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)”? These are good instincts. 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 how sales can pinpoint what’s needed, and the three best ways to achieve true alignment with marketing by focusing on the KPIs that drive business growth:
- Initiate an ongoing partnership with marketing to address needs
- Align sales and marketing success metrics
- Research, identify and refine the buyer’s journey together
- Create content that improves the customer experience at every stage of their process
- Track results and close the reporting loop for continuous improvement
For lasting sales transformation, marketing needs to be focused on the same metrics as sales: pipeline and revenue.
- Define “Success” Together.
As the latest Demand Generation Benchmark Survey from Demand Gen Report implies, you can assume your marketing colleagues know that sales targets are critical, even though their own success metrics may be quite different. The shift in focus 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.
- 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 path of the buyer’s journey. 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 more productive conversations with leads, or leads are passed over to too quickly, 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.
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.
This means a combination of demographic, firmographic (account-based) and behavioral components in a scoring model that both tracks prospect and customer responses to lead generation content as well as the role-based components that sales considers to be vital. The type of content a prospect responds to can indicate engagement behavior or readiness to purchase, and when it is combined with a firmographic and role-based profile, leads are truly “qualified.” For example, if the title or role is optimal but the content engagement is focused on top-of-funnel thought leadership content then that individual is not “qualified” – but if they are looking at late-stage content and product pages on the website they are likely ready for a conversation with a salesperson. Look for consistent engagement behavior, such as “a pattern of downloads over time throughout various stages of the journey or binge-downloads of multiple assets.”
Also, if you find that too many sales conversations center on discovery and education rather than deeper, conversion-oriented details, close the loop and report this back to marketing. Together you can confirm the best times for marketing to hand off leads to sales.
“Expectations for supporting revenue growth are climbing…and the goals and metrics companies are using to judge marketing’s impact are also rising rapidly.” —2018 Demand Generation Benchmark Survey
- 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 does not 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 customers sell in our services to their buying committee.”
When marketing resources don’t fuel more productive conversations with leads, or leads are passed over to too quickly, it’s tempting for sales to simply disregard them and rely solely on their own insights or content.
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 Shiny Automagic Tech Tool.” 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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