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Top Skills Every B2B Marketer Needs in 2024

Posted December 27, 2023
Graphic with dark background and Doug Bell's headshot introducing podcast episode "Top Skills Every Marketer Needs Today"

Doug Bell, Fractional CMO at Chief Outsiders, joins our host, Camela Thompson,Go-To-Market Thought Leader and B2B Insights Expert in another episode of the Revenue Marketing Report. Any new year should require some reflection, but 2023 was a real doozy in the land of SaaS, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that new skills are key in adapting to the new landscape. Doug Bell brought a list of skills he is focusing on for 2024, and Camela threw in a few more for good measure.

1. Cross-selling

Cross-selling to other executives and creating social buy-in is important. This is something I had to learn the hard way. Data doesn’t speak for itself. You need to do the job of socializing something.  I don’t have cross-selling in my 2024 list. Each year, I always have a set of skills that I need to be good at. Sometimes, there are growth items in there, sometimes not. And then where I want my leadership to be and what they need to work on. Generally speaking, it is a great thing to have. ‘How do you show this?’ is the way I like to approach things. How do you show a common goal and then take that goal and associate it with what is in it for you? This means we all have the same growth goal in SaaS.

“Unless you’re one of the lucky few that are looking for profitability, it’s invariably about growth. At the end of the day, it is how do you help that fellow executive. We are all growing together. We are looking for the same thing which is growth. How do you help them understand how you can help them achieve that goal for the department? The easiest place we know is sales. How do you make their sales cycle shorter? How do you make opening that front door easier? How do you get them more opportunities to open that front door?

“That feels like a comfortable place for many B2B marketers. However, we also have to look at and understand the product organization when it is all said and done. I feel like we are an extension of each other. What are they directed towards?  Who is their ideal customer, their accepted customer? Helping there and helping executives at large to understand how to prioritize skillset, and where to put the money, so to speak. That is the cross-selling thing I am looking at.”

2. Learning to say no and stay focused

“#2 skill is to learn to say no. In this environment, we can all see as the New Year begins, B2B marketing departments are still getting slashed. So what are we doing? We are trying to survive and we’re saying yes an awful lot. Guess what? You’re going to get fired no matter what you do. How about that? How about the denialist approach? If you feel like this is going to occur and you’re at risk in 2024, the most important skillset you can have is to say no. Why? Every time we are saying yes, what are we doing? We are defocusing our value. I think marketing is an amazing function within organizations. I think that marketing leadership is profoundly experienced and valuable. The #1 thing we can do as marketing leaders and operators is remain focused. If you aren’t focused on what you should be doing as your primary function, it is suffering. 

“We need a kinetic example, one that we can all picture. Therefore, imagine I am going to put you back in the trauma zone. Many of us are still in the trauma zone. We’re in third or fourth grade and the gym teacher has nothing for us to do in class since it’s raining outside and she didn’t prepare. So what are we doing? We are getting a bloody nose from dodgeball. How easy is it to block a single ball thrown at you? For me, pretty easy, but remember when you were at the end and there were seven people throwing balls. I don’t care if you’re Spiderman. You are not going to be able to dodge seven balls at once.  And that is what we do to ourselves as marketing professionals and leaders. We say please throw seven balls at our heads every time we say yes.” 

3. Project Management

“This is the year that I have learned why project management is so important. I have always dismissed it since it isn’t the sweet spot for marketing but guess what? We do it all the time in marketing. We start projects and we never finish them. So get some project management skills.

4. Retrospective Analytics

“#4 is getting good at retrospective analytics. If you are lucky enough to work for a company like CaliberMind where you get into the Ferrari cockpit, this is child’s play. It would terrify you to understand what level of data comprehension we have. We have these tools and we are able to get good at looking backwards and understand what worked and what didn’t. This is an important skill, and I’ve got to say it’s the base skill for marketers, especially this coming new year. Take a look at your retrospective analytics. We are good at testing different things since we know the same thing doesn’t consistently work over time. The problem is not measuring what did work. Therefore, you’re more intentional about what you do and don’t do.

Honorable mention: Navigating changing email protocols and restrictions.

“I think B2B marketers, besides all the great things listed here, we possess a very tactical skill that is so important, which is understanding what you need to do to protect email deliverability and your domain. It is 2024 and a bunch of new protocols and email send restrictions have been put out there by some of the major email players and we’ve already been impacted for the past two years because these protocols are being regulated pretty closely and the impact is so insidious. You’re getting turned off. Unless you’re really bad at this and then you’re turned off, but most of the time, it is just your messages that are landing in spam and there isn’t a way to measure that. However, at the very least, go read Google’s email sender guidelines list that has step-by-step instructions on what you need to do. It’s pretty foolproof. And if you send fewer than 5,000 emails monthly from your domain, take a deep breath as you’re okay. If you are above 5,000, read that now.

“Though you’re not actually okay and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are different categories. The 5,000 senders for email address, that’s true. Nevertheless, they also flag accounts that are brand new. So, if you’ve got new sellers walking in the door and their first instinct is to hit the ground running and email everybody in their territory, there is a risk of deteriorating your domain and being put in what is colloquially known to sales reps as “Google Jail”. and Google is so much more insidious than our friends at Servo who would just flat-out blacklist you and let you know why. Google won’t let you know and they will make you back into it. If you’re heading into 2024 and feel like you have skill set gaps, lean into the community. RevOps Coop is a fantastic place to go for meeting Sales Operations (SOPs), Marketing Operations (MOPs), and meeting Revenue Operations (RevOps) people. There are so many resources out there.

For more content on B2B marketing trends, listen to the full Revenue Marketing Report episode at the top of the article or anywhere you podcast.

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