Sales Strategy

Put an end to the distrust between sales and marketing

Put an end to the distrust between sales and marketing

Most executives are happy to invest in marketing and sales, but branding and awareness initiatives from marketing isn't going to cut it. Sales needs qualified leads and the process must be trackable.

How to Open (and Close) Your Sales Cycle

How to Open (and Close) Your Sales Cycle

August 1st, 2013

I recently hosted a webinar called Kick Your Demand Gen Up a Notch with Lori Wizdo of Forrester Research and Janelle Johnson of Act-On Software. As the name of the presentation suggests, we discussed ways companies can enhance their revenue-producing efforts across the entire sales cycle.


Drive Your Sales Engine with Sales 2.0 Technology

Drive Your Sales Engine with Sales 2.0 Technology

Last month, Sales Engine International was in San Francisco for the 2013 Sales 2.0 Conference. In a recent blog post, Sales Data from Sales 2.0 Conference, I discussed the 2013 Sales 2.0 Impact Report and the significant data trends to be released at the conference. The much anticipated keynote revealing the research did not disappoint.

Gerhard Gschwandtner, CEO and Founder of Selling Power, opened the conference discussing the importance of Sales 2.0 technology in order to improve a company’s sales engine (no, we did not pay him to use these words, though we felt it was a nice touch)...

Sales Data from Sales 2.0 Conference

Sales Data from Sales 2.0 Conference

When Sales Engine chose to sponsor the Sales 2.0 Conference, we knew we would be joining a strong community of sales experts and industry thought leaders. We were particularly excited about some of the research Sales Dot Two, Inc. had conducted to be revealed at the conference. At first we thought we had to patiently wait for April, but while reading some of our favorite blogs, Funnelholic and Radius Blog, we found some interesting and revealing posts.

Craig Rosenberg, consultant and author of Funnelholic, has been working with Sales Dot Two, Inc. on their 2013 Sales 2.0 Impact Report...

Sales Video Production – It Doesn’t Need to be a Major Production!

Sales Video Production

If you search online for tools to support the sales and marketing process, you will find a lot of sales video production companies with catchy names like Reel ‘Em, in addition a good number of sales video production companies that seem to take themselves, and their clients, a little more seriously. Why are B2B sales video production companies in high demand? Because a video leveraging your unique message to the market is a highly effective tool to support demand generation.

In the digital age, if a sales video production is not a component of your marketing plan, it should be. Consider this:

  • Forbes Insight found that 59 percent of senior executives prefer to watch video instead of reading text, if both are available on the same page. (Forbes Insight, December 2010)
  • Video in email marketing has been shown to increase click-through rates by over 96 percent. (Implix Email Marketing Trends Survey, 2010)
  • According to Cisco, video will increase from 30 percent of Internet traffic to 90 percent of Internet traffic by 2013. (Cisco, 2010)

Technology continues to change the business world and companies who have integrated video into their marketing strategies are getting noticed first, before their competitors. A properly produced video will provide visual and auditory stimulation and influence a buyer’s behavior.

The benefits of partnering with a sales video production company are considerable:

  • The ability to showcase a product or service when it is impractical or impossible to have a live demonstration on-site or at a trade show.
  • More personal communication with prospects. Video enables you to share who you are and build trust with your prospects making them feel like they know you, which may help relieve some anxiety over the buying process.
  • Consistency with your sales and marketing messages and the peace of mind of knowing that your message will be communicated the same way each time.
  • Additional SEO benefits to your company
  • A medium that takes lengthy, complicated processes and explanations and condenses them into user-friendly, short packages using charts and other infographics.
  • A positive level of engagement that builds a level of trust from prospects.

You can still attain these benefits without hiring a sales video production group, assuming you have access to the right equipment. Whether you attempt to handle your sales video production on your own or you decide to go with a production company, here are some suggestions to ensure a quality end product:

  • Shoot in a professional studio in front of a green screen

The top advantage of shooting video in a controlled environment is just that - control. Shooting in front of a green screen provides complete control over lighting, background and sound. It also makes it easier to add graphics and animation to the background of your video to keep the content visually interesting.

