Let’s take a deep breath and admit it: most business-to-business executives are not proficient in marketing strategy. With a need to focus on their company’s service offering, product development, supply chain management, and customer retention, marketing becomes just one of many hats an executive wears.

This lack of understanding can lead to two expensive situations:

– Marketing investments that aren’t in the best interest of the company
– Missed opportunities to increase revenue

In true David Letterman fashion, here is my Top Ten list of the most common marketing mistakes made by B2B executives.

10. Wanting to look like your industry. Focus on looking like your customers.

9. Emulating consumer campaigns. Marketing to consumers is a completely different animal.

8. Over-emphasizing market research. Your customers can tell you all you need to know.

7. Viewing marketing outside of the sales funnel. Marketing is the top of the sales funnel.

6. Operating without a clear understanding of the sales process. Start with a sale and work backward.

5. Operating without goals. Every tactic should be a means to a specific revenue-related end.

4. Believing that good sales people don’t need literature. Even the best could benefit from collateral.

3. Living with an inefficient sales team. When marketing delivers leads, the sales team has to be ready.

2. Allowing excuses. Don’t let sales throw marketing under the bus.

And the No. 1 marketing mistake commonly made by B2B executives is ignoring the fundamental reality of sales and marketing. It needs to be a systematic, repeatable, and predictable process.

Don’t fall into the traps of specialized vendors, inefficient sales people, or unrelated case studies. Do your research, create your vision, and find a trusted partner who can develop a strategy and system that raises awareness and drives sales. You’ll improve every aspect of your company in the process.