We Asked 13 Sales Influencers about How the Relationship between Sales and Marketing is Changing

Their Responses May Surprise You

April 30, 2019

Sales Reps

LinkedIn’s most recent State of Sales Report, a global survey of thousands of salespeople and decision makers, shows that marketing and sales orchestration is a reality. It also demonstrates that an increasing number of sales professionals are working more closely with their marketing counterparts.

The U.S. version of the State of Sales Report found that 44 percent of sales professionals are working more closely with marketing than in the past. Additionally, the number of sales professionals who say they work “closely” or “very closely” or “closely” with marketing has increased 35 percent in the past two years.

The State of Sales Report found that top sales performers (those who exceed their sales target by at least 25 percent) work more closely with marketing. On a scale from one to 10, 57 percent of top sellers rank the importance of working with marketing at an eight or higher. That compares with just 41 percent of their average counterparts.

However, sales and marketing alignment could be improved. The report found that data silos still constrain successful orchestration. Just 20 percent of salespeople say there’s a significant overlap in the data used by marketing and sales to target leads. This misalignment could explain why only 22 percent of sales professionals say leads from marketing are excellent.

To gain further insight into how sales and marketing are working together — now and in the future — we asked a cross-section of sales industry experts this question: “How do you see the relationship between the sales and marketing departments evolving in the next five years?”

As the CEO of a growing business, I have made a conscious decision to break down functional silos between sales ops, marketing, and our front line sales people. We explicitly work as one team to strategize and execute on our priorities. We view sales and marketing as two critical functions in one end-to-end customer-centric process and work with our clients to do the same. — Courtney Mohr, CEO, GrowthPlay
"The relationship between marketing and sales has changed more in the past five years than in the past twenty years. And this pace of change will continue to accelerate in the next five years. There are three reasons for that: Technology, customer data, and education. Technology will continue to bring marketing and sales closer, and allow better marketing and sales alignment. In line with this, sales enablement will grow as a strategy and a function to facilitate more effective and timely content sharing between marketing and sales. Customer data will require more cooperation between marketing and sales. Indeed, although more customer data will be available, for example through social media platforms, GDPR related concerns will make them less readily accessible for marketers, and thus necessitate more creative collaboration between the two roles. Education will also drive important changes and make sales professionals better marketers. Indeed, at the account or customer journey level, sales professionals with enhanced marketing skills will be sought after, especially regarding their segmentation, targeting, and positioning strategy abilities. I call this MarkSelling to help envision modern marketing and sales differently." - Joël Le Bon, Ph.D., Marketing & Sales Professor, The Johns Hopkins University


“Sales and marketing leaders will continue to see the increasing importance of building a revenue engine that aligns everyone’s efforts as the only way to connect with the modern buyer. The way buyers interact with B2B companies is in the midst of a seismic shift. Those that commit to the alignment transformation will be winners in the new b2b economy. Those that don’t will be at a stark disadvantage.” — Jeff Davis, Founder and Revenue Strategist, JD2 Consulting Group
“Historically we split the sales funnel in half horizontally, with marketing owning the top and sales owning the bottom. Increasingly with the highest-performing organizations in B2B, the funnel is split vertically with a slightly diagonal bent. In other words, marketing and sales now work together in nearly every stage of the buying and selling process. Marketing may own the majority of roles at the top and sales may own the majority or roles at the bottom, but it’s far more of an integrated partnership. I foresee this model taking hold far more broadly in the coming years.  The cultural change implications are significant, but the impact and efficiency gains are worth it.” — Matt Heinz, President, Heinz Marketing
“The distance between the two functions is become narrower every day. If this continues, there will be no distance. Rather, they will be one function united by automation.” — Tracey Wik, President, GrowthPlay
“Sales and marketing departments will need to be closer than ever before, because they won’t be able to survive unless each learns from the other. Marketing needs to learn it is not about blasting, it’s about personalization and relationships. Sales has known that for years, but that’s hard to do at scale. That needs to be figured out (that’s where the tech comes in). Sales will become more reliant on marketing as face-to-face dwindles with people leaving the house less and spending more time in-front of screens. Getting great, value-added content into sales’ hands to keep the sales team top-of-mind and adding value will still be keys to success more and more.” — Robert Knop, CEO, Assist You Today
“It’s a matter of necessity for marketers to become much more tightly aligned with sales over the next five years. The number one challenge facing marketers today is proving their worth. How do their activities contribute to the bottom line? How do their campaigns impact revenue? It has been notoriously tough to prove those metrics for CMOs, but today it’s no longer impossible. Marketing leaders need to work proactively with sales to measure how the content they create helps sellers move deals along quicker or improves win rates. Those that seek that level of cooperation with sales and find the technologies that can capture the resulting data are the ones poised to succeed today and into the future.” — Ed Calnan, Founder-President, Seismic
“Sales and marketing will become one department as marketing gets more results-driven and sales recognizes how to leverage content to move sales forward.” — Kurt Shaver, Chief Sales Officer, Vengreso
“Sales and marketing will merge more now that individual sellers can mimic the ongoing communications that marketing used to provide solely. Additionally, the human process of interaction won’t change but will become more vital. The cliché is sales and marketing don’t talk, and they need to talk more. The reality is if they don’t talk more and coordinate efforts, buyers will notice more than ever, and it’ll create increasingly challenging problems.”  — Mike Schultz, President, Rain Group
“The increasing complexity of both the marketing and sales technology stack will expand marketing's responsibility to identify, source, select, implement and support the tech stack. This leads to an even more intimate understanding of the customer lifecycle, bringing marketing and sales closer to being one under a Chief Revenue Officer.” — Bernie Borges, CMO, Vengreso
“Sales and marketing will continue to get closer and closer together. It was an artificial split to begin with, and as the buyer’s journey becomes more seamless, sales and marketing have to create alignment in their efforts. If it’s disjointed, the customer will sense that, and it will degrade trust and credibility. The leadership teams that get on the same page strategically, and therefore tactically, will see huge benefits.” — David J.P. Fisher, President, RockStar Consulting
“Sales and marketing departments are steadily coming together around customer experience (CX) and the need to deliver omni-channel engagement for clients. Segmentation is essential for every business, so they can direct expensive field sales resources where the necessary level of value can be created. Lower value, commodity transactions need to be marketing-driven via web, mobile, phone and channels. Yet regardless of the sales channel, buyers today expect us to 'truly know them' even before we’ve had an initial conversation. This means we must understand their industry, their organization, and them in their role. On that basis, they then expect us to tailor content and anticipate what is most important to them. Sellers need marketing to help create effective ‘buyer persona’ profiles, messaging and personalized content marketing that nurtures prospects to trigger engagement with sales at the right time.” — Tony Hughes, Managing Director, RSVPselling
“The gap between sales and marketing will have to decrease. Marketing will have to become more versed in ‘sales speak’ in order to ensure that they're viewed as a valued partner. All marketing content will have to be tied to the buyer's journey and revenue generating metrics and KPIs to be seen as usable and useful by sales.” — Roderick Jefferson, CEO, Roderick Jefferson & Associates

For more insight into the future of sales and marketing alignment, download the State of Sales Report today.