In the pantheon of business metaphors, “singing from the same hymn sheet” ranks as one of the most overused and inadequate. It assumes that one universal score exists, and as soon as it’s passed around and everyone starts singing from it, everything will fall into place.

Nobody thinks that alignment, like singing from the same sheet of music, is a bad idea. Yet only 59% of B2B employees say that their companies encourage alignment and collaboration between different parts of the business. That means two out of five suffer from the waste and frustration of misalignment because they are too focused on process, excessive collaboration meetings, or the pursuit of irrelevant goals or metrics.

Getting Aligned Requires More Than Sharing Music

In research that Forrester recently conducted — and that we will share in more detail at our upcoming B2B Summit North America — we found that successful alignment is less about process and more about calibrating on buyer value. It’s less about the process of singing from the same sheet of music and much more about how the arrangement of the song contributes to a desired outcome. Just as music can be arranged to evoke suspense, fantasy, or danger, B2B firms can arrange how they align and integrate functions — including marketing, sales, and product — to maximize buyer value.

Aligning around customer value is core to building and maintaining a B2B customer-obsessed growth engine. In a report published earlier this year, our colleagues John Arnold, Katie Fabiszak, and Lori Wizdo describe how a customer-obsessed growth engine places the business buyer at the core of a company’s strategy, aligns revenue teams to the goal of delivering what buyers value, and leverages technology to optimize this experience.

Top Firms Align Along Five Dimensions

Teams that shift to a customer-centered strategy may initially encounter many challenges. So where should these teams focus? A glib answer would be “everywhere,” but pay close attention to:

  • Metrics that help customers realize value. The right metrics define a consistent destination for everyone. Focusing on universal qualification, health, and engagement scoring criteria rooted in driving customer outcomes helps the customer realize measurable value.
  • Meaningful data that pinpoints what customers value. Most companies have tons of data but fail to gather or surface the right data that shows what customers value and how they realize it. Along with reducing costs, making customer data more accessible, transparent, and meaningful is a top priority across B2B firms today.
  • Right-sized revenue technology. Rather than chasing after the latest bells and whistles or every new three-letter-acronym platform, firms should take stock of their current technology investments across the revenue ecosystem. This enables organizations to use what they have to deliver insights while facilitating engagement and actions, both of which drive value for customers.
  • A culture that puts customers first. Companies should audit their board minutes, earnings calls, mission statements, and website to make an honest assessment of how well they create value for customers. If an activity or program doesn’t show up on executive reports or dashboards, no amount of process lower in the organization will have meaningful impact.
  • An adaptive organization. Firms almost universally overlook change management when seeking to realign. Too many executives believe that issuing a decree from the top will automatically manifest the changes they wish to see. Top-performing firms actively dedicate time and resources to change management; they think through employee hiring and training, the language they use internally, and the stories they celebrate to reflect customer value and drive the change that they wish to affect.

We hope you can join us at B2B Summit North America to learn more. Keynotes from our colleagues will also delve deeper into how companies can build their customer-obsessed growth engines and, by focusing relentlessly on customer value, transform their organizations into profitable, predictable, revenue-generating machines.