Revenue, that’s the name of the game in 2017. And has been for a long time.

We’ve heard a lot this year about AI, machine learning, and the like. But regardless of what lens you approach the revenue problem, there’s one constant. Success comes down to the right people, processes, and technologies. Combining these three elements in today’s data-abundant world is the key to success. But this continues to be a pervasive challenge for B2B go-to-market teams. Especially in the current buzz-heavy, ‘jump on the next trend’ world that we live in.

Yet, bridging the customer-brand relationship isn’t so simple.

Being able to filter through the deluge of noise can help you focus on the right trends. Looking out for technologies, strategies, and organizational thinking that helps your company excel.

To help answer this question, we reached out to thought leaders in the B2B space. These are marketing and sales leaders with a proven track record of driving scalable growth. In this post, we highlight some of the top findings we heard from them. Check out the list and learn about the key trends you should keep top of mind this year.

B2B marketing and sales predictions from experts

1) Jon Miller, CEO and Co-founder, Engagio – Twitter

“In 2017, the industry will start to realize that ABM isn’t a technology category, it’s a business strategy. To succeed in B2B markets, you must embrace this. Move the focus from leads to accounts, and cover the fundamentals of lead-to-account matching and analytics/metrics. Only then can you go on to other parts of ABM, like orchestrating highly relevant plays leveraging multiple channels across multiple departments. Make this shift and your chances of success skyrocket.”

2) Scott Vaughan, CMO, Integrate – Twitter

“Mastering the full customer journey is the clear mission to maximize revenue and profitability. Lead generation and a ‘net-new’ effort alone won’t cut it. Marketing is doubling down on smarter top-funnel strategies to identify and engage the right pros at the right companies. Working with sales, marketing’s focus is also extending beyond MQLs shifting resources down funnel on revenue generation, including post-sell advocacy, cross-sell and upsell.”

3) Dave Rigotti, VP of Marketing, Bizible – Twitter

“When marketing starts planning, optimizing, and measuring, all marketing for revenue we’ll see a huge shift in not only focus, but also additional business growth and improved alignment culture. There will always be an art to marketing, but gone are the days of leads and MQLs as goals — sales deserves better and so do the organizations we serve.”

4) Matt Heinz, President, Heinz Marketing – Twitter

“Two words – operational alignment. Mere alignment isn’t enough, just because you say the same things is mere lip service. Operational alignment means coordinated action towards the same revenue-producing objectives.”

5) Adam New-Waterson, VP Demand, RevJet – Twitter

“2017 is a back-to-the-basics, focus on proven results, kind of year. No distractions from ‘shiny purple squirrels’, instead focus on the fundamentals. In the 2nd half of the year, I plan to investigate (beyond the hype) how AI can make my team’s life easier. We might scale this up going into 2018, but it’s not going to fundamentally shift focus in 2017.”

6) Sam Melnick, VP of Marketing, Allocadia – Twitter

“Marketing and sales leaders will shift their focus from campaign execution and the question ‘what activity is planned next?’ Instead, they’ll spend more time on the strategic ROI of their decisions behind the scenes, asking ‘where should we spend our next dollar with confidence?’ This is a shift to revenue operations and Marketing Performance Management”

7) Satya Krishnaswamy, Head of Personalization, Adobe – Twitter

“The hurt caused to companies (of any size) by the technology silos between marketing and sales departments will force a fundamental relook at how they deploy these technologies. Marketing & sales can no longer afford to be separated technologically or strategically – bridging the age-old gap has to happen now to ensure continued revenue growth.”

8) Adam Stein, Principal, APS Marketing – Twitter

“Marketing and Sales continue to gain big data, AI and automation intelligence within B2B use cases. Auto-discovery and population of relevant prospect, customer and sales information into CRM is nearly a given today. LinkedIn and its new parent in Microsoft further this initiative by creating an intelligent rolodex to better communicate with customers, partners, and prospects.”

9) Garrett Scott, Marketing Director, Quip – LinkedIn

“Without a doubt, the ability to fully understand buying patterns and collect accurate & up-to-date data on prospects’ interactions across the customer lifecycle will fundamentally transform how sales and marketing go about their day. Tracking behavior through various touch points and unlocking related insights will become synonymous with the success that GTM teams see across their efforts.”

10) Chris Hemberger, Senior Director of Corporate Sales, InvisionApp – LinkedIn

“As buyers become increasingly savvy and informed, B2B sales organizations will have to operate more like customer service organizations and shift their attention toward ‘assisted sales’ vs. selling proactively.

