As a fellow sales and marketing professional, I wanted to follow up on Margery’s September blog post. Her blog focused on the disconnect between marketing and sales and stressed that we must eliminate this disconnect to ensure successful B2B initiatives. I will examine this from the sales perspective.
It is well known that in today’s digital age, content is king. We can find anything just about anywhere. We can gain insights on how to improve just about anything. But — it wasn’t always this way. The changes the information age has ushered in have made it imperative that sales engages much more closely with marketing.
Content Has Become King
Content, in the past, consisted of a variety of items including brochures, sales sheets, white papers, and presentations. In the past, while advertising helped businesses build their brand and awareness, there was no easy method to dynamically promote themselves and establish their credibility. Today, we still use some of the old content, but we are deploying much more content through a wide variety of electronic media. Today’s content educates the readers and demonstrates our knowledge and understanding of the prospect’s industry, specific business, and challenges/issues. Think about it. When a prospect picks up content from Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, our blogs, etc., they are reading to better educate themselves. And they are much better educated.
So, what happens now when the prospect wants to speak with a sales person? A prospect has different expectations. They want their sales reps to be knowledgeable – about their industry, their problems, and potentially their company. They want to get to the heart of the matter – tell me what you can do for me – and it’s not about the product. The ever-increasing availability of content gives the prospect much more context in order to decide whether or not we can solve their challenges/issues.
The Sales Challenge
Sales is now required to be better prepared regarding business issues our company is able to solve. We must know and understand marketing materials AND how to discuss that content with the prospect. We must be able to leverage the content in various business discussions, build our creditability, and more effectively develop relationships. Sales must be better prepared to lead prospect discovery discussions, identify critical issues concerning each prospect, and discuss the business results that our solutions will provide.
Marketing and Sales Working Together
This new dynamic of greater, more relevant content requires marketing and sales to be in sync. It requires a greater collaboration between the two organizations to ensure that the messages put out by marketing are represented correctly by sales.
Margery provided a simple but elegant marketing and sales model that demonstrates a funnel for the entire sales cycle. Marketing, with collaboration from sales, defines the target markets. From there, marketing builds the key value messages and develops the initiatives it will use to promote the company’s capabilities.
Marketing educates sales with value messages and dissemination processes, and sales understands the context by which we get leads. Sales must use this knowledge to conduct effective prospect qualification dialogs, demonstrate the solution’s capabilities, and develop relationships. Sales must stay in tune with marketing and the content that marketing disseminates. At the end of the sales cycle, win or lose, sales must review the results with marketing to ensure a process of continuous improvement.
-Don Gray, Founder and President of Sales Engineering Group
Don Gray founded the Sales Engineering Group, which is a sales performance consultancy. Don has worked with a variety of small, medium, and large B2B organizations to help them develop their distinct value messaging, identify how customers buy their solutions, and skill their sales teams to drive predictable sales results.