Marketing and Sales Alignment with CMO GROW for Revenue Acceleration
Travel with me, if you will, back to 2008. It was a time, in the corporate world, when the sales team had all of the power and most of the fun. A company credit card in hand, they would organize meetings at conferences, trade shows, meetings on the golf course, or at their favorite hospitality event. Pleasantries were exchanged, orders were placed – and business kept rolling forward. Those were the good old days of yesteryear.
It is truly amazing how things change so quickly, and the landscape has been forever transformed. The business-to-business (B2B) sales process – once solely the domain of the million-miler set – has been joined, out of necessity, by the marketing team.
Yes, those guys (and gals) once known for coordinating trade shows, creating sales collateral and brushing up PowerPoint presentations, are now the integral part of a sales blueprint that requires a lot more than just sizzle -- and steak – to traverse and close a complex sales opportunity.
The New World
Today the lines between marketing and sales and have become increasingly blurred. It's difficult to really know within the sales cycle where the marketing role ends, and the sales role begins. The truth is that today marketing team is involved every step of the way if not in helping to close a deal, then its to inspect, understand and underwrite the customer journey. The need for alignment between sales and marketing has never been greater.
Because we live in a digital world, sales organizations need to be informed and trained on marketing programs and multichannel campaigns; and marketers need to clearly understand the sales cycle and customer journey, and to be able to identify and optimize each touch point along the sales continuum.
In fact, companies that have a firm grasp of how to cultivate leads in our brave new world generate 50 percent more sales than those still stuck in the go-go pre-recession days. And those B2B enterprises unable to align sales and marketing around the right programs, processes and technologies can bleed 10 percent – or more – of the cash off their bottom line!
Acceptance of the marketing team at the sales table, if not managed properly, can be a difficult proposition. Fortunately, seasoned, well-trained Chief Marketing Officer – like my colleagues at CMO GROW – has the ability to restore balance and order to your go-to-market ecosystem.
It all starts with becoming aligned on the critical notion of how leads are found, cultivated and nurtured. We live in a world of
information symmetry. In fact, the majority of our B2B prospects have learned about what we sell – and how it will help them – before we have that first discussion.
This means that our digital presence – websites, content, drip marketing and social media channels – must be optimized for the challenge. This body of information ultimately represents the holistic narrative of why you’re relevant to today’s consumer. When done with skill, it can invoke the right emotional levers, at the right time, and in the right way that can lead to a closed/won deal.
Even though 88 percent of B2B marketers are currently employing some content marketing techniques, only 32 percent have formalized this strategic approach for the lead cultivation process.
This statistic reminds me of an alarming discussion I recently had with a company that complained of having a “sales” problem that has inhibited its ability to grow and expand in the way they had expected.
To this executive, the solution was to brute-force the challenge by hiring a senior sales person – someone with a Rolodex who
would hit the phones hard and book appointments. As our discussion progressed, it became evident to me that this executive had not considered the root cause of his “sales” problem. Though well-intentioned this executed had a hammer in his hand and was searching for any nail he could find to pound.
Marketing, it turns out, is best equipped to fill the top of today’s sales funnel. The rise of marketing automation has fueled the trend of “inbound marketing” – defined as the promotion of a company through blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, newsletters, whitepapers and other forms of content. All of these channels give us the ability to both target the right type of influencer, and to then track their activity into, and through, our sales funnel.
It also means that marketing can and should be held accountable for a hefty portion of our overall sales success. In today’s realigned sales and marketing paradigm, nearly three-quarters of corporate marketers now have a quota for lead sourcing – and must track metrics like conversions, cost per acquisition and cost per closed account.
Closing the Deal
Much of the sales “top of funnel” responsibility has shifted from sales to the marketing team, there’s still plenty for the sales executive to accomplish. Their role, though shifted a bit, is still quite important in this ecosystem. Today’s sales managers should prepare and position themselves to be a trusted advisor – someone who facilitates the customer journey, ensuring that there company’s offerings are consistently delivering value to the relationship (and also considering areas to “upsell” the customer on new products that can further enhance the value proposition).
Though a recent study warns that by 2020, customers will manage 85 percent of their relationships without talking to a human, it’s critical that company's sales team reaffirms its value to be included in the 15 percent minority.
How is your company aligning its sales and marketing teams?