Also, as people become more comfortable with AI/bots, sales and marketing teams should look to employ automated sales bots on sales oriented landing pages. This will more promptly assist buyers and simultaneously reduce spend.”

11) Bilal Jaffery, Digital Strategy, Deloitte Digital – Twitter

“We’ll see a shift in marketing with CMOs becoming more responsible for growth strategies in an effort to focus on marketing effectiveness. This shift will force the CMO to wear multiple hats, from being a customer champion to a technology champion to a data champion to architect the optimal experiences marketing, sales, and service organizations that drive bottom line results.”

12) Mark Woollen, Chief Product Officer, Radius – Twitter

“2017 is going to be the year when companies really think about growth in a smarter, more holistic, and comprehensive manner. By capitalizing on comprehensive data to drive more intelligent marketing actions, marketers will finally be able to connect with prospects and customers in a more targeted manner. In turn, B2B marketers will draw inspiration from their B2C counterparts to leverage intelligently targeted, omnichannel marketing campaigns – focusing on delivering a seamless, unified experience to truly scale growth.”

13) Mark Yeager, President and Co-Founder, Yeager Marketing – Twitter

“The biggest change will be the way sales and marketing teams interact with each other. More sales teams are taking to social selling – marching to their own beat. Additionally, because of rapid changes in traditional marketing such as ABM, and the increase in technology advances like AI, teams need to transform the way they interact to be effective in today’s modern marketing.”

14) Shari Johnston, SVP Marketing, Radius – Twitter

With the rise of ABM, a more focused GTM strategy and continuous blending of inbound and outbound we will see increased necessity for sales and marketing to play nice in the sandbox. Winning organizations will have marketing AND sales accountability for hitting their revenue targets, instead of blaming or celebrating just sales.

15) Jordan Gadapee, Chief Creative Officer, Radius – Twitter

“This year will be the year of differentiation. The explosive growth of the MarTech space (5,000+) vendors requires more clarification. The bulging list of feature buzz words like A.I., Data Science, Machine Learning, or Predictive no longer function as a differentiator. Being able to stand out in a creative, story-driven manner, will define tomorrow’s winners.”

16) Sam Ruchlewicz, Director of Digital Strategy & Data Analytics, Warschawski Public Relations – LinkedIn

“Two things working together: (1) a massive increase in customer/data analytics that can be used to generate deep, sophisticated buyer insights; those insights, in turn, will cause (2) an increase in data-driven, sales-marketing alignment. The organizations that are able to leverage their customer and business intelligence to create behavioral models of potential customers and secure buy-in from sales teams willing to use bespoke solutions will be the ones that succeed. Prospects are simply overloaded with offers and pitches; the companies that find a way to cut through the clutter with the right message and the right time are the ones who will succeed.”

17) Siddharth Bharath, VP of Growth, Thinkific – Twitter

“The rise of bots, combined with advanced in AI, will allow marketers to engage with and qualify leads at scale. Smart bots can effectively guide prospects through the funnel, essentially replacing human SDRs, to drive sales calls and even sales.”

18) Kyle Golding, CEO, The Golding Group – Twitter

“Going extremely deep with customized messages and specialized platforms to a highly receptive and loyal audience will replace wide approach mass marketing. Follower numbers are not as important as interactions and engagements. More soft or no ask/call to action marketing focused on community building, experiences and lifestyle over product-specific messaging.”

19) Jared Franklin, Product Manager, Blispay – Twitter

“We’re going to see a blurring of the lines between product development, product management, marketing, and sales from the perspective of the end buyer. Buyers have too much information hurled at them from all angles each day. To have a shot at them buying, companies will need to enable them to try and experience the value hands-on far earlier in the buyer journey than in the past.”

20) Khalid Saleh, CEO and Co-Founder, Invesp – Twitter

“Creating relationships with customers through personalization. That’s the major shift in marketing will be seeing in the short term. You can segment your customers according to various personas and adjust your content to answer most probable pain points. That’s powerful for conversions. And it is just starting out.

Bottom line: Personalization is the major shift in marketing in 2017. Tending to customers’ specific needs is the marketing strategy that will gain customers’ hearts.”

Wrapping it up

While this is by no means a comprehensive list, the common trends are still worth noting. Differentiating offerings, especially in buzz-heavy spaces, and implementing mature strategies are key trends.

Keep these technologies and trends top of mind. Identify what works in the context of your business and start implementing. The actions you take today will dictate revenue growth later in the year.

Stay tuned for more detailed posts on major trends and predictions we envision for 2017. In the meantime, watch this video discussion of executive peers on the seismic market shifts that leaders can capitalize on in 2017 and beyond.