Being involved in sales for over ten years, from B2C to B2B to B2Everyone, gives one a profound vantage point and what I learnt more than anything else is that the customer is King, but you are the facilitator. Many of you might be nodding your head in quiet approval, others are thinking you are not telling us anything new here. Well, think about this then; why are others trying to talk to your King? How cryptic of me! Let me explain what I mean. The moment a company breaks down the messaging and interactions into different groups things get lost.
Marketing and Sales teams have their own priorities and don’t care about one another.
This is understandable, they have different priorities, different outcomes. Marketing targets are focused on generating good leads, convertible leads. Sales on the other hand are targeted towards outcome of sale. Frustrations arise when this misalignment leads to lost opportunities, especially during market downturns.
The concept is outdated and flawed?
It is a common misconception that companies find it necessary to break up sales and marketing into two separate functions. The reason this happens is organisational streamlining, you may have heard of sales and marketing being classified as undefined, defined, aligned and integrated. Each with its own set of nuances depending on which company does what.
Let there be one
Can the alternative, which I’ll coin market fusion, be the answer? Every company wants quality leads and shortened sales cycles. This maximises cash flow and helps with company valuations. In order to shorten any sales cycle to the bare minimum there are things a prospect needs to resolve and it boils down to how quickly can X product/service solve my Y problem and can you deliver with your offer, can they elicit an emotional response within a short space of time. It is vital that iterations are made to the entire process from organic marketing to social media PPC marketing. Large changes/corrections made first to fine tune a message that profoundly resonates with the customer. Over time smaller changes are needed until the process becomes streamlined.
But surely one can streamline with two teams; a marketing team and a sales team!
Afraid not, as the sales person is the only one close to the pulse of the market, they are the only ones that can tweak marketing messages that prompt deliberate action. Think of it this way, the sales person is the eyes and ears of the company to the outside world. They can track and learn the movements of the market faster than anyone in the organisation. They know about competitors, new products, new innovations, attractive new offers, potential treats. This gives them the edge over marketing teams that use scattergun approaches to advertising avenues and or copy. These problems may never get discussed at the vast majority of companies and if by chance it is, the information will be out of date. But what would be the recommended alternative?
A true 360 degree sales cycle
A glimpse of the truly complete sales cycle is one where the advocate knows more about the customer than they do themselves. Given the right incentives sales teams could segregate themselves into specific product groupings (if a wide range of products are on offer), this will allow them hyper specialisation, quickly turning them into experts in their own right. As they learn, the marketing messages change too; you can have two products sold by one company but two vastly different customer desires and attributes, therefore two different sales people curating two different messages. Armed with extensive marketing training they generate their own leads, leads that they know will buy. Gone will be the days of intra department lead sharing, intra team lead discovery too, because the ultimately no one cares about someone else’s lead as you personally have not qualified them. Only one person can really craft and curate a resonating message with the perfect offer that will lead to higher click through, higher conversions, lower sale cycles and higher customer satisfaction.
How would this change from what is currently on offer?
You might be saying to yourself ‘our marketing and sales teams are perfectly aligned with a clear mission that is generating results, why change?’. One would expect some successes with current processes but think about this for a moment: If you could rapidly reduce the headcount in your business by >50% while at the same time generating vetted pre-qualified prospects without using expensive service providers would that not be something your board would be excited by. In Germany, they had a saying; never change a winning team. I assumed this was referring to some football analogy from the 1990s. This reasoning is no longer valid. To win the hearts and minds of your customers one needs a different approach.
Best of the rest
Of course, one person cannot do everything in an organisation, but in order to keep people engaged and motivated they need to take ownership of problems, not shift blame to others, they need to become more creative not restricted, they need to become more independent not governed by poorly defined process.
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