A Journey of a Thousand Miles

Over time, sales tools, content, and use cases become disconnected and less effective. Everyone is fully occupied by day-to-day deadlines and commitments and it is difficult to realign resources with the go to market plan.

Continuous change demands continuous review of plans and operations to ensure they are not outdated and undermined by shifting circumstances.

Uphill climb

It is tougher than ever for sales teams to cut through the clutter and differentiate with prospects. But who can blame them? Sales teams can’t find the right resources, so they spend less time selling which translates into lost opportunities and poor sales performance. The facts regarding the buying environment and sales execution are startling:

          –      60% of the buyer’s purchase decision is complete before sales teams interactive with a prospect;
          –      59% of sales rep time is spent not selling;
          –      Sales teams ignore 90% of the “selling collateral” that is provided to them.

In this changed buying environment, it’s critical that your sales and marketing teams collaborate to unlock this treasure. It’s about capturing feedback on what works and doesn’t work, using that feedback to continuously improve the base of knowledge, and continuous engagement with the customer.

In step with the times

Today’s buyer has changed more in the past 10 years than in the past 100. The buyer is in control. The modern buyer is digitally driven, socially connected, mobile, and empowered, with nearly unlimited access to information and people.

According to McKinsey, when a B2B organisation adopts a customer-centric strategy, great things happen. At Clarity International, we’ve helped clients by developing solutions that focus on exactly this. The result: higher margins, happier customers, reductions in cost to serve and customer acquisition, improved revenue growth, increased employee satisfaction; all the things that bring a smile to your finance department’s faces.

Adopting a customer-centric approach forces a horizontal framework and marketing now works with every part of the company to optimise the customer life cycle and help the company gain competitive advantage. This requires intense alignment and that can only be optimally achieved with the customer as the bonding agent.

Memory lane…

A lifetime ago, when a friend was working through the ranks as a waiter in a hip little burger joint, the boss came up to him and said “Your kitchen cross-training starts next week.” His inner voice screamed, “It’s not my job to cook. I want to be with the people! I love interacting and chatting with customers and have zero interest in being locked up in the hot kitchen burning my hands and/or the food!”

He quickly learned though, having a first-hand understanding of how every single item on the menu was prepped and made was invaluable. The ability to confidently answer customer questions skyrocketed, as did his nightly sales, and his tips!

In the right direction?

Even if they don’t realise it, marketing and sales are on the same team. The sooner they become aware of their similarities and impact on one another, the sooner they’ll become besties.

As we’ve written previously, only 8% of B2B companies have sales and marketing departments that are tightly aligned. In addition to improving communication and engagement, formalising a cross-training programme between your sales and marketing departments is the first step to improved relationships and results. Success lies in the ability of both to act in a hybrid capacity, becoming experts on their industry and products as well as buyer personas and the overall customer journey.

Increasingly, companies are starting to look at team revenue, where a portion of each sales rep’s quota will be the responsibility of marketing. Marketing is incentivised to work closely with each rep to the point they can actually quantify their direct impact on that rep’s quota.

A common strategy these successful companies use is to have both teams report to the same top executive, ensuring that they also have common goals and procedures, and use common language and technologies to enhance operations at every point of contact with consumers.

Take me to your leader…

What do Spotify, Amazon, and Netflix have in common? It seems that they know us better than we know ourselves, and there’s an easy reason for that. Data analytics that’s driven by AI.

Since the beginning of time, good technology has been amazing at helping us be more productive. Clarity International’s research teams spend a lot of time and energy understanding the trends of our lines of business. As we get further into 2017, we can see that our old predictions are now trends.

When it comes to sales teams, a well-functioning process including AI technology can save hours, if not days, on a weekly basis spent on prospecting. Who has clicked on your email, who has engaged with your LinkedIn post, and was there a commonality between the pieces of content that raised that person’s interest?

Sales teams are not the only ones to benefit from smart machines crunching data faster than any human being. When freed by the burden of data cleaning, marketing teams can spend more time on what makes their job so great: creativity.

It begins with a single step…

The new reality is that marketing needs to know more about sales, sales needs to know more about marketing, and we all need to know more about our customers. This process takes time and a commitment between sales and marketing departments in order to refine.

The best companies have choreographed sophisticated systems for both contact and content. Rather than getting hung up on the respective functions of sales and marketing, a better approach is to work backwards from customer touch points and decide who is responsible for each. Working backwards from the customer’s needs leads to what sales and marketing should do rather than what their department titles suggest they do.

And, most importantly – it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Discover what powerful Sales Tools can do for you by checking out some of the work we’ve done with Huawei, Toshiba and BT in our Case Studies.