Are marketing teams replacing sales reps?

By Jodi Cachey | October 25, 2021

83% of a typical B2B purchase decision happens before a buyer engages with a vendor. That means today’s marketers, not sales reps, have the most influence over B2B buyers. With marketing teams sitting in the driver seat for the majority of the B2B buyer journey, some organizations wonder if they’ll soon replace sales reps altogether.

But that logic is misguided. While Gartner reports buyer-to-seller engagement currently hangs at 16% (and is expected to drop another 2-3% in the next few years), it’s unlikely that the need for that engagement will ever disappear completely. At least, not anytime soon.

Why Marketers Won’t Replace Sales Reps

The B2B buyer journey is only getting more complex. With an increased number of stakeholders involved in B2B purchase decisions, more diverse buying committees with competing business priorities, and new requirements for financial justification to purchase large ticket items, today’s buyer journey can’t be 100% digital. 

Yes, 68% of buyers report they would prefer to purchase without ever speaking to a sales rep (Forrester). But in reality, they rely on sales too much for that to happen. Specifically, today’s sellers help buyers:

Align Marketing & Sales for More Deals Won

Rather than debate whether investing more heavily in sales or marketing will lead to better business growth outcomes, today’s leading companies should align their sales and marketing organizations to meet business goals. Rather than question whether marketers should replace sales teams entirely, today’s forward-thinking business leaders will position marketing as an extension of their sales team. 

Marketers, after all, are the only commercial team to play across the entire customer journey and could be a seller’s best asset in a challenging sales environment

So let’s all agree to drop the fear-mongering narrative that marketers could replace sellers completely. (A narrative that works against us by fueling animosity between our sales and marketing teams, by the way.) And instead, align our sellers and marketers for mutual success. Here’s how.

The Top 3 Roadblocks to Sales and Marketing Alignment (And How to Fix Them!)

Misaligned sales and marketing teams have long been a top challenge for business leaders. But the majority of the time, it isn’t sales or marketing’s fault. Sales and marketing misalignment is usually a result of a business’s fundamental processes and practices, including:

Misguided Accountability 

You can’t achieve alignment without trust. And the best way to build trust between marketing and sales is to make them accountable for the same company goal – revenue. 

Today, 47% of CEOs say the CMO’s most critical role is to grow the business. That number should be much higher.

Marketers spend a lot of time working to understand their customers and the market. They have unique insights into content consumption and buyer engagement, and with a broader focus, they tend to work more strategically. 

If your marketing team’s primary responsibility is still only to generate leads and toss them over the fence to sales, you’re missing a huge opportunity to drive revenue. Today’s marketers should develop and use content to do more than drive demand. They should also help sellers foster a more personalized, relevant, and engaging experience across the entire buyer journey. 

Gartner predicts by 2025, 75% of the highest growth companies in the world will deploy a RevOps model to drive growth through operational efficiency and keep all teams from marketing to sales to customer care accountable to revenue.

Siloed Tech Stacks 

It requires countless touchpoints to take a buyer from prospect to signed customer. From content consumed to meetings held to emails read and replied to, both marketers and sellers are engaging with buyers constantly throughout their journey. 

If your marketing and sales teams are working in siloed tech stacks, it’s likely that journey will quickly grow inconsistent and result in a bad buying experience. 

When marketers and sellers use one integrated tech stack, they have visibility into every touchpoint regardless of who made it. Sellers can see what content resonated with buyers and helped move them forward, so they can share more of what works. 

Marketers can make content recommendations to sellers or add buyers to campaigns based on engagement trends and account-based insights. 

Most importantly, marketers and sellers can work together to provide the next best action to move a deal forward.

Inadequate Insights 

As more companies turn to a RevOps model, they’re also turning to revenue intelligence solutions to help them support that model. Platforms that capture conversation intelligence, buyer intent, and sales activity data are hot investments at the moment, but they don’t capture the full picture. 

To accurately forecast and successfully close deals, it’s just as important to understand what’s happening outside of the sales meeting as what’s happening in it. Content intelligence that captures when, what, and how often buyers are engaging with content can offer invaluable insight into what is most relevant to the buyer, which stakeholders care about what, and whether or not a deal will actually close. 

Sales enablement platforms like Mediafly have long offered content analytics, but Mediafly is currently the only platform to combine that data with conversation intelligence, buyer intent, and sales activity data for a 360-degree view of opportunity health in one unified dashboard.

What happens when you align sales & marketing?

In today’s complex selling environment, marketing replacing sales reps isn’t a smart option. Instead, improve alignment between sales and marketing to increase revenue, shorten sales cycles, and improve forecasting accuracy. Are your sales and marketing teams aligned for success? Or are you still struggling to get on the same page?

If you’re exploring a RevOps model to help align your commercial teams, register for our next webinar Are You Struggling to Forecast and Hit Your Revenue Targets This Quarter? You Are Not Alone.

Jodi Cachey is the Vice President of Content Strategy & Growth Marketing at Mediafly, where she is responsible for the strategy and execution of all content marketing initiatives to drive traffic, demand, and growth. With over a decade of experience in the tech space, her previous roles include sales, business development, sales enablement, and product marketing. Jodi attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Media Studies.

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