If you’re charged with responsibility for sales team success, but sales doesn’t meet quota, what solutions typically come to mind? Maybe “I need more salespeople in the field”? “If we could automate more processes…”? Or “let’s do our own case studies (or sales sheets, or demos)”? It’s essential to put the right people, processes, content, and technology in place to improve efficiency and revenue. But for lasting sales transformation, marketing needs to be focused on the same metrics as sales. You need revenue-focused marketing.
Here we’ll outline the three best ways to achieve true alignment with marketing by focusing on the KPIs that drive business growth.
1. Define “Success” Together
Defining success together is a critical step in achieving revenue targets. You absolutely must:
- Initiate an ongoing partnership with marketing to address needs
- Align sales and marketing success metrics
- Track results and close the reporting loop for continuous improvement
You can assume your marketing colleagues know that sales targets are critical, even though their own success metrics may be quite different. Shifting the definition of success may not be easy, but it will yield significant results. And it begins with planning together.
Only by meeting regularly can both sales and marketing identify, track, and enhance the activities that drive pipeline and revenue. Begin by sharing your goals and activities, and noting where you can collaborate. For instance, typically both sales and marketing attend events with a goal of generating top-of-funnel leads. Marketing’s success metrics around live events are historically focused on things like booth visitors or the volume of attendees to a speaking session. Sales might look at meetings generated after the event, and opportunities that can be associated with those meetings. Both teams can plan to work together to identify which events (and other engagement channels) generate the most leads that ultimately result in sales. Tools like marketing automation platforms and CRM are essential in these efforts; but they only yield meaningful results when sales and marketing use them as part of a shared strategy and the data required to close the loop is shared across systems.
2. Collaborate On The Buyer’s Journey
With revenue-related goals aligned, the next important step is to review and recalibrate the buyer’s journey together. Traditionally, marketing identifies the buyer insights, pain points, and touchpoints that determine the content and buyer journey path. But those variables can change, and the buyer’s perspective of how their journey unfolds is often different than what sales expects, especially when considering the different journey of the varied members of the buying committee. When marketing resources don’t fuel quality leads, or leads are passed over to too quickly (you’ll know this is happening if sales spends most of the conversation educating a prospect), it’s tempting for sales to simply disregard them and rely solely on their own insights or content.
Unfortunately, this also makes sales far less efficient, and may actually undermine the effort to reach sales targets. To get the most out of the buyer’s journey, sales must partner with marketing to improve it.
This means combining demographic, firmographic (account-based) and behavioral components into a lead scoring model that both tracks content interactions and measures the role-based criteria that sales considers to be vital. The type of content a prospect consumes tells you a lot about his or her pain points and readiness to purchase. When it’s combined with a firmographic and role-based profile, marketing-generated leads become truly “qualified.”
For example, if a prospect engaged and his title is ideal, but he’s consuming top-of-funnel thought leadership content, then that individual is not “qualified”. But once he starts looking at late-stage content like product pages, he’s likely ready for a conversation with a salesperson. Looking at this type of engagement behavior (“a pattern of downloads over time throughout various stages of the journey or binge-downloads of multiple assets”) is crucial to understanding if a lead is qualified or not.
Working together to understand how a prospect engages and when a prospect is truly ready to talk to sales will transform your demand marketing processes.
3. Ask For The Right Opportunity Content
Ideally, sales enablement content would always help sales to do their job better, faster, and more effectively. But marketing often focuses only on the content needed to nudge prospects into qualified leads, not the content needed to finish the conversation. This doesn’t mean you need more product or service-focused content, but rather content that empowers a prospect to make the right decision based on their needs. Marketing simply may not know the best ways to proactively improve the content that can help sales achieve their goals. If you need better sales enablement content, here are some ways to ask marketing for it:
- “We need you to create opportunity content: materials that will help us close the deal once an opportunity has been identified.”
- “The content we’re getting is more appropriate to a prospect’s research stage. We need to help them to define their needs more effectively with proof points, success stories, reviews, and demos.”
- “We need the kind of content that will help prospects sell our services to their own buying committee.”
Power To Change? You’ve Had It All Along
Once your needs have been made clear, marketing can work with you to learn why and where sales opportunities stall. If you’re facing a sales slump, it’s very tempting to look for new solutions outside of your organization. “Ask Marketing” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as “Get Tech Tool” or “Hire More Salespeople”. But the steps outlined in this guide are designed to improve efficiency and sales results continuously, and there is much that can be done with the right strategy, without investing in technology patches or quick fixes. Partners like ANNUITAS can assist you with all aspects of alignment, from buyer-focused content modeling, lead management framework development, and closed-loop reporting. Let’s Connect.
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