There’s a meeting with the marketing and sales teams in a conference room. The marketing team is thrilled: they’ve found a new marketing channel, sure to improve the abysmal performance of last quarter.
“Billboards,” they exclaim. “Billboards! That’s where we’ll be investing our resources. Think about how many thousands of people will see these every day!”
The sales team holds their heads. They think about updating their resumes.
Later, when it’s time for the sales team to present their results, they’re thrilled: they’ve closed 3 of the 600 leads that marketing sent.
The marketing team holds their heads. They, too, think about updating their resumes.
The relationship between sales and marketing is usually complex and sometimes stressful.
On one hand, the marketing team is doing their best to position and market the company and attract customers. They’re numbers-focused and want a great result. But in reality, sometimes they miss the mark. They don’t directly hear the concerns, objections and ideas the sales team might while working directly with prospects and clients.
On the other hand, the sales team is under immense pressure to sell each month. Their personal and professional success depends on it. They’re hoping marketing finds the magic combination of budget spend, marketing channels, messaging, design and timing. Sometimes sales uses marketing as a scapegoat for their performance— and sometimes sales isn’t skilled at giving proper feedback the marketing team could so critically use.
The fact is both teams have (or should have) the same goal: driving revenue and success for the entire organization. Blame it on team dynamics, interpersonal conflicts or simply the disconnect between teams whose day-to-day work is quite different, but it’s absolutely critical that sales and marketing works together for the most impact.
While there is plenty to be said about how sales teams should utilize and interact with marketing teams (and can be the topic of another blog post), these are 3 ways marketing negatively influences sales— and how to fix it.
Capturing the wrong leads
If you’ve ever worked in marketing or sales— or you’ve seen Glengarry Glen Ross— you understand the importance of strong, qualified leads.
Many marketing teams will boast about the sheer volume of leads they achieved last month and express their frustration at their sales team’s low close rate.
“How did we send over 50 leads last week and we have nothing to show for it?”, a marketing director might wisely ask.
And it’s a complex answer
From the sales perspective, the marketing director would likely hear from the VP of Sales:
The leads they provided were targeted at the wrong demographic. The product appeals to young women who live in cities and sales got leads from middle-aged men who live in the country.
The leads might have been targeted towards someone who can’t buy. Sales may need to reach a Director of IT in order to sell anything, but if your ads only reached entry-level IT workers, then it wasn’t helpful.
The leads might not have matched the offer or call to action. Sure, marketing had 500 people sign up for that free gas grill giveaway. But if only 5 of these leads are homeowners and you sell homeowner’s insurance, then that call to action was too broad and brought you plenty of unqualified leads.
The reasons for why the leads weren’t quite right are as numerous as the number of bad leads— and bad excuses— that get passed between marketing and sales teams every day.
Here’s the fix:
In order to capture the right leads, there are plenty of questions to ask first.
- Who is buying our product?
- Where do they spend their time?
- How can we measure our success?
- What problems are they looking to solve?
- How can we add value to our potential customers’ lives?
- What questions do they try to answer?
- What is their path to purchase?
Importantly, these questions are asked by sales and marketing together. It’s up to sales to relay their findings and observations to marketing. It’s worth speaking with existing customers to determine who they are, why they purchased, where they spend their time online and what their path to purchase was like.
By first understanding who you sell to, you can then understand what topics speak to them and draw their interest, what they want and, eventually, why you sell to them and why they buy from you. By then finding out where people like them spend their time and what content they consume, you’ll be able to understand where to post your content and what to post.
For example, if after a meeting between sales and marketing, you realize that your product is mostly purchased by young men between the ages of 22 and 28 and they spend lots of time learning how to dress better, it makes sense to post fashion tips on Instagram, content they’ll find helpful on a platform they use daily.
From there, it’s important to create opportunities for them to work further towards solving their issue. Perhaps they first find an Instagram post about how to tie a bow tie which links to an e-book on how to choose shoes with a suit. From there, they’ve added their email address to your mailing list where you regularly update them with new content and product offers, sales and other value adds.
Every product and service will have a different likely buyer, or buyer persona, unique content and offers and specific online platforms that attract the right leads.
By testing new ideas, noticing trends and creating a strong communication channel between sales and marketing, you’ll soon figure out who you need to reach, where and how to guide them down the path to purchase.
