B2B The Force: Should Executives Be Sales Drivers Or Growth Enablers?

B2B email marketers who perceive that their firms are struggling to get a grip on digital growth are right. 

For one thing, executives are underestimating their competition, judging by early results from the 2021 Growth Marketing Maturity Study, a report developed by Stein IAS in collaboration with WARC and The Effectiveness Partnership.  

B2B practitioners are much more likely to identify primarily as growth enablers — 48.5% see themselves that as such and 36.3% as growth drivers. Only 15.2% say they are sales enablers —  an apparent no-no, although it may well include laborers in such silos as email. 

In contrast, 40.4% believe their peers at other companies are mostly sales enablers. That tops the 38.4% who consider themselves growth enablers and the 21.2% who feel they are growth drivers. 

Why it’s important to focus on being a growth enabler first is unclear. The study reports that sales & results planning has the greatest impact on growth, scoring 7.91 on a scale of one to 10.



Second is marketing communications & GTM, with 7.59. This is followed by operations & deployment (7.47), core strategy (7.44), marketing insight & intelligence (7.26), data & technology (7.22) and digital experience & service design (7.17). 

Sadly, respondents don’t give their firms the highest marks when it comes to competence. Here are their perceptions, on a scale of one to five:

  • Core strategy — 3.55
  • Marketing communications & GTM — 3.39 
  • Market Insight & Intelligence — 3.27
  • Sales & results planning — 3.00
  • Digital experience & service design — 2.91
  • Data & technology — 2.76

Email specialists doubtless fall into the marketing bucket, which is in second place in competency and also in impact on growth.  

What’s more, 81.8% focus on each of these growth layers, versus 33% who focus on sales & results planning. Also, 57.6% focus on market insight & intelligence, 56.4% on core strategy, 55.6% on core strategy, 54.5% on digital experience & service design, 

Meanwhile, the leading barriers to growth are: 

  • More connected, cohesive digital customer experience — 66% 
  • Strong demand generation with measurable pipeline & revenue growth impact — 52.1% 
  • Upskilliing across myriad growth responsibilities — 51.5% 
  • More investment to realize digital transformation & growth vision — 48.5%
  • Less complexity to focus on key activities that move the needle — 45.5%
  • Better integration and activation of martech investment — 42.9%
  • Break down internal organization silos — 42.4%
  • Greater control over data — 40.4%
  • Stronger brand momentum and investment to drive mental availability and preference — 39.4% 
  • Better, clearer differentiation to all relevant stakeholder audiences — 33.3% 
  • New technologies, tools capabilities and approaches — 32.7%
  • Board-level buy-in in shifting spend to advanced, digitally driven strategies/channels — 24.2%
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