With a challenging business outlook ahead (aka that dreaded word – recession), many B2B marketers struggle to prove their value to management.

When the economic downturn causes each marketing dollar to be closely scrutinized, one of the key actions for B2B marketers to take is to demonstrate a direct correlation between marketing strategies and sales revenue.

It’s hard to do that if your budget is focused on the top of the purchase funnel or building brand awareness. Still, I’d recommend that you allocate some of the budget towards enabling sales and driving demand generation.

In doing so, you are taking the influence of marketing down to the middle and bottom part of the purchase funnel.

Here are several ways to move down the purchase funnel:

  • Evaluate the conversion rate of MQLs (marketing qualified leads) to SQLs (sales qualified leads). Focus on the quality of MQLs and identify how to vet MQLs and make them higher quality.
  • Identify what marketing can do to better support sales by understanding their sales stages. Create a messaging framework as well as content for salespeople.
  • Work with sales to identify new logos (new accounts or prospects) that they want to tackle, and team up to reach out to these new prospects as part of demand generation campaigns.
  • Use account-based marketing (ABM) to complement account-specific sales game plans.

This may all sound easy or at least relatively straightforward. Still, it requires you to pull data from the marketing automation platform and CRM or work with your sales and data analytics teams to create a sales enablement strategy or plan. It’s a lot of data analytics, processes set up and coordination with various functions such as IT, sales, sales ops, sales enablement, and marketing ops.

Once you have a plan, you must build processes and workflows. And in addition to coming up with the main creative concept, copywriting, content creation, and more, you’ll also need to source the appropriate technologies and platforms.

You may not be doing all this yourself, but you must stay on top of the team.

Be a leader. After all, martech and back-end integration are essential to showcase the impact of marketing on business and sales revenue.

What about metrics?

You can employ many marketing metrics depending on your channels, whether social media or otherwise. For example, if you do email marketing, there are open and click-through rates to examine.

If you have websites, you can look at website traffic data, bounce rates, visitor attribution data, and more.

If you want to demonstrate your impact on sales, some email marketing campaigns and website messaging should have solid CTAs, such as imploring audiences to contact sales or register for webinars.

It can showcase a direct impact on sales engagements and qualified leads, which is highly valuable if you want to tangibly show how you’re an indispensable team member.

When driving website traffic, you should focus on the number of trials, demos, or even contact sales.

You’ll need to focus on 2-3 key metrics for sales and management. You can also start by asking sales and management what’s important to them, be accountable for these metrics, and set up a process to track results.

Clearly communicate your value-add to management

I am a huge advocate of having one master marketing plan. This is doable for small or mid-size companies.

However, if your company has many business units, hero products, or a significant global presence, you may have multiple marketing plans based on business units, product families, or geographies.

That makes sense. But, even with that, you still need a master plan based on a business unit or a hero product.

It doesn’t matter with whom you share your marketing plan; people tend to ask the following questions time after time:

  • What have you done for our companies lately?
  • What did you do to support sales?
  • How much money have you spent? What did we get in return?
  • What impact did you make in the realms of revenue or growth?
  • What are you planning to do next?

Find data to support your answers to these questions and help you tell your own stories.

The key is not to sugarcoat things. Be honest and transparent about the results.

If a campaign you ran didn’t meet the goal(s), say that clearly and tell everyone what you will do to optimize your performance for the next round.

Understand what matters to your sales team and executives, then address these concerns directly with your data.

Aside from demonstrating what you’re already doing to help the team, continuing your education is always a good idea. I’m not talking about racking up loads of student debt and going back to school so that you can breathe a sigh of relief.

What I mean is that you should expand your skill toolbox whenever possible.

I’d suggest thinking about the things you’re naturally interested in, that you’re good at, and the areas where you’re absolutely hopeless. (Maybe it’s baking or basketball, but there are some things we sometimes need to admit to ourselves that will never click.)

Based on what you determine from this little brainstorming exercise, you can put together some goals for yourself regarding what you’d like to explore and where you can improve. There are so many resources at our fingertips that we almost have no excuse not to take advantage!

The best part is that many of the tools these days are free, whether you check out an eBook from your local library branch, follow along with a tutorial on YouTube, or even pop on an educational podcast on your commute to or from work.

Broadening your skills and know-how, even if it doesn’t immediately apply to your current job, will help make you a more well-rounded person.

In turn, that makes you more valuable as an employee, and it also makes you more marketable should you ever decide to change roles, industries, or anything in between.

Here are some more tips from BetterUp on how to boost a sense of job security at work.

The fact is that no one can predict where the market is heading at any given time, and it can feel scary to have so much uncertainty hanging over our heads when whispers of recession are all over the place.

Taking the time to boost your knowledge and showcase your importance to the team will help you feel more in control of your future, even if there are plenty of what-ifs in the air.

How do you plan to combat the negative effects of the economic downturn? Is there anything you’re doing at work that I haven’t mentioned to show your value? I’d be interested in keeping the dialogue going, so don’t hesitate to reach out on social media or drop me a line over email.

What can Pam Didner do for you?

Being in the corporate world for 20+ years and having held various positions from accounting and supply chain management, and marketing to sales enablement, she knows how corporations work. She can make you and your team a rock star by identifying areas to shine and do better. She does that through private coaching, keynote speaking, workshop training, and hands-on consulting. Contact her or find her on LinkedIn and Twitter. A quick note: Check out her new 90-Day Revenue Reboot, if you are struggling with marketing.