Source: Forbes.com/Becca Apfelstadt/Forbes Councils Member
I am a firm believer that marketing can and should be the sales team’s greatest asset.
But as anyone who has worked in sales or marketing inside a giant B2B corporation can attest (perhaps by way of missed goals or not-so-subtle jibes at so-and-so in marketing), there can be a significant discrepancy and misalignment between these two.
In fact, there are some staggering statistics out there that highlight this complex issue.
LinkedIn found that “9 in 10 sales and marketing professionals say they are misaligned across strategy, process, content and culture” even though the same number of professionals agree that aligning initiatives and messaging improves the customer experience.
And HubSpot reported in 2020 that “only 28% of salespeople said marketing was their best source of leads.”
While it seems like a no-brainer to sync these disciplines together, it can be a struggle. One silver lining coming out of the pandemic is the signs of a successful and improved marriage between sales and marketing.
Here’s how B2B companies can keep the fire burning (or at least get a swipe right):
1. Adopt a startup mentality to see a better partnership between sales and marketing.
In my experience, the only way to move quickly is through collaboration. To create a personalized customer journey, sales and marketing must work together to better understand and serve the end user.
But B2B behemoths aren’t exactly known for their speed. Much like turning the Titanic, it often happens slowly (and sometimes painfully).
However, this iceberg of a pandemic showed us that the companies that have been willing to fail fast and embrace a startup mindset are the ones that have and will come out of this alive.
We’ve also seen that being thrown into the deep end and finding out that you can, in fact, swim is a huge confidence booster. Clients are seeing that speed is possible and agility is achievable.
2. Treat digital as a primary tactic for reaching B2B customers, instead of as an add-on to the strategy.
Sales teams are now addicted to content. The pandemic unceremoniously shoved digital transformation onto the docket for industries that have a habit of clinging tightly to what has always worked.
But pushing relevant content out to a ravenous audience has to be both systematic and strategic — two things that cannot be achieved in silos.
Ask your sales and marketing teams questions like:
• What data are we utilizing to understand what content is driving sales leads?
• How are our digital and social media teams measuring KPIs? Are they successfully pulling insights and then marrying these with anecdotes from sales?
• Are marketing and sales measuring the same KPIs?
• How much time do we spend generating content that serves your audience vs. content that sells? Paradoxically, serving your audience results in sales, whereas pushing products and services rarely does.
3. Personalize marketing to equip sales to successfully woo your most valuable prospects and customers.
As customer interactions become briefer, more focused and more price-conscious than pre-pandemic, I’m seeing that personalization is here to stay.
That’s why some of our clients who have shifted from a demand-generation marketing style to account-based marketing (ABM) have seen the biggest successes.
Is your sales team blasting out email campaigns and postcards? Or are marketing and sales working cross-functionally to develop highly personalized content and premium direct mail that nurtures relationships across a years-long sales cycle?
Building custom treatments and experiences, even digitally, shows that you’re rolling out the red carpet for your most valued clients.
The buyer journey is ever evolving and businesses must collaborate across company functions to create a dynamic strategy that can adapt to meet those changing needs.
These strategies aren’t going anywhere post-coronavirus.
Because a newfound speed coupled with digital transformation and personalization have given B2B sales leadership a taste of success, I believe in — and will be a champion for — these strategies sticking around.
Will the happier marriage between marketing and sales remain too? Now is the time to allow the shift in the marketing-sales dynamic to produce results and long-term success. That success could not be created without the improved alignment and trust that has allowed marketing to step into the sales spotlight.