The rise of big data and artificial intelligence have forever changed the way we do business. And that’s been especially true for corporate sales and marketing teams. There are thousands of new vendors popping up each day with a pitch to improve your marketing and sales effectiveness, based on the latest technological breakthrough.

It’s impossible to keep up with all the changes to the sales and marketing field. But it’s important to do so to anticipate the challenges they will cause in your teams. That’s why we asked the panelists at our recent sales and marketing alignment meetup to share their predictions for biggest challenges sales and marketing teams will face over the next five years.

Bridging the Gap Between Account based Marketing with Account-based Selling

As account-based marketing increases its popularity, there’s an increasing need for tools to translate that data into insights to drive smarter sales approaches.

“I use a great tool called Terminus,” said Jenny Coupe, Sr. Director, Americas Marketing, Akamai. “I like Terminus because it talks directly to Salesforce. With Terminus, I can actually run data out of Salesforce that shows the sales team, ‘Hey, I know that you’re talking to Sally at Petco, but you need to talk to Mike because Mike’s actually the guy that’s been downloading content and visiting our website.’”

Getting sales to hear and accept this sort of insight starts to show them the value of ABM, and starts to bridge the gap between ABM and account-based sales activities.

“I think over the next five years sales is going to get pulled into account based selling,” says Coupe. “You can’t do ABM if your sales team doesn’t do any account based selling. It doesn’t work. So, bridging that alignment between an account based marketing strategy with an account based selling motion is going to start to converge over the next couple years.”

Sales Tools Need to Bake in More Best Practices

Sales and marketing leaders are constantly grappling with tough decisions. Like what region are should you hire your next sales person? And where should you focus your marketing efforts? Unless you have a sophisticated customized system, you’re essentially doing nothing more than just guessing. The current tools available leave much to be desired.

“I think that tools have a long way to go to,” said Jason Dorfman, Inside Sales Manager, Rubrik.

Dorfman noted organizations grapple with deciding on how to define opportunities and when to move leads from one stage to the next. And all too often, without guidance or benchmarks in hand, people either default to doing what they did at their last employer, or blindly experimenting with what they most recently read in a blog post.

“I’d like to see more tools that have some more out of the box, best principles and best practices baked into it,” said Dorfman. “I think the tools now leave so much room for either someone’s political influence to come into the processes, or just to make mistakes that farther down the road don’t scale with the company.”

Organizational Structures Struggle to Mesh With Data Realities

In many companies, sales patches are too often carved up with an eye to geography instead of data-driven insights into where the biggest customer opportunities are located. When combined with a one-size-fits-all quota, it’s not surprising when squabbling over lead flows ensue.

“With data, you can build a case why quotas need to be a little bit different in this part of the country or that part of the world. It all makes sense now. It’s logical and you can go back to something and prove, ‘This is why we did it’ versus having the reps constantly bickering about who’s getting how many leads. There’s real science behind it.”

For more insights from our panelists, check out the previous installment in our six-part The New Sales and Marketing Engagement series.