Almost all companies reach a stage in their business growth cycle where sales stagnate, and they don’t know how to break through to get to the next level.
There could be multiple reasons why this happens, but one of the most common is the long-standing war between Sales and Marketing.
For most companies, these two departments operate independently and there is a lack of communication and feedback that limits the company’s success. For most, the idea of unifying sales and marketing doesn’t even seem like a possibility.
After more than 25 years in Sales, I have seen this conflict firsthand. And, the sad truth is...these two departments are powerful, if only they would work together.
Collaborate the Forces of Sales and Marketing
Given that inbound marketing is the new approach that your company must employ to reach your target customers, unifying the forces of Sales and Marketing becomes essential.
Marketing has the skills to create valuable content and knows how to push it out through the channels that will reach your ideal customer. This content will provide the information your potential customers are looking for, breaks down difficult concepts that educate them and helps generate leads that Sales can follow up on.
Sales, on the other hand, has valuable insights into who your target customers are and the challenges they face. Sales representatives speak to customers on a daily basis, so they can help direct the content strategy by sharing what they know about your customers.
So, it only makes sense that combining these two departments will be a powerful force for your company’s growth.
Here are some ways to get Sales and Marketing to break through the divide and work together to boost your company’s sales:
- Set up a collaborative team that is made up of representatives of Sales and Marketing - When each of these departments has a better understanding of what the other contributes to the process and how it impacts the bottom line, they will be more willing to work together.
- Establish a way of rewarding the collaborative efforts of both Sales and Marketing - If the recognition and rewards are dependent on the two teams working together to increase the bottom line, they are more apt to develop a team mentality.
- Use online meetings and webinars to encourage collaboration - These tools can help busy Sales and Marketing teams brainstorm ideas and share information and successes.
- Use technology to track how things are working - A great inbound marketing and sales platform, such as Hubspot, is a necessity in tracking how you are attracting visitors, converting leads and closing customers. This will give your team the tools to continually improve their process.
The Impact of The War Between Sales and Marketing
Anyone who has ever been involved in this war on either side knows what I am talking about. Here is a typical scenario:
Marketing comes into a meeting with Sales brimming with enthusiasm to present the new campaign they are rolling out. They have put a lot of thought and energy into creating an innovative marketing strategy that they know is going to make leads and product sales soar.
The Sales team listens to the marketing plan and wonders why Marketing didn’t get their input about their customers. If you were to look closely, you would see the grimaces on the faces of the Sales team and their carefully concealed sideways glances at each other.
By the time it gets to the questions and answers part of the meeting, it has already gotten combative. Sales is asking loaded questions that indicate that they have their doubts that this is going to work. Marketing is getting frustrated, because they feel that Sales is sabotaging their efforts.
After the meeting ends, here is typically the feedback from the two about each other…
Marketing - “The Sales team is always negative,” The Sales team is lazy,” “The Sales team always sabotages us by not following up on leads.”
Sales - “Marketing has no clue, because they don’t understand our customers,” “Those marketing leads are horrible,” ”I am just going to keep doing what I am doing.”
And so it goes...on and on and on.
What’s the impact on your company? Company sales stagnate, because these two departments aren’t working together as a team.
Why This Old Model Will Hurt Your Company
With the use of technology and the internet, businesses have changed how they operate and so have the buyers that work for them. Gone are the days where a sales representative could cold call on a company and get in to see a buyer with the marketing brochures that the marketing department created.
Why? Because buyers have the power of the internet to research businesses they want to buy from and get the information they need, without ever having a salesperson come to their door. And if you haven’t figured it out yet, the receptionist is their new gatekeeper.
Just look at these statistics according to a recent Forrester study:
- 74% of B2B (Business to Business) buyers research half or more of their work purchases online before buying
- 74% of B2B buyers say buying from a website is more convenient than buying from a sales representative
- 93% of B2B buyers prefer to buy online when they’ve decided what to buy
So, what does this mean for your company? If Sales and Marketing don’t start working together to reach these buyers, those buyers may end up buying from your competition and your company will be left behind.
The Way To Reach The Buyer
B2B buyers want to know if and how your business’s products or services will ultimately benefit their company. But as we just learned, they don’t necessarily want to talk to you directly about it.
According to DemandGen’s 2016 B2B Buyer’s Survey Report, 69% of B2B buyers said that the single most influential aspect of any vendor’s website is “relevant content that speaks to my company.”
They also found that 64% of B2B buyers said that they selected their winning vendors because they “demonstrated a stronger knowledge of our company and its needs”.
What does all of this information tell you about business buyers?
- Buyers want to do their own research to find solutions for their companies needs and locate vendors that can provide those solutions
- Buyers are looking for vendors that they feel understand their company and its needs
- Buyers want the buying process with your company to be simple, quick and online, if possible
So, how do you reach those buyers today if your salesperson can’t get in the door ? The answer...Inbound Marketing.
What is inbound marketing? Inbound marketing is a marketing approach that focuses on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful. By creating content designed to address the problems and needs of your ideal customers, inbound marketing attracts qualified prospects and builds trust and credibility for your business.
Potential customers find your information and your company through channels like blogs, search engines and social media.
Check the Numbers and Agree on Their Value
You'll need to have some way of tracking and reporting on the goals and expectations we spoke of earlier. Set an established process so everyone understands the value of a particular lead at any given point in the sale process.
We love Hubspot for this purpose as it offers tremendous benefits to both parties to keep a real handle on what is in the sales pipeline and how to move leads forward.
It can be easy to tweak the numbers to favor your side of the table. Resist the temptation even if the information is not in your favor.
Keep the conversation honest! The respect you gain from this process will benefit the entire company and put you on a much better path for success.
It's not about which department is doing better than another, it's about how well the company is growing. As the company grows, so do you and the opportunities for advancement and financial reward.
Sales and Marketing have the same goal...increase your revenue. The changing B2B market requires that these two departments finally step up, come together and focus their skillsets and knowledge on developing a strategy that will be more effective in attracting, reaching and closing your target customers.
When this is done, the sky will be the limit on your breakthrough success.
Olivia is the Co-Owner and VP of Sales for InTouch. She loves getting to know and connecting with people.