Misaligned practices put revenue teams on the back foot with B2B buyers. The lack of partnership between sales and marketing leaves both teams with incomplete views of how their buyers are engaging with them and missed chances to better support buyers in their path to purchase. Too many marketing and sales teams are still holding onto old dogmas and operating in a way that does not reflect how buyers want to engage, which makes it harder to do their jobs and achieve their collective revenue goals. Three disconnects are at the center of this:

  • The sales cycle is not the same as the buying cycle. The perception of an aligned buying and selling cycle has ramifications for revenue teams, as marketing is often asked to disengage once a seller engages, even if the buying group hasn’t yet been actively engaged to the point of qualification. For example, a seller might create an opportunity when prospecting into an account that hasn’t yet been engaged or prioritized by marketing in the Forrester B2B Revenue Waterfall.
  • Buyer engagement in a deal cycle is not owned uniquely by the seller. Not all buyers are highly engaged throughout the purchasing process, whether through marketing or sales engagements. This means that marketing’s responsibility to build engagement and identify potential buyers continues even after a seller has made contact and confirmed the needs and solutions connected to an opportunity. What’s more, there are signals connected to digital engagement that could impact sales conversations related to active deals — for example, if buyers start to research a competitor, investigate a particular feature, or interact with self-guided tools such as ROI calculators.
  • Buying groups are subject to change. Since buyers engage differently throughout the path to purchase, the buyers that sales will be working with to validate needs, offers, and contract terms are not necessarily the same buyers that conduct early-stage research. This is especially true in complex purchase decisions with large buying groups, where there are influencers who impact the decision as it progresses, even if they are never in contact with a seller. Marketers and sellers must realize that, to support opportunity progression, they may be focused on different buying group members depending on the stage.

To gain influence with buyers, sales and marketing must work together. While maintaining silos might make sales and marketing functions each feel like they have some control or autonomy in their roles, the truth is that buyers are the ones in control. Buyers’ engagement and considerations don’t change when they enter the sales pipeline — the same elements and risks are at play throughout their journey, from buying group members going dormant to priority and budget changes. Marketers and sellers both have a role to play in supporting their journey and in building a fuller picture of what’s going on within their targeted accounts — no matter what the next best action is or who’s on point for taking that action. Failing to do so inhibits success and makes each of their jobs more difficult.

Effective partnership in pipeline requires marketers, revenue development representatives, and sellers to do five things. Read our latest report to learn more.

And explore this topic more deeply at Forrester’s B2B Summit EMEA 2024, happening October 7-9 in London. Learn more.