What’s the most important thing that marketing can do for your B2B sales organization?
Most people would say, “Get me leads.” More leads, better leads. And that’s an important part of what marketing can do.
But there’s more. Here are three ways marketing can help your sales team be more effective:
Now awareness is essentially making it so that as many first sales calls as possible don’t start with, “So…what do you do?”
If a prospect understands who you are and what you do that’s valuable to them, it will totally improve the productivity and progression rate of the prospects that your salespeople meet.
Now some organizations that realize this is a need will assign it to the Sales team instead of to the marketing team. This is a very inefficient way to generate awareness and it’s a waste of your valuable sales people’s time.
Marketing can play a role in doing awareness at scale, but “at scale” doesn’t mean scattered and unfocused. The best awareness tactics are those that are sharply focused on your key prospects and ideally are touching each person in that smaller pool many times.
Some experts say that seven impressions will finally register with people and have them remember a message.
The second way sales can benefit from marketing is with leads.
While this is the most direct value Sales gets from marketing, it requires a couple of things to happen for it to be effective.
First, sales and marketing need to agree on what a lead is.
Leads can be defined in a lot of different ways. We’ve all experienced tough conversations between marketing and sales about whether a lead is valuable or not – from either side. So finding that common ground is very important.
The simpler and more intuitive that definition is, the better.
Secondly, leads are not not black and white.
Beyond the leads that meet your definition, you’re going to also get passive interest – things like clicks on website pages, social comments and other behavior that falls short of your lead definition.
Marketing can play a role in responding to those more passive interest points to help groom them and grow them into actionable leads.
Marketing helps surface one-step leads, but also can nurture passive interest into warmer and warmer leads until they meet your definition.
How Sales Can Help
The third way Marketing can help is to show Sales how they can help their target prospects.
Some people would say, “You mean, tell Sales what to say, right?”
That’s part of it, but it’s bigger than that.
Sales people that stand out really understand the needs of prospects, and can not only communicate how your company can help them once they are a customer, but can demonstrate that value. They can help now with information, insights, expertise, demonstrations, introductions. There are all kinds of things Sales can do now, at no charge, to help your prospect receive some of the value that your business can provide them later, when they actually pay for it.
Saying it is one thing; doing it attracts your prospects like nothing else.
Prerequisite: one target, one message, one funnel
But it’s not enough for Marketing to deliver these things to Sales. Sales and Marketing must be aligned, or most of Marketing’s value will be wasted.
It’s not so important how your organization is structured. You could have separate managers for Marketing and Sales; you could have telesales people in the Marketing department. Roles are less important than unity.
Everybody should have a common understanding of who your target is, what your message or value is for that target market, and how you together define your funnel – your customer journey, from the first introduction to you to the point where they are ready to sign up as a customer.
If you have different understandings of any of those things between marketing and sales, you’re going to struggle no matter how productive marketing is and how hard working sales is.