Q: How have you seen the relationship between sales and marketing change in recent years?
A: Marketing is faced with increased pressure to demonstrate ROI and prove its value to the organization. It needs to be seen as a revenue center, not a cost center. In the same vein, sales is faced with added pressure to convert more leads with greater efficiency. Leading B2B companies have realized that greater alignment between marketing and sales is critical to achieve these goals. They’re using marketing automation and CRM technology to drive this alignment of workflow, processes and goals. This new approach has completely changed the way these two groups work together to drive revenue.
Q: What has been your experience working with marketing teams?
A: In my experience, many B2B marketers typically hold a very linear view of lead management. They focus on creating demand, warming prospects and then pushing them to sales for conversion. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t take into account the differences in buyers. Some buyers will follow a linear path to conversion. However, many won’t. In those circumstances, they get pushed to sales prematurely. Leads may tell sales they’re still researching and to follow up in 3 months. During this time, these leads will go cold if marketing has stopped their digital engagement.
I’ve seen savvy marketers begin to address this disconnect with a focus on lead nurture and remarketing programs. They work in partnership with sales to better understand the buyer journey and engage with prospects in a more personalized way, with a combination of digital and human touch. They look at the buyer experience in sum as opposed to its parts, divided between sales and marketing. They’re also more data driven. They recognize the need to prove ROI and the importance of working with sales in partnership to accomplish this.
Q: What does sales find challenging about working with marketing?
A: Marketing often works independently of the sales organization. Thus, sales has very limited visibility into the digital journey leads take before they raise their hand to speak with a salesperson. Sales may only know the single offer marketing used to qualify a prospect as a lead. This makes it very difficult for sales to pick up the conversation where marketing left off. They don’t have the full picture of each lead’s engagement and interest.
Additionally, the proliferation of content marketing has wrongly minimized the role of sales in the lead management process. Marketers have moved away from using the human touch in their lead generation campaigns. This has created a further divide between the two organizations.
Q: How can marketers develop better relationships with sales to achieve a more aligned agenda?
A: The driving force behind success is integration between CRM and marketing automation. This starts with a handshake agreement between the two teams – understand each other’s processes, unify them, outline collective goals and how each will support the other to achieve them. Refine the process so, from the buyer’s perspective, there’s one seamless experience across digital and human touchpoints. Then identify and implement the systems needed to automate the process as much as possible, provide transparency and track success.
At Salesfusion, becoming Sugar Market, we followed this process to align our sales and marketing teams. We worked together to outline the buyer experience and the roles of each in its development. We also use our own marketing automation platform to automate much of lead nurture process. The Salesfusion platform is integrated with our CRM, so our sales team has complete visibility into what marketing does, what’s working, how we’re getting leads, which leads are getting pushed back to marketing and how efficiently we’re closing deals.
The combination of technology integration with process and messaging integration has led to greater efficiency and higher ROI across both departments.