Sales and marketing go hand in hand. Without effective marketing, there are no prospects to sell your product to. Without sales people to convert those prospects into customers, your marketing efforts are wasted.
In a small company, sales and marketing functions are often the responsibility of one or two people with blended roles—so communicating goals and priorities is often simpler and clearer. But as an organization grows and teams begin to form, the lines of communication often begin to break down.
It's not uncommon for marketing teams to have very little knowledge of the sales process, and for sales teams to be clueless about the effort required to generate the leads they're following up on.
Before you create a marketing strategy, it's important to involve your sales team. Among other things, you need to make sure your marketing activities are designed to:
- Attract and educate the prospects that are easier to sell to
- Increase the efficiency of your sales process
- Generate enough qualified leads to support your growth goals
- Improve close rates
1. More Qualified Prospects
Questions for your sales team: What are the characteristics of our ideal customer? What makes one prospect more qualified than another? What information about a prospect is vital to the sales process?
Answers from your marketing team: Work together to create an ideal customer profile that clearly defines the types of customers you're trying to attract. Then identify and document the personas of the individuals you typically interact with during the sales process—their characteristics, pains, questions, and motivations. Make sure your branding and messaging are designed to attract the right people to your business, and that you're giving them the information they need at each stage of the buying cycle.
Identify what types of information your sales team needs, and figure out how marketing can capture and pass along that information to sales. As you focus your marketing efforts on educating prospects, your sales team will spend more time talking to sophisticated buyers who are ready to purchase.
2. More Educated Prospects
Questions for your sales team: What information do you find yourself repeating to prospects? What questions do your prospects ask at each stage of the buying process? What are the emotions they feel (and what do you want them to feel) during their journey?
Answers from your marketing team: First, start by mapping out the stages of your buyer's journey (Awareness, Consideration, Decision) and make a list of the questions the buyer has at each stage. Then create content that answers their questions and helps them move to the next stage of the process.
For example, create a downloadable eBook or checklist that can be posted on your website and can also be used by your sales team to educate potential customers. Or, host a monthly webinar that allows you to showcase your expertise and educate a number of prospects in a single educational session.
Before long, your sales team will be spending their valuable time nurturing relationships and closing sales instead of answering the same questions over and over.
3. Differentiation from your competition
Questions for your sales team: What factors cause us to lose customers to our competition? What makes our products and services better than those of our competitors?
Answers from your marketing team: Look at what your competitors are doing. Is everyone talking about their low prices, great service, and high quality? Talk to your customers—why did they choose your company over a competitor? Create materials that specifically address your competitive advantage, and make sure your messaging is unique.
Think about creating an eBook that addresses "The Acme Corporation Difference" or create a tip sheet that talks about the "Top 10 Reasons Our Widgets Will Blow Your Mind." Your sales team can then use these materials to educate prospects about why they'll love doing business with you instead of your competition.
In the end, your marketing and sales teams have the same objective: to attract the right clients to use and purchase your services. It's up to these two teams to communicate with each other to address problems on either end. From the sales team's perspective, making the sale should be easy if the marketing team attracts the right types of clients while maintaining a competitive edge in the market. If both teams are able to be successful, then your company will be successful.