Turn sales and marketing into a B2B power couple

Our top tips for more mutual love between your sales and marketing teams

February 18, 2016

Rethink Buyers Journey

It’s an increasingly outdated stereotype that sales and marketing teams spend most of their time at loggerheads. LinkedIn’s in-depth research into their interactions shows they’ve never been closer. However, it also spotlights the final factor holding sales and marketing back from being a truly effective power couple. As in so many relationships, the love between the two is a little bit lopsided.

Marketing appreciates sales more than sales appreciates marketing. It’s a slight difference – but it’s significant. Whereas 86% of marketers report a well-aligned relationship with sales, 80% of sales teams say the same about their marketing colleagues. And 38% of salespeople still complain that marketing doesn’t provide them with enough qualified leads. Fixing this imbalance holds the key to multiplying the effectiveness of both sales and marketing in influencing the buyer journey.

Taken from our in-depth analysis of the sales and marketing relationship, here are the four changes that can deliver a more mutual kind of love – and align both organisations more powerfully with what buyers really want:

Better communication around multi-channel nurturing

Nurturing leads used to be the responsibility of sales teams. Today, empowered and self-educating buyers seeking out information online make it a vital part of marketing’s role. The problem is that not all of that marketing activity is appreciated, or even noticed, by sales. Only 28% of salespeople consider synchronising content across channels to be a worthwhile lead nurturing activity, compared to 45% of marketers. And although 55% see the value in delivering relevant information to prospects, that’s still substantially less than amongst marketers (62%).

The onus is on marketers to engage sales teams more with their multi-channel lead nurturing activities. There may be barriers to overcome, but it’s an important change to make. Amongst sales teams who are involved in multi-channel nurturing, 71% report that their relationship with marketing is getting stronger. Amongst those who aren’t, it drops to a worrying 42%.

Sales technology for a shared view of the buyer journey

When organisations roll out a sales technology platform like Salesforce or Marketo, they do more than provide sales with a new toolkit. Having a shared view of the buyer’s journey quickly bolsters the relationship between sales and marketing – and translates this into a stronger relationship with buyers as well. In our research, sales teams were 36% more likely to say their relationship with marketing was improving if they were using sales process technology.

Aligning on the content that buyers want

Marketers and sales teams both appreciate the value of thought leadership and expert opinions, but they have some differences of opinion when it comes to the value they place on these, relative to other types of content. Sales teams value straightforward product information, demos and best practices a lot more than marketers do – and the feedback from buyers suggests they have a point. Generating content for all parts of the funnel (including the nuts-and-bolts info that buyers need to help make decisions confidently) is an area where marketing departments could learn more from their sales teams.

Building long-term relationships

As far as salespeople are concerned, building long-term relationships with their prospects is the most important aspect of the lead nurturing process. And this is an area where marketers can potentially do more. When we conducted in-depth research into the IT Buying Committee last year, we found that buyers remain hungry for value-adding content even after they’ve made their decision about which vendor to choose. When marketers can find creative ways to keep adding value to customers through content, they won’t just align more closely with sales – they’ll find themselves taking more control of future buying decisions as well.

You’ll find more insights on how sales and marketing can work together to influence the buying journey in our Rethink the B2B Buyer’s Journey Ebook.