When I was asked to write this article from the perspective of sales, I remembered a quote from Daniel Pink’s book, “To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others”
“All of you are likely spending more time than you realize selling in a broader sense – pitching colleagues, persuading funders, cajoling kids. Like it or not, we’re all in sales now.”
This may come as a shock to my sales peers, but I genuinely believe that the ‘marketing’ and ‘sales’ perspective are one-in-the-same; it’s how their responsibilities are communicated within the organization that differs. When I look at the list of sales organizations I admire, they have reduced the sales and marketing noise by recognizing the importance of building a sales and marketing culture that supports delivering the best possible solutions to the right customers.
The last piece of this is critical; it’s not just about delivering the best solution or closing the deal, it’s also about engaging with the right type of customer. This requires seamless integration between sales and marketing activities. If I had one wish for my sales team, it’s not to simply have our CRM full of leads, it’s to have our CRM full of the right type of prospects; prospects that have been targeted and nurtured by our team throughout their buying journey.
To understand the concept of engaging with the ‘right customer’, it’s important to understand the evolution of buyers. With the pervasive use of the internet and resulting rise of the informed buyer, prospects no longer have the need to call sales as they begin their buying journey. They spend hours researching information online, digesting content that is most relevant to the needs of their organization, and ultimately deciding when to engage in the sales process.
According to a Corporate Executive Board and SiriusDecisions report, buyers are typically anywhere from 60-70 percent through their buyer journey before a company is even aware there is an opportunity.
What does this mean for sales? The ‘Traditional Salesperson’ is as extinct as the horse-and-buggy. The mentality of caring only about getting more leads and not understanding (and appreciating) where those leads came from, will no longer suffice.
The bottom line is this; the need for someone to move or get people to do something they might not otherwise do (the most basic definition of sales), is still as apparent as ever. Sales and marketing organizations need to move away from the concept of activity-based metrics and progress towards bi-directional sharing of information and feedback to achieve the goals of the organization.
To use sales jargon, it’s the concept and gives and gets. Marketing gives sales leads, sales gives marketing feedback on those leads. It sounds simple but it requires buy-in from both teams supported by the right process and technology.
I am a sales person. I may still have my Glengarry Glen Ross moments but what I’ve learned – especially since my time with Sugar Market, previously Sugar Market – is that when sales and marketing are truly aligned, we all have a better shot at the Cadillac El Dorado.