State of Industrial Sales & Marketing Report

Findings and Insights from Databox & Weidert Group’s B2B Benchmark Group

B2B manufacturing and industrial services companies face unique challenges going to market. Their products may be components of other companies’ products, or they may be sold through complex distribution channels. Deal sizes are typically much bigger than consumer purchases and can take anywhere from weeks to more than a year to close, often involving technical vetting and/or purchasing committees.

Comparing B2B industrial manufacturers’ marketing KPIs with retailers or ecommerce companies doesn't make sense.

As a discipline, B2B industrial marketing is vastly different from consumer marketing — and manufacturers in complex industries deserve their own B2B marketing benchmarks. That’s why we partnered with Databox to launch the State of Industrial Sales & Marketing Benchmark Survey in 2023. And as of the end of 2023, here are our findings... 

weidert employee giving a presentation on the state of industrial sales and marketing

Overview & Methodology: Who Did We Survey?

The survey, completed in December 2023, explores the adoption, integration, and impact of digital marketing and data management systems and tools across revenue operations teams (marketing and sales in particular).

It included 111 respondents primarily from small- to mid-sized B2B manufacturing companies, but also included distribution and logistics partners, B2B industrial/mechanical contractors, and manufacturers of consumer products.

Respondents’ roles represented a wide organizational cross-section of sales and marketing professionals and executives.

Average Employee Counts Chart
Roles Surveyed List
First Year Revenues Poll Results Bar Chart
Sales Cycles Poll Result Bar Char

Participants answered a questionnaire covering a range of topics from digital marketing practices and sales strategies to content development, lead generation, and use of artificial intelligence (AI).

Executive Summary

The pandemic acted as a catalyst for digital transformation in marketing and sales, accelerating a tectonic shift in what makes for effective marketing and sales strategies — especially in B2B sectors.

Since then, the rise of automation and AI are once again revolutionizing the way companies market and sell their products. This transformation isn’t merely a trend; it’s a fundamental change that underscores a growing need for seamless collaboration and data integration between all revenue operations (RevOps) teams. Tools and technologies available today are helping B2B industrials:

  • Fine-tine audience targeting and model buyers’ journeys with data-driven insights
  • Automate tasks, processes, and workflows to drive efficiency in lead nurturing
  • Create and personalize marketing content, campaigns, and communications
  • Share data access and monitor performance — of tactics, assets, and people — in real time, at a glance

Yet, when we asked what systems they used to manage leads, a significant number of respondents said they were still using spreadsheets (or worse):

  • Sales CRM: 78
  • Marketing automation: 34
  • Spreadsheets: 25
  • Reps use their own judgment handling leads: 8
  • Sticky notes: 3

Deal Size and Sales Cycle Length

Because average deal size shapes marketing and sales approaches and outcomes, we segmented findings into two categories: companies with deals under $50,000 and those with deals exceeding $50,000.

This segmentation sheds light on tactical differences and adds a more nuanced understanding of the ways deal size can influence marketing decisions, sales strategies, and resource allocation.

Average Deal Size 71% from $5,000 to $50,000
Average Deal Size 80% over $100,000

A vast majority of respondents told us their Sales and Marketing teams work toward shared objectives aligned to organizational growth goals. But as we dug deeper, gaps surfaced:

83% Sales & Marketing Share Goals Chart
49% have Sales & Marketing Service level agreement Chart
61% Sales and Marketing Teams us same CRM chart
36% Opportunities by word of mouth and 29% website Sales chart
39% Website, 20% Word of mouth Qualified Leads Marketing Chart
78% Use Sales CRM to Manage Leads Chart

The disconnects suggest a strong need to better integrate Sales and Marketing, clearly define lead quality, and properly attribute leads to sources.

The observed disconnects highlight an urgent need to better integrate Sales and Marketing, particularly in the context of navigating disruption and rapid change. Clarity around lead quality and source attribution will help, but revenue teams also need to cultivate adaptability, versatility, and a shared willingness to experiment to respond to evolving market dynamics.

As Sales and Marketing evolve from separate-but-aligned teams to a unified revenue team, they’ll be better positioned to capitalize on new opportunities and overcome obstacles in times of fast-moving change.

Which Tools Do Sales & Marketing Teams Want?

We asked which types of tools and technologies are critical to Sales and Marketing teams’ success. Here are their responses, in ranked order (respondents could select all that apply):

  1. CRM
  2. Website content management system (CMS)
  3. Search engine optimization (SEO) tools
  4. Marketing automation
  5. Dashboard / business intelligence tools
  6. Sales enablement tools
  7. Customer service tools
  8. Quote management tools
  9. Digital asset management (DAM) tools

Which marketing assets perform best at generating leads?

