Late last month, my colleague Kathy Contreras and I had the pleasure of hosting a webinar in which we took a deep dive into two of Forrester’s predictions for B2B marketing and sales leaders. (If you missed it, you can watch it here.) The two predictions spoke to significant shifts underway in demand and channel marketing, and we thought it would be helpful to recap the discussion, key takeaways, and a few of the questions that we received.

In this blog post, I’ll discuss a prediction that could impact many demand marketing teams. In a companion post, Kathy explores a transformation taking place within channel marketing. (Our webinar reveals all five of Forrester’s B2B marketing and sales predictions, and you can also read about them here.)

Prediction: The Number Of Demand Teams Reporting Into Sales Will Jump To 20%

Every B2B marketer is on board with the concept of alignment with sales. And this prediction, on its face, might make sense to some. But a forced reorganization can cause disruption — and reconfiguring reporting lines won’t generate truly effective alignment on its own.

We talked in the webinar about three ways to forge meaningful alignment, ones that will yield better results than changing reporting lines:

  • Say goodbye to marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) and embrace an opportunities-based approach. Many marketers still think in terms of individual leads, when the reality is (and sales will remind us!) that most B2B purchases happen in groups. Eighty-eight percent of the B2B buyers surveyed in Forrester’s latest Buyers’ Journey Survey told us that they were in a group of two or more people to make a buying decision, and 38% were in a group of four or more. It is critical to adopt an opportunities-based approach that accounts for all of the people involved in a buying decision.
  • Design an integrated, opportunity-based waterfall. Forrester’s B2B Revenue Waterfall gives marketing and sales teams a clearer view into the opportunities that exist with buying groups within accounts (both current and prospective). These opportunities aren’t just acquisition — they also include retention, cross-sell, and upsell. Given that 77% of the average B2B organization’s revenue comes from existing customers, accounting for these nonacquisition opportunity types is critical, yet only 42% of B2B marketers currently employ demand programs throughout the customer lifecycle.
  • Move toward a lifecycle revenue marketing (LRM) approach that looks beyond the top of the funnel and encompasses the entire customer lifecycle. To enable this, establish a cross-functional revenue management council to look at and adjust current processes to better align your revenue engine teams, but more importantly, to align with your buyers.

A question we fielded after the webinar was whether some organizations might benefit from having demand teams report into sales. Reconfiguring reporting lines this way isn’t, in and of itself, a bad thing. But a reporting change alone will not fix the alignment and integration needed to properly enable or support today’s buyers. Without taking the steps outlined above — i.e., better integration of technology, processes, and teams around a shared vision of the buyer — you could experience disruption without truly solving, or even pinpointing, the real issues.

Understanding Demand Marketing’s Current And Future Role

Attendees also asked about the boundaries of demand marketing and the demand marketer’s role today.

With lifecycle revenue marketing, are you suggesting that customer marketing is now becoming part of demand marketing teams?

LRM is a modern, outside-in approach that breaks through internal silos, extends audience engagement, and connects demand and engagement programs to the full lifecycle of revenue opportunities (top of the funnel, middle, bottom, and ongoing customer programs for retention, cross-sell, or upsell). It involves leveraging the people, processes, tools, and best practices across programs with an emphasis on alignment, not structure.

Here are a couple of posts on lifecycle revenue marketing:

Are demand marketers responsible for marketing across all opportunity types?

Team structure aside, demand marketers are aligning with all customer-facing groups to create a better buying experience. B2B revenue typically comes from net-new acquisition and existing customers. Creating programs and experiences that extend past the first handoff to sales is critical to building a consistent, value-add, buyer-enabled experience. Demand marketers should consider the various audience segments with revenue targets and build a program strategy that aligns with this, then use the B2B Revenue Waterfall to track the various opportunity types and their conversion to close.

Find more detail in this blog post: The Revenue Process Alignment Series, Part 4: An Opportunity-Centric Revenue Process Is All About Context.

For organizations where you have seen the transition from MQLs to opportunities, how has alignment between marketing and sales changed?

Organizations that have made this change now collaborate around the “deal,” not individual team or contribution metrics. Conversations change from lead volumes to opportunity identification and validation as well as buying group member engagement in target accounts. These B2B companies are creating more visibility into marketing’s contribution and more meaningful conversions. And perhaps most importantly, marketing and sales teams are not only aligning with each other but also with the customer. This is the real path to growth.