Approximately 50% of B2B and manufacturing sales targets are not met. It’s an age-old business problem. Naturally a long drawn out blame game ensues when targets are not met and filled with finger pointing, accusations, complaints, and general covering of…well, personal assets. The sales department blames the marketing team for low quality leads. The Marketing department fires back by claiming sales is not doing their job by closing.
When C-Level management catches wind of the low numbers, and the pipeline becomes unstable, the preverbal knee-jerk reaction is to fire department heads and underperforming members of the sales AND marketing teams. Important brand building and marketing initiatives are nixed, and a “double-down” approach to adding a new sales team simply convolutes a much larger issue. The increased pressure simply creates a greater disparity between both groups.
While all this is happening, someone very important is being overlooked: The customer, the buyer, the prospect.
While the internal teams are bickering, the customer is increasingly experiencing a negative interaction throughout the sales cycle. And it’s not because of a poor marketing piece or a lack of sales effort or unsatisfactory commission structures. The main issue in all of this is how the customer is being treated. And the majority of this treatment is due to a lack of insight and understanding of the customer and their journey with your organization. Sales and Marketing needs to be aligned on who the customer is, what drives them, which products and services are needed and in demand, and what communication channels are best to reach them within the framework of a sales cycle. It’s well-proven that companies with superior customer experience capabilities outperform the competition. C-level executives that build their companies' culture, processes, and technologies around an experienced prospect wants and values will always rise above the competition.
Achieving alignment requires both departments to draft a unifying plan. Two ways both groups can achieve this is by developing customer personas and implementing a marketing automation system. By developing personas and becoming customer-centric, both groups stop fending for themselves and instead focus on the customer by understanding and discussing their motivations and purchase drivers. Once the customer is in focus, implementing a marketing automation program will help send the right message, to the right people, at the right time…consistently.
Sales may not be down due to lack of performance, rather the marketing strategy and sales strategy are not reflecting the changes in customers and their purchasing habits. In manufacturing today, 80% of purchase cycles are concluded before a buyer contemplates contacting the supplier and, even then, they are hesitant to do so. Sales teams normally feel their job is just to sell. But history consistently shows that buyers prefer relationships and trust over product and price. Giving customers a positive experience starts by understanding them.
Buyers have access to more information in the past 10 years than ever before. From blog reviews to independent analysis, forums, peers, and a myriad of other resources are a click away. As a result, sales no longer needs to hand hold a buyer through a sales cycle. Instead, manufacturing companies should set up a self-directed process that the prospect can navigate on their own. At this point, potential customers are contacting sales to establish trust and gauge if it’s a right fit.
If you want sales and marketing to be aligned, align them both with the customer first.
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