How to ensure that marketing is supporting the sales process.
I hear Marketing and sales often used interchangeably, but it is important to know the difference between the two and their individual goals. While both functions are absolutely needed to achieve sales and to realize revenues for the organization, there are too many debates about which one is more important. I will refrain from providing an opinion in this regard, as most likely; I will provide a biased opinion.
Let us look at the usual sales process.
You really start with the anonymous customer who knows nothing about you nor your business. At this stage, you really need to engage with a lot of people and make them aware about your product/service. Some of the traditional marketing mechanisms used are advertising, events, email campaigns, PPC ads etc. You can increasingly leverage digital marketing and intelligently target the right set of potential prospects during this stage.
Of course, even before you get into the awareness stage, it is necessary for the business owners to be clear what they are going to be offering, how it addresses a current business pain area and why they will succeed in winning this business. An output of this thought process will be detailed out in the form of digital and physical collateral including flyers, website etc.
Several organizations prefer to use sales teams at the awareness stage as well and start making cold calls and cold visits into their target market. This is not only expensive but does not yield the desired results as well. The amount of money spent on sales at this stage can be far better utilized in the right and relevant digital marketing mechanisms
The potential buyer has seen some of your content posts, advertising, has met you at events and is now curious to understand your business, but most of the times, he does not take any action. He is just checking you out. From a sales stand point, it is very interesting to engage with such folks, but the challenge is that you don’t know who is excited about your services, since they have not really raised their hand in a crowd.
At this stage, as well, intelligent digital marketing mechanisms like email marketing analytics, PPC analytics, landing pages, social media engagement tools help you identify the people that are showing continued interest in your products/services. It may be too early for sales, as there is no real commitment from them, but marketing needs to engage with them, a bit deeper to make sure that they can jump the fence.
Powerful CTA’s/ offers made to an interested prospect in the excitement stage can help him jump the fence and convert him to a qualified lead for your business. At this stage, the prospect is reaching out to you asking for a sales appointment rather than the other way round. Obviously sales engagement is a lot better and closure time is expected to be far lesser than is the case with a cold engagement
Based on industry research and discussions with your sales team, marketing can create content for common stages that answers frequent questions along the buying cycle. If you truly know what questions your prospects need answered to take the next steps in their buying process, your efforts can be minimized by creating the content that delivers the right information at the right time.
For example, thought-leadership pieces on industry trends are often successful for creating awareness and bringing users into the sales funnel, while case studies or solution-specific content are better for leads toward the middle/bottom of the funnel. With the right content, you can guide prospects from initial touchpoint to close by giving them the exact information they need at each stage of the process.
Content distribution can be handled by marketing, sales or a combination thereof, depending on what makes the most sense for your organization and what marketing/sales software you have access to. Just be sure that both parties are aware of their responsibilities, and the actions of the other department to ensure a seamless, consistent experience for your leads.
The lead converts to an opportunity as soon as you can assign a money value to the prospect. That is the value of the proposal that you have submitted to the prospect. An opportunity will go through negotiation on several aspects and most likely lead to a sales closure.
The goal of most marketing activities is to drive leads, which will convert to new customers and grow the business. To do this effectively, however, a deep integration between marketing and sales is needed.
Marketing can arm its sales team is by providing lead intelligence gathered during the qualification stage. This includes everything from contact and demographic information, to areas of interest and level of engagement. Insight can be captured and tracked using marketing software and/or CRM systems.
Lead behaviors like form completions, content downloads, event attendance, viewed web pages and more can help the sales team get a clearer picture of each prospect’s individual interests and challenges. As a result, sales is better able to tailor their conversations and prioritize follow up, spending time on the most qualified leads for more closes.
That being said, it’s important to establish a process for sales to give marketing feedback as well. With insight into sales data—such as conversions, customer lifetime value, revenue generated and more—marketing can refine its strategies to continually deliver the most qualified leads
Regards – Atul Dhakappa
Atul is Founder & CEO at Xenia Consulting. He has over 22 years of experience in marketing, across corporates as well as SME,start-ups. Over the last 5 years, he has gained significant expertise and has helped several companies drive growth leveraging digital marketing