The numbers prove it: Sales and marketing just aren’t playing well together in most organizations. A not-so-small industry has sprung up to attack the issue of sales/marketing alignment, but the problem is so deeply entrenched that it may never be fully eradicated.
That’s a little weird when you think about it. After all, there is plenty of research that shows that getting sales and marketing to work as a team is enormously profitable. Furthermore, the two sides are confronting problems that parallel each other. The issues facing marketing are mirrored, in many cases, by issues confounding sales.
However, if the two sides can’t work together on basic things — like lead definitions, for example — then there’s little chance they can compare notes and combat shared frustrations.
Following are five areas where sales and marketing are aligned — by having similar problems they need to solve.
In marketing, especially since content marketing has gained stature, one of the toughest tasks is understanding the customer journey. If a prospect clicks from a piece of content to a demo or asks for a sales call, that lead certainly was influenced by that last piece of content.
However, that probably wasn’t the only thing that influenced the decision to contact the business; it was likely the final link in a chain of activities. Understanding this progression is not easy — but it’s important to ascertain the real ROI of your inbound marketing efforts.
Sales has a similar problem, especially when selling involves more than one contact within the sales team. Typically, it’s the closer who gets the commission, but increasingly others on the sales team may contribute to the completion of the deal.
How do you track that cooperation, and how do you compensate those sales pros who collaborated but didn’t actually close the deal?
Marketers long have fretted about the customer experience, especially in a B2C setting. Crafting memorable, personalized experiences is vital to building brand awareness and loyalty with consumers.
However, the B2B experience is finally starting to be appreciated — and it’s very different from B2C. The B2B buyer gets to define what the buying experience looks like; marketers have to concern themselves with understanding what those definitions may be and set the groundwork for them. Since most B2B buyers do a lot of research before ever speaking to the seller, it’s critical to use the right content to create an experience in order to earn that initial contact from the buyer.
Sales people increasingly are concerned about the customer experience, too. It’s not enough to get a signature on a contract. A customer who didn’t have the desired experience will be less inclined to buy from the sales person again.
Especially in a subscription economy, setting up the next sale by building a good relationship and creating an experience that makes the buyer want to buy again is vital to both revenue and profit margin. Because of that, some businesses are altering their sales compensation to factor in customer experience and satisfaction.
Marketers long have seen the potential in social media and have been exploiting it for several years. There are still pitfalls, however. When handled the wrong way, social media allows marketers to embarrass themselves faster and in front of more people than ever before.
Social media marketing successes are frequent, but the faux pas stand out; as social media evolves, marketers still aren’t certain of the best ways to make it work for their businesses.
Sales also is groping toward a full understanding of how social media is changing its methods.
More than 52 percent of marketers said that social media had changed their companies’ sales and marketing processes — but nearly 68 percent of sales people said it had made an impact on their companies’ processes, in an as-yet-unpublished survey by CallidusCloud.
Learning to use social media is not the issue for sales — it’s using what’s learned about customers in the right way. Just as marketers are finding, learning by trial and error can be uncomfortable and hurt sales.
Content marketing is emerging as a critical subset of the marketing department — but many organizations are treating it as a tactical rather than a strategic activity. Content is created for the needs of the moment, with little understanding of how it all hangs together or how a buyer would navigate through it toward a buying decision.
Worse, it’s not easy to keep track of content over time, and most organizations fail to schedule reviews or index content so as to understand what may be outdated, what’s still good, and what can be packaged in marketing campaigns.
Sales faces a similar content issue: As more is created, it becomes harder and harder to deliver the right content to customers at the right time. If marketing isn’t able to index content for its own use, it’s unlikely that it can recommend the right content to sales in every case.
Tools like configure price quote (CPQ) help by delivering the right documentation automatically when a proposal is created, but most businesses don’t yet have CPQ or other technology that can duplicate this automatic function.
It is rare when marketing goals are decreased. The call for more leads or better quality leads — or both — is constant. Although technology is helping to expand marketing’s reach, there are only so many buyers. Reaching the right ones at the right time is an ongoing battle. To help their sales organizations increase revenues, marketers must continue to shave the time from the collection of leads to their qualification and passage to sales.
Sales is under the same pressure: Quotas continue to increase even as sales forces remain lean. For sales reps, that may mean the need to work bigger territories; for managers, it requires ever more careful planning and hiring to bring in the numbers.
Sales’ calls for more leads or better leads may go unheeded, leading to extra work prospecting and added hours to their workdays. While SFA tools may automate some basic tasks, most of the job still requires sales to put in work to close the deals.
Sales and marketing have much in common, but they have yet to unify around a common objective in many businesses. The common objective seems obvious: increased sales and revenue.
Unifying to pursue that single ultimate goal can unite sales and marketing. On the other hand, remaining misaligned will perpetuate problems the two sides could be helping each other to solve.
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