Marketing Challenges for Manufacturers in the Age of the Customer: Sales Alignment
As the customer continues to become more and more self-reliant, your company needs to continually evolve to better serve them and their changing needs. What I will be sharing over the coming weeks is specific to the marketing organization and pertaining to strategy and tactics for aligning marketing with other areas of your organization. In my many years in Marketing and IT, I have seen firsthand how different business units implement software or create processes in a siloed manner that are either redundant or directly contrary to those of another business unit. This makes it difficult to achieve the business agility your organization needs to keep pace with the customer. Come back often, subscribe and get ready for excellent and achievable tips to achieve sustainable alignment!
In this four-part series, I will discuss ways to bring your Marketing team into alignment with some of their most critical internal partners: Sales, Service, Partner Channels, and IT. In this kick-off post, I will address the Sales relationship considering it is the most valuable and easiest to begin to transform.
There are four primary considerations that classify the Sales-Marketing misalignment from the Marketer’s Perspective:
Disconnected systematic views of the customer
Ineffective lead qualification processes
Fragmented access to sales information needed to evaluate campaign effectivity
Emergence of a self-serving customer pushing more of the buying cycle into marketing owned space
The Age of the Customer continues to enable prospects and customers to form solid buying decisions prior to ever speaking with an organizational representative. This is something we are all familiar with, but how does it impact the ways we need to operate, and how does Sales alignment help?
Sales alignment tactics
There are several ways to better align Marketing and Sales. Here are a few tactics with which I’ve seen our customers have the most success:
Create marketing materials that more closely mimic content that sales would often produce to create a more enriching conversation (and build a headless relationship with prospects)
Re-engineer existing sales literature to be more reflective of the buying stage the customer is in when they finally do have sales interactions (more on solving a problem and solution selling than product read-outs and cost benefit analysis, marketing has already done this for you).
Create a funnel visualization of a complete buyer journey that starts at the beginning marketing stage of awareness all the way through to a closed opportunity (this will help marketing operations mature into well timed tactics coinciding with Sales objectives, feeding the funnel)
Create metrics that evaluate the alignment so that it can be managed to an optimized state
Sales Accepted Leads (and sales declined)
Competitive conversions (requiring skill from both Marketing and Sales)
Opportunity close time (over-all, sales generated opportunities, marketing generated opportunities)
Retention rate / churn rate
Net Promoter Score
Cross-sell / Upsell percentages of sales
Use CRM as a single source master for contacts, this gives sales visibility into marketing touches
Create attributes on CRM leads that informs Marketing as to the reason for Sales disqualifying a lead as a quality feedback mechanism
Provide branded templates for use in Sales emails that can be tracked for engagement
Allow Sales to easily suspend marketing communications to owned contacts (list manipulation)
Next in the series will be Marketing and Service alignment with focus on enabling your Service team as a lead generation engine amongst other topics.