Why is Sales and Marketing Alignment Important for B2B Business?
When B2B companies are looking to boost revenue, they need to look not just to sales (more deals!) OR to marketing (more leads!), but sales and marketing alignment. When numbers are not being hit, it’s seldom rooted in one or the other, but stems from a lack of holistic alignment between them. In other words, sales and marketing simply aren’t getting along. You’ve seen it, the griping and finger pointing.
It’s easy to see how marketing and sales might not be on the same page. The head of sales is focused on one thing only – to make the numbers. Their days are full of pressure to hit quotas, meet with customers, negotiate contracts, manage the team. Marketing is focused on an entirely different set of goals that seem “soft” in comparison such as branding, impressions and sentiment. They are putting out programs and campaigns. Sales and marketing speak completely different languages.
Sales and marketing both have busy schedules and likely they only meet in a conference room when they give their monthly or quarterly reports. They might not even be in the same building or town! Different worlds, right? Not so much anymore. Both sales and marketing today are more and more data driven. As sales has moved from one-time legacy product sales to SaaS, Managed Services, and recurring revenue models, both sales and marketing must worry about customer experience and customer retention. Every year the customer needs to be “resold”. It’s the focus on customer retention that becomes a shared ground. If sales isn’t making the same promises or using the same messaging as marketing, customer experience suffers. No now we not only have the pressure to get the customers, but keep them as well.
What do I mean by sales and marketing alignment? Does that mean you should have a VP of sales and marketing to manage both from the top? Not at all. You need two leaders who are peers: both an experienced head of sales AND an experienced head of marketing. I talk about this a bit in What is the Value of a CMO. Here are three ways they can work in harmony to increase revenue and reduce churn.
“The new reality is that marketing needs to know more about sales, sales needs to know more about marketing, and we all need to know more about our customers.”
JILL ROWLEY | FOUNDER AND CHIEF EVANGELIST, #SOCIALSELLING
Sales and Marketing Alignment Along the Customer’s Journey
Sales and marketing must be engaged through the entire customer’s journey. Notice I didn’t say “selling process”. Today it’s about the buying process. No longer is B2B sales controlled by the seller, it is the customer’s journey. B2B buyers are better informed than ever, yet they also face more choices, more channels, more noise, and their buying process gets more complex and longer, rather than shorter and easier. The number of people involved in B2B services and solutions purchase has climbed to a whopping 6.8 people! (Source: CEB, HBR) Sales and marketing have to engage seven people for each deal! And to complicate things even further, new research from Gartner shows that the journey isn’t linear at all.
“The customer’s journey is more of a maze than linear path” – Kimberly A. Whitler, Senior Contributor, CMO Network
Marketing is no longer involved just at the top of the funnel (ToFU). The brutal reality is that there is no neat and tidy handoff where a single buyer becomes a lead, gets qualified by a sales development rep, and then is handed off to be closed by an outside closing specialist. And even if you managed to convince yourself that purchasing reigns supreme, the other six decision makers have to come along for the decision. This puts pressure on marketing to find those 6.8 leads and sales to engage, qualify and convert each one – just for a single deal! Today, an element of marketing alignment comes through nurturing the buyer throughout the entire journey. More on this in a minute when we talk about enablement.
Sales Enablement is a Unifier
When marketing rolls out new content to sales, often it’s a thought of as a distraction. Marketing content that’s not on point and doesn’t fit into the buyer’s journey will be dissed and dismissed by sales. To help sales be more productive, the right content needs to be easy to find and appropriate for each touch point. One of the facilitators for this is a Sales Enablement function which works together with product, marketing, and sales to put the right content at the right time in the hands of the right sales reps. Sales Enablement can act as a bridge between sales and marketing, translating the needs of both, creating effective processes, and identifying the right technology to support automation.
Read why Sales Enablement should be a priority.
Social Selling is an Imperative
Social media isn’t just for marketing any more. Social networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter should be utilized by sales to gather insights into individual buyers and to apply that knowledge to engage them. [Read about measuring your engagement with the LinkedIn SSI score.] Social selling is another vehicle for engagement, just like the phone or email. Don’t confuse it for a magic potion that eliminates cold calling, however. Social selling methods should be taught so your team is using it to attract rather than repel prospects and how it should be incorporated into their cadence for outreach. Used right, social selling is a venue to build trust and foster meaningful relationships with buyers.
“78% of salespeople who use social selling techniques are outselling their peers who are not.” – Jim Keenan, Sales Expert, A Sales Guy
Bottomline: in B2B solution and services companies, sales and marketing alignment shortens the sales cycle and links ROI directly to marketing content. There’s a goal that will make the C-level very happy. So reach across the aisle, and start a conversation. Invite your sales/marketing colleague to lunch and start a dialog. It’s a good first step.
Want to see how aligned your sales and marketing are? Take our 2 minute survey.
Oinkodomeo is a Sales and Marketing Agency. We focus on building a foundation for successful, customer-centric sales and marketing. We help B2B companies achieve business goals and grow revenue by mapping to the Buyer’s Journey and addressing each persona’s needs. We help with end-to-end marketing and sales processes; sales operations; sales enablement; playbook development; inside sales team development and coaching; social selling training using LinkedIn and Twitter, and appointment setting and cold calling techniques; lead generation; channel marketing; inbound marketing; content development; website development; RFP response planning; analyst relations; and branding.