Last week in 2015 content marketing predictions, we discussed the increased use of analytics and how marketers will be held accountable for bottom-line results more than ever before. A related topic, which has the B2B content marketing world abuzz, is the prediction that sales and marketing will merge to form a single, numbers-driven entity: sales has its quotas and marketing its revenue-based, results-oriented KPIs. And like most shotgun weddings, it’s going to be a bit uncomfortable.
Although it may happen under the gun, the sales-marketing union is ultimately a match made in revenue heaven. Sales and marketing alignment is potentially the largest opportunity for improving business performance. As in any strong union, sales and marketing teams must establish mutual understanding and clear communication and exchange—throughout the entire buyer cycle. But how? Read on for highlights from Marketo’s B2B sales and marketing alignment strategy.
Education: Your Prospects are Your Students
With over 80% of the B2B purchase cycle completed before buyers consider contacting the vendor, sales people are no longer the exclusive experts, and marketers are no longer the exclusive promoters. Organizations have new responsibility to become trusted educators. To become a trusted educator, organizations must:
- Provide the content that customers are looking for. Create educational content that is genuinely helpful to your prospects, and distribute that information across channels they are already engaged on—don’t wait for them to find you.
- Become the industry expert. It’s not enough to be the expert on your product. Providing good content means educating prospective buyers on the industry as a whole, and establishing your brand as the voice that can help them cut through the clutter.
Your Sales Reps are Consultants
Broadening your content output and honing your expertise should also involve your sales reps. Fifty percent of B2B sales staff are missing their quotas, because 50% of B2B sales staff are not adjusting their individual strategies. The increase in educated customers does not negate the role of the sales rep, but it does demand a change in approach. Rather than dish out information, a sales rep’s job becomes more about deciphering and adding to a customer’s existing knowledge.
Alignment: All For One
As marketing becomes more and more about content, and sales becomes more and more about expertise, a new strategy for teamwork across the organization emerges.
As your marketing team and sales team unite, let these four anchors guide your brand:
- Intentional Content Creation: Guide the Conversation. The first step in intentional content creation is creating useful, educational material for your prospects, and establishing your brand as the industry expert. This is where the sales experts provide valuable insights for the marketing team. Later, as prospects move down the sales funnel and start to engage in conversations with sales reps, the marketing team feeds content to create salespeople who add value to the conversation.
- Post-Purchase Communication: Customize and Enhance. Turning a prospect into a client happens at the first sale, and then the relationship changes. An experienced sales rep will already know about follow-ups and maintaining relationships, but with the help of the marketing team, those services can be expanded and tailored.
- Sales Team Feedback: Help Me Help You. The process of creating and tailoring content is never finished. As the marketing team is feeding and enriching sales reps, those with first-hand access to prospects and clients need to constantly report back on what works and what doesn’t. The sales team has more visibility into lead quality and how people are moving through the funnel. It’s an essential part of their job to share that knowledge with the marketing team.
- The 1:1 Experience: Now Available 24/7. As the sales team continues to update data on market segments and client profiles, the marketing team is able to create increasingly relevant, personal material that can be delivered any time and accessed at the customer’s convenience. Now that your prospects and clients are finding more and more information that is relevant to their specific position in the cycle and the funnel, your brand will continue to lead the industry and guide the conversation for decision-makers.
Even though the union might happen under duress, the considerable benefits of increased alignment should have sales and marketing teams falling in love before year-end. In 2015, we predict sales-marketing unions can anticipate:
- Higher value content for each phase of the funnel
- More sophisticated post-purchase communication for customer retention and repeat business
- Actionable insight into the effectiveness of content
- Establishing thought leadership in the industry
Learn more about Evolved Media’s unique approach to B2B technology content marketing.