Do marketing and sales really need to be aligned for a company to be successful? The answer today is still “Yes”. While historically any misalignment was often blamed on the nature of organizational structure that supported two different and separate departments. It’s probably not as accurate an argument anymore, as it is now more about how the buying the process has changed over the last 10 years.
The Internet offers customers new and numerous ways to gather information. Social media now has its influence in the buying process along with other digital channels too. Customers are inundated with products and services, making the marketplace highly complex to navigate.
This is especially true of the B2B market today, where buyers believe it’s their responsibility to understand all the available solutions before they talk with a sales person. Findings support this statement as 71 percent of customers prefer to conduct research on their own and only 12 percent want to meet in-person with a sales representative.
A recent study by Televerde further highlights this aspect of the customer journey. The study asked sales professionals to identify what they need from marketing professionals to be more successful. What could marketing do to help them win more deals? The number one response was Better Messaging.
Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and LinkedIn set out to further understand the impact of content marketing and sales alignment in current organizations. Content marketers acknowledged that less than half of them (46%) work in organizations with highly aligned marketing and sales teams. Additionally, of those in less aligned teams only 35 percent expected their content marketing budget to increase in 2018, compared to 61 percent from highly aligned teams. It appears that highly aligned teams are better able to prove their value and point to a successful ROI for their collaboration efforts.
It’s interesting to note though that the study found most everyone (97%) to be in agreement that revenue had the potential to increase if marketing and sales teams worked together. The biggest challenge between highly aligned content marketing and sales team participants and less aligned teams was a company culture that supported meetings, which resulted in less aligned companies experiencing a gap in knowing how and when to use the content provided.
Furthermore, the American Marketing Association suggests that marketers need to tailor content that helps sales to generate revenue. They offer five ways that content needs to be customized to meet sales teams’ needs. Here’s a quick recap of the tactics:
Speak in Specifics. Try to stay away from meaningless descriptions. Provide a description of what the product does or how it is better than the competitive alternatives. So stay away from words like “help,” easy to use,” and “seamless.”
Focus on Function. Customers want to know what they can accomplish because of your product. If your product is fast, don’t say “very” fast. Prospects need to be able to compare your product’s claims to the claims of competitors. Say how fast it is in a specific situation. Remember, the question is not about the value of your product, but the value of your differential.
Don’t Make Empty Claims. Offer quality evidence, which will complement a salesperson’s ability to provide creditability to your competitive advantage and customer value. A message backed by evidence is more compelling.
No Uncertain Terms. As we mentioned earlier, shopping has become a journey that customers take alone until they’re ready to purchase. Brands have to make clear how they compare to competitors with quantifiable measurements and specifications that are familiar and meaningful.
Don’t Mix Messages. The complexity of the selling messages provided to the sales channels have to be aligned with the time and skill available in that channel.
If companies want to be high performing, revenue-generating organizations, they need a cohesive marketing and sales team. They need content that differentiates their product and services in a crowded marketplace. And companies need to create a culture of collaboration between marketing and sales to foster communication that leads to successful lead generation and growth.