Marketing and sales have been the two most important players in the traditional business set up. However, with changing times, the setups also need to change. With the advent of technology and growing consumer awareness, the lines between traditional marketing functions and sales teams are blurring. Organizations cannot afford to play stringent clear cut roles in these two departments. The need of the hour is marketing that seamlessly integrates with the company’s sales activities.
Causes of Misalignment
Even though the concept of sales and marketing as one team is gaining momentum, experts caution that a realization of this model requires a radical change in the thinking pattern of the B2B executive subset. The traditional business model exhibits loopholes that scream for this misalignment in the following ways:
1. Culture and Practices
Traditionally, aligning marketing with sales has not been a priority or even a best practice. The need of businesses was to have separate entities perform their respective roles with the senior management playing the buffer.
This caused faulty business structures, activities, systems, and processes affecting the end conversion and retention rates.
2. Disconnect and Set Apart
The synergy and potential of marketing and sales blend were not recognized until very recently. The collaboration was not valued and hence these two teams operated separately and in isolation with no formal communication on the baseline.
This practice led to redundant leads, cold potentials, and lowered profit margins. The lead-to-consumer journey through the funnel was compromised with this disconnection with no follow-up evaluation to gain cognizance.
3. Simple Lack Of Understanding
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Conventionally, the marketing department is tasked with generating leads that are then handed over to sales to follow through. This lead generation is carried out through sales data analysis.
The marketing team does not understand the sales aspect and vice versa. This lack of understanding creates more isolation. When sales provide inputs for lead creation and marketing gets involved in target sales lead, the business moves towards better goal achievement.
Smarketing is a blend of marketing with sales. Getting your marketing goals in sync with the current sales goal is a great and effective way of dramatically improving your marketing Return on Investment (ROI), top segment growth, and effective sales productivity. An efficient sales implemented strategy is the key to the long term success of the business in any field.
The roles are mingling with the increasing focus of the marketing team on the middle and bottom of the funnel where traditionally the sales team played. With the heightened involvement of marketing in the consumer segment, the lines are now just a formality. Studies reveal that 89% of marketers expect increased customer experience responsibility and greater revenue-generating responsibility.
Some clear cut reasons for this alignment are:
1. Missed Prospects with Misalignment
The misaligned teams result in inefficient framework processes leading to time wastage in creating content with ill-defined objectives. In larger organizations, marketing teams come up with leads and these are handed over to the sales department to follow up. However, this will have inconsistencies if the marketing team is not aligned with what the sales team can pitch on the storefront. Kapost reports that 65% of the salespeople don’t have content to pitch to the prospects.
A 2017 Green Hats B2B Marketing BMR report reveals that tensions between marketing and sales cause missed targets, budget problems, and inside tensions. 90% insiders feel that marketing and sales alignment will help charter these issues but only 45% of this shared information and marketing qualified leads (MQLs) regularly. Further, only 44% of the B2B organizations reported getting satisfactory lead follow-ups and only 25% showed sales enablement plans.
Further, the mismatch of the goals between these two segments causes problems that make it easier for the sales department to lose sight of the traffic generated by the marketing department. It also causes the marketing team to start focusing on segments that cannot be followed up by the sales representative. Data shows that 37% of sales leads are not followed up in the B2B. This can easily be avoided with an alignment between marketing and sales.
2. What Consumers Want
Another point that bears consideration is the consumer perspective. With growing awareness and more insight, statistics show 70% of consumers have already done their research talking to sales and 59% of consumers don’t like talking with the sales team. These indicate the need for a more concentrated marketing team with a sales perspective firmly submerged in its strategy.
3. Building a Rich Customer Experience
You might have two different setups for marketing and sales or you might even be playing with one team with different delegations but the key here is the end game of stable increased sales ratio.
For this, you need to have your marketing team align its strategies in sync with the sales team pitch. Every stage of the funnel should deliver a flawless and unforgettable brand conscious to the prospects.
95% of B2B claims that customer experience is a priority but also the biggest challenge. Organizations can provide a seamless experience by incorporating marketing in the end-to-end sales funnel.
4. The B2B Buying Set Up
The B2B buyers are under immense pressure today to be self-reliant. The buyers have lost trust in the sales representative teams for precise information. They are wary of falling into the sales and up-selling traps of the slick sales reps. Research shows that of all potential buyers only 12% are interested in talking with the sales representative and 71% indulge in unbranded search seeking the sales representative through phone or mail only when it’s unavoidable.
Further, B2B buying is set up in teams with 70% businesses having over 5000 employees keeping a 4 member buying team. Also, social media and peer reviews play a vital role in cinching these decisions.
