To engage today’s demanding B2B customers more effectively, marketing and sales must collaborate across the entire buying process in ways that provide exceptional value to them. A strategic combination of marketing and personalized sales touches can move your prospects toward a sale faster and give them greater confidence that they’re making the right decision.
Highly-aligned companies achieved an average of 32% year-over-year revenue growth, while their less aligned competitors saw a 7% decrease in revenue, according to a recent Aberdeen Group study.
Effective alignment between sales and marketing can do so much to enhance the customer experience that we believe it can even become a significant competitive advantage.
The changing role of marketing
Traditionally, marketing focused on the early stages of lead generation and then quickly handed off leads to sales. Today, it plays a much larger role, designing and executing the customer buying journey and nurturing prospects toward a purchase.
But the marketing function should not do this in a vacuum. It needs data and insights from salespeople, who can provide critical insights into buyer behaviors, pain points, interests and preferences. They can also provide crucial feedback on which campaigns and tactics generated the highest value and which fell short. Ideally, marketing and sales need to operate in close alignment with each other to drive increased leads, sales and revenue.
The changing role of sales
Today’s seamless customer journey consists of multiple channels and types of touchpoints. Frequently, these may include a salesperson reaching out to learn more about a prospect’s needs and to answer their questions.
In organizations where sales and marketing are effectively integrated, we recommend that marketing create a repository of valuable content that’s focused on specific customer pain points and needs. Salespeople can then access this library on a self-service basis to select relevant resources and send them via personalized, trackable, one-on-one messages to key prospects. This approach is ideal for account-based marketing (ABM).
Why does this matter? Thought leadership materials are most relevant when they are delivered by someone the prospect knows and respects – such as a salesperson, an employee or a subject matter expert from your company. In today’s high-tech world, high-touch experiences like this matter more than ever.
A symbiotic relationship is a must
To support today’s complex buyer’s journey, sales and marketing must cultivate a symbiotic relationship. Ideally, marketing creates messages, content and campaigns for sales to execute. In return, the sales team provides feedback to marketing, which it can use to refine those assets and tactics to make them more focused and effective over time.
Salespeople are in an excellent position to provide marketing with feedback and insights on the campaigns and channels that produce the highest-quality prospects. Integrating engagement and sales data enables these smart teams to make data-driven decisions on where to deploy their resources for the best results.
Eventually, as your company builds a more data-driven operating model across sales and marketing, it can create a “playbook” that documents the best practices for nurturing and acquiring new customers.
Tips for successful integration
Shadow each other: Job shadowing between members of your marketing and sales teams can help them better understand each other’s’ needs and perspectives. It also gives them a unique opportunity to see the whole process through fresh eyes, which can lead to new ideas and improvements.
Work together to craft customer personas: Working together, marketing and sales can develop a more complete, realistic understanding of buyers’ pain points, behaviors and needs. Ultimately, it can help you focus your combined efforts on attracting more of the right prospects – those to whom you can deliver the greatest value.
Integrate marketing automation and CRM data: In order to have an end-to-end picture of the buyer’s journey, the data silos of marketing and sales must be broken down. Marketing needs to know which leads have advanced in the sales process, in order to analyze which campaigns and tactics have been the most effective. Sales needs to know the engagement level of their key prospects and current marketing results.
Ultimately, having a sales and marketing dashboard will enable you to track campaigns and spending in real-time. That, in turn, will enable you to make adjustments and improvements as needed.
Hold joint meetings: Both departments should meet on a regular basis to discuss recent results, questions and challenges. These meetings are ideal opportunities to form hypotheses, conduct experiments and continually enhance your marketing and sales processes.
What’s at stake?
As businesses become more data-driven and artificial intelligence enables sophisticated data modeling, we’re convinced that effective integration between marketing and sales has the potential to become a potent competitive advantage. On the other hand, failure to align these two key business functions could put your company at a significant disadvantage.
If you need help aligning sales and marketing to grow your revenue, download our new Faster Sales Conversions eGuide.