Breaking down the silos
One of the common themes in our work this month has been bringing sales and marketing closer together.
Whether you have a remote team of sales people in five countries, a business development associate representing you for a day or two every month, an in-house Sales Director or fee earners with BD responsibilities, they are all conveying your marketing messages, in person, directly to your target market.
Sales and marketing teams should be closely aligned. But that is more easily said than done.
The B2B purchase process has become more complex with more people involved in decision making. The greater a company’s investment, the harder it is to get a decision. The things that slow down the sales process at this point are all about content: the marketing material is too complex or difficult to share internally or it doesn’t answer the questions.
Marketing gets better when aligned with client-specific messages that the sales team uses. Sales increase (and cost of sales falls) when prospects already have a positive impression of the company or product – they’re halfway there – and when your sales person is clear about the company messages.
Aligning the two makes the customer journey smoother and their experience consistent, creating great working relationships and repeat business all round.
Let’s break it down
What does marketing contribute to the sales effort?
Marketing material. Good collaboration makes sure that this is structured properly, uses the right language and presents the solution to the problem that you are trying to solve for your clients. In a way that showcases your brand perfectly.
It’s important to note that the solution here isn’t more marketing collateral, it’s less, with clearer messages tailored to that particular audience. A longer brochure is definitely not a better one; a single attachment is always preferred to a few; always a pdf under 10MB or a link to a video. Think graphics not words.
Awareness. A prospect will look you up online. They will check your website and social media platforms, where it’s absolutely essential that what you say and how you say it reflects the conversations happening with the sales team.
Planning. Marketing is complex – far more than it was ten years ago – and getting a consistent message out on many, many platforms at just the right moment doesn’t happen easily.
For example, someone has booked an exhibition stand for a conference… just pitching up on the day with an armful of brochures isn’t going to cut it.
Create great content for you (a video? a scrolling presentation?)
Engage with the conference organisers to gain insight into the programme and the attendees, and to encourage them to contribute to your social media conversation about the event
Promote your involvement to current, potential and lapsed clients and collaborators – and tell you how interested they are
Use the conference content to create insightful pieces that inject your company into the conversation and engagingly present your knowledge in that field
All your BDMs need to think about is those sales leads. Oh, and making sure that they support their colleague who is now delivering a speech on the main stage.
What does the sales team contribute to the marketing effort?
Top of the heap: customer insight. No-one is closer to the market than your sales team. Your BD rep understands the issues your clients are facing, the solutions on the market and what makes them buy or recommend one service provider over another.
Content. Writing an article, crafting a blog, making a video, creating an animation… Input from the sales team makes it more relevant (see above) so that it speaks directly to that potential investor.
Data. We are marketers – we love data. But it’s only useful if it’s up to date and relevant. Post-GDPR, our client databases are far cleaner than they were, but good data hygiene is a Sisyphean task. Marketing automation means that email engagement, website analytics and social media activity can be plugged directly into your CRM. But adding new contacts, updating information, sharing leads and understanding where your prospects are in their purchase journey (and what’s got them there) relies on the sales team adding data.
Your CRM: a marketing tool that relies on input from the business development team to provide useful business intelligence.
Ambassadors. Whether it’s in meetings, presentations, representing the company at an exhibition, hosting a table or attending a networking event, your business development people are your ambassadors. It is essential that they feel good about the company, that they have some insight into interesting work happening in other teams and that they are on message. Neglect them at your peril.
Sales and marketing – two sides of the same coin. We hereby coin a smart new word. Smarketing.