The Marriage of B2B Sales & Marketing
You may refer to your Sales Department and your Marketing Department as your Sales and Marketing Team , but are they really? Historically, the marketing team casts a wide net, bringing in as many potential leads as they can, and then they pass it off to the sales group to whittle them down into qualified prospects that will hopefully pan out. All too often, marketing is thought of as mainly for lead generation when there should be a much greater relationship with the sale. Whether you’re working with an internal marketing team of a Fortune 500 company or a local agency, too often the marketer/s have no clue what its like to stand in front of a procurement team and close a sell. As much as this is a fact, the sales person often doesn’t understand the difficulty and expense of attracting new customers. Whether is new sales or account management, its often a hard task to keep sales people focused after the sell, make it hard to maintain higher retention rates. There has to be a much larger investment on both departments to attract, gain, and retain customers.
There are many flaws if this is the culture of your sales & marketing departments. Your Marketing Department should be all about your company’s brand and keeping its message clear and consistent across all platforms. By doing this, they are focused on attracting a large group of potential leads to the company, the leads that your sales team should be prepared to close. They look at a type of customer, and they’re great at showing them everything your company has to offer. But there can be a lack of understanding as to what the client needs on an individual basis. Your Sales Department, on the other hand, focuses on the individual client and has a direct, one-on-one relationship with them. What a lead looks like to each of them can be vastly different. So how do you get them to work together to find the same leads, close sales, and retain the customer?
The Common Goal
Although Marketing may think their goal is many viable leads and Sales’ goal is to close as many deals as possible, their goal is ultimately the same: Increased revenue. By understanding that the way to reach that common goal is to close the gap between Marketing and Sales by working together, your company can expect exponential growth. Both should understand the vision of what your client looks like, what they need, and how your product answers that need. If Marketing and Sales can get together through every part of the customer cycle, they will deliver a much better product to the customer. Below we will identify some ways to improve the relationship between the Marketing and Sales Teams.
Reaching Those Goals
Define Your Customer
It’s important to clearly define what your ideal customer is, and Sales’ will have a better idea who this is because they’re the ones who see who they’re closing deals with. What is their size? Industry? Budget? Marketing can cast that wide net, but Sales will waste a lot of time throwing back fish. A clear-cut picture of your customer will allow Marketing to use this information to better direct their efforts to a more focused audience. Together, your Sales and Marketing team can fully understand who your customer is. I often see B2B companies that still have a bunch of residential/consumer business. A struggle for many companies is understanding how attract B2B clients and not consumer. Do marketing materials make it clear of the customer you are wanting to attract? Is your website content written to reach your target market? Does your sales person feel comfortable turning away those that really aren’t in your target market?
Have regular collaborative meetings. Ideally, these would be in-person meetings, but many companies today have a workforce that is scattered around the country or the world, so virtual meetings would work as well. They should be held on a weekly or monthly basis so that everyone stays consistently on the same page. The meetings should be a time for both Marketing and Sales to come up with more effective content and relevant topics for blogs, etc. They should be giving detailed feedback to each other on campaigns and sales functions, helping both department to have a better understanding of each other.
Use the Same Terminology
Being united means sounding united. It’s important that both Sales and Marketing use the same terminology. Both teams should understand the values of your product and how it answers the needs of your customers. There should be many transitional and direct calls of action to take the customer through the understanding of your product until they are ready to buy. The sales and marketing team should use these call to actions to close sales and grow revenue. Your client should be able to take your marketing materials and perform a similar presentation to that of the sales person.
Analyze Successes and Failures
Analyze successes and failures together as a group. Marketing knows what brought customers in and Sales knows what made them sign. What do the successful deals have in common? What do the failed ones have in common? What attracted the customer to you in the first place? Was there any content in particular that converted them? Blog topics they responded to? By looking at what worked and what didn’t, Marketing can narrow their target audience or focus their content on different areas. At the end of the day, metrics speak for themselves. Either the marketing campaigns produced, or they didn’t. Sales either closed, or they didn’t. If either department fails, it will guarantee the failure for the other. If something fails, evaluate, and go again.
I have always found that after I experience the grass on the other side of the fence, its not as green as I think it is. It is good to allow sales people to be a part of brainstorming and development of marketing campaigns. Split them up to work along side of marketing so that they get to see what goes into it and how challenging it can be. Its possible that sales will be able to offer direct insight to what might “speak” to the prospective customer. You should also allow marketing to be a part of sales presentations. Allow them to see and feel the pressure of the emotional roller coaster ride sales people face. Maybe marketing could offer ideas to streamline presentations and understand what the customer expects.
As with any good marriage, communication is key. Lack of communication means your Sales and Marketing groups are not aligned. Sales are more in touch with customers. Marketing knows what brought them in to begin with. By marrying the two, there is a greater understanding by all. When Marketing and Sales are two separate entities, there is often animosity between them. If a sale falls through, Marketing thinks Sales dropped the ball, whereas Sales thinks the materials and content from Marketing were ineffective. Working together gives everyone the same expectations and knowledge and a greater hand in the successes. It allows Marketing to come up with more effective content, and Sales gets more insight into the customer by being involved earlier on. Marrying Sales and Marketing, making the two halves whole, will make prospects easier to pitch to, the sales process move more smoothly, and revenues go up. And everybody lives happily ever after!