Business is evolving at a pace none of us ever expected—and maybe we wish we could slow it down. The buying journey, and how sellers interact with buyers, are also changing at rollercoaster rates. And companies are scrambling to keep their teams ahead of the next curve (pun intended). But with failure rates of new technology adoptions in the 50-70% range, how do you manage to keep everyone on the ride?
If sales reps don't appreciate or find value in the tools and resources rolled out to them, the ride is over—and goals aren't achieved. Worst of all, the buyer is the one who suffers from a less-than-stellar experience.
So what can intelligent businesses do to empower their teams to reach their full potential? One key thing is to enable sales and marketing to work well together, rather than as siloed departments.
We'll cover six and a half (yep, 6½) actions that you can put in place to help your salespeople happily embrace new tools and technology to help them win more deals.
#1: Communicate by relating to common goals.
It's human nature to bond together to work toward a common cause, but it's also common to resist change. Unfortunately, marketing and sales teams frequently focus on their particular piece of the puzzle and rarely see how they fit together.
Marketing gains traction with sales by attending sales meetings, or simply talking to people on the sales team, about their goals—and how marketing fits in on the journey to reach them.
Sometimes marketing sees this outreach as pandering to sales as support staff when it's really the opposite. Open communication can help marketing drive sales objectives and see real results. By becoming a part of sales' short and long-term plans, marketing can identify concrete initiatives that serve to further the objectives of both departments.
Sales and marketing teams that fail to communicate, and recognize shared goals with each other struggle. Only by adopting the mindset that they are on the same side and working toward the same results can the two function as an effective team that isn't siloed.
#2: Feel your salespeople's pain.
"Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply." - Stephen Covey
Marketing may claim that sales won't embrace the new branding message—while sales complains that marketing is out of touch, and doesn't understand life in the field. Ditch these sentiments by joining sales on the ride.
Instead of showing them materials you think they want, talk to them about what they need BEFORE creating marketing collateral. Are they facing stiff competition? Is pricing an issue? Are they dealing with customer service issues? Get aligned. By gaining a better understanding of the problems that sales teams encounter, marketing can allocate resources toward relevant tools that enable sales to successfully overcome those obstacles.
#3: Roll new tools out in sales language.
Marketing-focused descriptions like "marketing thinks this change will really help strengthen our branding" will usually generate blank, bored stares and eye rolls. While sales knows branding is important, it doesn't get them fired up. What does? Leads, money, recognition, and less administrative busy work!
Speaking in "salesisms" (yes, probably not a real word) offers marketing a chance to convey a compelling message that sales will hear loud and clear. Wondering what words to use? That's why you need to TALK TO YOUR SALESPEOPLE.
Change takes a bit of planning to get your ideas across and create an actionable, emotional response. The critical component of broaching any new change is to make sure that sales understands how it:
Increases their business.
Decreases their workload.
Once marketing understands the pain points of sales and pinpoints a solution, they must...
#4: Get exec buy-in + sponsorship.
Active support and engagement from company leadership will convince your reps to use the platform. We all know that to get the funds, there was an executive that endorsed the technology, right?
It's vital that the team sees this exec sponsor using the technology and advocating for it inside the company. Explaining the advantages and defining the goals upfront helps set the stage for adoption and success.
Related organizations inside the company including customer success, and ops are important to have on board too. These teams play an important role in reaching prospects and should be aligned with company goals and the technology used. And having that exec sponsor will help deliver the confidence for adoption.
#5: Follow up in a "partner" capacity.
You've heard the phrase 'don't lead with the pitch, lead with the prospect's interest.' The same is true in persuading sales to evolve, get out of their comfort zone, and adopt new ways of accomplishing their key goals.
Empathy and patience are your friends when working with the sales team on new technology adoption. When new processes hit a bump in the road, instead of assigning blame, sales and marketing should work together to determine why this happened. Did sales have enough time to adjust? Was proper training provided? Did marketing adequately communicate the value, from a sales point of view? Once marketing diagnoses the stumbling blocks, activate those big, creative marketing brains and figure out the way to get the initiative back on track.
#6: Don't be afraid to admit failure.
Every ride is not free of fear and not every idea that marketing puts in motion will be a winner. Occasionally, we are sold on a tactic or tool that promises fantastic results, but, for one reason or another, just doesn't pan out the way we expected.
I'm not saying that you should give up, but there comes a time when, after your best efforts, you realize a process or tool just wasn't right for your business. Once this happens, cut fast and move on. Business failings are a painful but valuable chance to learn how to better gauge future opportunities.
If a recent change you blessed and implemented failed to hit the mark with sales, take the blame. Talk with sales about why it happened, and figure out why it didn't meet the desired expectations.
Openly discussing an initiative's shortcomings helps marketing maintain their credibility with sales, which is needed for the success of future marketing-driven endeavors. Once you have the full information, from the sales and marketing side, decide how to move forward.
And the 1/2: Never give up.
"Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith." - Steve Jobs.
Even if marketing hits snags in moving sales to new, fresh, more productive ways of accomplishing the company's goals, don't stop in your pursuit of success.
Closing the gap between sales and marketing empowers your company to create a harmonious relationship that increases bottom-line results. Savvy professionals eventually see the advantages of building a mutually respectful relationship. In turn, it's easier to encourage tech adoption. Committing to harmony with sales benefits marketing, helps trump the competition, and creates a more robust customer experience and, keeps reps smiling:-)