  • Provide a what-not-to-wear list

It is wise, and helpful, to provide a what-not-to-wear list to the presenters. After all, they are representing your brand and you want them to look their best on camera. Professionals recommend that presenters avoid clothing with small, repetitive patterns and anything with a logo, writing, or pictures. Jewelry should be kept at a minimum and should not be reflective. It is also important to have the speaker wear clothing that is neutral to all seasons. A heavy sweater in the winter makes sense but it might come across as odd to a viewer in the summer. If shooting in front of a green screen as recommended, avoid green and any shade or color that is remotely close to green. Lastly, with the advancement of HGDTV, many people think that they need more make up when the opposite is actually true.

  • Think through the speaker selection

Consider using professional talent if your budget allows. Many companies use their executives, with varying results. Some executives are very comfortable in front of the camera, but many do not enjoy the experience and that discomfort is compounded by the pressure they feel to represent the company well. Tense, nervous presenters can ruin the sales video production process. If you are not sure your designated execs will be great on camera, look into professional talent options.

Also, be sure to give consideration to all job levels. The best resource might be someone on the sales team or in another level of management. These folks can often offer a wealth of information since they are directly involved with the day-to-day interactions with prospects.

  • Shooting on-site

If you’d like to provide prospects with a clear picture of what the business is all about then it may make sense to shoot on-site. When doing this, consider the environment. It must be portrayed in a way that is atheistically appealing and lighting can play a huge role in this. Second, what kind of sound control will there be? Sometimes the normal sounds of business can get in the way of a sales video production, so be sure to factor in additional time for the shoot to allow for any delays.

  • Shooting on your own

If budget is limited but you have the desire to attempt a sales video production on your own, be sure to follow these guidelines:

- Have an external microphone hooked onto the speaker. Do not rely on the microphone on the camera to produce a clear and crisp sound.

- Most homemade videos have inadequate lighting. Be sure to properly light your environment with artificial lighting, if necessary.

- If the speaker will be reading from cue cards, be sure to hold the cards within inches of the camera or else it will be appear that the speaker is not talking into the camera.

Targeting your prospects through video is worth the time, energy and resources of the video production process. If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine what can be conveyed by a well-produced sales video. Whether you select a sales video production company or decide to go it on your own, the end result will be one of your greatest sales and marketing assets!

3 Steps to Aligning Marketing and Sales

As B2B buyers leverage Web 2.0 and social media to streamline their purchasing processes, the line between marketing and sales as it relates to prospect interaction becomes blurred. Marketing must take on the early-stage lead/prospect communication that was once the sole responsibility of sales, and frequently the two groups must work together to nurture a buyer from lead to prospect to customer.  While challenging, it is possible to get marketing and sales on the same page.  Below I have outlined three steps that can move your organization towards marketing and sales alignment.

  1. Senior Level Support - It is critical to have senior management support for all joint marketing/sales initiatives.  At a minimum, the executive where marketing and sales meet - CEO, President, Chief Revenue Officer, SVP Sales & Marketing - should believe in the joint initiative and foster an environment of cooperation. There are cases where forward thinking marketing and sales executives “get it”, and start working together for their mutual benefit.  Rather than continuing a culture of bickering and finger pointing, they commit to changing ingrained behaviors and working together for the common good.  This is rare, however, so somebody at the top should set the tone and expectation about what needs to be done, even to the point of putting in joint incentives for the sales and marketing heads.  Obviously, working together should yield better results for each of them, but sometimes you need a specific “carrot” to drive the desired behavior.
  2. Jointly Map the Marketing/Sales Process – The best way to build trust is to work together on a project that will have both an immediate impact and demonstrate how much each group needs the other.  Both teams should get in a room and use a whiteboard to map the process a buyer takes going from lead to satisfied customer.  This should be done from the buyer’s perspective – what do they experience as they make the decision whether or not to buy your product or service?  Doing so will identify the steps in the buyer’s process where marketing and sales must execute smooth hand offs and where both teams need to work together to nurture the prospect.  Once the process is identified, data can be pulled from the marketing and CRM systems to understand the flow of leads and approximate conversion rates at each stage of the process.  The common ground that is established from marketing and sales having a mutual understanding of how buyers interact with your company is invaluable, and forms the basis for on-going cooperation.
  3. Start Streamlining the Marketing/Sales Process – Now that both teams have a clear understanding of how a buyer becomes a customer, it is possible to define a comprehensive program that moves a buyer through that process as efficiently as possible.  It is tempting to try and fix the entire process in one fell swoop.   Don’t do that!  It is better to pick one key area where there is clear interaction between the two groups and optimize it first.  The hand off of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to sales, for example, is a stage where many companies suffer a great deal of lead leakage. If marketing and sales have different ideas of what constitutes a qualified lead, sales may not follow-up while marketing assumes it no longer has responsibility for nurturing that lead, and the buyer ends up in no man’s land (or worse, as your competitor’s customer).  A simple first step is to agree on the characteristics of a qualified lead that sales will always agree to contact.  Once additional qualifying questions are answered, sales must either accept the lead and actively engage it or send it back to marketing for further nurturing.  This will dramatically reduce lead leakage and lay the foundation for further marketing/sales cooperation on the rest of the overall process.

