One of your best B2B digital marketing tactics is not a tactic at all – it’s about teamwork

Australian Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo recently parted ways with McLaren, citing his struggles with the racing team and two tough Formula 1 seasons. "I feel that we probably underperformed through burying ourselves too deep in it all at times. And that's a real thing," he commented.

Is your sales team - the racing car of your B2B tech business - getting buried too deep at times? Have you noticed that your sales and marketing teams can't seem to get out of each other's way and your growth is suffering?

Industry surveys back this up, with Kiwi hi-tech companies citing sales as one of their major challenges in taking their products to offshore markets. And what we've learned in our many years of experience in the B2B landscape is that marketing and sales teams are too often not a slickly coordinated team at tech businesses. Real sales and marketing alignment is a key to digital marketing success in a B2B context.

And although there is a clear distinction between them, they still need to be in step.

Start with the most basic premise:

  • Marketing attracts potential customers
  • Sales closes deals to create paying customers

Understanding this relationship is essential - and in fact, one of the best strategies to help your marketing and sales teams work together.

The Salesperson - The racing car driver

Often the problem is that we fill these 'racing car’ sales vehicles with diesel and then complain that they don’t sound or perform as we wish. It’s more the fault of the business than the sales team. At the root of this is an incorrect view of the role of sales, which leads to unrealistic expectations and frustration.

A potential customer - a 'prospect' - goes through a process, from having never heard of your company or product through to understanding and being attracted to it, and finally purchasing and using it. This is not necessarily a linear process and may involve lots of backtracking and roundabout routes, but fundamentally it is about moving from point A - never having heard of you - to point Z - loving your product as a loyal customer.

Too often company leaders see it as the sales team’s job to do the whole lot from that initial point A through to Z. In a very small business that’s what a salesperson has to do, because there is no one else. As a company grows, however, it is an inefficient approach. It is putting diesel in the car’s tank, instead of high-octane fuel. In a racing car, the driver is expected to perform, and it's the same for your sales team. But in order for them to do that, they need to be off the line with the car in tip-top condition.

The Marketer - The racing car engineers

Your marketing team can get prospects into shape by using a process to ‘sieve’ out those with the most interest from a market and presenting them to the salesperson to nurture toward a sale. Instead of the sales team wasting time on organisations who will never buy, they focus on persuading a prospect to buy, a prospect that already knows your brand and has some understanding of what it can offer to them.

This is where the marketing comes in, by implementing programmes that generate and deliver these warm ‘leads’ to the sales team – and let them just build relationships and get the sale.

The job of marketing is to build a lead generation ‘machine’ - a programme of measurable activities that raise awareness of your brand with a targeted group of prospects, and then helps those prospects understand more about your product and become attracted to its potential value to them.

What’s exciting for Kiwi exporters is that so much of this lead generation can be done online with all the cost-effective tools available today. By enticing prospects into their website with valuable content, firms can attract prospects from virtually anywhere in the world and start nurturing them toward becoming a sales opportunity.

In this way, you minimise the tension that can sometimes build between sales and marketing, as well as preventing them from working in siloes. To truly support the sales team and ensure they're delivering high-quality prospects, both teams need to be on the same page. As a very wise HubSpot person once said:

"Smart sales and marketing leaders know how important it is to collaborate with cross-functional teams. In a perfect world, the two teams would be working in tandem and complete harmony with one another."

How to form a well-oiled pit crew - marketing and sales alignment

Tech businesses that master this efficient selling process notice that sales activity starts to build momentum over time, while their average cost of sales drops. Lead times for sales decrease and the business grows without having to constantly add sales staff.

So you can see that building an efficient selling machine is about getting marketing and sales working together. Research from HubSpot showed that companies with aligned sales and marketing achieve a 20% annual growth rate, while those with poor cooperation experienced a 4% revenue decline.

There are three key ingredients to getting this cooperation between marketing and sales.

  1. Tracking and measuring how prospective customer go from being leads through to closed sales, so the respective roles and contributions of marketing and sales can be clearly measured and the progress gauged.

  2. A critical need for both groups to use a common language to describe where a prospect is on the sales process. Confusion around terminology can be the biggest source of friction between marketing and sales.

  3. Both teams need some mutual agreement about what each other will commit to, for marketing in terms of producing quality leads, and for sales in terms of their efforts to convert those into customers.

Rather than blame salespeople for not delivering, we need to examine how they are supported, and whether they are fed diesel or jet fuel in terms of their sales leads. It is about making sure these ‘race cars’ can perform at their best and not disappoint, as McLaren may have with Daniel Ricciardo.

Talk to us about how to strengthen your marketing and sales team.

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