From the outside looking in, many would presume sales and marketing departments go hand in hand, and that they have shared visions and goals. In the most successful B2B organisations, this is often the case.
However, for others, sales and marketing functions can often feel like ‘frenemies’ – blaming each other when things don’t go to plan, and generally undervaluing the other’s contributions.
Amid the pandemic, their working relationship has taken on new significance, as the face-to-face aspect of the sales process has largely been replaced with video calls. Marketing must now offer greater support in qualifying and nurturing leads and can be the difference between an effective and a failing sales operation.
At the same time, sales must realize that marketing teams now have less tactics at their disposal, with traditional elements of the marketing mix such as in-person events now made redundant amid the shift to digital.
Ultimately, sales and marketing should be working towards the same goal: securing business and helping their company grow. However, silos between the two departments often restrict them from doing this effectively, and this lack of alignment ends up hurting corporate performance.
In this piece, I’ll dig into the main source of disconnect between the functions and how technology can help to resolve this by sparking synergies between these revenue-focused operational teams.
Disputes between the two divisions are often centered around one key thing: unqualified leads. Too often, sales blame marketing for sharing unqualified leads that are not strategic, putting the onus on sales to identify why each lead is relevant through lengthy conversations that span the course of the quarter.
As the B2B industry moves more and more towards an account-based marketing (ABM) model, not having qualified leads is becoming an ever-bigger pain point for sales.
Leads need to be qualified in the sense that marketers, sales development reps (SDRs), and account managers all agree that these leads are worth pursuing, and that they have a high probability of converting.
This helps salespeople to avoid wasting their time. Besides, they are already often stereotyped as being reckless in their approach, trying to sell products to people that are clearly not interested or the right target audience.
Working with qualified leads would help change this perception, and provide sales teams with an opportunity to open up meaningful conversations with prospects so that they can offer the right services and close deals faster.
Sales and marketing teams need to work together to hammer out a mutual understanding of lead qualifications, and then ensure they’re aligned on the tools they use to make these come to fruition.
If each team is doing its own thing using incompatible tools and executing disjointed strategies, then operational gaps widen, and corporate dysfunction follows.
This is where the use of technology comes in.
Many businesses are likely to already be using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms and marketing automation to accelerate outbound and inbound efforts, but few are likely to be using Sales Engagement Platforms (SEPs). These are dramatically transforming the mechanics of sales and marketing.
SEPs are not meant to replace CRMs and Marketing Automation software. Instead, they are designed to bridge operations and build alignment.
SEPs can integrate seamlessly with existing tools to automate the data collection, analysis, and outputs required to get leads through the pipeline and ensure that everything follows the right tempo. This saves marketing ops time and allows the sales team to tune into their real talent – turning leads into cash.
Without using a SEP, the only way to get customer data from one team to another is to pull it out manually, hand it off, and then manually input it again. This takes a lot of time and leaves a lot of room for error, which is inefficient and insecure.
This creates a disconnect that means data is trapped in different tools which aren’t communicating properly. SEPs break down these barriers between departments, connecting tools and allowing the necessary parties to access the data they need.
By having all the data together in one place, businesses can use analytics and A/B testing tools to tune the best messaging to suit the needs of each of their verticals, and then communicate the results to people within the organisation. This, in turn, allows for a more targeted, account-based approach with unique, personalized messaging for each account.
If a prospect shows interest, they expect to get a response from sales or marketing almost instantly. Any delay can kill a sale, and traditional processes do not allow for speedy responses or a speedy transition between marketing and sales.
An SEP ensures the correct rep is notified at the correct time to contact the lead. It also enables them to personalize the initial emails using data they have collected, which sets up triggers that put prospects in the correct automated sequence based on their activity.
This ensures there is no lag between interest and contact, enabling a frictionless buyer journey.
Timing your message and touchpoints is key throughout the customer journey, as you want the prospect to get the response at a time that they will see it.
Machine learning, a key part of SEPs, can be used to optimize this and allows organisations to send perfectly timed, personalized messages and sequences.
One example is when reps get an out-of-office reply: machine learning can be used to process this and schedule a personalized email for the second they get back. This allows the salesperson to better manage their time and work on each lead in the most efficient manner.
The best sales and marketing departments act like the winning team of a F1 race: perfectly timed, perfectly tuned and everyone knowing their roles. But this can only happen if they’re empowered with all the necessary components: the salesrep as the driver, the marketing team working at the speed of light as the pit and engineering crew, and the SEP as the engine.
Tom Castley, VP of Sales for Outreach UK, heads the London office and has 20 years of experience supporting sales organisations in Europe’s tech space.
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