2020… that was interesting. It was tough for lots of businesses in lots of ways. And as we prepare ourselves to take on the year ahead, we have a rare opportunity to reshape the way we work as we all define what the ‘new normal’ will look like for ourselves, and the teams and businesses we are part of.
Looking back to last year (I know you don’t want to but I’ll keep it brief), we found that many of the B2B marketing teams we worked with were incredibly resilient. Sales teams on the other hand had a much tougher time.
For several years B2B marketing has been dominated by digital content, digital channels and digital tools. As marketers we’ve built processes that enable a test and learn approach with real-time measurement, rapid iteration and on-the-fly optimisation. We’ve become adept at reaching audiences ‘virtually’ – quickly scaling up what’s working hardest in any situation and dialling down what is not. In 2020, digital was our strength.
For most sales teams on the other hand – success is built on relationships and understanding their customers on an individual level. For many, face-to-face engagements were considered to be the most valuable. Whether those were networking events, industry expos, product demos or regular sales meetings these live and in-person opportunities to connect were largely put on ice.
As we move forward into 2021 the reality is that it’s doubtful these types of face-to-face interaction will return in the same way. So let’s step up, stand side-by-side with our sales counterparts (at a safe distance of course) and tackle these challenges together. Because right now, marketers have a real opportunity to demonstrate what we can do. So here’s a few tips to help you to make friends and influence sales.
Open the conversation.
As with most things, the best place to start is with a conversation. No two sales teams are the same, so try to find out the specific sales challenges within your business and how they’ve changed. Let your sales teams know you’re looking for ways to support them.
Align your goals and objectives.
Unfortunately, it’s still the case that sales teams and marketing teams often aren’t aligned with their objectives or have transparency at both ends of the buying journey. When marketing teams have visibility of the pipeline beyond MQLs and a measurable role in closing deals the dynamic between the two teams will be much stronger.
Perhaps not all marketers will readily admit it but, in our experience, having sales play a role in marketing strategy and planning sessions is invaluable. Some of our best client planning meetings have had both sales and marketing participating on equal terms.
If you plan your marketing strategy annually then invite a senior sales representative to participate, make sure you keep them in the loop as things inevitably evolve throughout the year, and always make sure they have a seat at the table for any interim strategy and planning sessions.
Let’s make 2021 the year of powerful partnerships. If you’re looking to create greater business impact through your B2B marketing this year we should talk. And why not invite a sales comrade too.