Stop the silos. Make the customer journey coherent. Decide who owns the marketing narrative.
These are the common themes of marketing in 2017. But what do they mean in real terms? How is one department affected by another? How should disparate bits of a company work together to create experiences that actually succeed in retaining consumers and converting them into customers?
The common themes of marketing in 2017
The truth is there are numerous companies that are still not geared to work this way. They are aware of and indeed dabble happily in digitally-based marketing activities, but that’s often where it stops. While the digital media revolution has shone the spotlight away from a more ‘traditional’ sales-focused approach to focus on more publisher-based marketing, essentially company infrastructure remained largely the same as it ever was.
Modern marketing practices can help in all sorts of areas, from recruitment, to IT, to internal communications and company culture. But the two departments that really need to get on with one another – to the shared benefit of both brand and customer – are sales and marketing. Sales versus marketing is a battle that is ages old in business, but in today’s world of coherence and transparency, there really needn’t be a fight in the first place.
One move that your marketing team can do for you, can change everything for you
It’s worth the effort. MarketingProfs reports that companies that align sales with their other practices generate 208% more revenue from their marketing work. CSO Insights, meanwhile, says that companies with malleable, flexible sales and marketing processes report an average 10% upshot in salespeople meeting their quotas.
Companies that align sales with their other practices generate 208% more revenue
The need to be aligned
Cohesion between two groups of people both vying for the next big success firstly requires a mutual respect between them. I don’t think this disparity has been better summarised than by entrepreneur, social media investor and CEO of VaynerMedia, Gary Vaynerchuk, in a recent video from his widely-followed series.
“Salespeople,” he begins. “One move that your marketing team can do for you, can change everything for you…
“You can hate them, but one activation at a conference, one video they make for Facebook, one sponsorship – one thing can change everything. They are literally Mike Tyson… one punch. It’s something you have to respect – there’s nothing a salesperson can do that will ever map to one excellent execution in marketing.”
Nice, right? He continues, of course, putting the shoe on the other foot.
“Marketers… you can be highly successful. But you’re not practical. You don’t get the full picture all the time. Your sales team is there day in day out, grinding. They don’t have the luxury of your budget…
“You have to be empathetic to your sales team because they are there and there’s no wiggle room. As a salesperson… you’ve got to make sales. Everybody is judging you on the numbers. Nobody is giving you any credit for the set up.”
And this is the key point – while these can be considered two disparate departments, what is really happening is a simple case of set-up and punchline. For business to thrive, you can’t have one without the other. This is the kind of mutual respect that needs to flourish.
For the most part I think that mutual respect is there, alive and well. The people that need to be convinced are generally at the top – the head of marketing and the head of sales need to be aligned in ways that empathise with each other – that can respect that process of set up and punchline.
With digitally-based marketing techniques – and I still loathe to call it that, since these days marketing is more or less always digital – often a problem lies with proving ROI. The ROI of sales is sales – the business case is simple. The business case for that one big punch can be harder to justify. But those things should be considered one and the same, part of the same equation with the same solution.
Head of marketing and the head of sales need to be aligned in ways that empathise with each other
What you can do
There are a few practical things companies can do to achieve this – primarily sharing data. Following the right data, in order to create the right content, is what enables marketing to muster up that knockout punch. Call it training.
How existing customers respond to sales is a good place for inspiration
For instance, content marketing should be able to look at sales personas in the same way they do marketing personas. Indeed, often marketers are not privy to the sales funnel, which can be very differently informed to the marketing funnel. But if you can define sales personas to target with your content campaigns, you’re arming your sales team – you’re giving them the set-up they need to deliver to the punchline.
And if the consumer doesn’t convert and makes a purchase, recycle them. If they’re no longer a sales qualified lead then they’re likely to be a marketing qualified lead for later on. The same can be said for generating content ideas – if marketing is looking for new ways to engage potential customers, how existing customers respond and feedback to the sales guys is probably a good place for inspiration.
The sales guys are generally better at connecting with the target audience; they’re talking to them. Marketing is better at engaging audiences, staying informed on a long-term basis as to who is consuming content and what their subsequent action will be. This sort of marketing strategy is all about gathering those insights that will help deliver that one big hit. Coupling that with insights from the guys on the frontline is basically hedging your bets.