How can marketing support sales…this is a question we get really frequently from both B2B and B2C companies. Usually mid-sized businesses or growth-stage businesses that have hit a slow-down in terms of growth. Or, sometimes they’re older industries that haven’t done a ton of “modern marketing” and are still finding their way. Regardless, there’s a few things that we’ve found are universal in terms of how marketing can support sales…
1. Clear Communication/Integration Of Strategy, Tactics & Channels
It’s shocking how many companies have marketing in the left hand and sales in the right. Many times even sales driven organizations have key players and senior leaders “in the dark” on what marketing is planning, doing, and forecasting.
So consider this: have key sales stakeholders been involved in the strategy process for what marketing will focus on? Have they been partnered with on the tactics that may best serve their ideal customers and prospects? Are they even AWARE of what channels are being used to market? Often times the answer is a resounding NO to all of the above. Other times it’s more of a ‘well we tell them as it’s happening’ approach. The key word above is integration. The more you can integrate sales into your strat meetings (before anything goes down), the better. And if you outsource your marketing to an agency, they need to be pushing for face time with sales leaders as well.
2. Less Volume, More Quality
In terms of helping to generate fresh leads or inquiries, many companies focus on volume. A prospect is a prospect is a prospect. Nothing is farther from the truth. Time is a huge limiting factor. Sales teams want better quality leads, not more of them. Sure, more of BOTH is ideal. But sacrificing quality for quantity isn’t what sales teams want. They need more info. How they leads were sourced, more contact data points (location, area of interest, biz and personal phone, corp and personal office address, etc). More data is better. Further down the purchase funnel is better. Quicker hand offs from point A to point B is better.
Ask your sales team: What are the characteristics of our ideal customer? What makes one prospect more qualified than another? What information about a prospect is vital to the sales process? This may change your approach to how you generate leads, what info you collect and what channels you use. And if you aren’t sure how to apply what you’ve learned, hire people that know how to create and generate leads…even if it means replacing some current staff with outside resources.
3. Polish “Sales Stars” And Help Them Shine
One critical area of importance to sales people is their status in “the field.” Highlighting them as thought leaders, touting their awards and showcasing their success is something many marketing teams do a poor job of. Not just to boost morale or showcase to internal consumers, but to boost their standing with prospects and current customers.
When prospects see sales leaders are “in the news” it breaks down barriers to meetings and calls. It shortens sales cycles. It opens new doors that otherwise would be closed. Integrating sales into the content planning process, and even helping them craft their own content, is a key way marketing can support sales at any level.
4. Make CRM Use Easy (And Required)
Many organizations suffer from one of two key problems. One, their CRM experience is so poor that sales (or marketing) doesn’t really use it. This hampers lead nurture, marketing automation and overall data quality across the organization.
Two, sales teams are hesitant to “put everything on the computer” for fear that their value will diminish and others will have access to their personal relationships. They fear robots are coming for their jobs!
Regardless of which may apply to your organization, it’s marketing’s job to fix it. First, make the experience easy. Automate all that you can. Don’t rely on manual entry from sales people unless you have to. Let them focus on what they love and do best – selling. Not data entry. Second, you MUST create automated content (emails, direct mail, reminders, invites, etc) that “add value” and and help sales close more deals. When that is the outcome of CRM use, many of the excuses of why it’s not being used appropriately fade away. It’s up to marketing to make use mandatory – and the easiest way to do that is to make it awesome!
5. Fill Skill Gaps Quickly
The best sales people are often some of the smartest in an organization (sorry marketers, it’s true for many top performing companies). As such, they are quick to note when competition has better marketing, smarter campaigns, killer creative and email sequences that move the sales needle. They may (and should) demand more from your marketing team.
The right solution is to quickly find people that can fill existing skill gaps. Don’t settle. Using junior level staff for key marketing initiative is penny wise and pound foolish. Experienced teams of professionals, either agencies or outsourced digital marketers, can help you climb those mountains faster that you might expect.
In closing, marketing can support sales in so, so many ways. Many of them are common sense. But the bottom line is it takes integration, collaboration and most of all talent. You can handle the first two internally. If you can’t handle the third…please give us a call today!