Getting marketing and sales aligned around a unified buyer engagement process is nirvana for many marketing and sales executives.  Starting small and building on short-term success with visible executive level support will create an environment for long-term cooperation and result in improved sales results.

For more on Sale-Marketing alignment see our Best Practice: Candid Letter from Sales to Marketing.


Cyber Monday in a B2B Sales World

The world of selling has changed dramatically.  Sales reps are accustomed to and want to be able to drive the action on their own, but that is not possible in today’s 2.0 world.  Last month, Cyber Monday sales reached over $6 billion.  The Internet has changed the way buyers, even B2B buyers, shop.  B2B organizations can learn a lot from how some B2C companies have harnessed today’s tools to build relationships with potential buyers and drive a steady volume of traffic to their websites. I have been in B2B sales for nearly 30 years and the way we started, the way we were measured was: first – on sales success, second – on the number of dials, and third – on face-to-face appointments.

Today, 85 percent of outbound sales calls go to voice mail, never to be returned.  80 percent of buyers are finding the seller on their own, which is completely counterintuitive to the sales professional’s persona.  As a result of failing to adapt to this shift in buyer behavior, half of sales reps are not meeting their sales quotas.

How can a B2B sales leader adapt his game to meet the challenges of the new world of sales?  Take a page from the integrated marketing playbooks of all the B2C merchants who have leveraged it so successfully.

First, FIND your audience.  To do this, you must build a database of ideal prospects so that you can reach out to them, but you also need to make yourself findable to them through search engine optimization and other initiatives that ensure your website is loaded with the right content to attract buyers.

Second, CONNECT with your audience.  Making a connection was easy when all that it required was a warm handshake from a good sales rep.  Today, to connect you have to have a strong array of different digital content to tell your story.  You have to remember that the connection requires this level of human contact when telling your story.  If you can’t get face-to-face as early as you once could, digital messaging is powerful to build that connection.  Buyers are consuming information digitally and filing it away as they make their preliminary and final buying decisions.  Integrated marketing connects your outbound delivery strategy with your audience of suspects and ensures that you have the right process in place to deliver the right piece of content to the right buyer persona.

Third, ENGAGE all your prospects.  Many of them are not ready to buy just because you are ready to sell. You need an integrated marketing plan to stay continuously in touch with them in different manners and different styles.  Keep touching them until they are ready.  Until a trigger event happens that indicates they have decided to enter the market, it is fine to just keep touching them.

Once a trigger event indicates that they are ready to move on to the next step, make sure you have practices in place to keep sales follow-up in alignment with the marketing message.

FIND, CONNECT and ENGAGE is the new normal.  Many, many companies are reaping great success by adjusting their models this way.  Companies that are not are at a competitive disadvantage.  Unfortunately, the old ways are not coming back.  It’s important to change your sales methodology if you want to thrive in the new world.

