Today, B2C and B2B buyers are more educated about the products available in the market. They’re conducting the majority of their research and buying process online. Traditional outbound sales strategies do not work like they used to and salespeople have experienced a decrease in sales leads because of the change in buyer behavior.
Marketing efforts, however, can now be tracked with a definable value, meaning companies can determine which initiatives are driving sales and which are not. It is imperative for companies to engage with prospects during the prospect’s online research and discovery process. Thus, marketing is in a position to take the lead on attracting, engaging and converting prospects into viable sales leads. This leaves the sales team more time to spend on building relationships and closing sales. But to realize this effect, it’s necessary to devise one integrated strategy leveraging the specific attributes of each team.
Sales and marketing alignment in a well-functioning company
Alignment is when sales and marketing operate in lockstep. Both parties speak the same language, share common goals and work together, day-in and day-out. They both understand who the buyers are and what buyers require during the buying process. A highly functioning sales and marketing team should be sharing prospect and customer data to facilitate stronger sales. For this, strong communication is essential.
Strong communication, internally and externally, is a benefit in and of itself. It leads to higher customer satisfaction, shorter sales cycles and greater sales.
Many companies, however, are locked in to the old-school way of thinking, which is to dismiss marketing as “arts and crafts.” Marketing has come a long way over the past five years, but it will never have the impact or create value in an environment that lacks the leadership needed to drive the cultural change required for success.
Another common impediment is that smaller companies do not have a marketing department. There must be a team dedicated to marketing, regardless of company size. My belief is that smaller companies benefit from an agency model versus hiring internally. The vast skill sets required for sales-driven marketing cannot usually be found in one person. Regardless of your preference, someone needs to be dedicated to marketing. Whether the marketing team is internal or external, companies need to consider how marketing can play a role in sales.
Further, marketing software and sales software must be integrated. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and Marketing Automation (MA) software should be talking to each other and data should flow through them accordingly.
The critical components of a successful sales strategy
It’s important to understand and define what buyers are looking for at each stage of the buying process. That includes where and how buyers prefer to find and consume information.
Up to 70 percent of all buying decisions are made online so a strong digital marketing strategy is paramount. A company must be relevant to its prospects and customers where they prefer to consume information. Whether it be social media, email, through the company’s website or in a LinkedIn group, it’s critical to engage them where they prefer to be engaged.
Two other basic components are a system for collecting and analyzing sales and marketing efforts — because that which gets measured gets improved — and the patience and the desire to learn from mistakes.
For companies just starting the sales and marketing alignment journey, consider HubSpot’s marketing automation platform with a built-in CRM system. Any marketing automation software and CRM system will do, however, as long as the flow of data can be integrated.
Professionalize your approach
Buyers have changed the way they buy and conduct research, which necessitates that companies change the way they market and sell. We have seen, first hand, how an integrated sales and marketing strategy can benefit a company. At a minimum, take a closer look at how communication is conducted with prospects and customers, and take the steps needed to professionalize the sales and marketing approach.
For tips and strategies on how to align your sales and marketing efforts, call Chris Peer and SyncShow at (440) 356-1903 or visit www.syncshow.com.