Have you ever considered aligning your sales and marketing goals?
Do you think the alignment process is worth the effort?
You’ve probably heard the expression, “you don’t know someone until you’ve walked in their shoes.” The expression which is mostly used to shed light on empathy can also be applied to the relationship between sales and marketing.
The two departments which are supposed to be interlinked usually aren’t.
Mostly due to the fact that they haven’t “walked in each other’s shoes.”
But don’t sweat it, we have the insights that every B2B salesperson would love to share with their marketers. Not only will it help align the two departments but also lead to better results for your business, revenue-wise.
Blunt Truth: 5 Things Sales Teams Would Love To Tell Their B2B Marketers
In most companies, you find that the B2B sales team and marketing have their own separate aims, goals, and approach. While the plans may seem good on paper they find it hard when it comes to implementation and results. That is why you will find most successful B2B companies work on aligning the goals of both the departments before launching new products or services.
If goals aren’t aligned, your business can come across the following problems:
B2B salespeople are demotivated
Misalignment of goals is one sure way to make your B2B salespeople feel like their targets are unachievable. Marketing doesn’t have stringent targets like sales, so the misalignment doesn’t impact them as much as it does sales.
The two should be on the same page, marketing should focus on delivering campaigns that aid the sales in conversion. If the campaign goals are changed for any reason, sales should be informed so they can approach it with the new goal in mind.
In the same way, sales find more difficulty pitching products when goals are misaligned. For example, when market research results in the increase of a solutions price. It makes it harder for the salesperson to pitch the product due to the increase.
They rather opt to pitch solutions that are lower priced and therefore more likely to sell. The increase in price leads to sales opportunities being lost on solutions that would otherwise sell. Aligning the two departments will ensure such opportunities are not lost.
B2B salespeople are put in the position to offer more, for little or no cost
When it comes to a mismatch of pricing and sales goal, you will find that your B2B sales team ends up “sweeten the deal” with free services. Whether it is free training or an additional product, they will take the necessary measure to try to close the deal. This, of course, comes at a cost to the company which has to render free services.
The additional services then hide the actual success of the actual product that was sold. You won’t know whether the product sold solely based on its own features or the additional services that were offered with it.
It doesn’t just stop at aligning goals. While it is a great start, you will find that most marketers that were once in sales tend to develop strategies and campaigns that are more effective for both departments. This is due to the fact that they have the experience under their belt in a B2B sales team and can work the campaigns accordingly.
But not every business has the luxury of hiring marketers that were once in sales. So we sat down with top B2B salespeople and asked them for their sales truth, the 5 things they tell their marketers in devising an aligned sales and marketing plan.
Sales Truth #1: Self-centered content doesn’t achieve much
One of the biggest stereotypes about the sales and marketing relationship is that sales would like marketing to sell for them. You find that a lot of marketers develop content that talks up the business and its solutions.
From the marketer’s perspective, they believe they are helping the sales team sell more with this approach.
However, that is far from the truth. In fact, top sales professional will tell you that this is not the approach they want from marketers. They want to do the selling, they believe they can do a much better job than your content, not a knock on your content in any way.
But there are certain limits when it comes to content which sales professionals don’t have.
They would rather have content that invites and then nurtures prospects. The content should develop a conversation with the prospect, created to target different types of decision makers for different organizations.
A one-size fits all approach when developing quality content should not be taken. Content that promotes conversation makes sales professional’s job at converting a lot easier than “in your face” marketing tactics that aim to sell.
There are numerous different ways you can develop this type of content. You start off by sharing content that adds value to your customers business. Tips and “how-to” content is a great approach to achieve this.
Rather than talking about your business solutions, entice them with information about their business with a little on how your solution can add value to their business.
It is also vital that the sales team is aware of all the value proposition for all the solutions the business offers. Some solutions can be complex and explaining its value isn’t always easy. Sales and marketing can work together in selecting the value propositions that should be pitched in the content. This way the B2B sales team is aware of what is the value the prospect is already aware of and how to further communicate these values to them.
For example, Siemens Building Technology recently was praised for its interactive application which focuses on their smart building solutions. The application makes it easier for prospects to understand the concept, giving them more insights into it.