Three Tips on Adapting to the New World of B2B Selling

In the 25 years since I first started selling, the world of business to business selling has changed dramatically. Back then, the primary appointment generation method was "phone power". We’d pound the phones, get face-to-face as often as possible, and that was how we were measured. The only way to quantify your contribution and your success, beyond closed deals, to see if you were working hard, was to look at your results in getting prospects on the phone and securing appointments.

Today, 85% of phone calls go to voice mail, never to be returned, so “phone power" sessions are not nearly as effective as they once were.

In the new world of B2B selling, the buyer finds the seller about 80% of the time, rather than the other way around. This is completely different from the selling world where we grew up. Unfortunately, today’s reality is that 50% of sales reps are not making their sales quotas.

It is certainly understandable that reps are struggling to make quota if their company has not adjusted its sales/marketing models to adjust to the new environment. Now, there are critical steps that sales and marketing should take to put a company on the path of potential buyers.

First, identify your target market and build a database of your best prospects so that you can reach out and touch them through digital media. Make sure that you can also be found by them through social media and a digital presence, utilizing SEO and SEM.

Secondly, to be able to connect with your prospects digitally, you need to capture your message and distribute it. You’ve got a great story to tell, but you may not have the opportunity to tell it face-to-face.

Third, you need to execute relentlessly in a variety of different ways. People consume content differently. For some audiences, simple awareness is the key. Other potential buyers respond better to targeted case studies. Case studies are particularly significant as people move through their buying journey and get closer to the finish line.

Those three steps constitute the cornerstone of the new marketing mix. It’s all about finding the audience, connecting with them, and engaging them until you have a marketing-qualified lead. Once you’ve got that marketing-qualified lead, you can convert it to a sales lead and from that point, your funnel metrics will follow.

It’s critical that companies readjust the sales and marketing mix to today’s realities in the world of B2B sales.

Lead Scoring 878% More Effective than Cold Calling

In a study conducted over a recent 60-day period, lead generation and sales support company EB Quickstart, acting on Sales Engine’s behalf, produced the following conclusions: 1. When inside sales resources followed up immediately on marketing-generated, email newsletter click throughs, they produced 3.21x more appointments than cold calling

2. When inside sales resources followed up immediately on marketing-generated email campaigns which nurtured prospects over several months, directing sales reps to target leads that a) responded to campaigns and b) have built high lead scores, they produced 8.78x more appointments than cold calling.

Level categories: Level 3: Multi-Touch Highly Scored Leads Level 1,2 & 3: Email Opens

Here’s how it worked:

An inside sales rep began calling leads immediately after campaign launch, prioritizing their calls by click-throughs first. Here’s what the data reflected:

– 0.6% of leads with ‘No score’ (i.e. no open or click through) converted to an appointment

– 2.5% of all scored leads (light open and click activity) converted to an appointment

– 5.3% of highly scored leads (that clicked through on multiple campaigns over multiple months) converted to an appointment

I have Good News and Bad News

Are you surprised by this? You shouldn’t be. The good news is that marketing automation and lead scoring conventions have gone a long way in making prospect “click activity” visible to marketers that employ marketing automation suites such as Manticore or Eloqua. Prospect databases can be intelligently segmented; relevant campaigns can be executed that entice suspects/prospects to “raise their hands” digitally, through their click activity. This is how it is supposed to work, and it does! It is especially effective for the companies that integrate their marketing and sales efforts to engage these prospects in relevant conversation immediately after they show their interest.

Now here’s the bad news. It’s still only 5% of the highly scored leads that were successfully booked for an appointment! And it took multiple calls to secure these appointments. So what do we take from this? Well, here are a few learnings that should be of interest:

1. Your “stud muffin” sales person will not be too enthused about following up on eMail click throughs. These prospects may be qualified by marketing standards (i.e. a Marketing Qualified Lead), but may not be a Sales Qualified Lead because they may not have an active evaluation underway. You want your closers working on the “now deals”. The “chase” is still a lot of work.

2. Outbound calls by a junior level, inside sales rep, who will qualify the opportunities, and then hand them to the “closers” have proven to be the most effective way to leverage these opportunities, making your sales stars most productive.

