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Aligning Sales and Marketing Via Digital Transformation

One of the broader discussions we have nonstop is about how to better integrate the marketing and sales teams for improved success.

Under this line of thought, we came up with a discussion about understanding sales and marketing funnels for the best handoff to each department. The issue in that regards used to be the gross misrepresentation of the funnels, so much that they are usually consolidated and presented solely as a sales funnel.

But we cannot just stop on the funnels. Making sure both departments are in sync with one another creates the best experience for the client.

We are in the age of the consumer, underlining why this alignment needs to happen.

The Difference Between Sales and Marketing

Both sales and marketing are important to the success of any serious brand.

Even though we are campaigning for the bridge between both departments, their identities must not be lost either.

In an ideal process, the marketing process will always precede that of sales.

Marketing refers to all the efforts deployed in the sensitization, information, and education of potential clients about a product. It also trickles down to all of the awareness campaigns launched to get new clients – all part of the target market – to notice the brand and its products.

When marketing does its job right, leads emerge.

Sales is the team tasked with converting those leads into clients. At the stage where they are leads, things can go both ways. Thus, more effort is required to tip the scales such that the client feels safe enough to trust the brand and the product that it offers.

A clear understanding of these two departments is lacking in many organizations. That is why we see the sales team doing the work of the guys in marketing and vice versa. Even worse is when none of the departments carry out certain tasks, erroneously believing that such tasks are not within their purview anyways.

In the long run, this hurts the brand. Not as much as it hurts the clients, though. That is where the true problem lies.

Making a Case for Alignment

The in-house team at iResearch identifies a lot of trends and patterns that should be pursued to better the services we deliver to our clients. If there were no real facts behind it, we would not be spending time discussing why a marriage of the sales and marketing team needs to happen at all.

Already, the brands that have aligned both departments have seen a growth in sales – as much as 36%. That is more than a third of their usual sales being added on just because they chose to get both sides of the product-promotion cycle working together.

A good saying in statistical decision making is that you can make the numbers say anything that you want. Thus, marketers can see this as giving up too much control just to make the sales department look good.

That is not the right way to look at things.

The job of the marketing team is to bring in new business for the brand. If they cannot generate the leads – or if the sales team wastes the leads – the blowback will be on the marketing team.. This leads to the CMO tenure problem we have always discussed, cuts in the marketing budget, and such other unpleasant situations.

Already, sales and marketing teams that are not aligned are bleeding the company dry. In addition to leaving too much money on the table, Aberdeen’s research finds that brands with such teams are suffering a yearly 6.7% decline in revenue.

A synergy between both teams provides a successful model that keeps the brand trusting of their individual and collective abilities.

It’s the Age of the Consumer

B2C marketers were fast to catch on that we are not in the age of selling anymore. This is the age of the consumer.

The new consumer does not want you to sell to them anymore. They are expecting that brands empathize with them, identify their core needs, and be willing to help. The help is what they pay for, not necessarily the product.

The similarities between B2B and B2C marketing might not be highly pronounced but this is one of them.

If the average consumer can appreciate help more, then the B2B client is looking for even more from you.

We are also in a time when consumer data reigns supreme.

Marketing teams can collect the kinds of data that sales teams are not privy to – and vice versa. When discussing how to make effective data-driven decisions, quality integration of data sources was one of the top recommendations.

Isolated, the consumer data gathered by these teams can only do so much. Combined, the brand is set up for an explosive success on all fronts. The best part of brand success is how it is directly tied to the satisfaction of its consumer. You will not only be successful but have happy clients to thank you too.

Bridge Called Digital Transformation

The mention of digital transformation always brings a lot of things to mind. Chief of this is the fleeting idea of some big technology that will come to change everything.

That is not so.

Most of the digital transformation that you will need to make this happen is already available to you. Plenty of brands already have all it takes to go the whole nine yards. Without a clear path to the goal, though, those tools become useless.

Embracing the various channels of digital transformation below will help bring your marketing and sales teams together.

Customer Insights

In one of our previous pieces, we discussed a key difference in audience management with regards to B2B marketing.

There are a series of players involved in every purchasing decision. This involvement might not be direct but the opinions of those players carry a lot of weight. That is where things get challenging for B2B marketers.

