What can salespeople do to help marketers? And conversely, what can marketers do to support sales?
I love this question because I’ve been on both sides. I cut my professional teeth in B2B sales before shifting my focus to marketing, and then marketing team leadership. I’ve experienced the tension between these departments, and the reality is that it doesn’t have to be that way. So, here’s a little bit of advice for both sides, from someone who gets it.
How can sales help marketing?
(I’m putting back on my internal marketer’s hat to answer this question…) Please, sales rep: Help me help you. Believe it or not, we in marketing want to help you sell. I know it makes you crazy when we hound you for customer testimonials, ask you to share content on social networks, require you to update client data in our CRM, request your feedback on campaigns, and push you to help us promote events. But we’re not doing all these things to make your life miserable. We’re also being measured by revenue results, so we’re doing our best to put our tools to work to help create qualified opportunities for you to close. But we can’t do it (well) without your support and participation.
You’d be surprised how far we’ll go to support a rep or sales team who approaches us with an idea and a collaborative mindset. We are ready to invest marketing resources where we know they will be well-leveraged by the field. When you show us that you value the programs we’re helping create, we’re more likely to direct our attention, energy, and funding your way. And that helps your pipeline!
Also, we need your help for access to the customer stories. We have all kinds of knowledge about our products and services, but you have the close personal relationship with our buyers. Their stories – how we impact their lives and businesses – are what truly differentiate us. We need your help to connect to those stories, so that we can share a meaningful, authentic message to the marketplace. Which, in turn, creates engagement that helps you grow sales.
What can marketers do to support sales?
First, marketers need to get out from the inner sanctum of the corporate office, and actually engage in conversations with customers. How can you create content and campaigns that resonate with buyers if you have never interacted with them? It’s one thing to categorize large groups of potential buyers into personas, and this is a helpful exercise for keeping marketing campaigns focused. But it’s a totally different experience to sit in a meeting with a customer, and put a face and a voice to that name in your database.
The only chance you have to compete in the market is to articulate an authentic message. And you can’t do that if it’s not connecting at the human level. So, get out from behind your desk and accompany a rep to a customer meeting. Or sit in on a call. Or volunteer to host a regional event. Just get out there and have personal conversations. It will change the way you think about your marketing and messaging strategy.
Also, we marketers tend to get a little pushy. We’re constantly pushing out content, campaigns, events, data, tools, etc. But what if all the stuff we’re pushing to our sales reps isn’t helping them do their jobs, and feels more like a nuisance than a support? In my experience, the best way a marketer can help sales is to stop telling (as often), and start asking (more often).
Here are just a few questions you could consider asking to your sales leaders and reps:
- What are we currently doing that you absolutely love and why?
- If you were managing the marketing budget, what would you cut first, and why?
- What material do you wish you had during the sales process that you’re currently missing?
- If we could create a campaign just for your team (region / department), what would you want it to be?
- What is the best way for me/my team to communicate with you?
- What themes or questions are coming up frequently in your customer conversations?
- Would you introduce me directly to three of your customers, so I can reach out directly and hear how we’re helping them and their business?
Let’s be friends.
The best campaigns I’ve ever been part of were great because marketing and sales worked together to make them so. These departments need to work more closely than ever before, as they are both on the hook to drive results through sales. I imagine a time in the not-too-distant future when marketing and sales will be fully-integrated as the revenue center of the business, creating value at every stage of the customer lifecycle. Until then, it’s essential that marketing and sales work from the same page, as players on the same team. That alignment starts with a well defined, authentic, customer-centric messaging strategy that all team members understand, support, and can clearly articulate.
Ready to be friends? We’d love to help you help each other. Contact us to get started.
I recently had the opportunity to participate on a panel of business leaders discussing inbound marketing. The post is one part of a blog series based on that event, providing my expanded perspective on the questions discussed. Watch the full event recording here.
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