Maybe You Can’t Get Everyone Aligned This Afternoon, But You Can Make The Commitment To Alignment
This question about sales and marketing finally working together has been taxing executives for years. Sales hates marketing and marketing hates sales. This must change, and it has to change for one good reason: The prospect has changed.
Today, your prospects are everything. Their buyer behavior and their buyer journey must be 100% aligned with your marketing and sales execution. If your typical prospect life cycle and buyer journey is two weeks, then you should match that with sales and marketing. If it’s nine months, you should be matching that, too. If they need a ton of education, match it. If they need to be intimate with the creation of your recommendations, give it to them. The only way to truly deliver a remarkable experience to your prospects is to align, combine and completely integrate your sales and marketing effort.
Here’s how you can start working on sale and marketing alignment this afternoon.
Make Everyone Accountable For Revenue Goals
Forget the mentality from the ’80s that marketing generates leads and sales closes leads. Today, your sales and marketing teams should be solely focused on helping you hit your revenue targets. This means that sales and marketing need to work together to generate better, more qualified leads, even if that means fewer leads. Sales needs to follow the process, provide feedback on what’s engaging prospects and work more scientifically to lean into what’s working and stop doing what’s not.
Marketing needs sales to be a direct channel and high-octane feedback loop back to them. Marketing needs to know what questions prospects are asking, what content they’re excited to get, what content they require to tell a specific story and where in the sales process prospects are getting nervous. Remember, feeling nervous kills the deal, while feeling safe gets the deals done faster and with more frequency.
Start Working On Account-Based Marketing (If It’s A Fit)
I’ve been a marketing guy with a sales mentality for my entire career. All of my marketing jobs were in full support of sales. I’ve never had a puzzle palace corporate marketing gig. However, in all of those years, I’ve never found a way to completely align sales and marketing behind a specific initiative or tactic — until now.
Account-based marketing, if it fits your company, is the perfect way to get marketing and sales in the same room, working on the same delivery and aligned around the same numbers. When you start planning the strategy behind your account-based marketing program, you’ll need marketing and sales to work on the profile development. What does the target prospect look like? What about the demographics, firmographics and psychographics? This sets them up from the start to work together on this, and they will have a lot of opportunities to continue working together if you’re doing ABM right.
Give Sales And Marketing A CRO
Lose your VP of marketing and your VP of sales, and replace them with a single chief revenue officer. It doesn’t matter if they have sales or marketing experience. You want one person accountable for the company’s revenue achievement. Make sure they have someone overlooking all of the marketing in an orchestrated way and someone overlooking over the entire sales process in an orchestrated way. Ultimately, you want to create a seamless, click-to-close experience for prospects that starts when they land on your website (marketing) and ends when they sign your paperwork (sales). Having one person overseeing this entire experience makes it much easier to build one that strategically converts prospects into customers.
Get Your Funnel Metrics Together
Few companies have an idea of their TrueFunnel™ metrics, the numbers that run up and down your funnel. For example, what is your conversion rate on marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) to new customers? What’s your conversion rate on proposals submitted? That’s usually easier to track. What’s your conversion rate on website visitors to new customers? That’s usually a lot tougher to track.
You want to know your monthly conversion rates at each stage of the funnel. You want that data in a dashboard and you want to be reviewing it on a weekly basis. You also want your revenue team focused on improving those conversion metrics so that each month shows improvement. This is typically where we see bloat in a client’s funnel. They might be getting a ton of MQLs that rarely turn into sales opportunities, or they may have a lot of sales opportunities that don’t turn into new customers or revenue.
Once you identify the weak spots in your funnel, you start working to improve that.
Look For Revenue In Your Current Client Base
Having a chief revenue officer might produce some unexpected conversations, like “why do only 20% of our clients buy our full suite of products or services?” Good question. What can a CRO do about that? First, let’s start talking to our customers more frequently. Let’s create some marketing that helps them get a better understanding of everything we offer. Let’s create a program that rewards them for purchasing across our entire line.
Once you start thinking about revenue differently, a whole host of programmatic options start becoming viable. Your CRO should be thinking like this, and then your CRO should be able to deploy both sales and marketing assets to drive your revenue goals.
Invest In Revenue Generation At The Appropriate Level
Everyone says revenue is key to growth, but when times get tough, what gets cut? Marketing? Sales?
Ask any CEO what their revenue goals are for 2018 and they’ll have an answer. Follow that up with a question about the sales and marketing budget and they’ll probably be a lot more uncertain.
How much should we be investing in sales and marketing? That’s a common question. The answer is not in a Gartner report or on a website. The answer is unique to every single business. We use a complex set of mathematical equations to help clients figure out if their revenue goals and investment expectations are aligned.
Often, they are not. This situation isn’t catastrophic, but it’s important to know that if you want to drive an incremental $5 million in revenue next year and you only have 100 people coming to your website, you’re going to need a significant investment in marketing to hit your numbers.
As marketing and sales get smarter, and as your competitors start to apply some of the tactics we’re recommending in this article, it’s going to get harder, not easier, to hit your revenue goals. Plus, prospects are getting smarter and more educated. A lot of factors are pointing toward the need to think differently about sales and marketing.
One smart way is to break down the barriers between sales and marketing, shake up the teams and give them a single mission — revenue. Then give them the direction, the tools and the money required to generate revenue in a scalable, repeatable, predictable and systematic way. The results are dramatic, especially when you’ve been doing sales and marketing like your father did it back in the ’80s. Now is the time to start thinking like it’s 2018, not 1988.
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