There is no mistaking it—in today’s modern world of fast-paced buying and selling, marketing is key to success. Marketing has a hand in many parts of the sales cycle from content creation to digital tools like email templates and interactive content. It seems these days, the only thing that marketing isn’t involved in is closing a sale, but a sales team wouldn’t have those leads without the assistance of a marketing team devoted to developing brand recognition and catching the customer's attention.
Not only does marketing bring in customers and nurture them along their journey, but sales also relies on marketing to equip them with the tools they need to deliver the experience that modern buyers expect. So, why does today’s buying depend on marketing?
The Modern Buying Journey
Before today’s advanced technology, most organizations operated under a company-centric view of the marketplace, focused mainly on how much product they could push out the door.
Ten to fifteen years ago, if you wanted to buy something you would have to visit a physical store location or call the number associated with the product. Once connected with the customer, salespeople were often pushy, trying to close the deal quickly. As the sales team had all the information, sellers were in a position of influence and power during the buying process. Cold-calling and direct mail dominated the scene, where customers went to extreme lengths to compare and contrast products.
Today, things have changed. The modern buyer’s journey has evolved to fit into a technologically advanced world—and it’s not stopping! This ever-changing sales landscape means a massive transformation has occurred out of necessity to respond to the buyer’s newly found discovery-centric mentality.
According to SiriusDecisions,
“67 percent of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally.”
Adaptability is key. Practically speaking, in many industries and organizations, sales only converses with a prospect during the final third (or less) of the buyer’s journey. This reflection isn't a reduction of importance or value provided by sales but merely indicates the fact that today’s buyers are connecting with reps at a later stage of the purchasing journey than in the past. Customers are researching options online before reaching sales. It is critical that marketing provides enough content in the marketplace for customers to decide to pursue the product offering further, leading to the point where a customer needs to speak to a salesperson.
“Organizations that stick to their old selling methods and resist updating their sales processes and methods will suffer—they are too far behind.”
HubSpot predictions for sales enablement include four different—yet fundamental things—to consider:
- CRMs are a necessity, but they are only a small fraction of what Sales needs.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming a more prominent part of the sales process.
- Just-in-time training for sales is added back into budgets.
- Many enterprise teams are planning to get "leaner" by placing more importance on content-based marketing and sales enablement content.
Just as the buyer has adapted how they collect and process information, the sales team must also change in order to engage prospects to ultimately close a deal. If a company chooses to accommodate, especially in the four areas listed above, they are steps ahead of the competition.
What Does Marketing Do For Sales?
With the customer’s ever-growing access to information, search engines like Google offer buyers a chance to research products on their own—sometimes without even visiting a company’s website—before entering into the buying cycle.
As we’re moving away from a marketplace focused on business relationships, into a landscape of comparison and peer reviews, it’s important to look at how a customer’s experience with marketing influences their interaction with sales.
“Digital sales transformation, from the very outset, was triggered by buyers who were able to self-educate via search engines, and increasingly, social networks.”
In a society connected by social media as well as other digital platforms, buyers are actively gathering information from their peers. Prospects are reaching out to the web to find customer reviews to inform and direct their own buying habits. Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and G2 Crowd provide a way for comparison shopping with the added benefit of recommendations that are shared. That’s why companies who put the customer expectation at the forefront of their buying are leaps and bounds ahead of those who do not.
“89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36% four years ago.”
It’s important to note that sales and marketing haven’t always spoken the same language. Over the years they’ve measured with vastly different metrics to see their progress. This is where sales enablement process becomes a key to translating differing viewpoints into common goals. By using a single customer-focused strategy, these disparate departments bridge the gap by finding new ways to meet, think, and react together.
Sales enablement utilizes processes, content, and technology to empower reps to sell efficiently. Marketing is responsible for creating content and tools that drive sales to sell at a higher efficiency rate. Not only does Marketing create content for Sales, but they also have the responsibility of managing the customer’s brand and product experience before the buyer has even reached the sales rep.
“Nearly 60% of a typical purchasing decision—researching solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, benchmarking pricing, and so on—before even having a conversation with a supplier.”
— The Corporate Executive Board
When 60 percent of a buyer’s decision is made before speaking with a salesperson, it’s crucial for marketers to grab the attention of a buyer through brand values. Content and sales strategy must meld together to meet the customers' needs.
Marketing encompasses six things for sales:
- Determine the need for product and goods in the marketplace through consumer research of sales patterns.
- Modify products to match buyer's wants and needs
- Determine best awareness approach for customers
- Persuade customers to consider the product
- Create marketing campaigns
- Confirm customer relationships with follow-up campaigns or loyalty programs.
Marketing and sales must act like they are in a relay race—one handing off to another—to get the deal done. What happens when the baton handoff fumbles?
You want to have a smoother transition which is done in three easy steps:
- Give sales bylines for content
- Let sales know when campaigns launch
- Build communication materials for sales
Beyond the content, materials, documents, and assets needed from marketing, if you want to improve revenue or growth, ensure that everyone is on the same page and united—we’re talking marketing, sales, even customer support. Provide consistent customer experience while enabling teams to be customer-facing with the help of a sales enablement process.
Put A Little Trust In Marketing
Marketing’s principal purpose is to find and meet customers where they are and attract buyers to consider a product. With a myriad of platforms for communication and devices to access them, finding customers is no longer as simple as calling phone numbers or knocking on doors at dinnertime. Sales must trust marketing to bring in the customers.
Despite the level of expertise required to find buyers, marketing alone cannot succeed in closing deals—there comes the point where a hand-off to sales is needed. With the amount of digital transformation taking place, full self-service purchasing is not a likely reality for complex products or services. Businesses continue to depend on marketing and sales for growth, but creating trust with productive collaboration between these departments is a well-known challenge. Aligning both departments under one unified goal is necessary for success, creating a more efficient process while providing customers with a seamless experience.