The buyer is always right — now more so than ever, in part because they’re more educated about products and services thanks to a wealth of informational marketing material online. This means sales no longer controls the flow of information in the buying process. If customers have a question about a product or service, they can pull up Google and receive an answer instantly, privately, and from a variety of sources.
One of the most significant consequences of this change is that marketing teams now play an equal role to sales in new customer acquisition. As a result, marketing’s influence on the sales pipeline and outcome is increasing.
This is what we call sales and marketing alignment: when sales and marketing work together to improve the process for lead generation, lead nurturing, lead qualification and sales closing.
HOW MARKETING CAN HELP SALES
The key for marketers is to understand and embrace the buyer’s journey, represented by the three essential stages in every buying process: awareness, consideration, and decision.
The awareness stage addresses a buyer who is aware of a problem or topic and is interested in learning more. A buyer in the consideration stage is conducting research and considering various solutions to their problem. A buyer in the decision stage has had objections addressed and is ready to make a decision on a solution.
Marketers should be gaining insight into the buyer’s need for information at every stage of the journey. Marketing can then pass the knowledge gained about a prospect’s unique needs, priorities and objections on to sales, who can then engage a qualified lead with a greater understanding of the their specific requirements in order to close the sale.
HOW SALES CAN HELP MARKETING
Although marketing has recently gained greater influence in the buying process, sales still has some advantages. For one, sales is a measurable, repeatable process has been around for more than 40 years.
Good sales are synonymous with good process. The widespread adoption of the internet at the beginning of the last decade enabled marketers to embrace their art in the same process-driven way. Marketers can rely on input from sales at to develop and refine their own processes.
Sales can also help marketing improve their lead generation and qualification process by showing the marketing team which leads are higher quality and why.
New technologies have helped automate inbound marketing processes, but companies still struggle to get them to work properly. It’s a common misconception that marketing automation can be set once to communicate with sales, or that sales automation can be set once to interact with leads.
Marketing and sales alignment is a collaborative process. Your marketing automation platform is only as good as the information that you put into it. If unqualified leads are being passed to sales automatically, it’s marketing’s responsibility to update these triggers and make them more accurate. The objective of marketing and sales alignment is knowing when a process is working and when it isn’t, so you can keep improving your sales and marketing strategies and prevent leads from going to waste.