B2B Sales and Marketing Leaders Predict an Increased Impact of Consultative Selling, Targeting Ideal Customers, and AI to Play Key Roles in 2018

InsideView Reveals 2018 Predictions from Upcoming Sales and Marketing Alignment Report

San Francisco, California, UNITED STATES

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 09, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- According to an upcoming report commissioned by InsideView, sellers and marketers see significant shifts in how B2B solutions will be marketed and sold in the coming year. When asked which of the following they believe are most likely to happen in the next year, more than 500 sellers and marketers agreed on the top three responses. “Sellers become more consultative and less transactional” topped the list, followed closely by “Companies become laser focused on their ideal customers versus ‘anyone with a pulse’.” The predictions are a sneak peek from an upcoming sales and marketing alignment report that will be released early this quarter.

Sales and marketing teams are notoriously at odds. According to InsideView’s previous alignment report (from early 2017) 26 percent of marketers think salespeople are “a bunch of mavericks,” and 27 percent of sellers think they could do a better job marketing than their marketing counterparts. But despite these differences, both groups surprisingly agreed on the top three predictions for 2018, and were within a few percentage points on the top five.

“Alignment between sales and marketing continues to be a struggle, but sellers and marketers agree more often than they think,” said Tracy Eiler, CMO of InsideView and co-author of the book ‘Aligned to Achieve’ about bringing together sales and marketing. “We all still have a way to go to breach the divide in attitudes and stereotypes, and even communication styles. But the signs are positive in that both groups see the same business pains, and what it’s going to take to achieve success in 2018. For example, sellers and marketers will increasingly leverage AI for a more targeted, more consultative, customer-focused approach.”

The top five predictions from both sales and marketing pros for 2018 are:

  1. Sellers become more consultative and less transactional. Buyers today are more empowered and have a number of digital methods to research and purchase solutions. According to Forrester’s May 2017 report, B2B Consultant Sellers Reign In The 21st Century, commodity transactions can occur without direct sales interaction, but “for more highly considered purchases, B2B marketing and sales leaders must plan for buyers who require sophisticated, consultative, and technology-enabled salespeople.”
  2. Companies become laser focused on their ideal customers versus “anyone with a pulse.” By identifying the traits that make up an ideal customer, companies can identify their total addressable market, and expand their sales targets. These ideal customers  are not only the perfect target for the product or solution a company sells, but also provide high value to the company either in total revenue, repeat sales, or referrals. Interestingly, 61 percent of respondents who said this come from smaller companies, with less than 500 employees, indicating that early stage companies may need to be more targeted, to get more from each marketing and sales dollar.
  3. Artificial intelligence and machine learning fuel decisions on best market targets. AI and machine learning are being applied to numerous business problems. Leveraging AI to make sense of target customer data is the next step in sales and marketing automation. Forrester’s recent report, Predictions 2018: Digital Disruption Is The New Normal For B2B Marketing, also pointed to the use of AI in sales and marketing, with the key prediction, “B2B Marketing Will Optimize engagement With AI.”
  4. Millennials have a major impact in both buying and selling. Millennials make up the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, according to Pew Research Center. Nearly 27 percent of sales and 25 percent of marketing leaders pointed to millennial impact on buying and selling as a major trend for 2018 including both millennials themselves, as well as their older counterparts. Forrester’s Mary Shea has written extensively on the effect of millennials on the B2B buying process. In a March 2017 Forrester blog, Shea writes, “Companies that fail to understand the dynamics of the heads-down generation may find themselves supplanted or disintermediated by up-and-coming companies that do.”
  5. Marketing and sales operations merge into one revenue operations team. Perhaps the most forward-looking prediction, sellers and marketers are experiencing a shift in marketing and sales goals that is translating into changes in team structure. CMOs are becoming more responsible for operations and revenue growth.  According to a report from the CMO Council, 70 percent of CEOs expect their CMO to lead revenue growth. In fact, 33 percent say revenue growth is the primary mandate of marketing.

“It’s encouraging that sellers and marketers are so aligned on strategic direction,” added Eiler. “While we have a long way to go from the ‘sales mavericks’ and ‘marketing having their head in the clouds’ stereotypes, the first step is aligning our business outlook. Based on the research, sellers and marketers are starting 2018 with a consistent view of the future, putting them directly on the path to alignment success.”

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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