2017 will Surely be an interesting year — in fact, I predict that by year’s end, we will not recognize [its] beginning.
“Alignment between Marketing and Sales is potentially the largest opportunity for improving business performance in 2017. ” ~ Marketo
So What Does It Take To Market Effectively Within The 2017 Business Landscape?
To simply say that Sales and Marketing departments in 2017 are two very unique entities, underserves the depth of this understanding.
Marketing is more aligned than ever to be able to elicit the engagement, in-turn delivering MQL’s (marketing qualified leads) to the sales department whose job it is to make the offer and ultimately close the deal.
The digital and physical process of marketing is — and has always been — about creating and opening a dialog (albeit rarely a direct conversation) to generate leads/prospects who are interested in your widget or service.
This process typically goes something like this:
- Make a plan and strategize the campaign process
- Determine the message target/s and deliver targeted message/s
- Create and engage the target with compelling messages
- Create and engage the target with a strong call to action
- Track & ID conversion/user engagement
- Pass the baton to Sales
- Discover prospect’s “exact problem”
- Discover prospect’s “solution awareness level”
- Offer solution/s
- Ask for the money/close the deal
2017 Strategies — Effective Planning For Aligning Your Sales And Marketing
The balance to the Marketing effort has been how the Sales department can then — with the prospective customer having a high solution awareness level — provide the offer
“No matter how the CRM industry evolves, getting the sales and marketing teams to synergize is organizational goal number one. Every success grows from their collaboration and free exchange of ideas because you can’t serve the customer right when your best people are working blind.” – Marshall Lager (@Lager), Managing Principal, Third Idea Consulting
At the top of the funnel (TOFU), your audience is aware of your brand. Through marketing, they eventually start to see themselves as friends of your brand – they have a relationship with you and feel that they can trust you.
The middle of the funnel (MOFU) is where the traditional sales funnel begins – with a bunch of names in your system. Not every name in this stage is your friend – someone who is “engaged” has had a meaningful interaction with your company, but a “target” is a qualified potential buyer. When your lead scoring process indicates that it’s time to contact someone, he moves further along in the cycle. After talking to an SDR, that prospect is either moved along as a sales lead or is recycled to the “target” stage for further nurturing.
Similarly, a sales rep decides which leads move forward as “opportunities” at the bottom of the funnel (BOFU), and which leads get recycled back for more nurturing by the team. The sales rep is also in charge (hopefully) of turning the opportunities into very happy customers.
“One way to build trust between Marketing and Sales is to make them accountable for the same company goal – revenue. In our book, Fire Your Sales Team Today, we refer to this blended team as The Revenue Department. Now, Marketing HAS to deliver quality leads, and Sales HAS to follow up on all leads. These two teams work together to understand the challenges associated with turning leads into new customers, and both teams work toward driving more top-of-funnel leads, close more deals, and shorten the sales cycle – all because they want to meet monthly revenue goals.” ~ Mike Lieberman (@square2), Co-founder and Chief Marketing Scientist, Square 2 Marketing
Because Sales has the option to recycle prospects that aren’t ready to move forward, Marketing has to provide good leads and Sales has to follow through. Everyone works together toward the same goal.
Four Best Practices to Ensure Sales/Marketing Alignment in 2017
- Shout it from the C-suite.
The first step in aligning the 2017 sales and marketing teams is to make sure the goal comes from on high within the company, so the very first [step] is an executive agreement.
- Create “pushy” content.
Content marketing’s role, as it concerns sales, is to push potential customers further down the sales funnel before a salesperson even contacts them. Since customers today research purchases in the early stages of the buying cycle, content marketing takes on the education role once held by sales professionals.
- Rethink lead gen in 2017
Lead generation suffers when sales and marketing aren’t aligned, often resulting in a “spray and pray” strategy that wastes everyone’s time, experts say.“There’s a whole process that needs to be in place where prospects come in from marketing, marketing attracts them to the product or service, and then hands them off to sales,” … “Sales is then able to effectively understand the person’s needs and interests and how they can close the deal.” ~ Jeremy Boudinet, Director of Marketing at Ambition.
- Tie ROI to marketing.
With a properly aligned marketing and sales alliance, marketing gets a huge help in one area that’s long been a challenge — “Reporting ROI”. Marketers’ budgets are increasing every single year, but it’s very difficult for most CMO’s to really tell what their contribution to revenue is because most marketing leaders are still thinking about the number of leads and not showing what we contributed to revenue.