What makes (or breaks) a B2B marketing team?

Posted on 5th August 2020 by Rob

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Hayley Moss is currently regional marketing director for Smiths Medical and has a wealth of experience in the healthcare sector amassed over the last 20 years. Her expertise in building effective marketing teams has seen her work for some of the leading companies in this sector, leading some of the most successful marketing campaigns in healthcare. Here Hayley gives us her insight into team development and what it is that makes, or breaks, a B2B marketing team.

Why are you passionate about team development?

Seeing my team achieve and helping people to realise their potential is what really motivates me as a manager. I am a real people person so being able to give people the autonomy to achieve their goals is something that sits at the heart of how I manage people. I have had experiences with both good and bad managers and when it is bad, you go about your job with little or no direction or motivation to achieve success. I was fortunate in my early career to have a manager who mentored me and encouraged me to make decisions even if they were the wrong ones. By doing this I learnt quickly and effectively but always with the reassurance that she was there to support me.

What specific challenges do you think B2B marketers face as team leaders?

Marketing budgets in the B2B environment are often limited. Even large B2B organisations still don’t have unlimited budgets. Marketing budgets are typically the first to get slashed but the team is still expected to deliver marketing programmes and give strategic marketing direction. Unfortunately, marketing isn’t generally aligned to a sales number and therefore isn’t seen as revenue generating even though marketing sets the direction for the business. The challenge as a people leader is how to keep your team motivated when they can see the goals they need to achieve and the limited resources that they have available to do it. They still need to be encouraged and have a positive mentality towards the business. My job as a leader is to shout about and celebrate all of the excellent work the team is doing to demonstrate the value that we bring to the business which, in turn, helps to motivate my team.

How do go about developing people – what key principles do you follow?

Every person is different and you need to understand what drives the individual, what motivates them and their development needs. You can help, support, coach and work with individuals but they have to own their own development plan, you can’t do that for them. Once they understand the importance of prioritising their own development and giving time to it, you can help to support and facilitate that development.

How do you think marketing team development links to marketing success/ROI?

A happy team is a productive team. Knowing that you are investing time into them both as a manager and as a company, makes the team happier and encourages loyalty to both you as a manager and to the company as a whole. This makes the team more productive and enjoy what they are doing. This positive attitude makes it easier to deliver successful campaigns and align results to ROI. The key is, people need to feel valued and once they do, they start to understand what benefit they bring to the business. If you can align a deliverable to an ROI objective its much easier to measure than just telling your team to do a piece of work.

Where/why do you think team development fails in B2B marketing?

Too many people see team development as a tick box exercise that is done at the end of year review. In these instances there is a standard method employed for everybody and nobody is encouraged to take ownership of their own plan.

It’s also important to remember that your individuals are still part of a larger team and you need to do things as a team – like insights profiling and best practice sharing. The team can share in their successes and ideas as well as the individual being given an opportunity to demonstrate their own strengths. Without this, the team lacks trust and collaboration. A team is much more productive if they work together and help to develop each other rather than working as a team of successful individuals.

How can/should agency partners be included in B2B team development?

Your team isn’t just purely your direct reports. A team shares a common goal and is made up of a wider group of stakeholders which includes your agency partners.  For me it’s important to share objectives and strategic plans, use your agency’s experience to bring together new ideas but it’s also about trust and having common goals and embracing them as part of a wider team rather than an ‘us and them’ situation. Involving them in team building is important because they then get an appreciation of the team dynamics, where the pain points are for the team and the wider business objectives. It’s the agencies that really understand how you work and the challenges you face that make it much easier for you.

Do you think there are common personality traits/skillsets among B2B marketers? If so, what are they and how do you harness the good things from that?

Yes and no! As a recruiting manager it is easy to recruit someone who is like yourself with similar personality traits. Being driven and being prepared to take a risk is more important to me than the amount of experience they have got. But I am conscious that the best teams are balanced and are made up of people who have different skills sets and personality traits. Some of the essential requirements will always be having good communication skills, being able to juggle several different projects at any one time and being willing to go the extra mile as this isn’t a 9 to 5 job. Understanding how each individual likes to work and what it is that motivates them helps you to get the most out oF them on a day to day basis.

Following on from that, how do you fill the gaps in skills and personality traits to create a well-rounded team?

Insights reports are a great way of better understanding your team and where their personality traits sit. This helps you to identify weaknesses in your team and search for new hires accordingly. Having too many of one personality type on the team means that it becomes unbalanced and that isn’t helpful when you start working on projects that require different types of thinking.

I use a motivational pie chart with my team on a regular basis to understand what motivates them and how happy they are in the current situation. It can include as many different things as they like as long as it adds up to 100 percent. This demonstrates what is important to a person every day, how happy they currently are with each element, and identifies what is a skill set, what they enjoy and what is a learned behaviour. For example, just because someone is the go-to resource in your team for spreadsheets doesn’t necessarily mean that they enjoy doing them.

Can you give us an example of where you’ve achieved real success through team development?

People development is not about the company, it’s about the individual and as a team leader you have to remember that the success of the individual is not the same as the success of the company. Most teams are made up of high performers, solid performers and those who need development. In my last role I had a team with exactly this make up, each of them having active developments plans where I was able to tailor my support accordingly. But where I found my greatest success was with the high performers in my team who I supported to take the next step in their career progression, each of them securing new roles within the company but outside of my team. It was my role to stretch and challenge them in such a way as when the new roles became available they were the obvious candidate. This included getting each of them involved in stretch projects that saw them working outside of my team within the areas of the business they were particularly passionate about.

It’s really easy as a  leader and people developer to focus on those who need additional support. That’s why it was more rewarding to be able to further develop the careers of those people in my team who were already high achievers. It’s important to me to see those people in my team go on and achieve their personal career goals – that’s what gives me the greatest pleasure as a manager.

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