Stop Rushing Past Strategy to Get to Execution

By Tim Steele | 4.26.18

For far too many B2B companies, marketing has failed to drive the outcomes necessary to effectively grow and sustain the top line. We give new names to tactics we’ve used for years (e.g., content marketing). We clamor for new technologies that hold the promise of allaying our woes, only to find that a lack of strategy or clear communication leads to poor utilization and adoption. And in our rush to transform to stay ahead of trends, we often risk disintermediation between marketing and sales.


Sound familiar? It should.

Even with “new” tactics and methods to get leads in the pipeline, we’re still running over the same old ground.

Yes, sales must do their part and adopt approaches such as social selling and strategic engagement with prospects. But we’re here to talk about marketing.


A return to the fundamentals of marketing is in order, while eliminating some of the tactics that have distracted us from what’s important. We’re not saying to abandon the new; we’re saying that without such fundamentals as a clear

go-to-market (GTM) strategy, marketing and sales collaboration, and a focus on revenue generation, B2B marketers won’t be able to get the most from layering on new approaches.


Consider: Sixty-three percent of marketers are concerned about getting

more leads, according to Hubspot. Yet, nearly half cannot prove that their marketing efforts are worth the spend.

It’s time to slash those stats. So, let’s focus on three issues that will help.

ISSUE 1: Lack of strategy

Only 61% of marketers believe their marketing strategy is effective. (HubSpot)


We’re now rushing to execute and have abandoned strategy, orientation, and insight. With just a glance below at the M3 (“Modern Marketing Model”), however, it’s immediately clear that strategy, orientation, and insight should get the lion’s share of attention. Because they’re not the focus for some marketers, their revenue outcomes fall short.

Strategy is your roadmap to revenue, so start there. We’ve streamlined the strategy process to gain speed without sacrificing insights. The focus is to understand customers and prospects well enough to create the one version of the truth based on their input:

  1. Who makes decisions, how are they influenced, and where do they seek help and new ideas?

  2. What are the criteria to choose a partner to help and how are those criteria ranked? What are the tradeoffs?

  3. How do they describe the pain, what words do they use, and how do they quantify the value of the solution?

  4. How do they begin searching for a solution? In whom do they have nascent trust?

  5. What have they tried before to solve this problem and why didn’t it work?

  6. What external pressures are squeezing their business?


At the highest level, seek insights about customers’ issues and guidance on their decision-making process, which will help you craft strong messaging. Additionally, your work on strategy should yield the 10 key insights cited in the graphic below.

ISSUE 2: Marketing and sales disintermediation

Fifty-two percent of marketers say they provide salespeople with their best quality leads, but only 25% of salespeople say marketing is their best source of leads. (Hubspot)

During the buy process, a natural gap exists created by the separation of marketing and sales. In most cases, marketing only influences up to “interest” and sales often engages when the client has asked for an RFP or project plan. This leaves a missed opportunity to engage prospective customers by, for example, providing guidance on strategy.

 Marketing and sales both bear the responsibility of closing this gap. The two disciplines are conjoined for a singular quota and ROI on dollars spent. The practical way to do this is to create a Revenue Office, led, of course, by a Chief Revenue Officer who sits at the table with C-level peers.

The Chief Revenue Officer should be responsible for:

  • Driving top line achievement and KPIs, committing to an ROI of dollars spent to drive gross revenue, and margin achievement, if appropriate

  • Creating marketing and sales budgets

  • Integrating sales and marketing functions, particularly to include the immersion of both functions in voice of the customer (VOC) efforts

  • Developing a seamless process to get prospects from awareness to advocacy


ISSUE 3: Replace “lead gen” with “revenue engine”

80% of marketers report their lead generation efforts are slightly or somewhat effective (BrightTALK)


The Revenue Office should use a Revenue Engine to deliver on its goals. Both marketing and sales will execute their disciplines, but in the context of the Revenue Engine. No longer will strategic decisions be made outside of the cooperation of both disciplines.  

The Revenue Engine architecture will allow you to close the gap between marketing and sales; blur the lines between inbound and outbound and instead focus on customer dialog; and deemphasize some tactics that are a distraction.


A revenue engine comprises:

  • Shared responsibility between marketing and sales for all the moving parts necessary to drive revenue

  • A commitment to collaboratively influence markets of choice from awareness to advocacy

  • An active role in reflecting the customer’s voice throughout the sales process

  • Laser focus on the right prospects only: those who have potential to be high value and whose agenda the business can help advance

  • Messaging and thought leadership based on customers’ goals, needs, and pressures, as discovered through VOC work

  • A “lab” environment to drive revenue using small campaigns run like controlled experiments, built on speed for quick fail or quick win.

  • An ongoing process of gathering customer feedback, success stories, and ideas that can help improve product and processes and drive innovation

  • A commitment to use only marketing and sales that demonstrate positive outcomes and ROI to drive revenue. Tactics will be influenced by where prospects live and work.


When I think about B2B marketing today, I can hear my grandfather saying, “You just slapped a coat of paint on a rotting barn.” Instead, it’s time to rebuild the barn with a clear go-to-market (GTM) strategy, constructive marketing and sales collaboration, and a laser focus on revenue generation.

About the Author

Tim Steele is Chief Strategy Officer of Cort Group. He spent the first eighteen years of his career leading sales and marketing for such companies as Unisys, Modis and DCA. In 2000, Tim started ADDISON Group and set out to help midmarket companies capture the voice of the customer and drive revenue with effectiveness. After several years, ADDISON Group became Caxton Growth Partners through an acquisition, where Tim served as managing partner and led go-to-market initiatives for such companies as Capgemini and Fujitsu.