Marketing and Sales to Merge in 3 Years

A new study by Marketo and The Economist shows a majority of chief marketing officers (CMO) believe that marketers will own the majority of the sales experience in the next three years.

The study, which polled 478 CMOs and senior marketing managers, found that while less than half of respondents believe marketers currently control the customer experience, nearly 55 percent believe marketers will be responsible for the customer journey in three years.


Marketo CMO Sanjay Dholakia believes the shift will fundamentally change the role of marketers within organizations as a whole. “Marketing is really the new sales function,” Dholakia says. “In three to five years marketing is going to be the de facto owner of the entire customer journey. We’re also moving toward a world where marketing is the new customer service. It is a huge elevation.”

As marketers take on more and more responsibility for customer relationships, from first point of contact to repeat purchases, the definition of “engagement” has changed to include all points of sale, not just brand recognition. More than 60 percent of marketers say that “engagement” means customer renewals and repeat purchases, while just more than 20 percent of respondents measured engagement by brand awareness.


The shift in the definition of engagement represents a shift in the way that marketers view their function, says Dholakia. Rather than focusing on one-off advertisements, such as Super Bowl spots, Dholakia believes marketers must now focus on maintaining long-term relationships with consumers.

“In a classic [purchase] funnel, engagement now refers to the bottom and the middle activities [the purchasing stages], whereas people used to think of engagement as purely emotional mass marketing,” says Dholakia. “Engagement now means relationships with customers that are longstanding, where they are buying, renewing, and repeat purchasing, rather than thinking about engagement as a one-time emotional connection. We’re all realizing that real engagement is about having a relationship.”

As job descriptions and even vocabulary around marketing changes, most marketers agree that the time to change is now. More than 80 percent of survey respondents reported that the structure and design of marketing organizations needs to change over the next three to five years. Thirty percent of respondents agreed that the need for change is urgent.


“There is a massive sea change coming here,” Dholakia says. “When you think about this massive shift to digital in our everyday lives, marketers are the only people who can get above the transactional fray to look at the customers experience holistically across all touch points – digital and online – and turn them into a cohesive set of interactions and develop a true lifelong relationship. And that reality, I think, bore itself out into these statistics.”


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