Roles within B2B sales and marketing organizations are rapidly changing. Sellers increasingly find themselves involved in traditional marketing activities, marketers are playing more of a role in customer service, and service teams are now on the hook for brand loyalty as buyer preferences change.
To better understand the effects of these shifts on today’s sales organizations, and how technologies such as CRM systems can help navigate them, Oracle conducted a survey of 200 sales professionals from B2B or B2B2C businesses across various industries in November 2021.
Survey results revealed several interesting trends, including how sellers feel about their changing role, their collaboration with marketers, and the tools and technologies they use—or would like to use—to make their jobs easier.
Our survey found that eight in ten sellers feel their roles have significantly changed since the beginning of the pandemic. And more than half feel it’s important that marketers recognize these changes—both what’s expected of sellers today and the resources they need to do their jobs well.
Survey respondents made it very clear: Marketing and sales are converging. Sellers find themselves playing more of a role in marketing activities. In fact, 80% said they now allocate more time to marketing tasks, such as creating customer references and email templates.
To further complicate the sales and marketing partnership, sellers also feel that the leads they receive from marketing often miss the mark. The vast majority of sellers (84%) say they spend a few hours a week or more qualifying marketing leads, while 86% feel that the leads marketers think are qualified, are not ready. In other words, sellers spend more time converting MQLs to SQLs.
Within this new challenging environment of digital and virtual selling, relevant marketing content geared toward current customer needs and demands is even more critical. Sellers need content that enables customer self-service and research, with helpful information for buyers at the right place at the right time.
Yet most sales professionals feel they’ve had a hard time finding the content they need to close deals. As one seller put it, “There’s a disconnect … Marketers don’t understand what we do.”
This lack of understanding can result in marketing content that falls short, leading many sellers to create content themselves. In addition, most sellers (88%) feel the marketing content they do get doesn’t resonate with customers, which can leave buyers with a disjointed experience.
With better sales and marketing alignment, sellers can have more say in marketing campaign messaging—something 80% of sellers wish they could do. They’re willing to collaborate with their marketing counterparts, despite some trepidation, with the hopes of improving the customer experience and making it easier to close deals.
But while 86% of respondents want sales and marketing to work more closely together, 88% say they still need the tools and technology to help make it happen.
Amidst these significant changes, one thing remains the same: 91% of sellers still use customer relationship management (CRM) daily. Survey respondents said they use CRM for:
While sellers still heavily use CRM, they want it to do more. Our survey found that 28% wish it would automate lead qualification, 46% wish it automatically recommended content to share with buyers, and 41% percent would like to see their CRM automate manual data entry processes.
And while automating mundane sales tasks doesn’t require artificial intelligence (AI), AI does have a role to play when it comes to automating or assistance in decision making. Yet, sellers are not completely comfortable relying on AI-powered technology to handle certain tasks. Nearly 80% of respondents would trust AI to surface relevant content, yet only half (50%) would trust it to direct their next customer action or generate a quote or proposal.
Sellers acknowledge that they currently face numerous roadblocks and need better tools to help them succeed. Smart companies will harness this opportunity by leveraging CRM software imbued with machine learning that empowers sellers and marketers to seamlessly and intuitively navigate the constantly shifting landscape with AI-powered guidance and recommendations—and come together to work as one.
With the right tools at their disposal, sellers can reduce time spent on marketing activities and required mundane tasks, and get back to what they love most: selling.
For more strategies and tactics to help you create smarter, more intuitive experiences for both buyers and sellers, watch the replay of Oracle’s Virtual Summit: How Organizations Help Sellers Get Back to Selling.
Download “Essential Strategies for AI in Sales Force Automation” for tips and best practices that set sellers up for success.
Learn more about the importance of CRM software.