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Sales and Marketing Alignment: Top Predictions for the Future

We recently had a fantastic interview with Giles House and one of the topics of the discussion was sales and marketing alignment. Fresh off that interview, InsideView recently published these predictions for sales and marketing alignment. They’re based on the new book, Aligned to Achieve: How to Unite Your Sales and Marketing Teams into a Single Force for Growth, authored by their CMO Tracy Eiler and Andrea Austin, their VP of Enterprise Sales.

The predictions were based on the results of a survey of 1,000 sales and marketing leaders. Eiler and Austin’s research shows that the problem of misalignment continues to grow and the disconnect is having a direct effect on revenue.

Sales and marketing alignment is a hot-button issue that companies are focused on fixing once and for all. It’s not just to keep sales and marketing from being at each other’s throats; it’s because alignment translates to revenue and faster growth. So, what comes next? After months of conversation with peers, we forecast where we think alignment is going so companies can get ahead. 

Tracy Eiler, CMO of InsideView

The authors offer the following seven predictions for the future of sales and marketing alignment as businesses realize the benefits of aligning marketing and sales and prepare to increase alignment efforts:

  1. The rise of the consultative seller. The most successful salespeople will become hybrid marketers. By 2020, the need for B2B salespeople will change to demand a more “consultative seller,” according to Forrester Research. Buyers are doing more research themselves and no longer require transaction-based sellers, so the traditional sales model must adjust. These new consultative sellers will become experts on their industry, products, buyer personas, and customer journey, and will need marketing’s enablement along the way. Some industries will even begin merging sales and marketing into the same teams.
  2. Cross-training will become imperative. The most desired workers will be those that seek out experiences beyond their domain of expertise, including sellers that understand marketing and marketers with sales backgrounds. Progressive companies will even formalize and incentivize cross-training in the workplace.
  3. The pipeline will become the primary way of measuring marketing performance. According to InsideView’s research, 66 percent of marketers say that pipeline is the primary way they are measured. Advanced companies will start looking at team revenue, where a portion of each sales rep’s quota will be the responsibility of marketing. Marketing is incented to work in close cooperation with each rep to the point they can actually quantify their direct impact on that rep’s quota.
  4. The entire customer journey will become account-centric. ABM initiatives continue to outperform other marketing investments, creating a model for success that won’t be limited to sales and marketing in the future. Get ready for companies to prioritize account-based everything.
  5. Customer data strategy becomes more important. Industry research shows that businesses that put data at the center of their marketing and sales decisions improve marketing ROI by 15 to 20% (Winterberry Group). To capitalize on the booming marketing and sales technology landscape, successful companies will prioritize efforts to streamline and consolidate their technology infrastructure and customer data strategy. Doing so will allow companies to develop cohesively, shared customer intelligence that enables them to align more strategically.
  6. Millennials have a major impact. In 2016 Millennials surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation. That also means they are changing the makeup and skill set of the sales force. Millennials are more entrepreneurial, adaptive, and collaborative. They also have different expectations for education, communication, and career advancement. Successful companies will start adapting their organizational styles to attract and retain this generation’s best talent, and consider whether candidates are ready for alignment as part of the hiring process. And the millennials of today are the buyers of tomorrow. Companies must adapt to their style.
  7. Academia catches up. Universities will view formal B2B programs as essential for preparing students for the real world, on the sales, marketing, and data fronts. Expect to see more universities offer degrees in sales, not just marketing or accounting. Also, more institutions will modernize their marketing degrees beyond consumer marketing to focus on B2B. Finally, expect more business-focused degrees in data science and data analytics as data becomes more critical to business success.

Here’s the infographic, Top 5 Predictions for the Future of Sales & Marketing Alignment:

Sales and Marketing Alignment Predictions

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is CMO of OpenINSIGHTS and the founder of the Martech Zone. Douglas has helped dozens of successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to assist companies in implementing and automating their sales and marketing strategies. Douglas is an internationally recognized digital transformation and MarTech expert and speaker. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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