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Marketing and sales have been traditionally set up at SMBs to run independently of each other in both B2B and B2C settings. Your marketing efforts generate interest in your products and services, qualify prospects, and hand off leads to sales. If your salespeople are effective, they close on a high rate of these qualified prospects. But if your business is like many SMBs in the verticals we serve, increasingly competing against larger competitors, this “handoff” model is no longer working as effectively as it once did.
Your buyers’ mentality has changed. Now, in B2B environments, 57 percent of buyers’ decisions are made before they ever speak to your sales representatives, according to Gartner. In B2C retail settings like hardware and office supply stores, buyers are educating themselves about significant purchases before they walk through your doors. They are researching on their own, accessing information online, and through peer networks.
So what does this mean for your sales and marketing strategies? Your salespeople need to work hand-in-hand with your marketers. Your marketers must understand buyers’ interests and pain points, and should hand off ready-to-buy leads, whether to your sales road warriors, phone representatives, or in-store salespeople. But that’s just the beginning of the teamwork.
Consider these ideas to create a more aligned sales and marketing team:
When your sales and marketing people are at odds, your buyers lose interest or get exasperated. In a customer-centric culture, sales and marketing form one team. They agree on common performance metrics and targets. They work together to produce marketing materials like online reports and in-store signage. They share information to better understand what a buyer needs at every point in the decision-making process, in order to advance toward the sale.
To help salespeople close at a higher rate, marketing should view sales as its customer. Your marketing people know your salespeople as individuals, working with individual prospects and clients, each with unique messaging needs. Marketers work closely with salespeople to develop messaging and communications that deliver personalized value. In this relationship, marketing – sales parallels the sales – customer relationship.
Your market people must be your company’s experts on target customer segments and they should provide sales with the intelligence on buyer personas, needs, pain points, and selling opportunities. In B2B organizations, marketing delivers dynamic reports showing how customer organizations are structured, how they engage with products, and what behaviors (such as filling out an online form to download a report) are linked to sales opportunities.
As customer solutions are generated for sales, now sales reports back to marketing on its progress. Sales representatives guide messaging and content development for specific intervals during the sales process to ensure each prospect receives the information he or she needs. For example, after a sales call, a prospect may need to receive an email showing how the products just demonstrated compare to competitors’ in price and value.
Enriched by the steps above, marketing communications are now tied closely to sales solutions. They’re more informative and more personalized to unique customer segments. Sales representatives can now engage in insightful conversations, differentiating your solutions not just by their features, but by how well the customer can envision using them.
Each marketing contact is followed by an immediate and purposeful sales engagement with the customer. A marketing email could trigger a sales call, or an in-store video could trigger a planned conversation with a salesperson. Timely, relevant conversations lead to value-added relationships. It’s the quality of your relationships at this point that best predicts sales conversions and customer retention.
The sense of peak efficiency and accomplishment after each sale is now shared by marketing and sales, or what has now become your marketing-sales aligned team.
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About the Author