B2B Startup Strategies for Successful Marketing and Sales Alignment

02-5-2019

Sales and marketing are the peanut butter and jelly sandwich of a B2B company. The two just belong together. But there are some startups that haven’t perfected the alignment between their marketing and sales teams.

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Traditionally, the role of marketing and sales is marketing provides leads, and sales follows up to close a sale. While that sounds simple, a lot of disparate systems and processes can muddy the successful transition of leads.

This creates a problem because marketing wants to hand off quality leads trusting that sales will follow up, and sales wants the confidence that the leads are worth pursuing.

To ensure the success of both marketing and sales, it’s necessary for the heads of marketing and sales to sit down and align their two departments. This means evaluating the customer journey and bringing marketing and sales processes and goals in alignment with an overall picture of what needs to happen for a sale to close.

Improve Communication Between Sales and Marketing

Communication is one of those words that sounds simple on paper but is perhaps one of the most complicated words in the dictionary. This is because nobody sees it the same way. Have you ever asked someone to do something and you thought it was communicated effectively, but they ended up doing something completely different?

This is a common occurrence in the workplace. The best thing sales and marketing can do to mitigate miscommunication between them is frequently meet and discuss processes and goals.

Align KPIs

To begin, focus on goals. When looking at goals and key performance indicators (KPIs), we need to ensure that both sales and marketing are setting standards that complement one another.

If marketing has a standard to acquire a massive amount of leads and then ship them off to sales, then this may drag sales down. This is because sales is more interested in the quality of leads rather than the quantity of leads.

Have sales and marketing sit down and discuss what makes a quality lead and set KPIs and goals that revolve around those requirements.

Have a Holistic View of the Customer Journey

The focus of both marketing and sales is the potential client. In the traditional model, marketing would be responsible for the initial engagement through activities like social media, email campaigns, or blogging. From there sales would find the individuals most interested and take over.

But now, both sales and marketing are more involved then ever before in every stage of the customer journey. Both departments will need to look at their processes. How can sales help in the initial stage? Could sales reps be engaging on social media or could they send out personalized emails?

Then how can marketing assist sales? Could marketing create specific content that will help a customer appreciate the demo stage more?

This ability to cross over and assist in different stages of the customer journey can only happen when marketing and sales are aligned, and when both bring their skills and resources to guide a customer through the entire journey from discovery to sale.

Create a Lead Movement Strategy

Too many leads get logged into a database and then never see the light of day again. This is troublesome because among the pile of dead-end leads, there are a few gems worth uncovering. But before we even begin to dig into a database of leads, we need to have a database first!

Investing in technology that helps move leads through the customer journey will be an asset to any sales and marketing team.

Once the right technology is acquired, then the next step will be using that technology to filter through the leads. From there, marketing will be able to transfer the leads worth pursuing over to sales. This means that marketing and sales will need to coordinate on two fronts.

One is the lead itself, sales will need to contribute to the identification of quality leads.

The second front to coordinate on is technology. Both sales and marketing will need proper training on how to use the platform, so everyone is in sync when using the tool.

Ask Marketing What They Need

Of course, there is more then the steps mentioned above. When sales comes to the table, it will need a supportive attitude. Let all the frustrations of bad leads go.

When sales comes to meet with marketing, they will need to listen to the needs of the marketing team. Marketing wants to provide the right leads to the sales team, but they may not know exactly what sales is looking for.

Marketing might ask for assistance in outbound email campaigns. They might ask sales teams to play a role in helping boost social media presence. Whatever the case may be, if sales is willing to support marketing, then marketing will respond in kind by assisting sales.

Ask Sales What They Need

The same goes for the marketing team. Sales will ultimately determine whether the leads become sales. Remember that a lead doesn’t mean much if it doesn’t become a sale. No company grew off leads alone.

This places the value of marketing and sales in sync with one another. If sales doesn’t have the resources to close a sale, then marketing will need to fill in what gaps it can. This might mean creating content that doesn’t generate leads but helps push customers through the sales pipeline. While this wouldn’t focus on hitting KPIs, it will prove to be more beneficial and promote a comradery between sales and marketing.

Become Educators Instead of Promoters

Sales and marketing are no longer product promoters. It’s no longer a matter of pitching to potential customers. The reason why sales shifted away from this is because frankly it doesn’t work anymore.

Nobody likes being sold to. When someone says they’ve been sold too, it implies that the customer is a passive figure who is at the whims of a charismatic sales rep. Now customers are empowered. They are active and informed like never before.

If this customer empowerment scares sales and marketing managers, then it’s because sales and marketing need to reevaluate the ways they engage with customers.

The change should be promoting to educating.

Content Creation

That change is most prominent when it comes to content creation. The reason for this is because content’s main purpose is to educate. Blogs, infographics, and videos are all examples of the kind of content that can be created.

Marketing should take the lead in this area, but sales should still be aware of the kind of content that is being created. As sales reps find good leads, they should be aware of the kind of content that drove that lead in the first place. If a sales rep knows what information a potential client finds interesting, then they can do further research and provide even more information to the individual.

This will turn sales reps into educators. No longer will they be pushing a product, but instead educating someone on the best options available to them.

Have sales reps take some time to review the company content and encourage them to keep an eye out for statistics and data that could prove useful to potential clients. Then share this information with marketing so they can turn it into content that can be shared.

This is an area where marketing and sales can align. By both sides participating in content creation, both sides can transform into educators and create effective content that can drive growth.

Social Media on Both Sides

Social media is a tool that can be utilized to engage people in an indirect manner. Normally marketing runs a startups social media presence, but this doesn’t mean sales reps can’t utilize it as well.

When sales becomes engaged with social media outreach, they can see just what kind of messaging is put out prior to customers contacting them. This can prepare them for what to say and how to interact with inbound calls from social media.

Sales reps might not be comfortable with using their personal social media profiles to reach out and interact with people. That’s entirely ok! The great part about social media is that new profiles can be made with a specific intent. These new profiles can be used to share content, engage with others, and research what is happening in the field.

But before this can happen, sales will need to work closely with marketing. Marketing is responsible for managing company social media activities. Before launching sales reps onto social media, sales should meet with marketing to make sure the twos’ strategies are aligned.

Become Influencers

The consequence of creating quality content and engaging with others on social media, is sales reps gain a reputation of being experts in the industry. This makes them “influencers.” And influencers have a much easier time selling.

However, sales reps need to fully embrace the educator mindset before this can happen. People can readily tell when something is being sold to them. Thus, to become prominent experts, some sales reps will fall into bad habits and it will ultimately hurt them.

This is because trust is something that is difficult to acquire and maintain. The moment that trust is broken it will be difficult to reclaim. But if a sales rep can let go of a selling mentality and focus instead on being an educator, then the payoff for becoming an influencer is worth aiming for.

Reliable Source of Information

The end goal of being an educator is to be a reliable source of information. Wouldn’t it be nice if sales reps and marketing never had to engage in outbound marketing? How great would it be if sales reps came back from lunch everyday to a voicemail filled with questions about your product?

That may be the dream but that is a difficult goal to achieve. It takes sales and marketing aligning themselves as educators. It takes creating the right content, finding the right statistics, and having the right mindset.

All in all, sales reps don’t want to be sales reps to potential clients. Rather they should be allies who are providing information that are here to help other companies grow. One final note is that if sales reps don’t feel like the company product or service is truly a benefit to customers, then it will be even harder to help them acquire the right mindset. Be transparent and honest, seek to educate and bless and align marketing and sales to become a reliable source of information that others can turn to.

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