It’s time to retire the classic mantra of ROI-hungry CMOs: “I know that half of my marketing dollars are effective, just not which half.

Today’s savvy B2B marketers have plenty of tools at their disposal to overcome this traditional lack of visibility, which legitimately plagued their communications and business development efforts for generations. While the next Super Bowl will undoubtedly set new records for mass media advertising costs, few CMO budgets are spent nowadays on anything but laser-focused, personalized marketing content that approaches one-to-one messaging as closely as possible.

We know from extensive Aberdeen research that modern marketing automation platforms provide their owners with an astonishing array of analytics to better understand which messages, campaigns, and assets generate the most desired audience responses. We can thank the near-total replacement of traditional advertising with digital media for this evolution. And while these same applications can help us link specific campaigns to leads, and the leads to revenue, plenty of marketers are still in the dark when it comes to truly understanding what happens with their content when it is placed in the hands of the sales force. To back up this assertion, check out this research data from my latest Sales Enablement study:

Figure 1: Best-in-Class Marketers Provide Far More Visibility, Further into the Sales Cycle

In this chart, we compare the self-reported competencies of Best-in-Class companies (the top 20% of sales organizations, measured by percentage of reps achieving annual quota, and year-over-year change in average deal size and total team attainment of quota) with under-performers, which reveal a significant collection of best practices that your company should strongly consider when implementing – or upgrading – your sales enablement platform and processes. The common theme here is all about visibility. Historically, activities-driven marketers were content to think about what happened in the field only in the context of serving as the logo police: Are sales reps using the right fonts and colors? Do they say exactly the things we tell them to say? Prioritizing the protection of the corporate brand, rather than contributing to the sales pipeline, however, is so 20th century.

Don’t get me wrong: we need to look no further than the classic understanding of how Pepsi and Coca-Cola have adapted or maintained their brands for well over a century, for validation of brand integrity. But successful CMO’s today, particularly in the B2B space, demand a far more complex and analytical visibility into what really happens in the field. It’s less about whether the sales reps are behaving, and more about understanding what’s really working. This is where modern sales enablement solutions come into play.