B2B buying behaviour is becoming more complex than ever. With the rise of digital and content marketing, face-to-face sales are no longer the main method of selling, with on average 67% of a sales decision being made through online research (1). These shifts in buying behaviour mean that for businesses to be successful, they need to adapt to the changing nature of B2B sales and ensure that both sales and marketing are successfully working together.
What’s the problem?
Research shows that businesses with tightly-aligned sales and marketing teams have 36% higher customer retention rates (2), 15% more profitability and generate 19% higher revenue than those organisations who are less well-aligned (3)! And yet, less than 1 in 10 sales and marketing teams report complete coordination (4). If this gap isn’t bridged, it’s ultimately the bottom line that will suffer.
In this article we explore the disparity between both sales and marketing and how by taking just a few simple steps, you can help get your sales and marketing teams working better together.
Sharing the sales funnel
According to Jean Spencer, a content Marketing Strategist at Microsoft, failure to align sales and marketing can cost B2B organisations over 10% of revenue each year (5). From our experience, businesses still tend to approach the sales funnel as being split half way, with marketing taking the responsibility for the “top of funnel” activity, such as generating interest and handing leads down-stream to sales, who then take responsibility for conversions at the bottom of the funnel.
Adopting this kind of approach can mean that neither marketing nor sales are being used to their full capacity and are often unable to reach their full potential within the business. Both teams have a pivotal role to play at each stage of the sales funnel - Sales teams should be helping at the top of the funnel so leads are ready when they reach the bottom, and marketing teams should be working alongside sales to handle collateral, assist with social media and make sure they’re producing enough ‘bottom of the funnel” content.
Are you content with your content?
Take for example the content marketing strategies deployed by most firms. The most common complaint made by sales teams is that they can’t find appropriate content to send to prospects (6). On the other hand, between 60 and 70 percent of B2B created content is never actually used (7)! This clearly demonstrates a disconnect between the two teams, where sales should be aware of the content produced by marketing, and marketing should be producing content that’s useful and relevant to prospects.
Communication and collaboration is the only way to ensure content is being produced and used effectively, but more than half of B2B organisations do not have a unified, business-wide content creation process in place (8).
Lack of insight
One of the main barriers to sales and marketing alignment is each team not understanding the full extent of what the other does – and therefore not fully valuing it! Sales can often see marketing as more of a support function; just there to provide leads and produce the odd sales brochure, whereas marketing teams can see sales as a redundant department, a hangover from a time when face-to-face sales was the main method of B2B selling, but less relevant in the digital age.
Collaborating not opposing
To be able to fully collaborate, both teams need to understand that the sales funnel is an end-to-end process, and needs cooperation to work. The role of marketing doesn’t start and end with lead-generation, and sales should be involved in marketing throughout the whole process. Think about what more you can be doing to share useful information with each other, and to help build an understanding of the problems faced at both ends. For example, sales teams might find that certain sectors are harder to sell to – but are they sharing that information with marketing? Without this information, how can marketing know that they aren’t providing suitable leads and shouldn’t be targeting content at these sectors?
In our next article, we’ll look at the how both departments qualify leads and how to align priorities so that your sales and marketing team can work towards a shared goal.