Stressing the wrong benefits
Another mistake marketing can make that will negatively influence your sales is by focusing on the wrong benefits of your product or service.
If you’ve spent time on phone calls, demos and email conversations with potential clients, you’ll likely understand that few people want to hear about the features of your product. They don’t truly care how fast your service is, how many buttons it has or how many people use it.
What they do care about is what it does for them. Your service is fast so they can get back to their lives quickly, there are only 2 buttons to improve ease of use— and it’s used by thousands of people who also had the issue they’re concerned with. Those benefits of your product and service speak to their priorities.
However, marketing messaging doesn’t always hit the mark.
By marketing with the features of your product or service in mind, your prospective clients won’t know why they’d ever be interested. Few people know that they want a phone with a 12-megapixel camera, for example, but they do know they want a phone to help them capture memories with fantastic clarity.By not understanding where your product or service fits into the market, you may be positioning the product incorrectly. If your buyers love what you sell because it’s the most convenient, offers the best value or is hands-down the best quality at any price imaginable, make sure that’s what is communicated.
How to fix it:
A major part of selling is listening.
If you’re in sales, you’ll need to listen intently on what makes your potential customer express interest. When you find what makes the majority of your customers’ ears perk up, pass this on to marketing and see how they can use it.
Creating content around the benefits of what you sell is key. No, the content shouldn’t obsess over what you sell. It should help your likely buyers solve the problems they’re interested in solving.
If you operate a print shop that creates print branding and vehicle wraps, you might write a blog post about how small businesses can make an impression with their branding. Of course small business owners will be looking for this information. They’ll find it helpful. With the right content, calls to action and offers, that small business owner who came to you interested in their branding will also come to you when it’s time to revamp their signage, business cards, t-shirts and vehicle branding. While your content had little to say about what you do, you spoke to the benefits of good branding, a solution you can help provide.
Your marketing team can send you a lead who fits the exact demographic you typically sell to, in the perfect industry and with an unlimited budget. But if they’re not ready to buy or they’ve already purchased, then bad timing will cost you the sale.
One of the most difficult parts of being a salesperson is, via phone calls or emails, moving a lead from the “who are you and why are you calling me?” stage through to becoming a paying client.
How to fix it:
Luckily, with the right marketing and sales techniques, your leads can reach you at just the right time.
With a sales funnel, you can work your prospective leads through a series of steps: the awareness stage, consideration stage, decision stage and retention stage.
At the awareness stage, your lead might have just realized they have an issue or want to solve a problem. This is where they become aware of your brand and what you sell, though they may still not be sure how to go about fixing it. For example, they might have come home to find their roof is leaking. They know it’s an issue as the water leaks onto their brand new TV, but they’re not entirely sure what to do about it.
In the consideration stage, they begin comparing their options for someone to fix their roof. They may want to read helpful tips on how to temporarily patch the leak or what to look for when it comes to a contractor who can do this type of work. This may also be where they first send you their contact information as someone who wanted to learn more about how to temporarily fix their leak. Based on what you sell or do, you’ll know when it’s right to make contact with your client, but this is a likely place to reach out to them and offer some value or help. This may be the perfect place for the sales team to make that first contact.
In the decision stage, they’ve decided that, yes, they have a problem they’re intent on fixing and it’s time to choose a solution. They may want a demo, estimate or consultation. This may be where the sales team becomes involved. They come out to the house, take photos of the roof, give an inspection and write up an estimate. With rain in the forecast, this may be where the prospective client signs the contract and becomes a customer.
However, that’s not all.
The last stage, the retention stage, is where you work to keep them a customer and perhaps expand your business with them. Your client might’ve loved the job you did on their roof, so continue sending them emails with helpful homecare tips. Offer a half-priced trial to your annual gutter cleaning service or free yearly roof inspections. By focusing attention on this core of loyal customers, your pipeline will be full of well-qualified leads who don’t require nearly the attention or marketing spend of a brand new customer.
Marketing and sales, together forever
When it comes down to it, marketing and sales have to find a way to work together, put aside any differences and focus on their common, shared goals.
By working smarter, collaborating closely and communicating effectively, sales and marketing can become an unstoppable team that helps potential clients, adds value and maximizes the time and efforts of both teams.
Is it time to create the marketing and sales strategy your team needs to be effective?