How to Get the Sales Team on Board with Marketing
9 ways sales influences marketing
Aligning departments makes communications much more efficient, compelling and impactful. Enabling marketing and sales teams to collaborate more closely in particular makes the sales funnel more effective and profitable too.
As two particularly results-driven teams, sales and marketing executives are often incredibly focused on doing their jobs. It’s common that these roles are not always done in alignment, but this can cost businesses more than they realise (Harvard Business Review).
Without dialogue, the marketing team is deaf in the marketplace – not hearing or understanding the conversations being had between sales teams and customers. Equally, sales teams are blind to the market if they are unable to omnow what is coming ahead and the changes that are happening in the wider sector.
Sales can help marketing teams understand customers in more detail, which can enable marketing efforts to be better pinpointed. The effect of sales and marketing teams collaborating more can be profound and hugely beneficial for the business as a whole.
In fact, 87% of sales and marketing leaders say collaboration between sales and marketing enables critical business growth (LinkedIn Moments of Trust report, 2020). Furthermore, 85% say sales and marketing alignment is the largest opportunity for improving business performance today.
When it comes to B2B sales – particularly in the technology and IT fields – the sales cycle can be long. Big ticket items require serious investment, and a lot of buy-in is needed across the business. Reducing the length of the sales cycle is especially important for businesses like this, and is something that aligned marketing and sales efforts can support.
So what are the practical ways in which sales and marketing teams can work more closely together to achieve mutual success?
1. Share New Customer Information
We always advise our clients to have one to two combined marketing and sales meetings a month, there are some things that are only shared through real conversation.
Sales team should share details and insights of new customers and product choices, and where the lead came from. The marketing can get a better idea of where the sales funnel is performing, as well as announce new customers through marketing including PR and social media. Showing off which businesses are working with your products or services is hugely beneficial for reaching new potential customers.
Sharing new customers internally with account and product teams help them understand the types of customers you’re attracting, which can be further used for other aspects of business development.
2. Discuss Purchase Barriers and Selection Criteria
A big question we should ask is - what is stopping prospects from actually buying a product?
Purchase barriers can come in many forms. There are some barriers you cannot do anything about –
awaiting budget confirmation,
recruiting for a new team member, or
a pending organisational restructure.
There are other things you may be able to tackle with combined marketing and sales efforts – for example,
how your product integrates with a new service they are currently installing,
the benefits of your product versus that of competitors, or
addressing specific concerns from senior managers.
With your combined insights, sales and marketing teams can transform purchase barriers with a value framework tied to ‘selection criteria’. This focuses on the priorities your buyer is interested in to make a decision. What do they need to know about your business, the product, features or functionalities so that a decision can be made.
The more you understand buyers’ shopping lists, the better you can communicate your product or services, or provide them with the marketing assets they need.
3. Pinpoint Buyer Profiles
There are several types of buyer profiles that form part of the sales process, and the marketing and sales teams need to understand who these are so they can target their efforts better.
Crucial to this is knowing who the economic decision maker is, as they will sign off on the product. For this, you will need to fully understand the economic reasons for the customer buying the product. Focusing marketing material on what benefit it will bring the economic buyer is key for this situation.
But marketing material will also need to convince a range of other people in order to eventually reach the economic buyer. This can include the day-to-day user of the product, in which case you’ll need to understand what tasks they need to fulfil with your product. You may need to convince the technical buyer, who might have questions about security and integration with other technologies. Understanding the different buyer profiles and what they need to hear from you as a company is key to success.
4. Understand the Procurement Process
Every business you sell to will have a set of steps they need to go through in order to actually buy the product.
When you’re dealing with a sole trader, you’ll already know the procurement process will come down to their personal decision.
If you’re working with a large company that is on the stock exchange, a big independent enterprise, or a venture capital backed company, you will need to find out what the procurement process is. They may have a procurement department, or they might have a request for proposal (RFP) process followed by an official tender process. Understanding the procurement process will give both sales and marketing teams some clues about what information the customer will need from you to make a final decision.
It will also help you understand what kind of product details you need to communicate. Do your customers require a comprehensive list that can be used in a benchmark comparison with other products on the marketplace? Or do prospects need an overview of the key benefits and value of the product? This will enable you to produce the most effective material that relates to product detail.
5. Which Messages Resonate or Get The Call Back?
A key piece of information that sales teams can tell marketing teams is which value proposition is capturing the attention of buyers.
Marketing teams often send out a lot of content and information, and there will be particular points that will pique the buyer’s interest. It could be specific pieces of content, terminology that is used to describe product functionalities, or something that changes a prospect from being cold to interested. Discovering which particular messages resonate are often picked up in the subtleties of language through a conversation between a sales executive and a customer.
More broadly, it is invaluable for marketing teams to know which specific pieces of content – whether it’s a magazine article, a white paper or a social media post – that caused a customer to get in touch. This is the kind of information that doesn’t often filter through from sales teams to marketing teams, but can be used to push future marketing efforts more effectively.
This is all about pinpointing what is working, which can help marketing teams focus on tactics that will drive further success among sales teams.
6. Understanding Data Lists
Data comes from many places, and could come from datasets that have been purchased, events, as well as sales leads and marketing leads both teams have gathered over time.
But are these lists representative of the customers you are trying to get on board? Marketing leads are people who are generally interested in your organisation, but sales leads are people genuinely interested in your product. Understanding the value of the data in your databases is crucial for joined up working.
Customer value – how much a customer is likely to spend – is especially important for sales teams working on commission. While an independent hotel business may spend an average of £5k a year on tech products, a multi-property international hotel brand might spend £150k on technology. If sales and marketing teams can get together to analyse their data sets based on the target market, both teams can tailor their approaches more effectively.
7. Market Visibility
It’s important that sales teams feel connected with what marketing is doing to energise the team. If a marketing team is getting coverage in high profile magazines, or is clearly working hard on the brand presence across emails, social media, events, advertising and more – it creates an infectious buzz across all parts of the business.
Sales teams will proudly share during sales calls, demos and in communications the achievements of the business and where it has been featured - it gives them a talking point, a reason to reconnect with the contact.
8. Trending Topics
Knowing about the latest trends in your marketplace and sector is something that can benefit both sales teams and marketing teams. Marketing teams can source powerful content and research in the field to share with sales teams. This helps sales teams become more consultative in their approach, educating buyers through the sales process.
Equally, sales teams who spend time at trade shows will glean a lot of information from others, which could include anything from possible mergers among competitors, to new products other companies have in the pipeline. Marketing teams can make the most of this inside knowledge to get ahead of the game when it comes to their marketing strategy.
9. Communicating Success - case studies
There is nothing more powerful to both sales and marketing teams than the ability to make the most of your successes. As such, creating success stories and testimonials are a crucial output from sales and marketing.
Sales teams often own the contact and can be incredibly influential to securing a strong case study. Success stories should cover customers that have evolved as a result of your product or service, which may have been part of a wider process of strategic change.
It’s important to have multiple case studies to fit the different organisational profiles you are targeting, so you have examples that will resonate with all your prospective customers. For example, if you’re pitching your product to an international hotel brand, you will need a case study of your work with another international hotel brand in order to connect with them.
Even being able to use your customers’ logos on your marketing materials is effective. It’s all about giving your product credibility by demonstrating who else you work with and how your product has been valuable to them.
Add the above points to your Sales and Marketing call agenda.
Alternatively, we can help you implement this in the business and support your teams to identify valuable insights that will inspire your marketing and drive your sales.