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B2B insights

How to build and retain a high performing marketing team

At our 2023 B2B Marketing Awards, we saw Mitie nab the Gold for ‘B2B marketing team of the year’. Not only have these folks solidified themselves as real trailblazers in the B2B world, but they’ve also enhanced their campaign performance and created a diverse culture within the workplace. Kavita Singh, Senior Content Editor, B2B Marketing, spoke with Maria Winn, CMO, Mitie to discuss how to create a high performing marketing team.

How to cultivate the right talent 

The first step to creating a high-performing marketing team is sourcing the right talent. In Maria’s opinion, there are three key things to consider:

  1. Lead with culture: One thing Maria has spent a lot of time doing is looking at Mitie’s job descriptions that go out into the market. It’s important to explain what it means and feels like to work in their specific team and overall business. She said: “We describe it as being part of something special, which is quite a bold statement, but we want people to know that they’re coming to somewhere that feels it has an identity. We have a focus and we also have visibility.”
  2. Be clear on the impact of marketing: Showing how day to day work connects to company objectives is another must-have even for the most junior team members. Showing people how they fit and the difference their contribution makes is empowering and helps people to feel valued.
  3. Give them a sense of belonging: Explain how the role in question connects to other parts of the marketing team and the wider business making it clear how people fit as part of the wider organisation. Mitie often does chemistry meetings to determine whether team members will work together well – there’s no technical questions, it’s just a way of seeing how a potential employee might interact with the team in the future.

What qualities make a good candidate?

While it’s essential to make sure B2B companies come across in the right way for potential employees, it’s also crucial to find the right person. One thing Maria suggested was to steer away from the idea of someone being a good ‘fit’ for the company or the team. The word ‘fit’ comes loaded with biases and preconceptions.  In order to cultivate and encourage diversity within your team, you need to be open to diversity in both background, thought and beyond. In addition, are they great collaborators? 

Maria explained: “Collaboration is massive for us, so we ask people for strong examples around how well they can collaborate with other people. We like people to be able to demonstrate how they influence others. Certainly in marketing, you’re having to mobilize salespeople and other parts of the business. And those types of characteristics are often more important than technical skills because we can teach people the technical skill that we want them to have, provided they’ve got some basic knowledge.”

The key to employee retention

According to our Propolis Community Index, the average annual attrition rate in marketing teams is 20%. It’s one thing to get the talent but to retain it? Maria reiterated that while it may seem basic, setting clear expectations is key. In addition, Maria said Mitie makes an active effort to remove obstacles that might be holding team members back from achieving their objectives and getting their jobs done. However, this needs to be countered by allowing employees their own autonomy to make decisions and make their own learnings as an opportunity for growth and development. 

One change the team at Mitie has made was to reinvent the monthly all-team meeting. It was a small change but rather than doing a 90-minute all-hands with a long slideshow and the leaders presenting at the team, they’ve changed it to a 15-minute business update and the rest of the call is spent as an open mic session.

She said: “The reason we’re doing that is because we found out that our team wanted more time to ask questions with the leadership team. They wanted more time to explore, so we wanted to create that space where people could do that and that’s made a massive difference. It feels like a small thing, but just switching it up and making it an open mic for them and allowing them lots of space to just ask all the questions that they have…it’s about people feeling like they have a voice as well, and that voice is being heard.”

With over 64,000 employees at Mitie, it was also critical to create an employee value proposition with a strong message and hence, ‘Together we are Mitie’ was born. The tagline was created in collaboration with HR to encapsulate both the Mitie employee and Mitie experience.

Diversity and inclusion was crucial

To further that notion the marketing team currently lead Mitie in diversity and inclusion. Some 53% of their team are racially diverse and 75% of the marketing leadership team are female. Maria said having those different perspectives can allow for a diversity in thought and critique in the marketing department.

She explained: “And one example we had was a team member who in meetings would always raise the awkward thing, but actually that team member had such an important role because they were asking the questions that meant that we were resolving those issues as a team before it got to our stakeholders.So those people that are sometimes perceived as asking annoying questions or taking you off in weird directions – you have to value them.”

Another thing Maria mentioned was identifying marginalizing behaviors. It can be as simple as a person having childcare commitments and having to leave early – having a colleague make a remark about leaving early can sometimes cross a personal boundary 

She continued: “So we’re  alive to that, making sure that whilst we support a fun environment, it’s also really inclusive.”

Aligning with other departments

Another sign of a successful marketing team is one that is able to build a strong alignment with other departments from sales to product and finance. One thing that really helps is having a shared customer objective across all departments.

Maria explained: “We’ve created revenue councils with each of our key stakeholders. We work across different business units and we have monthly marketing forums and we are continually checking in every month on what we’re delivering with our most senior stakeholders.”

Another top tip Maria gave was to go out with customers – sometimes marketers aren’t interacting with customers often enough and she said it’s a massive risk to carry on like that. Meeting real customers allows you to stay aligned to the more operational aspects of the business while keeping your finger on the pulse.

The role of the CMO – building a ‘Mitie’ team

So how can the CMO support all this? Maria said it’s really important not to give your team the direct answer when issues crop up, but instead to ask the question so that they discover the answers and get to learn by themselves.

She said: “The problem is you only have to get sick or be away and then suddenly no one knows what they’re doing and what you want to create is a team of people that are very empowered to make their own decisions and have confidence in that.”

Want to check out Mitie’s full award-winning case study? Sign up to Propolis and you can check out all the details here.

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