HomeBlog The New Frontiers of B-to-B Alignment

The New Frontiers of B-to-B Alignment

August 14, 2018 | By Meta Karagianni

  • As the b-to-b revenue engine evolves, alignment must expand beyond the way sales, marketing and product engage and convert buyers
  • Revenue leaders must gain a clear understanding of all the possible areas where alignment can support the attainment of key business objectives – including growth and profitability
  • Failing to understand and operationalize alignment across new areas that support revenue and profitability will cause revenue leaders to fall behind

One of the sports I love and hope to become better at it is water skiing. Being on my skis and crossing the waves while the sun is rising early in the morning is one of the best moments of my holidays.

But to get there requires determination, practice and resilience. The first challenge is to learn to get out of the water with one ski. Next, you must learn how to master the turn and position the skis at the perfect angle to cross the waves and not “break.” Then you must master your release and pace so you can run the slalom and successfully pass the six buoys. Over time, you must master your technique to adapt to conditions. Physical power will only get you so far. Technique separates good skiers from great skiers – and great technique requires strong alignment across your entire body. If you lose that alignment, you will either fall or have a bad run. But if you maintain strong alignment – as my coach says – “the ski does the work for you.”

alignment water skiingThe same concepts apply to alignment across all the parts of a b-to-b revenue engine. Our research on the economics of alignment shows that when sales, marketing and product achieve strong alignment, this alignment does the work – resulting in 19 percent faster revenue growth and 15 percent higher profitability.

In recent years, b-to-b revenue leaders have been pursuing and fostering strong alignment around how their teams engage and convert buyers. However, just as water skiers must expand their alignment techniques to master every move, b-to-b organizations must expand their alignment beyond demand creation and buyer engagement as b-to-b market and buyer dynamics evolve. For example, our 2015 and 2017 B-to-B Buying Studies showed that the number one buying decision driver is customer experience. Furthermore, as business models continue to evolve (e.g. from on-premises to recurring revenue models), b-to-b organizations must work harder to engage with their customers after a sale is completed. How can alignment support revenue leaders to drive improved performance in post-sale customer engagement and growth?

As buyer behaviour continues to evolve, buyers increasingly rely on the opinions of influencers and other customers when they make buying decisions. Building brand equity with buyers and customers has never been more challenging. Building genuine messaging that speaks to the hearts and minds of buyers and creates a strong connection with them is not an area of strength for many organizations. In most cases, b-to-b content promotes an offering and addresses persona needs only at a functional or operational level. This leaves critical gaps in the organization’s ability to create a strong emotional connection while highlighting business and personal value. Failing to create that strong connection is not just a marketing issue; our research shows that most sales reps who fail to meet their quota are unable to articulate the value of their offerings when engaging with their audiences.

Our research also shows that more than 50 percent of organizations report that more than half of their new offerings fail to meet the desired performance and financial targets. Why is this happening? Do organizations align on who their target audience is? Does product marketing build a deep understanding of buyer needs that is shared with product management? Do we have a structured go-to-market process with strong interlocks across all necessary stakeholders? Put differently, what would be the impact if product, sales and marketing teams enjoyed strong alignment across all phases of bringing new offerings to market?

Innovation, brand equity, message resonance and customer engagement are all examples of areas beyond demand creation where sales, product and marketing must work together to drive strong alignment for an organization to grow successfully.

At the end of a ride, diligent skiers often film and then review their last run. They play every part in slow motion and analyze where and what they could have done better, preparing themselves for the next ride. At SiriusDecisions, we have set ourselves a similar challenge: we are going back to our original analysis of the economics of alignment to create an expanded view of the areas where alignment matters in support of faster growth and higher profitability. I am excited about what we are going to find.

Isabel Montesdeoca and I will be sharing the results of our analysis with Summit Europe delegates on October 3 in London. Join us to learn about the expanded areas of alignment, how to quantify its impact and how to ensure you have the right operational signals in place to track your alignment maturity today.

SiriusDecisions 2018 Summit Europe

3 – 4 October 2018 | InterContinental London – The O2

Register Now

Meta Karagianni

Meta Karagianni is Service Director, European CMO Strategies, at SiriusDecisions. Before joining SiriusDecisions, she spent several years working closely with CMOs and commercial leaders in Europe and South Africa, providing strategic advice and implementation support across critical decision areas. As a practitioner, Meta led marketing teams in Europe. She started her career as a strategy/marketing consultant. Meta lives in London.

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