Finding the Right Marketing Prescription to Support Sales Goals
Most discussions about the sales and marketing functions start with describing the relationship as dysfunctional. Sales feels like their necks are on the line and marketing is out of touch with prospects and unable to properly support their sales goals. Marketing feels like their efforts are being ignored and sales doesn’t understand the larger picture.
Clearly, this isn’t a conflict that should exist, but for the sake of this discussion, let’s assume sales is right. Let’s take their side and look at a few things marketing can do to support the goals of the sales function.
Develop and Market to Ideal Buyer Personas
The sales function’s best leads are those that match an ideal buyer persona and have already embarked on a buying journey. Typically, several roles will be involved in the buying decision, so it’s crucial for marketing to develop a buyer persona for each role. This helps marketing formulate messages that resonate with each of the buyers’ unique goals and challenges.
This may seem like Marketing 101, but it’s crucial for marketing to get this step right. Sales wants marketing to fill the funnel with as many leads as possible, but, they expect a good portion of those leads to convert into qualified prospects. If marketing is off the mark, they will deliver bad leads that will cause sales to waste their time.
Deliver More Educated Prospects
There isn’t one person in sales who wants to be the first to explain their product or service to a lead. This is true even though that lead fits the ideal target persona. It’s marketing’s job to do the education.
Marketing must get into the minds of leads to understand what questions or problems they have. Then, marketing must generate a message that educates leads by answering their questions and solving their problems. That message must be communicated through each touchpoint on a consistent basis.
It’s important to note that educational messages aren’t just about giving out information. They should be crafted to get a response. When marketing adds value, what was a one-way message turns into a conversation. The result of that conversation is the conversion of a lead into a prospect.
Leverage a Content Marketing Strategy
One of the most effective ways to deliver value by answering questions and solving problems is to leverage a content marketing strategy. By creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content, the marketing function positions the organization as a thought leader. This helps marketing attract and nurture a clearly defined audience that is ultimately transformed into prospects for sales.
Frequently, one of two things goes wrong: marketing targets the wrong audience, or marketing fails to support the messaging to which sales is committed. If either of these things happen, it’s probably because a poor relationship between marketing and sales led to them not communicating about what the content marketing strategy should look like.
Marketing is good at shaping content that is relevant to the target audience as described in the buyer persona. Sales is good at shaping that content so that it is customized to the practical, everyday needs of leads. To create the most effective content, it’s crucial that the two functions share their knowledge.
Use Multiple Marketing Channels To Support Sales Goals
Content marketing is just one of the tools in marketing’s toolbelt. Depending on the target market, webinars, direct email, sponsorships, or trade shows may work best. Multiple efforts can also work together dynamically to deliver greater results.
Regardless of which tactics are used, the objective is to get in front of the target audience with the organization’s marketing message. It’s always about answering questions and solving problems. So, it’s still important for sales to have a role in shaping the message and helping to decide which marketing channels are most effective.
The Prescription: Create a Continuous Feedback Loop
The ability to meet and exceed sales goals depends on creating a continuous feedback loop between marketing and sales. Sales is on the front line of lead interactions. They know what information their leads need to be exposed to. They also know what the competition is saying to their leads. This knowledge puts sales in the best position to share valuable insights with marketing.
Sales can help marketing understand which lead-generation tactics are working, which are falling flat, and which additional tactics should be deployed. All marketing needs to do is listen and adjust its tactics appropriately.
Marketing will enter the discussion from a general buyer persona perspective, and sales will enter the discussion from a perspective that is customized to individual leads. Their conversations create a feedback loop that develops a level of collaboration that helps both functions perform better. The fact is that both sales and marketing need to work together to understand their audience and develop a marketing mix that speaks to the pain points of leads and gets delivered at the right time during the buying cycle.
In a successful organization, there are no sides when it comes to sales and marketing. The relationship between the two functions is symbiotic. They must work closely together for sales to accomplish its goals.