This post is a follow up to our recent 3 Things Sales Reps Can Teach the Marketing Team and continues to reinforce a core theme around sales and marketing alignment. Different functional groups with different incentives and reporting structures are ripe for miscommunication and incorrect assumptions. Creating a common denominator based on shared purpose and an integrated view of the customer lifecycle from contact to close goes a long way towards creating and keeping alignment between sales and marketing.
Marketing should view itself as a service provider to sales building awareness in the market, attracting interested buyers, and providing the tools and supporting content to drive the process from top of funnel engagement through to a closed/won deal…and beyond. Given that mindset, the three main things that marketing teams need to teach sales representatives about marketing are:
1. Most leads are not in active buying mode
In fact, only a small percentage are interested in buying so the probability of engaging with someone at the exact moment they need what you sell is very low. Feedback on the leads that is broad, general, or otherwise not actionable is not helpful. As long as a proper set of sales qualification criteria is in place and agreed upon, the leads entering the funnel will all match the target customer. The hard part is finding those actually ready to buy now.
According to Steve Richard of B2B sales training firm Vorsight, at any given time, only 3% of your market is actively buying, 56% are not ready, and 40% are poised to begin. More great statistics on sales engagement and the buyer’s journey from the the AA-ISP Front Lines Conference available here.
This reality requires a focused and disciplined sales process where a prospect is guided through the buying journey first by the marketing team and their content that frames the problem or highlights the benefits of solving it then by the sales team to prove the value, overcome objections, and win the business. That is easier said than done in most cases so this requires frequent and constant coordination between sales and marketing leadership to choreograph this process correctly.
There is rarely a scenario in B2B sales where a lead enters the sales process and is immediately ready to buy without some level of sales engagement. Knowing this and planning accordingly is essential to an aligned sales and marketing process.
2. It is very important to share why a customer said “yes” and even more important to know why they said “no”
You can call this “win/loss analysis” or whatever you like but having a constant flow of information to understand what led to a customer win and what happened to create a customer loss is crucial. The efforts of the marketing team to attract potential customers, create content to engage with them, and develop sales tools to enable the sales process must be mapped to these winning outcomes and focused on any gaps that are in place causing losses.
These gaps could simply be an absence of proper case studies to highlight success with a particular industry or business scenario. These gaps may also exist among sales representatives where some have created their own materials to address objections they know will arise or where some just don’t know what is available because the existing sales portal is difficult to use and does not provide proactive help by highlighting what is most effective at what stage of a deal.
If the sales team is expending huge effort to move a prospect through the buying cycle only to lose at the end due to circumstances that should have been highlighted at the beginning of the process, then a revisit of the qualification criteria and what makes a good customer is required.
3. What is available to support the sales process and help close more deals
Best in class marketing teams are focused on creating the content and materials that map to top of funnel campaigns, middle of the funnel nurturing, and bottom of the funnel sales pursuit. This “revenue-centric” mindset in the marketing team means that there is a constant focus on developing tools and measuring their effectiveness.
Making these materials available to the sales team and building awareness among how to access them and best times to use them is a constant challenge. Preparing a packaged sales kit and distributing via email can create versioning issues and pushes the materials into a black hole with no feedback on their usefulness or role in the sales process. Posting them to a central portal or file share does not proactively insert tools into a sales reps workflow.
Sales representatives know from the front lines what is needed, what is working, and what is missing. Sometimes things thought missing are available, just difficult to locate. Often times, there is absolutely no feedback to the marketing team on what is being used or even what parts of a particular slide deck have been re-purposed in what way.
All of this can be addressed via an integrated sales engagement platform that inserts the best content and materials into the sales representatives daily activities (directly into a CRM system like Salesforce.com), provides constant feedback on effectiveness including metrics around actual sales pitches, and creates a unified view across all sales representatives about what is working and the rate of usage.