Sales & Marketing Alignment or Collaboration?
IDC and Lattice Engines recently cohosted a get together of like-minded marketing, operations and sales executives to discuss the state of prospect and customer engagement. With participants from a range of companies, large to small, public to private, we identified a set of core, common issues and challenges.
The attendees also developed several specific immediate actions to drive higher marketing effectiveness, sales productivity and more revenue!
The Buying Landscape Has Changed
In summary, technology (and specifically the Internet) has freed corporate buyers from their dependence on vendors for information. Today, the typical corporate technology buyer will traverse 60-70 percent of their “buyer’s journey” before ever engaging with a prospective vendor. This disconnect drives several challenges:
- Buyers are traversing a path that may be largely unknown to them, one that they may only traverse once in their career, where the costs of a mistake can be significant or potentially fatal for the organization and career damaging for the individual
- Vendors/sellers are late to the party, typically responding to RFIs/RFPs versus helping prospects to shape their strategy, and forcing them to increasingly/predominantly focus on cost versus value
Without the early engagement, buyers and sellers miss the opportunity to “co-create” new approaches to business challenges, adding value for all
Technology Empowers Greater Customer Awareness
Conversely, technology also helps companies to better understand a customer, even at first contact. Data augmentation allows the company to build a comprehensive profile on a prospect and to gauge the likelihood of that prospect moving to a successful transaction. Technology further allows companies to identify prospective buyers as they enter an initial consideration phase, long before they contact any prospective provider. Technology also allows companies to conduct well planned, properly timed nurture campaigns that deliver the right content to the right individuals at the right time in their buyer’s journey, helping to influence the thought processes and actions of those individuals.
Alignment Isn't Sufficient, Marketing and Sales Must Collaborate
To leverage this capability, the company must also enable the sales team. As the buyer goes through their “buyer’s journey”, the sales person will go through a similar “seller’s” journey, requiring specific content, tools, expertise, and information at various points in the journey. Without this parallel sales enablement, the sales team is at a disadvantage. While the buyer may receive thought leadership pieces or specific recommendations on evaluation best practices, if the sales team is not well informed, the company will move to the bottom of the consideration list.
Actions to Take
The “aha” for our lunch group revolved around the seller’s journey and agreed on the following strategic actions for their individual organizations:
- Abandon the concept of marketing and sales alignment. Alignment simply means “agreement or having common goals”
- Adopt the context of marketing and sales collaboration. Collaboration requires both alignment and action to further common goals
- Continue to look for ways to improve the quality of engagement with their prospects and customers
Success will be measured by improvements in both marketing efficacy and sales productivity.
We’ll be hosting these get-togethers on a regular basis, providing an environment for our customers and prospects to share best practices and lessons learned, focusing on the topics of marketing effectiveness, demand generation and sales productivity. Please let us know if you’d like to attend an upcoming session or would like to explore the issues discussed above: firstname.lastname@example.org.