Your Go-To Business Report for Marketing and Sales Research

state-of-inbound-2017-ebook-475x475.pngConsumer habits are changing — drastically. That's the driving force behind inbound, after all. What your customers want today is different than what they wanted 10 years ago.

That means we must change the way we market and sell to match the way people actually want to shop and buy.

Lucky for you, we've been tracking these shifts for the past eight years. Below, you’ll find the 2017 State of Inbound report, covering the top challenges and priorities facing marketers and sales reps today, as well as a glimpse into future trends and channels that will soon affect the way we all do business. The inbound journey for marketers, salespeople, and executives alike is just getting started.

Together, let's adapt for the age of the buyer the inbound way: 

  • 63% of marketers say their top challenge is generating traffic and leads.
  • 38% of salespeople say getting a response from prospects is getting more difficult.
  • 61% of marketers believe their organization's marketing strategy is effective.

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Business Data and Insights

Marketing and Sales Need to Talk

What’s the most telling sign of an effective marketing and sales team? Departmental alignment. In organizations with a service-level agreement, marketers are more likely to say their strategy is effective and the sales department is more likely to grow headcount. But our data shows alignment isn’t always the case. When Marketing and Sales resort to a blame game, the customer stops being the priority.

  • 22% of respondents say their organization's sales and marketing relationship is tightly aligned.
  • 69% of C-level executives
  • 55% of individual contributors believe their organization's marketing strategy is effective.
Leadership and Employees Struggle Under a Growing Corporate Chasm

The divide between Marketing and Sales isn’t the only disconnect in organizations. Executives who set the vision for their company are on a different page than those individual contributors tasked with executing on that vision. If a business wants to grow, executives must prioritize communication and transparency in both directions.

Marketing Challenges and Priorities

Growing and Converting an Audience Remains a Top Concern

Marketing departments are becoming more data-driven, investing in closed loop reporting, and measuring success against higher level business metrics. This year’s marketing report found generating traffic and leads to be the biggest marketing challenge, followed by proving ROI and securing enough budget.

What are your company's top marketing challenges?

  • 63% Generating traffic and leads
  • 40% Proving the ROI of marketing activities
  • 28% Securing enough budget
  • 26% Identifying the right technologies
  • 26% Managing our website

What content distribution channels will you add in the next 12 months?

  • 48% YouTube
  • 46% Facebook video
  • 37% Instagram
  • 24% Messaging apps
  • 11% Podcasts
  • 10% Snapchat
Video Marketing Is a Growing Priority

Marketers are making the leap into visual content. Messaging apps and artificial intelligence are not far behind. This year, our marketing data shows respondents are feeling the pressure to experiment with new (and unpredictable) technologies and craft more personalized communication than ever before. How do they keep up with the times without leaving behind their goals?

Sales Strategy and Technology

What's more difficult to do in sales compared to 2 to 3 years ago?

  • 38% Getting a response from prospects
  • 35% Closing deals
  • 30% Identifying good leads
  • 27% Engaging multiple decision makers
  • 25% Avoiding discounting
Sales Prospecting Is Getting Harder

In our sales report, reps admitted that prospecting is getting more and more difficult. And considering consumers don’t buy like they used to, it should be no surprise. In the age of the customer, salespeople must take note of customers who shop through social networks, live on their mobile device, and research products on their own. In other words, leave behind the hard seller stereotype and become a trusted advisor.

How much time does your sales team spend performing data entry or other manual tasks?

  • 25% 0 to 30 minutes
  • 32% 31 to 60 minutes
  • 19% 61 to 120 minutes
  • 13% More than 120 minutes
Sales Reps Are Wasting Valuable Time

While advances in tech have produced new tools to improve sales results, reps are wasting a lot of time on activities that don't lead directly to new deals. Our sales data shows 57% of respondents spend up to an hour per day on data entry. Others indicated they need a lead scoring system to ensure they only work accounts likely to convert. Consumer buying habits are quickly evolving, and sales teams can only succeed by having the right processes, technologies, and training.

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