Driving commercial success can sometimes feel like walking a tightrope – particularly for Sales Directors. After all, it’s not just a case of supporting a sales team, it takes strategic planning, comprehensive understanding of business goals, adaptability and the motivation to lead.
Business today is almost unrecognisable from how it looked as little as five years ago. Whether B2B or B2C sales, the way we choose to purchase has changed, which means the sales process must too. But of course, this isn’t always a smooth transition. One challenge that Sales Directors are finding is that marketing isn’t always aligned with sales strategy. It can often feel like the two disciplines don’t support each other and may in fact be pulling in different directions.
If you’re left wondering why your sales funnel becomes stilted, or why your marketing isn’t hitting the people you need it to, it may be time to re-evaluate the relationship between sales and marketing for your business.
So, where should my company’s marketing fit into the sales puzzle?
Heading up a commercial team means keeping a number of plates spinning at the same time. As a Sales Director, you’re responsible not just for developing and enacting a sales strategy, but the periphery work that comes with it. For instance, there’s the drive to keep the team proactive with leads and converting into sales, but often with the caveat of limited resources and manpower. Then there’s the challenge of ensuring the business and product the value propositions are strong, consistent and communicated clearly, from face to face meetings to online promotions.
For many businesses, sales success is held back by a divided sales and marketing function. Historically, the sales function has been seen as a uniquely push strategy, taking the business to the potential customer, whereas marketing has been more traditionally known as a pull strategy, building market presence and allowing customers to come to the business, but frequently falls into the trap of pushing too!
Thanks to growing digitalisation and fundamental shifts in how business is conducted, the lines have never been more blurred. Businesses that are able to truly integrate sales and marketing processes are finding themselves with not only a more unified approach, but more effective use of resources.
Sales is part of the wider ‘marketing mix’, and so the marketing elements are also accountable to sales processes. Just take a look at the rapid growth of the CRM system to see how the two functions now overlap – data has never been easier to acquire, or more actionable.
Every touchpoint with the customer is a chance to learn more about them – what they need or don’t, what they respond to and what matters to them. This, in turn, gives more structure and direction to external marketing communications. Sharpened marketing then creates more engaged inbound leads to create a loop with real commercial value.
By using marketing to inform sales strategy and likewise, using knowledge of the commercial team to guide the marketing efforts, Sales Directors are combining the best elements of both approaches and getting a more solid grip of the direction of the business. Sales and marketing shouldn’t be held as individual silos; they’re two sides of the same coin.
What are the long-term benefits of aligning the sales and marketing efforts?
It’s all about objectives. Misaligned sales and marketing departments have been a perennial issue in business, creating effort and content without a united goal, essentially moving the business in two different directions.
The Content Marketing Institute reports that up to 70% of in-house B2B content is never used because the subject topics aren’t connecting with the people that are actually buying from the business. Keeping the two functions separate can ultimately create a waste of time, resources and money.
By connecting the two, Sales Directors are creating the new efficiencies needed to propel the business forwards. The business is able to focus on its core audience and ensure that all activity is tailored to their specific needs and wants. Additionally, this approach makes both functions accountable for revenue, offering a measurable goal.
Let your marketing support your sales!
For Sales Directors looking to kick business into a higher gear, better integration between sales and marketing offers:
- A better understanding of the customer’s journey – Which touchpoints matter to them, and where are the higher quality leads joining the sales funnel?
- More targeted content – Engage potential customers with content that’s tailored to the right audience, to help potential customers choose you – and not your competition
- Consistency, consistency, consistency – Keep a firm grip of branding by ensuring all cross-functional activity is structured and aligned according to the image you want to project
- Accelerated brand awareness and engagement– Combine the best elements of push and pull marketing strategies
- Better use of time and resources – Avoid ‘content for contents sake’ – let it be a valuable asset to the business
- Shorten the sales cycle – Increase the visibility of your business and encourage new inbound business into the pipeline with proactive potential customers
- Accountable ROI – Optimise spend by understanding what channels are working for your sales teams. Always go where the customer is!
- Better defined roles and responsibilities – Aligning sales and marketing gives a clearer structure to processes such as inbound leads, qualification and follow-up, increasing efficiency and likelihood of success
Could an outsourced marketing partner be the solution?
At PHD Marketing, we work with a range of clients in business-to-business marketing & communications in the UK and internationally. We understand the complex DNA of business and the value of both short and long-term strategy.
When a business partners with PHD, they’re not settling for an agency that works on short-term wins that look great on paper. They’re investing in a true partner, with an eye on the long-term growth of the business and the experience to help make it a reality. We take pride in what we do and have great client retention rates because we know what it takes to help push our clients to the next level. Fundamentally, we ‘get’ business; we understand what’s important.
Whether we’re working with the Sales Director to boost marketing ROI or supporting the Managing Director to strategies for growth, utilising an effective outsource partner with the skills and resource horse power can really make the difference.
So, if you’re looking for ways to better align your business and set a stronger foundation for growth, it may be as simple as rethinking the relationship between your sales and marketing division.
Sound interesting? Give us a call (+44 (0) 1977 708643) or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be delighted to talk to you about the benefits of working with us! To read more from PHD Marketing, head over to our blog page here.