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As part of the The Reinvention of B2B Marketing Study, conducted with SparksGrove, Econsultancy looked at the Fortune 500 through a digital lens and found that perhaps 23% are safe from dramatic disruption.

If an organization is a producer of chemicals, raw materials, food or energy products…if they have a very small universe of prospects…then they’re safe.

For now.

Even if you are in a protected sector, it’s not as simple as what you sell, it’s who you sell to.

If your customers sell to consumers that’s a threat. Just ask suppliers in the areas of photography, transportation cartography, reference information or desktop peripherals how the smart phone affected their B2B businesses.

If you have competitors who are taking advantage of advances in digital customer experience and customer journey analysis, marketing automation, or audience management, that’s a threat. If there are ways to apply a collaborative model to your products, that’s a threat. One shared vehicle takes between nine and thirteen cars off the road.

So perhaps even that 23% isn’t safe. Few sectors are. In 1963 the average life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company was 75 years. Today it’s 15 years, and dropping. And the threats to the status quo don’t stop at the industry level.

At the macro view, medium-term credit pressures affect all sizes of company. Global enterprises may be relatively immune to cash concerns, but their customers are not. This constriction has increased the pressure to be efficient, most notably in the public sector but more broadly as well.

Pressures toward efficiency mean that companies are more willing to explore new solutions to old problems, opening the door to "disruptive" models that usually come from small newcomers instead of established players.

Within individual companies, the degree of chaos varies by what they make, how they sell it and how they are structured. Some that have been growing and stable for decades can be especially vulnerable to unexpected threats because their success has created a loop of behaviors optimized to achieve the same things that got them there. The more optimized the system, the less nimble and more vulnerable it is.

The one type of change that no company can afford to ignore is at the customer level. The fundamentals in how business purchases are sourced, researched and purchased are far less predictable and stable than they were even a decade ago.

It's in this context of chaos that we conducted the Reinvention of B2B Marketing Study, based on a unique sample of senior respondents at nearly 400 enterprise B2B companies, all with revenues in excess of $250MM annually.    We'll release the full report to Econsultancy subscribers later in December, but on Tuesday the 11th, you're welcome to join us for a pre-launch webinar.   The central theme of the study is the evolving nature of the Sales/Marketing partnership. How it's changing . . . and how that change is far from consistent is one of the central issues for B2B companies to understand and contend with.   The study identified four types of partnership, outlined in the chart below.    

With these four types as the lens for analysis, the research uncovered significant differences in growth, capability and trajectory for respondent organizations. This suggests that even as the role of Marketing evolves (at some organizations) the relationship with Sales will continue to be vitally important. 

Using this model, we'll look at a number of findings from the research...

  • The nature and impact of partnership on growth and performance.
  • How to self-classify your organization.
  • The characteristics of a true partnership with Sales.
  • The functions marketing must own to be successful.
  • The first change or improvement to make to reinvent your marketing organization.

Please join us on Wednesday the 11th at 12:00pm ET (GMT -5) for this free webinar with our partner in the research, SparksGrove.

Stefan Tornquist

Published 3 December, 2013 by Stefan Tornquist @ Econsultancy

Follow Stefan Tornquist for the "Stat of the Day" tweet or connect on LinkedIn. Stefan is Vice President, Research (US) for Econsultancy. .

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