Marketing has always shared some responsibility for this process by increasing brand awareness while promoting the company and solutions. This is generally achieved through print and broadcast media, direct mail, online marketing, events marketing, PR, email campaigns, and other wide-reaching marketing channels.
Along with driving brand awareness, marketing bears primary responsibility for increasing consideration and preference amongst potential customers by developing a value proposition that gives the business an edge over the competition.
However, changes in how prospects make buying decisions have introduced additional demands on maketing's assistance of sales teams. Here 4 ways marketing can help sales grow the business.
#1: Generate quality leads
Some responsibility for lead generation has always rested with the marketing department, but today most B2B sales organizations task the marketing team with this critical function. Sales teams are increasingly counting on the marketing department to generate the inquiries, leads and even sales meetings that sales can convert into opportunities and new clients. It is no wonder that 69% of sales organizations report that consistently generating quality leads ranks among their top business challenges.
#2: Define the challenges that target clients are encountering in the market
The sales team is usually 'heads-down' trying to close the next deal. While a strong salesperson needs to stay tuned into current events and developments in their chosen industry, marketing is now taking on a more significant role in this area. Through collaboration, marketing and sales need to identify the trends that are impacting how potential clients react to both the industry’s and the company’s offerings. As better information is available to buyers, it’s also critical that marketing and sales teams collaborate to position the company’s solutions in context with competitive offerings. Throughout its content and lead genertaion campaign efforts, marketing must demonstrate thought leadership by defining the challenges clients are facing and how the solutions address those challenges.
#3: Build strong value propositions
According to lead generation expert Brian Carroll, 95% of the visitors to a website don’t want to talk to a salesperson, but 70% will eventually buy from that company or a competitor. In the past, sales customized the pitch based on the needs of the prospect sitting across the desk from them. But in today’s fast-paced digital world, a potential client may be further along in the buying process than ever before when they finally are engaged by a salesperson. Marketing must work with sales to articulate the value propositions for the solutions being offered so that both online and offline messages address the needs of prospects earlier in the sales cycle.
#4: Keep the resources and collateral ready and available
As the buying process extends out past the 60-, 90-, or even 180-day mark, sales teams need a deep library of resources they can draw upon to continue to demonstrate value and keep buyers engaged. A salesperson can only ask, “Are you ready to buy yet?” so many times without being a nuisance. Marketing should be ready to deliver communication vehicles and offers like videos, interactive demos, promotions, case studies, etc.—all packaged for easy distribution by sales—that can minimize buyer fatigue during an extended buying process.
Keep the love alive. One aspect of the lengthening buying process is disengagement, where a purchasing decision gets put on the back-burner and the potential client disengages from the sales process. This can be due to an unexpected budget shortfall, the hiring of a new decision-maker, loss of momentum, and other causes. Marketing should take the opportunity to jump in to relieve the salesperson, picking up the chain of contact with a series of emails, direct mail, postcards, invitations, and other strategies that deliver a constant flow of valuable content. This helps keep the company’s solutions top-of-mind with the potential client while the salesperson is free to pursue more imminent opportunities.
What other ways can marketing departments help sales people close more business? Please share your thoughts below!