We also asked which types of marketing assets have been most successful at generating leads over the past year (respondents could select all that apply):

  1. Digital written content (blogs, ebooks, whitepapers, tip sheets, etc.)
  2. Digital advertising
  3. Social media
  4. Videos
  5. Traditional media (TV, print, radio, trade shows)
  6. Podcasts

B2B Marketing BenchmarkSurvey Findings


Customer Relationship Management Solutions

The vast majority (83%) of respondents agreed that their Sales and Marketing teams have shared goals aligned with organizational growth goals.

This suggests that many respondents recognize that alignment is a critical success factor for business growth, and that alignment’s not a realistic goal without data visibility and shared access to a single truth. A shared CRM allows for more data-driven and efficient workflows, making customer relationship management, marketing strategies, and sales processes smoother and more effective.

The survey data supports the significance of CRM systems in managing customer relationships in the B2B manufacturing sector. It highlights a correlation between company size, deal value, and the level of CRM system adoption, with larger companies leading in the integration of sophisticated CRM solutions. 

Among companies with more than 200 employees, there’s a trend toward unified CRM system adoption, with 68% indicating their teams share a CRM. Conversely, only 28% of smaller companies report using a unified CRM system.

26% of smaller companies operate without any CRM system, a stark contrast to only 2% of larger companies.

The gap in CRM usage also aligns with deal values. Companies reporting higher average deal values (over $50,000) show greater use of unified CRM systems (61%) compared to those with smaller deal values (56%). This trend reflects the broader shift towards digitalization and data-centric strategies in the B2B landscape.

When it comes to monitoring leading business development KPIs, a similar pattern emerges:

47% Access to real-time data, 25% manual bar chart

SLAs: Sometimes Adopted, Not Always Embraced

Service level agreements (SLAs) between sales and marketing teams define roles, expectations, and deliverables of each department to the other. These formalized agreements play an important role in helping to align goals and foster cooperation and collaboration.

The use of SLAs to foster cooperation is more common in larger companies, where departments might otherwise operate in silos. Larger teams experience a greater need for structured processes to manage complexity, more extensive product/service portfolios, and bigger customer bases. So it makes sense that companies with more than 200 employees are more likely to report the adoption of SLAs. Yet, less than half (46%) report formal SLAs in place.

Even among six-figure deal values, fewer than half of respondents have implemented SLAs.

The smallest companies are much less likely to have formal SLAs, with only about 26% indicating their use.


AI isn’t just another tool or marketing asset; it’s a disruptor that’s generating a sort of dual-narrative in B2B industrial marketing. Sales and Marketing teams report drastically different adoption rates, but an even greater distinction lies between smaller-deal companies and larger-deal companies in our survey.

In general, marketers appear to have embraced a greater number of AI use cases than salespeople — which makes sense, given the media attention garnered by large language models’ generative capabilities and marketers’ need for content. 

But more than half of Sales teams at larger-deal companies, and more than a third at smaller-deal companies, reported they weren’t using AI tools. Considering the amount of time people in these roles spend on repetitive and time-consuming administrative tasks, they could be missing out on opportunities for automation to find them more time in the day to focus on developing relationships, understanding individual customers’ needs, and closing more deals.

More time for the human side of the job, in other words.

Whether businesses are ready or not, artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the ways organizations can approach sales and marketing. Survey data provides insights into how teams are adopting AI, particularly with a focus on AI’s applications in content generation and lead scoring.

Among the most popular AI use cases in marketing, content generation tools stands out:

AI Use Case - 50% content gen, 36% SEO, 24% Development bar chart

AI adoption by Sales teams is less widespread.

AI Adoption - 26% Sales, 22% Call Transcription

As AI capabilities advance — and it’s happening fast — the maturity gap between Marketing and Sales could widen. Proactive training and change management will be in demand to unify adoption.

Companies with more than 200 employees are leading in AI adoption. These firms often have the resources and infrastructure already in place to integrate AI into their sales and marketing strategies. Smaller companies exhibit lower AI implementation rates, whether due to limited resources or a focus on more immediate, tactical business concerns.

34% Large Companies AI Content, 20% SEO
12% Smaller Companies AI Content, 6% SEO

One standout use of AI is content generation. AI’s capability to help practitioners create relevant, engaging, and SEO-optimized content at scale is particularly attractive. Large language models (LLMs) and applications created to use them streamline the content creation process — and they can also help ensure consistency in quality and messaging.

