New Series: A People + People Plan to Align Marketing and Sales to Support Growth Goals
Sales and marketing alignment, often referred to as sales enablement, is an age-old challenge that very few companies have solved. However, once you crack the code, you are a step closer to becoming a growth engine. Here are some tips:
Identifying Opportunity and Setting Goals
Marketing often relies on a single message to resonate with an audience of prospects that have varied challenges and goals. A single message is often too diluted to be effective and cannot connect with everyone. A good starting place to identify the right target prospects is to audit your historical sales data. The data should provide insight on the greatest opportunities for increasing sales. Is it by growing your current accounts, or is it by entering into a new market, or focus on a product or service? Understanding where there is opportunity is the first step to setting goals for client retention and landing new business.
Understanding Your Buyers
Evaluating your historical sales data will also help you develop an Ideal Client Profile (ICP) - the type of client you want more of. Deconstruct the criteria of your ICP to see what makes them profitable. This information provides insight into how to target more prospects like your ideal clients and what efforts will resonate with them. Once you have an ICP to focus on you need to gain a deep understanding of the varied buyer types and decision makers within that client’s company, such as the different motivators between buyers in engineering versus procurement.
Some questions to consider when thinking about the different buyer types are:
- What are the triggers to purchasing?
- What are the challenges they face?
- What is their criteria when making a decision?
- What education and content would be helpful in their buying process?
- Who influences their purchasing decisions?
- What perception do they have of you versus your competition?
After segmenting your buyer types, tailor your message to speak to their unique decision making process. You can’t really market effectively unless you have something valuable to say. Is there a self-assessment, a how-to video, fact sheet, or competitive matrix that will inform prospects in their decision-making process? Content and messaging should match the buyer type and their place in the sales cycle.
Campaigns That Engage
How, where and when should you share this content? The most common go-to is to share it with your own email list. That is great because these people are already aware of your brand. Be careful, though, if emailed content is not versioned to each buyer type the reader will stop opening your emails and clicking through. If you rely only on your existing email lists, it also leaves you fishing in the same pond instead of searching in new territories for prospects!
Marketing campaigns should be specific enough to accomplish one of two things:
- Nurturing Marketing Qualified Leads: Target known companies and decision-makers for lead generation
- Creating Marketing Qualified Leads: Increased brand awareness that attracts and builds a qualified list of new decision makers
Campaigns need a specific hook, an intentional call to action, and a compelling user journey. They need an integrated approach that may include multiple marketing mediums, such as direct mail, email, digital marketing, social, experiential marketing, and public relations. Done right, a good campaign results in a pipeline of qualified leads for sales to follow up with.
Good marketing serves up the at-bats so that sales has more swings to take. Sales should be involved with what are seen as traditional marketing efforts, such as the campaign content and the follow-up strategy, including following the companies and contacts on social media. Once the campaign is in motion, sales can also follow-up with emails and phone calls. The sales team should also be armed with a tool kit of sell sheets, case studies, sales presentations, ROI calculators and other marketing collateral to help them close the deal.
Goals and KPIs should be set for both the sales and marketing department and they should be made together: how many leads are we trying to achieve with a campaign, how many leads can a salesperson convert to an opportunity, and how many deals are actually closed.
Integrate and Automate Your Campaigns
Technology is critical to success because it brings efficiency and data to decision making. To gather the necessary data, your sales team should use a CRM (Client Relationship Manager) that is integrated with your website so that leads are automatically populated into your CRM when they fill out a website form or respond to a campaign. Your CRM should score all leads, no matter the source, to help prioritize follow-up for your sales team. To fully understand your marketing ROI, your CRM also should be integrated with your ERP (Enterprise Resource Planner).
Once your CRM becomes your single source of truth for list and lead management, the collected data can generate helpful reports and metrics, like the length of your sales cycle. This data helps you determine how many top-of-the-funnel leads and the marketing investment required to hit your sales goals.
Marketing automation can also have a big impact on nurturing prospects, and delivering content tailored to buyer type and their position in the sales funnel. For example, when technology is used to automate nurturing for top-of-the-funnel leads, your sales team can focus on what’s closest to close.
About the Author
Julie Poulos is the Vice President of Red Caffeine, a growth consultancy, that uses +strategy, +branding, +marketing, and +technology to solve the critical business challenges of brand awareness, lead generation, sales enablement, digital transformation, and employer branding.
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