As part of the Magic Quadrant evaluation process vendors share information with Gartner analysts that is part of the overall scoring but does not necessarily show up in the report. Marketing and sales alignment is in that category for the B2B marketing automation platform MQ.
We ask vendors to provide their “vision for supporting customers seeking to align their marketing and sales organizations to improve end-customer engagement along complex, changing journeys.”
Those vision statements ranged across a continuum from very broad pronouncements about creating a platform “to accelerate the alignment of all revenue-centric functions” to the very granular agreement on conversion process and definition of marketing qualified leads. Several vendors landed in the middle, with shared data, content and workflows; eliminating silos; and sharing the same business goal of increasing revenue.
What were the commonalities between these statements? Every single one of them mentioned data, and some of them dug a little deeper into a unified data model, a data-first approach or a single source of truth. One vendor even reminded us that “data is starting to flow from everything – your customers, suppliers, equipment, and devices.” And for many, data itself was not enough, but they stressed the importance of deriving insights from that data.
Not as many as I would like mentioned any common metrics to tie marketing and sales together, but the ones that did, mentioned dashboards. One vendor even claimed their platform facilitates “honest conversations about what [marketing and sales] should do more or less of and where they should be investing.”
Framing the Alignment Problem
How are B2B marketing automation vendors framing the problem of marketing and sales alignment? It seems there is less commonality here when compared to the overall vision of the problem.
There were very technical responses that viewed this as the convergence of martech and salestech or the need for marketing to have their own CRM as opposed to integrating with an existing one. It was also viewed as an organizational problem with silos between functions. One vendor suggested that marketing needed to connect to other functions, while another called out service as a required partner in the end-to-end alignment of revenue.
Several of the vendors took a tactical approach to the challenges of the problem and wanted to simplify marketing management, especially with regard to new marketing channels. Lack of alignment makes it difficult to create personalized customer experiences at scale. It also complicates the real-time creation of meaningful insights.
Looking Towards the Future
One vendor was hopeful where alignment and the right selection of technology can lead marketers. “Imagine the future where centralized buyer and buying group data provides automated insights, recommendations, next-best actions to deliver and orchestrate personalized buyer experiences and engagements across all touch points.” Hopeful, indeed.
What can marketers learn from this analysis of vendors’ statements?
Let’s start with the source of the information. Vendors create their points of view from their internal teams view of the market, (maybe analyst conversations) and their own customers and prospects. It is often the customers that drive the scope of the point of view. Vendors with a more tactical point of view on marketing and sales alignment are more likely working with smaller organizations. Those with broader, more strategic approaches likely focus on enterprise organizations with bigger challenges. This perspective can help you understand your own vendors and if they approach challenges and initiatives in the same way as your organization?
How do these approaches compare to your own marketing and sales alignment efforts? Do your technology solutions allow you to connect customer data in ways that help you create insights? Do they help you connect siloed functions? Do they help align teams on the same revenue goals?
While not in these vendor statements, how are you defining your audience, what to say to them and how to measure success? In collaboration with sales? I would argue that’s where marketing and sales alignment starts and technology comes to the table to support those efforts. Not to drive them. But I’m not trying to sell you software.
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