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Aligning with the Sales Organization


Plenty of analysis is done by marketing to understand what customers want and how they want it. Marketers strive to make the products and services they promote be viewed by prospective customers as needed or desired. They do this in part by researching what customer’s need and want. In reality marketing has two key customers; the end users that consume their products and services, and their own field sales reps that consume the opportunities marketing generates. Therefore, an effort must be made by marketing to understand not only the needs of their end user, but also the needs of their internal customer, the sales department.

Revenue is positively impacted by an added effort by marketing to gain better insight into what their internal customers need to be successful. The primary cause of misalignment between sales and marketing lies in how well marketing understands and delivers what the sales organizations need.

When conversion rates on marketing generated leads are low, marketers must look to the causes that go beyond the surface, such as a lack of follow up by sales.

 

The primary cause of misalignment between marketing and sales lies in how well marketing understands and delivers what sales organizations need


Marketing’s Internal Competitor


The first step is to take an honest look at the structure and focus on your sales organization. Most enterprise sales organizations are structured by tiers. Top customers are assigned enterprise account managers who in turn are re-enforced by product and industry experts. Second tier accounts are managed by a mixture of second tier field and inside sales reps who manage multiple accounts. The remaining tier of emerging accounts, with a limited or non existing level of business, are delegated to marketing and inside sales departments to cultivate viable customers.

In the world of mass marketing, potential and upcoming customers are hit with broad-based social media content, automated marketing activities, and general telemarketing that are lead by product pitches based on high level demographics. The opportunities generated by these activities are then funneled to inside sales with the hopes of converting them into real business opportunities. Unfortunately, only a very small percentage of these leads close and result in revenue.

The sheer volume of these leads, along with the limited quality levels, cause inside sales to churn them with limited resolve. Inside sales will turn their focus elsewhere for opportunities that help retire their quotas including:

• Running quotes for field reps
• Running quotes for inbound inquiries
• Their own proactive efforts

With these various avenues to retire quota inside sales departments have to balance their sales resources across these avenues, which means that marketing generated leads tend to have a limited portion of their time. On average inside sales centers will contribute about 15 to 25 percent of their time to marketing generated leads. This is for good reason. They go where the money is. The alternative areas of focus is what marketing must compete for sales attention. Enforcing a larger concentration of time on marketing leads by way of a Service level agreements (SLA) can be counterproductive. These types of SLAs force reps to focus away from activities that may more likely retire quota, and put more focus on areas that are usually seen as less fruitful.

A solid, well calibrated automated marketing process can help organizations maximize their reactive base of potential business and it should be aggressively pursued. Responders form a good base of prospects to qualify and engage.

Inside sales seems to have it OK for now, focusing on non-marketing sourced leads and chasing install-based customer inquiries.

Think again.

Marketing holds the key to gaining access to new business. Within some mature industries, like the technology industry, this tactic that has long worked for sales organizations is beginning to dry up fast. More then ever, sales need marketing to better align to their needs.

Social media and automated marketing helps build and maintain awareness in the face of an explosive volume of information being offered by everyone. A solid, well-calibrated automated marketing process can help organizations maximize their reactive base of potential business and it should be aggressively pursued. Responders form a good base of prospects to qualify and engage.

What about those that despite the highest levels of information availability and accessibility, don't interact with social media sources or automated marketing techniques? These are the key stakeholders in large enterprise accounts. The reality is, very few executives from the largest organizations in the world will freely interact with social media outlets without first passing their responses through a series of checks and balances including their legal and public relations departments.

Relying on these high powered decision-makers to come out of the woodwork and engage openly in a social forum is highly unlikely. Responders are only a few steps ahead of non-responders in terms of their probability of change.

In the technology world, where customer awareness and knowledge is high, it is tough to get these highly-valued influencers of business to make any changes unless they themselves come to this conclusion either on their own, or with the help of their team, or through the valued engagement with a knowledgeable consultant.

That is the key!

At some point in the process, a sales engagement is needed to aid the prospective customer to make sense of an ocean of competing options. Sales, as discussed earlier, have limited time to deal with responders regardless of how high they may be scored. Marketing must take on the responsibility of further cultivating the prospect to a level of serious consideration.

Until the prospect begins to align their needs to your solution, sales will have an uphill battle to gain traction.



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