3. Outbound marketing is still “interruptive” in nature. The prospect is not necessarily in the market for your product, but building awareness with your target market is always wise. You will still need other means of generating viable prospects. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an important step. Prospects use search engines when they are “actively” gathering data, usually to make a recommendation or buying decision. They should be closer to the purchasing event.

So, if you are on the marketing automation journey, congratulations! This is the NEW NORMAL. If you don’t build awareness this way, you are losing ground to your competitors. But be realistic. You need to be both building awareness, and courting active shoppers. The most successful companies that we see employ an inside sales resource to qualify the Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) and then eventually pass on only the Sales Qualified Leads to your best selling resources.

Happy Selling!

Marketing, come quick, I need you!

This is the plea being heard in many of today’s sales organizations! Much like Alexander Graham Bell’s first words to Dr. Watson signaling the “new normal” in telecommunications, there is a new normal in business-to-business selling and marketing. B2B sales and marketing organizations need to adjust quickly! The old ways of selling simply don’t work the way they used to. Approximately 85% of phone calls go to voicemail and are never returned. Only 50% of B2B sales people are achieving their quotas. Nearly 80% of buyers state that they found their vendor rather than their vendor finding them!

The World Wide Web has given B2B consumers unprecedented access to information about you and your products as well as your competition. It used to be that a good sales professional could control the pace of the sales engagement by dispensing information at his or her own pace. Those days are long gone. Prospects are avoiding the sales interaction for as long as possible. Simply stated, your prospects are shopping without you!

Successful companies are “retooling” their marketing and sales approach:

1) First of all, they are implementing sophisticated Marketing Automation solutions. They continually dispense targeted content to thinly sliced market segments. They score the leads, and continue to nurture these prospects until their digital behavior indicates they may be ready to speak to someone.

2) Next, they deploy inside sales teams to qualify these highly scored leads, determining if they are ready to speak with the sales professional. If they are, then they pass on a highly qualified lead to a “closer”, if not, they are returned to the automated nurture process.

3) Finally, only the sales ready leads are passed along to the sales professional, or “closer”. But, at this point in their discovery, the prospect is very well educated and wants to speak with a senior person.

Our experience indicates that it is critical to follow this three-step process. Many companies try to skip step two, and the results are disappointing. The reason for this is that the sales professionals discussed in step three are only interested in speaking with active shoppers. They want the “now deals”. If marketing asks them to follow up with prospects that are not very qualified, they will quickly sour on their marketing partners, and declare that none of the leads are any good. This information spreads rapidly within the sales team, and it will take marketing months to dig out of this hole.

One analogy that we like to use is a pitching staff in baseball. Years ago, one pitcher would complete an entire game quite often, much like the traditional sales pro running their entire sales cycle. In today’s game, we will see a starting pitcher, one or more middle relievers, and “the closer”. This was started by one team, the Oakland A’s in the 1970s and rapidly spread throughout baseball. This approach called for a realignment of resources that revolutionized the game of baseball.

It is time for Sales and Marketing leaders to look at their processes in a similar way. The old ways will not be coming back. Marketing and Sales need to work within the same “business process”. Their success depends on it!

Spotlight: Chief Sales Officer Jill Konrath Writes a Letter to Marketing

Jill Konrath

Jill Konrath is a recognized expert in fresh sales strategies for business-to-business sales. She helps sellers crack into new accounts, speed up their sales cycle and win more business. As the author of the award-winning book, Selling to Big Companies, and with her latest book SNAP Selling hitting the stands to rave reviews, there’s no one more qualified to write the opening section to The Quintessential Marketing Automation Guidebook.

In this wake-up call, Jill Konrath writes a Candid Letter from Sales to Marketing, laying bare all the frustrations that feed the dreaded sales and marketing misalignment. Her letter outlines the reality for today’s “frazzled buyers” as evidenced by salespeople in the field as well as the issues they’re dealing with where marketing can provide much-needed assistance.

When you consider how your salespeople can spend their time—cold calling or selling to engaged, educated buyers—the choice is clear.

