Orchestrating Sales and Marketing Partnerships to Win Today’s Enlightened Tech Buyers
July 25, 2019
The technology space is highly competitive, dominated by large players and characterized by a long, oftentimes complex buying process.
Making the shortlist in this industry is hard — less than 24% of decision-makers will consider a new technology vendor this year, data from our 2019 Enlightened Tech Buyer report reveals. Thus, technology companies must seek out every advantage to earn a vendor’s attention, trust and ultimately win the sale.
One of the most promising, though not always easy, strategies to achieve this? Marketing and sales alignment.
As customer experience becomes the focus for all business activities, aligning marketing and sales offers strategic advantages with a proof-positive outcome: when sales and marketing are tightly aligned, marketing-generated revenue increases 208%. Organizations see margin expansion, better customer retention and higher win rates as deals close faster and result in higher gains. On the other end of the calculation, the dissonance between these two departments can also be expensive. In the U.S. alone, sales and marketing teams waste an estimated $1 trillion dollars per year due to a lack of coordination.
The foundation for marketing-sales alignment in B2B operations
For marketing and sales to move arm-in-arm into the future, it takes overhauling not only the relationship between them but their operational base. Technology companies should start with this simple question, posed to both departments: who is your target audience?
It’s a simple, but important one because we’ve found that often, marketing and sales aren’t even talking about the same people. On average, LinkedIn sees just a 23% overlap between sales’ target audience and marketing’s target audience in the typical B2B organization. And it doesn’t help that these two groups are often consulting different customer data sets.
To get on the same page about your customers, you first must collaboratively determine how you define your customers and their journey, at an organization level. From there, marketing and sales should develop buyer personas that capture key information about that shared target audience. Then they should define the customers with the highest lifetime value. There are multiple ways to look at customer lifetime value to determine a methodology that encompasses the important revenue-building activities of a customer (purchase value, renewal rate, purchase frequency, etc.) Determine a methodology that works for your organization and then find the customers who hit the top of the list. These are the heavy hitters, who really move your bottom line upward.
Sales and marketing should together analyze these clients for key attributes to create lookalike models to identify potential customers like them. Both teams gather important details about prospects as they interact with and observe them. By combining and sharing these insights, marketing and sales are able to gain a much more complete, realistic understanding of buyers’ behaviors, preferences, interests, pains and even opinions — and ensure they’re on the same page. The last step? Make sure you’re using the same data sets. What platform is marketing using to develop and track leads, what is sales using to reveal customer insights along their journey, and how can these be reconciled?
Abandon the broken funnel and pipeline view
Marketing must stop looking at their process as the top and bottom of a funnel, as sales must stop looking at theirs as the beginning and end of a pipeline. Both groups must be engaged in the entire buying process, in lockstep with the buyer’s perspective.
What would a joint effort look like in practical terms? Think about the tech buying journey from needs assessment through specs/funding, vendor selection, implementation and finally management.
Sales lends a hand in awareness and early engagement
Marketing is running its awareness campaigns while the buyer is deep in the needs phase, offering educational and thought leadership content, testimonials, case studies, etc. to ensure tech buyers view the company as relevant, trustworthy and capable. Sales can help here. Marketing can push content to employees — including sales teams — systematically to share with their followers (through a program like LinkedIn Elevate). Because sales is conveying the company’s point of view, they are helping build brand awareness. In fact, sales representatives who regularly share quality content are 45% more likely to exceed quota. And because the content is coming from the salesperson, it’s perceived as more authentic, boosting the odds of a positive reception from buyers. This is particularly important in tech buying, where 80% of buyers look outside the tech buying committee for information and counsel on B2B solutions.
Marketing can enable sales with targeted content
As the engagement phase begins on the marketing end and companies begin defining their project specs and funding on the buying end, sales is driving one-to-one conversions. In this timeframe, sales is liaising with customers frequently instead of marketing, but customer thirst for the right information hasn’t waned. That’s when marketing can improve efforts by supplying sales with targeted content that resonates.
Today, 79% of enterprise employees are technology end-users and 38% are technology decision-makers. These individuals, who hail from IT to marketing to finance and procurement, require a unique approach, given their role and responsibility in the buying process. Marketing must develop content and data that makes clear the value of your company’s products and services to multiple viewpoints, map touchpoints that support the sales relationship and develop content for clients’ IT and operations teams that anticipates their questions and provides answers.
Beyond proffering information that helps sales close the deal, marketing can also shore up its customer-facing platforms. Vendor websites are a top resource to navigate a company’s product both pre- and post-sale, followed by blogs/forums/discussion boards and product review websites, our research reveals. Focus resources on “How-To” videos or invest in functionality for clients to easily reach your customer support teams.
Sales and marketing should also develop a plan to secure customer testimonials, case studies and reviews on third-party sites. The tech buying committee is always looking for these sources, which make up half the material they consult during their buying journey, to understand and validate their decisions.
Revisiting step one to create a flywheel effect
With both sales and marketing in sync and supporting each other throughout the entire buyer’s journey and constantly sharing feedback and customer insights, the customer journey and sales process should improve. Marketing and sales must ensure this constant improvement by updating personas with the information gained by the sales cycle.
As they execute campaigns, they figure out who is responding to awareness and engagement campaigns, align those individuals with their archetypal roles on the buying committee, then determine the kind of content each role cares about and how to best sequence it. Then these two groups can inject that information into the planning process, creating a flywheel effect that better equips sales with information and resources to utilize during the sales cycle, so sales can more efficiently close deals and the company can support customers post-sale. Finally, looking at the deals that close, marketing can deploy lookalike algorithms to find more appropriate audiences moving forward — proven audiences that produce higher-quality leads for sales.
For even greater insights into how marketing and sales must work together to win over the Enlightened Buyer and the IT buying committee, as well as deeper analysis of these buyers and the knowledge ecosystem in which they make decisions, read the full report here.
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