No matter what market segment your B2B enterprise occupies, the sales and marketing teams share the same ultimate goal — to move prospective clients through the marketing funnel and, eventually, along to closed sales and conversion. But all too often, B2B brands’ sales and marketing teams are siloed, and frequently even at odds, leading to a lack of alignment that impedes this mutual goal.
For B2B ventures to truly thrive, their sales and marketing teams should work in harmony, setting their goals and strategies together, then working collaboratively to implement and achieve them. After all, when sales and marketing departments’ goals aren’t aligned, both suffer. And alternatively, when sales and marketing efforts are in alignment, studies show that the improved results brought by such “smarketing” can include:
- A 32% average jump in year-over-year revenue growth
- Marketing revenue growth exceeding 200%
- A 38% increase in sales-win rates, along with a 36% increase in customer retention rates
To better align your B2B brand’s sales and marketing efforts, consider these four “smarketing” tips from The Brandon Agency:
1. Understand your customers’ needs — and share any uncovered insights
B2B sales teams and B2B marketing teams often possess customer-centric insights that are mutually good to know — but aren’t always shared. For example, salespeople may learn during conversations with customers that a client’s business operations have changed, creating new end-user business needs. But if this info isn’t relayed to the marketing team, it can’t adjust its marketing content and campaigns to reflect how the brand’s offerings can address these new pain points. Conversely, a B2B brand’s marketing team may see a certain piece of content on the brand website surging in popularity, indicating that the topic addressed in that blog article or video is of high interest to target customers. But if the sales team is unaware of this, it won’t know to highlight the topic and how the brand’s offerings can address any associated pain points during sales calls — potentially leading to a missed opportunity to close sales.
At The Brandon Agency, we push our clients to constantly improve and refine their customer knowledge, whether it is derived from data, research or anecdotally from the sales team. Understanding the customer is the starting point for our marketing efforts, and the sales team is always going to be a rich resource. We’ll sometimes even leverage the sales team’s contacts to facilitate direct interviews with customers when possible.
We also want feedback from sales teams on the front lines about how our campaigns, programs and sales enablement materials are being used and received by end customers, and we use this information to continually refine our messaging and tactics. Tools like Salesforce and Pardot can help push sales and marketing into closer alignment — helping provide transparency and tying marketing campaigns directly to leads, and all the way through to closed sales. At TBA, we try to help our clients get the most out of these tools and their potential to foster increased sales-marketing alignment.
2. Maximize your brand messaging — mutually
According to research, 90% of sales and marketing professionals say that their sales and marketing teams are misaligned in the areas of strategy, process, culture and content — and nearly all agree that this misalignment negatively impacts the brand and the customer. Further, 97% of these professionals reported facing challenges specific to a lack of sales-marketing alignment with messaging and content. Those include cases of marketing content being created without input from the sales team, marketing content being overly focused on product offerings as opposed to solving customer problems and marketing content that fails to move prospective customers along the purchase journey.
At The Brandon Agency, one of the top objectives we seek to accomplish in the early stages of the content-creation process is to develop an understanding of our client’s customers and their pain points. This knowledge, often gleaned via consultation with members of a client’s sales team, helps us provide target consumers with information that is both relevant and useful to them — and that pushes them farther along the path to purchase. Understanding their buyer’s journey as much as we can and providing them with the right kind of messaging at the right time is key to keeping them moving through the sales funnel.
When these conversations begin, it’s immediately apparent when a client’s marketing and sales are not in alignment, and often simply pushing for more information up front will help facilitate any needed marketing-sales collaboration regarding messaging and content.
3. Run with content that resonates
Recent research indicates that, since the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic, B2B buyers are spending 33% more time performing pre-purchase research. Simultaneously, nearly 90% of B2B buyers prefer to self-guide all or part of their purchase journeys, and more than half of them are making their purchase decisions before ever speaking with a vendor rep.
All of these changes make the quality of content and marketing materials — and especially any marketing materials focused on sales enablement and educating customers about a B2B brand’s offerings — more vital than ever. To ensure that all such content and marketing materials are up to date and that they address the latest customer pain points, a joint sales-marketing audit of these assets can go a long way toward ensuring that they’re strategically optimized to maximize the potential for revenue generation. For example, members of the sales team can help the marketing team identify any topics that their prospects frequently ask about, but that current content and marketing materials fail to address. Another helpful tactic: By occasionally shadowing sales calls, members of the marketing team can get a better feel for the points that salespeople stress during their client conversations — and ensure that the brand’s content and marketing materials adequately cover these points. And conversely, when the marketing team’s marketing-automation software and website-tracking tools identify prospective buyers who are showing high levels of interest in specific content related to brand offerings, passing these leads along to the sales team can help foster added sales success.
At TBA, we help our clients measure and track content performance across all channels, working to identify the messaging that resonates the most, and also helping boost clients’ understanding of their customers’ buying journeys. Such actions can help B2B brands generate higher-quality leads, plus help improve trust and collaboration between their sales and marketing teams.
4. Put your heads together — regularly and purposefully
To keep the lines of communication open and the collaboration flowing between the marketing and sales departments, it’s wise for B2B businesses to schedule regular brainstorming sessions attended by leading members of both teams. The sessions could be used to discuss any potential leads that marketing may have uncovered, to collaborate on potential topics for upcoming content and marketing materials, and to otherwise strategize on any areas of shared concern — and any areas where improvements could deliver mutual benefits and support future brand successes.
At The Brandon Agency, we regularly work with our marketing partners to directly engage sales in the conversation — in some cases, even inviting members of the sales team to have input on the creative brief, helping ensure the direction is in line with the customer’s (and the marketing department’s) needs from the get-go.
Could your brand use the help of a team of seasoned marketing professionals to maximize the effectiveness of its marketing efforts — and ensure that they’re properly aligned with your sales goals? At The Brandon Agency, our team of certified brand strategists and data-driven marketing experts has a wealth of experience working with clients’ marketing and sales teams to ensure that their efforts and goals are strategically coordinated. To get started with help ranging from a simple website analysis to a comprehensive strategy tailored to boost the performance of all of your marketing campaigns, contact us today.