seem to be a high level of self-awareness among marketers that their skills are not up to speed. 

For example, Shuvo Saha, the director of Google Academy, reported earlier this year that marketing leaders were feeling incredibly pessimistic about the skill levels within their organisations. He said: “If “full adoption of all digital best practices” was a score out of 100, the industry as a whole scored itself 57, and it looks like there are quite significant capability gaps in mobile, video and use of ad technology.” 

So what can ABM leaders do about this? If hiring in talent is challenging, then the only logical solution is to upskill existing teams. 

Kelvin Gee, senior director of modern marketing at Oracle and an expert in marketing enablement, was a recent guest on Momentum’s ABM podcast. He spoke eloquently about what organisations can do to close the skills gap they are currently facing. 

“The key is to be as strategic as possible in your approach to training and marketing enablement,” he said. “Very few organisations have the luxury of having someone dedicated to marketing enablement, but what sort of organisation are you going to have if you don’t invest in modernising your workforce and enable your marketers to adapt and have relevant skills as the industry changes?”

Develop the key skills 

And, according to Gee, there are four key skills that a marketing enablement program must focus on developing:

1.Flexible experts

Expertise is required, but must not come at the cost of a complete skillset. “You need to develop T-shape skillsets,” Gee explained. “You can have team members be an expert in one area, but it is better to have all-round athletes that can pivot into different directions such as relationship building, value creation, research, being more data driven, etc.”

2.Team players

Enterprise sales and marketing is a complex business and it is vital to develop a team approach. “Account-based approaches are collaborative by their nature,” Gee said. “And it is vital to foster that team-based approach and encourage your team to reach out and build as many networks as possible.”

And it is vital to foster that team-based approach and encourage your team to reach out and build as many networks as possible.

Kelvin Gee, Senior Director of Modern Marketing at Oracle

3.Big picture/little picture

Team members need to be business minded and combine a knowledge of the industries they are working on with a detail-orientated focus into the particular accounts they’re responsible for. Gee said: “There needs to be a focus on macro themes that are changing industries as well as the micro issues that are impacting a particular organisation.” 

4.Customer obsession

“Teams require a knowledge of how the customer operates, what their challenges are, and so on, but it is important to get across to teams that your ‘customer’ may often also be an internal colleague, such as a sales counterpart, and you need to understand what they need to make them successful too,” Gee explained.

Develop the key skills 

A marketing enablement initiative must also consider partners – how to ensure partner organisations are best equipped to do their job – and work on getting the internal executive endorsement needed to ensure the program is a success.

That means being able to measure the benefit of the program and having the means to dashboard it and present it onward to the wider business – both of which can be achieved through the creation of an internal centre of excellence that oversees the marketing enablement program.

Such a move also brings consistency of message, process, and execution, but how to go about setting this up?

Gee identified four models for a centre of excellence approach to follow:

1.Global lead

“This is the most centralised approach,” Gee explained. “All activities are orchestrated and executed by a central team and this would work best if a large percentage of your revenue is generated by just a handful of accounts.”

2.Centrally driven program

“This approach would see the global centre of excellence do most of the heavy lifting,” Gee said. “Maybe in account selection, for example, or campaign orchestration. But the field teams would then become involved with some of the execution of those campaigns.”

3.Centrally enabled program

“This is the model I am strongest on and which we favour here at Oracle,” Gee said. “This system has a global centre of excellence that exists to empower the field and regional teams. The regions would choose the accounts here, but the centre of excellence would standardise the methodology about how to choose those accounts or how to measure success, and so on. 

4.Decentralised approach

In this style the field teams would run the end-to-end process, with a centre of excellence existing to support,” Gee explained. “There are less efficiencies here, but if your accounts require a very high degree of personalisation then it is sometimes best to adopt this approach and sacrifice some of that efficiency you get from having more leadership from a global centre of excellence.”

To hear more from Kelvin Gee’s discussion with Momentum’s founder and CEO Alisha Lyndon click here.