Survey Reveals Top Challenges to B2B Sales and Marketing Alignment — Companies Need Agreement on the Best Target Market

InsideView 2018 Alignment Report Highlights Success Factors for Leading B2B Companies

SAN FRANCISCO – March 7, 2018 – Today InsideView released the results of its second sales and marketing alignment report, “The State of Sales & Marketing Alignment in 2018: How Leading B2B Companies Drive Growth by Aligning Go-to-Market Teams.” According to the report, companies that achieve or exceed revenue goals have higher levels of sales and marketing alignment by 2.3 times, making alignment a meaningful goal. However, challenges to alignment abound. The report found that the number one blocker to alignment was agreement on target market. Specifically, a lack of accurate and shared data on target accounts and prospects. This is a major difference in findings from two years ago when data was named fifth on the list of blockers to alignment. Tied with this finding was communication, which stayed consistent as a top priority since 2016.

Today’s report follows up on InsideView’s 2016 alignment report, which inspired the highly-rated B2B marketing book, Aligned to Achieve (Wiley, 2016). The results are based on a survey of more than 500 sales and marketing leaders from a cross-section of industries that was conducted almost exactly two years after the previous study. The report outlines challenges to alignment, highlights new trends in sales measurement and customer centricity, and describes the increasing effect of millennials on B2B sales and marketing.

“When you get sales and marketing alignment right, it’s magical,” said Tracy Eiler, CMO of InsideView and co-author of Aligned to Achieve. “There can be an alchemy effect that drives revenue in ways companies have never seen before. But it’s extraordinarily hard to get right. Our hope is that this report will help companies see the pitfalls and possibilities for alignment.”

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

According to Forrester Research, “The misalignment between sales and marketing teams continues to be a hot topic, even after a decade of B2B firms trying to solve this problem.” (B2B Buyers Mandate A New Charter For Marketing And Sales, Forrester Research,  January 10, 2017.) While sales and marketing claim they are friendly with each other, the InsideView survey shows that stereotypes continue to be an issue, driving tension and animosity. Nearly 30 percent of sales leaders said that “marketing doesn’t measure anything important,” and almost that many (28 percent) claimed they could do a better job in marketing than their marketing coworkers. Marketing had its own complaints, with 34 percent saying sales people “are single-celled organisms that chase revenue,” and 23 percent saying they could do a better job selling than their sales colleagues.

Blockers to Alignment

What’s driving the disconnect between sales and marketing? According to the survey, the top five blockers to sales and marketing alignment are:

  1. Lack of accurate/shared data on target accounts and prospects
  2. Communication
  3. Measured by different metrics
  4. Processes are broken/flawed
  5. Lack of accountability on both sides

The report uncovers an increasing role of data in making granular decisions, as well as the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in B2B sales and marketing.

The report also identifies pipeline as a key discussion topic with a significant communication gap. According to the survey, 58 percent of sales leaders said they meet with marketing to discuss pipeline less than four times a year (quarterly). A full 25 percent said they never meet with marketing about pipeline. On the other hand, marketing leaders claimed they meet with sales to discuss pipeline at least once a month. The report recommends clearly defining pipeline, sharing that definition, then creating a transparent, ongoing pipeline discussion between the two departments.

Increased Focus on Customer Retention

While the report affirms that sellers continue to be measured primarily on meeting quota, it highlights a new trend in sales goals — a shift to capturing the full value in current customers. This is particularly important in companies with a subscription revenue model. Sales respondents who say they are measured by new accounts fell from 62 percent in 2016 to 55 percent in the most recent survey. The striking decline suggests the increasing importance of annual recurring revenue (ARR), customer retention, and successful renewals.

Millennial Impact

Nearly one-third (30 percent) of the survey respondents were millennials, not surprising since this age group makes up the largest share of the American workforce, according to Pew Research.

In general, millennials had answers similar to their more tenured counterparts, except in the relationship questions, where the report found millennials to be much more skeptical of their coworkers. Millennial sales respondents were much more likely to say that marketing doesn’t measure anything important (37 percent for millennials versus 29 percent overall) and that marketing has their head in the clouds (40 percent versus 27 percent). Similarly, millennial marketing respondents were much more likely to view sales as single cell organisms chasing revenue (46 percent) than their older colleagues (34 percent).

These differences may indicate more challenges to alignment as the generation ages into an even larger portion of the workforce.

For more information, including tips to achieve sales and marketing alignment success, reserve a copy of the report: “The State of Sales & Marketing Alignment in 2018: How Leading B2B companies drive growth by aligning go-to-market teams” or join the webinar today, March 7th at 1:00 p.m. ET. Industry veterans Tracy Eiler, CMO, InsideView and Barbara Giamanco, B2B Sales Expert will discuss the current state of alignment, including challenges, best practices, and tips to solve it. Register for the webinar at:  http://learnmore.insideview.com/webinar-insideview-alignment-reg.html.

About InsideView

InsideView powers the world’s business conversations, helping more than 20,000 companies redefine their go-to-market strategies from a volume-based to more targeted approach. Its leading Targeting Intelligence platform helps sales and marketing teams quickly identify and qualify the best targets, engage with more relevancy, close more deals, and retain and expand accounts. InsideView is the only company that begins with the industry’s most accurate company and contact data and enhances it with relevant, real-time business insights and authentic connections. InsideView’s headquarters are in San Francisco. For more information, visit InsideView at www.InsideView.com, twitter, or read the InsideView blog.

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