Higher revenue bands correspond with the use of AI for sales scenarios like conversational intelligence, predictive analytics, and workflow automation. Respondents’ qualitative feedback indicates an appreciation for the personalization and efficiency gains AI can bring, and its use in demand generation and sales conversations.

Lead scoring is another area where AI is making inroads. Companies are utilizing AI to assess and prioritize leads based on a variety of factors, including engagement, behavior, and demographic data, to help sales teams improve conversion rates and efficiency.


Survey data indicates that respondents believe written content, like ebooks and whitepapers, is highly effective in lead generation, with 65% of respondents identifying them as key lead-generating assets. Digital channels like social media (42%) and digital advertising (43%) are also recognized for their effectiveness.

Larger companies, often dealing with higher-value transactions, tend to rely heavily on comprehensive, detailed assets like whitepapers and case studies. These asset types can help illustrate capabilities and build trust with prospects for high-value deals, while quick, direct communication tactics like social media and digital advertising can effectively extend reach, making them appealing for small companies with limited resources.


Lead Generation and Sales Attribution

Salespeople say they get the most opportunities from:

  • Word of mouth/referrals from existing customers 36%
  • Our website 29%
  • Online campaigns 14%
  • In-person events (trade shows, etc.) 5%
  • Offline/traditional advertising 2%
Salespeople Icon

Marketers say most qualified leads come from:

  • Our website 39%
  • Word of mouth/referrals from existing customers 20%
  • Online campaigns 19%
  • In-person events (trade shows, etc.) 8%
  • Offline/traditional advertising 4%
Marketers Icon

Other key sources mentioned by respondents include:

  • Selection consultants
  • Distributors
  • Partners
  • One-to-one sales visits

Notably, when we drilled down by deal sizes, differences arose in sales attribution. At companies with smaller average deal sizes, Sales team members attribute more than half of all sales opportunities to their websites and online campaigns. On the other hand, Sales teams at companies with larger deal sizes give their website zero credit for lead generation.


Instead of navigating through the sales process built around the sales team’s needs, inbound flips the script. It redefines the process from the buyer’s perspective, and provides opportunities for salespeople to truly add value.

It’s a matter of understanding the buyer’s world through a three-part buyer’s journey of awareness-consideration-decision:

Marketing Assets Success Bar Chart



Conclusion and Recommendations

The December 2023 State of Industrial Sales & Marketing Benchmark Survey reveals wide gaps in the adoption, integration, and impact of digital technologies across RevOps teams at B2B industrials.

This benchmarking research highlights the need for B2B manufacturers to evolve their revenue operations in the face of increasing complexity and rapid change. While alignment on broad revenue goals is commonly claimed, tactical disconnects around processes, systems, metrics, and responsibilities persist. 

Deal size and company scale appear to be key determinants of go-to-market strategies. Smaller teams and lower-value deals may call for distinct approaches from bigger companies and larger-dollar deals. 

Based on the findings of the survey, these are critical areas large and smaller companies need to address to improve Sales and Marketing effectiveness and accelerate growth:

  • Implement unified CRM systems to centralize prospect and customer data, enable transparency, and break down operational silos
  • Implement complementary technologies in marketing automation, analytics, and sales enablement
  • Implement structured, two-way SLAs and process agreements to standardize lead scoring and qualification, handoffs, and reporting
  • Proactively train and incentivize SLA adherence
  • Educate and train users in Sales and Marketing on AI capabilities and use cases
  • Develop pilot programs and document successes using AI to showcase benefits and identify opportunities
  • Review mixes and allocations — channels, asset types, and asset performance — based on segments rather than aggregate program results
  • Institute shared reporting and planning sessions to increase transparency, accountability, and goal alignment
  • Emphasize skill development in areas like sales coaching and consultative customer engagement to maximize human impact — especially while implementing greater use of AI for administrative tasks

Fostering collaboration, unifying tools and systems, and tailoring tactics to specific customer segments represent critical improvement opportunities. But above all, manufacturers must break down data and organizational silos between teams. With the right tools to integrate operations, share insights, and educate teams, complex industrials can overcome fragmentation and unlock performance gains.

Get Help Aligning YourGo-to-Market Teams

Increasing complexity doesn’t have to mean longer sales cycles, more ambiguity, or a growing disconnect between your teams. In fact, there won’t be a better time to start leading your revenue teams toward data-driven, unified operations that work in full alignment with your business goals. 

In the end, breaking down internal silos presents the biggest opportunity — even if it feels like the toughest obstacle — for improved performance and continued growth.