With 22% of the B2B sales process expected to be fully automated by 2020 (according to Forrester Research), it’s both a scary and exciting time to be on the front lines. In order to accommodate new buying behaviours, companies are being encouraged by experts from every corner of the business landscape to radically transform traditional sales models.
What are their top pieces of advice? At this year’s Sales Stack Conference in San Francisco, all signs pointed to one crucial step: aligning sales and marketing departments.
Not exactly rocket science, but the mechanics of an alignment strategy can certainly pose a challenge. Here’s some three tips on how to align marketing and sales in three essential steps:
1. Have one conversation
Marketers are used to being their own channel and sales folk are used to being lone rangers, each individual focused on whatever is necessary to make numbers at the end of the month. While a scrappy, DIY approach like this is a level of resourcefulness companies often admire, in this case it’s also a recipe for sending prospects so much inconsistent messaging it ends up being more confusing than helpful. Think about it: a salesperson and a marketing rep with no rapport with each other trying to attract the same prospect: This is most likely to result in a lot of emails.
Prospects who receive mixed messaging are bound to have mixed feelings, so make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of how and how often products and services are being talked about. One major step in the right direction is to create a master company overview that contains everything a customer could possibly need to know about your products and services and fold it into both sales and marketing processes.
What may sound like an overwhelming amount of information, can be simply be an easily navigable, conversational presentation which is easier to create with an appropriate design, than you think. Check the toolkit below for guidance on how to create your own:
2. Encourage storytelling
Defining and unifying content is one thing; talking about content is another. Once sales and marketing teams are drawing from the same pool of information, it’s important they know how and when to share it--and the latest trends are significantly different from the norm.
Instead of heralding a list of products and features, business leaders should highlight the importance of telling a story. Companies should focus on building a choose-your-own-adventure kind of narrative out of customer stories. With the right kind of information on hand, incredibly relevant stories can be told about how a customer had similar pain points to the prospect in question, and sought to remedy them.
One important spin worth underlining is that in every story there should be a villain and a hero, and you need to make the customer the hero. If you story is about how you, the technology provider, are the hero, it's not the right story
Making storytelling a focus of your business creates a natural convergence of sales and marketing departments, as each needs to depend on the other for a complete picture.
3. Promote education
It goes without saying that a company needs to make information — such as customer stories — available to all employees, but what good is that information doing if it’s not easily discoverable? Often the sales team has no information on the people it is reaching out to. Instead they are running through a list of questions for every call.
Not knowing how much information is internally available is a pretty common problem for companies with departments that don’t talk to each other, but if leaders and executives are advocating education, and taking the time to coach employees, teams can organically come together over shared knowledge.
So, promote and share information as it comes in and make sure you’re doing it in an engaging way (hint: not with bullet points) or see this prezi for some quick tips on being extra memorable and effective.
All for one and one for all
At the end of the day, sales and marketing have such a symbiotic relationship by nature that talking about “alignment” seems a little silly. In fact, rather than thinking about it as alignment, the true way to go about being effective in the new age is simply to operate as one department.