If you pull back the curtain in most industrial businesses, you will find two separate departments running parallel to each other rather than aligning around similar goals.
From the perspective of the customer, there is a single buyer journey. Disconnect between sales and marketing can make this journey bumpy at best, or ineffective at worst. The handing off of the baton between these two departments should be smooth enough that the prospective customer is not aware of it.
For this to happen, sales and marketing must align around a singular focus: centering on the customer.
Sales and Marketing Collaboration is Evolving
Historically, industrial marketing teams have primarily played a static role in the buying process, focusing their efforts on fulfilling sales requests such as compiling product catalogs and producing support collateral. Today, the evolution of digital marketing and industry 4.0 has removed traditional boundaries between company and customer, and a human connection and personalized experiences throughout the industrial buying process are more critical than ever.
Fewer boundaries also translates to fewer opportunities for the sales team to engage with a buyer before a purchase decision is made, so you need to make those interactions count.
According to Gartner research, when considering purchase, B2B buyers spend only 17% of their time meeting with potential suppliers. When comparing you and potential competitors That drops to 5% or 6% of time spent with any one sales rep.
This evolution has reshaped the traditional marketing funnel as we know it and puts marketers in a unique position to work across the revenue cycle in a way they never have before.
Walking A Mile In Each Others Shoes
Arguably, the most effective way to find the missing link between sales and marketing is to empower each department to see each other through the eyes of empathy. This means proactively offering hands-on opportunities for both teams to meet and communicate department goals, roles, and processes and align on a shared vision for an effective sales and marketing collaboration moving forward.
Here are a few ways to kickstart that process:
What Sales Should Know About Marketing
Marketing is playing a larger role in a company’s success — a paradigm shift from a time when the sales team carried a greater weight of this responsibility. The fact is, B2B buyers are increasingly expecting an effective and efficient buying experience, something most companies struggle to deliver. With more opportunities to engage the buyer early in the process, your role as an industrial marketer has to become a warm hand-off, rather than simply setting up sales for a cold call.
What Marketing Should Know About Sales
With information at our fingertips, we are able to try new strategies quickly. Taking risks when so much is at stake may seem counterintuitive, but the digital world allows us to fail fast and pivot quickly when strategies fall flat. Providing your sales team with attributable data and insights to show how marketing efforts are impacting the customer at key stages in the buying process can help bridge the gap between the two departments.
In the Trenches with Integration
Talking theory is nice, but where do you begin to align your industrial sales and marketing teams? Here are a few tips and best practices that your company can start applying today:
- Have your marketing team sit in on sales calls – There are few substitutions for first-hand experience. Hearing the common questions and objections customers ask on a typical sales call is the fuel your marketing team craves to effectively filter strategy and tactics through a more intimate understanding of the customer.
- Bring the sales team into the marketing planning process – Allowing the sales team to have a voice in the development of marketing campaigns helps them better understand the marketing process, identify ideal customer profiles and key personas, and allow both teams to align on your company’s talking points.
- Think differently about the funnel – Change your thinking from a linear progression where sales and marketing are at different stages waiting for the lead baton to pass. Both teams are accountable for company growth, not just results within their own respective universes.
- Define your personas – Creating content without first understanding your audience’s needs is a big missed opportunity to center sales and marketing on the ideal customer. When you consider that research shows barely half of manufacturing marketers regularly prioritize audience needs in their content, defining and speaking directly to your personas can become a competitive advantage.
- Share content with sales – Your sales team shouldn’t have to hunt and peck to find valuable content that can help improve their close rates. Sadly, not having or being able to find the content they need is a common complaint from sales. Organizing content in a repository with easy access (especially on mobile) for both teams and ensuring it stays up to date is an essential first step.
Both sales and marketing are critical to the long-term health of your industrial business. Facilitating ways for them to align, interact, empathize, and learn from each other can only strengthen the buying experience for current and prospective customers.
No matter how disconnected these teams might currently be in your company, it’s never too late to redefine the relationship between sales and marketing to create a seamless buyer journey built around delivering value at every step.
Learn how an effective industrial sales enablement program can equip your sales team with the tools and expertise they need to succeed.