Marketing Automation’s role is to navigate prospects through the sales pipeline and pass well qualified, high definition leads over to the sales team, but you can’t just bolt sophisticated web based demand generation tactics onto the existing sales process and expect things to work. The relationship between sales and marketing needs to change.
Change 1 – Encourage “explore stage” calling
Change 1 is establishing the point at which a contact should be transited from marketing to sales. This is probably the hardest first step to get right in the modern sales and marketing process. Assumption number one is that when a contact converts on a website by say “booking a demo” or taking a “free trial” the action indicates that the contact is ready to buy. It’s almost always the case that the candidate is actually going through the explore process at this stage and it may still be weeks or months before they buy. This is where the marketing and sales love-in can start to break down. Sales blames weaknesses in the demand generation programme when demos or trials don’t seamlessly upscale to paying customers. Marketing blames sales’ unsophisticated approach and an inability to conduct “explore stage conversations” with warm prospects they need to nurture further.
If sales and marketing can work through this initial dispair, everything works better. Marketing learns when sales people deliver quality feedback. Sales people become better at consultancy led selling. Demand generation tactics get slicker.
Change 2 – Embrace the sales, marketing, prospect threesome
Change 2 is accepting that when candidates are at explore stage they need a blend of communications from marketing and sales. At explore stage a candidate should have a personal relationship which a named contact in the business, but that personal contact is supplemented by more marketing.
Change 3 – Modern selling is all about the dash
Change 3 is recognising that modern day sales success is all about the dashboard. Great salespeople work like air traffic controllers. They monitor the activities going on around them via radar and they react to opportunities delivered by data rather than instinct. (This takes much of the magic out of sales)
Good B2B marketing doesn’t best support sales by helping sales do more of what it does already. It supports sales best by challenging what sales is already doing.