I keep seeing that statistic - you know - the one that talks about how far through the buying process prospects are before they talk to salespeople. It's flawed.
Here are a few reasons why:
- Prospects don't care if they're interacting with marketing or sales, they care about the quality of the conversation or interaction and that it's giving them what they need.
- Salespeople are perfectly capable of using the tools available today to engage with prospects across all stages of the buying process. And they should be competent at all of those conversations.
- Marketers can facilitate interactions by sharing the strategic problem-to-solution story across the continuum of the buying process to support both buyers and salespeople in having more relevant conversations.
For some reason, we haven't embraced these realities collaboratively.
Here's the question that we need to answer:
What would happen if both marketers and salespeople were so damn relevant that there was no distinction between the disciplines?
In other words - if every interaction with a buyer is based on context and relevance, does it really matter if it's initiated or extended by marketing or by sales?
Both functions are essentially focused on the same end goal - to drive revenues.
But, most of the time, we act like we're on two different planets.
I know that marketers may be thinking, hey, wait a minute...marketing doesn't close sales for complex products. That's not our job!
Or, if you're on the sales side, you could be thinking - there's no way I'm creating marketing content and running campaigns. SO not my job!
Got it. But you're in the weeds. You're not looking at the coordination and collaboration that can end this artificial line in the sand that we've made up to divide the two sides of the B2B buying process.
It's not about the work flows, it's about the interactions.
Consider the Value of Creating a Continuum Experience
Marketing and Sales need to jointly take responsibilty for the buying process. There's no wall in the middle - or even two thirds of the way through. We need to start looking at the buying process as a continuous experience that sometimes plays to the strengths of marketing and other times to those of the sales team.
Consistency of messaging and story across all channels and cross-functionally must become our foundation. When we're all on the same page, it truly makes the label of marketing or sales irrelevant. Even better, it enables growth by building credibility. And that results in trust that earns more conversations.
When a buyer is working to solve a problem or meet an objective, he or she needs to gather enough information that they are confident about making a decision that will not adversely impact their careers. They need a level of certainty that the solution will do what it promises and that it's necessary to go outside the company to get it. They need the ammunition to build the case, gain consensus from the others involved with consideration to each unique perspective and the ability to secure budget.
We, as marketers and salespeople, must help them do all of this. And it won't happen when marketers push out content "How-to" articles that are too tactical for buyers to learn what they need to know or when sales calls after a white paper download to try to pitch a demo.
Find Your Story
Every company has a story that distills the distinct value they provide that sets them apart from competitors. Why aren't more of us finding it and making it the foundational pivot point for increasing our relevance to and engagement with buyers and influencers?
Rather than marketing programs or sales processes, we should be focused on buyer initiatives first and make them the drivers for what we do.
When we can take this approach, then we're prepared to interact competently with buyers regardless of where they are in the buying process. But, we'll also be able to identify that place and help to address the unmet needs that help them decide to embrace change and trust you to help them. That's because whether we're marketers or salespeople, we'll be able to see the big picture from the buyer's perspective.