Today’s blog post is by Jeff Davis, keynote speaker and leading voice on strategically aligning B2B sales and marketing teams to drive growth. He also coaches mid-sized B2B companies on alignment and is the executive director of the fast-growing TheAlignmentPodcast.com. Engage with him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.
If you want to build a quality sales pipeline, stop asking marketing for leads. Instead, start asking for opportunities.
Simply asking marketing for more leads assumes that the traditional linear sales funnel is how today’s B2B buyers make buying decisions. It is not.
The B2B buying journey has become more complex due to digital transformation. In fact, an estimated 60 percent of B2B deals lost end in “no deal.” Thus, we’re not being outsold by competitors, we just aren’t helping the buyer navigate the decision making process adequately.
Today’s buyer is very connected, with nearly unlimited access to information. They operate within buying groups with, on average, seven stakeholders – all with different (and sometimes competing) priorities. Nothing gets sold until that buying group can reach a consensus.
Because of these challenging factors, sales reps must
- Clarify the true business issue that is causing the buyer’s pain
- Help them uncover solutions that can help resolve their business issue
- Navigate the internal decision making process to create consensus about choosing a product/service
Thus, talking about your features and benefits to a lead is not an effective way to build a strong pipeline. In fact, 62 percent of B2B buyers say they can now develop selection criteria or finalize a vendor list based solely on digital content.
To influence buyers, we must engage them much earlier in the buying process. We must find a way to get in front of them at the very moment they first recognize they can no longer tolerate the pain they have been dealing with up to that point.
How can salespeople achieve this? They can’t…not alone.
Buyers are not calling up your sales teams during their research phase and asking for their opinions. They are researching online. And, if you’re not there, they may not even know your product/service exists. Through speaking at and working with many different companies, I have seen this be particularly true with midsize companies that may not have the same brand recognition as their competitors. Thus, building a strong relationship with marketing is an absolute must.
Marketing has the unique ability to provide content to a vast number of potential buyers in many different ways (e.g., Website, social media, events). Content “sells” 24/7. It should also help buyers understand what they need, why they need it, why they need it now, and why they need it from you. Content is so important to the B2B buyer that 75 percent of them say that the vendor’s content has a significant impact on winning their business.
Here are four ways sales and marketing teams can start working together better.
#1: Schedule standing meetings to review revenue pipeline and marketing campaigns.
Leaders should be meeting at least weekly to discuss pipeline velocity and how sales reps can leverage the work that marketing is doing.
#2: Create educational experiences that bring customers and prospects together.
Educational experiences are a great way to provide value up-front and better understand what buyers are thinking about your product. People are more likely to attend an educational marketing event where they don’t feel like they’re being sold.
#3: Develop tools and resources that help sales reps provide personalized and relevant insights.
Marketing must empower sales reps with tools like ROI calculators, case studies, and customer persona guides so they can frame the conversation in the buyer’s terms and provide personalized insights to help guide the buyer through the decision making process.
#4: Leverage Account Based Marketing (ABM).
ABM is a powerful way to increase collaboration and focus between sales and marketing as well as become laser focused on a group of accounts that provide the highest potential for revenue – no matter the size of the sales or marketing team.
If you want to stay competitive in the new B2B marketplace, you must become better aligned with marketing. Tell them who you need to get in front of; don’t just ask for leads. This will help you build a more robust pipeline and decrease your sales reps’ time to revenue.