You can think of it like a demo, which has always worked well for software companies. Such an approach makes the content engaging, leaving an impression on the prospect.
Sales Truth #2: You walk in our shoes and we will walk in yours
Now, this particular truth is not one many sales professionals will be willing to tell you, but the best will.
In order for the two teams to truly intertwine they need to know how the other thinks and functions. The best way to do that is through walking a mile in the other’s shoe.
Most marketers don’t know a thing about sales and vice versa. Which makes it hard for both the departments to align. For content that is more effective, marketing needs to see through the lens of sales.
Only then will they be able to set goals and campaigns that help sales achieve goals.
This works the same way for sales to understand marketing.
The best way to develop this understanding is to have your B2B sales team take on marketing and your marketing take on sales. Not all at once of course, you can rotate between individuals and let them work in the other department for a few days. This will enable them to develop an understanding of how the department works and start to think like the other.
It will also increase synergy between the department which will help form a stronger bond. The goals will automatically align after the experience.
Sales Truth #3: Great content doesn’t necessarily lead to quality leads
There is a huge difference in attracting leads and attracting quality leads. Quality leads don’t necessarily make conversion easier, however, they make the effort for B2B salespeople worthwhile. They may take time to convert, but when they do, they opt for the works.
To attract quality leads is a whole other ball game. You can write your best content, but that doesn’t guarantee quality leads. You find that B2B sales team are constantly complaining about the lack of quality in leads. How the leads that are coming through are just a waste of their time.
Marketing always takes a defensive approach to criticism about leads. Rather than getting defensive, the approach to generating leads should be analyzed.
Sitting down with the sales team to discuss what types of leads are coming in and what types of leads should be targeted. Then the strategy can be revised to target the right audience so leads are of better quality.
Once again, you need to make sure that the content you write is not only top-notch but also presents value to your target audience.
The content should also connect with the audience at an emotional level. Customers find it easier to understand a solution when they are exposed to interactive content that provides an engaging experience. This is where innovation comes into play to deliver content.
Interactive videos, demos, and applications can help you develop content that engages the client further developing that emotional connection with your solution. Such interactive approach will also filter out unwanted leads, as only those that are interested in your solution will opt to engage in this type of content.
Sales Truth #4: Sales content helps more than marketing
You may be thinking that this particular truth contradicts the first one. Sales content is worlds apart than content that attempts to sell to prospects. Sales content is written by involving the B2B sales team in the development process.
Ask the team what challenges they face during conversations with prospects. Many of the challenges they face will continuously come up. Therefore, content can be based on these challenges to address them in advance.
This makes the process much smoother for the sales team.
As you start to develop content, get all the insights from the sales team, so your content can address and resolve their challenges. The best type of sales content is one that shows prospects how the solution adds value to their business rather than just tell them.
The latest technology has opened the field of how marketing works. Virtual and augmented reality can really change the way sales content is pitched.
Cisco used augmented reality at Cisco Live which showed clients their products in interactive 3D. This allowed them to interact with the product like never before and experience innovative technology at the same time. Which we are certainly helped develop more interest in Cisco’s solutions.
Sales Truth #5: Social selling is more effective through salespeople
As social selling is becoming more prominent, the responsibility of a sales professional and a marketer can be a bit blurry. You find that many companies have marketers social selling on various platforms while in others salespeople handle it. The responsibilities as far as developing content and building relationship may also overlap between the two departments.
However, as a business, it should be understood that the main responsibility for sales is of the sales team. They have the expertise in communicating with prospects and how to move the sales process along in the right manner, nurturing the lead and then pitching the right product at the right time. This is a skill that should not be taken lightly and should be left to the sales team.
There is no denying that sales and marketing are two different aspects of a business. The process of alignment doesn’t mean a business combines the two. It rather takes the best of these two departments to work towards a common goal. You take qualities and planning approach from both to tackle the most important goal of your company, to generate more sales.
B2B marketers need to understand that their content strategy needs to focus on adding value to clients, generating quality leads, and is sales oriented in the right way.
In the same manner, the sales team needs to put in the time and effort to work with the marketing team in developing this type of content. They need to highlight challenges they face so content can be created to address these challenges.
The process of alignment works both ways, so both teams need to be committed to it. Your business will see positive changes once the two become partners in the overall sales process.