Without further ado, and in an effort to allow you to get the full effect of the letter, download your copy right now. If you haven’t seen it already, you certainly won’t want to miss it!

You may even want to run it by your sales team to see if it resonates…just a thought.

Marketing Automation + CRM = Higher Customer Acquisition

Several of our latest enhancements to Manticore Technology VII involve improvements to the way the system interacts with For today’s post, I thought I’d take a dive into why a strong integration between your marketing automation system and your CRM system can accelerate your sales cycles—especially when used in support of a defined process. Integrating marketing automation with CRM serves to connect both sides of the marketing-to-sales cycle. This consolidated visibility enables both marketers and salespeople to become more responsive and more relevant given their expanded access to pertinent information about the prospect.

Today’s B2B prospects don’t have a lot of patience for irrelevant dialogue. Funnily, just as your prospects don’t want to be “stalked,” they also expect vendors to be mind readers, delivering just the information or interaction they need—exactly when they need it. Thankfully, technology is enabling the insight required to perform this feat gracefully.

A few of the challenges that are answered by integrating marketing automation and CRM include:

  • Improved lead disposition. Lead scoring is a powerful tool for ensuring that your salespeople are not chasing prospects who aren’t yet ready for sales conversations. The ability to score based on both CRM fields and those housed within marketing automation improves the evaluation of a lead’s readiness, regardless of whether the lead was generated by sales or by marketing. This way, your salespeople are spending their time with opportunities, not tire kickers.
  • Connecting salespeople with prospects at the right time. With rules-based sales alerts that marketers can create on the fly—in response to defined behaviors—salespeople can be notified when a conversion event happens. They then receive the background information they need so they can connect with a business reason, not a “checking in” call. With this structured process in place, more initial calls result in productive conversations instead of dead ends.
  • Proof of marketing contribution to customer wins. The ability to build reports based on any field—default or custom—within provides marketers access to the information they need to prove their contribution to all stages of the buying cycle—including deals. Accountability for marketing is the new imperative—and often quite the challenge.

Tracking the disposition of marketing leads from start to finish has been a leading challenge that kept marketers from proving impact to revenues. The alignment of marketing and sales has also been difficult. Improvements to the integration of marketing software with sales software is enabling the two departments to work together—hand-in-glove—to drive improved levels of customer acquisition.

Thought Leadership Interview: Jill Konrath on Closing the Gap between Marketing and Sales

Jill Konrath - SNAP Selling Jill Konrath wrote the first section of The Quintessential Marketing Automation Guidebook where she wrote a letter from Sales telling Marketing exactly what was needed to help drive revenue. If only companies were that brave. Her letter stirred up reactions from our readers, so I caught up with Jill to ask her to share a few more insights about how to bring marketing and sales closer together. Jill has also offered up some free resources for you that complement her new book, SNAP Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business with Today’s Frazzled Customers. I encourage you to go download Jill’s Buyer’s Matrix, her Value Proposition Generator, 9 Tips to Get Prospects to Call You Back, as well as listen to her audio on selling to crazy-busy people.

CD: What does marketing need to do to get salespeople to use the content they provide?

JK: Write good content. Most of what marketing produces today sucks. It's self-serving tripe that highlights the company's fabulous products, unique methodologies and state-of-the-art technologies. When sellers use this type of content, it trivializes them with customers. They're seen as product-pushing peddlers who add little value to the sales process.

Educate the sales force. After an eternity of only getting crap from marketing, salespeople don't have a clue how to use good content. They need to know how to follow up effectively on leads with content during the sales process.

Make it simple. Salespeople don't have a lot of time. If it's scattered across the website, it won't be used. If it's not intuitive, it won't be used. Make it as much a no-brainer as possible.

CD: In SNAP Selling, you talk about the prospect's three decisions. What are they and how do they related to content?

JK: Basically prospects make three primary decisions when it comes to dealing with salespeople. Their 1st Decision is to "allow access" to them. Sellers may only want a small amount of their time, but today's crazy-busy buyers are stingy with it. At this stage, salespeople could use content related to the value other firms have used from using the company's offering. This supports their reason for getting together and increases their chances of setting up a meeting.

