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Pipeline Marketing Blog

B2B Marketing and Sales Won't Exist (As We Know Them) in 5 Years

By Lauren Frye
Mar 21, 2016
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Marketing and sales alignment will eventually become a thing of the past. This isn’t because it’s not important, but rather, it’s because our teams will have outgrown it, like last year’s snow pants. By the end of 2020, the B2B marketing and sales departments will become one and the same team -- collectively responsible for the entire pipeline and the revenue that flows from it. Watch for these 5 stages of their dissolution.

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A demand gen environment changes in progressively small steps. Up to today, the transitions have involved marketing’s increasing responsibility for revenue generation. Sales has learned to connect with marketing’s initiatives and provide helpful feedback on lead qualifications and lower-funnel conversion rates.

We’ve seen the rise of the martech stack, founded on the groundwork of marketing automation, and it’s been built ever taller with the additions of B2B attribution solutions, data insight tools, and much, much more.

But what’s next? What’s the next challenge that tenacious B2B demand generators will face? What’s our next stage of adaptation?

The Dissolution of “Marketing” and “Sales”

It’s not particularly startling, is it? The departmental ideologies of “marketing” and “sales” have stuck with us through the rapid emergence of ecommerce in the early 2000’s and the expansion of digital marketing in the years that followed. I would posit that our demand gen capabilities, our martech development, and our personal skills are pushing the limits of this traditional model. We could soon be well overdue for a change.

Imagine a manufacturing plant with half of its assembly line in Texas and the other half in Australia. It doesn’t make sense. Eventually, sales and marketing will become so inextricably linked together that one can’t function without the other. Marketers will pull sales into almost every meeting, and sales will stay up-to-date on marketing’s daily grind so they can be prepared to meet tomorrow’s leads.

We’re already heading in this direction. Advanced marketing attribution solutions provide full-funnel tracking. This data stretches across departments and bolsters the optimization capabilities of both the sales and marketing teams.

Account-based marketing for B2B companies depends extensively on cohesive alignment between the sales and marketing teams. Marketing taps the accounts via top-of-funnel (TOFU) and middle-of-funnel (MOFU) activities while sales prepares their outreach to align with marketing’s air cover.

It’s already happening.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the five stages of sales and marketing dissolution.

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[STAGE 1] Marketing makes a revenue-commit

Jason Lemkin at SaaStr recently emphasized the importance of the marketing team truly owning their own segment of the revenue stream.

“So in some cases, an Opportunity Commit for marketing, which is further down the funnel, can be an improvement over a lead commit. But I’m going to propose going further. For whatever segment of revenue marketing “owns” — I think it’s time for a true Revenue Commit.” - Jason Lemkin

This is the first step to becoming a joined team. Marketing will own a segment of the revenue goals that they are exclusively responsible to contribute.

METRICS TRACKED AT STAGE 1:

  • Conversion rate of leads to customers
  • Revenue generation by marketing channel

[STAGE 2] Increasing interdependence between marketing and sales

Everyone’s working within the same funnel, and the events that occur at each funnel stage directly affect the ensuing levels of the funnel.

If ad spend is wasted and lead volume drops, the sales team has fewer leads to contact and less opportunities to close.

If marketing’s investments and activities are generating poor quality leads, sales has difficulty converting those leads to opportunities.

If marketing is using one form of value prop messaging and sales is using completely different terminology, leads will feel a disconnect. Without consistency across the marketing and sales handoff, the lead is less likely to close.

Everyone depends on everyone else, and the two halves of the funnel are intrinsically linked. Heinz Marketing has published a detailed checklist of how this interdependence is practically applied.

METRICS TRACKED AT STAGE 2:

  • Lead conversion by ebook offer
  • Opp conversion of email nurturing sequence(s)
  • ROI of leads generated at industry events

[STAGE 3] Cross-team, widespread reliance on the CRM

Historically, the Customer Relationship Management system primarily held insights on BOFU activities. Because the sales and marketing teams are becoming more and more interdependent, the marketing team takes a vested interest in CRM data. Without knowing how their leads are progressing through the funnel, there’s no way to optimize their TOFU and MOFU strategy.

However, martech solutions like B2B marketing attribution, are able to push more and more data into the CRM. Not only does it contain BOFU information, but it connects the lower-level funnel data with higher-level activities for each CRM contact.

By using attribution tools, the marketing and sales teams can see the full picture of a lead’s journey through their array of marketing touchpoints. As they study the statistics, dashboards, reports, and other data presented inside the CRM, the both teams have the insights necessary to align their efforts to a T.

METRICS TRACKED AT STAGE 3:

  • Detailed touchpoint lead journey insights
  • Opportunities by paid search keyword
  • Opportunities by paid social campaign
  • Customers with key touchpoints from blog

[STAGE 4] Upsurge of “smartech” solutions

Stages 1-3 are in the works, and we’re already seeing a fair number of Stage 3 organizations cropping up. As this becomes a more common orientation for sales and marketing, I predict we’ll begin to see an increase in the number of cross-department tech solutions. Rather than the traditional “martech” and “sales development” software programs we see within the SaaS market today, the two functions will merge into the same software solution that can be used by both teams.

Marketing automation software has already begun with email nurturing, analytics, and even CRM solutions that cater to the needs of the sales team. However, they’re still “marketing” automation programs that primarily seek to solve “marketing” problems.

As the two teams become more interconnected and collectively rely on the CRM, tech solutions will follow suit. It won’t be long until software such as “pipeline automation” or “customer development” software begins to solidify the connection between marketing and sales.

SMARTECH PROGRAMS CAPABILITIES AT STAGE 4:

  • Full-funnel email nurturing sequencing
  • Full-funnel lead tracking systems
  • Comprehensive workflows across all funnel stages
  • Integrates TOFU data with workflows

[STAGE 5] Rise of the Pipeline Team

Finally, the two teams will be speaking the same language, attending the same meetings, analyzing the same reports, and using the same software programs. And by that time, they’ll likely have moved to the same floor and intermingled their desks or cubes among each other.

This will mark the rise of the Pipeline Team (or whatever we end up calling it.) Marketing and sales will bear no distinction, and we will look fondly upon the days when marketing and sales were separate entities. But there will be no doubt. We’ll be relieved to see them as two sides of the same coin.

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