I was listening to a webcast today, by Richard Vancil from IDC. He had a lot of interesting things to say, but a couple of things really bring home the connection that could exist between marketing and sales and some reasons why it doesn't.
This one is reminiscent of a CMO Council statistic about how many company's think they're customer centric (56%) and how many of their customers agree (12%).
When IDC asked how well they support sales on a scale of 1 - 100, marketers gave themselves a score of 66. But sales only gave them a score of 57. Thankfully this statistic doesn't have as much variance, but I think the interesting thing is perspective.
Those of us providing service have a much higher perception than those on the receiving side. Interesting, isn't it?
Here's the thing companies really need to understand; buyers do not distinguish the difference between marketing and sales. To them, it's all one process. If your transition isn't smooth and everyone isn't on the same page, then the buyers will react to that—without distinction between which efforts originated from sales and which from marketing.
Once again, a perspective issue. We're so used to having a distinction at the intersection of sales and marketing that we probably seldom consider the process from start to finish as one journey for the buyer. But it is.
And the smoother we can make it, the better off we'll be for increasing engagement levels with our potential customers.
Another thing Vancil talked about was content. He spoke about the difference in types/formats of content provided at stages of the buying cycle. That marketers focus on developing more of the same types of content they've developed in the past to preserve budget allocation—whether it produces results or not. He also shared customer insight that they dislike being forced to take a demo or view specific collateral when they aren't ready for it in THEIR buying process.
Marketing and sales really is all about the buyer and we need to honor and address their needs. Throughout the entire process. What we also need to do as marketers is monitor the content sales is using and make sure it's what they need and as effective as we think it is.
If you're tempted to say you KNOW it's effective, scroll back up and read those statistics at the top of the post again.
Here are some things you can do proactively:
- Go get proof.
- Ask your salespeople what works and what doesn't.
- Generate content for each step of the buyer's journey.
- Do a content audit and yank the rubbish.
- Analyze your content for customer focus. Discard everything that doesn't pass.
- Block out the steps of your buyer's journey.
- Create content that addresses the needs at each step.
- Work with personas, profiles, segmentation and salespeople to get it right.
One of the things I thought was interesting is that Vancil said reducing spend on content would provide a way to reduce marketing costs. But companies need to focus on generating content that works. Content is "old" in two months. That means that it has to be produced continuously for your company to build and maintain a thought leadership position.
But he's right about one thing. Producing the right kind of content will eliminate all that waste that's going on now. Currently, somewhere from 75% to 90% of marketing content is not used by sales. By developing customer-focused, high-value content, you'll see your engagement metrics escalate. And getting buyers farther downstream and results for our efforts is our focus.