We’ve all seen tremendous pressures on marketing budgets over the past few years. The requirement to do more with less, with more channels to activate across and audiences that are more overwhelmed than ever by marketing messages – everywhere they turn, look and read. And, in the middle of all this is the requirement to increasingly demonstrate the ‘value of marketing’ at each step of the process.
It’s a challenge all marketers face. The most effective way to address the above is through a solid, consistent and strategic alignment with sales, so it becomes recognised as an integral part of the sales process.
Marketing, when considered strategically, aligned with the sales cycle seamlessly and delivered effectively should lead the sales process ‘by the hand’ – keeping one step ahead and warming up and supporting your sales teams each step of the way. This article will discuss the importance of a strategic co-existence between sales and marketing – one that ensures both are working together in unison with accelerated business growth the ultimate beneficiary.
The Marketing Cycle
There is no argument that a focused, product-educated and motivated sales team is an imperative in any business. After all, if your sales team is not taking care of a prospect or customer, your competitors’ will. Sales impact an organisation’s success through building credibility of the brand, relationship development, customer retention and, of course, sales lead conversions. But how do these differ from the deliverables within a marketing plan?
The fundamental role of marketing is to align with your organisation’s commercial plan and sales process, help generate a steady stream of prospects and support conversion of these prospects into clients. In its simplest form, the marketing cycle is about ‘grabbing attention’, ‘positioning’ and finally ‘securing the sale’. Throughout these steps, marketing teams are using various touchpoints – below-the-line and above-the-line – including digital and traditional media, events, advertising, direct mail and PR (and much more) to motivate, build trust, define a need and maintain and add value to relationships. However, the end-game must always be about sales – building the pipeline to enable growth.
Aligning Your Teams
According to a recent study by marketing industry thought-leader, MarketingProfs, organisations with tightly aligned sales and marketing functions enjoy 36% higher customer retention and 38% higher sales win rates. An important note here is how we define the ‘functions’ that are working on sales and marketing. Do we categorise sales and marketing as separate entities – responsible for their own outcomes, or do we bring the ‘teams’ together into a cohesive, strategic partnership?
The answer is simple – one team is better than two. The key to this coalition is timely communication of strategy, in order to align expectations and ensure a thorough understanding of each team’s, and each individual’s, role in the process. Provide a plan for regular cross-departmental touchpoints for prospects and customers, and ensure that the key messages being communicated are reinforced at every stage. To take this one step further, it is also important to deliver this consistent message to every relevant decision-making contact within a prospect’s organisation. This will ensure that when a contract is up for renewal, or when growth is sought, your key messaging – and with it, your brand – is top of mind in the boardroom.
At OrangeDoor, with our expertise in strategic communications and event delivery, we have devised, developed and activated numerous multi-channel marketing campaigns that achieve exactly this. Each campaign targets a range of audiences – from C-Level to marketing to technical – and with it, is built around appropriately tailored content. The key takeaways, however, remain the same – reinforcing key messaging around product or service benefits so when the sales teams pick up the phone to their prospects they already have some qualified understanding of the business’ products, solutions, USPs, benefits and credibility, making the sales process smoother, warmer and the cycle – hopefully – shorter.
We as business leaders need to change how we approach the supportive framework between marketing and sales. Now is the time to reassess your marketing strategy, drive alignment of marketing and sales and deliver more cohesive communication between your teams and your customers - all with the end goal of improving pipeline, opportunities and sales.
To discuss your new direction for marketing, or any other development of your marketing or sales strategy, get in touch with our marketing communications team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org