Sales and marketing need each other.
Can you imagine peanut butter without jelly? Jordan without Pippen? Rhode without Island?
Far too often, though, sales and marketing teams are at odds with each other. This kind of mindset is what keeps so many organizations from maximizing revenue.
In truth, only when you align sales with marketing – and vice-versa – can you achieve full revenue potential and hit key performance indicators across the board.
Here are four ways that sales and marketing alignment can boost income.
1. Engaging Buyers When They’re In the Research Portion of Their Journey
The B2B buyer journey takes a customer through several stages before a deal is closed. Gartner describes them as follows:
- Problem Identification: “We need to do something.”
- Solution Exploration: “What’s out there to solve our problem?”
- Requirements Building: “What exactly do we need the purchase to do?”
- Supplier Selection: “Does this do what we want it to do?”
- Validation: “We think we have the right answer, but we need to be sure.”
- Consensus Creation: “We need to get everyone on board.”
Note that this probably looks different from the sales funnel or marketing funnel your team may use. That’s because buyers are not a part of your journey. They’re on a separate, sometimes-parallel but often-divergent journey.
And that poses a problem for sales teams. Why? B2B customers are already halfway through their journey before they ever speak to a sales rep.
Gartner found that B2B buyers only spend about 17% of their time meeting with suppliers, including sales teams. If there are multiple vendors in the mix, time spent with any one rep may only be 5-6%.
Where do buyers spend most of their time? If you said research, you’d be correct – as much as 45% on average, per Gartner.
In today’s complex sales transactions, a sales rep may first pop up well after buyers have already learned what’s out there. That means they’ve learned on their terms, not yours. Maybe they’ve learned more about a competitor than they have your brand. That puts you at a disadvantage when (or if) you get through.
In comes marketing. By creating relevant content and distributing it through paid (i.e. ads), organic (i.e. non-paid SEO or social media posts), and earned (i.e. speaking opportunities and guest articles), marketing teams can put your info in front of the target audience earlier in the sales cycle.
This helps in two ways:
- You get there first; and
- They’re more familiar with your brand when they get a cold call or email
A proactive sales strategy is always better than a reactive one. With marketing aligned with sales, the outreach strategy can be the most proactive of them all.
2. Creating Personalized Content Tailored to the Customer’s Needs
Generic, one-size-fits-all sales content is better than no content at all. However, it doesn’t hold a candle to content that is created for specific buyer personas – or, even better, specific buyers themselves.
However, creating content at that individualized level is really, really difficult for sales teams to pull off at any kind of scale.
Marketing can help by crafting content that is engineered to address the specific concerns brought up by prospective customers.This includes taking into account their company’s needs, priorities, organizational shifts, competitive environment, and near-term plans.
Of course, marketing can’t create that laser-focused and relevant content by themselves. Only the sales team has the insight and familiarity with their potential customers to make content relevant.
That’s why it’s essential that there’s two-way communication between sales teams and the marketing department. They need to supply each other with what’s needed to create powerful content:
This is what account-based marketing is all about: providing content for your target audience that engages and persuades more efficiently and convincingly because it’s designed for that account.
But without sales and marketing joining forces, it won’t happen.
3. Nurturing Potential Customers and Growing Relationships
Marketing and sales also play an invaluable role in not only finding potential buyers but maintaining relationships with them until close.
B2B deals take time. The most lucrative deals can have sales cycles that last well over 18 months. Part of this length is because you have to build consensus between buying teams consisting of 5-7 stakeholders (on average).
But part of the length is simply due to the fact that even if your solution is the right one, it’s not the right one right now.
One day, it might be – and if you nurture your relationships and maintain contact, your team will be ready to seal the deal.
No sales process focused on nurturing customers is ever complete without marketing. And no marketing strategy designed to nurture leads can succeed without that crucial, person-to-person contact that sales provides.
A steady supply of content delivered via the sales rep to the customer can help maintain that connection. A steady supply of relevant content from the marketing department can increase brand awareness so that there’s a constant reminder of your company whenever the buyer goes online.
Consistency is the key. A sales-aligned B2B marketing strategy enables a series of touchpoints to decision-makers that keeps them engaged and on the hook – and more likely to buy.
The road to a purchase decision is often long and fraught with twists and turns, but a B2B sales strategy that embraces marketing as a way to nurture relationships can not only shorten the journey, but ensure you get to your money-making destination.
4. Using Tools to Enable Marketing and Sales Alignment
You may have a B2B marketing strategy and a B2B sales strategy, but to really marry the two, you need to combine them where the rubber meets the road.This means using a sales enablement tool.
There are plenty of tools out there that can help. A customer relationship management (CRM) platform is essential, and really, something every sales organization needs. Salesforce has the foundation to provide the contact database that is so essential to delivering content.
However, what a CRM often lacks is digital content management capability – a tool that helps you not only keep up with your marketing collateral but quickly and efficiently deliver the right content to the right audience at the right time.
Marketing and sales can communicate through the CRM and other channels (i.e. Slack, Microsoft Teams, Asana, ClickUp) and then use digital content management to take created content and inject it into the sales pipeline in a way that makes sense.
Also, if you understand the target account’s org chart through relationship mapping, you can better influence stakeholders and decision makers through the personalized content that works so well.
No matter what system you use, you won’t reach – and break through – your team’s revenue ceiling unless you can find a way to fuse marketing and sales into a fully-operational revenue machine.
You can’t set a table without salt and pepper. Macaroni just isn’t the same without cheese. And marketing without sales – and sales without marketing – you get the idea.
If two things so obviously belong together, let no one separate them. Align sales and marketing and achieve more revenue than either can provide on their own.