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LeanData B2B Alignment Revenue Engine Mar2020When it comes to driving revenue at B2B firms, a large majority (84%) of professionals in the space agree that both sales and marketing share revenue responsibility. A similarly broad consensus (78%) exists around the notion that consistent revenue growth is a challenge in B2B, according to the more than 2,400 respondents to a recent survey [download page] by LeanData and Sales Hacker. So what might be getting in the way of revenue growth at B2B firms – and is there an answer?

The Age-Old Alignment Issue

Despite the agreement on shared responsibility, close to two-fifths (37%) of those surveyed don’t agree that sales, marketing and customer success teams are well-integrated and aligned in their companies. Indeed, separate research by Walker Sands shows that virtually all marketers and salespeople agree that these teams can be less siloed.

So, where is there room for improvement? The area in which the need for improvement in alignment seems to be most pressing concerns data. When asked to rate their level of alignment between different teams on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being broken, 10 being optimized), data scored a middling 5.71, the lowest of all rated areas. Close behind were the issues of go-to-market planning (5.75), which addressed cross-functional and integrated processes for planning, budgeting and other areas, and infrastructure (6.00), namely about the integration of tech across the revenue teams.

By contrast, the end-to-end process of lead management across marketing, sales and customer success, scored the highest at 6.71.

Revenue Operations as a Solution?

While the importance of marketing operations has previously been covered, bringing together this function with counterparts in sales and customer success (i.e. creating a revenue operations function) appears to be an increasing practice, as found in the LeanData and Sales Hacker study.

When the survey was first run in 2018, some 20% of respondents claimed to have a revenue operations group within their company, with a further 15% building one. Fast forward a year (this latest survey was fielded in 2019), and almost one-third (31%) reported the presence of such a group, along with another quarter (27%) stating that it’s being built.

Although the current minority adoption suggests that it’s still early days for revenue operations, some 57% of those yet to possess such a team state that their companies are either moving to this model now or will do so in the future.

Barriers and Approaches to Revenue Operations

Given the complexities of driving B2B revenue, getting teams from sales, marketing and customer success to act in unison requires more than just addressing data or technology issues. When asked to rate their challenges in moving to revenue operations on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = most pressing, 10 = least pressing), culture was the most significant issue, with an average score of 4.50. The two other top challenges were resourcing (4.52) and inconsistent and siloed data (4.61).

On the question of culture, this might at least in part explain the lack of clarity regarding the current alignment of operations between the key teams responsible for the bottom line. Around 4 in 10 (37%) said that there was no formal revenue operations team, but that there was virtual alignment. Meanwhile, 29% stated that operations teams were somewhat centralized and fewer than one-fifth (17%) had a centralized team.

So, who will lead the way in the future? Of those companies already boasting a revenue operations team, the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) is most likely to be the person with ownership at the C-Suite level. Around one-quarter (26%) of existing teams report to a CRO, followed by the CEO (20%) and the COO (17%). As for CMOs, only 6% of the current cohort report to them. Given that CMOs already struggle with collaboration among their colleagues at this level, it might be in their interest to proactively take shape of revenue operations as its adoption rises.

The full report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Figures are based on a Q4 2019 survey of 2,462 B2B sales and marketing professionals, mostly in North America.

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