Today’s guest post is from Carlos Hidalgo, demand generation expert and author of the book, Driving Demand.
With marketing now playing a more strategic role in organizations as they seek to align closer to their buyers, there seems to be this notion that sales has now become less important and that marketing is now poised to unseat sales as the preeminent department.
While marketing indeed needs to transform in order to meet the needs of the modern buyer, I do believe it is rather premature to so readily dismiss sales and relegate them to the back seat. Today’s B2B buying process has changed dramatically and in most cases, the buyer leads more of the buying process than ever before. However, this change does not mean that sales is irrelevant. What it does mean, however, is that just like their marketing counterparts, sales also needs to adapt to the new Buyer 2.0 world in which we currently live.
One of the areas where sales need to be more involved/adapt, is in the development of demand generation strategies. Having sales involved in this process is a change that both marketing and sales will have to make and it is necessary for sales to be involved. I spoke to a director of demand generation last past week about their approach to demand generation and he asked, “How do we get sales to take time out of their day-to-day jobs to get involved?”
The answer was pretty simple . . . you ask them.
The truth is that many marketing departments have designed marketing campaigns, content and go-to-market activities all without any input from sales and are then incredulous when sales does not respond favorably. Conversely, many sales teams have resisted the notion that they should have to be involved in the developmental stages of marketing at all and simply want a chance to lend approvals before programs are launched. This is not only unrealistic, but it only causes greater misalignment between marketing and sales departments.
To ensure that marketing and sales are working together in the development of perpetual demand generation programs a few things need to happen:
1. Remember it is about the buyer
Too many organizations take an inside-out view of their buying process and in developing insights into their buyers. This is where things can start to fall apart. Sales does indeed have a unique perspective on buyers, but if this is the only view taken, it is one that is too internally focused and cannot deliver a true buyers perspective. At the end of the day, demand generation is all about educating and qualifying the buyer and if the buyer’s perspective is not accounted for, it is at best, guesswork.
2. Marketing & Sales Are Equally Important But Have Different Roles
Both marketing and sales play equal but different roles in the development of demand generation strategies. There is no doubt that marketing’s role in the development of content, demand generation and customer experience has grown in stature and importance of late, but one of the overarching goals of marketing is to pass highly qualified opportunities to sales. Marketing and sales have different and equally important roles and when the two departments stop competing, the sales and marketing process becomes more fluid.
3. Sales Must Be Enabled & Educated
As buyers today consume more content, involve more people in the purchase journey and take longer to engage sales than before, it is vital that sales understand the context to how that buyer (qualified opportunity) was routed to them for follow-up. While in the majority of instances the buyers purchase path will be digital, there still exists (in most cases) the intersection of digital with human interaction. One of the key roles of marketing is to educate and enable sales to continue the conversation by knowing the path the buyer took digitally or otherwise. Continuity of the buying conversation is key to sales success and it is the responsibility of marketing to enable sales to have this.
The times have changed for marketing and sales and no longer are sales the only leader. Marketing is vital to any sales organization and both departments need to make some serious changes to adapt to the buyer of today. The time to do this is now as buyers are continuing to grow in sophistication and complexity, and those organizations that respond quickly and adapt will have the competitive advantage to those that remain static.
To learn more about advanced approaches to Demand Generation and the changes that sales and marketing needs to make to drive true organizational transformation, purchase Driving Demand, the new book by Carlos Hidalgo. Driving Demand provides insight and instruction into what B2B sales and marketing team must do to meet the needs of the modern buyer. Order today by clicking here.
About the image: OLY1014-MeslerBearHug5319copy.jpg: University of Florida track and field alum Steve Mesler gives Justin Olsen a bear hug while teammates Curtis Tomasevicz and former U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program bobsledder Steven Holcomb carry the Stars & Stripes for The Night Train squad that struck gold in the Olympic four-man event Saturday at the Whistler Sliding Centre in British Columbia. Photo by Tim Hipps, FMWRC Public Affairs