About three years ago David Fletcher and I sat down to assess why some of the sales teams we’ve worked with were able to quickly get on a consistent growth track, beating both total sales and margins quotas; while others languished.
We started by considering talent levels, and quickly concluded there was no measurable difference. Nor were work ethic, territories, industry or any other simple attribute we identified. Confused and frustrated we started looking elsewhere to figure out the cause.
Summing up the conversation, I said to Fletch, “You know, this would make a good blog topic.” With a blinding flash of the obvious, we discovered the key difference. The sales teams that scaled had solid, aligned, integrated marketing efforts and those that didn’t scale had little to no marketing traction.
When I was selling I always found myself working closely with the marketing side of the business. I looked to them to create valuable, actionable material I could use to motivate my prospects to action.
As a business and sales leader, I’ve always taken a holistic viewpoint to sales and marketing. I did so initially with no thought about the importance of alignment, it just made sense to me. Both functions working together make each other stronger.
Of course, my experience is (unfortunately) the exception and not the rule. Far more common is the belief on the part of marketers that salespeople are lazy and rebellious, and on the part of salespeople that marketers are balloon buyers and kindergarten teachers.
Today I share some of the important insights I’ve gained over the years as to why most salespeople should adjust their viewpoint about marketers and to start treating them like the best friends they should be. Next week I reverse the perspective.
Before I share these three insights, let me give a bit of a disclaimer. These three points apply to marketing departments that fully understand and embrace their job is to generate new revenue opportunities, and that while theory may in fact be interesting, results are what matters.
Marketing has the time, tools and ability to create clear buyer personas that will save you tremendous time in the sales process
The first law of Demand Creation is to know and understand your customers better than they know and understand themselves. That understanding is documented in buyer personas.
As a salesperson, if you think personas are just for marketing you are missing the boat. Everyday I use personas to make insights into who I’m talking with, what drives them and to clue me in on what I’m missing.
Marketing creates the message that you rely on to open doors and move the sales process along
Your website is a foundational sales tool. Within seconds of making contact with a prospect, you can bet they’re looking at your website. If you’ve developed a strong relationship with your marketing team, you’ll be able to influence what your prospects see.
Salespeople often think of their website in regards to lead generation, but overlook it when it comes to managing (and speeding up) the sales cycle. Your website should be filled with valuable, actionable content created by your marketing team. The more you utilize the content that’s there, the more content your marketing team will create; and the more likely the content will be precisely what you’re looking for.
Marketing can do the selling when you’re not there
The fact of the matter is that a B2B sale is too complex to be managed by salespeople alone. Depending on the size of the company you’re selling to, and the complexity of your offering, you’re going to need to influence between 7 and 21 direct influencers.
As consensus buying continues to become the dominant form of decision-making, decision cycles (as opposed to sales cycles) are getting longer and longer. As I’ve shared before, only about 25% of the leads you create are going to be ready to buy in the next 12 months.
So, who’s going to keep the message in front of your prospects when you’re busy working on other opportunities?
The right answer is your marketing team, through the development of effective nurturing programs. And, when this is done, not only will your closing rate go up, but the average deal size goes up as well.
So, the next time you pass your marketing team in the hallway or join them on a conference call, step up and share what you’re experiencing and be open to their requests. You’ll be glad you did.