Remember that time you were sitting down to dinner with the family and your phone rang only to hear the voice of a telemarketer on the other line. Or 5 minutes before an important meeting, and someone from outbound sales calls you trying to sell you something that you have no use for. We all do, and it’s the perfect example of why we need to talk about the evolution of the sale process, and above all why sales & marketing need to work in synergy within your business to ensure you actually increase your leads and more importantly increase your conversion.
Business is all about the bottom dollar, and without customers your amazing product is going to have a short life span. But in the above example, you’re only damaging your brand. So how do you focus on using sales and marketing together, to ensure those conversations are to potential buyers, and are more likely to be relevant?
First, let’s look at what Sales & Marketing used to look like…
Rewind to the 90’s & 00’s and sales & marketing looked vastly different. In fact in some businesses that have yet to evolve, these things may look very familiar.
Marketing created content to make people aware of your brand, service offerings, or products etc. They were normally shown on TV slots, heard on the radio or were on the glossy pages of magazines. That’s pretty much where marketing ended.
Sales (which has evolved less so) was purely based on cold calling potential customers until they converted someone in to a customer. Basically through sheer persistence. There was limited education around the relevance of the customer, their background or their requirements.
Fast forward and boom the internet hits. Now everything is flipped on it’s head. Customers are smarter. They want information. They are educated buyers. The cold call and smoke and mirrors marketing strategy are dying if not dead, and everyone is truly fed up with having their precious time interrupted by ridiculously irrelevant cold calls.
As a result, sales & marketing have evolved. The focus now is on creating leads, providing information and getting to know your potential customer intimately, so your sales team can make effective conversations that are relevant to everyone involved.
Let’s define a lead
Rewind – what exactly is a lead? Basically, it’s a person who has indicated an interest in your product or service. Instead of interrupting their television dinner and shoving your company down their throat, these people know your brand and want to know more about what you can do for them.
They may have responded to a survey, downloaded a whitepaper etc. As a result you have some info on what they are looking for and the call is ‘warm’.
The Evolution of Marketing
Marketing is now sales. Whether anyone likes it or not, there is an increasing argument that sales & marketing are now one department. Your marketing teams now make up the initial stages of the sales process.
Through a combination of techniques; from SEO, to content marketing and PPC savvy marketing departments are providing even more savvy customers with information on their products & services. They are educating the market, and creating top of the funnel awareness. They are converting interest by providing CTA’s and gathering information. Marketing has now even gone as far as helping in customer retention by focusing on delighting customers once they are onboard.
Just like sales, marketing is now measurable (thanks to technology). It can be tested, perfected and can directly account towards revenue targets.
So where do sales & marketing meet?
Put simply, sales & marketing meet at the beginning. Both have to be equally involved in the strategy process.
- Sales can provide customer feedback to improve the marketing process
- By collaborating sales & marketing teams can define clear buyer profiles to ensure there is a common target when it comes to identifying potential customers
- Marketing can provide sales teams with insights on to types of engagement levels, potential market issues etc
The list goes on, but as you can see one can’t work or succeed without the other.
How to create more leads
1. Create a clear customer profile
By having sales & marketing work together it is vital that you create a clear profile of what your customers look like. There may be one or multiple examples of what customers look like. Create them all. Get real granular. From typical age bracket, to pain points, ambitions etc.
Use research, surveys from marketing, and feedback from the sales team to work together to have an intimate understanding of what your target customers will look like.
2. Focus on working through the sales funnel. Starting with brand awareness.
Based on the information created in your customer profile, begin creating top of the funnel awareness. Use a combination of blog posts, PPC campaigns to make prospects aware of the fact that they have a problem, and some possible ways to solve it. Get them thinking and don’t even think about selling yet!
3. Once you have created awareness, start getting your prospects interested.
Provide them with great content, whether whitepapers or infographics. Post instructional videos, run webinars (super effective). By using a combination of marketing techniques begin to put that interest in to subscription lists, where you can gather vital information about your prospects to help educate your sales team on how to approach calls/emails/webinar follow ups etc etc. Direct your prospects to landing pages and get them signing up to free offerings, the more information you gather, the better for the sales process. But to get information, you need to provide some love to the market through your marketing strategies.
4. Once marketing has successfully progressed prospects through the above stages, it’s time for the sales team to get busy and actually start selling.
Using the information you’ve gathered about your prospects now you can begin calling, emailing for times to speak,conduct sales focused webinars etc.
Don’t be old school, innovate to sell
By ensuring sales & marketing work in tandem you are placing yourself to win more work. Sales teams should never be cold calling anymore. Your competitors aren’t doing it for a reason. Sales needs to be more marketing orientated and marketing needs to be more sales orientated.
Maintain an outcome orientation, keep your customer front of mind and work through the sales funnel together.
By having everyone understand what makes a lead, where the process starts and finishes and how everyone can work together from the start, you will be well on the way to increasing customer acquisition.
For more information on lead generation tools, see this link.
- Ilan is the cofounder of One Egg and Head of SEO.