Sales Vikings vs. Marketing Baby Birds

Paul Rafferty, co-founder and CEO of Sales Engine Media, was a recent guest on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series. The series, which is hosted by TechnologyAdvice’s Josh Bland, explores a variety of business and technology landscapes through conversations with industry leaders.

In this episode Paul went over modern marketing, lead generation, and how important storytelling is for the buyer's journey.

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Below are a few highlights from our conversation:

TechnologyAdvice: What does a modern marketing program look like these days?

Paul Rafferty: There's a lot to a modern marketing program. In the past, marketing was responsible for branding and awareness — not lead generation, not demand generation. The sales team used to go out and win the battles. They're a bunch of Vikings drawing swords and fighting, and kicking the doors down and convincing people that they're the right choice and taking it the whole distance.

They don't do that anymore.

It's up to marketing to produce the marketing qualified leads to get turned over to sales.

Eighty-five percent of B2B phone calls go to voicemail and are never returned. So, the old tools sales reps used to leverage have dried up. People can hide behind voicemail, prospects can hide behind email. The power has shifted.

The power has left the sales team and it's in the buyer’s hands. So, the question becomes how do you connect with buyers when they don't want to be bothered? Or they want the ability to control the buying journey themselves? And the answer to that is: a bigger reliance on marketing.

TA: How has the buyer’s journey changed in the past few months and years?

Rafferty: We did a webinar a few months back that mentioned marketing is half-man, half-machine — maybe even 80 percent machine. However, there are many different opinions on where that slice ends. People are 60 to 90 percent through their buying cycle before they talk to a sales rep. That’s a big, big burden on marketing.

It really changes the mix of what companies want to stand on sales and what they want to spend on marketing. It used to be that you solved your sales problem by hiring another sales rep. But we tell companies don't do that until the rep is crying uncle because they're so many opportunities they can't get to them.

Spend your money upstream, right up the sales pipeline, generate demand, nurture business leads. They can't do it on their own. All you’re going to do is get another frustrated person invested in upstream digital marketing, search engine optimization, content executions, or some companies with pay-per-click, but it is important to feed them. Think of a picture of a mother robin and baby birds — that's how marketing see sales. Sales thinks they're Vikings and marketing thinks they're baby birds. It's sad, but true: sales relies on marketing.

TA: What are some recent trends you’ve seen? How is marketing feeding sales and is storytelling something that's important?

Rafferty: Storytelling is critical. There is still a need for a salesperson, but you don't need a salesperson to communicate the value of the product.

You need a salesperson to add value — add personal value through experiences, through perspectives. Many times that comes through story. Examples in case studies help people latch on to stories. We are a storytelling culture. From when you're a baby, there are parables and stories that help us understand things better.

As a matter of fact, I was listening to Mike Bosworth of Solution Selling, and his big mantra these days is about story and storytelling. Ted talks — the best ones — 60 to 70 percent of the time people are telling stories. People can just latch onto them better. People are trying to put whatever you tell them into a story, and it helps them if you give it to them straight.

This podcast was created and published by TechnologyAdvice. Interview conducted by Josh Bland.