I monitored the recent Sirius Decisions Summit through Twitter and I have to say I wish I was more surprised by some of the postings. Chad Horenfeldt from Anything Goes Marketing has an excellent summary of Tweets about the conference, so go there to see the other stuff. It's all serious (pun intended) food for thought.
The ones I want to talk about are these:
cahidalgo: #sds09- 59% of attendees do not believe their sales and marketing are aligned.
The above statistics should make marketers sit up and take notice. We're challenged by our management more and more to quantify the results marketing produces, yet we're still heaping a lot of the process of creating opportunities on our sales teams. Even worse, many B2B companies are executing the marketing-to-sales process without being in sync.
With buyers in control and choosing with whom and when they want to interact — read pushing sales conversations later in their buying process — it's time to ask yourself about the impact of disconnected communication activity on your prospects and customers.
This lack of alignment gets even more concerning when you consider that only a third of sales and marketing teams work together on existing customer programs. And these are for people who already spend money with you. So, yes, why don't marketing and sales go to customers with their own distinct messaging and confuse the heck out of them. I'm sure it makes total sense in some universe to actually apply effort to create inconsistency that sends the underlying message that one hand doesn't know what the other is doing. I just can't imagine where that might be.
Okay, I'm ranting. I'll stop...maybe.
I'm glad to see that a majority of the attendees at the summit are working on establishing a nurturing program. And congrats to the 21% that have one. Go after that 5-10% of leads you can turn into real opportunities. Re-engaging leads you've already spent money, time and effort to attract makes a huge amount of sense, not to mention and additional revenue.
With the focus shifting from lead gen to pipeline momentum and sales enablement, marketing has a prime opportunity to step up.
Pipeline momentum isn't generated by salespeople calling to say, "I'm just touching base to see if you're ready to buy." Where's the value in that for the prospect? Even worse, since when is that kind of conversation a worthy use of a salesperson's time?
Pipeline momentum is created through strategic nurturing that shares valuable ideas that help prospects address the problems they're grappling to solve. The extension is that it sets them up for sales conversations that progress buying intentions.
Pipeline momentum happens when your marketing content is designed to help prospects visualize how to get the outcomes they need. And, it especially happens when your content helps get conversations going between buying committee members that helps them anchor more favorably to your ideas and expertise raising the value quotient for your company on their terms.
Salespeople aren't primed for hand holding over the long term. They have short-term goals and responsibilities that aren't suited to nurturing responsibility. Plus, each salesperson sells differently. That's quite often how messaging and storylines get mixed up if they enter the buying process too soon. Telling a story over the long term works best when it's consistently told to reinforce ideas, concepts and insights.
In a recent interview of Joe Galvin, VP and Research Director of Sirius Decisions, Mike Damphousse asked him: "...what can a quota carrying sales rep do on their own to help get that all important discussion with a real prospect?"
Joe's response begins: "First, they should take advantage of and capitalize on every qualified lead sent to them by marketing. Our benchmark data shows that marketing contributes between 18 and 34% of the sales pipeline depending on segment."
And that's one great reason why marketing should be nurturing. Imagine what might happen if marketing was contributing twice that amount and sales could stay focused on live, highly viable opportunities.
In order for pipeline momentum to continue fluidly from marketing communications to sales conversations, alignment in the story that gets told is critical. This will only happen if marketing and sales work together to create that story and base it on the buyer's perspective.
As Joe Galvin says, "Clients and prospects are overwhelmed by public domain information. As a sales professional in 2009 you must be able to tell them something they don’t know or can’t find on their own to gain their attention and respect." If marketing is working to enable sales to validate and extend the story they've told prospects during nurturing, they can set salespeople up to do just that.
Having salespeople perform nurturing when they're supposed to be — and are likely focused on — selling can be like tossing the prospects marketing has worked very hard to engage straight over to your competitors. The equivalent of saying, "Hey - are you short on opportunities? Let me give you some of ours."
Sales doesn't need the responsibility of nurturing. Keep them focused on serving opportunities so well they can't help but buy from you. Marketing needs to step up and claim the nurturing domain. And then measure for pipeline improvements. I'll bet you'll be amazed at what happens.
And that will serve as further justification for marketing and sales to align.
Finally, great post today by Megan Heuer on the Sirius Decisions Blog that backs me up! So glad I looked: Marketing Needs to Be More Nurturing