Sales and Marketing divisions typically work toward the same end goal: revenue. When they work together effectively, ROI, sales, productivity and top-line growth can also improve. Yet a recent study by Forrester Research found only 8% of B2B organisations have a tight alignment between these functions [B2B Sales And Marketing Alignment Starts With The Customer (2011)]. This raises the question – When Sales & Marketing are so interrelated, why can’t they get along?
MARKETING VS SALES: THE AGE OLD RIVALRY
In most organisations, Sales and Marketing are split into two divisions. This stems from a focus on the traditional sales funnel, where a large audience is sorted to leads, prospects and clients. Team Marketing generates leads and passes them through to Team Sales, who close the deal and turn them into clients.
Each division focuses on their own specialisation without much co-operation, and when results aren’t as hoped, each department looks to the other for blame. Friction grows, in-house arguing starts and both Sales and Marketing take their eye off the ball and forget the most important thing: the customer.
THE MODERN CUSTOMER
Today’s B2B customer is extremely knowledgeable. According to research from CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council, Today’s B2B buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57 percent of the purchase process is complete. They prioritise relationships and trust over product and price, and most importantly, they decide when they’re ready to buy and who from.
Power has shifted hands, and in order to succeed in the current market, it is imperative that we embrace this change. B2B marketing professionals must recognise the unique characteristics and traits of each individual customer, and build our relationship with them on this basis.
SALES & MARKETING MANAGEMENT
In order to do this we should consider an integrated revenue cycle as opposed to the traditional sales funnel. In the cycle, B2B Marketing and Sales work together to engage and nurture each individual prospect from the moment they’re on our radar, through to sale. The varying stages of the buying process are identified and each prospect is targeted by the right division, with the right information, at the right time.
The roles of each department within the new revenue cycle are clearly defined. Marketing generates, nurtures and scores leads to develop prospect relationships. Sales creates customer rapport, closes deals and up-sells. If Sales is given a lead that is not yet ready to convert, they are passed back in to the funnel for further nurturing from Marketing. Sales and Marketing both have access to the CRM system and share language, technologies & processes that allow them to effectively monitor, and optimise every stage of buyer readiness.
THE GOAL OF SMARKETING
When Sales and Marketing Teams work together in this way, results show. Aberdeen Research (2010) found that the best companies at aligning marketing and sales experienced an average of 20% growth in annual revenue. This is because customers are continually engaging and building a relationship with the brand.
If Sales and Marketing cooperate to achieve the end goal, your brand will score more sales, from customers who are true fans of your business.