The typical buying group for a B2B solution involves six to 10 decision makers. And each of them is armed with four or five pieces of information they’ve gathered independently. This makes for a complex buyer’s journey and requires a close alignment between sales and marketing. A key component to a successful B2B marketing plan is providing content, at every stage, that informs, educates and ultimately makes the decision process easier. However, content also needs to serve as a critical sales support tactic as they interact with customers closing in on making a purchase.
When marketing and sales join forces, they can work some serious magic. The challenge? While both teams share the common goal of driving revenue and growth, they often operate in separate silos, resulting in misaligned efforts, missed opportunities, and frustrated customers. Let’s dive into how marketing and sales can converge to create a dynamic force that propels organizations forward.
Marketing and Sales: Uniting for a Better Future
In the fast-paced business world, the seamless collaboration between marketing and sales is often the differentiating factor between success and stagnation. Each entity can help the other to achieve a streamlined, integrated customer buying process that provides value and mirrors how customers want to interact. But when it comes to sales and marketing alignment challenges, 47% of organizations cite communication as a major barrier to alignment, and 44% cite broken or flawed processes.
So, let’s talk strategies for achieving true marketing-sales harmony. Sixty percent of potential customers want to connect with sales during the consideration stage, after they’ve researched options and developed a short list—and that will naturally include stellar content from the marketing team. The more marketing can support sales’ efforts, and the more sales can what informative content is available for their customers and prospects, the better.
8 Tips for Alignment: How Marketing Can Support Sales
- Ask questions. The folks on the sales team can give your marketing team significant insight into your customers and prospects, which in turn helps drive your marketing efforts. Ask them: What’s worked in the past? What messaging gaps exist? What sale opportunities are they missing because they don’t have the right information to share? Use their answers to craft a content plan. And don’t shy away from cross-functional “show and tell” activities to gain better product insight by having sales present the same demos they give customers.
- Keep communication going. Marketing and sales should meet on a regular basis to share insights, updates, and developments. This includes reviewing new marketing materials and sharing new sales learnings gleaned from customers.
- Match message to motive. How can you better support your buyers? Once you determine what part of the purchase journey you’re targeting, you can create content that will resonate.
- Set your sights on the right target. Use thoughtful research and insights to craft the top 2-3 buyer personas your sales team targets. You don’t have to target every buyer, just the right ones. Honing in on specific, actionable profiles will help laser-focus your marketing content.
- Understand your funnel. The modern purchasing process is a fluid, repetitive one. It’s clear buyers don’t always stick within the confines of the traditional buying cycle/marketing funnel. It’s more akin to an infinite loop of education, comparison, and engagement. By thinking of buyer goals, versus buying stages, marketing can more readily craft content to help sales build lasting relationships and recommend the right solution to meet buyer needs.
- Be flexible with formats. From webinars to infographics, memes to customer testimonial videos, today’s marketers have license to get creative. Don’t be afraid to engage in a little A/B testing with sales. Arm them with the same message in different formats to see which content types resonate best with different personas or activities.
- Track and optimize. Along the lines of testing comes tracking. Serve up content in a way that’s easy to track, to help sales better discern buyer behavior. Both in terms of what content got the most traction, and which pieces were most popular at what point in the buyer’s journey.
- Centralize sales-friendly tools. Create content pieces geared at specifically helping sales soar, and house these materials in an easily accessible, centralized location. Examples include:
- Vendor Maps: Interactive maps that display where sales teams are located throughout specific territories or geographies.
- Solution Playbooks: Presentation slides and PDFs to help guide the conversation and win new revenue with existing clients or prospects.
- Sales Apps: Mobile, interactive applications that outline company solutions, services and relevance to your customers.
- Virtual Total Support Services: Promote education and training related to specific solution areas and offerings via a virtual environment.
- ROI Calculators: Interactive digital calculators that illustrate savings and ROI with real client or prospect data.
The Results Don’t Lie
These days, it’s all about how your product can help prospects and customers, and how you can rise above the competition. For marketers, this means fostering relevant conversations with the right content, delivered at the right time, in the right place and tailored to the unique buyer needs. And it means doing so in ways that best support sales efforts.
Why is this so important? HubSpot noted that companies with good sales and marketing practices generated 208% more revenue from marketing efforts. And, when these teams worked together, companies saw 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher sales win rates.
In the end, sales and marketing alignment is all about helping modern buyers traverse an increasingly complex B2B landscape. After all, studies from Forrester show that 76% of buyers choose a vendor that delivers effective value messages. The more closely content marketing and sales can align, the more effectively a clear value message can be delivered to buyers.
Authored By: The Outlook Marketing Team
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