Since the advent of the digital world, customers have become savvier than ever. They are better informed about a product before a business even realises a sale is pending. Gone are the days when demand was created solely by marketing via campaigns prompting a customer to respond, followed by the sales team converting the opportunity to a sale.
Now success relies on sales and marketing collaborating and getting better at tracking customer engagement, said Nick Baggott, director at Navigate Consulting, which provides customer relationship management (CRM), data, and digital marketing training services.
Inbound marketing expert Max Traylor, client services director at Innovative Marketing Resources, agreed, adding that sales and marketing are so interdependent that if they do not work together, company revenue growth will be seriously affected.
“There has always been tension between sales and marketing—differing agendas, incentives, and bosses,” Traylor noted. “Marketing is generally concerned with building brand awareness and generating loyalty among current customers. Sales is concerned with researching new prospects, lead nurturing, and closing business.”
End The ‘Blame Game’
The relationship between the two divisions has traditionally been rocky within many organisations. Strained relationships have arisen, in part, because it is easy for each party to blame the other for poor performance.
“Marketing teams will get frustrated when sales teams do not follow up on leads that their campaigns have generated,” Baggott said. “Sales teams get frustrated when they believe that the quality of the leads generated are not what they need.” In other words, according to Baggott, each team is frustrated by the other wasting its time and resources.
As the world becomes more focused on digital devices, the change in buyer behaviour prior to purchase is forcing sales and marketing to rethink how they work together. For example, according to Google research, “The Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing,” the average business-to-business purchase is 57 percent of the way through the decision to buy before a supplier sales representative is engaged.
Collaboration’s The Key
Sales and marketing, therefore, need to collaborate more and get better at tracking customer engagement, Baggott explained.
“This will help a salesperson to understand the value of marketing, if the marketing evaluation tells them where the potential customer is in their buying journey, and how marketing communication is helping to move them toward a decision,” he added. “Marketing analysis is a huge opportunity to both help sales understand the value of marketing and also inform them of exactly when a new prospect is ready to talk.”
Baggott said he believes that as soon as salespeople start getting helpful data that supports conversion opportunities, they will buy into how marketing can help them.
Integration Is Everything
Traylor said he is a firm believer that the most effective way to integrate sales and marketing in a digital world is through teams working together to create a buyer persona and a buyer’s journey model that is applicable to the most important customers.
“A model to help understand the buyer’s behaviour, information needs, and problems is central to anything sales and marketing does,” he explained.
Other top strategies for sales and marketing integration are establishing a chief revenue officer role and an integrated strategy through which content is shared between marketing and sales.
“Develop content driven by thought leadership that buyers will find when they are hunting for solutions at the start of their purchasing process,” Baggott said. “Marketing communications should be focused on getting this expert and helpful content shared in as many places as possible—amplify the content in social media, digital public relations, and encourage peer-to-peer sharing from users.”
Another avenue that can assist in creating a harmonious working relationship is tracking engagement.
Putting in place effective and well-used CRM software will mean the sales and marketing teams are on the same page, using the same processes and content.
“Invest in CRM software that will help capture data and track behaviour, then immediately inform sales as soon as customer online behaviour changes,” Baggott advised. “There is nothing more powerful than informing a salesperson that a customer is now interested in a product that they have not enquired about before.”
It is vital to share the engagement-tracking data between teams and collaborate so that sales and marketing learn the most effective ways to work together and find the right time to follow up on leads.
Finally, Baggott said, when you get down to the bare bones of the topic, sales and marketing simply have to work together: “To justify marketing, you need revenue as well as engagement.”
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