Today’s post is by David Kerr, COO of TinderBox. He brings more than 20 years of experience in executive management, business development, marketing, and sales.
The age-old angst between sales and marketing will never disappear as long as marketing leaders are driven by metrics such as leads generated – and quota attainment serves as the sole north star for sales. However, a new generation of sales and marketing leaders are emerging, bringing with them an entirely new focus on the first unified metric in selling: customers.
Since the explosive growth of CRM in the late 1990s and early 2000s, companies have sought the idea of a unified view of their customer, with teams across the organization driven to delight prospects and customers alike with a seamless experience. Today, that concept is becoming a reality as companies unify teams, metrics, and focus around the customer.
In working with world-class sales and marketing teams around the world, there are four key concepts that make customer focus a reality. Here’s a quick overview of each and how teams can begin to integrate each into daily operations.
Create an Ideal Customer Profile
Historically, sales and marketing teams are among the most expensive organizations in a company, with companies like Salesforce investing as much as 53 percent of its revenue in sales and marketing. Not every company can – or should – devote half of its revenue to sales and marketing. The rapid expansion of marketing tech has improved marketing’s ability to measure efficiency, but friction still remains: while sales measures one set of metrics, marketing often measures another.
To overcome this challenge, companies should create an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), with sales and marketing working together to create an ICP that includes a list of attributes that signal the best prospects and customers. Creating an ICP provides both teams with a set of common attributes and metrics, allowing marketing to search for and deliver the most qualified leads and sales to close customers that are the best long-term fit for the business. In addition to aligning more closely and driving better deals through the pipeline, sales and marketing can move from a cost center to a profit center.
Set Common Metrics
The most important element for any company – regardless of size – is consistency. Once a common set of metrics has been established, it’s critical to keep them as consistent as possible, adding new metrics only to improve the overall success of the business.
Chasing the latest KPIs makes it difficult to measure company health over time. Focusing on the fundamentals is key. Is a company retaining customers? How much is it costing to keep them? Is product adoption stable and rising? These are the core questions company leaders answer – quarter over quarter, year over year – to measure long-term company success. Common and consistent metrics also allow sales leaders to compare their companies with others in their industries, providing a benchmark of best-in-class organizations. This provides a way to examine metrics and methods against competitors and peers, and adjust as necessary.
Develop a Customer Timeline
Companies should abandon the notion of a “sales and marketing timeline.” It’s about the customer – not about you. Sales and marketing must prioritize creating a healthy customer experience. A customer timeline focuses on the teams using the same language, creating the best content for prospects, and concentrating on client success to ensure long-term retention. If marketing can understand what prospect traits make the best closed-won deal, and sales can understand which prospects are ideal initial leads, both teams will increase sales and close more, better deals.
Remember, Buyers Are People
With all the talk of metrics, KPIs, and timelines, it’s easy to lose sight of customers as people. Successful companies build relationships, manage expectations, and solve problems together. The goal of both sales and marketing is to find, nurture, and close deals. But the work doesn’t stop there. A company must create a healthy business transaction and a healthy business relationship over time. From marketing materials to sales development and the late-stage sales process, each step must focus on a customer’s unique pain points, working with them to solve them, and building a partnership that enables a customer to achieve sustainable growth.
Monthly and quarterly goals are important, but they should serve to bolster the viability of a business for years to come. Sales and marketing are critical to this. Giving them the tools to work together in a frictionless environment will not only improve a company’s business, but the business of its customers.