Continuing on from my post earlier this week, Marketing Content vs. Sales Content, I was speaking with several colleagues about the transition of prospects from marketing to sales and what's needed to make that transition a seamless, successful process.
The cold truth is that there's an interruption point, a definite cut-off, from where marketing stops and sales begins. The two departments are often operated separately, despite rhetoric about "connecting" them.
I'm reminded of the commonly uttered lament "throwing leads over the wall to sales." Instead of establishing continuity where the relationship begun by marketing is continued along by sales without a blip, the conversations sales pursues can bear little resemblance to the prospect's experiences-to-date with a company. Which stalls the process while the prospect adjusts, or worse, loses interest.
For those who want to argue this idea, think about why salespeople only spend 36% of their time in "sales" activities with prospects. What are they doing the rest of the time?
Research and administration and meeting preparation to develop sales tools they can use.
A lot of which is reinventing the wheel, given marketing's activities. But until marketing sees that sales' content needs are different than theirs, they will continue to think that supplying salespeople with the same marketing materials they use for nurturing means they've given them sales tools.
Sales needs a better set-up.
Marketing efforts help gain awareness, expose expertise, drive educational activities and get your target market raising their hands and interacting with your company in relation to solving problems. In a complex B2B situation, sales needs to actually have direct conversations with them that persuade buying decisions. Conversations that should build from those initial experiences & interactions that prospect has already had with your company. Sales needs to continue the "flow," moving the prospect farther downstream in their buying process.
Think about it as a "play book." Marketing initiates the play, but without sales to complete it, there's no score in the game.
When both departments operate distinctly, you have "sales interruptus"—a disconnect, or stalling point while sales regroups and initiates their own process.
Marketing has the materials and the brand knowledge. Sales has the front-line feedback that can help tune those materials and knowledge into conversations. When marketing and sales come together, the tools created transform the transition process to a smooth exchange. Not to mention that the more time your sales force spends with your target market, the higher your customer acquisition ratios.
As an example of a valid sales tool, think about a case study. Those have conversation potential out the wazoo. Arm your salespeople with a story about a customer experience similar to the prospect's and the knowledge about why it's important to that company in that industry. (health care is different than financial services; and a VP is different than an LOB manager) Then you have a conversational transition tool.
The actual case study may be provided later for the specific details the prospect can mull over at their leisure, but the "story" the salesperson tells will build report and empathy. Tying that story in with marketing campaigns the prospect has participated in will also support the previous experiences they've had with your company. This type of sales tool will eliminate the interruption point by putting your salespeople into the game immediately upon hand off.
Isn't it time "sales interruptus" is eliminated from your play book?