At Sales & Marketing 2.0 in San Francisco and B2B Marketing Forum in Boston last month a common theme emerged – the idea of putting the “and” back in sales and marketing. Now this is not a new concept, but it is clear that as technology continues to impact the way buyers buy (see Retooling in a Sales 2.0 World) sales “and” marketing departments need to adapt and evolve. This requires collaboration between the two groups to find the best hand-off points for leads, capitalize on the first sales response, and to support the sales team as they work the sales opportunity to close.
Key Collaboration Point #1 – Identify the ideal point of “sales readiness” – According to a recent IDG study, a decision maker is ready for sales engagement about six days after consuming the right level of content. Of course every business and its buyers are different, so it’s crucial for marketing and sales teams to work to find key indicators of “sales readiness” in order to optimize the lead scoring model. Identifying the peak-interest point and then following up with a high-level of discipline can make all the difference in effectively converting more leads into new customers.
Key Collaboration Point #2 – Make the most of the first sales interaction – What happens at the point the marketing team deems a lead “sales ready” is so critical, yet often marketing passes a lead to a sales representative with a campaign ID and keyword expecting the sale to progress flawlessly. Armed with limited information about the lead, the sales rep picks up the phone, connects with the prospect, and begins asking the prospect for more information. Even for interested buyers, the hand-off can feel like a step back, if the salesperson doesn’t know more about them, where and how they responded, and why they are interested in the product or service. At this critical hand-off point, marketing has the opportunity to educate sales with more contextual information, including where the prospect is at in their buying process, what is known of them, areas of interest based on marketing content consumed and earlier responses, and suggestions for content and tools to help progress the prospect through the sales cycle.
Key Collaboration Point #3 – Leverage marketing insights and content beyond the first hand off – In more complex selling situations, there are often additional sales stages to account for, including competitive evaluation, selection, and stakeholder reviews, each with a new set of potential objections to deal with. It is critical for sales and marketing to think about the “what if” scenarios in advance and prepare tools to help sales overcome possible objections. IDG, in a recent infographic, outlined a number of common content used to support the various stages of the sales cycle, including industry articles, how-to videos, product reviews, ROI tools and more.
Bottom line – to compete in today’s highly competitive and often rapid sales cycles, sales and marketing need to work together. Content and tools that evolve the conversation, keep the buyer engaged, and keep your products or services top of mind are critical to success.
And along the way, don’t forget some of the basic topics for engagement between Sales and Marketing teams. See: “Three tips to spring into the new sales season with a fresh perspective”