SiriusDecisions Benchmark Data Reveals: Best-in-Class Companies Positioning for Better Days

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Despite the hovering dark cloud of economic doom and gloom, the world leader in providing b-to-b sales and marketing best-practice research and data has learned that instead of opting for across-the-board budget cutting, top companies are taking a different approach.

From discussions with clients we've benchmarked, we estimate b-to-b companies are doubling their number of pipeline acceleration programs

Faced with a financial crisis offering all the certainty of an on-time flight departure in bad weather, "change" and how best to implement it isn't just being debated in Washington, D.C. While several companies have been forced to take a fresh look at their 2009 marketing and sales budgets, findings from research and advisory firm SiriusDecisions reveal that despite today's recessionary conditions, forward-thinking organizations are choosing another course of action.

"After initial knee-jerk budget cuts, data from numerous business-to-business benchmarks conducted since October 2008 reveal that leading companies are wisely repositioning their marketing strategies and tactics -- rejecting a 'defensive posture' by still working to close deals or at least lay groundwork for future business despite buyer anxiety and retrenchment," notes Alden Cushman, SiriusDecisions' research director and benchmarking analyst.

He continues: "While marketing and sales are making adjustments for 2009, they can't lose sight of where they ultimately need to go. The recession will end and these leaders must have their operations ready to take advantage of the upswing when it occurs. Meanwhile, roughly 44 percent of the companies we've recently benchmarked said their marketing spend for 2009 would be reduced, while 25 percent were clearly in 'play it safe' budget mode -- reporting flat spending."

Where does SiriusDecisions see the biggest budget changes? "Compared to 2008, advertising and events are the categories hardest hit -- down 17 and 12 percent, respectively," notes Mr. Cushman.

In addition, the firm has found that marketers are changing the make-up of their programs to be closer to field activity, shifting the focus more on clients and current deals. As a result, the mix of lead generation, pipeline acceleration and client retention programs has shifted significantly.

"From discussions with clients we've benchmarked, we estimate b-to-b companies are doubling their number of pipeline acceleration programs," says Mr. Cushman. "Instead of focusing on generating new leads, these programs represent a more effective way for marketing to impact the extended sales cycle by helping to move deals that have stalled in the pipeline. Without question, the economy is driving this trend, as the program numbers we're seeing are now more in balance with specific sales requirements."

When breaking down proposed marketing spend, SiriusDecisions found that companies with $101-$500 million in revenue are making cuts. Organizations with at least $1 billion in revenue are cutting back as well, but Mr. Cushman notes: "We discovered that 21 percent of these larger companies had outspent their peers over the last three years; they're most apt to become bloated when times are good."

SiriusDecisions' research indicates that companies in the $501 million to $1 billion revenue range will remain flat in 2009, while those bringing in $100 million or less are actually bucking the trend by planning to slightly increase spending. "The smallest organizations must grow or die," observes Mr. Cushman, "while companies in the next revenue band must grow or become prime takeover targets."

Overall, based on his firm's findings, the word that best sums up the general spending trend for b-to-b marketing in 2009 is "opportunity" according to Mr. Cushman, who notes:

"At a time of such tenuous economic forecasting, one of the best moves any company can make is to submit to a benchmarking audit of their sales and marketing activities. If we can save our clients just half of a percent on their annual budget, provide peace of mind by reinforcing current strategic direction or identify gaps in their plans compared to peers that should be addressed, these comprehensive benchmark reviews are a great 'insurance policy' to ensure the optimization of your critical resources."

To learn more details about the firm's 2009 marketing budget findings and how SiriusDecisions can help companies to maximize their current marketing spend through a benchmarking audit, please contact Alden Cushman at

Best practices for these timely topics will also be shared with delegates attending SiriusDecisions' annual Summit flagship event from May 13-15 at Arizona's Fairmont Scottsdale resort. To register or obtain more information about the Summit, which brings together the best and brightest from the b-to-b sales and marketing world, please go to

About SiriusDecisions:
SiriusDecisions is the world's leading source for business-to-business sales and marketing best-practice research and data. SiriusDecisions Executive Advisory Services, Consulting Services, Benchmark Assessment Services, Learning and Events provide senior-level executives with the sales and marketing operational intelligence required to maximize top line growth and performance. The unique combination of thought leadership, benchmark data, analytic tools, best practices and access to a peer and analyst network allow SiriusDecisions clients to quickly receive the critical insight they need to make decisions effectively. For more information about SiriusDecisions, headquartered in Wilton, CT, visit


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