Today’s guest post is by Bill Butler, CEO of Journey Sales.
As someone who meets with many sales leaders across various industries, a question I hear frequently is, “What investments can I make in 2016 to improve sales effectiveness?”
My response: “If you want to improve sales effectiveness, invest in marketing.”
This catches many by surprise. But I’m not talking primarily about ramping up lead generation efforts. Rather, I’m referring to a more radical approach of marketing taking responsibility for specific stages of the sales process.
The chasm between sales and marketing is well documented. A typical Type A sales personality has a hard time giving up control of anything, and ego frequently prevents salespeople from admitting they need help from marketing.
However, sales needs to pull marketing into the sales world. Why? We have entered the age of digital engagement – and marketing has developed customer engagement solutions that are far ahead of anything sales has done to date. While sales continues to push phone calls and emails, marketing is “digitally engaging” with prospects and customers.
Sales still owns the execution of the primary sales activities, but marketing takes on the early- opportunity development to build a greater quantity and quality of pipeline. They also own post-sale customer education. These continuous efforts to engage key executives lead to improved retention and cross selling.
To get the most from this alignment between sales and marketing, both teams must work together to make sure digital engagement with prospects and customers is more personalized. It should not look or feel like a traditional marketing campaign. The goal should be to craft an experience that supports and advances the buyer’s journey, based on each buyer’s needs and preferences.
Here are two additional points to keep in mind.
- According to CEB research, an average of 5.4 buyers participate in each B2B purchase decision. This means marketing must educate and engage both individually and collectively. This is about engaging the buying team with the selling team. In addition, it’s critical to monitor the digital body language of the buyers.
- Align your content to the buyer’s journey. As we engage more, we need to nurture with relevant content and messaging. It’s critical to have content assets that appeal to the various personas of business, IT, and finance – the three departments that, according to CEB research, typically work together on purchase decisions.
The selling experience – not just the sales cycle, but how we engage with customers throughout their entire life cycle – is more important than price or brand. In fact, we are beginning to see account-based marketing (ABM) embraced by the marketing technology vendors and select companies. This a limited approach because it lacks personalization and can’t be effectively distinguished from a marketing campaign. Understanding the digital body language allows salespeople to more effectively call behind and engage with customers. That’s what sales effectiveness is all about.
To succeed in today’s environment, stop thinking about the traditional sales cycle and start thinking about a “digital first” strategy that will make it easier to buy from you. In turn, that will make it easier for your salespeople to sell.