In this atmosphere, lead generation needs to be followed by sales through trust built up and responsible selling tactics. This is only possible when sales bring in the marketing insights.
5. Market Qualified Leads Conversion Rate
Most businesses don’t have a formal definition of a “Qualified Lead”. The 2014 Sales Optimization study underwritten by Velocify reveals that firms with formal definitions enjoy higher conversion rates.
29.8% of firms with well-defined meaning enjoy 75% conversion rates as opposed to 18.2% of firms with no definition.
The definition can only be possible with well-defined alliances between marketing and sales to make it functional.
Benefits of Alignment
By joining the marketing and sales team in a rhythm, your business will become a show stopper. This will ensure a seamless customer lifecycle completion. It will further advent the following areas.
- Maximize Business Profits
- Better Potential Realization
- Higher Sales to Profit Ratio
- Better Lead to Realization statistics
- Prevention of conspicuous emails and phone calls to unreceptive leads
- A better understanding of the potential leads and subsequent follow-ups
- Simplified Workflow
How to Blend Marketing with Sales
Making marketing a tool for sales is a lot easier than some organizations believe. It requires a common objective for them to function like a well-oiled setup. The two teams need to be in a steady dialogue with an open constant communication loop. The lead quality and its success need to be paramount and the two teams need to be focused on that.
You know your marketing-to-sales link is broken when the leads are not transforming to potential buyers. There has to be clear agreements, definitions, and set plans for the two to work in harmony. Some ways to ensure a smooth blend of marketing and sales are:
1. Sales Prioritization and Facilitation
As a business organization, your foremost priority must be sales and an increasing consumer base. The teams must share this common goal and make that their “mantra“.
Bringing this goal at the forefront for both the teams will bridge the gap in their different philosophies. By utilizing marketing tools like content development, campaign creation, ABM and inbound traffic supplementation to boost sales team efforts will seamlessly integrate the two teams.
This philosophy is termed as “sales enablement”. It holds the potential to transform your sales and marketing strategies to create a more effective sales edge, better customer interaction, and higher conversion rates.
2. Revising Inbound Content
The marketing department’s focal point is content creation. This content creation also doubles as a potent sales instrument. A lot of businesses fail to cash into this potential sales point by getting stuck in traditional sales roles.
Content Marketing Institute research details that approximately 60 to 70% of the B2B content is wasted since it is deemed irrelevant by the end sales team. Further 79% of the marketing leads go cold at the funnel conversion point because the sales team is not able to nurture them through the funnel effectively.
Content development is not just a potential prospects magnet. Or even being an initial launchpad for the leads. It is also the base for Account-Based Marketing and requires a high level of alignment between marketing and sales. Relevant content also helps in pushing the potential leads down the purchase funnel. The sales team can utilize this content to address the potential leads to concerns and grey areas.
In short, content is the queen bee for both the marketing and the sales teams. Good quality content ensures a clean journey transforming prospects to sales.
3. Reorganize Sales Funnel
By adopting a business model that incorporates salespeople from the early stages of the funnel, you can offer potential clients opportunities to buy sooner.
You need to shift from a marketing-focused site to a sales-oriented site. This can only be effectively achieved if you have inbound monitoring software incorporated in the model. The CRM software should be integrated with the model to monitor both marketing and sales funnels.
4. Technology Leverage
With marketing driving up the demand generation, you should focus on putting in place workplace statutes and business processes that will make the CRM system work efficiently to ensure consistent consumer interaction. This will maintain a smooth link and end-to-end flow in the funnel.
Stats You Cannot Ignore
- Businesses with marketing and sales alignment experience a 36% higher customer conversion rate and a 38% higher sales ratio.
- Marketing and sales alignment witnesses 67% increased leads turning to clients
- According to CSO Insights, companies with good marketing-to-sales blend have 35.3% more salespeople on target than others.
- 75% of highly aligned business reports documented strategy at specific goals.
- With increased information share basis of lead nurturing and incubation between marketing and sales, there is an improved conversion rate.
- A 2014 Aberdeen report found that highly aligned marketing and sales companies are more likely to achieve a 20% or more annual growth rate.
- B2B firms with good marketing-sales alignment showed a three-year revenue growth pace which was 24% faster than their counterparts and a 27% quicker three-year profit expansion curve.
- As per MarketingProfs, businesses with tight marketing and sales alignment enjoyed 36% higher consumer retention rates and 38% higher effective sales rates.
Aligning your marketing with sales is a definite game changer and needed to get that cutting edge in the market. You will find the blend paying off with higher dividends and better returns.