Marketing, Sales - We Need To Talk

Posted by Owen Matson, Ph.D. on March 8
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Tunnel vision is both a good and bad thing.  At its best, tunnel vision means a laser-sharp focus on goals.  At its worst, tunnel vision blinds us to the unexpected opportunities that emerge just beyond our line of sight.

Beware the benefits of tunnel vision

The danger is particularly relevant in the context of marketing and sales, where the tendency to get siloed into isolated departments can lead to the loss of valuable collaboration.  And while the gap between marketing and sales has long represented a perennial challenge, the rise of inbound marketing brings new opportunity and incentive to cross departmental boundaries.

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Inbound marketing offers ways to rethink the entire conversation between marketing and sales. There is a perception that collaboration, if and when it does take place, only helps when marketing talks to sales and sales talks to product.  Yet collaboration, like a jazz session, can go in a variety of unanticipated and fruitful directions. Collaborative creativity allows for different verticals to help each other for the greater good of the company.

When it comes to sales and marketing, a great opportunity exists. The key is to begin the conversation. To that end, here are a few questions a marketing team can ask their sales reps:

Ask your sales team to explain the sales process

This one is fundamental: marketers should understand the sales process just as well as they know their own marketing funnel. In many cases, they should be directly linked to one another and thus, it’s important for marketing to get a grip of how it works, and their role in its delivery. Some of the sub-questions to this piece range from “how do you begin a conversation” to “how long does it take for you to get the product in front of a decision maker?” These questions are critical to establishing synergies between marketing and sales.

  • What are the most common objections to our product or service? Make sure to discuss any major objections.
  • Do you communicate primarily through email or phone? 
  • What materials, charts or presentations do you give? And at what stage of the process?

An important question often missed is, "what happens if a contact isn't ready to buy?" This can be a critical point where those contacts should be returned to a marketing workflow rather than being lost forever.

Don't be afraid to sit in on sales calls or meetings to get an inside look. By having a thorough understanding of this process, you can optimize your marketing messaging, materials and approach to better match the sales experience.

 What qualities make a lead good or bad?

A great opportunity to develop synergies between your marketing and sales teams is the development of a lead scoring system. This system acts as a tool to qualify leads and identify key insights around what differentiates a strong lead from a weak lead. It’s important to have this conversation together as your sales team may have a different opinion than marketing.

The sales team are the ones who hit the pavement trying to generate business, so it’s important that you hear it from the horse’s mouth. Find out what factors they look for when they’re deciding which of their leads to call, and figure out how you can generate more of those kinds of leads for them. It’s a collaborate process but one that can lead to great synergies between both sides of the conversion table.

What do leads know about our value proposition? 

This might sound like an obvious one but it’s shocking how often leads go to a business because they “think” they offer what they need and not because they actually do. It’s important to identify whether or not the sales team is being met with hot leads that quickly turn cold when they learn about product or service limitations. It’s also important to measure this to adjust your communication efforts on your website, signs or any other marketing materials. If the potential leads don’t know what you’re offering – you can bet that you’re missing out on a handful of potential customers.

What aspects of our offering our most popular among leads?

It’s important to find out what leads tell the sales team they like about your offering the most. In having this discussion you need your sales team to be aware of any subtle cues during a demo, assessment or webinar that your leads are giving off. It’s important to understand what your leads view as your key value proposition as this can be what you take forward as your focus with your marketing message. Understanding what your leads or existing customers like will only improve marketing efforts and your ability to deliver a compelling story.

Finally…

Obviously there is more to marketing than enabling your sales team and aligning with their goals, but at the end of the day, supporting growth constitutes the whole point of effective marketing.  These questions and considerations will likely generate new ideas or shine a light on areas of your marketing you may not have considered. Leverage your sales reps' knowledge of your customers to better target your marketing and nurture existing customers.

Lastly, don't just ask these once. Establish a relationship between teams so that you are able to align your efforts on a monthly or even weekly basis. 

For more information on how to improve your B2B digital marketing strategy, contact us.

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Topics: Direct Sales, Business Communication, B2B Marketing, Sales Cycle, B2B Content

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