The prospect's 2nd Decision is to "initiate change" – which is something they are loathe to do with everything else on their calendar. Sellers desperately need good content to help prospects determine if making a change would provide significant value for their organization. This could include case studies, white papers, podcasts, articles, analyst reports and more.

Finally, the prospect's 3rd Decision is to "select resources." At this phase, sellers need content that differentiates them from other vendors and supports the company's strengths. Please notice that I didn't say brochures. They provide little value except at the very end of the sales process. In my opinion, fancy four-color glossies are a relic of the past – even though salespeople may still be clamoring for them. There are enough sales dinosaurs out there who haven't yet realized that brochures create significant collateral damage and destroy more opportunities than they gain.

CD: In your new book, SNAP Selling, you present a Buyers’ Matrix. How would you suggest using this matrix as a tool to create a more productive relationship between marketing and sales?

JK: Every time I do a workshop with sales teams, I invite the marketing department to join us for the event. Why? Primarily because we do a major immersion into the prospect's environment. We analyze their roles, responsibilities, objectives, strategies, challenges and more.

Marketers have one view of what this is, while sellers bring a different perspective. When they finally work through this exercise, both groups are blown away by the invaluable insights and overlooked information that comes out through the use of the Buyer's Matrix. At the end, they're both operating from the level of understanding. And they realize that they have to change and adapt in order to be successful in today's crazy-busy business environment.

Four Reasons for Marketing and Sales to Collaborate

Last week there was a discussion in a LinkedIn group about marketers creating ineffective sales collateral. Most of the people involved in the discussion were salespeople and thought that marketers should be put through sales training so they’d understand the sales process. While not a bad idea, the reverse is also true. Research into buyers’ perceptions shows there’s work to be done on both the marketing and sales sides of the equation. A few research examples include:

A Forrester Research survey into buyers’ perspectives about salespeople found that:

  • Only 34% of buyers said salespeople understand their role and responsibilities.
  • Even less, 29% of buyers, said salespeople know their business and specific problems.

The CMO Council found that buyers’ top turn offs with marketing content include:

  • Hype and puffery.
  • Lack of a business value proposition.
  • Lack of proof of ROI.

With B2B buyers now controlling how they buy, this means that both marketing and sales need to up their collective game. Working together is the most efficient way to ensure that a company’s communications are consistent, relevant and designed to drive the sales pipeline.

Consider these four reasons to collaborate:

  1. Unite in favor of common goals. For marketing, getting sales to accept, qualify and close the leads they hand over is the key to proving their contribution to revenues. To make this outcome the norm, marketers must truly understand how sales evaluates leads for pursuit. By collaborating to define the parameters for a qualified lead, marketers can put processes in place that create opportunities that drive revenues.
  2. Sales is marketing's ultimate partner. In a complex B2B sale, marketing can only reach so far into the pipeline. Salespeople are critical for customer acquisition. By working with sales to understand what transpires after the handoff, marketers can develop collateral that suits their buyers’ needs at the end stages of the buying process. By eliminating the time and effort salespeople spend recreating collateral, they can spend more time selling. The added consistency from one end of the buying process to the other has also been proven to play a role in influencing the decision to buy.
  3. 3. Sales has street-level insights that marketing doesn't. Relevance is in the eyes of the beholder – your prospects. Since marketing rarely meets prospects in the context salespeople do, creating a process for closed-loop feedback can facilitate the sharing of situational insights to help marketers create even better pre-sales relationships with prospects. Providing more relevant information during the marketing-to-sales process decreases the overall sales cycle. 
  4. Marketing has data that sales doesn't. One of the biggest impacts of marketing automation software is the collection of rich prospect data about online behaviors in relation to buying interest. By sharing the patterns of data derived from prospect activity during the early stages of closed deals, marketing and sales can work together to determine process efficiencies that streamline selling. For example, lead scoring models can be matched against closed deals to refine triggers that improve the transition of leads to salespeople when the prospect reaches the tipping point.

Through effective collaboration, marketing and sales can work jointly to improve performance and establish accountability for driving revenues by embracing an integrated end-to-end process.