In most distribution companies, the marketing and sales teams operate in separate lanes, and those lanes only occasionally cross. It’s important, however, that these two teams start working together more closely and more often in order to keep your numbers up and your field sales reps employed.
Of course, you may be seeing more collaboration between Sales and Marketing recently in order to boost online sales. That’s a good start, but… The responsibility of developing customers and gaining more customer-spend still rests heavily with your field salespeople and their ability to get in front of a customer or prospect. Because of the vastness of the information available online today, many buyers will only see a salesperson when they cannot resolve an issue on their own.
We do know, though, there are still buyers who would welcome and may even require a sales call. This article will show you how a stronger collaboration between Sales and Marketing will lead to knowing who those buyers are and what they want or need.
Why a Collaboration?
To put in a nutshell why this collaboration is necessary, it comes down to Sales having the most powerful knowledge and Marketing having the most powerful tools. Collaboration between Sales and Marketing, therefore, begins with Sales sharing their knowledge with Marketing, and then Marketing putting that information to work.
Your sales reps know your customers’ pain points, and they know what gets customers excited. But, for the most part, your reps tell Marketing which products to promote each month; rarely do they explain, however, the pain your products will resolve for a customer. As a result, your marketing messages are reduced to meaningless platitudes such as Summer Sales!, Great Deals!, New Products! and Cost Savings! Marketing campaigns that are built around overdone phrases make no real or lasting impression.
When a marketing team is familiar with your customers’ true pain points and hot buttons — in essence, what matters to them most — they can create laser-targeted campaigns aimed specifically at individual buyers’ needs and wants. Addressing true pain points and customer concerns like improving job-site safety, working more efficiently, and decreasing installation time are the types of marketing messages that get noticed. They are more quickly noticed and responded to because these messages actually matter to their recipients.
To take it a step further, a marketing campaign based on customers’ needs will hold their interest much longer. When a buyer responds to your content (opening an email, clicking, reading, spending time on your website), marketing tools today are such that these responses are captured and will trigger more information being shared with that buyer about that same subject. This also means that as a buyer interacts with each piece of information you share, they’re moved further along your sales funnel, becoming a better-qualified lead to pass on to Sales.
Consequentially, as lead quality increases, your sales team will make more appointments with better-qualified prospects who welcome their visit. Sales reps will build stronger relationships with new and existing customers, and hopefully your company’s sales will increase.
Where to Start
How do you start this collaboration, though? Often Sales and Marketing speak very different languages and do not see eye to eye on the definition – and especially the timing – of a successful campaign. Sometimes there’s lingering resentment between the two teams; often there’s a lack of respect. The disconnect between the two teams must be eliminated if they’re going to work together peacefully. It’s best, then, that the directive to work together comes from the top and is fully supported by upper management. Here are some key strategies that will help get the ball rolling.
- Get together often. Set regular meetings, starting with every week or two at the most. The initial focus should be on generating a mutually agreed-upon list of KPIs and timeframes in which to achieve success. Brainstorming or problem-solving specific issues may be slow at first, but as each member becomes more comfortable, ideas will be more forthcoming. It’s important that each side understand the other’s goals, strategies and barriers to success.
Also, since success rests on Marketing having a clear understanding of both the customer and the difficulties the sales team faces regularly, marketers should attend sales meetings whenever possible to learn where things are going wrong (or right). If the marketing team isn’t clear on what the customers are struggling with, or what the sales team is struggling with, they’re simply guessing about what’s expected of them.
- Clarify the unknowns about your customers and your services. Put together, or update, your buyer personas. Drill down into customer details to where your marketing team will truly understand the issues that are keeping your customers up at night. Are they worried about labor shortages? Do they have trouble meeting deadlines? Are they suffering from a lack of space on the job? Are their tools outdated? Most importantly, do your smaller customers struggle with the same issues larger customers deal with? Keep fine-tuning this information until you get to the very root of the cause of a customer’s struggle and precisely what your company can do to help.
- Build your sales funnels using input from both teams. Once your marketing team has a clear understanding of your customers and what makes them tick, they can use marketing automation and website tracking to create finely-targeted sales funnels for each topic unveiled. They’ll create content that will address customers’ hot buttons, and Sales should review this content to confirm it’s hitting the mark. When built correctly, buyers will be attracted to your website based on the search results that appear when they’re looking for solutions (vs. products.) They’ll visit your site, and their visit and contact information will be captured by your marketing automation tools. The more valuable the information you publish, the stronger your sales funnels will be, and the more often a visitor will return. Every move a person makes inside your funnel will be tracked and will propel them forward toward your solutions to their issues.
Two Teams Becoming One
Greater openness and transparency may be difficult and uncomfortable at first, but better communication will always lead to better results. By breaking the ice, finding their middle ground, sharing common goals, and strengthening their relationship, Marketing and Sales can begin to work together as one unit, each playing a more significant and valuable role in your company’s success.Tagged with best practices, marketing, sales