Did your sales people spend time and money on learning how to do “solution selling”? If so, it hasn’t been a complete waste, but: Solutions are insufficient, today your customers are seeking more than solution providers. They are looking for trusted advisors who understand their challenges and goals and can assist them making a better decision.
Being a trusted advisor is far from easy, because your customers are more knowledgeable than ever before. They have the chance to go online and do research before even talking to a sales person – and they do, thereby effectively keeping the sales people at arm’s length. So, in effect, what this means is that the role of the sales people has changed in the sense that they no longer educate the buyer, but only get to the table when the buyer feels educated enough to make a decision. So who should take care of educating the buyers? Marketing, of course. Who else when the buyer searches for knowledge online?
The role of the sales people has changed in the sense that they no longer educate the buyer, but only get to the table when the buyer feels educated enough to make a decision.
As a consequence, marketing has become much more important since the marketing department now needs to handle a much larger part of the sales funnel than previously. This also means that marketing can and should be held accountable for the company’s turnover – together with the sales people of course. That’s why aligning sales and marketing is a must. In some companies aligning these two departments, even though they often share the same VP or similar, is like mixing water with oil: They don’t really understand each other’s tasks and challenges and they for sure don’t think highly of “the others”.
Sales about marketing: “Those guys don’t understand what’s going on in the real world, I mean, look at their campaigns and the so-called leads they provide us.” And marketing about sales: “It’s really annoying so little our sales people understand about the importance of modern marketing. And why don’t they follow up on the leads we provide?” And here’s what their CEO wants: “I really wish I could get sales and marketing to work together better. Both are important, but they seem to fight instead of cooperate and that’s so counterproductive to the entire company.”
So what does it take to have these two very important departments work together in a constructive way that helps increasing the growth of the company?
#1 The departments must understand each other better. As part of this, you must look at what each department is supposed to deliver and the tools must be synchronized.
#2 They must speak the same language. This goes not least for a common definition of what is a prospect, a lead, a marketing qualified lead (mql), a sales qualified lead (sql).
#3 Share the same goals (and incentives). If the two departments don’t share the same goals they will keep working in silos – and sharing growth related incentives increases the cooperation too.
If you can do this you will reap at least the following benefits:
#1: Sales conversion rates go up.
#2: Marketing budgets work harder.
#3: Deals progress faster.
#4: Pipeline visibility improves
#5: Fewer opportunities are wasted.
So don’t hesitate, get started now aligning your sales and marketing departments. And if you want more advice, concrete tools or hands-on consulting, you know where to find us.