Deciding the primary market is easy enough. With the data gathered from sales, though, the marketing team can get better at what they do.

A company that sells a piece of security software, for example, will like to appeal to the IT department of other brands. It will not be surprising to see that the final sale was made to the CFO’s office, not the CTO’s.

This is evidence of the fact that even though the CTO should be in charge of such acquisitions, it has to be signed off on by the CFO first.

Such insights will aid the marketing team to better craft and target content to CFOs of other brands. Instead of just putting out all the technical jargon that will make a CTO giddy, a cost-to-benefit analysis of such a piece of software will appeal to the CFO better.

Of course, that is just an example. With a ton of consumer insights floating around in different industries, your teams should be positioned to best capture the necessary insights and run with it.

Content Delivery

This brings us back to the already discussed marketing and sales funnels.

Marketing does not need to do all the work. The guys over at sales do not need to carry the entire weight of content on their shoulders either.

About 65% of sales reps complain that they cannot find the right content to send to their prospects. This means that after all the good work that the marketing team has done, the guys in sales do not have the right tools to follow up.

Here is where one of the worst client handoffs happen.

A client that has been nurtured from a cold lead to the extent where they could be handed off to the sales department is 50/50 ready to commit. They just need a small push and they will reach into their wallets for you.

Imagine if you ruined all that just because you could not find the right piece of content for them.

Here, the sales team should be equipped with the right set of content that allows for continuous consumer engagement. While the marketing team is nurturing the leads, sales should be able to keep the client interested. In the same vein, the sales team should have the right content to keep the client happy even after they have made the purchase.

Did we hear you say that should be the work of the marketing team instead? Wrong!

That should be the product of both teams’ joint efforts.

New Work Models

If both sales and marketing are to work well, there should be a change to how they both work together too.

The current economic situation created by the pandemic has shown why work should be taken online. The offline model is not dead, but companies that are enjoying success are the ones that have found a way to move their processes online.

Sales and marketing teams can also benefit from this change.

Collaborations of all players in the team might not always be possible in-person. Thankfully, most of the marketing and sales work is done digitally and online these days anyway. Bringing each other on board the digital platforms already in use helps to boost transparency, showing each department where they can help the other better.

Again, by helping the other department, each department is also helping itself.

In line with new work models are the need to establish joint KPIs. This remains one of the biggest issues plaguing any possible alignment between these two teams.

Sales teams like to talk about the numbers while marketing is hinged on the leads that it can deliver. Those are parallel lines that will not meet at any point.

The alternative to that problem is for both teams to communicate effectively on common grounds. While there are still personal KPIs for identity retainment, general KPIs ensure improved collaboration for the realization of brand goals.

Consistent Messaging

Does your sales team have access to the marketing funnel? Is the reverse the case also? If not, you are leaving your clients to suffer for it.

Your clients are the pillars of the business, so your brand is also suffering for it.

It is not uncommon for the sales team to call a product one thing, only to get a marketing email that calls the product another thing.

Other times, what gives off both teams is the tone and style of messaging that comes across. One time, it is that laid-back tone – and you suddenly get one over-the-counter style serious messaging. That surely gets the savvy client (of which most, if not all, of your target market are) concerned.

This will not happen when both teams are aligned.

Everyone already knows the kind of message that the client is used to. After warming up the clients for the sales team, the latter can continue with the same style of messaging. This becomes seamless that the client does not even sense the handoff as they continue to be tended to by seasoned professionals.

Otherwise, your brand becomes one of those where only 21% of the marketing leads sent to sales are qualified. For the remainder 79%, that is too much money you are leaving on the table. Worse still, your brand has just succeeded in creating an awareness in those leads which will take them to a rival.

In short, you will have begun marketing for your competition too.

Start Aligning Today

A clear distinction to make in discussions like this is in two words: mergers and alignment.

The sales and marketing team should NEVER be merged. These teams house different sets of professionals trained to see the market and prospects in different ways. Merging them will create a company-wide confusion on how things should be done.

Instead, they should be allowed to operate independently, but aligned where their interests intersect.

Thus, they are both powerful alone and together.

Done right, your brand earns a seat with the companies enjoying a 20% annual growth rate from making similar moves.

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