A top complaint among consumers today is that brands simply fail to listen and respond to their unique needs. Whether they struggle with poor follow up processes, irrelevant sales/marketing messages, or offering the wrong products at the wrong times, brands must overcome their weak spots to build stronger cultures of listening and taking proper action.
Here are four tips that winning firms are using to blur the lines between the marketing and sales functions and accomplish better responsiveness and listening.
Tip #1 – Provide sales reps with the proper tools
It’s crucial that companies equip sales reps with tools that leverage data and analytics to help them understand what their customers are saying and use that information to create more personalized, relevant customer experiences. B2B and B2C sales organizations have access to a lot of data and can shift from single points of data-driven insight (e.g. what products a customer has) to correlated data that will provide predictive sales intelligence (e.g. what products a customer has PLUS recent customer service activity, online web browsing, and likelihood to ‘churn’ rate ). Leading companies drive this transformation with predictive analytics that use real-time, event driven data as well as historic data to forecast where the best opportunities are in actual accounts. Use your data to align marketing and sales execution (online and offline).
Tip #2 - Require sales leaders to provide comprehensive training
By training salespeople in areas such as social selling and social media marketing, marketing campaign execution, results interpretation, and use of content, you can deepen and strengthen the customer relationship. As marketers, we already have a lot of content and data around our contacts and leads – who they are, what they engaged with or purchased, what content they viewed, and so on. This helps marketers understand buyer behaviour. But sales may be missing out on adding to this data and insight. Smart salespeople will work with marketing to gather and analyze data. Collaborating on how and when to engage clients, with the right message, at the right time, and in the right channel, is the payoff.
Tip #3 – Invest in workflow automation
Automating workflow for things like contact follow up, lead management, assignment of tasks, and guided marketing and sales processes and campaigns can enhance your overall sales strategy. You should be looking for unified automation systems (marketing and sales) to reduce friction within your company and for your customers, as your goal is to make it easier to do business with your company! Do not sell to customers, but instead help them buy.
World-class sales teams also strive to reduce friction for their own salespeople in managing their day-to-day processes. Why re-key information if it already exists? Should a mobile phone’s voice recognition and GPS allow you to update activities at a client while on the go? Should you nurture a hesitant prospect that becomes a demoted lead automatically with a steady stream of engagement and build up interest? We think so.
Tip #4 - Conduct joint sales/marketing planning
By combining sales and marketing planning processes, you can better coordinate and optimize campaigns and sales plans. All too often, marketing creates campaigns in a vacuum, without the benefit of understanding how the sales plan might inform and guide their targets, tactics, and budget. Look at the campaign process from start to finish in the context of how it can support sales to be successful. Agree on roles, responsibilities, and a common vernacular. And most importantly, agree on measurable objectives that everyone signs up for. Some people call this field marketing, but it’s really just good marketing.
Both marketing and sales must agree on common goals. Whether it’s on behalf of customer engagement, or revenue and pipeline generation, both stand to benefit from working together – not at odds.