Five years ago, we published research calling for an urgent reevaluation of the role of field marketing. The generalist role of old was not keeping up with the needs of the sales organization or the customer. Evidence from our recent engagement with clients suggested that the continued evolution of buyer behavior was fomenting a growing crisis with the purpose and effectiveness of these teams.

In that earlier research, we made several recommendations. These included investing in specialist skills that we predicted would be needed, identifying help that needs to be provided from other parts of marketing and the changes needed to resolve an issue that we dubbed field marketing “pollution” (i.e., where field marketing becomes a dumping ground for everything that doesn’t get done elsewhere). We were keen to uncover what had changed in subsequent years and how well field marketing teams had managed to adapt to continued change.

So over the first half of this year, we worked on a major primary research undertaking, investigating the current state of field marketing to answer critical questions such as: What are its typical responsibilities? What challenges does it face? How is it resourced, in terms of its goals and metrics and the technologies it uses? We are proud to announce that this seminal research has been released this month and will feature prominently at both the EMEA and APAC B2B Summits.

Without revealing too many spoilers, we’ll be making some practical recommendations to help fix the rather bleak picture that the data paints. The issues for field marketing have expanded, and the urgency for a reassessment could not be more evident or timely.

  • Lack of customer focus, especially in how field marketing is measured. Despite the fact that, during an economic downturn, CMOs are focusing extra effort on existing customers, this is not translating through into the work of field marketing, not least because it is still evaluated on marketing-sourced metrics.
  • The balance of favor between centralized and decentralized approaches. Currently, decentralized approaches have the performance edge but not by a huge margin. And for those organizations that favor a centralized model, it is essential that the centralized activities are delivered to a high standard and accommodate the needs of local markets to support field sales and marketing.
  • Goal-setting versus local organizational alignment. A close cousin to the point above, just 16% of field marketers have their goals set at the country level yet still find themselves answerable to local sales leadership, leaving them conflicted and taking on too many responsibilities.
  • An opening chasm between field marketing leaders and individual contributors. This extends to field marketing’s responsibilities, the challenges it faces, and even its use of technology. For example, even though individual contributors are more likely to be digital natives that have grown up using technology, they say that they are less likely to be using it than field marketing team leaders.

Clients can access the full report here and can request an inquiry with either us or our research collaborators, Naomi Marr and Conrad Mills, by submitting a guidance session request. And of course, we’d love to see you at the upcoming EMEA and APAC B2B Summits, where you’ll hear much more about our findings and their implications.

You can learn more about the events below: