Are you currently working in the marketing department of a B2B company? Maybe you even work in marketing yourself and feel that you're not getting the response from sales that you expect when you show numbers on how visitors behave on your social media and website? Then you're not alone! We know the problem more than well.
This article is co-authored with Frida Straarup Nordeman at the agency Smatter and me Philip Otter at Contitude. We've put our heads together to share our experiences on this topic. Enjoy!
Digital marketing as a field is growing rapidly and the ability to follow the customer journey from start to finish has become greater. As a marketer, you can now get a real insight into how many people interact with your digital campaigns, what they click on and how they convert. The results of your marketing efforts can be seen immediately, while optimising and adjusting along the way. Not only is it easier to present the results in a clear way, but it's also easier to calculate what a lead or customer costs.
But - it hasn't always been that way.
Maybe you're looking for a tool to help you calculate what a lead costs and how different channels perform? If so, for those of you working in B2B marketing, we can recommend the analytics tool Informind.
Marketing as a sales channel
In the past, marketing was seen by many as something that felt "fluffy" and unmeasurable. The leads that came in were handed over to the sales department where they were then processed and the deal was taken home - while the salespeople could count on a hefty commission as a reward. It was also time to ring the obvious bell in the office and receive the cheers of their colleagues.
As marketing becomes an increasingly important part of the sales-based result, this becomes a new sales channel, which also places completely different demands on the company's sales staff. Much thanks to the numbers and results you get from the digital efforts of the marketing department where the customer journey is easy to follow - how many customers actually clicked on the ad, where did they go next? Did they go to the landing page or the product catalogue? How long did they spend there and did they end up filling in a contact form for a specific product and asking for a quote? - Can you then ask the sales team some pretty clear questions: what happens next with these leads, how many of these did the sales page close on and what is the reason for the number of closes not being higher?
So following up on leads has become much easier and for the sales department to blame it on the leads being too cold or that they weren't interested anymore is not valid. Marketing now often has the answers in black and white - and this can create friction between sales and marketing.
Creating symbiosis between marketing and sales - Smarketing
Perhaps you've felt many times that you're struggling to get the sales team on board. Any knowledge you can provide is incredibly valuable and should be interesting. Unfortunately, the reality is not always like that. Although as a marketing manager you are often sitting on multiple answers about how your target audience acts and converts, this also needs to be implemented with the sales department which places higher demands on the sales role to think differently and be willing to take on board the information.
Change takes time, but the lead should ultimately be something that sales and marketing share and help to bring home. As a salesperson, you need to be willing to hook arms with the marketing department to create a joint concept for success where the customer is your joint venture. In other words, when sales hangs up the phone after a conversation with a potential customer, marketing can be there to make sure the company retains its place as top of mind with the customer. Creating a symbiosis between marketing and sales requires a greater understanding of the importance of the marketing department, where collaboration requires that salespeople do not run their own race. Sending out a contact request on LinkedIn and sending out sales pitches won't get results that way and you'll burn through the hot leads that the campaigns gave you.
Implementing collaboration between marketing and sales - how we understand digital data
So as you, as a marketing manager or marketing assistant, tear your hair out to get the sales team on board and working together, remember that not everyone is receptive to the big changes that have taken place. Changing behavior can often take a long time and new thought paths need to be established. A good help along the way can be to make sure the sales team understands the data you're measuring and what the data means once you present. As a marketer, you may be sitting on a lot of knowledge about the customer journey that doesn't always align with how the sales team perceives it.
Once you get your sales people to understand the new modern digital customer journey, it's important that they make the best use of data to generate more revenue for the company along with the market. This should be seen as a joint effort.
What often happens is that sellers burn leads that are not ready to buy. These can be leads that are not there in the customer journey yet and therefore are not ready to start talking to a salesperson. A sales-intensive approach can then have the opposite effect and the potential customer is lost. For this reason, leads that are not yet in the buying stage need to be processed effectively and long-term by sales. The majority of the leads a company generates are not ready to buy right now, but are usually in the early stages of the customer journey where they are exploring the terrain or learning more about a specific topic. These leads should of course be nurtured but should be nurtured carefully - so calling and pushing for an appointment at an early stage may be the wrong way to go.
How should the sales department process leads in an effective and long-term manner?
Here we recommend that sales connect with the person on LinkedIn and perhaps also with the person's colleagues. In order to be able to work with this person on LinkedIn, it is also necessary for sales to continuously publish interesting content that the potential customer can benefit from. If a person has only downloaded a guide, it's a good idea to call up and say something like this:
- Hi Maria! I saw that you downloaded our guide on Search Engine Optimization for B2B companies. I just wanted to check with you if you've got all the information you need or if there's anything else I can help you with?
This is sufficient when dealing with a customer who has shown no signs of wanting to buy. If the sales department here takes advantage of the data that the marketing department has and starts to process potential customers more digitally, the impact will be huge. Through the data that sales receives from marketing, sales can process leads with relevant information at the right time to create long-term prospects. A joint effort that will result in growth for the company.
To conclude this joint article, we would like to say that those companies where the sales people have understood that the market is sitting on data that can benefit their work and the company's growth will have great advantages in the future. This article is a call to action to all salespeople and sales managers out there to take a step closer to marketing and start seeing the sales and marketing department as a joint team.